Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/20/2020

Miscellaneous Fun Links

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events,Personal Care — 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

Look, it’s been a crazy, chaotic week, which means you’re getting a crazy, chaotic post.
So, like all the rest of the IT pros in small shops all over the world this week, I’ve been scrambling to get as many people in my office able to work from home as possible. It’s been a long, frustrating week and basically nothing has gone the way I’d planned. Granted, that does mean that some things are actually better than I planned, but, honestly, most aren’t. Either way, it’s left me precious little time and focus to give you anything coherent. But, it is still a Friday and I feel compelled to share something. So, random fun links it shall be!
A lot of folks are stuck at home with their kids, who are out of school because it’s been closed while the academic year has been delayed. So, to help parents keep kids engaged, I have two links for you. First, there are Free NASA Space Projects via Space.com. I’m in the greater Houston area and we all get a little into NASA, because they’re such a big employer here and we have so much amazing history with the space program. These projects are all things you can do at home and keep learning while the schools figure things out. The second link is to a downloadable Cthulhu coloring book from Chaosium. Yes, it may warp their little minds, but it’s coloring! And, coloring is good, clean fun, as well as a known way to reduce stress and anxiety. Though, I’m not responsible if you all summon an Elder God!
The next two links are for book lovers. Specifically for book lovers who love science fiction and fantasy. First, or third, depending on how you’re counting, there’s the Tor eBook Club, which regularly offers free ebooks from popular authors. Through the end of the day of this posting, you can join and download Redshirts by John Scalzi! Or, you can check out the fourth link, the Baen Books Free Library! Again, ebooks, but free and from some very well known, award-winning authors. Both are just the thing if you’re looking for something new to read without spending a lot of money.
And, finally, a slightly stranger than normal link, specifically for our most current concerns, How Much Toilet Paper!?, a website that will help you calculate just how far your stash of toilet paper will last during this most current, or any future, pandemics! A fun, and hopefully funny, website about an increasingly serious topic. And, I know that first hand as I actually ordered toilet paper for my older parents online and had it sent to them. And, that’s no joke.

So, seriously, take care of yourselves and each other. Don’t go out more than you need to. Wash your hands. Stop panic-buying essentials that we all need. And, stay safe.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!  My other blog.

3/6/2020

Occupational Training Failure

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games — 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

For dogs.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with threats of global pandemics and the primary elections here in the US, not to mention all the other insanity we all deal with on a daily basis these days. I don’t even want to go into my own work insanity, because; a) they might be reading and b) it’s mostly technical IT geekery that normal readers like yourselves really don’t care about. But, trust me when I tell you, if you’re feeling a little nuts this week, you’re not alone.
So, with that in mind, I bring you an uplifting link directly from Boing Boing; Dog Fails Service Animal Test. And, trust me when I say that not only did he fail, but he epically failed. If you don’t find yourself laughing along with his trainer, who ultimately adopted him, then I can turn your week around for you. You’ll need expert help. Either way, seriously, you have to see the videos to believe it. Not every dog is meant to be a service animal and this video is proof. To be fair, Ryker is a happy dog that clearly wants to please his trainer, but just can’t quite figure out the whole service dog thing no matter how enthusiastically he tries. Watch the videos and you’ll see what I mean.

Enjoy! And, have a good weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

10/18/2019

AI Art Generator

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,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

Surrealism at its most tech?

Maybe.
Artificial intelligence is all the rage these days, especially the newish “generative adversarial network” variety. Generative adversarial networks, or “GANs”, really came to public attention, and mine, with the This Person Does Not Exist website that generates uncomfortably believable portraits based on machine learning through observation of other photos. It’s fascinating, but also a little disturbing.
Now, with the same technology, you can make art that is unique and based on computer generated output from a GAN at Artbreeder. Artbreeder makes more than portraits and can generate landscapes, creatures, albums covers and, yes, portraits. It can be totally random, or you can combine things from a list of photos or, for some options, change settings to effect the outcomes. It is free, but you’ll have to make an account that’s connected to an email address. And, you’re restricted to 25 downloads. The landscapes and portraits are the best, though, if you’re wanting to make a kind of abstract monster, that comes out well, too. You can see some of the things I’ve created at my profile page, but I definitely encourage you to set up a free account and play with it yourself.
It’s a fun, if surreal, way to waste a little time on a Friday afternoon.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

12/28/2018

Random Resolutions for 2019

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Another new year and another chance to break promises to yourself!

I never bother with New Year’s Resolutions any more, personally. I’ve tried “turning over a new leaf” in January so many times that I’m in danger of becoming a walking cliche. At least I know that I’m no different than most people, which is why gyms and churches are both bursting at the seams in January, but thin out by April. Still it’s traditional, so I’ll share, again, my own little solution to the New Year’s Resolution “problem”.
Back in the day, when I still had delusions that I could make myself into a decent programmer, I whipped up a New Year’s Resolution Generator. I based it, in part, on some ideas from the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays, but I have to admit, I threw in some of my own warped sense of humor. And, I weighted things a little more toward heavier drinking and looser morals because I figured those were the resolutions that would be easier to keep. Also, I figured they’d be funnier.

In any case, it was apparently funny enough that Comedy Central Insider linked it in their blog back when I first released it. Which is pretty cool, no matter how long ago that was. Besides, can completely random “advice” from a website really be any worse than the suggestions you got from family over the holidays? In today’s world of chaos and unreality, it honestly doesn’t seem as bad an idea as it used to! So, why not give it a shot yourself? You don’t even have to share about it publicly. No one will know but us!

And try to have a good year, no matter what happens. Make time to love your loved ones, do good work and add something positive to the world. Or one of the random resolutions. Whichever seems likelier to produce good results.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

5/11/2018

Collected Freebies

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games — 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 Crescent

You all know how I love free stuff.

And, those of you poor souls who have been coming to this blog, week after week, also know that I am as lazy as I can possibly manage to be. Toward that end, I do my absolute best to share only the best links stolen from other sites, prettied up and reposted here for your internet browsing pleasure. So, when Lifehacker share the post “Download Free Stuff From Reddit’s Favorite Websites”, you can’t be surprised that I’m sharing it with you this week. These sites are mostly legal, always free, and cover suggestions from free books to music to games to apps and more. Collected by redditor howtoadvanced, and distilled to just the best by the fine folks at Lifehacker, and now, linked to by me.
Enjoy.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/16/2018

Hacker Games

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,The Day Job — 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

Sounds like a good title for a book!

Except it’s not.
In my day job, I’m a professional geek. And, what I mean by that is that I work with computers for money. It seems like the vast majority of the guys my age who got into computers professionally did so because they were inspired by the movie [amazon_textlink asin=’B0011EQBOS’ text=’War Games’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’jkhoffman-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’38c6d846-0d15-11e8-a8f6-f12f91a6eb2a’]. Not me, though. I fell into it a little sideways and my interest in the computer security angle of my work came from [amazon_textlink asin=’B00WGUWDVG’ text=’Sneakers’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’jkhoffman-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’53433e58-0d15-11e8-991f-01aca75f720d’]. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Martin Bishop? A computer geek that looks like Robert Redford and could swing sleeping with Mary McDonnell? Seriously, sign me up!
The reality is, of course, a little less sexy. Trust me. No one who looked like Robert Redford was walking around DEFCON. Though, to be fair, I did learn to pick locks sitting next to a very nice and more than moderately attractive young woman. Who, incidentally, learned lock picking faster than any guy at the table.
In any case, times have changed since the early 90’s and all the harmless exploration I did when I first got into IT is mostly illegal now. Though, I’ll never forget helping an international guest at the Hyatt Regency Chicago get remote access to her VMS and find the program she needed to run. She had authorization, of course, but no idea how to find what she needed and I was blind in a VMS system for the first time. When I get her into her program, I think she clapped and then hugged me. It was cool! And FUN! But, opportunities like that are few and far between. And, there are plenty of places that won’t hire someone who has a criminal record. So, how do you recreate that experience without risking jail time?
Wargames by OverTheWire. These fine hackers have put together more than a dozen “games” meant to test your skill at electronic breaking and entering. And, honestly, a little bit more. Each game let’s you connect to it, most often with SSH via its own, dedicated SSH port, and then let’s you go after the rest. I haven’t had the chance to do much here yet, honestly, but the OverTheWire gang suggests you start with Bandit, which is aimed at absolute beginners and consists of 27 “levels”. Each “level” gives you information to “beat” the next “level”. It sounds like fun, but, then again, I am a pretty hardcore computer geek.

So, there you go! It’s a free introduction to computer security in game form. The perfect Friday diversion for the aspiring network geek or hacker!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, my ironically non-computer-geeky blog!

6/16/2017

Government Approved Webcomics

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I’ve been sick for the past two weeks, so I’m short on thinky-talky-writey energy.

Still, trooper that I am, I’m here with a link to fabulous free things for you, like I have been every Friday for years beyond easy count. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I continue to do it most weeks, but, I suppose the habit is just hard to break. Based on my stats, hardly anyone is even coming to this sad, old site any more. Still, as Yukio Mishima once wrote, I have “[i]ncurable hope, like an obstinate case of scabies, which lodges, damp and reddish, in the infected skin, producing a constant itching, and refusing to yield to any outer force.” Hope that one day, my real and true audience will arrive and worship me as the literary deity I once hoped to be. Yeah, I have a hard time keeping a straight face when I write junk like that, too, so it’s okay to laugh. I’ve given up any literary ambition.
Still, I do like a good turn of phrase, and if it has a nice picture to go with it, all the better. And, that, dear readers, is why I’ve chosen to share with you the Library of Congress Webcomics Archive. That’s right, only the best government approved webcomics for you, dear readers. Also, in spite of that spectre of governmental approval, the collected comics are quite good, including such varied fare as “XKCD” and “Girl Genius Online Comics!” to name two of my personal favorites.

Anyway, I’m on antibiotics, so that’s all I’ve got this week. Like it or leave it.
See you in the funny papers!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/10/2017

Neon Flames

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games — 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 Full Moon

It’s like finger-painting with stars.

You know how there are all those studies that say coloring is good for adults? That it helps us manage stress and all that? Well, I believe them. I have found that a little bit of coloring really has taken the edge off for me. I’m not quite as convinced about some of the smartphone apps or the programs, but, I suppose, if it works for you, then great. And, I know that general doodling has helped me relax, too. When I was a kid, I would just scribble out shapes and creatures and faces and whatever came to mind. It was, if you will, a form of self-soothing. Guess what? I found a new internet toy that does the same thing; Neon Flames. And, yes, it’s just like finger-painting with stars and nebulae. It’s super simple, and free. Just click on a color, then click and drag your mouse over the black background and watch. Just go play with it.

And, as a side note, I can actually see a use for it as a background creator. Maybe even as the background for the cover of that self-published science-fiction ebook you’ve been meaning to write. (Or is that just me?)

Anyway, it’s free and fun and a great way to waste a little time.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

12/30/2016

New Year’s Resolutions

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events — 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 Crescent

Another new year and another chance to break promises to myself!

I almost never bother with New Year’s Resolutions any more.  I mean, honestly, how many of us actually keep them?  Sure the gyms and churches are all full in January, but by Spring, we’re usually back to our old ways again.  Still it’s traditional, so I’ll share, again, my own little solution to the New Year’s Resolution “problem”.
Back in the day, when I was teaching myself a thing or two about programming, I ginned up a New Year’s Resolution Generator. I based it, in part, on some ideas from the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays, but I have to admit, I threw in some of my own warped sense of humor. And, I weighted things a little more toward heavier drinking and looser morals because I figured those were the resolutions that would be easier to keep.  Also, I figured they’d be funnier.

In any case, it was apparently funny enough that Comedy Central Insider linked it in their blog back when I first released it. Which is pretty cool, no matter how long ago that was.  And, yes, when in doubt I do tend to fall back to randomly generated suggestions for how to live my life.  In today’s world of chaos and unreality, it honestly doesn’t seem as bad an idea as it used to!  So, why not give it a shot yourself?  No one will know but us!

And try to have a good year, no matter what happens.  Make time to love your loved ones, do good work and add something positive to the world.  Or one of the random resolutions.  Whichever seems likelier to produce good results.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

12/23/2016

Tracking The Fat Man

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events — 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

Time to watch for the jolly old elf!

As I usually do at this time of year, I’m reminding you of where to find Santa and, more specifically, how to track his progress.
During the Cold War, NORAD stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia and China, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago.  The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy.  Before long, it was fully sanction and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars.  In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!
And, since the holiday is nearly upon us and I don’t plan on posting again this weekend, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

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