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.| Comments ()
April 16, 2013
Short ones part infinity
"I'm a sysadmin. My schedule is flexible to the point of being almost imaginary".
Yes, I have actually answered scheduling questions that way.| Comments ()
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."| Comments ()
April 8, 2013
A bit of wisdom that will be ignored
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.| Comments ()
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.| Comments ()
April 5, 2013
Oh the fun we'll have
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.)| Comments ()