Cutting My Throat at Last

So many people over the decades have volunteered to slash my neck for free, but I’ve decided to have a professional do it.

My long-time stalkers followers have probably noticed my declining output. In 2016 I released six big books. Last year, two. This year, I’m pushing hard to get three, and I probably won’t succeed.

I’ve been plagued by weird, seemingly unrelated health problems. I’ll spare you the tedious details, but the real problem is that my writing speed hasn’t been where it needs to be.

I’ve been going to quite a few doctors trying to figure out the root problem. Thought it was anemia. Got that patched over, sort of, but there’s other symptoms. Also, what caused the anemia?

On 10 December, they’re cutting me open to yank out the right side of my thyroid and the accompanying 22-centimeter cyst. At least, that’s the plan. The surgeon might open me up and realize that the whole thing has to go, as some problems aren’t visible until you lay eyes on them. MRIs and ultrasounds are miraculous, but nothing replaces the squishy cameras mounted at the front of your head.

Part of me hopes they take it all. It’s hard to say how long the thyroid’s been bad; “constantly feeling vaguely unwell” is a common side effect of a career in systems administration. The thyroid is your master gland and controls your whole body. It’s also a tricky bugger to diagnose, at least until it starts swelling.

I don’t know that my thyroid is the true root cause, but the list of standard thyroid symptoms includes most all of my non-personality problems.

What will happen next? Dunno. Maybe I’ll come out just fine. Maybe I’ll need hormone replacement therapy. The more extensive the surgery, the longer it’ll take to recover–perhaps as long as three months. If they take half, there’s a 30% chance they’ll go back a couple weeks later and take the other half. I do know that this is a common surgery (except for the whole twenty-two centimeter thing), and that it’s completely routine for everyone but me.

So, I’m doing the following.

  • All public appearances are canceled until further notice. I’ll still be at semibug, but I’m not talking at any more user groups or cons until I’m well. I’m not even doing any more bookstore readings. The people involved already know.
  • I’m not accepting any invitations for conferences until this is resolved. I usually get a flurry of invites at year end, but I’m deferring decisions until I’m stable.
  • Even if I come through this perfectly I’m planning to stay home afterwords, put my head down, and write some damn books. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted as a career. I’m ridiculously lucky in that people will buy almost anything I write. If I want to keep this career, I have to produce.

So, chances are I’ll turn down your con invite anyway. But hopefully it won’t be because I don’t feel well enough to travel; it’ll be because I feel finally healthy enough to disgorge the millions of words trapped in my brainstem.

I’m also looking forward to being able to routinely turn my head to the right without blacking myself out. That’ll be nice.

Also, if this leaves a big scar? Two words: zipper tattoo!

Auction Winners

The auctions are over. (They ended late Saturday, but I spent Sunday traveling and couldn’t get the post up.)

The OpenBSD auction went to Jared for $1000, crushing poor Cybermonk.

Cybermonk did triumph in the FreeBSD auction, however, with a top bid of $325.

Congrats to the winners! Send me the receipts for your donations to the respective Foundations and your mailing address, and I’ll get your books to you. (Technically, Ayaka will be mailing the OpenBSD book; she’s taking it for a couple more signatures this week.)

My condolences to those who lost the auctions. Remember, you can still donate and get that warm feel-good dopamine from being a good person.

Ugly Pics of AF3e auction signatures

The auction of Absolute FreeBSD 3rd edition signed by the FreeBSD devs attending MeetBSD is underway.

Gathering the signatures is also underway.

Here are some cruddy pictures taken with my cellphone while sitting in the devsummit audience.

A similar auction for my last OpenBSD book raised $1145. Consider this a challenge to the FreeBSD community.

The overwhelming theme of the commentary seems to be “apologies,” which is slightly worrisome but the cluster admins say “everything is fine” so I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.

Absolute FreeBSD now shipping!

Amazon can deliver and NSP has copies, so I think I can say: Absolute FreeBSD is now shipping!

Here’s the Obligatory Gratuitous New Book Selfie.

af3e selfie

Grab an ebook/print bundle direct from No Starch Press. NSP coupon code ILUVMICHAEL gives you 30% off any NSP purchase and puts a few extra bucks in my pocket, so that’s cool. And there’s Amazon. There’s always Amazon, the company we all love to loathe.

Or check the book page for links to other stores.

Developer-signed “Relayd & Httpd Mastery” hardcover

This post is for bids on the brand new first-ever hardcover edition of Relayd & Httpd Mastery that I’m going to have signed by every developer I can catch at MeetBSD. Proceeds go to the OpenBSD Foundation.

Rules are on the announcement page, but in short: the auction ends on 20 October 2018, at the close of MeetBSD. Each bid must be at least $5 more than the prior bid. I’ll hand over or mail the copy upon getting a copy of the receipt for the OpenBSD Foundation.

The auction takes place entirely on this page. Folks at MeetBSD get no special advantage.

FreeBSD & OpenBSD fundraisers

TLDR: FreeBSD auction here, OpenBSD auction here. Bids on this page will be ignored.

The brand-new third edition of Absolute FreeBSD is in one of my greasy mitts right now. As is customary, I’m using this to persuade other people to give money to the FreeBSD Foundation.

In unrelated news, I’ve just come up with a hardcover version of Relayd and Httpd Mastery. I have the test proof of that book in my other greasy mitt. I might as well use this to persuade other people to give money to the OpenBSD Foundation.

In my third greasy mitt, I’ll be speaking on Why BSD Saturday morning at MeetBSD.

As I’m going to a con anyway…

I’m taking an AF3e and this R&HM proof to MeetBSD. There I’ll get as many FreeBSD and OpenBSD devs as possible to sign them. There’s a FreeBSD devsummit the day before the con, so I should be able to get a bunch there. I don’t know how many OpenBSD folks will be there, but I’ll grab any of them I can capture with my fourth greasy mitt. (I’m told at least a couple will be, and I’m really looking forward to them asking questions of our esteemed Intel hosts.) I’ll probably get the MeetBSD con chair to sign, because why not?

I’m proactively auctioning off both of these for donations to the respective Foundations.

The auctions will run in different posts, here on this web site, from now until the evening of 20 October 2018. That’s the last night of MeetBSD. Yes, I’m hoping to run up the price.

Some comments and rules.


  • Is this a cynical scheme to raise money for further development of assorted BSD-related projects?

    Yes.

  • Do the Foundations know you’re doing this?

    No. Why would they? This is between you, me, and the random committers I get to sign the books.

  • Why do this here, instead of an auction site like eBay?

    Partly because authors normally do this sort of thing on their web pages. Partly because it simplifies the running of the auction. And partly because it means I have no financial connection to the results. Touching donated money causes me weird non-financial risks, thanks to the unholy trifecta of how federal and state law interacts with my family situation. (No, I won’t explain that. It’s personal. Deal.)

  • Why not have each Foundation run this, then?

    They’re busy doing real Foundation work.

  • Why not just give money yourself?

    While I make more than the US national average, almost anyone who reads these books makes tens of thousands of dollars more than I do. Past auctions have shown that y’all can pay far more than I, when motivated by some silly prank inspired to do so.

  • When does the auction end?

    6 PM PST Saturday, 20 October 2018. Or sometime shortly after that.

  • That’s a stupid time. Where’s my countdown timer?

    It’s convenient for me. It also will discourage last-minute sniping.

    If last minute bids are coming in fast and furious, I’ll let it run until bidding stops for five minutes or so. Fight it out fair and square.

  • When does the auction start?

    When I hit “publish” on this blog post.

  • How do I bid?

    Comment here with your bid amount. Each bid must be a minimum of $5 more than the previous bid.

  • How do I track competing bids?

    Check the “Subscribe to Comments” box when you bid.

  • Where will the winner be announced?

    On a separate blog post a day or two after the con. I’m traveling the 21st, so I’m not sure how this will work out. You can read the comments and see the winner, though.

  • How do I claim my prize?

    You have three days to make your donation. Send me your PayPal receipt.

    If the donation is sufficiently large, I might ask you to give the Foundation permission to tell me that you actually donated the money.

  • What if the winner doesn’t pay?

    The prize falls to the #2 bidder, who I will contact.

    I won’t blog that the #1 person sucks, but I will say that they didn’t donate and thus the award falls through to #2. You’re perfectly capable of determining a person’s suckage level on your own.

  • What exactly will the winner get?

    A copy of the book you bid on, defaced by developers, leading community members, and myself.

  • Where are the detailed rules?
    In my head.

    Looks, this is supposed to be fun. You know how an auction works. We’re all in the BSD community. But if someone plays silly buggers, I am the final arbiter of how an auction works. I don’t make money no matter how this turns out.

  • Committer-signed “Absolute FreeBSD 3rd Ed” auction

    This post is for bids on the brand new third edition of “Absolute FreeBSD” that I’m going to have signed by every developer I can catch at MeetBSD. Proceeds go to the FreeBSD Foundation.

    Rules are on the announcement page, but in short: the auction ends on 20 October 2018, at the close of MeetBSD. Each bid must be at least $5 more than the prior bid. I’ll hand over or mail the copy upon getting a copy of the receipt for the FreeBSD Foundation.

    The auction takes place entirely on this page. Folks at MeetBSD get no special advantage.

    AF3e ship date and next FreeBSD talk

    The print version of Absolute FreeBSD, 3rd Edition leaves the printer on 4 October 2018. They will absolutely be on hand for MeetBSD.

    Thanks go to Bill Pollock, shot-caller at No Starch Press, for making this happen. Paper shortages drove the printer to slip the ship date to mid-month, which would have made getting the books to MeetBSD impossible. Once he knew of the problem, he was able to properly aim the butt-walloping department and get the books done in time. Bill was also prepared to run a few copies as print-on-demand so I could meet my obligations, which is more than many publishers would be willing to do, but POD of big books is nowhere near as nice as real printing. Besides, my most eager readers, the ones likely to show up at MeetBSD, are the ones who most deserve a properly printed book.

    Plus, if I’m gonna get on a blasted airplane because my new book is out, I at least want the book to be there when it arrives.

    This doesn’t mean Amazon will ship your print book on 4 October. The books need to traverse the physical distance between the printer and the warehouses. But from here on out, it’s all routine.

    In related news, I’ll be talking FreeBSD at mug.org on 9 October. With any luck I’ll have print books there too.

    Happy #CIDRDay!

    On 24 September 1993, the IETF published RFC 1519, designating Classless Interdomain Routing (CIDR) and variable length subnet masks as the standard. That particular document is obsoleted by later RFCs, but it’s still a milestone.

    Before then, IP addresses were allocated by “classes.” Class A, B, and C addresses were the norm. I’m not going to explain classful addressing, because it’s long obsolete and, on the current Internet, stupid.

    What I am going to do is go on a mini-tirade about classful addressing. Because there’s a lot of people out there still teaching classful addressing to newcomers. And then these poor newcomers hit the field, and people like me have to spend our time unteaching them what they so painfully learned.

    I fully understand it takes a few years to disseminate knowledge. But textbooks are still being published that claim classful routing is the standard. This is an appalling disservice to the profession.

    Yes, CIDR looks hard. But if a new network admin can’t handle CIDR and VLSM, they shouldn’t be administering networks. That’s perhaps the easiest math they’ll need to handle in their career. And the Internet is full of cheat sheets for people who don’t want to bother to do the math.

    On this, the 25th anniversary of Classless Inter-Domain Routing, I hereby declare 24 September 1993 CIDRDay, dedicated to stamping out classful addressing. A whole variety of celebrations are appropriate.

    First, of course: cider! Cider is obligatory on CIDRDay.

    Second, whenever someone who should know better says “Class C,” “Class B,” or “Class A” address? Explain to them the error of their ways, with the minimum amount of force needed to make sure that they never say it again.

    If you know someone who’s still teaching that garbage? Yell at them until they promise to stop. If yelling doesn’t work, escalate.

    Because frankly, I’m tired of reeducating innocent newcomers who should have been better served by their instructors.