Diary of a Network Geek

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


The Next World War

Filed under: Art,News and Current Events,The Infinite Library — 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

Thankfully, this is just a fictional scenario. But, it’s damn plausible.

Good science fiction is an extrapolation of current technologies and social and economic conditions into a future scenario that allows the reader to see one potential future. As our technology has raced forward at a frightening speed, it’s become increasingly difficult to project scenarios that aren’t hopelessly outdated almost as soon as they’re printed. Some of the best work, though, manages to make us think anyway. I have to admit, I watch news about China closer than most people I know. It’s what let me get a huge stack of computers in stock for my company right before all the supply chains coming out of China got choked closed. That turned out quite well for us, by the way, though I wasn’t quite as good at predicting the need for laptops. In my naiveté, I thought that COVID-19 would get stopped at the Chinese borders before it became what it did. What can I say? You win some, you lose some.
This week I’m sharing a link to some speculation about a possible future conflict between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China in the not distant enough future. It’s a novel titled 2034:A Novel of the Next World War written by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis, two subject matter experts on both military action and diplomacy, adapted into a six-part serial for the web by the editors of Wired Magazine. Hopefully, this will become very dated, very quickly and something that we look back at and laugh at because things turned out so much better than these two experts speculate in this bit of near-future science fiction. But, a war that starts out with violations of our cybersecurity and escalates into something much worse seems all too plausible. Frankly, I hope that this work serves as a warning to the powers that rule the world and that they learn to get along better and deescalate the tensions that currently plague our world. I doubt they will, but I do hope.
Until then, go read all six parts and consider how this could all be far too real, far too soon.
Next week, I’ll try to find something lighter for you.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words!


2 Kooky Book Toys

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Infinite Library — 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

That’s two digital book-related toys.

Oddly enough, I found these two “living infographics” via two totally different paths, but they both ended up at the same site; The Pudding, a “…digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays”. It’s a cool site, really, with some great data visualizations. I’m going to share two of them that, obviously, relate to books.
First, there’s the Hipster Summer Reading List 2019. It’s really what it says it is; a very snooty, self-important reading list. The idea is that kids in school get Summer reading lists to help keep their little brains engaged over the break from actual school where all learning takes place. But, when we become adults, no one programs literature for us the same way any more. This interactive infographic helps you generate one for yourself. There are settings for relative obscurity and difficulty as well as a publication year slider. I’m sure they’re all “classics” in some sense or another, but they were all books I’d never ready, which, I suppose, is partly the point.
The other interactive infographic is a page of 11 years of top-selling book covers, arranged by visual similarity. It’s kind of fascinating to see the way genres group together around certain colors and stylistic choices. It makes sense, really, since they’re all competing for the same eyeballs that they’d all end up looking similar. A kind of natural selection of book cover design. Either way, a fascinating way to spend a few minutes.

In fact, I think they’re both pretty fascinating ways to spend a few minutes playing instead of working on a Friday.
So, enjoy!


This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Free Short Speculative Fiction

Filed under: Fun,The Infinite Library — 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

I love free and I love speculative fiction.
This week, I have both for you.

One of, if not THE, premier publisher of fantasy and science fiction currently, is TOR. Their excellent website, TOR.com, is a treasure trove of reviews, publishing announcements, essays, and, as you might have guessed, short fiction. It’s free, too, though that’s not always a given on any website these days. And, this week, I wanted to highlight an author who I somehow have not read much of yet; Michael Swanwick. I’ve read some of his excellent reviews and interviews of other authors, mostly via LOCUS, but, from Internet Science Fiction Database profile, he’s far more prolific than I’d realized! And that’s great news because the stories I’ve read from his Mongolian Wizard series are fantastic! They’ve got a very good steampunk feel to them, but in very much an original setting, while still, somehow, remaining so very familiar and comfortable that the reader just slips right into the most delightful suspension of disbelief that we hardly notice. They’re little miracles and a brilliant demonstration of short-form speculative fiction.
Go read them! All of them! Right now!

Then come back next week and see what I have for you next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, where I hope to write fiction one day as well.


7 Sites to Get Free Books

Filed under: Fun,The Infinite Library,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I’m always happy about sharing something that’s free.

With Christmas just around the corner, I know I’m feeling a little spending fatigue. Granted, I mostly send fruit from the McAllan Valley home to Illinois for family, but it seems like I’m spending money all the time around the holidays. If it’s not being tempted by a “Black Friday” sale of some kind, then it’s spending on a holiday party or some other similar thing. And, it’s not that I mind, mostly, but, as someone who has struggled with consumer debt and over-spending, the extra money spent at this time of year really starts to wear on me.
So, I’m always looking for cheap and free things this time of year to share with you, my faithful readers. Combine that with my penchant for hiding from the world via a good book, and sharing this article on Make Use Of titled The 7 Best Free Ebook Download Sites seemed like just the thing. One of them, Project Gutenberg, I’m both familiar with and have shared multiple times before, but the rest are new to me. And, if you don’t have an ebook reader, don’t worry, one, PDFBooksWorld, just needs a computer to read the PDF-ified books!
One note about this, though. As far as I can tell, the sites linked are all legal sites and not pirating work. Some have a mix of free and paid books, but they do all have at least SOME free books. And, at least one of them really only links to books that require an Amazon Kindle Unlimited account to get the free books. Also? Just to be clear, it’s wrong to pirate books. If they’re not freely available, it’s always best not to steal the work. Besides, this close to Christmas, can you afford to get on Santa’s “Naughty List”?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Pulp Archive

Filed under: Art,The Infinite Library — 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 Waxing Gibbous

Pulp is the perfect flavor of fiction for holiday weekend.

Yes, I know, Memorial Day is about honoring those who died to preserve our freedoms. Of course, I would never want to lose sight of that. But, it’s also a day off for most of us and I know, personally, I need an extra day off to unwind a bit. I know my stress is nothing like our military faces in combat theatres, but it is still stress and I do still feel it. My favorite way of escaping that stress is to read. Mostly the least-common-denominator of fiction. And, let me tell you, pulp fiction is the most “empty calorie” fiction imaginable. That’s why I was thrilled to see that Archive.org had shared their Pulp Magazine Archive. It’s all free and downloadable as PDF, straight text or either of the popular ebook formats; epub or mobi. And, it’s not just science-fiction! There’s plenty of detective fiction and movie magazines and more! Just the thing to distract you from the world for a few minutes.

And, also, take a break from your life for a couple minutes on Monday to consider those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can complain about our politicians and taxes.


This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


Shakespearean Prose

Filed under: Fun,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 Waning Crescent

The Bard’s influence is deep and wide.

When people ask me why I revere writing and the written word as much as I do, I always go into long explanations about communications and the human condition and, much like John Keating in Dead Poets Society said, about using language for purposes of connecting for procreation. Or I may reference Lost Horizon by James Hilton, which was not only so popular it was the first so-called “mass-market” paperback book, but is responsible for giving us the fictional synonym for paradise, Shangri-La. When I first learned that, the idea completely captivated me. The idea that as an author, I could make a permanent mark on the English language really struck home. I don’t have children, so leaving a mark on history like that, well, it would be a kind of immortality. And, no single writer has made more of a lasting impact on the English language than William Shakespeare. Think I’m joking? Take a look at the phrases, compiled by Ed Friedlander, MD, aka “The Pathology Guy” which have become so well-used that we think of them as cliches:

* All our yesterdays (Macbeth)
* All that glitters is not gold (The Merchant of Venice)(“glisters”)
* All’s well that ends well (title)
* As good luck would have it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
* As merry as the day is long (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)
* Bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)
* Bag and baggage (As You Like It / Winter’s Tale)
* Bear a charmed life (Macbeth)
* Be-all and the end-all (Macbeth)
* Beggar all description (Antony and Cleopatra)
* Better foot before (“best foot forward”) (King John)
* The better part of valor is discretion (I Henry IV; possibly already a known saying)
* In a better world than this (As You Like It)
* Neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet)
* Brave new world (The Tempest)
* Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)
* Breathed his last (3 Henry VI)
* Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)
* Refuse to budge an inch (Measure for Measure / Taming of the Shrew)
* Catch a cold (Cymbeline; claimed but seems unlikely, seems to refer to bad weather)
* Cold comfort (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)
* Conscience does make cowards of us all (Hamlet)
* Come what come may (“come what may”) (Macbeth)
* Comparisons are odorous (Much Ado about Nothing)
* Crack of doom (Macbeth)
* Dead as a doornail (2 Henry VI)
* A dish fit for the gods (Julius Caesar)
* Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war (Julius Caesar)
* Dog will have his day (Hamlet; quoted earlier by Erasmus and Queen Elizabeth)
* Devil incarnate (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)
* Eaten me out of house and home (2 Henry IV)
* Elbow room (King John; first attested 1540 according to Merriam-Webster)
* Farewell to all my greatness (Henry VIII)
* Faint hearted (I Henry VI)
* Fancy-free (Midsummer Night’s Dream)
* Fight till the last gasp (I Henry VI)
* Flaming youth (Hamlet)
* Forever and a day (As You Like It)
* For goodness’ sake (Henry VIII)
* Foregone conclusion (Othello)
* Full circle (King Lear)
* The game is afoot (I Henry IV)
* The game is up (Cymbeline)
* Give the devil his due (I Henry IV)
* Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)
* Jealousy is the green-eyed monster (Othello)
* It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)
* Heart of gold (Henry V)
* Her infinite variety (Antony and Cleopatra)
* ‘Tis high time (The Comedy of Errors)
* Hoist with his own petard (Hamlet)
* Household words (Henry V)
* A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! (Richard III)
* Ill wind which blows no man to good (2 Henry IV)
* Improbable fiction (Twelfth Night)
* In a pickle (The Tempest)
* In my heart of hearts (Hamlet)
* In my mind’s eye (Hamlet)
* Infinite space (Hamlet)
* Infirm of purpose (Macbeth)
* In my book of memory (I Henry VI)
* It is but so-so(As You Like It)
* It smells to heaven (Hamlet)
* Itching palm (Julius Caesar)
* Kill with kindness (Taming of the Shrew)
* Killing frost (Henry VIII)
* Knit brow (The Rape of Lucrece)
* Knock knock! Who’s there? (Macbeth)
* Laid on with a trowel (As You Like It)
* Laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
* Laugh yourself into stitches (Twelfth Night)
* Lean and hungry look (Julius Caesar)
* Lie low (Much Ado about Nothing)
* Live long day (Julius Caesar)
* Love is blind (Merchant of Venice)
* Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water (Henry VIII)
* Melted into thin air (The Tempest)
* Though this be madness, yet there is method in it (“There’s a method to my madness”) (Hamlet)
* Make a virtue of necessity (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
* The Makings of(Henry VIII)
* Milk of human kindness (Macbeth)
* Ministering angel (Hamlet)
* Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows (The Tempest)
* More honored in the breach than in the observance (Hamlet)
* More in sorrow than in anger (Hamlet)
* More sinned against than sinning (King Lear)
* Much Ado About Nothing (title)
* Murder most foul (Hamlet)
* Naked truth (Love’s Labours Lost)
* Neither rhyme nor reason (As You Like It)
* Not slept one wink (Cymbeline)
* Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it (Macbeth)
* [Obvious] as a nose on a man’s face (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
* Once more into the breach (Henry V)
* One fell swoop (Macbeth)
* One that loved not wisely but too well (Othello)
* Time is out of joint (Hamlet)
* Out of the jaws of death (Twelfth Night)
* Own flesh and blood (Hamlet)
* Star-crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet)
* Parting is such sweet sorrow (Romeo and Juliet)
* What’s past is prologue (The Tempest)
* [What] a piece of work [is man] (Hamlet)
* Pitched battle (Taming of the Shrew)
* A plague on both your houses (Romeo and Juliet)
* Play fast and loose (King John)
* Pomp and circumstance (Othello)
* [A poor] thing, but mine own (As You Like It)
* Pound of flesh (The Merchant of Venice)
* Primrose path (Hamlet)
* Quality of mercy is not strained (The Merchant of Venice)
* Salad days (Antony and Cleopatra)
* Sea change (The Tempest)
* Seen better days (As You Like It? Timon of Athens?)
* Send packing (I Henry IV)
* How sharper than the serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child (King Lear)
* Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (Sonnets)
* Make short shrift (Richard III)
* Sick at heart (Hamlet)
* Snail paced (Troilus and Cressida)
* Something in the wind (The Comedy of Errors)
* Something wicked this way comes (Macbeth)
* A sorry sight (Macbeth)
* Sound and fury (Macbeth)
* Spotless reputation (Richard II)
* Stony hearted (I Henry IV)
* Such stuff as dreams are made on (The Tempest)
* Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep (“Still waters run deep”) (2 Henry VI)
* The short and the long of it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
* Sweet are the uses of adversity (As You Like It)
* Sweets to the sweet (Hamlet)
* Swift as a shadow (A Midsummer Night’s Dream
* Tedious as a twice-told tale (King John)
* Set my teeth on edge (I Henry IV)
* Tell truth and shame the devil (1 Henry IV)
* Thereby hangs a tale (Othello; in context, this seems to have been already in use)
* There’s no such thing (?) (Macbeth)
* There’s the rub (Hamlet)
* This mortal coil (Hamlet)
* To gild refined gold, to paint the lily (“to gild the lily”) (King John)
* To thine own self be true (Hamlet)
* Too much of a good thing (As You Like It)
* Tower of strength (Richard III)
* Towering passion (Hamlet)
* Trippingly on the tongue (Hamlet)
* Truth will out (The Merchant of Venice)
* Violent delights have violent ends (Romeo and Juliet)
* Wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)
* What the dickens (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
* What’s done is done (Macbeth)
* What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (Romeo and Juliet)
* What fools these mortals be (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
* What the dickens (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
* Wild-goose chase (Romeo and Juliet)
* Wish is father to that thought (2 Henry IV)
* Witching time of night (Hamlet)
* Working-day world (As You Like It)
* The world’s my oyster (Merry Wives of Windsor)
* Yeoman’s service (Hamlet)

It’s amazing, isn’t it? And, yes, I’ll grant you that some of these are more familiar with people that have, perhaps, read a bit more literature than others, but a lot of them come up in every-day speech. (And, yes, if we’re being completely honest here, some of these are the first verifiable attribution of the word or phrase, and may have been already in use.)

Also, as an aside, check out the Pathology Guy’s website. He’s a pretty interesting guy and his site, which reminds me of the earliest days of personal websites, is filled with amazingly fun ways to waste some time on a Friday.


This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


Free Public Domain Photography Books

Filed under: Art,Photography,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

You know how I like free.

I started out the year talking big about stepping up my photography, but, honestly, between a new job, my wife’s business, and trying to refinance our house to get a better mortgage rate before they go up, I just haven’t done that. I still intend to, eventually. Honest.
In the mean time, however, I have been stacking up ebooks on photography in my queue. I always hope that if I can read enough about the art and science of photography, I’ll get motivated and get out with my camera more often. We’ll see how that goes, especially considering how backed up my reading queue is these days. At least, I didn’t spend a lot of money on my latest batch of photography books. And, if you’re looking for some free alternatives to inspire your own photographic I have good news for you, Project Gutenberg has hundreds of free, public-domain photography books digitized for you to load up on. They have everything from the really old developing and printing processes that photographers used to use to books of actual photography for raw inspiration.

In any case, they’re all free and, hopefully, interesting enough to get a fellow stuck photographer inspired enough to get going again.
Enjoy and we’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


Old School Newsletters

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events,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 Waning Crescent

Not so old school that they’re printed, but, still, pretty old school.

I’ve always been an email sort of guy. And, I pretty much hate the modern forums. I hate having to go to a web interface and deal with all their junk and advertising. Also, as regular readers may have noticed from my blog, I’m a pretty text-heavy sort of fella. When I started in IT, fancy interfaces were the stuff of science-fiction. We did our work in the digital uranium mines via text interfaces, and we liked it!
Okay, all joking aside, my first work with computers pre-dated both Windows and the web, and maybe I never got over the simple beauty of straight, text-based information. No real fancy formatting or anything, especially in email. I still tend to view and write email messages in plain, raw text.
In any case, back in the day, the way we shared information was the old-fashioned newsletter. And, let me tell you, there were some ultra exclusive email lists that people fought to get included on. My favorites were the slightly secret UNIX security email newsletters. It felt very, very exclusive and, as they said far too often in the movie Hackers, “elite”.

Now, mostly, that time is gone. People, including me, use blog aggregators and RSS feed readers to keep up on the latest news. But, the venerable email newsletters aren’t entirely dead. As the folks at Discover write, “There is something beautiful about the personal newsletter. We love the depth and admire writers who cover niche topics in great detail. We love the intimacy of seeing these notes arriving in our inboxes directly from our favorite authors. And we love the serenity of reading every word without being interrupted by notifications. … We often wake up in the morning, eager to check if the latest issue by our favorite author has arrived, much like we used to check the mailbox for the daily newspaper or weekly magazine in the old days.” And that sums up why I like email newsletters better than anything else. It IS like a very specialized electronic newspaper emailed to me on a regular basis. Like Dave Pell’s NextDraft, which I look forward to every week day.

So, if you’re like me and enjoy information at a slightly slower pace than firehose that is the web, check this out and subscribe to some of these personally curated newsletters.
Hope to see you back next week, and, until then, enjoy your reading!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


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.

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