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Evernote IT Documentation Templates

Prepare yourself for some high-intensity geekery!

No, seriously.
So, I’ve been contracting somewhere that has virtually no network documentation and what little they did have got destroyed in a catastrophic event.  For privacy and security, not to mention client confidentiality, I won’t go into details on that.  But, as a result, one of the things I’ve been doing is rediscovering their network and documenting it as fully as possible.  For that, I’ve been searching out and using various templates.
Also, in a seemingly unrelated course of events, I’ve recently started using Evernote as part of my Getting Things Done revival.  I’ve been re-reading Getting Things Done, originally in preparation for starting a new job, and trying to get it going again in all areas of my life to better manage my time and efforts.  My wife raved about both GTD and Evernote, so I splurged and bought the $10 document from David Allen’s web store on setting up Evernote so that it was optimized for GTD.  It was some of the best money I’ve spent in a long, long time.  This combination is so completely awesome!

But, what’s even more awesome is the power of Evernote templates.  Their templates are really just a blank document that’s formatted in a particular way that serves as a starting point for a regular note style that you make over and over again.  They’ve written up a whole article on it; How-to: Save Time with Templates.  If you’re working with Evernote, it’s definitely worth the time and trouble.  My personal template library is hitting 59 items right now, but I’m sure there will be more.
And, that, finally, leads me to my Friday Freebie; EvernoteITDocumentationTemplates. These are a collection of six templates, so far, that I’ve munged together to let you more easily record the basic information an IT professional might need to capture about devices on their network.  I have no doubt there will eventually be more.  In any case, go ahead and download these and enjoy them.
To get those into your personal Evernote, check out their article How to Backup and Restore Notes and Notebooks.  It’s got step-by-step instructions there for getting started.
Good luck and enjoy!


This post originally appeared at Diary of a Network Geek.

Curing JetLag

Well, more like mitigating jetlag by controlling one of it’s causes.

Mostly, we think of jetlag as being caused by lack of sleep or a disrupted sleep cycle.  And, there certainly is validity to that, but it’s not the only cause.  It’s also brought on because travel messes up our eating schedule.  That, in turn, aggravates all the other effects of travel.  The way to beat it, according to Jessica Coen of FlyGirl, a Gawker Media site dedicated to travel, is to fast for roughly 12-16 hours before what should be the normal breakfast time at your final destination.  With long distances and time-zones, calculating that can get complicated.  Luckily, they made a handy, web-based, calculator to help you figure it all out.  Just type in your starting city, click the arrow and then type in your destination city and click the next arrow and the FlyGirl Anti-JetLag Calculator will tell you when to stop eating at your departure point and start eating again at your arrival point.

At least, that’s the theory.  Since I don’t really travel much these days, I haven’t tested it.

Also, as a side note, I’m testing a new bit of programming for the blog this week to help the search engines sort out where my writing originated from and where it’s ended up.  It’s important only to Google, so you can mostly ignore it.
Have a great weekend!

Security In A Box

First of all, you should know I’m talking about computer security, not home security.

Secondly, know that “in a box” really means something more like “all in one place”.
I’m suggesting this site this week because security is on my mind.  Not only in a corporate sense, but in a personal sense.  In a professional setting, I’ve brushed up against something that could conceivably heighten scrutiny of my own personal foot-print on the internet.  And, I’ve had a particular address from a particular Eastern European country banging against on of my WordPress installations pretty hard this past week.  All of which added up to me checking my collected links for a security themed site I could share with you all.
The site is called Security In A Box and it’s a collection of tips, advice and links to programs meant to help keep you safe on the internet.  Their advice covers everything from creating good passwords to staying safe on social media.  And, they have group-specific suggestions for special interest groups who might have an additional level of scrutiny, either by other special interest groups or governments.  It’s quite a good site for everyone, of course, but of special interest to anyone who might find themselves at the sharp end of one of the many sharpened sticks running loose on the internet without keepers.

So, stay safe this weekend and enjoy the lovely weather while it lasts!

Updated Look and Feel

I’m experimenting with a new look and feel for the site.

Actually, this theme, called “Latte“, is meant for a more person-centric site and feels a bit more narcissistic than I’m really comfortable being out loud.  Also, it’s more bent toward a resume-like format.  Still, I like the typography and general styling, so I’m going to roll with it for a bit.  No doubt, I’ll change back to something else more simple and clean eventually.  Maybe I’ll even code myself a new theme, from scratch, like I’ve been meaning to do for a couple years now.


Expense and Tax Tools

So, it looks like I’m going to be an independent contractor for a bit.

And, that means tracking expenses and tracking billable hours, as well as the taxes I have to pay on that.  Since I’m an iPhone user, that means that, yes, there’s an app for that.  Or, ten apps, actually.  From eWeek, Ten Tax Filing, Expense Tracking Tools to Keep the IRS Happy.  Because, really, we all just want to avoid an audit or any Imperial entanglements.
And, frankly, I’m exhausted this week and all my creativity and wit has been drained into trying to help my client rebuild from a devastating data-loss that may ultimately result in some legal action.  It’s bad.  Really bad.  And, I’m pretty worn out this week.
So, I posted this and hopefully, you’ll get something better next week.  Maybe a review of the network audit tools I’ve been using to catalog what they have, and will have again.
(And, no, I don’t even have the energy to run an April Fool’s joke.  Seriously.  I’m that drained this week.)
Have a great weekend, y’all!

How Not To Get Hired

Do you sense a theme in my posts lately?

So, yes, I’m still looking for work and it’s still on my mind.
I’ve had some phone interviews and I think something is about to break, but I don’t want to jinx it by going into details.  So, instead, I’m going to talk about what terrifies a job candidate most; the interview.  Let’s face it, even those of us who have done a bunch of these still dread them.  I, personally, think I interview well, but I still hate having to do them.  I’m always sure that I’m going to say the wrong thing and submarine my chances.  And, to be completely honest, at least once, I did.  Granted, that was fourteen years ago and I’ve learned from the mistake, but, still, I think about it every time I get ready to interview.
But, it’s Friday, so let’s not dwell on the existential dread of job interviews.  Instead, let’s laugh about them!  Vitamin T, with the help of the Webbys and Upright Citizens Brigade, have put together four uncomfortably funny videos about How Not To Get Hired In the Tech Industry.  I can tell you that I’ve encounter all four types of people in the tech industry, though, thankfully, not when I was a hiring manager.

In any case, it’s Friday and the videos are funny, so enjoy!  (And have a Happy Easter!)

Haphead: A SciFi Webseries

As my long-time readers will know, I love science fiction and I love free.

Haphead is both.
Haphead is a science fiction webseries available on YouTube and is about a dark future where interactive gaming has taken on a level of interactivity and realism beyond anything we could have hoped for.  The “haphead” referred to in the title is a slur used by the mainstream to describe the hackers who use computer/brain interfaces to actually feel the games they play.  The series follows one haphead in particular, a young woman, who gets a low-end job at a factory making the high-end gaming gear so that she can steal some of it and play the mysterious, cutting-edge game.  Or, as the marketing materials read “A cyberpunk webseries about a girl who’s literally empowered by videogames. In 2025, games are so immersive that teenagers learn skills just by playing.”
I’ve only seen a little of the series, but it looks great.  And, it’s from the same people who did the Kickstarter I backed a couple years ago Ghost with Shitjobs, which is excellent.

So, if you’re looking to kill a couple minutes, since each episode is short, hit the link and check out Haphead. But, do be careful, these episodes may not all be entirely safe for work.  Or kids.
Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Positive Thinking

I think everyone could use a little positive thinking this week.

I know I sure could!
I have read more than my fair share of self-help books and the one thing they all mostly have in common is the idea of “positive thinking”.  Whether it’s The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale or How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie or Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino, the underlying message is the same; there is definite power in the ability to think positively in any situation.
But, here’s the thing, not only is this a relatively new idea dating back to just the mid-19th century, but it’s an idea who’s history can be traced.  Check out this video at Boing Boing from author Mitch Horowitz, The Secret History of “Positive Thinking” and the New Age.  His book, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, looks at the history of this life changing idea.  Simply, that a positive mental attitude can affect our health and, even, our financial success.  I have seen this actually work in my own life by, yes, applying many of the principles I found in those books I mentioned.  He lists more of these books in a second article at Time; The Ten Best Self-Help Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of.  Except, of course, I have heard of several of them.  For instance, I read the Kybalion back in the early 90’s before I moved to Houston.  You can get a free, ebook version of it at Project Gutenberg.  (You can read other books by the actual author of that book, William Atkinson Walker, for free, too.  I recommend The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath.  It’s actually really good.)

So, if you’re in a funk and need a little lifting-up, don’t discount the idea of positive thinking.  Checkout the video and the books.
And, remember, eventually things will change!


It’s time to clean up my act.

My wife is a professional organizer and decorator, so those of you who know me well know how she suffered when she first moved in with me.  I hadn’t devolved into a complete hoarder, but I had gotten an unfortunately significant start.  She dug me out.  Honestly, I wish I had her ability to let go of things, but I tend to hold on to too much.  Naturally, when she asked me to read…
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A Free Civilization

No, this is not a political post.

I do my best not to openly participate in politics, frankly, because it all seems like a fool’s game.  On the other hand, simulation games have been known to unduly entertain me for embarrassingly extended lengths of time.  For a lot of my childhood, I played role-playing games.  For those of you familiar with my chosen profession probably won’t find that too surprising.  It seems like all the middle-aged professional geeks I know played RPGs as a kid.  And, I mean the pen-and-paper versions, not the video-game versions.
But, today, I’m sharing something a little different.  I’ve had more than one person tell me that I’d enjoy a simulation game called “Civilization”, but Sid Meier.  Basically, it’s an empire building simulation where you try to take over the world.  I’m not going to read too much into those suggestions, though I have actually listed a career goal as “Take over free world with an army of flying monkeys.”  I’m sure they meant that the challenge of the game would appeal to me.
So, today, since I’m out of work still and a lot of other gamers are as well, I’m bringing you a link to a free, open source attempt to capture the same idea and game play called “Freeciv“.
I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that I haven’t downloaded it and played it in ages, mainly because I’m still very focused on my job search, but, for those of you who need the distraction and don’t want to shell out a fist full of cash right now, this might be a fun alternative.

And, hey, it is free, after all, so why not take a break this weekend and give it a try?