Diary of a Network Geek

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

9/18/2020

Lens Simulator

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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

Explore the relationship between focal length, aperture, and depth of field.

Along with some other settings and factors.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been getting back into photography a little bit. That means, for me, relearning a whole bunch of stuff, like how aperture and depth of field are related and how to control that. Well, thanks to a free “lens simulator” by Korean lens maker, Samyang, you can play with those settings, and more, to see how they’ll affect your photo. It’s pretty simple and straight forward for even a returning rookie photographer like me to make adjustments and see the changes. The one drawback, if you can call it that, is that the simulator uses Samyang lenses as the default settings. You can adjust it and simulate virtually any settings, but the pre-set ones are all based on their lenses. Which, really, shouldn’t be a surprise. Anyway, it’s fun and easy and, best of all, free.

I’d hoped to have a review of a hot-shoe-splitting flash cable I got this week, but, well, I haven’t had the time to actually use it yet, so it’s hard to give an actual review. Maybe for next week.

And, that’s all I’ve got this week, really. I’m feeling a little worn down and depressed, which I think is just the COVID-19 lockdown finally catching up to me. Well, and the mostly submerged grief over losing my father. For various reasons I don’t want to go into right now, I found myself really missing him last week. I had news that I’d have normally shared with him and asked his advice, but, well, he wasn’t there to ask. Of course, as my mother and another friend said, at this point, I can pretty well tell you what he’d have told me. Though, right up until the end, Dad could sometimes surprise me with something new.
Anyway, y’all have a good week and stay safe.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

9/11/2020

The Poison of the Side Hustle

Filed under: About The Author,Deep Thoughts,Photography — 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

There’s something broken in our culture when we try to make a virtue out of a lack of financial resources. We glamorize it by calling it “hustle”. We talk about everyone needing a “side hustle” that they might one day grow into a full business. In reality, though, that almost never happens. That so-called side hustle is just a second job. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it’s a second job that we can do at night or on the weekends on our own schedule. But, more often than not, it involves buying into someone else’s program, or training or pyramid scheme, to shill cheaply made drop-shipped junk we don’t want to people who don’t need it either. There are classes on selling, on drop-shipping, on building a website to attract the marks, and every other related activity. But, what’s worse is the guilt on social media. The “influencers” who try to tell you that if you don’t have a side hustle, you’re a loser. The Instagram gurus who make a lack of sleep sound like a virtue and workaholism sound like something to be admired. “Rise and grind”, they call it. Get up early, while your competition is still sleeping, and develop that product and make that sale. They tell you to take your hobby and make money from it. “Knit your way to second income!” “How to pay your second mortgage selling stock photography!” But, it’s all a hustle, all a scam. It’s a scam we do to ourselves. I’m guilty of it. I’ve got FindMyPhotographer.com, but I’ve never been able to build it to what I’d like. There’s too much competition already. And, who’s hiring photographers in the middle of a pandemic right now anyway?

I’m guilty, too, of buying into the idea that I need to make money from my hobbies. I used to like to write and take pictures. Now, all I think about is how can I self-publish a novel I haven’t written. Or, what kind of processing do I need to do to my digital photography to get it accepted to one of the microstock agencies. Maybe, that’s why I haven’t written fiction in years. I’m always feeling the pressure of market forces. I did pick up my camera recently, but when I pulled photos off it, the last time I’d taken any pictures was when the dogs had gotten their Christmas-themed rawhide bones. In other words, it’s been almost ten months since I used my camera. Ten months since I engaged with a hobby I loved.

But, what if we didn’t feel like we needed that other income? I’m not advocating any radical wage changes or universal basic income or anything like that. The answer, for most of us targeted by the marketing machine of the side-hustle social media gurus, is simpler than that. What if we just wanted less? What if I didn’t need the designer labels? Or the big screen TV and cable with all the channels and a new car every five years? What if I didn’t need to buy things that I think will make me happy? Because, in my own experience, any joy I get from buying things is usually very short-lived. And, man, I’d pay anything to talk to my Dad again. No side hustle can buy me that time back. So, why do we do it?
Maybe it would be better to just have a hobby. I don’t need much to write. I do it on-line or on my computer, but, really, all I need is a cheap pen or pencil and a notebook, or even some loose paper. When I first started out writing, and we used typewriters to do all this, stories of writers using cheap paper to do their first draft are legendary. And, as for needing a better camera or more lenses or more flashes, well, I know that’s not true. As I said in a photography class once, much to the excitement of the teacher, “The artist paints the painting, not the brush.” If I’m really a photographer, I can make good images, interesting images, with a cheap, disposable camera. Sometimes, with art, the challenge of producing art with limited resources is what produces the best art. The restrictions somehow enhance creativity, instead of squelch it.

So, hey, I’m not going to try to make money off my photographs. I’ve got some ideas, but, instead of trying to make something I can sell, I’m just going to make some photographs that I enjoy. I’m going to play and experiment, not because it will generate income, but because it’s fun. It’s okay to just have fun. That’s the point of hobbies, I think; to have fun and relax, so that I can be more than a job, or a paycheck or the sum of my investments.

How about you? How about your plans for the weekend? Do you have a hobby that you’ve been neglecting? Or maybe something you’d like to start? Now is the time. Do it now, before you don’t have any time left. And, then, spend some time with friends and family talking about that, instead of how stressful work is or how bad our finances are. We know. But do something you enjoy and then share it with people you love. Let that be your side hustle.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/27/2020

Random Stay-At-Home Resources

Filed under: Fun,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Photography,The Network Geek at Home — 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

This may become a theme while we all wait out this COVID-19 virus.

This week, I finally got everyone else at work all set to work from home, if at all possible, and started working from home myself. I was surprised how much of my work is often determined by people in the office having problems. I shouldn’t be, though, considering how many times I tell fellow techs that the only reason we have jobs is because other people have problems.
In any case, I have a couple of links that I hope will help you solve some of the unusual problems you may be running into at home these days, thanks to the quarantine. Some may be more fun than others!
First, if you’re like us, you’ve been eating a little differently than normal. My wife is pretty incredible about coming up with meals that use whatever she happens to have on the shelf or in the freezer, but thinking of delicious meals with limited resources can be a huge challenger right now. Thankfully, BoingBoing pointed me to SuperCook! It’s a free website that will help you find recipes from the most popular cooking websites that use whatever ingredients you select. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s got some great suggestions that, I hope, will break up the monotony of cooking at home, when it’s a challenge to eat out. There’s also an iPhone and an Android app for you, if that’s what you prefer. (Links are on the website.)
But, if you’re willing to risk the delivery schedules, and want to add something more interesting, or exotic, or just plain fancy, you can try one of these mail-order food sites, reviewed by Esquire. They might get a little pricey, but you’ll definitely be getting unique and interesting ingredients to, if you’ll pardon the pun, “spice up” your regular, day-to-day meal and flavor options.

On a somewhat lighter note, while we’re talking about groceries, you may have had some “experiences” trying to get things at grocery stores recently. In particular, for some reason, people have been panic buying toilet paper. Well, I can’t help you get any of the desperately desired commodity, but, thanks to BoingBoing, I can share a video that explains the phenomena of panic buying. It’s actually a pretty good look at why, of all things, toilet paper, is in short supply lately.

And, this week, I’ve got two links for the grown-ups who have gotten bored and want to finally get some use out of that expensive camera they got for Christmas. The first of these two links is geared toward the potential professional photographer; Professional Photographers of America more than 1100 online photo classes for free. Of course, we don’t know how long they’ll offer these free, but if you’ve got a camera and internet access, you can take some classes and either develop a “side hustle”, or maybe even a new career, if you’re afraid of being laid off. And, that’s assuming you haven’t been already due to either the economic fall out of COVID-19 or the disastrously low price of oil.
The other link for photographers is a little more fun. 7 Photo Challenges for Photographers Who Are Stuck at Home. Amateur or pro, there’s nothing like a good challenge to keep the skills sharp.

So, there you have it. Some links to help you get through the next week. No telling how long we’ll all be locked down, so there’s no telling what I’ll post for you next week. The longer I’m home, though, the stranger things are likely to get.
Stay safe! Stay home! Wash your hands!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

10/4/2019

Intro To Darktable

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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

Incredible, free photo management and editing software.

Although, lately, I seem too busy to take many photos, I do love it. The problem is, I like the photography and the end result, but not all the software steps in between. I work on computers all day long and I get a little tired of it. And, I try to do all my work in the camera, not in post, so, I’m not a big Photoshop user, like a lot of photographers are. I generally use the much more focused and lighter weight Lightroom software from Adobe. It’s specifically designed for photographers and editing and managing photos. I feel like it’s a lighter touch.
But, even though I feel it’s a good bargain, not everyone can afford the monthly charges from Adobe to use their software. So, what to do? Well, as I’ve mentioned on my blog before, there’s a great alternative that’s free and open source called Darktable. The interface is very similar to Lightroom and mostly the functions are all the same. Best of all, though, it is free. If you’re not sure about it, though, because, like me, you distrust anyone giving anything away, spend a little time today to look at PetaPixel’s Comprehensive Intro to Darktable. It shows you everything you need to know from downloading to a pretty good and detailed walk through of the whole software and its capabilities.
If you’re a photographer, of any level, it’s worth it to at least take a look.
Besides, if you’re reading my blog on a Friday, you can’t possibly be doing anything more important!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

6/28/2019

Finding Free Images

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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

I’m sure I’ve posted about this before, but it’s worth doing again.

As a photographer, I love making images. And, of course, the dream of every amateur creative seems to be somehow making money off their creative work. Personally, I think that actually ruins the part of the hobby that I enjoy and makes it just one more job I’ve got to do, but there are plenty of people who disagree. To those poor unfortunates, I apologize because this week I’m sharing a couple of places to find free images.
First, there’s an incredible archive of photos from and about space that we, the American tax-payers, have all funded; the NASA Image and Video Library. And, actually, it includes audio, too. The archive includes photos not only of space, but also Earth-based facilities including building space craft, training and media events. It’s a pretty magnificent archive of the incredible work NASA does, and you might find some cool photos to use as a desktop wallpaper.
The other is the Creative Commons image search, which is also images that are free, or have some other Creative Commons license. I’ve linked to a search for space-related images, but you can easily search for something else, like puppies.
In any case, all free for you to use in your projects.

And, yes, that’s pretty much all I’ve got this week because I’ve been almost literally up to my elbows in trying to train two of the silliest rescue dogs ever. They’re sweet, but my blushing bride and I were nuts to get two at once! They’re definitely a handful, but things are coming along okay. They’ll be trained eventually!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/3/2018

More Free Alternatives to Photoshop

Filed under: Art,Fun,Linux,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but things change.

Okay, some things don’t change and one of those is that Adobe Photoshop is still the leader in graphics editing software, especially for photographers. But, it’s also pretty expensive, which means everyone is always looking for a cheaper alternative. Frankly, for years, I was no different. Most of the time, I used GIMP, but there are actually a lot of other packages that are out there now. In fact, the fine folks at the Photo Argus have posted a review of 11 Outstanding (Free)Alternatives to Photoshop, one of which is GIMP. I used GIMP for years, in part because it was the first “big” photo editor that was available on Linux. My thinking was that Linux was the wave of the future, so I might as well learn the software package that ran on it best. Sadly, that dream has never come to fruition,but GIMP is still free, so it’s not all bad. I’m not as familiar with the other ones, but since they’re all free, why not download them and see which you like best?
Personally, I started subscribing to the Adobe Photographer’s Pack, which gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom for a relatively low monthly fee. Definitely worth it, I think.

By the way, I’m trying something new with my writing workflow. I’ve been writing posts in a software package called Scrivener, queuing them up and archiving them once I’ve scheduled them in my blog software. So far, it’s worked pretty well and it’s helping me get used to writing in Scrivener. Of course, I’ve only done two posts, but my intention is to get into a habit of writing this way so I can extend it to fiction. That was why I bought Scrivener in the first place and has been my goal since I was in the Fourth Grade and transformed the amazingly dull writing exercise “My Adventure At The Circus” into a tale of subterranean mythic adventure. I think it was good preparation for writing pulp fiction, but we’ll just have to see what I manage to produce.
In any case, I’ll keep these weekly posts coming!
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/19/2018

Horribly Beautiful Nature

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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

Nature is filled with creatures both terrible and beautiful.

I love macro photography. Getting close to small animals and insects and seeing them in a totally new way and on a scale we don’t normally perceive them is something I love to both do and see. And, while I have to admit my skills are meager and mostly focused on still photography, macro videography is even more amazing to me.
So, this week, I’m sharing some wonderful macro video with you by way of bioGraphic, which is a magnificent website filled with incredible video and stills of nature. But, this week, specifically, I’d like to share bioGraphic’s page of “Caterpillar Cameos” videos. It’s a whole page of short, but fantastic, videos of caterpillars that are both beautiful and kind of terrible. While some are brilliantly colored, or even furred, they also may be poisonous or mature into devastating crop parasites. And, let’s face it, something about those creepy, little caterpillar faces are both enthralling to watch and uncomfortable at the same time. At least for me.

Either way, it’s a beautiful thing to behold nature in all its diversity and glory in ways that you may not otherwise seek out.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/5/2018

Improve Your Photography This Year

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Challenge yourself, one week at a time!

This Christmas, I got an LED ring flash can also be used as a continuous ring-light. It’s something I’ve been wanting, but reluctant to buy for myself, because I haven’t been making time for photography the past couple of years. I love macro photography, as well as portraiture, and when I saw this little light, it seemed like just the thing to encourage and motivate me to get behind the camera again.
The year after I got my first DSLR, I did a “photo-a-day” project, called 365 Days on Flickr. I figured that doing a project like that would help me get comfortable with the camera, and in front of it. Neither thing was true when I started the project, but, I think, I got better about both as a result. I’ve upgraded my camera since then, and gotten a lot of better lenses, including a fantastic 100mm macro lens I paid for with the proceeds of selling the wedding rings from my first marriage. But, that was almost ten years ago now, and I’m remarried and busy with life and photography has slipped from my daily routine.

But, thanks to PetaPixel, I may have a new project to work on. Namely, their 52 Week Challenge to Improve Your Photography Skills in 2018. (You can also see the whole challenge laid out at the author’s website. It sounds a little easier than a daily photo, but it still has a weekly project to work on that will help a relatively new photographer improve in four major areas; personal vision, composition, technical aptitude, and creativity. They throw in a fifth, “wild card”, category to encourage you to try out ideas that come up while working on the other areas.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen one of these, or thought that I might try one, but I thought I’d share it with you in the hopes that you might get inspired, too. And, yes, we are a week into the new year, but it’s still not too late to start it up! You can always bleed over into another new year!

So, I hope you find more motivation and drive to pursue your hobbies this coming year, just like I hope to do.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, which is kind of ironic, since I’m talking about photography and not writing at all.

7/7/2017

Free Stock

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,The Tools — 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 Waxing Gibbous

Regular readers know how I love free.

Okay, look, I put this stuff out there week after week and I’m honestly not even sure that anyone ever reads this at all. I don’t know, maybe I just do it to keep the search engines happy, or maybe just out of habit. Worse, maybe I just keep doing it because to stop would mean that this blog and site are meaningless and so is my entire life. Yeah, so best not to think about that and keep posting. Besides, even if I just keep posting this stuff so that I can find it for my own, personal use later, that’s reason enough.
So, in that spirit, I’ve been thinking about my sad and inadequate graphic design skills and how to improve them. Naturally, as a blogger and WordPress user, I thought I might try, yet again, to make a custom theme. Specifically, a prettier child theme of the default twenty-seventeen theme that comes with WordPress. Naturally, I’d want to pretty that up a bit more than I normally do, which means adding graphics. And, until I get better at all that actual graphic stuff, that means I’d use some stock graphics. But, since I’m a cheapskate and a skinflint, according to my ex-wife, I went hunting for free stock sites. I found three that I liked. Or, I found one and then two sites that are either a list of free stock sites or an aggregated search of free stock sites.
The first is a list of 25 “sublime” sites to download free stock images by Sitepoint. And they are 25 great links to great stock photos.
The second is an aggregated stock photo search engine, that also lists some other sites, called furiouscamera.com. Their search is pretty good, though obviously limited, and will also include non-free images, for which they get a percentage, I assume, so watch what you try to use. Still, my searches brought up a good selection.
The third link actually started my search, though it’s also found in the list at furiouscamera.com and is AllTheFreeStock, but it also has a whole lot more there for you, like brand style guides and SEO tools and more. I listed it last because, frankly, there’s so much there it’s kind of overwhelming. If you’re a designer, though, especially for the web, it’s definitely worth a look.

So, there you go. Free stock graphics and photos for your work.
Come back next week to see if I delve even deeper into my existential fears and trauma!

This post first appeared on Use Your Words.

5/19/2017

Free Creative Business Course

Filed under: Fun Work,Life Goals,Photography,The Day Job — 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 Waning Crescent

Seems like everyone is looking for a “side hustle” these days.

Personally, I’ve never felt very comfortable in a real entrepreneurial role, but even I have gone hunting for a side business on occasion, trying to get a leg up. When I was in college, I wrote. I’d always had the idea that I might eventually write a novel or three, which would, of course, sell forever, giving me a slow trickle of income for years and years. Clearly, that never quite happened. I have, on the other hand, done some consulting on the side, to make up for a hit in salary fifteen years ago. And, of course, to occasionally make a little extra when I needed to spend a little more, like when I got my first digital camera. Then, when I first started getting into photography, I thought I might find a way to leverage that into something. Unfortunately, that never quite happened and I decided to just let my photography be a hobby. But, if I had the opportunity to take this free business course for photographers and other creatives, I may have tried to make a go of it.
Well, if you want to give it a try, check out the course, but do it fast, because the course is only free until July 1st.
And, if you do decide to give professional photography a whirl, check out FindMyPhotographer.com, where you can set up an account in a growing directory of photographers. And, yes, that’s my site, too. You can setup a free account, or upload more sample photos and rank higher in local searches by buying an account. Use discount code Startup25 for a 25% discount for new accounts.

And, that’s all the “side hustle” I have time for this week. Come back next week for more free stuff!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

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