New “Prohibition Orcs” today

People ask me why there haven’t been any more Prohibition Orcs tales.

They exist, but you haven’t seen them. Traditional publishers have bought them. And traditional publishers are sloooow. They pay, though, and they get me exposure. (How do you know getting paid in exposure is real? Authentic exposure comes with a paycheck. Anything else is a knock-off.)

But today witnesses the escape of a new Prohibition Orcs story.

I’m this issue’s guest author on Uncollected Anthology.

You can pick up the entire anthology, or grab just my story. But really: less than five bucks? Get the whole thing.

This story will come out in print on October 1st 2020. For those of you collecting in print, it’ll be branded like the other print titles. The ebook version is branded like an Uncollected Anthology project.

And no, this is not an April Fool’s joke. April Fool’s has been cancelled this year.

My New Print Bookstore

No, I did not open a corner bookstore, with weird decorations and a shop cat. I now have an online store for physical books, however. They carry a wide selection of my titles, from multiple publishers, and I’m adding more as time permits.

No, I’m not shipping books myself. I outsourced procurement and delivery to Aerio.

Before you ask: no, I can’t do print/ebook combinations, yet. Some folks are working on this problem, but it is not yet solved. I am still unwilling to hire a lickspittle flunky to cope with shipping.

“SNMP Mastery,” April Fool’s, and The Networknomicon

I sent the official release announcement today: SNMP Mastery is everywhere. You can get it, no matter where in the world you are or what vendor you prefer. Assuming they’re open, that is.

The world is in chaos. This is the worst possible time to do a book release. Like every other industry in the world, my income has plunged eighty percent. Fortunately, I’ve prepared for just such a contingency. We’ll be okay for a while yet.

But the world has no space for April Fool’s Day.

I’ve long believed that a prank must have meat behind it. A funny blog post is not a prank. Ed Mastery was a prank, particularly with the Manly McManface edition. People saw it, snorted, and then discovered it was real and laughed. And certain people were horribly, horribly offended. Exactly as intended.

SNMP is often compared to black magic. Therefore, I prepared a grimoire version of SNMP Mastery, to be released on April Fool’s Day.

Presenting The Networknomicon, or SNMP Mastery, by Abdul Alhazred, as translated from Alien Syntax Notation.1 by Michael W Lucas.

It is the finest physical artifact I have ever produced. The dust jacket is glorious, and there’s still more glorious art beneath it. The interior is stamped with labels from the Miskatonic University Library of Computer Science. No other technology topic is so utterly fitting to be presented as a eldritch tome of forbidden black magic. I have labored over the Networknomicon for six months.

The world is flat-out not in a place for this prank.

The Networknomicon was a sunk cost when everything went to hell. It was already at the printer. Copies were shipped to all the print-level sponsors and Patronizers. The ball was rolling downhill, and people were looking at the sponsor copies and saying that they needed it.

I’m still proud of creating the Networknomicon.

I would much prefer the world was in a place to laugh with me. But it’s not.

I’ve elected to just let it quietly seep out, not using it as an April Fool’s prank. I’m not going to demand to know who did this, indignantly insist the perpetrators fess up, threaten lawsuits for soiling my good name. I will not demand to know what happened to the “My Little Pony”-themed editions I supposedly shipped to print sponsors and Patronizers. And what sort of idiot prices a book at $66.66? (Yes, it’s expensive. This art was not cheap.)

My excitement has been building for six months. I have been desperate for 1 April to arrive so I could enjoy the world’s perplexity and cackle for a solid week.

And it’s going to fizzle. This disappointing decision makes me sad.

But I can’t joke about necromancy, black magic, and a book bound in cyborg hide during a pandemic, while millions are losing their jobs and companies that charge thousands of dollars for desperately needed ventilator fittings that can be cheaply 3D printed on site are threatening to sue over saving people’s lives.

On the whole, I’m ridiculously lucky. What everyone else calls “social distancing” is my normal life. I bought a Costco crate of toilet paper a week before the panic hit Detroit. I have enough medication to get through a few months, and enough steel cut oatmeal for months.

I will get over the sad. And we will get through this. Most of us, at least.

“SNMP Mastery” leaking out

Bit by bit, site by site, SNMP Mastery is escaping into the world. I’ll keep the SNMP Mastery entry on my web page updated as it appears in more stores.

The various store databases are still synching everything up. You can get both paperback and Kindle on Amazon, but the entries aren’t connected. IngramSpark, the non-Amazon paper distributor and the sole source for hardcovers, is still processing. It’ll appear in other stores soon.

Now to go do my taxes, and get more work on git sync murder.

Sponsoring a “git commit murder” sequel

With my travels over the next couple of months, I’m not getting much done on my next tech book. I haven’t even definitively chosen what’s next; writing SNMP Mastery burned out a few critical nonfiction brain cells, and who knows when I’ll find fresh replacements at Dollar General. (I shoulda sprung for an IKEA brain.)

So I’m writing a sequel to git commit murder.

After some highly informal and scientifically bogus polling, I’ve decided to offer sponsorships on this book.

The first time I tried a sponsorship for a nonfiction book, I thought it was a daft idea. It worked. I’m still shocked, but it seems that the financial bucket I call “Give Lucas Money For No Good Reason” is now a substantial part of my income.

I think sponsoring a novel is a daft idea. It’ll probably be pointless. But what the heck, it’s no more absurcd than writing a book about the Standard Unix Text Editor.

If you are so inclined, you can sponsor git sync murder in print or ebook.

My stretch goal is to have this book ready for Penguicon 2020. If that fails, it’ll be a month or two after. I know what the book is; all I need to do is sit down like a proper pulp author and type the blasted thing out.

The MWL 2020 Asia Tour

Yep, I’m a big star now, touring Asia and everything! Sort of. Two countries. Two cities. The world’s most minimal tour. I’m a big star, in a really really tiny universe.

19-22 March 2020, I’ll be at AsiaBSDCon. I’m presenting a four hour tutorial on FreeBSD jails, as well as attending the conference.

The fine folks at HasGeek are sponsoring me on an accompanying trip to Bangalore, India, for three events. (Cool fact of the day: they’re not conferences in India, they’re events, because a “conference” apparently involves the Indian government and this isn’t a government thing.)

25 March, I’m offering a public lecture on Where is the Sysadmin Today at Juspay’s offices. I have rants thoughts. Oh, do I have rants thoughts.

27 March, I’m attending Netconf. This is an Unconference (Unevent?), so the program won’t be set until it starts. I’ll be proposing my new SNMP talk. I could also give any talk I’ve given before. If you’re attending and want me to give a specific talk, please comment or use the contact form to ask me to submit it.

28 March, I’m doing a reading of git commit murder at Champaca Bookstore, as well as a Q&A with Swapneel Patneka and anyone else who opens their mouth.

Why do this trip, when I loathe travel? Over the last twenty years, I’ve promised several folks that I would one day attend AsiaBSDCon. I keep my promises. I’m looking forward to being there, but not to getting there. The Bangalore trip is serendipitous. Presenting technology is how I built my career. Bangalore is a technology center and obviously a place I should present in. HasGeek asked if I would be interested, I said “if you could put an event by AsiaBSDCon,” and those folks actually went and did it. I’m simultaneously amazed and honored that they’ve gone to such trouble.

Plus, HasGeek opened discussions by promising gelato. They did their research.

I’ll have a couple free days in each place, yes, and I’ll take advantage of them. I’d rather like to attend a few classes at the Hombu Dojo, but… Fly across the world, teach crowds of strangers to whom English is a second language, talk to folks about areas I’m an expert in? Sure. Set foot on Ueshiba’s tatami? I’ve only practiced martial arts for eighteen years, there’s absolutely no way I’m worthy.

And India’s history is thousands of years deep, plus there’s elephants and tigers and… and… everything. I can’t decide what to see.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m cutting down my traveling. This trip will cost me at least a week of writing time before the trip, and probably two weeks of writing time afterwards as I recover. It’s at least a month of proper writing, all told, and probably more. I can’t authoritatively say that this is my final trip to Asia, no matter what. I can say that I’m not planning to travel so far again. If you’re on that side of the world and want to meet me, this is your best opportunity.

I will do Penguicon and BSDCan in 2020, but otherwise, I’ll be home making words.

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.

“SNMP Mastery” cover reveal

I’ve been working like a maniac to complete “SNMP Mastery” before AsiaBSDCon. This means I haven’t had time to do my usual year-end roundup, the book cover reveal, or any of my usual beginning-of-year crud. The book went to copyedit today. At 60,000 words, it’s the biggest Mastery title yet. It’s bigger than I wanted, but SNMP is bigger than I want it to be, so I guess it evens out.

This means I have time to show the cover, done after Caillebotte’s Paris Street, Rainy Day.

SNMP Mastery wraparound cover

Why’s Beastie the one holding the umbrella? Because he’s a bloody gentleman. Also: hands.

(Purists will note that the ISBN sticker is not right. That’s because it’s not the final ISBN. I just assigned ISBNs today. I won’t have the real barcode until close to completion. You don’t have to email me about the inaccuracy, I remember from last time. Seriously.)