It’s been six weeks
When it comes to your own health, you really do have to take it into your own hands. I’m reflecting on my last visit with my doctor and the dietician he recommended I see for my new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Did he recommend losing weight? He recommended I exercise but didn’t go much deeper than that. He mentioned that managing diabetes is important because “It can lead to heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, etc.” A few words among an entire conversation. His written instructions were just as terse. Apart from medications, one line simply says, “Encouraged to do daily exercises.”
Then he had a nurse show me how to use a blood glucose meter. She did a great job and was very patient with me. Yet, that’s all she did.
The dietician showed me a diagram representing a plate of food and how half should be a nutrient-rich vegetable like broccoli, a quarter should be a protein like fish or chicken, and the last quarter a starch like sweet potatoes or brown rice. A “balanced meal”. It was similar to the picture in the paperwork my doctor provided.
We chatted a bit and she was content with how I told her I was altering my diet already. She just said, “Keep doing that.”
A little disappointed
At the time I was kinda of deer-in-the-headlights with all this stuff. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get the the country doctor treatment — the one you see on TV where you know each other by first name and the doctor drives home how important just taking care of yourself really is.
The country doctor would’ve also recommended a fitness routine and healthy ways to eat. Again, all I got was a one-line “Encouraged to do daily exercises” as a note from our discussion that wasn’t much more than a sentence. And the dietician saying, “Keep doing that” along with some hyperlinks I’d already found online from some research.
I feel like I was a clinical visitor run through a routine as efficiently as possible.
Adjusting what I eat
Within the first week of my diagnosis, I’d already started changing my diet. Unfortunately, when you’ve allowed non-healthy food options onto your plate, everything healthy looks like a salad. I do eat a lot more salads and I throw on what I can to make them more interesting (in healthy ways). But still, lots of salads.
I’ve tried finding take-out options that are healthy for those times I don’t feel like cooking a meal. Everything from a Jimmy John’s Unwich to a Chipotlé chicken bowl to taco salads from a few places. But they’re all just different types of salads after a while. And what’s worse, I’m discovering they still aren’t great choices.
Currently, I’m reading Joel Fhurman, M.D.’s The End of Diabetes — The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes. I appreciate what it’s saying and how there has to be a lifestyle change that includes eating differently (high in nutritious vegetables, beans, berries, and seeds).
Still sounds an awful lot like salads, but he makes a few interesting comments. Humans are primates and this is our natural diet unlike lions or other meat-eaters. And he says the right foods will not only help lose weight, but they’ll also help prevent hunger. That’s encouraging.
I’m only about a quarter through the book, and the science he’s referencing and his reasoning are having an attitude adjustment on me. That’s good.
I have to admit that ever since watching House of Cards and watching how Francis Underwood took to his WaterRower not only to work out his frustrations late at night but also seethe in his evil schemes, I’ve wanted one myself. So, I made an expensive purchase.
I’ve used it three times so far and love it! A rowing machine utilizes about 85 percent of the body’s muscles, but it’s low impact. And it’s something I can do when I can’t go outside for a walk.
And I’ve started walking more too. The past couple of years, we’ve signed up for Carpenter Nature Center’s Frosty Forty, which is a wintertime challenge to get outside and walk, ski, or show shoe 40 miles in 40 days. I enjoyed that and found it was a great way to just move. So, on days I’m not using my rower, I’m exploring the neighborhood, which is mostly within the Battle Creek Regional Park. I can’t ask for a better place to encourage outdoor exercise.
Battle Creek Regional Park
Since starting to change my health lifestyle, I’ve lost about 10 pounds. over a month, my blood glucose readings are steadily within the range my doctor has indicated, and I’m definitely feeling the positive effects of everything I’m doing.
I’ve also appreciated learning about how my body works and keeping track of how to manipulate it for the better. Studying and having my Zettelkästen is slowing down my thought process, and I’ve noticed I’m not jumping from one thought to another looking for solutions or ideas. I’ve never really been more focused on something.
But it’s all been on me to motivate myself. I guess that’s how it should be. To be effective, I need to own this. If I had to pick something I’m working toward, it would be I want to keep my love of reading. I don’t want to lose my eyesight. Audiobooks aren’t for me. It sounds trivial compared to potential heart attacks or strokes, but it’s the one thing I have for myself apart from friends and family.
In about six more weeks I go in for a three-month follow-up visit. Hoping to see lab readings, including A1C moving in the right direction. ◼︎
I’m going to have to note the shit out of this
Two things are at the top of my mind at the moment.
First, I’d suspected it for a while — and with my past diet, I’m not surprised — but my doctor just asked me to schedule an appointment to discuss my new Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. I’m so uneducated about it I had to look up whether it’s diabetes with a capital “D” or lowercase “d”. And I know it’s about sugar and insulin.
Also, as part of my fascination with time management, productivity, note-taking, etc., I’ve started reading Scott Scheper’s Antinet Zettelkasten: A Knowledge System That Will Turn You Into a Prolific Reader, Researcher and Writer. If you’re not familiar with the term Zettelkästen, it’s German for note box. An Antinet Zettelkasten is an analog system for storing and retrieving information to help produce knowledge by finding unique associations between topics.
My original intent for the Zettelkasten was to understand how it works and see if it’s something I want to invest my time in. My goal for using it was to begin a project I’ve been kicking around in my head about The Compleat Mac Admin. The few chapters I’ve read of Scheper’s book make it seem ideal. Plus, I love that it’ll give me reason to return to an analog system. My note-taking today is mostly digital for work projects that are fleeting.
Now, I have a second purpose for my Zettelkasten — diabetes research around health and nutrition. My own health and nutrition. I’ve already started a few cards based on examples from Scheper’s book and online tutorials, and I’ve captured a few websites using the Zotero research app he recommended. I’m anxious to see where this can take me.
My mindset is very much like Mark Watney’s, the character Matt Damon plays in The Martian. He has no need to waste time processing the stages of grief — shock, anger, rejection, acceptance, and hope (SARAH). Like him, I’m going straight to acceptance and not wasting any time. ◼︎
Evaluating Obsidian for note-taking
Since reading Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain where he referenced Obsidian for taking notes, I’ve repeatedly seen it mentioned far more than most other apps. It seems to be a fairly popular hashtag on Mastodon in the note-taking community. I currently use Bear and really don’t have a need to change apps, but this morning I decided to see what Obsidian could offer.
When visiting https://obsidian.md, I immediately saw it was multi-platform, supporting macOS and iOS specifically. A big plus! Like Bear and several other note-taking apps, it’s based on markdown, which would make porting notes from one application to another pretty easy. That’s something I’d want to do, if changing apps.
And the price for personal use was $0 (free!). I’m a proponent of paying for software, even if that just means donating money to support it, so I checked out the other options. I could pay a one-time $25 “Catalyst” fee and get developer-level information, but I don’t need that. And $50/year for “Commercial” use was fine too.
Because I use Bear on my Mac, iPad and iPhone, syncing notes was important too. The Obsidian page has a Sync tab at the top. Here was my first negative. $96/year to sync. Bear is free to use, but it too charges for the privilege to sync. I’m currently paying $15/year and it’s been solid. Still, price difference wasn’t significant enough to keep me from switching.
Next, I downloaded the app and opened it.
I had a few problems with this window. The biggest is that it’s dark by default. I like dark at night and low light but prefer light during the day with plenty of light. This was an easy to control setting and I could set it to my system default instead of “Dark”. My bias immediately tells me this is a “developer” choice because I see more developers who choose to use dark all the time. This is a poor default choice, which meant there could be more.
The next problem I had was all the buttons! There’s about 20 of them along the left side, at the top and even more at the top of the left pane. Tooltips made it easy to understand what some of the more obscure buttons do, but there was still too much clutter.
Similar appearance issues hit me when I viewed Obsidian’s Settings area. The interface is just clunky. I assume that’s a compromise made to support multiple operating systems. Still, when I looked at something like the Interface font option, it screams “over-developed” to me. This is the font for the Obsidian interface not new notes. Maybe this level of detail was put in for accessibility needs, but I don’t think so. There’s no option that I found to simply increase the interface font size or use system Accessibility settings. Those would have been simpler choices.
To change the Interface font also requires I click a Manage button, choose a font from a list menu and then click Save instead of just showing a simple list menu with the default font selected. Other options like Window Frame Style and Themes made Obsidian seem amazing at first until it just became tiresome to have so many options.
It’s as if the developers thought “customizability is more” instead of making better discreet choices for the end user. So far, this interface reminded me of a now defunct open-source developer IDE called Atom, which I evaluated and chose not to use for similar reasons.
My last feature to evaluate was importing my Bear notes, which are also markdown. I would’ve been pleasantly surprised to see an “Import from Bear” option or plugin, but I didn’t expect it. And there isn’t one. So, I searched online with “import bear notes to obsidian” and found a couple of community posts on the process.
The top hit seemed just like what I was needing. It suggested a few things I could do to my existing Bear notes to make them more compatible before exporting. I chose to ignore those suggestions until deciding to make the switch.
But in a few cases this post and one or two others I found were sometimes poorly worded. The first mentioned “importing” notes to Obsidian, but what I really had to do was export my Bear notes to a folder, choose File > Open Vault and then point it to my export folder. After reviewing three different articles, I finally managed to understand what I was suppose to do.
Now, I had some data to play with. I wasn’t expecting my arrangement of notes to match Bear, and they didn’t. If I were to use Obsidian, I’d have to plan for something new. Not a big deal. I would have to redo a lot of tags because while Bear allows spaces, Obsidian doesn’t. I’m pretty good at regular expressions and scripting and thought I could use those as tools.
I thought the Graph view was amazing! And I appreciated the way I could look at certain sections of my notes to identify the relationships they had with each other. I’m sure there was a more involved way I could use this, but off the top of my head, I wasn’t seeing a need that I was missing. Neat, but useful?
I’m technical enough that I could use scripting and regex and other tools to put my notes back to something very similar I had in Bear. Possibly, I could find a few tools in the available pool of 750+ available community plugins to help me. But after five minutes of simple putzing to see what was possible, I realized I’d be spending far more time that I was willing to invest right now. And still nothing gave me a compelling reason to switch away from Bear, which has an elegant interface with fewer but smarter options for customization.
Posting my JNUC 2022 session notes
Jamf has posted its Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC) 2022 session videos on YouTube — 152 videos in total. Videos and session notes for my presentations are below. Handouts include Read Me annotations on most pages with written information presented in the video.
Posting my PSU 2018 MacAdmins Conference presentations
With most conferences I attend, I try to submit a presentation proposal hoping that it will pay for part of my attendance costs. And I try to speak on something new when possible just to learn or expand on something that interests me.
Sometimes, I submit a presentation and then submit a “safety” presentation just in case the first one doesn’t get accepted. And sometimes, both get accepted. That’s double the work, but I usually don’t want to have to pick one over the other and so I do both.
This year, I submitted a 1/2-day workshop proposal for “Time Management for the Mac Admin” and then submitted another 1/2-day workshop proposal for “Hands On with the Jamf Pro API” that I’d present with my co-worker Josh. The first one was accepted (yay!) but not the second. Gretchen, one of the conference organizers asked that we re-submit it, though, as two sessions. And that got accepted.
OK, that may have been a bit much, especially since I’m a procrastinator. But they were still both something I wanted to do and didn’t want to have to choose between them. I’m glad I did both and glad they’re both done. Putting together a presentation means a lot of staring at my laptop screen and a lot of staring into space as I’m thinking about what to put on the screen. It’s exhausting and stressful. But I later find it rewarding when everything’s over.
I think now I’ll go read a book. Or just sit and think without looking at my laptop. Or just sit.
Slides and videos (where allowed) from more than 70 presentations and workshops will be posted on the Resources page. You’ll have a few months worth of lunchtimes to fill. 2019’s conference is the same week July 9-12.
JNUC 2017: The Great Mac Admin Get-Together
Our Marketing group at Jamf is busy putting the final polish on the silverware, pulling the plastic from the furniture, airing out the spare bedrooms in the Minneapolis Hyatt and making hotdish. Lots of hotdish.
Next week is JNUC 2017!
Minnesota’s state fair, one of the largest and best attended fairs in the U.S., is nicknamed the Great Minnesota Get-Together. For me, JNUC is the Great Mac Admin Get-Together. It’s the largest gathering of Mac and iOS administrators in the world with this year’s registration setting a new record at more than 1500 attendees from around the world.
The keynote on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. CDT will be live-streamed for folks who can’t attend the conference. You can still be a part of the event remotely.
Get the app
In the span of three days (four if you’re a Jamf Integrator or Client Advisory Board member), Jamf and friends of Jamf are presenting over 100 sessions and mini events. If you haven’t already, get the conference app.
The first thing you should do is tap on the menu button in the upper left corner (those three horizontal lines), tap the settings button in the upper right corner (the cog wheel) and choose Edit Profile. For crying out loud, put something in there! And include a picture of yourself. Conferences are a great way to connect with people. Be sure to de-select the “Set Profile to Private” option to let folks find you. And the app allows for private messaging, even if you choose not to share too many details about yourself.
Explore the app. You can choose your sessions ahead of time and when the session is done, complete the survey at the bottom of the session window to give the presenters some kudos or constructive criticism. Connect the app to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. If you post photos and messages through the app, they’ll appear on the media screens throughout the conference area.
For those who prefer not to tap in their life details on a small keyboard, sign up and sign in on your favorite Mac.
What’s the skinny for next week?
I’m looking forward to the whole conference, but here are a few events I’ll be sure to attend.
Meet and greet
Tuesday morning, I’ll be one of your official Walmart door greeters. That means I’ll be waking up around 5:00 a.m., hitting a nearby Starbucks for two venti chais and then driving to the Hyatt to arrive by 6:30 a.m. Just to meet you as you come in the door.
Open Distribution Server session
This session was just recently added to the schedule. Bryson Tyrrell will discuss his open source project Open Distribution Server (ODS) as a replacement for the Jamf Distribution Server (JDS) that Jamf is sunsetting.
MacAdmins Podcast LIVE @ JNUC 2017 mini event
Emily, James, Tom, Pepijn, Charles, and their guests will review the first day of JNUC and discuss other events in the Mac admin community. If you haven’t listened to their podcast, you’ll find it over at macadmins.org. Catch up on the 55 episodes you missed and then come the next one recorded LIVE!
Dinner with my peeps
JNUC is one of a couple times a year I get to see all or most of my co-workers in my group. We’ll go off to a local restaurant to talk shop and write some scripts or something. It’s what we do.
Moving Beyond “Once Per Computer” Workflows session
Hey, that’s me! I’m presenting this Expert session at 2:45 p.m. in the Northstar Ballroom. I like to sub-title my presentations sometimes. Here’s a slide to tease you.
Modern Packaging and Distribution Workflows Panel
I’m really excited about this one because Jamf is bringing in some smart people to sit on this panel. Paul Bowden with Microsoft joined the Mac admin Slack community a couple years ago and probably has some of the best experience making a major software product meet our deployment and management needs. Along with Paul will be Ben Toms, who’s probably the only person to ever get away with displaying a porn star during a JNUC presentation. He’s also a Jamf Nation dean for his help on the forums. And Charles Edge… who doesn’t know Charles? He’s a prolific writer, speaker and great boss.
SplashBuddy JumpStart mini event
Here’s another one I’m really anxious to see. François Levaux-Tiffreau is presenting a 1-1/2 hour workshop on SplashBuddy. This is his open source project inspired by the IBM presentation at JNUC a couple years ago. As part of provisioning a device, SplashBuddy will appear to the end-user and provide a visually pleasing and informative messaging window that indicates progress as the device completes its setup.
Volunteer Time Off
One of the great things about working for Jamf is they encourage volunteering and they offer two days of volunteer time off to spend with any non-profit charitable organization. While we’re all together in town, my Professional Services group will spend a half day Friday volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland to pack food for families in need.
Macbrained Twin Cities Stickers
The best part of JNUC is getting to see old friends, make new ones, visit with my customers and hang-out with my PSE group. I love the energy and enthusiasm in the #jnuc channel on the MacAdmins Slack team. Come say hello! I’ll have some laptop stickers from our Macbrained Twin Cities group. Or find Brian LaShomb, Brad Schmidt, Bryson Tyrrell or John Wetter.
Come for JNUC. Stay for the tots.
Posting my PSU 2017 MacAdmins Conference presentation
This was my fourth MacAdmins Conference, which means I’ve had the opportunity to attend half the conferences since it started in 2010. That’s not a record and I know plenty of folks who’ve attended most or all of them. But it does give me perspective to see some of its formula for success.
Invariably, a few of us will start a discussion after dinner and realize we’re the last ones left in the room. (Leslie, Bryce, Brad, Brian and Pete.)
Part of that formula is that it’s fairly eco-system agnostic. It doesn’t try to cater to people using Chef, Jamf, munki, Puppet or any other automation or support tool (although munki is covered in a few sessions here). A lot of the sessions are modular and the majority are about specific toolsets that can plug in to whatever management system a Mac administrator is using. Most other sessions focus on best practices followed by a handful discussing security, personal development and management.
Another part of its success is the team that organizes the event every year. Because this isn’t a for-profit event, groups like Sales and Marketing aren’t involved. There’s nothing to sell, nothing to promote. The conference is a passion not a profession for Dave, Gretchen, Rusty, Brett, Jonathan and Justin. These are people who do the same work as the attendees they attract to the conference. Because of that, it feels genuine. I’m sorry to see this was Justin’s last year on the organizing committee. He’s getting more involved in his role as a manager and needs to move on to focus on that.
The critical part of this formula, though, is the attendees themselves. The Mac admin community is worldwide and broad in scope, but it’s close. Those who attend this or any conference become even closer as they get to meet, socialize and make friends. With so many avenues of social media, there’s little disruption to conversations across time. Conferences are a good place to put a face with an online name but they easily turn into reunions with old friends after attending just a few.
For the benefit of our careers, we go to learn. I think the best reason for attending this or most any conference is best summarized in this tweet I recently saw in my timeline.
Slides and videos from nearly 50 presentations and workshops are on the Resources page. 2018’s conference is July 10-13. Watch them. Learn something. And considering attending next year.