Diary of a Network Geek

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

12/22/2017

Charitable Giving

Filed under: About The Author,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

As someone who’s been the beneficiary of charitable giving, I heartily endorse it!

And, actually, you may have enjoyed the benefits of charity, directly or indirectly, too. For instance, if you have had cancer or know someone who has had cancer, you’ve benefited from money donated to cancer research from any of a number of charities. If you’ve used Wikipedia, you have only been able to do so due to donations made to that organization. Also, I know that it’s at least partially my upbringing in the Methodist Church that has helped me form the belief that I should give back some of what I’ve been given. I don’t give it all to a church these days, but I do still like to give to worth causes. That seems like an especially important thing to both believe and do these days with the social and political climate being what they are. If you feel the same, but aren’t sure where to give, I have a couple suggestions.
First of all, there’s the Boing Boing 2017 Guide to Charitable Giving. I don’t necessarily endorse all the charities they list, but there are some good ones there, though several are out of the UK and may not be to my American audience’s taste.
Secondly, I’d like to recommend that you consider giving to established charities in your local area. Find a homeless shelter or women’s shelter to give to this year, maybe, or, my personal favorite, a local stray animal rescue. I lean toward donating toward the most helpless in need in my local area. I like the animal rescues because it’s such a huge problem where I live and it’s mostly domestic animals that have been mistreated one way or another. Domesticated animals are our responsibility and we should step up to that.

So, this Friday before Christmas, I hope you’ll forgive me for getting up on a soap box, but I truly believe that if we want the world to be a better place, we have to make it that way. One way I choose to do that is to donate to worthy causes. Besides, if you donate now, you can take it off your taxes, so it’s a “win-win” situation!

Anyway, I hope you’ll think about it and, either way, have a Merry Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/15/2017

Productivity

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Not just doing more in less time.

Look, I’m going to admit something to you here. I’m lazy. Not only that, but I feel terrible about it.
Yes, that probably will come as a shock to most people who know me in real life, away from this strange digital construct we call blogging, but it’s true. I’m not just lazy and unmotivated, but I’m slow and super unproductive. I waste so much time I cannot even begin to conceive of a metaphor that encapsulates the enormity of my personal, moral failing. And, I promise you, I am not even kidding.
So, you know, happy Friday.

But, here’s the thing; I’m always looking for tools that might make me more productive and more efficient. And, some time back, I found a page of them by James Clear that he called The Productivity Guide: Time Management Strategies That Work. He defines productivity thusly; “Productivity is a measure of efficiency of a person completing a task. We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important. Being productive is about maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things, not maximum speed on everything.” And, the page gets better from there. For instance, he gives you seven relatively easy steps to take that will make you at least a little more productive right away. And, he links to some great articles, both his own and those written by others, that talk about increasing productivity and time management. He even references one of my favorites, Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’s worth a look.

So, big confession aside, I hope that Mr. Clear’s page of links and advice can help you overcome your time management and productivity hurdles.
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, my other blog, where I hope you’ll leave your comments and experiences about productivity and time management.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects."
   --Arnold Glasgow

9/1/2017

Flood Sensors

Filed under: About The Author,Better Living Through Technology,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — 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

This is mostly of local interest and probably would have been more help last week.

But, I’m hoping it will serve as a convenient place to find this information next year when the hurricane season starts again. And, yes, this is mostly relevant to the greater Houston area, where, dear readers, you will recall has been home since I moved here from the Chicago area in 1998. Since then, I’ve experienced a severe tropical storm, and the direct or indirect effects of three hurricanes (Katrina, Rita and Ike), before our latest Hurricane Harvey. Tropical Storm Allison was about the worst flooding event I had ever seen. My ex-wife and I were in an apartment with her daughter and woke up to find our part of town cut off from the rest of Houston by flooding. But, that flood didn’t stick around incredibly long and we were able to get out and drive the next day. That drive around my current neighborhood let us see which of the houses we had been looking at flooded. Obviously, we chose the one that didn’t and that’s where I live today with my current blushing bride. I’m pleased to say that we didn’t flood this time, either.
The thing people don’t realize about living down here is that it’s not usually the hurricane itself that causes the most damage. Rather, it’s the flooding caused by the rain that comes before, during and after. Hurricane Harvey dumped more than two feet of water on the greater Houston area. Some places got more than that. What was worse, though, is all the water running down from beyond the Houston area raising the levels of all the water ways that everyone here calls “bayous”. In theory, they should move all the water away from where we live and send it down to the Gulf. In reality, Houston is so over-built that they can’t always manage to do that.
My wife and I got lucky this time. The only water we got in our house was down our chimney and what came in on our dog. Our cars were both safe and dry. I know at least one person who’s parents have probably lost their house and two people who lost cars while trying to evacuate. This is the worst flooding that anyone can remember in Texas, and let me tell you, that’s saying something.
So, my link today is to the Harris County Flood Control District, who is the governmental group in charge of mitigating flooding events in Harris County, where Houston resides. Frankly, it’s not a job I envy, especially this week. But, for those who are concerned, they have a LOT of information about flooding in the area. Most importantly to me this past week or so, they are responsible for creating and maintaining the Harris County Flood Warning System, which has links to water-level sensors in bayous. If you go to their Interactive Mapping Tools, you can put in your address and find the closest sensors to you and what bayou is most likely to effect flooding in your area. I spent a good amount of time this weekend watching several of those sensors very, very closely. It was, to say the least, nerve-wracking, but, if things had gotten bad enough, I would have known right when I should either head to our second story or try to get out of the area if it was still possible.

Over the coming months, after hurricane season officially ends in November and before it starts again next year, I plan to add some resources here for emergency preparedness, starting with putting together a “go bag” in case of evacuation. Because, frankly, it’s never too early to start planning for next year.

And, next week, hopefully, I’ll have something a lot more fun to share with you than the grim reality of climate change, unchecked over-building, and preparing for the inevitable flooding disasters to come.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

6/23/2017

A Different Kind of Ad-Blocker

Filed under: Art,Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor — 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 New Moon

We pretty much all hate ads, right?

Especially on our favorite websites. Yes, I know, those ads help pay for the site, and I even have some, hopefully unintrusive, ads on one of my sites. But, the honest truth is that even I hate ads. In fact, I’ve been thinking about dropping the ads on Diary of a Network Geek completely and just coming up with a product to sell to try and pay for the hosting. It’s not much per month, and I love my websites, so I’d pay it no matter what, but defraying that cost would not hurt my feelings. In any case, all that said, even I hate web advertising. Adblockers have been around for a long time and there are probably thousands of browser plugins and addons to hide or remove those pesky ads. This week, though, I have a new variation on that for you; Intently.
This browser plugin for Chrome, Firefox and Safari doesn’t just remove advertising on websites, it replaces it with pretty pictures and inspirational quotes. You do have to sign up for a free account, but then you can download the plugin and get inspired instead of sold to by your favorite websites. There is a “Pro” version, which costs money, that lets you add more “premium channels” of content, so you could make the ad replacements skew heavier toward fitness or motivational quotes or puppies or whatever you’re into. I, personally, have stayed with the free account and been quite happy with it in the two weeks or so that I’ve been using the plugin.

So, there you go. Short, sweet and to the point. Free ad-blocking with a paid option for better replacements. (By the way, I don’t get any money if you upgrade to the paid version, so don’t do it thinking you’re helping me!)
Next week, maybe I’ll test my audience and share something even geekier than that!
Come back and check it out!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

12/13/2016

Choosing A Personal Injury Lawyer

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:02 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I used to link to my divorce lawyer, so I get a lot of hits about lawyers.

Below is a sponsored infographic about choosing a personal injury lawyer, to help you get what you are due.

Via: Farar Law Group

(Yes, a sponsored post or infographic means I get paid for it.)

12/12/2016

Another Year Older, And …

Filed under: About The Author,Deep Thoughts,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,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 Gibbous

… hopefully wiser. But, who’s to say, really?

I don’t think it’s an accident that my birthday fell on a Monday this year, because, I’ll tell you, it’s felt a little bit like a year of Mondays!
Still, I’ve survived another lap around the Sun, and that’s something to celebrate, especially considering how close I’ve come to not making it this far. But, now that I have made it through cancer and a lot of my own foolishness, the actuarial tables indicate I can still expect quite a few more years of misadventures. In fact, if I’m reading the most recent Social Security actuarial table for my sex and birth year, I can expect to live until I’m somewhere between 70 and 107, which is fine with me! Actually, I come from fairly long-lived stock so I have a pretty good reason to believe I’ll be at the higher end of that range, which is also good, since there are still so many things yet to be done with my life.

It’s been a strange year career-wise. I got laid off in February and started working a contract in March, where I’ve worked ever since. In theory, they may eventually hire me on full-time, and there’s even been talk about that, but not a lot of movement in that direction. Still, it’s pretty good income and enough to cover our expenses and COBRA payments, so, for now, it’s okay. Still, if they don’t bring me on full-time sooner rather than later, I may end up having to find something more permanent. You may recall that last year, I got myself a an annual subscription to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, with the idea that I’d improve my photography. So far, that hasn’t happened much. I have done more photos for my wife’s business website, The Organizing Decorator, but I haven’t really done anything for me. This coming year, I plan on changing that. My blushing bride has said that she’d like to have more of my photography to frame and hang around the house, so, thanks to my big drive crash a couple of years ago, that means I have to get my butt off the couch and out photographing things. My favorites have been animals, especially at the Houston Zoo, but I also have some ideas for still life and abstract work, too. I’ve been really inspired by one of my photography heroes, Syl Arena, and his color field photography. They’re really amazing and emotional works and something I’d love to emulate in my own, primative way.

You may recall that last year I mentioned starting the Five Minute Journal. I did it with their pre-printed journal for six months, then, when I filled that, I continued in my own, plain journal. (I used Peter Pauper Essentials Large Notebook. They look like a Moleskine, but they’re much less expensive.)
And, I also started the Five Year Journal, too. Yes, it’s by Samuel Pepys, the most famous diarist of all, but I don’t really think anyone will be interested in my personal diary. Still, Pepys probably thought the same thing. In any case, that’s been going strong for almost a year now and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon. The Five Minute Journal really has, I think, put me in a more positive frame of mind.
This year, my birthday gift to my self was a rowing machine and an inversion table. I hope to start two new health habits that make the coming years a little easier and more enjoyable. I think it will be worth it. Everyone I know who has one, swears by their inversion table and says that it will help my back. And, according to an article or two I read, a rowing machine is supposed to be about the best full-body workout I can get on a machine. I guess we’ll see! I’ll tell you this, though, I haven’t regretted any of the birthday gifts I’ve gotten myself in the past, and I’m pretty sure this one is going to be okay, too.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of personality. I can only hope to do the same, one day.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission. (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)
And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the computer mouse made its debut just four days before my birth! How crazy is that? The mouse, which makes graphic interfaces so practical and easy to use, is actually four days older than I am!

So, there you have it. Another lap around the Sun completed with a little more joy this year than last. That’s a trend I think I can pretty heartily endorse. I have some work cut out for myself this coming year, with some plans to improve my professional growth by way of computer security certifications, so check back next year to see how that went. Also, in addition to the photography, which you’ll be able to keep up with at my Flickr photostream, I plan to write on the blog a bit more, too. Maybe just once a month more, but still, more. We’ll see how that turns out.

So, all in all, I’m doing pretty good for a forty-eight-year-old cancer survivor who’s on his second marriage and has a mortgage. Life is pretty sweet and I’m looking forward to the coming year and years! I hope you all will be with me for quite a few more!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

6/24/2016

Submarine Google View

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Personal,Photography — 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 Gibbous

Those who know me best, know my obsession with submarines.

I have loved submarines, especially the World War II era subs, since I was a kid growing up in Chicago and going to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There I would always want to make sure and tour the famous U505; a German U-Boat that was captured intact and towed through the Great Lakes to her final resting place in Chicago.  I’ve probably been through the U-505 more than a dozen times.  It’s incredible.
If I’m ever in a city where I can tour a submarine, I do my best to make it a priority.  For instance, the last time I was in San Francisco, I made sure to see the USS Pampanito, a retired U.S.N. submarine.  Similar in many ways to the German boats, but not quite as cramped.
I’ve read a number of books about World War II submarines, as well as modern subs, from both the Allies and the Axis.  I’ve never been aboard a Japanese submarine or a British submarine, but, now, thanks to the magic power of Google, we can take a virtual tour of one.  The HMS Ocelot has been pretty completely mapped by Google and you can get a really good look at what she was like.  Nothing replaces actually being in one, but this is about the next best thing.

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re probably avoiding work like most everyone else is, so why not have some educational fun and do a virtual tour of a piece of history!?
Enjoy and have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

6/10/2016

Lunch Read

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,The Infinite Library — 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

More self-education at lunch.

This is a little less work oriented than last week and certainly less technical, but it’s still the same idea. It’s an email newsletter, which seem to be gaining a bit in popularity again.  In this case, it’s a curated email, sent weekly, filled with content that the site owners claim will broaden your perspective called The Lunch Read.  I don’t know about that, but it does have videos, articles and music that you might not have heard yet, all sent to you, regularly.  You can read more about it at About: The Lunch Read.  And, if you’re not quite sold yet, even though it’s free, you can see recent past newsletters they’ve sent out at The Lunch Read Leftovers.  Judging from that content, it’s not a bad newsletter.

Besides, it’s Friday, and if  you’re reading this, you’re not working anyway.  Might as well sign up and see what it’s all about!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.