I have too many goddamned machines these days and start writing local drafts in MarsEdit only to forget and abandon them minutes later. This is my nature. My WPD (that's words per day for you folks that haven't used one of those horrible pieces of writing software) would be stellar if my computer use wasn't so fragmented and terrible. Plus, Angry Birds in Chrome isn't fucking helping.
Oscar turned three. That is pretty weird. He's not even a baby anymore. The thought it makes me have a low key mid-life crisis. We have miniature conversations about super heroes. Weird.
I upgraded a bunch of machines to Lion today. I have a few complaints (now there's a surprise), but they're mainly confined to things like the default scrolling schema (which, by the way, totally blows for the several minutes it took for me to figure out how to stop it and turn my machines back into computers and not iPhones) and the utter inability to properly configure Spaces anymore. I imagine that future updates will address the concerns of folks who depend on some kind of workflow on their computers once the oohs and ahhs have subsided a bit and people return to using computers to get things done and stop spending time thinking about how different the scrollbars look or whatever. I route around brain damage by default so I just adapt however sullenly. I also really hate downloading multiple gigabytes as the default installation method. Even on my stupid fast work connection that amounts to a fair amount of time spent having a staring contest with a progress bar. Fuck that. I don't have a formal opinion on the system wide spell checking quite yet. It's annoying as fuck and I really want to stab my finger at the screen a la iOS, but at the same time it's pretty effective. I'm easily annoyed so my opinion about that particular feature/bug is disposable.
Total Terminal is my new home as it's predecessor Visor no longer works. Strange that it takes an OS upgrade for me to notice that there are new versions of software I use all day on every day. I've never had a complaint with it until it didn't work for me today. Drop one tool and pick up another, I guess. They're from the same developer(s) so that may be a moot statement.
Liturgy is rapidly becoming one of my favorite bands. I'm unsure about transcendental black metal as a genre that I can utilize without cracking up, but their musical output is fucking amazing. The accelerating/decelerating drumming takes a bit of getting used to and is really stunning (in the literal sense and not the 'america's next top model' set sense) live. I talked to a couple of 'em after they played here recently and walked away feeling like they were people I'd like to talk to more. That's the highest recommendation of any band I can come up with.
New job is still awesome and I really dig using AgileZen on a day to day basis. I've tinkered with a huge pile of project management software in the past and always felt like the tool necessitated way too much learning specific to that tool before it was of any use. I had AZ figured out in a few minutes without knowing anything about kanban beforehand. AZ isn't the main product my employer sells, but they're part of the company. I should probably mention that even though I have next to zero stake in selling anything to anyone. I guess mentioning it has more to do with the kanban methodology making sense to me than as a software recommendation. Take as you will with as many grains of salt or cyanide capsules you deem necessary.
The Globe and Mail has a simple but very telling article that questions Pixar's motivation for producing a Cars sequel. Why? Because they sold a fuckton of merchandise and look forward to doing it again. Surprised? Me either. Here's hoping that it isn't an epic piece of shit because I'm fairly certain that I will have to see it more than once.
It looks like Wyoming is the first state to standardize on Google apps for government which is super duper cool because most government organizations are pretty closed systems in terms of circulating documents and whatnot and GA also allows for access restrictions that are simple to control.
The problem, of course, is that like twelve people live in the state of Wyoming so the dollar amount of savings is less dramatic than other states where population density is anything more than a Babbit-esque dream of roping more people in. Petty jabs at places where tumbleweeds outnumber people aside, this is a pretty smart move.
I read this this article about Kaiser Permanente's 'Thrive' advertising campaign earlier today and have intended to come back to it since then as I've had my fair share of interactions with KP with some mixed results including Oscar's birth which wasn't handled by a Kaiser facility directly, but covered under its plan.
The funny and timely part for me is that I'll be signing up for KP again in a few days despite being offered something like eight other health care options with my new employer. As an aside, my new employer is pretty badass when it comes to benefits, but I'm not talking about that directly here. The reason that I'm choosing that plan instead of the others is simply cost and convenience. This becomes especially important since the entire family is going to be on my plan which gets prohibitively expensive when you start looking at the smaller deductible plans that aren't quite as HMO-ish. I'm not 100% stoked on the plan, but with its smallish cost I can afford to go wherever I want if KP's typically conservative recommendations don't tug cherubically at my heart strings and I can still get the drugs I need to take daily in order to avoid dying mailorder.
Now, to the article above: I agree with the author that KP isn't exactly the source of all evil that it is often characterized as. It also is not the all smiling and huggy organization that the ad campaign suggests. The one smidge of truth about the entire campaign is that (and this carries over into even the el cheapo plans I think) is that preventative care costs nothing. This makes perfect sense because, after all, "KP is a business above all and is much happier when you're covering the costs of routine exams with office visit payments. This makes you feel better about paying them money and makes KP more profitable at the same time. It's almost like we're working together towards a common goal. Just like the voice over said, man!
The larger point that is being made by Clayton Lord is that KP is winning the public relations war by using the PR methodology that organizations that perform functions that are genuinely and only in the interest of the public good should be using. They're successfully feeding us our own dog food and actually influencing educated (well, sorta) opinion in their favor and not resorting to outright information to make these points. Another thing that Lord nails that hadn't really occurred to me before reading his article was the capitalization on the idea that KP is a non-profit organization (it isn't; not-for-profit is another ball of wax entirely). I really like the way he summarizes his feelings about it:
Where this gets me in terms of New Beans is more abstract, maybe. There’s something vaguely aggravating to me about these organizations, which, while technically nonprofits, are hugely successful business enterprises without a true social welfare mission, co-opting public value arguments that we should be making. And at the same time, given that we don’t really spend a lot of time making them, maybe having someone else do it isn’t the worst thing. And, at least in terms of Kaiser, it’s not just smoke—they also have a thriving theatre program that takes health-themed short plays into local schools to teach kids about being healthy through art.
So, sadly, folks who do work in genuinely non-profit arenas have something to learn from KP (or at least their agency) about projecting that good outward. How frustrating.
I decided to give CloudFlare a whirl as I've heard only good things about their service, it costs nothing to use the basic service, and I was curious how it would interact with my convoluted DNS setup. Page load speed seems to be the principal reason that most folks are using CloudFlare. I'm as interested in the built in threat protection as I am anything else if only because I like having as close to a zero maintenance site as humanly possible.
A bunch of time goes by as I watch most of a baseball game
Now I've had time for the DNS changes to propagate out and I'm really impressed by how much faster everything seems to load. I don't have a reasonable way to test out the security features, but a quick look at the dashboard for threat protection already had a few spammers and a botnet zombie. Oooh. Exotic. After poking at it for an hour or so I'm going to keep it up and running for the time being.
An idea occurred to me the other day that sounded fun but next to impossible when I initially mulled it over. I've been super excited about recent articles like this one from Smashing about building media sites using WordPress and other how-to-ish stuff like it that explores the topic in some depth and doesn't drop the subject with a bullet pointed list of features and hints at possible uses for the default features. That stuff gets linked and twittered endlessly, but at the end of the day, it isn't useful other than as device to hype a given CMS or an attempt to hitch your wagon to $stuff.
I had a different idea and, as always, to do anything remotely like this it would require more than just me driving and a fair amount of scheming on infrastructure, etc. Here's what I would like to do: A website (weblog variant would be fine for the sake of presentation) about doing real world projects in different CMS's. An errant thought occurred to me regarding doing this work for non-profits and organizations in need, but I think I'd like to keep the focus of this unimplemented and poorly considered idea on doing medium complexity website projects involving different CMS's, sharing what we learn along the way, and generally being truthful about how the process worked or didn't. This theoretically would include sharing code customization, plugins or external resources used, and the whole shebang. I realize this is beyond ambitious and staggers right into the realm of biting off more than a person or two could possibly or responsibly chew.
The killer for me about the traditional 'Make x CMS into z really cool and useful thing is that the process of adaptation is almost never covered in any depth by folks who present the aforementioned types of articles. I'd always stumble on them and wonder while reading through the write up why the folks playing with it made their decisions or how you might make slight changes to achieve something completely different while using most of the same steps. Why? I dunno, but I know this would require a fair amount of commitment from its participants and wouldn't be easy by any means.
Anyone interested? Let me know either in the comments or by sending me some mail goneaway at this domain here. If you've got a better or less sprawling idea or alternative I'd be interested in hearing about that as well. If something like this already exists I would love to help out.
I'm awash in a ton of sit there and listen and then sign things not-so-busy work so I've been doing a lot of reading that has nothing to do with intellectual property. I guess that is sort of guaranteed given the utter lack of giving-of-shit on either side of the equation. I'm ready for this week to be done and to get started for reals.
Glenn Beck is sharpening up his repertoire as our country's leading satirist and is expanding to new markets. He is founding a publishing company which is allegedly going to publish real books that aren't the religious themed picture menus I'd assume his target demographic is more comfortable with. I suppose I should be pleased that at least he's attempting to create something that has tangible value instead of scams that prey on paranoia and ignorance. I suggest doing some stretching to accommodate the coming deep belly laughs that are no doubt forthcoming.
So, here's a good example of being completely crazy and daring to be very public about it. After you've finished being completely horrified be sure to read the comments because they're not only hilarious, but a bracing affirmation that you, as the reader, are not the fucking crazy one. To be fair, there is a vividly embarrassed follow up that addresses both the comments and attempts some light hearted self-diagnosis.
Tennessee's governor made 'broad' sharing of Netflix (and other premium streaming content) a crime in his state. Christ. Fuck the South again and again.
I just realized while looking at the calendar that the ninth year has passed since I started up this infernal machine. Looking back at some of my older and oldest posts I realize that the last few years have been close to non-years in terms of anything other than posting random 'oh shit. it's been a long time' posts that only serve to keep the sidebar from outpacing the content. Still, nine years is a long fucking time. That's a quarter of a lifetime spent puttering around with words here.
There are a sparse number of people I number among friends who watch Fox News as an actual source of information and legitimate political analysis. I have no idea where to place blame for this or how to reconcile the fact that the aforementioned handful of folks and I cannot venture anywhere near certain topics without the stress of it on the surface tension of civil conversation being threatened by pogo sticks on thin, Spring ice. I'm hoping that one person might read this Rolling Stone article about Roger Ailes, the man behind the curtain at Fox News. Give it a thoughtful read, please.
After wondering about the choice of Xamarin for a few minutes, I read this interview with Miguel de Icaza and discover:
"We've used monkey themes for many years," de Icaza said. "Ximian was a play on simian. Mono is Spanish for monkey. Xamarin comes from the tamarin monkey. And we kept the X, though to tell you the truth, I can't remember why we used it in the first place."
That is exactly what I suspected.
I cannot remember where I bookmarked this article from exactly, but this is an article from West 86th about a 1967 film collaboration between Jim Henson and Raymond Scott which kind of blew my mind.
I'm a big fan of Raymond Scott and have always felt like the larger music community outside of archivist-minded record collectors and purveyors of the oddball should really be more acquainted with him as he invented a good amount of the technology and methodology that pre-date electronic music. Most of the modern interest hasn't ventured beyond Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights. All that said, that compilation was my introduction as well and most of my ventures beyond that have been motivated more by the ubiquity of file sharing than earnest effort. Still, go read Scott's impressive Wikipedia page and dig in a little further if his name rings no bells for you.
I'm actually pretty excited about Miguel de Icaza's announcement of the birth of Xamarin and the departure of Mono from Novell. I'm not an enemy of Novell per se, but it is good to see a stack with a bright future expand beyond its initial reason for existence (to compete against MSFT) and concentrate on being an awesome set of tools for the people actually writing code.
The Xamarin site is active and is currently hosting a survey about which features users would like to see prioritized. I'm guessing that expansion of Android efforts is under heavy consideration if only judging by the number of Android-related questions on the survey. I guess there are a fair amount referencing iOS as well. This is very cool to hear.
I've never liked any of the tracking devices that most laptops are equipped with. Even with an inordinate amount of tweaking through whatever utilities are available, I've always resisted using them whenever possible. The mouse has undoubtedly done its fair share of cumulative damage to my wrists over the course of too many years spent entirely at keyboards and spending at least some of that time standing at workstations and typing around people while they refuse to move.
An Aside: Speaking of which, if you work for a company that I also work for and need my assistance with your machine and then suffer under the delusion that I'm going to dictate instructions to you while you putter around and click pointlessly be prepared to have your stupid ass shoved aside
Aside aside, I've often embarrassed myself by being a fumbling moron when forced to use a trackpad in front of people who spend less time in front of a machine and consequently much more comfortable using the trackpad (don't ask for evidence of correlation here because I have none other than violent and irrational dislike). In the interest of proactivity, I've decided to try working exclusively with the trackpad on a couple of my laptops for a few days. Hopefully I will learn something from the experience and won't just fire up Ion to avoid using a pointing device entirely.
One immediate and happy discovery is that Chromium is a more mouse-optional browser than I imagined. The point wasn't to abandon mouse use entirely, but I feel like I'm already moving towards a less mouse driven use of the browser. I don't know if this is a good thing necessarily (less wrist fatigue! yay!) or moving towards terrible-ness (I can only browse the web using vi keybindings. Also, get off my lawn!). We'll see if I don't abandon this experiment altogether.
For those (none) playing along at home, I ended up getting the job I was sweating over. This is good news because not only is the new company one with a great reputation, but I'm seriously losing my shit at my present job. I look forward to a future that involves neither Exchange nor Outlook. How it all actually works out is best left until I've actually begun working there, but I'm already a whole lot less stressed out and a lot more hopeful.
So, I'm still at this job that I despise and I seriously don't want to be here anymore. So much so, that I feel as if being fired would be a sort of relief. I'm waiting to hear back on a job that sounds like they're pretty much ready to offer contingent on my flakey-ish former managers returning phone calls. This is a terrible posture to assume because it nearly always ends in crushing defeat and the despair that inevitably follows. Sometimes, for the sake of maintaining sanity, it's almost beneficial to have a deep pessimism and distrust for all deus ex machina routes out of what seem like unbearable situations.
So, venting accomplished, go read Merlin Mann's Cranking is it is the best thing I've read all week and addresses many of the mental traps I've set for myself as a parent who also moves some of the gears of technology for a living. Reading things that involve children and hardship, no matter how relative that hardship might be, is a lot more difficult for me these days.
Another thing: The Cone mail client is rapidly climbing the list of things that I didn't think I needed much before and now I feel like I couldn't live without. Mail can be fast and your interactions with it don't necessarily have to be cryptic or involve key bindings you've either forgotten or never wanted to know. I'd nearly forgotten that. I especially like freeing up one of my virtual desktops and just sticking Cone in a Guake until I'm ready to look at my mail or need to. The psychological benefits of removing a mail client with its notifications and other visual hey! I'm here! features is oddly liberating.
I'm not going to explain why I haven't posted anything for months because that shit is frankly more boring than a nine year old weblog that never receives new posts. That, at best, is completely tedious.
So far I am not a fan of Gnome 3 . I've worked with it a bit on both Arch and Ubuntu and have found myself regretting either enabling the PPA to install gnome-shell or being stupid enough to allow it to upgrade. I've long since adopted Gnome as my default desktop on pretty much every platform, so having that stripped down, but oh-so-functional work flow completely disassembled has been nothing short of disastrous for me. Only one of the machines is actually a 'real' machine (it was a test beta install of Natty that flipped over to a release while I was messing with something else for a couple of weeks) and I've been able to route around the damage by just installing Xfce4 and pretending that it is a functional Gnome. Close enough for hackery, I guess. I am annoyed at having an old, reliable friend relegated to the dustbin for a gimmicky, phone-like interface. Sorry, but I need virtual desktops that work around applications not more context menus. Maybe next release or maybe I'll just switch permanently to Xfce on all distributions. I don't take useless stabs at usability for thumb typers at the expense of people who've used the environment for years as lightly as I probably should.
Baseball has also been a pretty huge distraction for me, at least since opening day this year. I signed up for the MLB.tv deal instead of the cable package ($100 less for a lot more flexibility) only to discover that the only real time streaming works (and god help you if you're interested in local teams - ie. the Colorado Rockies in my case) is during the week as MLB fucks its users over with blackouts for most weekend game times. I may just do the stupid cable package next year despite the $200 price tag and the additional $15 a month just to watch Rockies games. I am, on the other hand, watching a fuckton of Rangers, Athletics, and Giants games.
In theory, I should hear about a job I really want either tomorrow or the next day. This waiting is more or less the impetus for the spastic need to write something here. I'm really hoping for some good news although the potential commute is going to be terrible (Boulder is not close) and I'll be accepting a informal demotion from a system administrator who spends all of his time working on desktop support issues to a desktop support admin who crosses over into server-side problems whenever times allows and coincidentally is paid more money and has access to better coffee. I'm sure someone would tell me that this is career suicide, but my present job is already doing a fine job of making technology tedious and panic attack inducing so I think it's kind of a wash. Look for utter silence here for a while if I do get the job or bitter whining if I don't.
I just added my very first static page to Team Murder. It's a list of the books I've recently read or am currently reading. The differentiation I'm trying to make here is that I am basically endorsing these books. I've read probably four books in the last couple of months that I've despised. I'm not going to bother listing those. If you're short on things to read check it out. I didn't bother putting Amazon links because it makes me feel like kind of a dick.
I just ran screaming from my previous hosting provider after a bunch of service interruptions (only one of which was my fault) so I'm in the process of migrating everything over. DNS being DNS, this is taking longer than I'd actually like it to.
If you've got something hosted here, it should be up this afternoon. If you need me, I'll be in the coffee maker.
I'm going to post my Dropbox referral link here in hopes that you'll sign up and we can both suck up some more space. I keep an unholy amount of crap there. Help me keep more crap around!
I'm messing with the look of the site for the first time in a couple of years. Brokeness will ensue I'm sure.
Damn. How did I miss this. Monodevelop download. This means, in theory, that I can work on projects (still not talking about it) without switching from the MBP to the Oscar-damaged Linux laptop. This is a clear lesson about the value of being fairly oblivious and how it can cause delayed happiness. Wooooo.
Today was a terrible day for getting anything done. Most of the (granted, this is MSFT software we're talking about here) infrastructure that I'm supposed to keep running or at least afloat managed to be broken by outside forces that I do not have direct control over. The whole experience, from the here and now perspective, is making me want to lock my network down to the point where people can just barely get the absolutely necessary accomplished. This is what creates new BOFHs. I've resisted for a long, long time but this day where the torrent of error emails carved my iPhone 4 down to 60% battery life by mid-day without making any phone calls may just be the final shove that I've needed to slough off this facade of niceness or cooperation and just run the network like a train system or something. Damn it. The trains will run on time.
Lifehacker posted a question about the best domain registrar which reminded me that I have a whole bunch of domains registered with GoDaddy and I fucking hate GoDaddy. This domain was actually registered eons ago with Dotster which was the default registrar for the amazing PureNRG folks (I don't endorse them for the purpose of being paid. They're just awesome but I outgrew them pretty quickly mainly in the bandwidth department) so I've decided to consolidate them all onto a single registrar. I've heard stellar things about 1 and 1 (including a bunch of laudatory stuff in the post mentioned above) so I decided to move everything on over since it was inexpensive and didn't rely on boobs splashed all over the index to market what is essentially a pretty simple service and doesn't (as far as I know) have an outspoken right-wing douche at the helm.
The purpose of this post is to remind myself how to transfer domains away from GoDaddy:
- Unlock the domain.
- Machete your way through one of the worst administrative interfaces on the planet to get your authorization code.
- Sleep better knowing you're a little bit less of lazy bastard and throwing money at businesses who you feel guilty being associated with.
We made it out relatively unscathed in Colorado. Hickenlooper will more than likely be a decent governer and Bennet has not been replaced by that Buck wingnut. We lost a couple here and there but they were largely in districts that are traditionally pretty deep red and given the reactionary tendencies of rural folks this shouldn't come as a total surprise to anyone. Betsy Markey being ousted was a little surprising but I think that has more to do with the party affiliation than performance during time in office. Disappointing but fairly typical. Oh well, it looks like the apocalypse has been deflected for yet another election cycle.
The national picture is less happy but I can live with Republicans only being in control of part of Congress. At least with partial control they cannot persist with the run the ship aground strategy they've employed since Obama took office. It's small comfort but it beats the shit out of the alternative. I'm also a little disgusted that my least favorite orange guy, John Boner, will be shooting his mouth off that much more but I'm hoping that a less polarized (now there is an optimistic term, eh?) Congress will give him less opportunity to talk shit and then recede into the shadows until he can opportunistically jump on every negative event and claim that his party would've done things differently had the Socialists not been in power. Hopefully Boner can tie his own noose.
I'm a really big fan of my Kindle. I've actually procrastinated about reading many books that I've highly anticipated reading because they're still dead tree edition only or priced exactly the same in either paper or electronic edition. The upside is that I'm also reading a huge number of classic books in free editions in quite the same way that I'm accustomed to from back in the PDA days. I don't miss those days much but I did really dig being able to carry around my entire reading list in a searchable format where I could very quickly and easily dig out precise quotations when necessary and didn't destroy my spinal column in the process. Unlike the old and rather pricey PDAs, I seldom need to charge my Kindle (as long as I remember to disable wireless connectivity when I'm finished downloading new material) and hardly even think of it as a distinct electronic device anymore. Now it's just a white plastic slab that words come out of. I probably do more actual reading now than I've ever done before if only because I'm spending much less of the time my attention will allow tracking down the books I'm reading, figuring out what page I left off reading on after losing yet another fucking bookmark, and figuring out what the hell I did with the sheet of paper I typically keep in books with my notes because I hate re-reading marked up books.
I've been mulling over, coming back to, and re-reading this article in Prospect Magazine today because it actually engages authors who do not necessarily have religious attachments to the format their material inhabits as long as their skills still pay the bills. It's generally an engaging read especially Don DeLillo's extracted bits at the end -- they're taken from a speech but I wouldn't have seen them otherwise.
One thing that seems fairly consistent about the larger criticism of explosive electronic book growth is the loss of publishing intermediaries as ad hoc quality control. Part of me understands this immediately when I look at listings in Amazon's Kindle store where huge numbers of titles are just there in every category and indistinguishable when one has not yet been reviewed by either an Amazon customer or lifted from another publication or website. You could conceivably buy a book based entirely on its title without knowing any information about it other than title, author, and price. There isn't a spine with a publishing house mark to separate those who have braved the manuscript hawking from the great unwashed who simply wrote and published. This is understandably upsetting to those who rely greatly on the merits of manuscript pimping and press releases/review copies to validate their output.
I'm thinking that what scares publishers and traditional authors more than anything else isn't a great flood of amateurs flooding the already submerged marketplace but the idea of actually having the marketplace opened up for anyone and being forced to adapt their own models for that changed environment. I mean, face it, best selling books are largely utter shit -- well handled genre fiction that might as well be delivered via trough. The operative difference here is that the branded slop has been vetted by an external organization that thinks the book will make money. This is a reductionist way of looking at it and taken mainly because I think its funny but the reverse is most certainly true. The traditional publishing industry and its constituency would like to reduce the tension to the published and unpublished, retain the hardcover price, and forget the whole thing ever happened.
It seems like the folks who are reacting to the rise of the ebook format are doing so preemptively. Has this made some radical change in the way the book industry functions? Did this suddenly make Americans seek Tom Clancy and John Grisham instead of writing by people capable of not pooping out link after link of a chain of formulaic and episodic bullshit. I don't think so anymore than the 80's power combo of frat boy comedy and slasher flicks destroyed film production. One segment ate up a huge amount of expendable cash and the intensely ADHD generic public interest. That generalized interest doesn't radically change even in response to genuinely cool things but like a teenager in the 80s listens to the same cassingle of the same overplayed radio hit that composes their entire esthetic palate until they've burned out their sensitivity to it entirely puts it down and moves tepidly onto something else to overuse. The seemingly inevitable response from the powers that film was to either imitate (which typically and quickly sates the public desire for more of the same posthaste please) or adapts by miraculously whipping up another bland but at least novel new flavor of the month to seduce the generic public attention away from the twisted wreckage of what was the height of cool mere days ago. If you buy my line of thinking (and good on you if you don't) then there is a sort of symbiosis between the easily entertained and the hardly entertaining that is necessary for bestseller lists to even exist.
I think DeLillo's quoted questions at the end of the article are spot on. I hope I'm understanding his hints correctly but it seems like a shrug towards the medium more than anything else. He doesn't seem to fear or resent it as many of the others quoted do but (kinda have to remember here that Don is like 10000 years old) is simply waiting around to see what happens because what he really does isn't completely married to the format either. I think that is one of the reasons that I will read and (sometimes grudgingly) respect the stuff DeLillo creates. He takes some risks and even the worst of them and the least likely to make a room full of people absently high five one another is still light years ahead of teenage vampire Mormon love stories. At the same time, he used a novella (Pafko at the Wall) as the introduction to his best (in my not-so-humble opinion) novels and then later republished it as a separate book, as hardcover even. The motherfucker adapts and you should imitate that willingness to keep writing and adapt more than you should concentrate on aping the style and structure of White Noise (his worst, in my fervently disagreed with opinion) when sitting down at the keyboard all clueless and scared.
Again, I've been away from this particular channel for an unacceptable number of months. I say unacceptable because although I'm busy being a parent and running an IT department I feel like I've bypassed writing about a number of things I've thought were either important or worth sharing simply because I've gotten rather lazy about doing anything here. I've announced this site either dead or sleeping so many times that doing so again would just make me feel stupid. Eight years after the first post that would be more annoying than anything and I'm much happier being directly annoying than through some sneaky and underhanded measure.
Point one: I'm entertaining job offers again. It dawned on me (mainly due to unrelenting harassment from a seemingly endless number of recruiters) that my current job is another case study in underpayment for services rendered and unbelievable scope creep (this in the sense that I spend more time dealing with budget concerns and phone bills than anything else) and that I should probably move on. That said, I'm waiting to hear about a position that is one of the best that I've ever been considered for and it is making me impatient as all hell. Part of that is wanting to leave my current job as soon as possible now that the option seems feasible but another entirely is how much more fun the new place would be and how much less bullshit it sounds like. The key thing that makes it exciting: No Windows servers at all. Zero. It's either Linux or OS X or a hosted solution (Hosted Exchange which doesn't sound terrible at this point) or doesn't exist. I've administered what amount to exclusively MSFT networks for a long time now and I'm pretty fed up with it. Granted, they're easy as fuck to make small changes to (AD isn't the worst thing in the world these days) but when something does go catastrophically wrong, between featuring some of the worst error logging I've ever seen and reacting differently to similar environs for no logical reason, shit gets painful quickly and I spend hours reading through horror stories reminiscent of my own on Expert Sexchange until I find some miraculously opaque solution or just burn things down and start over. I'm a little tired of that and the duct tape and baling wire feeling of my network. When working on things that are time and sanity consuming (this is, of course, the nature of the job) I'm haunted by the feeling that I'm going to reboot the machine only to have an NTLDR error come wailing out of its crypt like a malevolent Egyptian curse to tell me that all my crops are going to fail and my weekend has been banished. Do not like. There was a hysterically funny blog post I remember reading years ago (but cannot find thus no link action) that compared administering Windows boxes to being a member of a cargo cult, sitting in a palm tree tree with half a coconut held to each ear and pointlessly muttering "Roger Wilco" endlessly until you die and/or lose your mind and that sums it up succinctly I think.
The funny part is that a goodly number of potential employers completely fail to see multi-platform experience as a good thing. I interviewed a couple weeks ago with a ginormous company and completely aced all levels of the technical interviews (there were 4 before I ever talked a person face to face and each individual interviewer noted that I had a very easy time with their questions) then showed up at their corporate HQ for a three hour interview festival (hate these by the way, nothing keeps me snappy like sitting in a random conference room for a third of the day) which went swimmingly while talking to the developer and QA folks I would potentially be working with. Then I hit the stage of interviews that are typically easiest -- the direct interview with the person who would be my boss. Simple, right? No, the entire 30 minutes was dedicated to voicing his concern about my experience with both Apple and Linux platforms and how their business was dedicated to Microsoft and only Microsoft and how there was no future in anything else. He also turned a little red when I said that I manage my network from a Linux machine with a VirtualBox installation of XP for applications that are Windows-dependent and told me that 'That wouldn't work here at all because we use images.' Um, okay, so let's get back to the actual interview, dude. As far as I can tell I entertained all of his real questions as best as I could (including the weird DOS one. Wha?) and left fairly confident that I would have an offer that I would likely decline. I got a call from the company's head recruiter guy (who was swell and actually sounded more technically competent than your average corporate recruiter) who told me that although my interview results ranged from excellent to stellar someone else was chosen because their background was more in line with the company's chosen IT future. The recruiter actually seemed kind of embarrassed to have to tell me this and to be told that I would not have accepted the position because of the verging on platform-racist attitude their technical director had towards pretty much anything that wasn't Windows.
It was odd to say the very least. The more unsettling part about this entire round of interviewing is that weird 'This is my platform. There are many others like it but this one is mine' has been a near constant at least with the huge companies. In the other cases, it has been more like 'This position is not concerned with x platform at all and won't ever expand to touch that so we need to be sure you're not in love with that or actually like it or would know how to fix it if it were broken' which is equally weird. The company I actually want to work for, on the other hand, was really receptive to my breadth of experience and admitted that my Windows experience was worth having around as they're not committed to any one thing specifically and that if something on that platform turns out to be the thing they need then they'll adopt it. See, grown ups make me want to work for your company and bringing out weird insecurities in the actual interview don't Luckily, crazy seems to rule the process so I haven't even needed to decline any of the other positions and have moved merrily on my way away from companies who can't even deal with the fact that one of their sysadmins might have had a fling with another operating system. I feel kind of embarrassed while the interview is going on and wildly relieved when it over. It's been a learning experience of sorts but the Google-style infinite repetition quiz show and uncomfortably long and mostly irrelevant (you say anything attempting to link the above with my posting style and I will interview style that is becoming the default for even the piddliest of companies I'm about out of patience for it. The folks who were honest enough to admit it are as wearied by the process as I am. So, wish me luck with this one that I really want because I'm pretty goddamned tired of everything else.
I didn't get that job. The new head of the IT department decided to bring in one of his friends instead. Typical.