May’s Magniloquent Sausage

(This post went to Patronizers at the beginning of May, and to the world at the beginning of June. Not a Patronizer? Sign up at

This month was better than last month. If you look at April’s Sausage post, you’ll see that is a terribly low bar to clear, but I’ll take it.

The “exciting” news on this is that I’ve set a up the Run Your Own Mail Server Kickstarter. I’m not excited for the Kickstarter itself, but I’m curious how well it will work out and that curiosity carries its own excitement. RYOMS is the most heavily-sponsored book I’ve written. I suspect this is less about the topic, and more because the sponsorships were open longer than any other book. (You can thank me catching covid for that.) In theory, the groups of “people willing to advance me money to write this book” is not the same as “people willing to preorder directly from the author.” Perhaps I already pillaged my public support and this Kickstarter will fail. Well, no, it’s not going to fail. I’ve set a goal of $500. I had many sponsors for OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems, and got a few dozen pre-orders even though that book had sponsors.

Wait–I keep ranting about the importance of disintermediation, and I’m switching from direct pre-orders to Kickstarter? What gives?

Processing fees on Paypal and Stripe are about 3%. (Yes, it’s more complex than that, but it’s close enough for this discussion, so hush.) Kickstarter fees are 5% plus processing fees, or basically 8%. The question is: will the social aspect of Kickstarter make up for that 5% fee? There’s only one way to know, and that’s to try it. I love experimenting. I love trying new things in my art, my craft, and my trade. So that’s exciting.

The curious among you are welcome to look at the campaign preview.

One thing about this campaign pleases me. I started the 60 Seconds of WIP podcast to better learn to speak on microphone. Recording this Kickstarter video took only eight takes where it would have previously required fifteen or more.

RYOMS is the longest Mastery title, twice as long as Networking for Systems Administrators and 125% the length of SNMP Mastery. I think I’m going to price the ebook at $14.99. This means the Kindle version won’t be available on Amazon, just like OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems. The OpenBSD people have no problem with avoiding Amazon, but this book is for a wider audience. I’m curious to see how that works out as well. I can imagine someone uploading pirated versions to Amazon, but I’m ready with my complaint letters and DMCA takedown notices, as always. Yes, my publishing checklist includes “prepare a template DMCA takedown” for the book. Always preload your pain.

RYOMS is also back from tech edits. If you haven’t sent me your comments, it’s too late. I’m churning through the manuscript to get everything updated, so I can get it to copyedit before the Kickstarter opens on 20 May. I’m also preparing a four-hour course based on RYOMS for BSDCan. Four hours is not enough to go deep into the entire book, but nobody wants to sit through eight hours of config files, so I’m focusing on knowledge integration. That, plus setting up the new BSDCan mail server, is forcing me to go through the manuscript one last time.

I’m also converting TLS Mastery into a four hour course, but I can finish that after RYOMS goes to copyedit.

All of this is taking longer than I expected, forcing me to face something rather unpleasant. Covid dented me. I’m not one of those poor bastards with crippling long covid, but my energy is certainly not what it once was. I’m clearly functioning at about eighty percent, though, and that seems fairly constant. I clearly can’t afford to catch covid again, and am no longer waffling about my conference mask policy. Masks do not protect you, but they protect the people around you. The people most likely to spread covid are the least likely to wear a mask. EuroBSDCan in freaking Dublin seriously tempted me, but I have too many books left to write to catch this crap again.

That’s the thought dragging me through these tech edits: when I finish, I get to write again!

But writing the tutorial is making me double-check everything. The book will be better for it, but I still hate it.

Whenever I release a tech book, I create a file for keeping notes about stuff I missed. This helps me decide if a book needs a second edition. I’m at the point where Networking for Systems Administrators has accumulated a few critical gaps. The appearance of Let’s Encrypt means the book needs TLS coverage. I should discuss special address ranges like It talks network sockets, but I should add some comments about local sockets and their evil twin, Windows pipes. Speaking of Windows, I need to confirm all of the PowerShell commands are actually PowerShell. A faint breath of nmap. Other detritus. And the cover needs updating.

Some of this I’ll need for my next big Unix book as well.

I’m contemplating a crash revision. These are all simple topics. I could kick off a two-week sponsorship window after BSDCan, while RYOMS is still in copyedit. Disconnect the Internet and spend eight hours a day revising the book. Another round of tech reviews would be the longest part. Once I get the book to copyedit, I’d do either a ten-day Kickstarter or a preorder on my web site. I haven’t done a crash book like that since you maniacs sponsored Ed Mastery. It would be fun.

But then there’s that “I’m running at 80%” factor.

We’ll see.

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