FreeBSD Mastery: Jails – Bail Bond Denied Edition

I had a brilliant, hideous idea: to produce a charity edition of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails featuring the cover art I would use if I was imprisoned and did not have access to a real cover artist. (Never mind that I wouldn’t be permitted to release books while in jail: we creative sorts scoff at mere legal and cultural details.)

I originally wanted to produce my own take on the book’s cover art. My first attempt failed spectacularly.

I downgraded my expectations and tried again. And again. And again.

I’m pleased to reveal the final cover for FreeBSD Mastery: Jails–Bail Bond Edition!

This cover represents the very pinnacle of my artistic talents, and is the result of literally hours of effort.
But, as this book is available only to the winner of charity fund-raisers, purchase of this tome represents moral supremacy. I recommend flaunting it to your family, coworkers, and all those of lesser character.

Get your copy by winning the BSDCan 2019 charity auction… or any other other auction-type event I deem worthwhile.

As far as my moral fiber goes: I have learned that art is hard, and that artists are not paid enough.

And if I am ever imprisoned, I do hope that you’ll contribute to my bail fund. Otherwise, you’ll get more covers like this one.

Print Sponsor Gifts Mailed for “FreeBSD Mastery: Jails”

I just got back from mailing the sponsor gifts for FreeBSD Mastery: Jails. Every time I ship sponsor gifts, I tell myself that I really need to intern at a shipping company, because there has got to be an easier way to do this.

The pile on the right goes to international sponsors.

This time I attempted to be modern and use the USPS’ web interface to create customs forms, buy postage, and have them pick this mess up at my door. Unfortunately, the feature to let me buy postage for overseas packages was busted today. I could buy postage for their fancy mail service where you use their boxes, for twice as much. I already spend a third of the print sponsor income on fulfilling sponsorships, and I really don’t want to raise the rates for international sponsors. There’s no point in doing the easy half the order the modern way when I have to lug the difficult half to the post office anyway.

I did successfully use the online form to create customs paperwork for each international shipment, though. So that’s something.

I had several ideas for fancy sponsor gifts, but they all turned out to be prohibitively expensive. It is possible to get customized Beastie metal files, suitable for gnawing through cage bars. It’s expensive. Baking them inside little cakes is also possible, but a) makes the shipping fiendishly annoying, and the joke gets moldy quick. No matter how droll delightful such cakes would have been, though, the cake would have been actively toxic and my ethics got in the way.

So I’m afraid this time my sponsors get a mere hardcover copy of the book.

I’m considering this project closed, barring any shipping problems.

And this is where I should probably plug the sponsorships for Sudo Mastery, 2nd Edition. And my new sponsorship announcement mailing list.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make some serious words on Terrapin Sky Tango…

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” Print Sponsor Gifts Threaten to Topple

A groaning UPS driver arrived at my door this morning and dropped off several dozen pounds of paper.

Shipping these is a huge job. I’ll probably pack them up Saturday when I can bribe someone into helping me. (One person wrapping the book, one stuffing the book into the envelope, and one addressing/taping the envelope is more than three times faster than one person shipping alone. I suspect it’s related to the sense of overwhelming despair one feels when facing a giant stack of books that need mailing.) I expect they’ll go into the mail Monday, barring debacle.

Note the absence of art-besmirching text on the cover. The title and author appear on the inside flap. If you want the complete version of the (in my biased opinion) glorious cover art, this is how you get it.

For those watching the business of book sponsorships: I expect I’ll pay about $25 per print sponsor to fulfill these. Lots of the shipping needs to go overseas, and each hardcover costs me almost $15. I still come out nicely ahead, so long as I don’t have to pay too much of a bribe to get the books packed.

Talking Jails at Semibug, 9 April 2019

I’ve written a jails talk to go with the book.

I plan to give this talk three times: a dry run at next week’s Semibug, then in May at Penguicon and BSDCan. The Semibug talk, at 7 PM Tuesday at Altair Engineering, will be the most honest version of the talk. And by honest, I mean it will still include the bad language. I’ll also have the most time to talk afterwards.

With any sort of luck, I’ll have copies of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails at all three events.

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” and a new novella

The paperback, hardcover, and electronic versions of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails are all available at multiple stores. Not all stores–Powell’s and Waterstones, for example, always seems slow to get my new books. But it’s at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and several others. And the reviews seem positive:

The timing for this book release is perfect; coinciding with my exploration of the use of jails within FreeBSD. I’ve yet to read this book, however, the author being Michael Lucas, I trust it will not disappoint.

Haven’t read it, but trusts me? That’s great, and slightly worrisome. I hope I don’t find one day it’s been revised to a single star. In any event, the jails book took longer to write than any other tech book I’ve written. I hope you find it useful.

And then I have a new novella out–Winner Breaks All. And it already has a review:

Do you ever wonder if you’re a psychopath or just really efficient?
Do you think indecision is the worst possible sin?
Do you really dislike when people talk about curing you of what makes you you?

Then this is the book for you.

A fascinating and insightful exploration of “personality disorders” and what can be done about them and what should be done about them packed into a very tightly plotted story of future corporation intrigue.

Although I’ve published this on 1 April, it’s a very real post.

“Sudo Mastery 2/e” sponsorships available

People, especially those who have previously sponsored my books, keep asking me when the sponsorships for the second edition of Sudo Mastery will be available.

I don’t intend to start seriously writing this book until the end of April. May has Penguicon and BSDCan, which will take lumps of time out of my schedule. I meant to hold off. But people ask enough that it’s turned out to be easier to open sponsorships than keep answering “not yet.” So:

Here’s ebook sponsorships and print sponsorships for the second edition of Sudo Mastery.

Patronizers, of course, will get their name in this book as their patronage level dictates.

And as a reminder: I now have a mailing list to notify people when I’m ready to take their money for no good reason I have sponsorship opportunities.

Ebook sponsors get their name in the mobi and PDF versions. Print sponsors get their name in every version of the book, plus a physical gift to show my gratitude.

Why am I not starting work on this book until late April?

My health was iffy for the last couple of years. Now that the bad half of my thyroid is out, I feel much better.

But during those two years, I started four novels. I finished zero, because I lacked the energy to drag the book through the critical middle. That many incomplete manuscripts has built up into a mental bugaboo, a nasty little voice in my head that says I can’t finish a novel any more and that I’ve lost the mysterious “it” and I should get a job as a hamster cage cleaner.

If I take two-three weeks and pound hard on Terrapin Sky Tango, I will a) finish a novel and b) get that little voice to shut the heck up. I know what the rest of the book is. Sort of. Okay, I know where the climactic final fight is, that’s close enough to knowing the ending, right? And it’s a blood-and-guts novel, which comes more naturally than eating gelato. I’ve spit out some successful short stories after that bad lump of Lucas Loaf got extracted, so I know the fiction-writing brain works again.

I just need to grit my teeth and spend some time with Beaks, crushing that inner critic. Which isn’t that bad. I mean, if I get killed hanging around with her, she’ll feel bad about it.

“Sudo Mastery, Second Edition” and Cover Art

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” is out for tech edit. Reviews are due back on the 25th, so I can get it to the copyeditor before I leave for a writing conference on the 28th. Right now the manuscript is laying fallow and I’m not allowed to look at it. Next week, I need to be able to read what I actually wrote instead of what I think I wrote.

That means I need something else to work on. I scheduled a bunch of chores and stuff this week, plus fixing the women’s shelter computer lab, so it’s not a good week to buckle down and finish Terrapin Sky Tango. But I had enough time to dig into outlining my next tech book, a new Sudo Mastery.

This was originally prompted by various publishing industry neepery reasons, but as I’ve dug into the docs it turns out that a second edition is warranted. There’s lots of new options. Features I didn’t cover in the first edition have grown more knobs and do merit a mention. cvs2ldif is no longer a thing, thankfully. And Sun’s iPlanet LDAP server has been eaten by The Beast and rebranded as the Oracle Damnation Directory or something. Fortunately, the LDAP stuff hasn’t changed much. My LDAP setup is much smaller than when I wrote the first edition.

The hard part is, of course, the cover art.

I always post requests for suggestions on Twitter and Mastodon. I can count on three responses.

  • Munch’s The Scream — Endlessly applicable to any topic in IT. I want to do something special with this one. I don’t know what that “special” is, but it’ll come to me.
  • Any number of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch — I adore Bosch. His work will get used as a wraparound for the cover of “Ansible for {Artisan|Legacy|Heterogenous} {Systems|Networks},” which has moved towards the top of my queue but isn’t ripe yet. (That wraparound will go around the inside of the hardcover dust jacket, by the way. It’s going to be glorious.)
  • Dogs playing poker — because Americans.

Thinking about it, though: dogs playing poker might actually fit here. Specifically, “A Friend in Need.”

Dogs playing poker, and cheating
A Friend in Need, 1903

Why this one? Cheating.

I can have a couple Beasties, a couple Tuxes, a Dragonfly, and a Puffy playing poker. Sudo runs on all of those. I’d like as many actual mascots playing poker as I can get, though. I know that sudo runs on OSX, but there’s no mascot. Am I missing any big mascots? (Note that I’ve considered and consciously rejected a gnu. I won’t give press to a group whose front man declares that conference codes of conduct doesn’t apply to him.)

Also, who should be passing the card, and who should be receiving it?

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” first draft complete

After far too long, I have a complete first draft of “FreeBSD Mastery: Jails.”

I have quite a few FreeBSD developers doing tech review for it. They’re the folks most qualified to check my work. I’ve also made copies available to sponsors and the Patronizers who will get a copy of the finished ebook, mostly so they know that the book really exists.

This means I have a whole bunch of folks offering feedback–almost, but not quite, more than I can handle. I promised I’d post here when this book reached the point where I could use technical feedback on the book, though. So, if you’re really qualified to tech review a jails book, and you desperately want to spend your next couple weeks doing just that, drop me an email and tell me why you should be a reviewer. Don’t assume I know who you are, because I’m ignorant of dang near everyone.

Now if you excuse me, I’m gonna go stare blankly into space until my brain restarts.

MWL’s 2018 Wrap-Up

I set some ambitious goals for 2018. How did I do?

There’s a few reasons why. A relative fell off a roof and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I’m the family member that won’t get fired for not showing up to work, so I handled a bunch of it. There’s something about arguing with hospitals and rehab clinics that totally saps one’s mental energy. I lost a few months of productivity.

I figured that was why I was tired and slow. But: no.

Enter HP Lumpcraft, also known as “the abomination formerly known as the right half of my thyroid.” The surgeon did a fine job. It looks like I won’t even need a zipper tat to cover up the scar.

Theoretically, a slowly escalating thyroid debacle explains last year’s anemia.

With HPL out, I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. Sadly, my cardio is utterly shot. I haven’t only been forbidden to exercise for the last few months, I’ve been forbidden to do anything that made me sweat. Apparently a “thyroid storm” could stop my heart. That sounded bad. I chose to become one with the recliner.

The upshot is, in 2018 I wrote 51,000 words of nonfiction. They appeared in:

FreeBSD Mastery: Jails was delayed by the aforementioned TBI and thyroid. It’s about half done.

On a more upbeat note: SSH Mastery and Relayd and Httpd Mastery are available in hardcover. And to my surprise, you people are buying them. All future tech books and novels will appear in both hardcover and paperback.

I wrote 121,800 words of fiction. That should be at least a novel, but unfortunately I didn’t finish any novels. Finishing a novel demands a mental clarity I lacked. All my the fiction that actually entered the world was:

Winner Breaks All will be issued as a standalone in 2019, as soon as I get the rights back. When I get the rights back to SttH, it’ll go to my Patronizers but not to the general public. Giving SttH a cover that matches the Immortal Clay tales is prohibitively expensive, and short stories don’t make that much.

Here’s a partial pic, minus Face Less and BSQ #4. I’ll post a true final 2018 pic once my copies of both arrive.

2018 in print

So what does 2019 hold?

I am assuming that the thyroid lobectomy fixed my root cause problem. It’s a hopeful assumption, yes, but I can’t plan based on the idea that my health is still mysteriously fubar. The only evidence I have for this is that my word-per-hour productivity more than twice what it was before surgery. That’s the only indicator that matters, right?

First, I must exercise. A healthy writer is a productive writer. I gained a good twenty-five pounds this year, and blame HPL for every one of them. My double chin is his fault. Losing weight is straightforward: eat well, and exercise. The latter is where I’ve fallen down.

I’m working back up to an hour of forms first thing in the morning, five days a week, plus 2-3 nights at the dojo. I started today with ten minutes, and plan to add a minute a day. Yes, that’ll stagger back and forth as my body demands. I turn 52 this year, I can’t charge full speed ahead any more.

My flexibility is gone. You are as young as you are flexible, and my physical inability to kick people in the head really wounds my soul. After each bout of exercise I’m spending fifteen minutes on the stretching machine. For the record, this morning I hit 49″ between my ankles, or not even a right angle. This measurement is personal to me and this particular stretching machine, but the only person I’m competing with is me, so it’s all good.

I still have the standing desk. I’ve been using a stool most of the time since September, but standing full-time is the goal.

The last health goal is to master a split keyboard. Should make my shoulders happier. The Kinesis Advantage2 made my wrists happy, but rather than the Kinesis split keyboard I decided to try a Keyboard.io because the connector cable is a standard cat5. The Kinesis split keyboard has a built-in cable that maxes out at twenty inches, which is too limiting for my eventual use plan. (As I work at a standing desk, I’m pondering strapping a keyboard to each thigh and truly relaxing as I write.) I’m already pretty well adapted to the keyboardio, except for the all-important arrow keys. My most frequent key combination, CTRL-SHIFT-arrow, is kind of annoying on this critter.

I’m breaking up my word goals a little differently this year. Last year I wanted to write 600,000 words. This year, I want to write 50,000 words a month, or… 600,000 words in the year. Only words meant for inclusion in books and magazines count towards the 50kwpm goal. This blog post doesn’t. Book announcements don’t.

Why do it this way? A yearly goal is difficult. You can’t get to December and go “oh crap, I’m 200k words behind!” and make it all up. With a monthly goal of 50,000 I can get to January 25th, say “Oh, crap, I’m 20,000 words behind!” and make it up in a couple of long-but-not-impossible days. I’ve written 18,500 words in one day when I really needed to. (No, I won’t tell you which words they were… but you lot bought them, read them, and told me you enjoyed them.)

That’s 2-3 hours a day, six days a week. It leaves time for tech research, experimenting, and testing, plus the annoying minutia of being self-employed. (Sometimes, owning the means of production kind of sucks.)

Also, if I fail one month, next month is a clean slate. I want to set goals I can achieve. Psychologically, it’s better for me to say “I met my goal ten months out of twelve” than “I failed my 2019 goal.”

So, there we are.

What books will those 50,000 words per month be? FreeBSD Mastery: Jails for sure. Probably second editions of N4SA and Sudo Mastery, because of stupid publishing industry reasons. But I honestly have new content for both, so that’s okay. Finish novels I started, like git sync murder and Terrapin Sky Tango.

After that? You’ll know when I know…