May 7, 2013
Yes, I know, all the New Media Douchebags love to wax rhapsodic about their overcomplicated bullshit coffee making. At this point, I don't think Marco Arment can go from desire to coffee in under a fucking hour. However, I'd like to say something about this: every single cup of coffee I've had made via French Press has been identical.
Identically weak, watery shit. French Press is the diarrhea of coffee. It's like someone gave the coffeemaker a norovirus, and what you get is the befouled brown watery stream it produces.
I've had that shit at people's houses and at hippie fucking coffeeshops where they can't even be fucking arsed to put the espresso in the fucking cup along with that french press effluvia because...fuck if i know, they can't make espresso for shit either. (HOW THE FUCK DO YOU MAKE WEAK ESPRESSO? I DON'T KNOW, BUT THEY DO. OVER AND FUCKING OVER.) I don't ask for much in coffee. Strong. Black. In a fucking cup. Try not to take all fucking day to make it. I'm the guy who walks into the local starbucks and says "Vente Green Eye", (three shots if you're unfamiliar), and when asked "if I want room for cream" looks at them like they're daft. Usually, they stop asking me.
I don't want my coffee to caress my tastebuds and awaken my senses with an aroma that only beans personally carried over in the cloaca of hand-fed turtledoves can produce. I am not celebrating the moments of my life.
I am feeding a fucking addiction, one that I am happy with, functional with, and god help you if I get that fucking headache because I haven't gotten enough coffee that day. (Melissa saw that headache once. I walked from my house to whataburger, because I was in too much pain to drive, and wasn't in the mood for "laws" and "stoplights". Melissa came with me to make sure I didn't start a fight with some fucking car that thought IT should be in the road where I was walking. Not the driver. The car.) I want my coffee to punch me in the face while screaming "WAKE THE FUCK UP YOU LIMP-DICKED COCKFACE!"
I'm actually rather happy with a wide range of sources. Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Keurig, fuckit, just be strong, black, in a cup, and in my fucking hand. I could give a fuck less with one exception: that french press shit. If I hear that, I know I'm going to get fucking brown crayon water.
Fuck French Press coffee, and fuck hipster douchebags who overcomplicate everything. Life is short, coffee should be simple.
April 22, 2013
Earlier tonight, while doing the audio for AMB, (I don't know why I'm not able to post a show until the day before we record. It's a mental deficiency or something), I was reading some of Harry Marks' stuff as I do now that there's no RSS in Safari, namely in bursts, and I was thinking "Man, if I could do what he does, I could get some ads going and maybe make a buck on the site." Because shocking, this site, even when I ran ads, is not a great money maker. Oh sure, every so often someone throws me a buck or two, and I do appreciate it, but by and large, whatever the formula to making money on a site is, including lots of hard work about setting things up to do that, I don't have it.
(also, I'm a fucking spaz in terms of content and consistency. How the fuck would ANYONE advertise anything here? WHY would they? I'm wistful at times, but I'm also self-aware.)
As I'm pondering that, I also realized something fairly obvious: I'm never going to have a setup like Harry, or Gruber, or Jim Dalrymple, because I'm absolutely nothing like them. Not in the "can't write for shit" arena. I can, when I want, do a more than decent job of putting thoughts to bits. I mean...look, even at their most emotional, neither of those three are that emotional. Gruber seems to be the least emotional of all. Really, when he gets angry about something, it's noteworthy, because that's kind of rare for him. Annoyance, sure, irritation, okay. But visceral anger? Fuck me, I can't really remember it off of him. That's not bad mind you. I'm quite glad there are people like him and harry et al out there. I can do that, sometimes. I can put together long, safe-for-work, technical pieces. Occasionally, and let me tell you, you have no idea how hard it is. My SNMP piece, still one of my most reliable pieces in terms of hits, still on the google first page of results for "os x snmp" almost 7 years later? That took so long to write. It was hard, not because of subject, but because of style. I am, obviously, not the most...calm writer, not here.
That used to bother me quite a bit. I wanted, for a long time, and tried quite hard, to be more like my friend Mike. Mike is one of those guys who lives for research and data. He rarely writes anything unless he can source it like a friggin' Ph.D thesis. I wanted, for a long time, to be like him, in terms of writing. I tried. (If you aren't reading his stuff, you really should. He writes well, honestly, and unashamedly.)
But something always happens. For example, in my head, I have a few long posts about Acrobat XI, PDFPen Pro 6, and almost an entire SNMP eBook. Really. They're about done. But every time I go to type...nothing. I can see the articles, I know every word, every comma and it's like my hands rebel. Now the post I want to write about my Roller Derby addiction? That one is about done in terms of posting. I'm just fussy about that because well, I care a lot about "my" roller derby team. So yeah. But as much as I want to write nice techy articles, they...hold no interest for me in the end.
Because what I am is a tech guy who is best when fueled by rage. I don't mean that to say I willingly shit on reality for it, but I wallow in strongly held opinions, and I'm unshy about stating them. If I were to pick a character from literature I see most like me, it would be a relatively minor character from "The Romulan Way", by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. (should you ever be fortunate enough to meet them, try to get them to talk about the story of that particular novel. It's rather funny. Then again, almost all their stories are hilarious. Especially when they involve quotes like "I'm from Northern Ireland, I don't do well with unannounced gunfire!") The character in question shows up in chapter eight, with the very Romulan name of "Lai tr'Ehheligh". The part that stuck with me, years after I first read the book back in 1987 was this:
"They killed Lai tr'Ehheligh some years after he wrote those words, and his works were expunged in many kingdoms and councillories. In others, mostly Eastern strongholds on ch'Havran, they were carefully hidden and preserved, which is fortunate. Otherwise we should know nothing of this hated, feared, angry little man, who told the truth as he saw it and was so universally condemned. In retrospect, there may have been something to the truth he told."
(The words they are talking about are in that same chapter, but for those, you must acquire the book. It's a good read, especially if you are a McCoy fan, and really, who isn't a McCoy fan?)
I've never been good at "Um...excuse me...excuse me...there seems to be a problem here, and perhaps we could all sit down and talk about it?" Others are, and thank goodness for that, because really, they are more the example we should follow. I've always been more like the the apocryphal, and likely false version of Harlan Ellison atop Gene Roddenberry, trying to choke the shit out of him, screaming obscenities about what a hack Roddenberry was, after Roddenberry took that goddamned red pen to his fucking genius once too often. I don't think it's true, but when talking about Harlan Ellison, such things are not completely unrealistic. So back when I read that, still in the Air Force, still new to the Air Force, it resonated with me. It took me almost another twenty years to figure out why, but I kept going back to that book and that chapter, because there's still something there I see in myself.
It's not really anger per se, but I have to fucking care. I can't just coldly write about a problem, giving it proper perspective. For example, when I realized that to get someone from Acrobat 10.0 to 10.1.6 would require almost ten separate upgrades, because some fuckwit on that team thinks that cumulative updates will wake Cthulu or something...well, okay, I think that says it all. If I don't care enough about the problem to be pissed off at it, then fuck, do I really care if it gets fixed? Probably not. I know Marco Arment and many other devs hate people like me, because they're all like "DIS PROGRAM IS MAH BEBBEY!!!" and I'm all like "YOUR BABY IS FUCKING UGLY, AND IT'S EATING ITS OWN SHIT. HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THAT WOLF-INFESTED HILLSIDE JUST OUT OF TOWN? I'M NOT SAYING ALLLL THE BABIES SHOULD BE LEFT THERE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD CONSIDER REVIVING THE TRADITION". I also leave a long trail of specific actionable points, because fuck, I don't want to just yell to yell. The driver for that is rarely logic. It's emotion. As I said in a comment on Mike's site:
I did not spend years prodding Adobe to fix their installers because of logic or reason. I did it because what they were doing made me angry. I didn't teach my son to be kind whenever possible because some book told me to. I did it because the results of not being kind made me angry. When I call out the things I call bullshit on, my desire may be for things being done right and people being kind, but the thing that drives me to work for those goals is that anger.
If I don't care enough about the product or problem to get pissed off, I probably don't care about using the product or solving the problem. Dunno why that is, but it is what it is. I have to give a fuck first, and once i do that, then things are easy. Well for me. Sometimes not for the people I'm yelling at, but for them I can say this: I may be the only one saying it in those precisely provocative profane phrases, but I can pretty much guarantee I'm not the only one thinking it in that way. Take that as you will.
So yeah. I doubt this site will ever make money, I've no idea how that would even work for this demented game of whackamole that is bynkii.com. But that's okay. Because it also guarantees that I don't have to give a fuck about hitcounts or any of the shit surrounding making money on a web site. I can do my own thing here, and maybe it causes someone not to hire me or want to talk to me. That's okay, if all it took to do that was this website? Probably better that way in the end.
April 16, 2013
"I'm a sysadmin. My schedule is flexible to the point of being almost imaginary".
Yes, I have actually answered scheduling questions that way.
April 14, 2013
When you're in charge of a company, a group of people, one other person, the rule you should almost bleed to never break:
"Praise in public, criticize in private."
April 8, 2013
IT people, especially sysadmins, would greatly reduce their frustration levels if they stopped thinking that they can somehow get the rest of the company to use computers they way they do.
April 6, 2013
6 April 2013, 2305hrs
So a few weeks ago, Brent Simmons wrote an article for Macworld.com with the most unneeded title in many years: "Apple fans: Microsoft is no longer the enemy". Honestly, the entire article is puzzling, because other than for a vanishingly small number of people, the "Microsoft is the Enemy" thing died some time ago. In the opening paragraph, Brent says:
While I was visiting the Microsoft campus a few weeks ago—in suburban Redmond, just across Lake Washington from my beloved Seattle—I kept thinking of the old Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon can go to China.”
If Microsoft is China, then that makes me Nixon in this story, I realize.
No Brent, you weren't. But before we get to that, let's look at the history behind that statement. For the folks for whom "The Cold War" is something relegated to history books, it seems odd, but at one point, China was evil. Like, they were going to blow up the world evil. Literally. I remember having this odd feeling in the back of my head all the time that I was never going to really grow old, because someone would fuck something up, and we'd get the fuck nuked out of us. "The Day After" was honestly fucking frightening when it came out, because it was the embodiment of so many fears.
So in 1972, Nixon goes to China. The President, and not one given to being particularly tolerant of Communism went to China to help prevent "The Day After" from happening, and gain an advantage over the USSR. This was momentous. Huge.
However, even if we do try to reduce that to the minutiae of Nixon going to China to computer platform wars, Brent still isn't Nixon. That event happened years before, in 1997, and was announced at the Macworld Expo of that year, complete with the giant head of Mao, er, Bill Gates on screen.
Almost twenty years later, Brent going to Microsoft is about as important as me going to Microsoft. Not even a little.
The entire article, to be honest, is a rehashing of a conflict that's almost decades done, and good riddance to it. In fact, the reason he was there shows it...to talk about iOS support in Windows Azure Mobile Services. I'm unsure how this is noteworthy beyond "oh, that's kind of cool". It gives both Microsoft and Apple devs more options and tools for serving their customers.
If Tim Cook goes to Google, and has Larry Page on stage at an event or the WWDC keynote, that will be "Nixon going to China". Brent going to Microsoft is over a decade too late for that.
April 5, 2013
5 April 2013, 2157hrs
So as some of you may not know, Apple is converting their mailing lists over to forums. This sucks, but is not unexpected, and I can kind of understand why. I myself will probably ignore the public forums in favor of the developer versions, as the ability to talk directly to Apple people there is higher, and the entry fee does keep some of the noise down.
However, I started getting some interesting tweets on this that didn't make a lot of sense until someone pointed me at this thread on the Mac Enterprise list, (a list i've not been subscribed to for a year or more I think.)
My favorite part is where a few folks take advantage of things to take a cheap shot or two at me and Dan Shoop. I guess it's pretty easy when you know there's no chance of the person you're talking shit about calling you out directly. Good job guys. #winning.
To the folks saying some nice things about me on it, thank you, I do appreciate it.
This thread, however, is a bit more rational, although I'd like to say something to the comment about "Some of us in small schools have to be a jack-of-all-trades and don't have all the background that more experienced professionals have in all of the roles we have to play."
I understand that, I think it sucks, and I feel bad for you. You got screwed. However, since you're stuck in that role, it's time to climb the mountain and learn what you have to learn.
I've said this before, but clearly, it's no more a welcome message than it was back when I gave a fuck about mailing lists:
When you ask a question about a problem on your network, the following is of immense help to the people you're asking for help from:
- As detailed a description of what you are seeing. Sans any editorializing. "Just the facts" applies
- Hardware model, basic specs, and OS version of the affected box
- Some basics about the network, i.e. transport type (ethernet/wireless), what kind of switches/firewalls you use, (even just vendor names can help, and yes, that matters more often than you may think)
- The scope of the problem, is it just the one box, is it affecting a lot of people
- the consistency: is it everyone or random people seeing it
- Is there anything in the logs that happens to look like it may be generated by something related to the problem
In other words, don't just say "my server is slow". That's nice, but ultimately, it's not much better than "something's not right". The people on a mailing list or in a forum are just as busy as you. They are working just as much as you. When you make them play "20 Questions" you are showing you don't respect their time, which is silly, since you're hoping they'll take time out of their day to help you with your problem.
That, by the way, is why those of us who are full-time IT people get kind of cranky when the jacks of all trades tell us they don't have the time. Because it's like:
"Wait, so you don't have the time to learn this shit, but somehow WE should set aside time to teach you for free? And then when we point out you may want to take some initiative and start learning this shit for yourself, you tell us you don't have the time, like your time is that much more valuable than ours?"
There's a response to that we don't type, but it rhymes with "Go Fuck Yourself".
I understand that's not your intention, but, that is what comes across. I understand your time is limited. Maybe you're also a librarian, or you're a teacher AND a librarian AND the IT person. But my time is limited, so is the time of everyone on that list or in that forum. We all have things to do, and the time we devote to helping YOU with YOUR problem is time we are not solving our own. If we have to set aside things we're doing to help you, (be it work or time spent not working and actually trying to have a life), then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect you to do more than just get your back up because we dared to tell you "Hey, you CAN learn this for yourself you know."
As it turns out, no, your time is not that much more important than mine.
Not that there isn't a way to fix that. Cross my palm with an appropriate amount of silver, and watch your priority rise. But barring that, you have to work with the rest of us.
(Also, just because your problem didn't get a response, don't whine about that. No one likes that shit.)
March 20, 2013
So, a couple days ago, the announcement came out that Kevin Lynch, (now) former Adobe CTO is moving to Apple to be the "VP of Technology".
This should have been a non-story, but of course, because Kevin Lynch supported Flash and Flash on mobile in a public way, John Gruber, in a moment of stunning unawareness of How Things Work In A Company When It Is More Than Just You starts up the "This is bad for Apple because Lynch was a Bozo meme. Not just once mind you:
"Exhibit A in the Case That Newly-Hired Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch Is a Bozo, a Bad Hire"
"Exhibit B: Defending/Denying Flash Player’s Adverse Effect on Battery Life, a Mere Two Years Ago"
"What I Mean by Bozo"
"New Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch Runs Over an iPhone With a Steamroller"
Yes, I am in fact using Comic Sans for those article titles. I think Gruber is being astoundingly stupid here and letting his need to rub Adobe's face in the failure of Flash on mobile override his knowledge of how shit works. Let me be clear, Gruber is not some wide-eyed indie naif with no idea of how companies work. He's been reporting on large companies in the computing arena for over a decade. He knows how shit works in a large company, and he knows that in public, even when it is obvious, obvious that a product is a stinker, the people who speak for the company in public will, in public, support the product. At least they will unless they want to get canned, or are just the worst kind of asshole. In private, who knows what Lynch said about Flash. From my experience with people across Adobe, they are a remarkably self-aware lot. There are some exceptions, but overall, they know what's really up.
In private, they are quite realistic about things. But in public, when Adobe signs your paycheck, you support them. This is not a bozo, this is not someone who is fundamentally stupid or whatever the fuck Gruber's schadenfreude-driven narrative is pushing. This is how things work, and it's not just Adobe by any means. Other examples:
Microsoft on Longhorn. Up until the minute of the famous "Longhorn Reset", in public, Microsoft execs sang the company song on this. Longhorn was real, and it was GOING TO BE IN YOUR HANDS
That nasty-assed Moto iTunes Phone (Hell, Steve Jobs practically used the thing as a taint-tickler and we know that almost no one really thought it was a great product)
Copland (pre-jobs, but hey, dude, that was never happening.)
This is how it works. You take someone's money, especially for a job at Lynch's level, and you sing the company song, because when it doesn't happen, when you have an exec that is shitting on a team's work in public, then the people on that team leave. I think it is fair to say that Flash, at least the plugin, is fixing to go into that long night. Feet first, it's the only way out.
But the people on that team are pretty fucking smart. Even if you don't need them for Flash, you want to keep them, so they can apply that smartness to other projects. As well, the Flash toolset is still being used, as are the servers, and you can see how Adobe has been evolving them for use in a post-Flash world.
Yes, it is frustrating when you see execs defending something that everyone knows is a stinker. If you don't think Phil Schiller hasn't had to do a lot of last-second meditation before going out and trying to convince us that a stinker is really awesome, you're delusional. But he does it, because that's his job. I've had brief conversations with Schiller, mostly about things like Ferraris. (it was part of a group at a WWDC beer bash.) He's not stupid. He's a pretty funny guy as well. But he's really good at what he does, and he knows what his job is.
If Gruber's going to call Lynch a bozo, if you're going to double and treble down on it, then where's the articles calling Schiller and the rest of the Apple executive team, including Jobs, "bozos" for supporting shitty products like the Moto iTunes Phone? Right.
It's not just Gruber. Jim Dalrymple, someone else who knows how shit works in a corporation should start checking his kegerator hoses for mold for agreeing with Gruber on this in his piece, "Bozo":
John Gruber giving his thoughts on Apple’s newest VP Kevin Lynch. There is also an Exhibit B. Like Gruber, it concerns me that Lynch kept beating the Flash drum for so long, even when it was clear it was dead.
Oh come on Jim, it most certainly does not. You've been a part of a largeish corporation before, you know how shit works. The both of them do. Kevin Lynch wasn't doing anything that anyone else in his position, including Gruber wouldn't have done. He was supporting a major company initiative in public. That's not the sign of a bozo, and Gruber needs to stop pretending otherwise.
March 12, 2013
Joe Kissell recently wrote a solid article on third-party disk utilities at Macworld.com. In "Do you need a third-party disk utility", he does, I think, a great job of laying out the pros and cons of that line of software, and he has some good points. You don't need them as much as you used to. I always keep a current copy of Disk Warrior, but then, I'm an IT person, and I see things the average person won't in terms of disk problems. That's not because of some weird work my users are doing, but scale. The average person only deals with a few hard drives at most. I deal with a few hundred, and my compatriots deal with a few thousand. That kind of scale introduces you to edge cases more often than most people.
However, he glosses over one of the things that I think make the need for disk utilities, at least in the home, much less than it used to be: backups. Joe does mention it, but I think the change in backing up over the last decade or so, especially in the home/SOHO arena is astounding.
Look at the state of backup a decade ago. Time Machine was still four years away, and backing up, to be honest, sucked. Cloud backup wasn't a real option for most, and the other options sucked just as much if not more. The applications for doing backups were either misapplied business applications, or "scaled down" business applications that made the mistake of assuming a poorly-done UI was okay, because backups are important. People backed up to CDs and DVDs, or worse for the home market, tape. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, tape is awesome, but it can be slow, it's not cheap, and the software to use it is not easy.
But then a few things changed. Like Time Machine, and things like Crash Plan, Dropbox, Google Docs, and a host of other services that made keeping important data in multiple places really easy. I don't exactly live in HIGH BANDWIDTH CENTRAL, (Tallahassee is not Silicon Valley by any means), and yet, i realized the other day that were my laptop to be say, dropped in a pool, it would suck for exactly one reason: Apple doesn't make 17" MacBook Pros anymore. That's it. In terms of data, between Time Machine, CrashPlan Pro, and a host of other things, I'm probably backed up better than when I was sending boxes of DLTs to iron mountain every month, and the software is sure as hell easy to use.
So I think a huge reason why people don't worry about dedicated disk utilities anymore is that backing up has become such a literally thoughtless process, a hard drive crash is no longer the horrifying event it used to be.
March 6, 2013
When any and all suggestions for "Why I'm leaving <platform> for <other platform>" articles are laughed out of the building.
There is nothing wrong with articles comparing platforms in and of themselves. A well-written article doing that is useful, and sadly, rare. But the idea that anyone cares what platform any one person is using other than the individual making that decision is just ego. I don't care what Steven Fry nor Neil Gaiman are using at the moment in terms of tech, notebooks, pencils or toilet paper. Because it only matters to them, and as long as they is happy with their choice, awesome for them, regardless of what they choose to use. Fuck, I don't care what Jimmy Page or Prince are using in terms of well, anything. Because I'm not them. I don't have their needs, and I sure as fuck hope they don't have mine.*
All of these kinds of articles, every. single. one. could be better written sans the HAY GUIZE, LOOK AT WHAT I IZ UZIN parts and be just as, if not more useful.
(Although if they need personal IT support, call me, we'll talk!)