Legacy This!

I own a mid-2011 Mac Mini Server. Earlier this year I brought it back to Japan with me. Being relatively compact, it was easy to transport. But it was in rough shape: hard drives loudly hummed, the fan whistled, and the whole operation ran hot.

Over on Reddit I outlined my situation as basically Is upgrading my Mac Mini Disks Worth It? The answer was yes! I got a Dell 27″ IPS display, an AmazonBasics monitor mounting arm, and cleaned up my desk to celebrate. Note to self: I still need a good chair.

Then I tackled the big issue – work at home.

There is not much need for me to bring my company issued MacBook Air home with me most days. My current generation iPad with a Magic Keyboard handles 90% of what I need in the off hours. But what about what about the 10%, and when I work from home?

Using VMWare Fusion on my Mac Mini, I set up a virtual machine for work. It only took 4 tries to get it set up properly for work. The issues were with the setup mechanism with the corporate environment, but VMWare did me few favors – doesn’t support non-English keyboards in guests without editing the VMX file, no Unity for a macOS guests, no T.R.I.M. support, and others. Regardless, all of the apps I need for work are installed and working in the VM.

Next I need to address my backup plan for the Mini, get that chair I mentioned, and come up with an elegant way to disguise my desk when not needed. I’m thinking small curtains.

I might consider an incremental upgrade to a 2012 Server but not to the 2014 Mac Mini models due to their lack of user replaceable components. If Apple were to release a new Mac Mini in the 2011/2012 mold with updated everything I would jump on it.

As things are, even though my Mini is now end of support with Apple, it works well with upgrades. When the Mini dies, if Apple keeps on its current course, I’d get a topped out MacBook Pro 15 and just permanently dock it with a smart outlet to keep the battery in as good a shape as possible. I’d hope I’d never have to use it as an actual laptop but use Negative Visualization to prepare me for the experience.

It would be sad, though.

[Career] Turn over, Stoic Assessment & Career Maintenance

December brought change.

The VP for whom I worked in Japan moved to another role in the organization. Another VP in Japan upon whom I relied for expat info and insight into our corporate business environment is decamping for Europe in the new year. I hear tell of other possible shake-ups, but I rely on other people’s translations. I should do something about that. Anyway …

I’m inundated w/ queries on my status – what would it take for me to stay? Will I stay? Will the changes impact my staying? It’s all mostly moot as I re-enlisted in mid-November. Yet I can’t help but feel cheated that these significant changes happened so close to my contract date without notification. I thought I was connected in to be in the know. I clearly wasn’t.

My feeling is not rational. My employer & its agents are under no obligation (in the US, Canada, and other areas) to tell me about these things before I sign. In fact, it’s in their vested interest NOT to tell me. They want me to stay. Giving me the “heads up” before I “re-up” is bad business.

You better believe I will be far more critical on my next contract based on what happened in 2017. The problem is I have fewer people to ask for opinion and advice who have little or no vested interest in my action. That is something with which I will deal because I was prepared.

Stoicism has a concept of “negative visualization”, which is basically thinking about possible, probable, or guaranteed events that will happen in life about which we don’t want to think – events like a significant death in the family (parents, spouse, or children) or someone stealing all of your money or if your house burns down – with the idea of starting to deal with the emotions and contemplating what you would do about it. It’s a fantastic exercise, if a bit grim, in that you can think about it somewhat detached. You’re not dealing with the negative event in the heat of the moment with negative visualization. You can come up with a plan for when the bad things happen, especially if it’s inevitable. But how to deal with the emotions? Negative visualization in advance of the event is one way.

In security we have other phrases for this – Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning. The new term is “Resiliency”. Negative visualization isn’t a better name, but it does offer some separation. For example:

When I was laid off from my job in January 2013 I had many pieces in place to find my next position – an up-to-date resume, a strong personal network, a well negotiated severance package, tools, and support from family & friends. Never the less, I was an emotional wreck for days after it happened. I’m five years removed from the event and I still have unresolved issues.

Had I exercised negative visualization about losing my job in 2012 & earlier, Stoicism postulates that I would have handled the transition better and would have fewer or no residual issues now.

Getting laid off would still have been a kick to the gut. But maybe I wouldn’t have been a gibbering sobbing wreck to the degree I was.

Analytically, such changes at work should trigger revamps in all of us. Is my LinkedIn up-to-date? What about my CV? Have I connected lately with folks who I trust and value and (I hope) value and trust me? How’s my education? How’s my information management? If I’m cut off from my employer’s resources like printers and scanners and cell phones and laptops tomorrow, what is my plan? Am I paycheck-to-paycheck?

Don’t Neglect Tampons

I visited an AT&T emergency response validation testing session several years ago. After Hurricane Katrina they were able to start restoring service as soon as the area was considered safe enough for their people to enter.

What makes this possible for such teams? Training. Equipment. Food. Water. Most people will flag those.

What about toilet paper? And washing machines for what the teams wear under the protection gear? And sunscreen for when they finally get out from under the protective gear? And tampons? And several hundred other taken-for-granted details that become huge and potentially life threatening in their absence while standing in a toxic soup of stagnant storm water who-knows-what infused trying to restore basic communications for emergency responders.

When working on disaster recovery or an emergency response plan, don’t draft it in isolation. Benefit from other’s learning and iterations (lessons learned). It’s much better to prepare for something with a shopping list than a blank piece of paper. This is not an area where non disclosure is good for anyone.

This is true in the command center as well. How can efficient effective direction & information get communicated when key people don’t have access to their insulin or blood pressure medication? How do you manage your technical expert’s dairy problem while all the food you have access to is a vending machine full of chocolate bars?

Which assumes the machines will be full. What if it’s the day before restock? What if the restocking person broke up with their significant other or was high or was distracted? Are humans part of your calculation?

Granted, squirrelling away prescription medication isn’t easy (& maybe illegal where you are) but knowing the challenge exists before it’s a problem is the first step to solving it. Other things, like stockpiling daily-free & gluten-free food, tampons, tissues, toilet paper, and everything else identified from other’s work and your own tabletop exercises is relatively easy to manage.

And you? What are your thoughts?

TV after 6

If I watch TV, streaming or terrestrial or whatever, too early in my day I am mentally and physically sluggish. I don’t know if it applies to all videos. I don’t know if a neat emacs video or something security related or the news would trigger it, for example. Entertainment videos definitely do trigger a sloth like lethargy I sometimes cannot shake.

It seems the exercise variable doesn’t help. If I fire up a review of the US late night talk shows’ takes on a political event after time in the gym I am as useless as if I had stayed in bed.

Liberating an idea from Mark Bittman, I will try to keep my entertainment viewing to the evening.

I’d love to ditch it completely. I know that’s unlikely for me. I’ve a weird addictive thing with some TV. I hate The Sopranos. I love The Good Wife. I can’t stand reality TV but give me a home repair & improvement show and I will binge it. I’ll take The Prisoner over Lost any day of the week.

I will queue shows for an extended illness or flights to & from the US viewing. Living in Japan now can make that difficult.

The bigger difficulty is on my time, attention, and energy on the everyday.

It seems silly to track, but I will start another calendar for daily X-ing when I avoid an early morning video hit.

Anyone else challenged thusly?

Typhoon #18

What a great name!

The storm is due to hit tomorrow but we already have overcast skies and cool air. It will make the Belgian Beer festival in Roppongi a less sun blasted event than Oktoberfest in Hibya a few weeks ago.

As to the storm’s name, obviously the Weather Channel et al have not worked their marketing black magic here.

Little things

My Saturday started shaky after a nice wake up. The service based apps TextExpander and 1Password set me off with their poor Windows support and nagging to move to their subscription services. This was made worse by my actual subscription to TextExpander not working. While I was struggling with these highly important issues my coffee shop was loudly playing American pop and pop country music. I am often caught by surprise about how much I hate pop music. Capping it off there was a photo shoot right out front for what I think is a J-pop girl band. My stoicism was truly put to the test this morning. Let’s see how I bounce back.

Undo that mess: Fixing code formatting

Over at the Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger site, Steven Pigeon wrote this post about cleaning up code formatting.

Diving head first into Emacs again via rebuilding my init.el means a lot of copy-n-paste. I do not agree with everyone else’s coding conventions.

I will stay tuned for the next installment of Steven’s code plus keep an eye on the comments, then copy-n-paste for my own purposes!