• 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.

    Adding workouts

    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.

    Frank Underwood on his WaterRower — House of Cards

    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

    Motivating myself

    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

    The Martian (2015)

    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.

    Three white 4-inch by 6-inch note cards loosely stacked one on the other and spread out top to bottom.

The top-stacked card at the bottom says “Natural Sciences” in the middle with “3000” in the upper right corner.

The middle card under the top card says “Biology” in print with an explanation of the term written underneath in cursive writing. It has “3100” in the upper right corner.

The bottom-stacked card at the top says “Human Biology” in print with an explanation of the term written underneath in cursive writing. It’s has “3180” in the upper right corner.
    Scheper suggests organizing a new Antinet Zettelkastenusing the outline of academic disciplines found on Wikipedia.

    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.

    Default new vault window in Obsidian app. The window is black with six small white icons at the top of a narrow vertical bar long the left. At the bottom of the bar are three more icons. Another bar runs along the top of the window with macOS Close, Minimize and Expand jellies in the upper left followed by four more icons, a “New tab” tab and another small white icon in the far upper right. The window is divided into a major left pane with four more icons at the top and the word “Vault” below it. The major right pane says “No file is open” in white. Centered below that in smaller purple text is “Create new file (Command N)”. Below that in the same text style is “Close”.

    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.

    Settings pane of the Obsidian app. The Obsidian main window appears dimmed in the background and is mostly covered by a slightly smaller centered “Settings” window. The Settings window has a white background with purple buttons. A left pane lists various groups of options (Editor, Files & Links, Appearance, Hotkeys, About, Core plugins, Community plugins) at the top followed by a list of core plugins (Backlinks, Command palette, Daily notes, File recovery, Note composer, Page preview, Quick switcher, Templates). The Appearance option is selected on the left and its available options appear in the larger right pane. A small simple dialog named “Interface font” appears over the entire Settings pane. It says “No custom font is applied right now. Add one below.” A one-line field in the dialog is empty with an “Add” button to the right. Below the one-line field is an alphabetical list of installed fonts from the computer. Each font is displayed in its own style.

    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?

    Obsidian main window with Graph view selected. A left pane displays the titles of my imported notes in a list sorted by modification data, so they appear very out-of-order. The larger right pane displays a circular graph composed of a few thousand roughly evenly-spaced gray dots on a white background. Between several clusters of dots are gray lines linking the dots. These gray lines indicate link relationships between the notes. Several areas of the graph show heavy linking and appear much denser than most of the graph.

    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.

    Session video: 10 Things New Jamf Pro Admins Should Know | JNUC 2022
    Session video: Simple Question: “What’s the Best Way to Install Apps and Updates?” | JNUC 2022
  • Curating my Mastodon timeline

    What did I use Twitter for? More to kill time rather than anything useful. I realized I had a problem.

    I followed friends I’d met in real life or online. Many were members of the Apple community in one way or another — Apple administrators, co-workers, developers, folks who worked at Apple. I followed other accounts related to my areas of interests like books — authors, bookstores, publishers. And I followed various local news sources that were interested in getting me to their websites or local community accounts that weren’t very active or useful.

    Ultimately, who I choose to follow generates my timeline, which is just a series of their posts. My timeline is very personal to me, and I have the freedom to completely curate my timeline at Mastodon as opposed to Twitter or Facebook. They applied algorithms to influence who-knows-how-much of what I saw.

    As I’m transitioning to Mastodon, I’m making an effort to use the platform purposefully rather than throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. I want to get value from what I read there. To get that value I’m practicing mindfulness as I put together my list of follows.

    That requires curation or choosing who I’ll follow with some guidelines I’ve set for myself.

    Follow with intent

    One way I find people to follow is seeing who followed me. But I won’t follow someone back just to be polite. Without intent, I may follow someone with interests (professional, political or otherwise) that don’t interest me. I may choose not to follow now, but if we’re truly in similar social circles, I’ll cross their path again when someone boosts or mentions them. That’s a great time for me to revisit whether I want to follow.

    How do I choose who to follow? I have a few things I’ll check.

    Review profiles

    I pay attention to someone who’s just followed me because we may already have something in common. The first thing I’ll do is review their profile. If it’s empty, sparse or simply flippant, that’s probably not someone who’s interested in creating and sharing content. Maybe they’re lurking, which is fine. But it’s a sign for me to pass.

    Check for verification

    Verification on Mastodon isn’t true verification. It’s more of a heads up that a website in the profile is truly associated with that person. Only they (or someone they can influence) can add the required information Mastodon uses for verification to a website. A verified website signals to me this person is part of the broader community and actively participating.

    Read introductions

    Mastodon has a tradition of asking new community members to introduce themselves. This is beyond what’s included in the profile and an opportunity to give everyone else a chance to find and follow them. They should include the #Introduction tag and pin the post so that it appears just below their profile. Lack of an introduction is a sign someone hasn’t been paying attention to community etiquette.

    Browse posts

    This is one of the easiest ways for me to learn if I want to follow someone. If I see more boosts than posts or nothing but boosts of other accounts, that person isn’t there to create and share content. Boosting everyone else’s interesting post doesn’t make that person interesting to me.

    Block accounts

    I feel most anyone who asks their followers to boost their posts is participating in a personal popularity contest. (Like someone trying to start a meme.) And anyone who boosts them is likely showing me something I don’t care about. I won’t necessarily block the person I’m following, but I will block the person asking for boosts. Seeing them once means I might see them again doing the same thing.

    I’ll also block someone who makes an incendiary statement without providing evidence or context. I may or may not disagree with their opinion, but they have 500 characters to defend that opinion and should use their opportunity wisely.

    Follow a few hashtags

    Mastodon offers multiple ways for me to find follows. Instead of searching for people with a similar interest, I can follow an interest and people come to me. Following too many hashtags is overwhelming, but a few at a time make for some diverse reading. At the moment I’m following:

    • #BlackTwitter
    • #Introduction
    • #Journalism
    • #MastoBooks
    • #NoteTaking
    • #Time Management

    Some of these hashtags are really busy, and some may not display a post for days. The #Introduction hashtag is one of my favorites because the few who do post introductions have usually taken time and care to craft what they want to say about themselves.

    Filter noise

    Noise is content I don’t want to see. Someone recently started a theme called “Six books to get to know me” and added multiple hashtags including the #MastoBooks tag I follow. It quickly generated a lot of noise in my timeline as people posted their own lists of six books. To reduce the noise, I tried a few filters like “Six books” and “6 books” until settling on “to get to know me”. Very effective!

    And if I determine the noise is just temporary, Mastodon’s filter feature allows me to expire the filter up to one week from now.

    Some of the community members, like book authors or bloggers, have a high boost rate compared to the content they create. That’s because they’re trying to actively work their social media presence to keep themselves visible in your timeline. It’s easy to boost and treat that like content. Disabling them from boosting manages that problem.

    Keep follows small and lean

    I won’t treat my follow list like a bottomless junk drawer. I’ll continually curate it as I lose interest in what people are saying or find hashtags that are more specific with a better signal to noise ratio. I want to appreciate reading every post in my timeline. To do that I need to filter, concentrate and minimize my follows to reduce the number of posts I see.

    I’m not worried about missing something. I’m sure I’m missing a lot. But I’d rather spend my time on Mastodon well instead of squandering it like I often did with Twitter.

    Cull the herd

    Finally, I want to be proactive with my follow list. That means checking it from time to time to see who’s been overly active (maybe an indication of a low signal to noise ratio) and who’s been inactive (no noise but no content). Mastodon has a great feature to see a list of my follows, followers, mutual followers, and the ability to sort by activity. I’ll likely check this quarterly to reduce my follow list — again, treating those who don’t post much as noise in my list.

  • From Twitter to Mastodon

    When I heard Elon Musk might buy Twitter and that he’d let Donald Trump return, I knew I’d likely leave the platform.

    The problem wasn’t so much Trump coming back but rather how the media was constantly reporting on his outlandish tweets, over-amplifying his rhetoric. I didn’t follow Trump on Twitter, but I certainly knew what he was saying. All the time. If I didn’t hear it directly from a media outlet, I heard it from folks I followed who were part of the amplification problem.

    Reporting what someone says in a one-way dialog is such lazy journalism. There’s no effort made to ask questions, get details or get further clarification. But there’s plenty of analysis. Hours and hours of analysis by both conservative and liberal media outlets. Trump knew this and played it to his complete advantage.

    When Twitter banned Trump in January 2021, just before Biden’s inaugural, the media outlets lost their easy source of “news” and Trump lost his huge self-amplifying megaphone for inciting violence. I felt a slightly smaller sense of calm.

    Nearly two years later, billionaire Elon Musk buys Twitter and lifts the “permanent suspension” on Trump’s account, allowing him back into the so-called town square. We had kidded ourselves into thinking Twitter was a town square. After all, was it really a town square if it could be bought?

    I don’t have a billion dollar megaphone. I don’t have media amplifying my voice. I can only leave after having been on Twitter for 15 years. This shit isn’t worth my sanity.

    Having moved to and away from various online communities over 30 years, moving again was easy to do. I felt no emotion, no anxiety over leaving. It’s the same feeling I’ve had in real life when I know it’s simply time to move on to something else like a different job, different group of friends, or a new relationship. Nothing is forever. It was great while it lasted. The cycle goes on.

    Immediately, I added my Mastodon account details to my Twitter profile and started announcing I’d be jumping ship.

    A few years ago in 2018, I explored Mastodon, a social media platform similar to Twitter but not exactly the same. I was attracted to its federated (decentralized) nature. No one like Musk can swoop in and buy it no matter how popular it may become. I revisited my account and started exploring, making sure I understood the rules and nature of this community before participating. I’ll talk about that in a different post.

    Following an article I’d researched about the “right way” to leave Twitter, I requested a Twitter archive, a history of my entire time there — about 10,000 tweets including uploaded images. As soon as I received the download link and retrieved the archive file, I took care of business deleting all my posts (the tweets.js file from the archive was useful) using TweetDelete, removing personal data, disconnecting apps and services, and locking my account.

    I left a nondescript profile with a display name that said “Deleted” and a picture of Elon Musk.

    I’m clearly in the honeymoon phase of my Mastodon exploration but already a hundred percent satisfied with my transition there. There’s still political talk, but it’s not the amplified rhetoric I’d been experiencing on Twitter. Several other folks who’ve made the move say they see the same thing I do — calm.

  • Posting my PSU 2018 MacAdmins Conference presentations

    PSU MacAdmins Conference 2018With 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.


  • Rabble Rabble Rabble!

    For everyone who’s on Twitter these days promoting fairness, equality and the betterment of mankind through selflessness—good for you! Bless your hearts! Keep up the good fight.

    But if all you’re doing is retweeting, sharing or posting links to someone else keeping up the good fight, I’m going to severely filter you and eventually I’ll probably stop following you. Sadly, I may miss something from you I really wanted to hear.

    Woah! What what’s with the snippy attitude, dude?

    Without filtering, my Twitter timeline sounds like this South Park clip:

    That noise isn’t coming from the businesses, celebrities or organizations I’m following. It’s coming from you, the people I follow! I know most of you personally, but the signal to noise ratio is getting really out-of-hand.

    Here’s why I followed you on Twitter:

    • I thought what you had to say would be interesting.
    • To keep in touch with you and tune in to what’s happening in your life.
    • We have things and ideas in common (or maybe not and that’s what I find interesting).

    This isn’t why I followed you:

    • To hear your political opinions over and over and Over and OVER and OVARH and OOOOOOOVER.
    • I want you to be my personal RSS feed to random stuff.
    • For you to share outrageous, incendiary or id-stimulating speech over and over and Over and OVER and OVARH and OOOOOOOVER.
    • To receive a company’s marketing spam so you could win a prize.
    • To read your blog post in my Twitter feed. (Just write it out and link to it, OK?)

    Before I stop following you, I’ll filter you. Thank gawd for Tweetbot and its ability to weed out crap. This is what I call “crap”:

    • You’re retweeting someone else without adding your own comments.
    • You’re retweeting others frequently.
    • You’re linking to news articles and blog posts on major websites or tweeting through them.
    • You’re auto-tweeting from another app or service because you did an insignificant thing.

    I’m tired of the noise. Here’s how I’m filtering.

    First, if you retweet too often without adding your own two cents, I’ll right-click your name at the bottom of the tweet and simply Disable Retweets. Your retweets. All of them.

    disable retweets

    If you’re repetitively posting random stuff, you’re probably being consistent with how you do it. Good for me. I’ll use a keyword filter.

    Repetitive tweets


    Tweetbot also supports regular expressions. This filters any article where the headline is in curly quotes followed by a space and then a link (not foolproof but gets the job done).

    Regex filter

    Amazingly, this reduces my timeline by dozens of tweets each day. It’s manageable. I can keep up and my eyes don’t hurt from rolling so much.

    So, I have two requests, dear tweeters-whom-I-follow.

    Be more cognizant of the noise you’re producing and do less of it. Be meaningful with what you want to tell me or want me to see. I’m interested in you and your thoughts. Otherwise, I’d follow all those other people or sites. If you don’t talk much, then fine. I’m good with that. I’ll pay more attention when you do.

    Or, just keep what you’re doing and keep doing it consistently. Keep your noise on the same sine wave and I’ll just apply my noise-canceling headphones.

  • JNUC 2017: The Great Mac Admin Get-Together

    JNUC 2017 appOur 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.

    Building your own Death Star with Legos


    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.


    Macbrained Twin Cities

    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.

    Losing track of time
    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.