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Stress Reduction GeekDad Style; There’s No Place Like

Computing Evergreen Hobbies Parenting Projects

Desktop with application windows in the background and a large sticker over top labeled, "Band Head Here."

It’s been a long summer in this GeekDad household. We’ve had a wedding to plan and execute, extra family members living with us while in transition to a new home, and the arrival of an exchange student we’re hosting for the school year. As if to top off this delicious stress dessert with an extra helping of fear cherries, the school district shuts down summer daycare two weeks before the start of the school year. I know there are reasons and I’m sure they are good ones, but despite this logical rhetoric I’m still stuck blessed with two full weeks of working at home full-time with the children rampaging throughout the house.

So, what I’m getting at is GeekDad Wickersham has experienced new and previously unexplored levels of stress as of late. One of the more interesting takeaways from all of this is realizing few people outside of geekdom really understand the struggle stressed out geeks experience, particularly the kinds of things that work to relieve us. “Read a book,” some will suggest. Are you kidding me? Thanks for reminding me about the hundreds of books I have queued up on my summer reading list. Fail. “Go to the pool and relax,” others might offer. Sure, that sounds great. Just let me review these fourteen different types of sunscreen and six different pairs of children’s goggles. Can you imagine the kind of stress that comes with knowing you might literally have the best pair of goggles industry has ever managed to create and market to children sitting in a box on your kitchen counter when you’re listening to your son complain about pool water burning his eyes? Thanks for the relaxing day at the pool.

I could go on and on; I’m literally looking at six teapots right now because I’ve been told that each of them is the best teapot, but what I wanted to share with you today was the little slice of geek pie that I managed to indulge in this weekend that brought me an immense feeling of relief. It’s a silly thing but I had a feeling our faithful GeekDad readers might be able to sympathize with me and relate to the kind of otherworldly satisfaction a hardcore geek gets from something few outside the community will understand.

This weekend I climbed over piles of unfolded laundry, swam through a sea of unread mail, and pushed aside a mountain of soda cans that had begun to sort of resemble the Wall of Westeros to log into my desktop computer. I had recently installed some new networking equipment at the house and was going to do some diagnostics and data capture as part of a review I’m working on. (Thanks to Ubiquiti, keep your eyes peeled for my review of some fantastic new gear from one of my favorite hardware companies.) I ran a scan of all the devices on the network (thanks to good people at iwaxx and their awesome tool Lanscan Pro) and was mildly irritated by the unorganized jumble of devices that came back. Great, just what I needed. More stress. What the heck was that unlabeled MAC address and why was it utilizing so much of my precious bandwidth?

There are few opportunities in my household that present quick fixes but this was something I knew how to fix and fix quickly. I logged into my router (pfsense FTW!)  and opened up the DHCP Server page. Scrolling down to the bottom, I saw that the list of DHCP Static Mappings was hopelessly out of date; we didn’t even have many of those devices anymore! With a very satisfied grin; I began trashing all the static mappings. This is my kind of spring cleaning.

Once I had everything cleared out I started laying out small ranges of the network for different devices. One /28 for AV hardware, another /28 for video game consoles, yet another one for IoT devices (a /27 for these, I never imagined how quickly those light switches and thermostats would take over our home). At the end of the day, I had a gorgeous list laid out in front of me with every device I knew about on our network getting their own slice of well documented and meticulously cataloged IP space. It’s hard to remember anything being quite as satisfying as rerunning network scans and seeing devices renew their DHCP leases and fall into neat little categories one by one, taking on hostnames like iot1, iot2, and iot3 or echo1, echo2, and echo3 to make identifying them in my bandwidth reports that much easier.

After applying the changes, I got up and crawled out of the physical chaos of my office, smiling with the knowledge that I had taken a few moments to beat back the ever-present wall of stress that threatened to overwhelm me at times. As I plopped down on the couch and fired up the TV in the family room (smiling as I thought to myself: av1, tivo1, and tv1) my partner looked over at me and smiled. “You look relaxed, did you read a book or something?”

I don’t know if non-geeks will ever understand, but I’m confident there are GeekDad readers all over the planet that will shake their heads in agreement and appreciate this kind of relaxing moment. Am I right? I’d love to hear your stories about geeky relaxation and the lengths you go to in order to take a load off. Share in the comments or on social media!

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