Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

6/14/2019

Starship Troopers Bugs Explained

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I love Starship Troopers, the movie!

I’ve read plenty of science fiction, including a lot of the classics. And, yes, I have read Robert Heinlein’s book, Starship Troopers, and, yes, I did actually enjoy it, even with it’s absolutely not ironic depiction of militarism and authoritarianism. But, honestly, the Paul Verhoeven movie is genius. Taken at face value, it’s a gorgeous, low-budget, sci-fi, military action movie. At that level, it’s fun and huge and really kind of great. But, there’s a deeper level that makes it even better, in my opinion. A saterization of our hyper-patriotic propaganda that recent political trends have weaponized make this movie even better. It’s great.
But, it’s also a pretty detailed exercise in world-building and goes beyond even what Heinlein managed in his book. Granted, I think the “arachnids” are more metaphorical than they are realistic aliens. They’re certainly at least fairly consistent in their depiction. But, don’t believe me, instead, take a look at this video from Offworld titled The Science of Starship Troopers’ Space Bugs. Actual scientists take a close, critical look at these creations. And it takes nothing at all away from my enjoyment of the movie! Nothing!
It’s also a fun way to waste about 30 minutes of your Friday. So, there’s that.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/31/2019

Color the Classics!

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Remember that adult coloring book craze?

A couple of years ago, just like everyone else, my wife and I got a bunch of those “grown up” coloring books and some nice colored pencils and felt-tip markers. In theory, coloring was supposed to be meditative in some way and help you focus and distress. Also, I seem to recall there were claims of it making thousands of julienne fries in seconds, but I may have been confusing my pitches. In any case, we got them and for several weeks she and I colored and had an enjoyable evening or ten talking and admiring each others obsessive-compulsive coloring and shading. And, yes, it was fun. And, also yes, I think we should start doing it again.
If we do, thanks to Lifehacker, we have a much wider and less expensive source of coloring material, Color Our Collections! Thanks to the New York Academy of Medicine, libraries, archives and the like have shared free coloring sheets and books drawn from materials in their archives. It was apparently a campaign that I missed back in February, but the coloring sheets are still available, so you can download them and color to your heart’s content.
Which we just may. Hopefully, that will take the edge off while we get the last details worked out for recieving new dogs!
Either way, come back next week to see what else I’ve got for you!
Enjoy your weekend!

 

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, which lately I’ve been considering renaming to Sedentary Male, because it seems sadder, yet, also funnier.

5/24/2019

Lightroom Masterclass

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Finally learn Lightroom!

Remember last week, how I was saying that I used Lightroom more than Photoshop? There’s a reason for that. Actually, there are several reasons, but the big one is that Lightroom is actually made specifically for photographers. For most of us, it has the basic tools that non-techs would want to have to quickly edit our photos. Granted, I am, actually, a computer geek, but I generally don’t want to spend hours and hours of my non-work time in front of a computer. (Yes, I do see the irony of that statement one a blog/website, but, still…) In any case, Lightroom lets you quickly get just enough editing to make good photos a LOT better. But, it only does that if you know how to use it. Personally, I hate spending money on training, if I can help it, but, sometimes, I have to admit that it’s good to see the industry accepted way of doing things with software. So, all of that is to say that this week, thanks to PetaPixel, again, I’m bringing you a link to a 30-minute Masterclass in Lightroom by Mango Street. They really cram in a lot of information in that 30 minutes, too! But, trust me, it’s all great training, even if it goes a little fast for someone who hasn’t used Lightroom much. Good news, though, you can go to the Mango Street YouTube channel for all their other tutorials where you can get a bit more in depth and get more tutorials about other aspects of photography, too.
It is all free, and all very good info, so go check it out!
Then, after you get inspired, go out and shoot some fresh photos to test out your new editing skills!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, my very personal blog.

5/17/2019

Quick Photoshop Tutorial

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Selecting edges is hard!

As a professional computer geek and an amateur photographer, everyone expects me to to know Photoshop like a graphic designer. The truth is, though, I enjoy photography because it gets me out from behind the computer. I really spend more time making the photo in the camera than I do editing it afterwards. Oh, sure, I do pull all my images into Lightroom to clean up the exposure and colors a bit, but I rarely do more than that. Unless it’s a little cropping.
But, a couple of jobs ago, I did find myself doing a significant amount of editing for the company website. Usually, that meant cutting out some one of the company products and putting on a better background or no background at all. I hated it. I hated it because selecting fine edges was incredibly hard for me. It was super tedious and if I ever hit something like hair, well, let’s just say I was glad to be working in a mostly industrial environment.
Of course, the truth is that I wasn’t using all the selection tools to their greatest effect. If only I had been following PetaPixel back then, so that I could have possibly found their 1 minute tutorial on using Photoshop’s refine edge brush! Wow! What a huge help that would have been!
So, in the spirit of helping my fellow geeks, because who else would be reading this blog on a Friday, enjoy!
Seriously, it really is only a minute and it will help you tremendously with your selections in Photoshop. And, if you like that, there’s a whole Definitely worth checking out.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

5/10/2019

Civil Engineering Explained

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

With videos, not math!

Not so many months ago, my wife and I were talking about a plumbing problem in our house. It was relatively small and has long since been fixed, but our discussion hinged on water pressure. Specifically, in this case, water pressure in the house and how that meant that there was always water in the horizontal pipes. Honestly, I hadn’t given it a lot of thought, but, of course, the pipes have to be filled with water the whole time, and under pressure, for water to be forced out of a shower on the second floor. Not enough pressure to fill the pipes with water means that there’s not enough force to create a flow. Makes total sense when you think about it, right? But, have you ever wondered how that pressure is created before it makes it to your house? That process is due to the miracles of civil engineering.
It’s also explained via helpful videos for the curious on the Practical Engineering YouTube Channel. In fact, water towers and the hydrosystems that allow us to enjoy showers, instead of having to use a hand-pump to fill a bath, are covered in the playlist titled Public Works; Season 1. But, they also explain concrete, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and more! It’s definitely a video destination where you can waste hours and hours of time watching videos about the miracles of the modern world.
And, it’s educational, in case you need an excuse to watch these instead of doing your actual work on a Friday afternoon!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, as so many of them have on Fridays.

5/3/2019

Shop Helper

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

This is apparently all true.

One of the reasons I love photography is that it lets us see things in ways that we couldn’t otherwise see them.
Now, I’m mostly a still photographer, though I’ve dabbled a bit in video. If you look at my Flickr portfolio, you’ll see a lot of macro, or close-up, photography. The camera, and nice macro lens that I have, let me see things that I might otherwise miss. Details that I wouldn’t experience any other way. But, too, beyond that, photography captures not just a vision of things, but also their time. A photograph is quite literally a little slice of frozen light and time that we preserve forever, that we capture for future use and enjoyment. Video, in many ways, is that and much more.
The link I bring you this week made me smile, which, frankly, is sometimes the best you can hope for. It’s been a bit of a rough week and a smile was definitely needed. So, if you’re in the same spot, hop over to PetaPixel to see a mouse clean up a man’s shed. Yes, that’s right. Just like the mythical shoemaker’s elves, a retired electrician had a little helper cleaning up his workshop every night. A helper that seemed impossible, until he worked with a friend and a game camera to discover who was cleaning up for him
Seriously, it’s amazing and seems like it can’t be real, but it is.
I’m pretty sure my wife would like to have an army of them to try and tidy up behind me!
Either way, it’s only a 2 minute video and definitely made me smile.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

4/26/2019

Government Sponsored Font

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Your tax dollars at work for better design!

No, seriously, this is actually US tax dollars working to develop a “better” font. Not even kidding.
Believe it or not, there’s a little something called the United States Web Design System that’s collaborative team specifically started to “…make it easier to build accessible, mobile-friendly government websites for the American public.” And, as it turns out, they have some resources that might be helpful for non-governmental web designers, too. One such is a simple font called Public Sans, which they call “A strong, neutral typeface for text or display.” Which it is, actually. It can be downloaded from their GitHub page, which further describes the font as “principles-driven” and “open-source”. It’s also a fairly nice, and free, change from Helvetica. Oh, and it includes webfonts, so you can, in fact, use it to unify your on-line and off-line branding identity.
And, again, all freely available and all brought to you, one way or another, by the United States of America Federal Government.
Sometimes, the government really IS here to help!

Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

4/12/2019

Size Effects

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

How big are those Star Wars ships?

This week, I just have something quick for you because I’ve been busy. Stop laughing! It happens!
Also, this is just cool, so I’m glad to be sharing it. Have you ever wondered just how big the ships and stations in the Star Wars movies really are? I know, sometimes, I wonder about it, because of the engineering that must have gone into it. But, also, I think about how long it takes for people to get from one part of the ship to another. Not only that, but what about all the places that have those huge, open spaces where people inevitably seem to get pushed and fall into oblivion? How can that even happen if the place isn’t gigantic? Anyway, this week, I’m giving you a link to something that explains it pretty well. Personally, I like reading the written word and seeing infographics that I can study, but I know a lot of people prefer videos and that’s what leads me to share this. STAR WARS on Earth! – How Big the Ships REALLY Are.
It’s only a five minute video, which is time you can surely spare on a Friday if you’re reading this post, so go, look and be amazed. Revel in your geeky fandom!
And come back next week for more!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/29/2019

Making a Great Space Helmet

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

It’s harder than you think!

It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I love science-fiction. I don’t know if it’s the escape of it, or the promise of a better tomorrow. Or maybe just the idea that we can engineer our way out of some of the troubles we have created for ourselves as a race. I know that I believe that the Universe is far too large for us to be the only intelligent life out there. It seems statistically improbable that we’re alone in the entire vastness of space. And, perhaps optimistically, I have to believe that if such beings exists, eventually we will at least find evidence of them, which most likely means traveling to distant worlds. Just how distant and by what methods require more math and physics than my poor, little brain is capable of dealing with, but I think that just makes it easier to believe it’s possible.
In any case, that belief draws me to science-fiction about space travel, whether it’s novels or movies. I have to admit, though, a good, realistic feeling space travel movie is really a joy. You may remember that I shared a short with you last year about this time called Prospect, about colonists on an alien world, mining some precious mineral. Well, that short got expanded into a longer feature that’s been the darling of several film festivals. And, this week, I’m just sharing an interview with the creators of Prospect, where they talk about the challenges of making a good prop spacesuit helmet. It’s actually quite an interesting interview, especially if you have any interest in making movies, science-fiction or making props. It’s not too long, either, which gives you plenty of opportunity to refresh your memory and re-watch Prospect so you can admire their handiwork.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

3/15/2019

Historical Communications Security

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

“Check your flaps and seals.”

If you’re a spy history buff, like I am, you’ll recognize that as an admonition to a fellow practitioner to make sure that their communication is secure and that they don’t have any “leaks” in their organization. When I was in high school, back before essentially all communication that mattered was digital, “tradecraft”, as it related to the spy game, was all about surreptitiously opening someone else’s mail, reading it, and then sending it along, possibly altered. The first codes go back to at least the time of Caesar and have been in use for centuries. In modern secure communications, we are often concerned with verifying that the sender of information is, in fact, the party who claims to have sent it and that it hasn’t been tampered with. In digital communications, both tampering and providing algorithmic checks to discover tampering are surprisingly easy to implement and use. Of course, most people don’t bother because, well, most of us don’t have to worry much about secure communications.
But, somewhere between the two extremes of ancient cyphers and modern digital encryption and verifications, between the 10th and 17th centuries, innovative letter-writers developed other ways to let their recipient know that the letter is from whom it claims to be and hasn’t been tampered with called letterlocking. I’d never heard of this, until I read Before Envelopes, People Protected Messages With Letterlocking. Now, I figure most of my readers will be familiar with things like wax seals and signet stamps to “secure” letters, but, like me, had never heard of “letterlocking”. It’s fascinating, the idea of folding and stamping and marking letters, mostly without envelopes, to try to ensure message security. It reminds me of my primitive note-passing in grade school. If I’d had access to the letterlocking dictionary, things might have been more interesting.

So, as I warned you earlier this year, I’d still post things on Friday, but I completely expect that they’ll be increasingly idiosyncratic and may not be “fun” or interesting to anyone else but me. But, also, I encourage you to write a physical letter and use the letterlocking dictionary to teach yourself one of the letterlocking methods there, just for fun. I may just start leaving love notes for my wife this way. Then again, I may not. Maybe if she reads this and mentions it to me, I will. Think of it as yet another method of verifying communication. (Also, don’t worry. My blushing bride has a pretty damn good sense of humor. She needs to be married to me!)

Come back next week to see what I come up with next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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