Sunday, October 13, 2019

Kintsugi

It's weird living in a society that doesn't value repair when you're damaged.

Fixing things isn't really a priority for "western" society — just replace things when they're damaged or broken. Most everyone I know does this, heck, I do this. When the transmission on my last car broke I traded it in for a newer model rather than dropping 5k and being without a car for a week.

Not everything can be replaced by something shiny and new.

If you're a human and you're damaged you can't just go out and replace whatever was damaged. You can't buy a new arm. Can't buy a new psyche. We can't just walk into Rekall and overwrite or replace damaging memories, can't buy a vacation to Mars to overwrite the trauma.

I have a lot of trauma, a lot of damage. It would be very easy to categorize myself as a broken person. The person I could have been before the trauma and damage is gone. It hurts to know she's gone, dead, lost. Accepting that and letting go of who I could have been has been… almost but not quite insurmountably difficult. I think I finally accepted the loss and let go of the pain recently while driving around on Mount Hood. Goodbye me that I lost, long, long ago, in 2003 but desperately tried to hang onto.

In my minds eye I tend to view myself as a broken piece of… I'm not sure. It fluctuates between stoneware, pottery, porcelain, bone china. It's always some sort of vessel, a cup, a bowl, a vase, something that can hold liquid. Regardless of the form, there's my ego, shattered into a number of pieces.

Putting myself back together is a slow process. I have to address the damage, grinding down the sharp edges to make it easier to rejoin the breaks with lacquer, and filling gaps and missing parts with layer upon layer of lacquer. It's slow, methodical work. As I make progress there's a terror at the back of my mind that something catastrophic will happen, that new, worse damage will ruin all of the work I've done so far.

I hope that the work I'm doing qualifies as kintsugi. Taking something damaged and repairing it into a new form where the repairs are celebrated, glittering parts of the whole. I can't and won't hide my damage anymore. I want to celebrate the accomplishments I've made in repairing myself. I want to show the process of this growth and change, and have it be visible, even if it makes others uncomfortable.

I can't help that I'm a patchwork of scars — that's a given based on my physical and psychological damage. But instead of trying to hide and conceal them I can celebrate them. I survived the things that hurt me. I grew, I healed. I changed.

Becoming myself isn't something that can happen quickly. Reintegrating all of the broken shards will take quite a while, because I've got a lot of damage.

I look forward to seeing the spiderweb patchwork of kintsugi I become.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A (former) Mac admin's (shadow) IT guide to upgrading to macOS 10.15 Catalina

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. You may remember/know me from such places as:
• the xoxo festival slack since summer 2018
• stints in IT at the following companies:
• Mozilla
• Urban Airship
• New Relic
• Conference talks from 2014-2016 at:
• Penn State Mac Admins (2014 and 2015)
• Mac Tech (2014)
• MacAD.UK (2016)
• The MacAdmins Slack (from May-Oct 2015)
• Being angry/weird on Twitter (since July 2009)
• The old Apple Mailing lists and Freenode ##osxserver channel (2012-2015)
• A number of odd jobs I've had
• Being that really angry redhead at the Pioneer Place Apple Store in Portland Oregon from 2005-2009
Or maybe you've never met me! Maybe a friend sent you this. Hurray!

Hi, I'm V, a bipolar woman in tech based out of Portland, OR. I've been using Macs daily since 1994, except for a 2.5 week stint when I was in Japan in 2002. I've supported macOS (OS X, Mac OS) professionally since 2005, and unprofessionally since 1999, when I tore apart the Computer Graphics lab at my high school to ensure me and my friend's Power Mac's had more RAM than the rest of the class. 

Anyway! That doesn't matter, that isn't the content you're here for.

PLEASE NOTE: I am just a cranky former IT engineer/client systems engineer. This post is me being angry at all the employers I've had that have refused to allow users to upgrade when new versions of macOS come out, and at users who upgraded thoughtlessly. This post is not to be constituted as advice, suggestions, or recommended procedures for anyone. I will not be held liable for anyone following this "advice" as it were.

Catalina: Release date speculation


So it’s early October and we're still probably a few weeks out (at least a week or two) from macOS 10.15 Catalina's initial release — Apple has a few known issues that are pretty big, and they can't really release the OS just yet without a ton of bad press. This will be the first time since 2014 that we've had a new version of macOS drop in a month other than September, which is probably causing some level of havoc at 1 Infinite Loop.

At the very earliest we're looking at October 7th or 8th as the earliest possible release date. More likely we're looking at sometime after October 14th. If Apple plays it exceptionally safe the public release might get pushed back to October 21 or later.

Prepping for Catalina


OK, the IT person in me has to scream this:

DON'T JUST UPGRADE TO CATALINA FROM WHATEVER YOU'RE RUNNING NOW WITHOUT DOING PREP WORK. YOU WILL KICK YOURSELF IN THE ASS AFTERWARDS. DO NOT TRY TO RUN THE UPGRADE ON YOUR MAIN MAC OVER LUNCH, EVEN IF YOU'RE TAKING A LONG LUNCH, IT WILL INEVITABLY NOT BE DONE WHEN YOU GET BACK, IT NEVER IS.

IF THIS COMPUTER WORKING NORMALLY IS HIGHLY CRITICAL AND YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT AFFORD ANY ISSUES:
DON'T FUCKING UPGRADE UNTIL 10.15.2 AT THE EARLIEST. 10.15.3 WILL BE SAFER, IF YOU CAN WAIT.
SERIOUSLY. I AM NOT SHITTING YOU. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS PROFESSIONALLY SINCE 2011. FFS LISTEN TO ME DAMMIT.

Upgrading to Catalina intelligently:§

1. BACK UP YOUR MAC. Or, at least BACK UP YOUR IMPORTANT FILES! This can be to iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, a flash drive, a Time Machine backup, an external hard drive -- make sure you back your system up. If this is a mission critical machine shut it down and boot to an external drive* and clone it with something like Carbon Copy Cloner. *if you're on a 2018 or later Mac you can't boot to an external drive because of the T2 security chip in your Mac. You may be able to perform some unholy dark arts with a USB drive mounted while booted to Internet (or internal) Recovery. Maybe just grab the important stuff and offload it somewhere, and accept that you might need to reinstall your apps.
2. No, seriously BACK UP YOUR SHIT. Make sure your password manager files are backed up. Make sure your photos are backed up somewhere. Make sure your tax files are backed up somewhere. Make sure your goddamn thesis is backed up, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A WORK IN PROGRESS. Back critical shit up in at least 2 places, preferably with one in the cloud and one local. If you have the time and the money make a third backup and put it in a safety deposit box outside of your home city's limits, away from fault lines and volcanoes and tsunami zones.
3. Yep, you guessed it BACK STUFF UP. Don't risk this being the OS upgrade that deletes the last 20 years of your photos from photos.app. Don't risk losing all of those files on your desktop that you've been meaning to sort for the last few weeks but meh it's ok you’ll get to it eventually. BACK THAT SHIT UP. NOW.
4. Ok, did you finally back your Mac up? For real? Cool. Check for macOS updates. You can do this a number of ways: 
• Apple Menu > About This Mac > Software Update
• System Preferences > Software Update
• Terminal.app > softwareupdate -la (this lists all available updates, use "-da" to download all, and "-ia" to install all. or just run softwareupdate and it’ll give you a pretty friendly help output into your terminal)
• Note: you may need to check for updates a couple times if you aren't good about updating your Mac. You mileage may vary on how to run updates if you're on a version of macOS before 10.13. Google “how to run software updates mac 10.x” with x being whatever version you’re on.
5. Have you finished updating macOS? Better run another backup! Seriously. Do it.
6. Ok, macOS is fully updated and backed up, and now we need to update your apps.
• Open the App Store app. Check for updates. Run them.
• Go to your Applications folder. You can do this by clicking on Finder and then pressing Command + Shift + A at the same time on your keyboard. Or clicking in the Sidebar of a new Finder Window. Or by going to the Go Menu in Finder and picking "Applications"
• Start opening apps. They should automagically check for software updates when you do that. If they don't, question why you are using these apps. Maybe throw them away.
• But seriously: open and update all critical apps that you need. Steam, whatever you use for video conferencing, Adobe products, Microsoft products—update them ∞
∞ If you're using illicit copies of Adobe Creative Suite Whatever or Microsoft Non Office365: friend, have you considered paying for software this decade? Like… you don't even need to buy a subscription to the Adobe or MS suites, go to MacRumors or AppleInsider and find something that is compatible with your files. DO NOT UPGRADE TO CATALINA UNTIL YOU FIND A SOLUTION OR YOU'LL BE SOL.
7. BACK THINGS UP. AGAIN. DO NOT QUESTION ME. I AM A PROFESSIONAL. THIS IS CALLED COVERING YOUR ASS. IF YOU AREN’T CYA’ING IN YOUR OWN JOB HOW ARE YOU SURVIVING?
8. Are you an engineer? Do you work with software? Do you know what a command line is? Is Homebrew critical to your work?
• UPDATE YOUR HOMEBREW ENVIRONMENT NOW:
• Seriously. This is the step literally every software engineer I have ever met will forget.
• Open Terminal.app (or iTerm or whatever it is you're using)
• Type in "brew update" without the quotes and press return
• Go get some coffee. This will probably take a while if you've got a full dev environment.
• Once Homebrew is updated run "homebrew upgrade" and maybe go grab a snack. Or offer to spend some time pair programming with a coworker. Or go share some memes on Slack. Untitled Goose Game is really popular lately, maybe make a meme?
• Eventually the updates will be done, yay! Huzzah! You're almost ready
9. Can you guess what 9 is? You're smart, I bet you can, its:
• BACK UP YOUR MAC, AGAIN. YES, DAMMIT. YOU’LL MAYBE ONLY ACTUALLY DO TWO OF THE UPDATES I ASKED FOR. I KNOW HUMANS. Y’ALL DON’T LISTEN. 
10. Congrats, you can now safely upgrade to Catalina, after you download the installer app from the App Store and:
• BACK UP YOUR MAC, YET AGAIN. Ok maybe this time it’s a bit overkill, but that installer is big! Like 5-10GB! That sucks to re-download. Especially if your company doesn’t have caching servers, or you WFH, or Apple’s CDNs are slower than goddamn molasses launch week.
 
  
§ "But my IT department hasn't told me what I can doooooo" Please see the next section

IT hasn't said I can upgrade/forbade it/what is IT? A guide for Mac Users at Work.

Does your Mac have an Asset Tag on it? Was it purchased for you by your corporate overlords? Do you still desperately long to upgrade it to macOS 10.15 Catalina as soon as is humanly possible?

Well friends, do I have news for you: I can tell you whether or not it's even remotely possible to bypass what your IT people want. Because I am a former IT person, and there is no goddamn magician’s code or some bullshit to tell me what I can or cannot tell you.

Other IT people: y'all, the fuck are you doing if you aren't fully securing your endpoints AND communicating with your users in a TIMELY FASHION about OS upgrades? You deserve dealing with them, coming to me, learning the ways to bypass you in this delightful parody blog post.

Finding out: Are you pwned by IT?

(LA LA LA LA LA, THIS SECTION IS A JOKE AND IS NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY ANY LIFE FORM, CARBON BASED OR OTHERWISE, LA LA LA)
Welcome, welcome my dears. Let me tell you how to check to see if your corporate overlords fully control your company issued Mac.
1. Open System Preferences > Check to see if "Profiles" exists.
• If Profiles does not exist, you are likely not pwned. You can probably install whatever the heck you want on this Mac. "Do no harm and do what thou whilst" as the old saying goes.
• If Profiles does exist:
Woo. Your IT team figured out how to do some basic Mac management. Open up Profiles and see if you can delete whatever is there!
• If you can't delete it: Sorry, you are at the whim of your IT team. Politely supplicate on Slack in the IT channel, or do a drive by of your favorite IT person to find out their poison of choice so you can be an early adopter of Catalina.
• LA LA LA TOTALLY NOT RECOMMENDING BRIBING IT STAFF WITH THINGS, NOPE NOPE NOPE!
• If you can delete it: Congrats, your IT folks are inept! You can do whatever you want, until they have physical possession of your computer again (and, uh, you delete Jamf.)
2. If you work someplace that has had a sizable Mac fleet since 2009 there is a decent chance they're running Jamf Pro on your computer. To check this, open Terminal.app and run "which jamf"—if it responds with anything, you've got Jamf.
• Removing Jamf:
• Assuming you've got an Admin account, you can run "sudo jamf removeFramework" and it'll pull the Jamf client software off your Mac.
• IF YOU DO THIS FEIGN IGNORANCE TO YOUR IT TEAM. THEY MAY BELIEVE YOU. JAMF BREAKS ALL THE TIME, AND THEY PROBABLY DON'T HAVE ALERTING/REPORTING SET UP RIGHT ANYWAY, OR ARE USE TO FALSE POSITIVES FROM BAD/OUTDATED DESIGN SCHEMAS.
• DO NOT WIPE AND REINSTALL YOUR MAC AFTER THIS POINT IF YOUR COMPUTER HAD A REMOVABLE PROFILE. THE PROFILE MAY COME BACK, AND MAY NOT BE REMOVABLE IF YOUR IT TEAM LEARNED ANYTHING IN THE PAST FEW YEARS.
• No admin account?
• welll… you're probably SOL. If your Mac is a pre 2018 model you can probably boot it into Single User Mode to force on an admin account by removing .AppleSetupDone—unless your IT folks were smart enough to turn on a firmware password and not share it with you. Also if your IT folks did finally set up DEP and mobile device management after your Mac was deployed this could actually make your Mac check into DEP so don’t take my word for this, go google it your damn self.
• Other device management platforms:
Look cats and kittens, I've only really run into places that use Jamf on end user deployed hardware. I've heard rumors of folks running FileWave, or Fleetsmith, or other management platforms on Macs issued to users but I personally haven't seen them in the wild. I am sure there is someone someplace with guides on removing them. I'm just taking out the biggest most annoying platform.

POSTSCRIPT:

la la la I am not telling you how to bypass you employer's controls over your computer, la la la I am just an innocent satirist who is exhausted from the better part of a decade supporting Macs professionally without vacations and backup and la la la why yes I have worked many long hours uncompensated because I was salaried and had to support out of hours emergencies without hazard pay, or pay commensurate to the stress I was under.

Blah blah blah if you found this post entertaining or something I am n3philim on paypal and cash. I don't have kofi or soundcloud or whatever the latest side hustle app is. If you like inane banter and occasional hilarity you can follow me @the_nephilim on twitter. No, I don't have Mastodon. No, I won't like your facebook page. Please, for the love of cthulhu, don’t send me a goddamned linkedin connection request. And for the sake of hell please don’t act like we’re long lost bosom buddies because my screen name/handle is nephilim: the mounds back east were built by a Native American society called the mound builders not some fucking lost tribe of israel or human/angel/alien hybrids who survived a localized flood that hit Mesopotamia 6000 years ago—I got my screen name from a race of goddamn cat people in a Mac OS 7 shareware game that was a loving riff off of old school RPGs like Ultima—the cat people were outcasts and so was I and goddamn it I only riffed off the weird biblical part buying my domain name because that seemed like the edgy cool thing to do as a self proclaimed gnostic discordian when I was in university so just back off, ancient aliens/mysterious lost white people of north america/angel enthusiasts.

(ffs, employers of the world: please don't sue me. I swear this is just a joke)

Bats and liches,
-V., cranky life long Mac user who took her goddamn username from a race of cat people, ok? You know now. Stop thinking it’s goddamn ancient aliens. And honestly Zamzummim as I understand the translation means “the ones that buzz/hum” and my birth first name’s best definition is a genus of butterflies, and the Japanese kanji for my name transliterates to “the sound of insect wings” so zamzummim is an elaborate in joke I came up with for myself because my birth name is inexplicably linked to bugs and bug wing sounds in Japanese.

Comments are open. I fear that may be a mistake.

Monday, September 23, 2019

stream of consciousness: September 23, 2019

The cursor blinks. On, off, on, off. Like a digital metronome counting out beats while I stare at the word processing app I'm using.

It's homey. Green on black, slightly serifed and pixelated font. An homage to the word processors on the Apple ][ computers I used in grade school.

I've got music playing in the background, coming from the same computer. Running on a randomization algorithm, playing from the nested smart playlist I first set up when I got a car in 2012, to make sure I had random music I wouldn't have to skip through constantly back before I had a car with a built in bluetooth system that had on steering wheel controls.

"Shame on us, doomed from the start, may god have mercy on our dirty little hearts" Trent Reznor croons to me, on a remix of Zero Sum from an album from 2007.

"All we ever were, just zeroes and ones"

Is life just some pointless zero sum game? Is it all just failures and pyrrhic victories and loss?

Fuck it feels like it these days.

I feel lost. Stuck.

Pause from writing. Hit the next track button on my keyboard several times.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Weird deep cut from the Sneaker Pimps, back when Kelli was still in the band. Ok, that will do.

I feel confident and good enough just until something actually happens. So here I am, stuck waiting on so many things. Waiting to hear back on jobs I've applied for, if interviews will be scheduled, even though I've shared availability.

"You are the reason I've been waiting all these years … and I just ain't got the time … what's more I'm wasted, and I can't find my way home" sings Kelli, as weird trip hop electronic trebles play in the background, whines and bloops and brush snares.

Do I have a home? Did I ever have a home?

I feel lost, restless, unmoored.

Drifting, alone, waiting.

So much waiting.

I still have somewhere to sleep. Still have a pair of cats who, as I've basically been at home since I lost my job in mid August, spend about 80% of their time within 5 feet of me.

Harvey Danger b-side next. A twinge of heartache. A flood of memories. I feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes.

I can see myself reflected in the screen of my laptop. A smart-assed tshirt mashing up Aliens and Jurassic Park that had the collar sliced out, turning it into a boat neck. My beloved Nine Inch Nails "Anxiety" beanie. A swoop of bangs obscuring the right side of my face, pinned tightly to my forehead by the beanie.

I look exhausted. No makeup, fuck what's the point of makeup if you're not leaving the house? There isn't one. My weird makeupless face, with invisible eyebrows and lashes. A mouth set in resting bitch face.

Skip some more tracks, up comes IAMX. Chris Corner after he graduated from the Sneaker Pimps, getting darker and stranger and more sexual.

Sometimes I desperately want to let the darkness and depression and anger take over. Let all of the negative emotions have their way. Devolve into a sad angry hermit, like Gollum. Hide in the darkness. Abandon being around people.

What even is the point of trying to grow and change? I swear I'm just going to get hurt and abandoned more. Have another job where being a brilliant assertive quick on the uptake solution finding woman will be a detriment instead of a feature. (Fuck, has it ever once been seen as a feature?)

Skip a bunch more tracks, wind up on a relatively recent Zeromancer song. Oh, no, its from 2013, that's 6 years ago. That can't count as recent, can it? Recent is like in the last 1-2 years at most, isn't it?

Switch out to Finder, check my laptop's battery percentage, since I intentionally am writing in a mode where the menu bar doesn't show up.

Compulsively open Mail to check and see if there's anything new in the global inbox and in a folder that bypasses my inbox.

No, nothing.

C'mon you have to stop kidding yourself. The dark part of your heart is probably right. The pessimism tends to be accurate. Hon, c'mon, look at your track record. It isn't just negative thoughts manifesting themselves. You're damned, damaged goods, a curse, a plague — there's no way things will ever work out for you. You are a walking disaster, you will always be alone. You only exist to hurt and to be hurt.

Gods will these intrusive thoughts never go?

Four years of therapy. Cutting off my abusive family of origin. Cutting off the toxic friends who repeat similar things, all while they try to get in my bed.

"It doesn't hurt but the words go nevermind" sings Chris Corner.

Skip a bunch more tracks, land on some Looper.

"I remember there would be a pill you could take instead of eating food" says Stuart in Tomorrow's World.

How the heck do I get to tomorrow's world? By living day after day after day. But it won't ever be what I imagined, what I hoped for.

And whatever happens I'll just be trapped inside my skull. There's no escape from that. No escape from me.

It's an overcast cloudy day. Everything feels washed out, drained. Myself included.

I'm stuck. I'm stuck waiting. So much fucking waiting. I want to scream "hurry the fuck up already" at the universe but I know that won't change anything.

All I can do is repeat my routine. Check to see if there are new jobs to apply for. Check to see if I've gotten emails. Check to see if things have changed.

It doesn't take long to do those things. I finish those tasks quickly. Back to waiting.

I guess I could watch something, but I'm too restless from waiting to focus. Same goes for reading, my mind moves back to worrying over the things I'm waiting on. "How many business days does it take for people to schedule an initial phone call? Was two weeks of availability not a long enough window of time? Should I have put a third week out?"

Check for email. Check Twitter. Check Slack.

Respond to a tweet from a friend. Have some more feels slip in. Look over at my cat, curled into a loose ball, sleeping about 4 inches away from me.

Take a deep breath, breathe in, breathe out.

Think about playing some more video games, but can't bring myself to.

Sure, I can make progress as an in game avatar, but in real life what progress have I made?

I mean, I at least know some of what's wrong with me. A thyroid my own body is destroying. A frenzied brain unable to stabilize its moods on it's own. Chronic fatigue that I can't seem to mitigate in any other way than limiting my activity so it doesn't trigger.

"This is only rain that falls sometimes, the rain doesn't change a thing" another Looper song.

I could hop back over to the XOXO Slack, encourage other people in a discussion about Inktober, share some weird spooky ("spoopy") animal pictures I find from trawling Twitter, dump some more feelings in the bad attitude and scream channels. But things are kind of quiet on Slack, and I don't want to burden people, or seem too pathetic by posting too much. I mean, I did go on a twitter rant a few days ago. I know some folks are already worried about me.

I have to pour out all of these thoughts and feelings, there's just too fucking many of them. I'm overflowing, and it's scaring me. A number of folks are getting the brunt of the overflow, beyond the "screaming into the void" of these blog posts and dumping out piles of thoughts and words on Twitter.

It doesn't matter what the outcome of things are, I'm terrified of all of the possible futures. How fucking sad is that? Being just as terrified for good things to happen as bad things as meh things.

The worst part is I can't predict what's going to happen. Everything has been topsy turvy this year.

The cats are sitting by my feet, grooming each other, and sometimes my foot. Aw you adorable little weirdos. You seem to actually love me, and worry about me in your own cat way. Jumping into my lap for pets, coming to collect me when it's time to turn off the lights for the night and sleep, and then pressing up against my back or the back of my knees or sleeping near my face, a paw on my hand. Waking me up in the morning with a wet cat nose on my arm or in my armpit.

Laptop starts to act weird, check the battery level. 3%. Take a minute to grab the power cable and plug it in.

"Fuck what I want, fuck what I need, I'll sacrifice what I believe" screams Jessicka, "will you love me any less if I hurt you any more?"

I don't even know what I want or need anymore. I feel so lost.

Should I have lived my life up to this point differently?

What should I change going forward?

The nine of cups, a million possibilities stretched out before me, and me? Paralyzed with fear, unsure of what to do.

At least with some of the things that I'm paralyzed by it isn't solely on me to decide where things go from here. Yes, I still have some say, but… if the other party says no? That gives me some closure. I won't have to worry about what I was considering if it's no.

It'll just be another thing to accept. "Oh. I see," I can say, and then walk on.

"Well Vanessa, the only thing in common with all your failures is you," coos the introject of my mother, trying to strip away my hope.

Hope is such a shitty double-edged sword, and at least for me it cuts both ways.