Diary of a Network Geek

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

6/5/2020

Political Agenda

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events,Truth and Consequences — 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 Full Moon

Buckle up, this might be a bit of a bumpy ride.

I usually work pretty hard to stay non-political on my blog, but it’s too late for that. As my childhood hero, Abraham Lincoln famously said “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” So, what I’m willing to say and be responsible for through time and eternity is that, yes, we need to change. We need to be a truly free and equal society. Being more aware is a start. I can’t change everything myself, but we can damn well vote for people that we think can change things to be more like the way we were taught they should be. We can vote for officials that want to make our country what we were taught it was already. Every state can be a swing state if enough people vote their conscience. If you’re not registered to vote yet, go do that right now.

And, we can continue to educate ourselves, because it is OUR responsibility to educate ourselves as to the condition of our fellow citizens, not theirs. I’ve already bought the Autobiography of Malcolm X and there are several lists of racial justice books that have been recommended, including this list from Early Bird Books and this list from the Chicago Public Library. We can read books from those lists and continue to educate ourselves because this is an issue that we can’t ignore any more.

We can support more minority businesses. There’s a great list of resources for Black freelancers at Freelancers Union that include lists of Black businesses we can support.

We can donate to causes that support a United States of America that is truly free and equal for all of her citizens, like the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not everyone may be willing to risk their life or incarceration to protest injustice, but we can absolutely support those people who are fighting that fight. We may not even be able to donate time to them, but we can absolutely give them money to keep the fight going.

Why do all that? Because, while we may not be who’s afraid today, we can be who’s afraid tomorrow. And, because the things that the activists are fighting for will benefit all of us as a nation.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

5/8/2020

Today, More Than Ever…

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal Care,The Day Job,The Network Geek at Home,Truth and Consequences — 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

In these troubled times, we’re all talking about the same thing in the same way.

I know the isolation is getting rough for all of us and it’s definitely giving me more days where I feel like my brain has more in common with moldy cottage cheese than the evolutionary advantage I’m told it is. In fact, I’ve been trying to write this post for days. Normally, I queue up these weekly posts with plenty of time to spare, but, lately, I’ve been writing them closer and closer to my self-imposed morning deadline. Honestly, I know in part it’s because I’ve been just as busy as I normally am, if not busier, but also because my creative thinking is just weak and stagnate. That’s been made no better by the posts on LinkedIn telling me that “…[if] you don’t come out this quarantine with: -A new skill -Your side hustle started -More knowledge you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.” For one thing, that’s bullshit. If you have time to do any of those things, you’re unemployed and worried about finding work and healthcare, which is not conducive to actually accomplishing any of those things, or you’re stealing time and resources from your employer. Either that, or you’re about to be laid off because you’re normally so unproductive that you have all this spare time and just needed to be able to more sufficiently hide that from your supervisor by not being seen. And, even if you aren’t doing that, but for various reasons are legitimately employed and legitimately not stealing time from your employer, you may still be massively depressed because of all the chaos and fear and stress at all levels of society. Saying that we should all just get our collective shit together and magic up some of that toxic hustle that the magical thinking, next-wave, would-be Napoleon Hill’s have been trying to sell us for the past decade, is about like telling a person with clinical depression they should just try to be happier. That’s not how it works. If that’s all it took, we wouldn’t have a multi-billion dollar antidepressant medication industry. Granted, those faux inspirational messages all seem to come from marketing companies who, traditionally, make more money when they can sell people things to fix problems we don’t have until the marketing companies convince us that we need to fix them, but it seems like it’s been really bad the last couple of years. Really, it’s just the latest “get rich quick” scheme meant to fleece the unwary and desperate. Of course, the truth there is that the only way to get rich quickly, is to sell someone else the “sure-fire method” of getting rich with little to no work. (Spoiler alert; those are all scams!)
And, for me, the added stress and strangeness of working from home has made everything seem flat and repetitive. Surely, you’ve noticed that all the commercials lately sound the same, right? According to the Boing Boing article titled “Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same”, part of my challenge may be something called “semantic satiation”, which is “…a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds.” And, that’s officially the excuse I’m using for why it feels like nothing anyone is saying any more matters. And, that’s true for news stories about the ailing economy, too. So, basically, what I’m saying here is that I feel massively overwhelmed by this entire situation, as do, I imagine, the two other people who probably still read this blog, as well as everyone else in the country. We can’t keep track of what day it is, or what we should be doing, which are both signs of stress and depression, by the way. And, I seriously think that just maintaining my “day job” is impressive enough.
The thing is, the world is changing. Of course, the world is always changing, but, right now, we are all very, very aware of the fact that it’s changing and that the changes are pretty much all out of our control. Honestly, that’s how it is pretty much all the time, but, right now, we just can’t avoid that particular truth. And, you know what? That’s a really scary thing to wake up to and it’s okay to be scared or whatever you may be feeling by all this. It’s okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and like it’s super hard to do anything that really matters. It’s okay to just want to have a hobby that’s fun and not going to result in some monetary gain. It is okay.
For me, that’s been photography in the past. They way I like to do photography takes a lot of time, though, so I haven’t done as much as I’d like. If you feel like you’d like to get creative and learn a little photography, for fun, but haven’t known where to start, I have good news. Now you can get some free, thanks to the Photography Life YouTube channel, which has all kinds of video tutorials meant for beginners. (I do have to admit, I found them thanks to PetaPixel.)
If that’s too much, then go ahead and try a game. In the past I’ve talked about Universal Paperclips, which is still a good choice, as it mostly runs in the background after a certain point. But, there’s also a new game that looks fun, based on this article on Engadget, Who knew I’d get obsessed with a spreadsheet game?.
And, if you just need to have some soothing music in the background while you try to work, try Robert Fripp’s Music for Quiet Moments series. Each is about 50 minutes of gentle, peaceful music. For something a little more unnverving, try the AI-generated music based on famous artist’s original work. It’s a little odd, but certainly interesting.

Finally, I’d like to share something with you that I personally find helpful and uplifting; Pema Chödrön on SuperSoul Sunday via the Oprah Winfrey Network YouTube channel. She’s a fantastic Buddhist teacher and her talks and books are incredibly valuable teaching for me in “these uncertain times”.

So, like I promised, things are getting weird. Next week, I’ll be in the office a bit. My co-worker and I are coming in every other day, to try and help keep the potential for exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum for us. I pray that it goes well.
Check in next week to see!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/30/2019

Life Calculations

Filed under: Fun,Truth and Consequences — 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

Just what is the cost of wasting time on Facebook?

One of the things that really impressed me in my college Economics classes was the idea of “opportunity cost”. Now, thanks to my ruthlessly practical upbringing and my father’s background in business and economics, I knew full well what “opportunity costs” were well before I got to college. I don’t think he ever called it that, but I grasped the concept early on. In fact, as I reflect at the theoretical half-way point of my life, preparing for my official mid-life crisis, it occurs to me that the greatest losses in my life are not financial or material, but lost opportunities and lost time. Really, for me at least, those two things are intimately linked. Every lost opportunity was lost due to me wasting time in some way. Of course, that’s a pretty ephemeral thing to try and quantify. It’s a little like trying to prove a negative event, which, if you haven’t attempted to do, trust me, is quite a challenge.
So, you can imagine how excited I was to find Everyday Life Calculators on the OMNI Calculator website. Here, finally, I could measure things like the cost of social media in real, measurable terms of money not earned and books not read, among other things, when I was wasting time on the social media du jour. (Which for me, lately has been Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t judge! You’re wasting time reading my blog!)
So, now, before you spend all weekend getting jealous of the curated lives you see on Instagram or Facebook, calculate how many books you can read instead. Or how many calories you can burn at the gym. Or how much practice time you can get in on the ukulele. Yikes!
See you next week, when I’ll hopefully have something more motivating and less shaming for you to play with.
Enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/13/2019

Hilda Hoffman

Filed under: About The Author,News and Current Events,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:30 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Born December 8th, 2002. Departed March 13th, 2019.

At 11:25am this morning, the vet told Sharon and I what we already knew; Hilda had passed on from this world into the next. I got her when she was just barely four months old and able to be spayed, because I wanted to come home to someone who loved me. And, I never doubted that she loved me. She was always Daddy’s girl, even though she spent more time with Sharon the last several years of her life, and surely loved Sharon at least as much as she loved me. She was born to a rescue already, or as I liked to remind her when she occasionally got sassy, she was the foundling of an unwed mother. I told her she should be grateful, but it turns out I was the one who was grateful for her.
I named her, against the strong objections of my ex-wife and step-daughter, Hildegard, though we always called her Hilda for short. She was named after Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th Century German saint, who was famous for being a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic and polymath. I thought my own Hilda deserved no less a significant name.
Although she looked like a very small Golden Retriever, her paperwork says that her mother was a Tibetan Terrier mix. We don’t know for sure what breed mix her father was, but based on the purple spots on her tongue, I always suspected he was a Chow mix. When anyone asked what kind of dog she was, I always told them, “Brown”. And, mostly that was true. She was just a good, brown dog. The kind of dog every boy hopes to have when he asks his parents for a dog.
She was always sweet-tempered, and neither Sharon nor I can ever recall her snapping at us, no matter what we had to do to her for health or grooming reasons. Though, I do understand in her later life, she was less patient with strangers at the vet’s office. I sympathized with her; I don’t care to be pawed at by doctors either, if I can help it.
I had her for sixteen good years. She saw me through my divorce. Even when my ex-wife conned me into letting her take Hilda to Phoenix, Arizona when we split, through strange circumstances, I managed to get her back. She came back to me via animal freight on a United Airlines flight and the inestimable kindness of strangers. She’d been crate trained until then, but after that adventure, she was a free-range pup. She spent most nights on the couch next to me and then in bed next to me. I think she was afraid she’d be kidnapped again if she didn’t.
She saw me through a very rough year of cancer treatment, too. Always patient with my lack of energy and just happy to be near me. While I was single after the divorce for many years, we had a regular ritual of driving to a pet store of an evening, then stopping at Jack-In-The-Box for 99 cent tacos. Years later, when Sharon brought her Jack-In-The-Box tacos, it was clear that she remembered them fondly.
And, then, when Sharon moved in and was having some difficult times, Hilda was always there, by her side, happy to give kisses and eat treats and french fries and chicken until Sharon felt better.
She also got very protective of our house and yard once Sharon moved in, as if she sensed that Sharon was important to me and needed to be kept safe, even if it just meant keeping her safe from deliveries and marauding kitty cats. It was also Sharon who came up with the idea of taking Hilda on rides in the car when she got too old to go for long walks the way she used to love to do. Hilda would lean her face into the wind, her nostrils getting a big as she could stretch them trying to gather in all the smells flying by. I truly think that those car rides brought her joy. I know for sure that having Sharon around to dote on her improved the quality of her life in her later years.
About two years ago, Hilda had a little scare with cancer, too. She had a very successful surgery which seemed to completely correct the cancer issue. And, it was at that point we decided that I would stop trying to get Sharon not to spoil Hilda so much and stop pretending that I didn’t spoil her just as much. At the time, we thought we’d only have another six months with her. We got more than two more years. Two bonus years of unconditional love and joy on four feet.
In short, Hilda was everything that a dog person could hope for in a companion, even, I think, converting Sharon from a cat person into a dog person. She was, not to put too fine a point on it, a very good dog.
And, now she’s gone and I’ll miss her. I know we’ll have other dogs, but we will never have one like Hilda again. She was one of a kind, and a true blessing for everyone who had the pleasure to know her.

You can see our collected photos of her here.

8/25/2017

Not Quite Right

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Truth and Consequences — 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 Waxing Crescent

Or, as I like to remind people, correlation is not causation.

I pride myself on my logic and reason. Perhaps, too much so. I’m relatively well read and I actually paid attention in Science, History and English classes, but I’m always surprised at how little I really know. And, think about all the things that people have said or claimed without any real evidence. Just like a Facebook meme, these “facts” get repeated over and over until people start to take them as the actual truth.
For instance, did you know that an undercover police officer can, in fact, lie to you about being a police officer? Or, that Vikings never had helmets with horns on them? Or, that Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t actually short? Or, that frogs won’t try to escape water that is slowly brought to a boil? Or, how about one of my personal favorites, “irregardless”? Yeah, that is TOTALLY not a real word.

And, no, you don’t have to go to Snopes for these, they’re all collected at Wikipedia’s List of Common Misconceptions.
So, read up before heading out with your friends tonight and correct that poor, misguided drunk spouting off in the corner!
And have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

8/4/2017

Surveillance Self-Defence

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side,Truth and Consequences — 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

Also known as “opsec for computer users”.

Though, to be fair, most computer users don’t actually need this kind of operational security. And, they certainly don’t refer to it as “opsec”, like I just did. These days, I pretty much keep my nose clean and my mouth shut, even online. I mean, look, the average troll on a message board really isn’t worth my time, especially at my consulting rates. What’s more, I have never, ever seen anyone convince someone with an argument, no matter how well reasoned, that the listener’s position is, in fact, wrong and the speaker really is the political/cultural/media genius that they both think they are and claim to be. I mean, literally, not a single time. Not even when I’ve been the one making the arguments!

Still, there are those last few idealistic “true believers” out there who continue to throw themselves against the colossus that is the internet comment board, or, worse, the government. (And, let’s face it, no matter who’s government it is, getting them to change is a pretty monumental task!) Those brave souls need to keep themselves safe. It’s for those crusaders that the Electronic Frontier Foundation created their series of tutorials which they’ve grouped together under the heading of Surveillance Self Defence. And, let me tell you what, these are some really smart people who have made some really great tutorials on staying safe, and as anonymous as necessary, on the internet while you protest against or agitate for your cause.
They’ve also been fighting for you, whether you know it or not, for years. Since 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also known as the EFF, has been fighting to keep your free speech alive, especially on the internet. They’ve fought everyone from the MPAA to the U.S. Federal Government and won often. You can read about their legal victories on their website.

In any case, the EFF is a worth cause, to whom I donated anonymously at DEFCON 20, and opsec is pretty important, too.
So, all in all, not my usual “fun” for a Friday afternoon, but still good to talk about.
Come back next week to see what else I have to share!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, my other blog!

11/18/2016

The Inevitable Writer’s Block

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo,Stimulus and Production,Truth and Consequences — 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

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this month, you should be about two thirds done with your novel.

If you’re not, don’t worry about it! And, either way, it seems like a good week to talk about writer’s block.
Now, assuming that you’ve been writing this whole time, the most common forms of writer’s block, namely not having an idea and not using the habit of writing to actually put words on the page, are not your problem. Maybe, you’ve gotten somewhere in the middle and your genius story seems to have stalled. Or, maybe you got to a blind alley and realized that your story took a wrong turn 1,500 words ago. It happens.
Either way, try to remember this is all about getting the words out and on paper. And, if that’s not enough to get you going again, head over to Gizmodo and check out their advice on The 10 Types of Writer’s Block and How To Overcome Them. Not all of it will apply, obviously, but I’d lay odds that at least one of those ten types of writer’s block will at least come close to applying to you. Naturally, I think the advice will help, too. And, in fact, I encourage you to read all the advice, because something that doesn’t seem like it applies to your frustration may end up being what knocks you loose and starts you writing again.

Another helpful resource that can help you get through a block is your fellow NaNoWriMo writers. You can connect with hundreds of people who are also participating in NaNoWriMo in the NaNoWriMo Forums. The people there can be incredibly supportive and helpful and they may need a break from their writing at this point, too.

Again, the most important thing is to get your rough draft out this month. After you get the thing written, you can take a break and come back to edit it into shape. Don’t worry about that now. Just worry about getting your first draft written.
So, go, read as much as you need to to get past your block, then get back to writing!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


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