The original words of Phanes, tirelessly carved into a slab of "No'".


Thanksgiving Week.


So, this time of year for me is usually time to catch up on my personal projects.

I have two in particular that I’ve been talking up for a long time and it’s time, honestly, to put up or shut up about them.

The first, is I’d like to get an alpha version or at least a pre-alpha version of the Conditional Response Daemon. I won’t be able to build out the public repository for them but I can get the code released.

The second, is that I need to finish setting up the SDLC. At this point I’ve got enough mastery of puppet to be able to build it, even if I have not effectively covered enough of it to write a sane piece of documentation — although that is still a project, with no time limit, that I intend on completing so that other people no longer have to go through that jibberish.

To do both of these in a 4.5 day weekend is ambitious at best, but I have no excuse not to make great progress on them.

I’ve got 4 pairs of sweat pants and a super clean house. I’ve got this.

As for work stuff, I’m on call, so I’m sure I’ll get pulled into some issue at some point, but things are pretty good. I’m really thankful to work with such talented people. As I’ve started to reach out to other teams in my duties I’m understanding more and more all the time how far ahead this client is compared to so many places in this area.

They have challenged me in the areas I thought I had mastery over, showed me new areas ready to be learned and mastered themselves, and expanded my horizons a bit — and helped me understand how much further along in my development that I was than I thought –which is an awesomely odd combination.

Prior to this assignment I’d never met people who even could understand the things I’m interested in, let alone share some of those interests. You can’t replace that.

It’s been a long time looking for that, too:

I was born in 1985.  Fast-forward to 1993.  I’m at a Barnes & Noble with my parents and brothers.  I asked mom for a cup of coffee from the built-in store, but she brought back a chai latte.  I’m in the comics section looking at Marvel stuff.  I go around the aisle and found myself in the computer section.  I’m instantly reminded of the times I got in trouble for dissecting my dad’s high end stereo system and my alarm clock for school.  So, naturally, I’m looking at all these books about computer systems, there’s Netscape books, and AOL books, and programming books, and none of them make sense, they’re just words at the time, and then I see an odd one:  Slackware.

What’s this?

I’m looking through it and at the time I had a home PC that I’d been tweaking for years just because I thought it was cool.  I’m not sure why because I had no exposure yet, but I instantly recognized it for what it was, and thought it would be so cool to install it.  Then it happened.  A CD is in the back and WOW ITS THE INSTALL DISC.  I take it to Mom and Dad and I’m excited and I beg — I mean beg for them to buy it.

Dad says no.

Mom says “ask your Dad”.


Normally that was the end of it back then, but this one was different.  I don’t know why.  But I needed this.  So, naturally, I stole it.  I slipped it into my blue jean jacket’s pocket and looked over and saw an employee looking right at me.  Oh my god, the only time I ever stole anything and I’m busted.  He smiles and turned around, and walked away while I stood there with a CD half in my pocket, frozen in horror and obviously guilty, waiting to get in trouble.  I think he knew what it was and was okay with it looking back.

So, I got to have it.  I stole the first public release, ever, of Slackware and I took it home and installed it.  I’m not sorry.

A year later I’m building marquees on my website in javascript.  That would have been 1994-1995.  A few years later it was Think Pascal.  I wish someone would have told me to learn C instead of pascal.

Then, high school, it was Visual Basic, and then C++.  I stopped paying attention when I had to tell the instructor what typecasting was.

Then I found girls and guitars and things got blurry for a few years until college, when I got in to my open source systems class early my sophomore year and ‘lo — instructor is teaching using Slackware.

Around that time I was studying BSD but switching back over was no problem.  I played with the PCBSD guys a little around that time, even operated their freenode channel for a bit before moving on to other stuff, and got formally trained in college with slackware again.  Ended up teaching a few segments on the class since that was the year the kernel went from 2.4->2.6 (the year everybody had to stop reusing their old kernel config during a build) and eventually headed up my local chapter of the state’s LUG.  It’s been a mountain of learning and crazy events ever since, but Linux has always been in my life.

As a younger guy, at 31, when I say I’ve been using Linux off and on since the first version of Slackware I get funny looks from the more experienced systems folks.  So sometimes I only go as far back as my college exposure and that’s a pretty long time now too.  And it’s fair too since I wasn’t trying to Learn “Linux” back then and I was just a kid that tinkered with stuff and knew I wasn’t supposed to be replacing the operating system on the family computer (yes that happened, yes I got in trouble, and no I didn’t say where the install disc came from).  Not to mention the fact that for most of my life since that time until I moved my career over into IT I was an avid musician and thought I was going to be a studio musician — so I did not work in the field until college.

So, I guess I’m also thankful to be in my field of study all these years.  I could not imagine being this happy in any other line of work, because I’d still be working on the things I work on, only I wouldn’t be getting paid to do them.  It doesn’t feel like work to me.

Ok, sometimes it feels like work.  But still.  Happy.


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The Personal Blog of Chris Punches