April’s Anguished Sausage

(This post went to Patronizers at the beginning of April, and the public at the beginning of May.)

Well, this last month officially blows.

I just got news that Craig Maloney finally lost his fight with cancer. Craig was a regular in our Patronizer Zoom hangouts. The guy had the usual IT cynicism, but it floated on this bed of optimism and hope. I’ve known him for decades, but he supported my work for years before that. The first entry in my title index was a tabletop RPG published in 1992. He bought it when it came out, and it wasn’t until he’d known me for ten years that he realized that I was that Michael Lucas. I gave a talk at MUG shortly after that discovery and he brought his twenty-year-old marked-up copy. Despite that, he had no trouble calling me on my bullshit. He was all about connecting people together and unabashedly loving creativity and art.

Craig made the world a better place. I don’t know if there’s a next world, but if so he’ll do the same there. Plus, there’s a bunch of metal bands out there who can use a drummer. What happens if your drummer explodes in the afterlife? Craig would have loved that discussion.

The cough I mentioned last month? Yeah, it put me off work for three weeks. I avoided classic chronic-fatigue long covid, but my one bout damaged my body in ways you don’t hear much about. Mask policy or I don’t show up. “Cough and you’ll black out–oh, and you have to cough every thirty seconds, even when you sleep” is not fun. Having doubts about my 100 books by 2033 goal, but all I can do is keep plugging away. And not write stupidly complicated books about multiple intertwined stupid protocol stacks, like email.

The good news is, I was able to cram the two thousand words I needed to finish Run Your Own Mail Server into those three weeks. They’re not great words, but they they exist. The book is out for tech review. I’ve requested reviews by 15 April, because that’s also Tax Day and I prefer to pile all my suck into as few days as possible.

The recent vultr rights grab that they insist was not a rights grab has me moving hosting providers. I discovered that bloom.host has great deals on dedicated systems, for about what I pay for hosting all my VMs now. They specialize in gaming servers but 6 cores, twin 500GB SSDs, and 64GB RAM for $99 a month is enough for web and mail servers. Thanks to the glories of zfs send I’ll be replicating my VMs as jails. Some of those jails will have nested jails. It’ll probably lead to a new edition of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails eventually, although it’s clear I’ll need to update the storage quartet before I can write that. Sigh.

Oh, and a proper poudriere jail. That’ll go in there. FreeBSD Mastery: Packaging, anyone?

I’ll still need one tiny VM on a different network as a DNS server. Yes, I know people would offer to host secondary DNS for me, and I appreciate it. But I want the option to switch between the primary server between hosts, so that I can better cope with outages and unplanned migrations. Yes, the hosting company could pillage the authoritative DNS data. I’ll have to take that risk, and laugh in their face if they try it.

But first, I have to finish getting BSDCan infrastructure ready. I agreed to manage the new mail system and promptly fell over. That shouldn’t be too hard to set up, as I now have the core mail knowledge. Migrating from the old BSDCan mailman will be an educational sysadmin adventure, but hopefully with very little screaming into the abyss. (Remember: if you’re not screaming into the abyss, you’re not learning.)

I’ve been focused on tech this year. Sold a couple short stories by invitation, but I can feel my literary brain starting to freeze up. Part of that is my three-week outage. I’m still planning to get the giant fiction epic done this year, and I’ll be starting promptly on a big non-Absolute book for No Starch Press. Amidst that, I have bits and pieces for a second edition of Networking for Systems Administrators. I’ll be doing Kickstarters for Run Your Own Mail Server, a new collection of the FreeBSD Journal Letters column (Dear Abyss), and late this year a weird off-brand book I’ll discuss later.

I’ve also discovered the stupidest WordPress incompatibility yet. I use Woocommerce for my bookstore, where some of you are reading this post. I use Jetpack there, so that Patronizers can subscribe by email. Jetpack is owned by Automattic, a big WordPress firm. There’s scuttlebutt that Automattic is pondering licensing the content of all sites that use Jetpack for AI pillaging. I’ve been keeping an eye on that, and looking for replacements.

A few people have had trouble with their credit cards in my store, however. Thanks to a Patronizer who generously donated their time in reproducing the problem, I discovered that the problem is Jetpack. I must accept credit cards. Jetpack is turned off. Which means that those of you who subscribe to Patronizer updates by email rather than RSS won’t get those emails.

It seems there should be a simple replacement plugin for “allow email subscriptions,” but they all run through third party services. I have a mail system. If you subscribe, I can send you mail. But nooo, as far as I can tell nobody’s written that plugin. I would welcome pointers and suggestions for automating this, but for now I’ll be sending an email to all direct Patronizers whenever I publish the monthly posts.

Sigh. Computers were a mistake. But if you’re reading this, you already knew that.

That’s pretty much it. Thanks for backing me. And please stop dying, folks.


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