Big Changes Afoot

It seems I write even less than I did in previous incarnations of this site. A shame given how much easier it's been for me to maintain. All the same, there are big changes afoot so it's worth taking a moment to write about them to capture where I'm at and what's about to happen.

First, in about 20 days I'm about to marry to the most wonderful woman, partner, friend I could have ever asked for. Is it wrong to be so incredibly anxious to just arrive at that day already so we can go forward with our life together? All of the planning has been relatively easy thus far (Susie will tell you that's because she's done most of it. Quite true...) but I'm eager to be standing next to her with all the pomp and ceremony out of the way as her husband. After all that, we'll honeymoon in the sun and beaches of Cancun, then come home and continue "work" (*wink wink* *nudge nudge*) on beginning our family. I think I'm usually pretty good with words to describe what I'm thinking or feeling, but frankly I'm at a loss to say how truly excited I am to be marrying Susie.

The other big change coming is a new job. I'm about to start a new gig at Chef as part of the services & consulting team. After making a go of it at New Context, I've realized how much I really enjoy consulting work, particularly speaking with many different companies about how to address challenges they're facing. I'm really psyched to be doing this with a team like the one assembled at Chef.

<insert lofty promise of more frequent updates here.>

Missing you, Mom...

Okay, big dump coming...

~ Like the dust that settles all around me, I must find a new home. ~

I think I’ve been meaning (wanting… needing…) to write this for a while. It’s now the beginning of May and the calendar is quickly tearing pages away to mark the first anniversary of losing my mom.

I spent a lot of time suppressing my feelings. And so the symptoms of loss were becoming more pronounced: I was quick to blow my temper. I was drinking far more than I usually did. (Not water, mind you…) I would go completely dark and disconnected for a day or two, ignoring phone, email, the world. (It just so happened that one of these dis-con-nected phases I missed meeting up with a good friend, triggering concern.) I saw the changes. I knew this was happening. I knew what was driving it. And yet, I didn’t quite know what to do about it. 

Or maybe I did. In reflecting on it, I knew that I needed to talk about it. And bless her and heart for the support she’s given me, but Susie was not able to fix this for me. (I love you, sweetheart. You have been amazing in your love, support, and constant giving to help me deal with this.)

And so in February I began seeing a therapist. I’d spent months dodging it, but knew I needed to. Finally, I’d exposed my situation to a very dear friend who recognized I was out my normal place and provided an excellent recommendation for a fellow to speak with. Respecting my friend’s recommendation (he’s trusted and knows his shit; I don’t ignore his concerns) I made an appointment and begin seeing my therapist on a regular basis. These sessions have been incredibly helpful for me. To say they’ve helped addressed “everything” is far from reality, but they have done quite a bit to move me forward. I walk away from each and every session feeling better, thoughtful, happy to have been sharing, learning, and more than just “dealing”.

One particular point I’d spent a lot of energy giving thought to was ”What is the correct way to mourn my mom?”. Imagine that… What am I supposed to be doing to let everyone know I’ve mourned her properly? How will I know I’m done? Where is that checklist of things I’m supposed to do that says I’ve done it properly? (And those of you that knew my mom are chuckling now because that seems very much like a Jan-thing, doesn’t it?)

In last week’s session, I think I came to something profound in my healing process. Having spent a lot of time discussing the differences between those who have beliefs (religious, cultural, family, etc) vs those that don’t regarding dealing with death, I’d been giving much thought to what my practices were. And sitting there talking about my mother, joking of the idea that the spreading of her ashes on stage at a Springsteen show were one of the best places to do so, it suddenly hit me.

It is that which my mother instilled in me that I continue to do which shows I have mourned properly. That each day I think of those besides myself. That I am not so centered upon myself that I lose sight of others. The irony of course being that I spent so much time thinking about myself in considering understanding what it means to mourn for me. 

And suddenly, with a bit of slap in the face, I realized that what I should be doing is continuing my mother’s “work” of being a better person in this world; helping, caring, not looking the other way. As her - our - hero once acknowledged us: citizens of this world.

And as I write it out, perhaps I’m being too grandiose in that thinking… Does that matter? I don’t think so. What I know for certain is that losing Mom was something I’ll probably never get over. And now it’s alright for me to say that. Because really, how the hell are you supposed to get over losing your mom? Especially one like mine…

More than any time spent thinking or writing about it can express, I miss you Mom.

~ The meaning of all that I believed before ~
~ Escapes me in this world of none, ~
~ I miss you more. ~

Talking Culture at Velocity 2013

I'll be speaking at Velocity 2013 next month. It's an incredible opportunity and I'm thrilled at the chance to do so.

The talk - How Edmunds.com built DevOps with Beer and Whiteboards - will be co-presented with Steve Burton (AppMan) on establishing collaborative teams. It's a spin on a talk I gave last year at AppJam San Francisco on how a series of disconnects between teams eventually lead to a destruction of silos and technology triumphs.

A New Home

I've been simplifying on several fronts.

I'm shutting down my co-located servers. Since 1997 I have had a dedicated server of my own managing my websites, mail, and DNS. I provided hosting services for a number of years to a small handful of clients. I dropped those clients a few years back but continued to maintain my own host. That's been a love/hate activity that I'm finally putting an end to. It's no longer interesting as a hobby to do something at such a small scale relative to what I do in my professional life at a much larger scale.

The reason you can still read this is because I moved my site to Squarespace. It was a trivial task to get started with a "new" site and I had it all built in a matter of hours. There wasn't a whole lot of effort put into it, honestly. What you see is largely in-part due to the brilliance of the service that Squarespace has created. No more worries about keeping up on the latest Wordpress security threats.

I'd collected a handful of domains over the years and relied on EasyDNS as my registrar of choice. While they've been an excellent company to work with, their web-based management software has grown cumbersome to work with. As I was abandoning my own bind instances for my domains, I went looking for a new DNS provider. Enter DNSimple. Quick and easy domain transfers, reasonably priced, and easy-to-use interface. DNSimple also provides "One-Click Services" for your domains to easily add records for using Square, Google Apps, Tumblr, Blogger, Cloudfare, Github, etc, etc. It's beautifully done and dead simple to use.

As I mentioned, I had collected a handful of domains over the years. I'm going to let several of them expire and only keep three that actually mean something to me now: tekbuddha.com, qmunic8.com, and unixmercenary.com. Each of these domains will direct to this site. I haven't made a decision yet as to whether I want to get mail at these domains. My gmail account seems to be serving me just fine for now.

This has been a good exercise. It feels like I'm cutting unnecessary fat. It really has me wondering why I didn't do something like this much sooner.

A dose of caffeine for my MacBook

One problem that has slowly gotten worse with time is the responsiveness of my MacBook Air upon waking from sleep. (I'm on a 2011 13-inch "high end" model.) The time it takes for the keyboard to become responsive and allow me to begin entering my password has increased since I first got the MBA in late 2011. Recent OS upgrades have only exacerbated the issue. I set out this weekend to find a way around the issue.

There are several long running threads on Apple's own support forums, each ending with a "submit a bug to Apple" link. After submitting my own bug report, I wasn't quite satisfied. A better crafted Google query provided a link to a solid document written in 2010 about Apple's various hibernate modes. Jackpot!

Apple provides three different modes of hibernation:

  • hibernate mode 0 -- suspend to RAM only (default on desktops)
  • hibernate mode 1 -- suspend to disk only
  • hibernate mode 3 -- suspend to disk + RAM (default on laptops)

You can find your current hibernate mode by running the following command in Terminal.app:

$ pmset -g | grep hibernatemode hibernatemode 3

As the documentation indicates, on a portable device (such as my MBA) the default hibernate mode was '3'. When my MBA is put to sleep (which happens when I close the lid) the operating system suspends all objects "in flight" to both disk and RAM. When I open the lid to wake the MBA from sleep, there is a pause as the OS reads its previous state from both disk and RAM.

Mode 3 is ideal for laptops because of their risk in losing power, thereby losing a hibernate state stored only in RAM. If you're running a laptop in Mode 0 and run out of power then your hibernate state is lost and you essentially bring yourself back to an operating state by a full reboot. Desktops default to Mode 0 because they're always plugged in.

I'm fairly good about always having juice in my MBA, so the risk of losing any unsaved work while running in Mode 0 doesn't concern me. It's pretty easy to go from Mode 3 to Mode 0:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

Before taking a dive head-first I saved all my work and then closed the lid of my MBA. I waited a few moments, cracked open the lid, and viola! My keyboard and pointer were instantly responsive. This is exactly the feel I expect from my MBA.

I've been running with this setting for 48hrs now through multiple sleep/wake scenarios. So far I've seen no ill affect of my change. I'll report back if anything presents itself.

Updated 09/04/2012:

Well over a week and Mode 0 has been working quick well for me. My MBA is wide awake the moment the lid is cracked and I have yet to have lost any work as a result of the change. A funny thing though... I'm writing this update from a coffee shop in Seattle (Bumpershoot 2012!) and my day-to-day routine of keeping my MBA charged at my desk has been interrupted. As a result, I'm running on fumes with a 7% charge remaining. I'm not all that nervous as everything is in a saved state, but as soon as I cracked the lid and saw less than 10% juice remaining, the reality of my change sank in. Again, no nervousness about the situation, but a reminder that provided my day-to-day routine stays intact all is well. Interrupt it at all, and I put unsaved work at risk.

All the same, I highly recommend Mode 0 to anyone who has been frustrated by the slow wake times after recent OS X updates.

The Big Picture

It's been a couple weeks now and I'm really thrilled at my switch to fullscreen mode on my Macbook Air. Any application that supports it I now run in fullscreen. The change in my daily work has been incredible.

Terminal.app in fullscreen is a beautiful thing. To me there is something pure about a shell. A shell in fullscreen? Breathtaking. Throw screen into the mix and it's nothing short of masterpiece.

Mail.app is great too. Composing a new email is an uninterruptible single-window with the message you're preparing providing little opportunity for distraction. The other bonus is I'm no longer leaving emails opened in background windows accumulating dust. Instead, I flag messages which require a reply, which is clearly displayed as a count. Being OCD, unread counts drive me nuts so there is an added incentive to reply to flagged messages quickly to keep the folder count down.

iCal feels better but that may also be to changing to a daily view, rather than a weekly view. It allows me to keep my attention on the day rather thinking about my schedule for the rest of the week. I do still cringe at the animations bouncing between days/weeks/months as it just delays me getting the information I'm after. (Thank you interwebs! Apparently cmd-arrow disables the animation.)

My other favorite apps, Numbers, Reeder, and Sublime Text all look fantastic. They adapt really well to the fullscreen approach.

I'm split on Chrome. Some things are just great, but others (like the menubar dropping down for new tab creation) are just plain annoying.

Overall though this has really changed my daily work in really great ways. Having upgraded my Macbook Air to run Mountain Lion, the addition of the Notification Center and Reminders.app will be interesting in the mix.