I (will, pending approval) have a new employer (again)

Note: this is an entirely personal post and does not represent Red Hat or the Fedora Project in any way.

This is not a repeat from August 2017: my employer is about to be acquired. The news that IBM is spending $34 billion to acquire Red Hat came as a surprise to just about everyone. As you might expect, the reaction among my colleagues is widely varied. I’m still trying to come to terms with my own emotions about this.

Red Hat is not just an employer to me. I’ve been applying for various jobs at Red Hat over the last eight years or so. When I got hired earlier this year, I felt like I had finally obtained a significant professional goal. I’ve long admired the company and the people I know that worked there. I saw Red Hat as a place that I could be happy for a very long time.

But I don’t have a crystal ball. So sometime in the second half of next year, I’ll be an IBM employee. Leadership at IBM and Red Hat have said the right things, and the stated plan is that Red Hat will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary. I have no reason to doubt that, but the specifics of the reality are still unknown. It’s a little bit scary.

It makes sense that we don’t have any specifics yet. The plans can’t really be formed until the folks who would work on them can be told. So almost everyone is just coming up to speed, and the next few months will start bringing some clarity. And even more has to wait until the deal actually closes.

My first reaction was “oh no, my health insurance is going to change again.” After having roughly five insurance plans in the last five years, the idea of updating my information with all of my providers yet again is — while not particularly difficult — kind of annoying. My second reaction was “couldn’t they have waited a few years so I could accumulate more stock?”

So what does this all mean? I really don’t know. Ben Thompson is not optimistic. John “maddog” Hall is taking a positive approach. But most importantly, my friend and patronus Robyn Bergeron is reassuring:

So for now, I’ll go about my day-to-day work. Fedora 29 released on Tuesday. We’re hard at work on Fedora 30. In a few months, I’ll know more about what the future holds. In the meantime, I’m proud to be a Red Hatter and a member of the Fedora and Opensource.com communities. Here we go!

Other writing: October 2018

Where was I writing when I wasn’t writing here?

Stuff I wrote

Red Hat/Fedora

Stuff I curated

  • Forge Your Future With Open Source — VM Brasseur’s excellent book on becoming an open source contributor is done. I reviewed this book and I can tell you it is absolutely worth a read, even if you’re an experienced contributor. Buy it on Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from the publisher.

Opensource.com

It’s hattening!

Pretend I wasn’t too lazy to edit the text.

Remember how I told you I quit my job? Well as this post publishes, I’m starting my new job. I’ve joined Red Hat as the Fedora Program Manager. I’ve been a Fedora user and contributor for a long time, so it’s great to be paid to be a part of the community. And Red Hat is a great company. I’m really excited about what’s to come.

Stay tuned here and the Fedora Community Blog for more updates on what I do as the FPgM.

It looks like you’re writing a resignation letter, would you like help with that?

I just signed out of my @microsoft.com accounts for the last time. I never thought I’d end up working there, but the company has changed since the “GPL is a cancer” years. I saw it from the outside and after they acquired Cycle Computing, I saw it from the inside, too.

I want to be clear: the problem isn’t Microsoft. In fact, it’s a great company to work for. But the role I was placed into after the acquisition was not a good fit for me and I was not a good fit for it. I tried to find a more mutually-agreeable position within Microsoft, but then an external opportunity came along. I couldn’t turn it down.

So for the next two weeks I’ll be funemployed. I have so many things I want to get done and I expect a full two-thirds will remain on my to-do list when I’m done. And I’m totally okay with that. I’ve never taken time off between jobs before, and I think I’ve earned it. And even if I haven’t earned it, I’m doing it anyway.

But as excited as I am for the time off and the new role that follows, I’m pretty sad about leaving great coworkers behind. I met some awesome people at Microsoft, and I will miss working with them. And even more than that, I’ll miss the great Cycle Computing team, with whom I’ve worked very closely over the last five years. It wasn’t always easy being a bootstrapped startup, but we did awesome work together and I’ll miss the team. I hope I can stay in touch.

My next role isn’t a national secret, but you’ll understand if I don’t talk about it publicly until I start in a few weeks.

Other writing – January 2018

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here? Not much, but Opensource.com did set a new monthly page view record with over 1.2 million views in the month of January.

Opensource.com

Happy 10th birthday, Blog Fiasco!

When I published my first post 10 years ago today, I didn’t really have a plan in mind. I wanted to separate my personal writing and my professional writing. I didn’t expect the blog to become the sensation it has, with literally ones of viewers each day.

Kidding aside, I’m glad I’ve kept this going for so long. This blog has helped my writing. It has made me friends. It has chronicled by proxy the course of my career. Ten years ago, I was a junior systems administrator who wrote mostly about what he learned on the job. Now I work in marketing and largely write my opinions. Along the way, my technical posts have gone from “here’s this specific thing I learned” to “here’s my take on larger issues.”

I’d like to think that counts as growth of some sort. In these past 10 years, I have published 671 posts. Some of those are a few sentences to describe site updates. Some are thousand-plus word discussions of severe weather warnings. Posts have received 655 comments (plus some 1.3 million spam comments).

To my ones of readers, I offer my sincere thanks. It’s gratifying to know that I’m not just talking to myself. Here’s to another decade!

My 2017 in review

What a year, huh? We made it, though. 2018 began this morning and so far it’s off to a cold start here in Indiana. I liked the 2016 year in review that I wrote, so I thought I’d make it a annual tradition. Let’s look back and see how things went.

I made a public resolution for 2017, which is not something I normally do. I resolved to read articles before sharing them. That seems like a pretty low bar to clear, but let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s really easy to share things that sound good without reading them. I can’t swear that I fully kept this resolution, but I think I did pretty well with it. If nothing else, there were a few articles that seemed good but didn’t stand up to a skeptical reading. I’ll keep doing this in 2018 and hope that it catches on. We’d all be better off.

I also set a goal of writing 150 articles in 2017 (not counting anything I wrote for work). I fell short of that mark, but I still wrote more than I did in 2016. I finished the year with 122 articles compared to the 101 I wrote last year. The quality and length of the content varied. Some of them were basically “here’s a list of links from stuff I wrote last month.” Others were thousand-plus word articles on topics related to high performance computing. I’m going to aim for 120 articles in 2018, with the hope of keeping a steadier pace.

Chart of article publication pace for 2016 and 2017

My article publication pace for 2016 and 2017. Note the flurry of activity early in 2017 when the pace flirted with 200 articles, followed by the long slide to 122 in the second half of the year.

I started a newsletter this year. I blather on for a paragraph or two and then I share links to things I liked on the Internet that week. People who scroll to the bottom also see links to articles I curated and wrote. I consider it a success because 1. I’ve consistently published every week for several months and 2. more than zero people read it every month. The road to being a Thought Leader™ is long.

Blog Fiasco

This blog had what I would call a mixed year. I published 87 posts compared to 2016’s 78, but views were down about 30%. The number of visitors only fell about 20%. It’s a good thing I’m not writing this to become famous or make money. Nonetheless, I got about 3% of my views from Reddit and Hacker News, so I’m not entirely ignored. I still don’t do anything to promote my blog beyond my social media accounts and my newsletter. Any uptick in traffic is because people felt something I wrote was worth sharing, not because I’m a marketing genius.

Top 10 articles in 2017

These are the top Blog Fiasco articles in 2017, along with their 2016 rank.

  1. Solving the CUPS “hpcups failed” error (1)
  2. New to Fedora: WordGrinder (published in 2017)
  3. elementary misses the point (7)
  4. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred (8)
  5. When your HP PSC 1200 All-in-One won’t print (3)
  6. I have a new employer (published in 2017)
  7. Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life (2)
  8. HP laptop keyboard won’t type on Linux (published in 2017)
  9. Disappearing WiFi with rt2800pci (unranked)
  10. Accessing Taleo from Mac or Linux (5)

I published that CUPS post in 2010 and it has consistently been my most-visited article. It is trending downward, though. It averaged 5 views a day in 2015, 4 in 2016, and 2 this year. This may be because Google’s algorithm de-weights posts as they age (it probably does), but I’d also like to think it has something to do with CUPS being more reliable than ever before.​

Top 10 articles published in 2017

Here are the top 10 Blog Fiasco articles that I published in 2017.

  1. New to Fedora: WordGrinder
  2. I have a new employer
  3. HP laptop keyboard won’t type on Linux
  4. Conference talks: “how” versus “why”
  5. Maybe your tech conference needs less tech
  6. Drowning from the firehose
  7. Your crappy UI could be lethal
  8. Please don’t argue with the warning system
  9. Why HTCondor is a pretty awesome scheduler
  10. Taking action on commit messages

On a personal note

Last year, I made vague allusions to some personal ups and downs but said I thought things were trending upward. I’d say that forecast verified. Despite what’s gone on in the outside world, things here have improved. And you should see the new deck we had built! As you may have noticed in the top 10 lists above, I got a new employer this year. It got off to a pretty rough start, but things have improved.

I’m looking forward to 2018. I have a few projects that I hope to make happen. As much as things have changed in the last year, it feels like I’m still on the cusp of something big. Or not!

If nothing else, I’m proud of myself for continuing to do this after so many years. I don’t think what I’ve written here is particularly wonderful, but I’ve published over 650 posts on this blog in the last decade. That’s something.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine Forecast Contest

Hear ye! Hear ye! I’ve opened up the Tropical Forecast Game for Potential Tropical Cycle Nine. Forecasts are due by 8 PM EDT Friday.

Chances are very good that this storm will be named later today. I’ll keep the “nine” appellation until after the contest closes to avoid any confusion. (Yes, the code is old and crusty so the name matters).