My Penguicon 2021 Schedule

I’ll be speaking at the virtualized Penguicon 2021, and hanging around several events making a nuisance of myself. Fortunately, these online events are moderated and they’ll mute me any time I start to make trouble.

If you’re looking to see me, though, here’s my presentation schedule. (Events I will attend, but not as any sort of speaker, are not shown.)

22 April (Thursday)

7PM: Author Reception (hangout)

24 April (Saturday)

12PM: Becoming a Better Writer (presentation)
2PM: Reading (probably Woolen Torment, depending on the audience)
6PM: Why Aren’t I Writing? Dealing with Impostor Syndrome, Writer’s Block, and Other Muse Killers (panel)

25 April (Sunday)

12PM: SSL and TLS in 2021 (presentation)
1PM: Self Publishing at Scale (panel)

Registration for Penguicon is a paltry $10. The money goes towards keeping various background stuff in place so that Penguicon 2022 can be A Thing. I want Penguicon 2022 to be A Thing.

My blatantly exploited Patronizers have to pay $10 for an hour of my time once a month. Even if the rest of Penguicon doesn’t interest you, you can get 3-4 hours of Lucas for that amount. That’s enough to last anyone a year. If you can’t attend, they’d appreciate a donation.

You’ll note that, compared to previous Penguicons, I will not be attending any LN2 ice cream demos. This is a tragic weakness in the virtual format. I will be visiting my local shop to lay in copious supplies so that I may maintain a sufficient dairy level throughout the weekend.

With virtualization becoming increasingly acceptable for conference presenters, I’m looking at setting boundaries on how often I will speak. Grab me while you can.

Last-Minute Public Reading, on Halloween

On 31 October 2020, Halloween, I’ll be giving a last-minute online reading at Privacy Week. You’ll get snippets of $ git commit murder and a sneak peek at “TLS Mastery.” We’ll have time for a Q&A afterwards, and then a breakout session for those who for some reason want yet more time with me.

This is a last minute event; I’m filling in for someone who cannot make it. The time isn’t yet set, but it’ll be either 15:30 or 16:30 EDT. I’ll find out tomorrow. It will also appear on the Privacy Week schedule. I’ll also have streaming links tomorrow. I’ll update this post with those links, rather than spam y’all with yet another post.

This is a free event.

The main part of the talk will be recorded and publicly available, once the volunteers finish it. The breakout session will not.


Talk is at 20:30 Berlin time, or 3:30PM EDT.

Streaming link is at

See you there!

Patreon Reorganization, January 2021

When I set up my Patreon, I had no idea how well it would work–or not. My life in information technology has me paranoid, though, so I set up my Patreon through a paranoid lens.

Patreon worked better than I feared. It’s exceeded what I hoped for. Not my wildest dreams, mind you. (My wildest dreams are not financial, mind you, so they’re irrelevant–but still.)

I am therefore changing my Patreon to be more generous.

Creators of greater Patreon savvy than myself were unanimous in telling me to give advance warning of any changes, even if they’re for the Patronizer’s benefit, so I’m making these changes effective January 2021. (They also tell me to stop calling my Patronizers “Patronizers,” but that would make you suspect someone else had taken over this account, so I’m ignoring that advice.)

The $1 level will become “See the Sausage Being Made” (down from $5). You’ll get the monthly post on my progress with current projects, plus the Unix fortune file and a short story.

The $5 level will become “Digital Reader” (previously $10). When I release something that I retain digital rights to, you’ll get a copy. Generally, that means any new pieces published by Tilted Windmill Press, fiction or non. I do not retain the digital rights for No Starch books like “Absolute OpenBSD,” nor do I have ebook rights to third party fiction anthologies like “Face the Strange” or the new “Bloody Christmas.” (Anthology stories get published separately once I get the rights back, usually within a few months of the anthology publication.)

At times I must republish old titles, usually because an ebookstore has done something horrific and I must touch all of the books, but sometimes for omnibus or collections. Such backlist titles are not included.

At $10 and above, I’ll have a new benefit: Monthly Video Chat.

You’ll get a pass to a monthly Patronizer-only live AMA session with yours truly. I’m starting this with Zoom first, as I’m already stuck using it for other meetings and it has a cross-platform web client that works on both OpenBSD and FreeBSD.
If only a couple folks show, I’ll hang around for not less than half an hour. I’ll go at least an hour if we get more folks.
Meets will be scheduled in advance, at different times of the week and different times of day, so Patronizers will get a share of time slots no matter where they live or their work hours.

While this is an “ask me anything” sort of thing, I do retain the right to not answer questions that are a) too personal, or b) would spoil the surprise.

I have no idea what will happen with the video chat, but I’ll commit to working through any issues for twelve meetings, barring personal debacle or US civil war or such. Even if the remaining half of my thyroid implodes, I should be able to sit on video chat.

The technology might be changed. If it’s wildly successful, I might need to add a moderator. If nobody shows up, or it turns into a time sink that interferes with my writing, I’ll stop it.

$20 and greater levels remain unchanged.

As it’s almost Halloween, I’d like to close by reminding you that the $250/month “What is Wrong with You???” level, which has a variety of benefits but includes me introducing you Cryptkeeper-style, is available.

Book Sale

(Update: sale is over. Leaving the blog post up for posterity.)

For those interested in such things, I recently posted my 60,000th tweet. This prodded me to try an experiment I’ve been pondering for a while.

Over at my ebookstore, two of my books are now on a “Name Your Own Price” sale. You can get git commit murder and PAM Mastery for any price you wish, with a minimum of $1.

Regular readers of this blog are theoretically already aware that these books exist, and have bought them if they’re so inclined. If you could help spread the word to potential new readers, though, I would appreciate it.

BSDCan 2020 Charity Auction Results

A few weeks ago, as part of BSDCan 2020, I held an auction to benefit the Ottawa Mission. And once again, Bill Allaire crushed all opposition. (Not that there was a huge amount of opposition, because plague, but still.) Bill has made his winning donation and then some, and is entitled to my malformed student notes.

Bill is too generous for his own good, however. This is not the first of my auctions that he’s won. (I believe there’s more, but they’re not coming up on a blog search.) What’s more, the student notes he won? They are being donated to the BSDCan 2021 Charity Auction.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled apocalypse.

A different sort of interview, on tabletop RPGs

Obscure MWL historical trivia: I got my start writing tabletop role playing games. It seems they have greater staying power than I ever thought they would.

The Plus Or Minus podcast interviewed me about my TTRPG Gatecrasher, which came out in 1995. A good time was had by all.

Also: 1995 was a quarter of a century ago. Not quite half my lifetime. Dang. I’m old. When did that happen?

Me, talking SNMP at Semibug: 21 January 2020

The headline pretty much covers it. I’ll be talking SNMP at the meeting next Tuesday. 7 PM, Altair Engineering.

I use the semibug presentations to dry-run talks that I’ll be presenting elsewhere. The next place I’ll give it will be at HasGeek in Bangalore. So, if you’re in North America and want to see it, I highly encourage you to attend.

Also, semibug encourages heckling. Creative heckling, that is.

Proof I Am a Monster

One of the high points of the annual BSDCan tech conference is the charity auction in the closing session. We habitually support the Ottawa Mission, right down the street from the venue. After walking past the mission every day to find breakfast, the attendees are highly motivated to donate. The auction is especially amusing because the contents of the lost and found get auctioned off. More than once auctioneer Dan Langille has announced “I have here a power supply for an Apple laptop” only to have an audience member groan. It’s become a point of honor that people buy their stuff back, and folks delight in running up the price to twice what a replacement costs. We auction off everything from “the last cookie from the lunch buffet” to novelty pens to entire servers that dealers don’t want to take back to the States. (git commit murder’s auction scene is stolen wholesale from BSDCan.) Really, it’s an excuse to collect charity cash from well-paid IT workers.

In early 2019, I declared that I’d auction off the mostly complete manuscript of Terrapin Sky Tango at BSDCan. This was mainly to give me a deadline to finish writing the dang book.

I made it with thirty hours to spare.

Time in the auction is tight, so I elected to do a silent auction for the “mostly complete Terrapin Sky Tango” manuscript at my table. Competition quickly narrowed down to two people, Bob Beck and Kristof Provost. But at 4 PM Saturday, an hour before the closing session, my bid sheet disappeared. I couldn’t end the auction.

The closing session ends at 6 PM, and Bob had a flight out at 7PM. He’s in the closing session with his suitcase, coat over his arm, ready to charge out the door the moment the session ends. (You can do this when flying in a civilized country.)

You can see what happened on the video and skip ahead to my pics for the coda, or just read on.

What should turn up in the main auction but my silent auction bid sheet? It went for $40.

Turns out the last bid was Bob’s, for $189. Kristof runs him up to $200. A good laugh is had by all. Bob throws money at the secretary and bolts for the door.

Dan announces the next auction item: the last 27 pages of TST.

Bob freezes in place.

That bit where I said the manuscript was mostly complete? It sounds like it just needs editing, right?

Yeah. I suck. Stealing the last 27 pages of a thriller is downright mean.

That person on the video screaming LUCAS? Bob’s got a real good set of lungs on him.

Bob remains to bid on those last pages. He’d blown his wad on the main manuscript, though, so Kristof handily outbids him. Kristof tucks the envelope containing those last pages under Bob’s arm as he heads out the door. Kristof gets a well-deserved round of applause for his good sportsmanship. I’m told that the flight attendants didn’t actually bruise Bob’s butt slamming the airplane door behind him, but it was a close thing.

Time passed. Visualize those calendar pages flipping past as TST goes through copyediting, into production, and hits the bookstores. I sent Bob and Kristof ebook copies as soon as they were available. It really was the least I could do. The very least. Seeing as they paid hundreds of dollars for parts of an unedited manuscript, though, I decided I should ship them a signed print copy.

For reference: here is a photograph of the hardcover edition cover. The paperback edition is the same, but more difficult to photograph.

Here’s the paperback I shipped Bob and Kristof.

TST, Beck Edition

Both put it on the shelf, or in the recycle bin, and sent me a nice thank you note. Neither noticed the blank back cover, or thought anything was amiss with the book.

Two weeks later, I sent this.

TST Provost Edition

Each had a sticky note on the front that said “OOPS, MY BAD ==ml”

Yes, the first book they received was missing the last 27 pages.

Four copies of the Beck Edition and the Provost Edition exist. Bob and Kristof each got one. I’m keeping one. The fourth will be auctioned off at BSDCan 2020.

I love being a monster.