Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


The Things I Want Are Not Things

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


(This article was originally written in July, on the 3 year mark from my accident.)

Today is the first time in a long, long time that I've been in any kind of pain. Normally, my surgical implants don't bother me much. Every now and then I might get a twinge, and the scars itch a lot. But I haven't had real pain from it in probably a year.

My work schedule is very sporadic. I spend most of the year doing documentation, gearing up for that short run where we go into production for a few months. We're in that production run now, and I'm spending 11 hours a day on my feet, running around helping people. I actually like my job, quite a bit, and I like to think I'm pretty good at it.

But regardless, I didn't wake up one morning and decide "Hey, I want to become a technical writer for a farm equipment factory." It's a job. I ended up here by the grace of God, and I'm thankful for what it provides me.

But in the end, it's just a job. It's not my life's calling, any further than I'm called to provide for my family.


Linux Screencasting

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I finally figured out a screencap program that works in Ubuntu. I had tried RecordMyDesktop, but had no success. I tried several ways to get it working, but it never did work correctly. (To be fair, it might not be the program's fault... it just didn't work on my system running Ubuntu Studio 12.04) After some searching, I decided to try Simple Screen Recorder, and after a few tweaks, I got it working.

For my system, I had to use Jack audio. For some reason, it just wouldn't record anything from Pulse Audio (no shock there... Pulse's reputation isn't the best). So with a hacked .asoundrc file to channel Alsa to a Jack sink, it finally worked!

With this setup, I'll be able to record some of the guitar and audio software I'm using, as well as games and such. (recording games on Steam requires some tweaking, too). So here's a short demo!

Filed under: Linux Continue reading

The Ministry Of Criticism

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


As human beings, we are inclined to complain. The Israelites did it, even when God was providing for their every need, and had just delivered them from Egyptian captivity. It's in our nature to complain, argue, be offended, and critical. I mean, really, we've pretty much perfected it.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior is completely unproductive. You would think that people would learn this eventually, but the truth is, we just shuffle it to another location.

NOTE: I'm talking specifically about people's thoughts, and actions as far as they're not physically harming or illegal. We can and should criticize criminal activity. But what I'm talking about here is the "grey area" stuff. You know: the Thought Police.

Let's say I'm offended by bad drivers. (That's a stretch, right? Lol) I feel guilty when I'm always criticizing bad drivers. It doesn't fix anything, and only makes my mood worse. I'm still going to act accordingly, of course... I drive defensively because of it. Because I can't control how others drive, even if it's stupid and borderline illegal. I've done my fair share of stupid.

But the irritation has to come out somewhere. Our very natures are full of selfishness, which is the root of the problem. If we can't let it out on other drivers, maybe we take it out on our kids. Or our spouses. Or random people who are too dumb to realize that the express checkout line is not the place to be asking questions about what items qualify for a certain discount. *Sigh.*


The Homeschooling Dad’s Expectations

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Some of you may be familiar with the fact that my wife and I homeschool our kids. As someone who was bored stiff in public school (and still struggles with "ADD" to this day) I was perfectly fine with our kids receiving individualized schooling and delight-directed learning. It seemed like such a natural idea to me, it made me wish I'd been able to do it when I was young. Alas, I managed to survive institutionalized learning, and in the process, I even learned a few things.

However, I've come to realize that most men aren't like me, and don't really understand the benefits of schooling their kids at home. Some of them are pretty hostile to the idea, in fact. At first, I was completely befuddled by this. I mean, why wouldn't you?

But then I started seeing why, as I learned more about how other men saw things. I spent time reading story after story about men who didn't have a clue about the basics of education, or why certain things work and others don't. It's not that they were stupid, they just assumed (incorrectly) a lot of things about how learning actually happens. When you throw that in with an over-inflated sense of discipline, you get a train wreck of confusion and misinformation.

So I'm writing this to help clear up some confusion, and possibly shed some light on the subject for those who either 1. don't get it, or 2. are trying to get their spouses to get it.


Writing Tools In Linux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


As a writer, you're probably aware that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I haven't decided if I'm going to officially participate, but I'll probably get some writing done anyway. When I sit down to write, this is what my desktop looks like:


First and foremost, the centerpiece of my writing, is Scrivener for linux. I've already written about it here.

Second (and almost as important) is my full-screen "motivational" app, Write or Die 2. It kills writer's block dead! This is for grinding through word counts, when I have an idea for a scene in my head but it just won't come out. WriteOrDie gets the words out, whether I like it or not.

For non-fiction, I'm learning to use the program Zotero for annotations and footnotes. It integrates into Scrivener, too.

Thirdly is background music. Sometimes I can listen to rock, but mostly, I listen to ambient sounds, and the best thing for that is They've got several ambient and downtempo stations, so I'll play that through RhythmBox. I really like the stations DroneZone and BeatBlender. On the rare occasion I want to listen to something specific, I'll listen to Pandora with an app called Pithos.

This is how I get my fiction writing done. What's your writing desktop look like?


Linux Game Review: Beat Hazard Ultra

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I've been a Linux user for going on twelve years now. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Linux was actually a pretty good platform for gaming too. And with Steam's supporting Linux, it became official: Gaming isn't just for Windows.

On a whim, I picked up a title called Beat Hazard Ultra from Steam, since it's one of the games that runs natively on Linux.




Cart Before The Horse

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Coming on the heels of my last post about the Left trying to reset what is considered "normal," I think this is probably going to be my last political post for quite a while. This decision comes for two reasons:

  1. I hate politics, and
  2. People cannot discern the difference between attacking ideologies and attacking people.

But the fact still remains that people's right to free speech is being stamped out systematically, in the name of "feelings" and being "offensive." I can deal with it, and I've said what I wanted to say. If the Social Wet Blanket Patrol tries to take me to task, I'm in good company: apparently quite a few people have been taken down for simply saying something someone disagreed with. Thankfully, however, there are ways of dealing with that.

But basically, it boils down to this: Don't put the cart before the horse, or you'll find yourself going nowhere.

Love individuals. But stand up for what is historically best for the community. Don't allow people to destroy what is good for something that is a mockery of what God has designed.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.


Idiocracy Is Nigh Upon Us

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


There are a few things in today's society that need explaining, for those who haven't been around long enough to understand them.

  • The world isn't fair. It's never going to be fair.
  • Societal norm is not based on emotions.
  • You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself.
  • Reason and Logic don't care what side of the aisle you're on.
  • Trying to force the vast majority of people to accept what is obviously and observably not true is destined to fail.

I can only hope and pray with every fiber of my being that the world is not as messed up as the Social Justice Inquisition makes it out to be. I cringe to think what will happen once hypocrites and emotionally crippled people are calling the shots in this country. (disclaimer: it probably already is)


New Feature: Retro Game Of The Month

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Since stumbling across several old video games from my DOS days (think pre-1995) I've decided to fire up a few of them and offer up some fun reviews of games that were made before many of you were born. These games, in some way or another, shaped the gaming industry into what it is today. They were the birth of the PC gaming industry, when Atari and Nintendo had been dominating people's living rooms for over a decade.

I can remember playing my first networked multiplayer games in 1993, when Doom and Descent came out. There weren't Cat5 ethernet cables back then, everything was 10-Base2 running on Coaxial cable with BNC T's and terminators. TCP/IP hadn't become the standard yet, either, so everything ran Novell Netware and used IPX addressing (instead of TCP/IP addresses that everything uses now). The hardcore guys would either play point-to-point on dialup modems, or drag their computers to a friend's house and use a null-modem cable to simulate a phone line. We're talking back in the days before Pentiums were invented... the first PC I played Doom on was a 386dx clone, running at 33Mhz. I think it had 2MB of RAM. We're talking before PCI slots were standard. Just think about that for a minute. A 28.8Kbps modem was all you could get then. Let that sink in.


The Prodigal Son Gamer

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Recently, in one of their Netflix binge-watching marathons, my kids discovered a show called Video Game High School. Most of what they watch is aimed at younger teens, mostly Disney (teenage soap opera) drama and comedy. This looked pretty promising at first, but as the series ran on, I started not liking what I saw.

The show centers around a kid who unintentionally ends up at an elite high school for competitive video gamers. It's filled with the usual action and drama, but I guess I was expecting more of the traditional cheesy comedy. I ended up pulling the plug when the show's main antagonist started dropping 4-letter words (cause my pre-teen kids were watching it too).

The problem is, in typical drama show fashion, VGHS shows unrealistic caricatures of what real gamers are like. If you didn't know better and only went off of what the show presents, you'd think all skilled gamers are egotistical jerks, they all have some weird accent/slang dialect, and run in weird cliques. But from my experience, the people that have the dedication to drag a computer setup to a hotel ballroom somewhere just to play video games for fun and prizes are much, much nicer than that.

Twenty years ago, I used to be pretty big into gaming. I had a dedicated LAN party rig, and I went to competitions a few times a year. I gave that up to be able to raise a family shortly thereafter, and for the most part, I never really got back into it. Here's a shot of my last custom LAN rig: