2018: Arbitrary Boundary Condition Met

Sunset at Asilomar Beach, December 29th, 2019

The problem with linear time — well, one of them — is that you don’t always know when your personally meaningful boundary conditions have been met. Life is uneven, some chapters are long and interesting, some short but sweet, some arduous and never-ending. 2018 fell into a lot of those categories. So we’ve met our arbitrary boundary condition prescribed by the journey of the Earth around the Sun. Let’s look at what happened?

Crash Migration

2018 began with a crash migration for one of our clients. We had 26 days to handle their office move, and brought them into new digs on time and with complete operating functionality, despite the short timeline. I’m thankful to, of all people, Comcast Enterprise for bringing their might to bear and they brought their A game and got us a gigabit circuit in almost no time at all. Crash Migrations always feel like a bit of a trial-by-fire, and this one was no exception.

41 Episodes

The Mac Admins Podcast had an incredible year, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team. We produced 41 episodes of the podcast, including The One With Apple, live episodes at JNUC and MacDevOps YVR. We talked with Apple Luminary Sal Soghoian, Fraser Speirs about the State of iOS in Education, Thomas Reed about Graykey and iOS, and Tim Perfitt about Secure Boot and the best way to kill a chicken. 2018 brought more than 175,000 downloads of the podcast!

Here’s to more and more episodes in 2019! I’m hopeful our conversation with Apple gets a sequel. If you want to see us do a live show, come on out to MacADUK in March 2019!

Cloud Living

With the, um, active retirement of macOS Server, I sunset the code for Munki in a Box, but not content to just abandon the idea, I also released Munki in a Cloud which works with AWS. If I were a better coder, I’d be combining it with Graham Gilbert’s excellent Munki Terraforming project. I guess I just found my first 2019 goal.

Frontal Boundaries

We also moved our primary software distribution platform from an on-premise Munki server into AWS’ CloudFront. We’ve moved almost a third of our clients to it already, and we’ve got planned migrations for a bunch of the rest. Serving client updates via CloudFront was a really great experience for us from a budget perspective. We centrally manage manifests and applications from a workstation on our network, do QA, then push to production. We’ve got a secure distribution system that I’m pretty proud of. And it cost us much less per client than even our wildest dreams.

What’s The Future Bring?

2019 I’m getting on the stick about two specific things: Python and the SimpleMDM API. I’ve said it before about Python, but I’ve actually accomplished some small tasks this way, so I’m excited to tweak a few more things into Amazon Lambda, Python and the SimpleMDM API as part of our goal to make better touch-less workflows in 2019. I’ve got some ideas for an open library of Python scripts for using the SimpleMDM API, but I need to get some tasks genericized and working, first.

I’m looking forward to 2019, to whatever macOS version ships in beta form come the summer, the demise of kexts and 32-bit applications, and more MDM options.

If the last three years have taught me anything — as a father, as a business person, and as a Mac Admin — it’s that being ready for anything means approaching everything like it’s an angry emo porcupine with lethal quills: carefully, thoroughly, and with as much empathy for the problem as you can muster. Everything’s always changing. We’re always building new things, always undoing old mistakes and making new ones. We’re going to keep that up. The constant is change.

Holding strong opinions loosely is one way to avoid the ossification to orthodoxy that can keep you from seeing where the Future is. Getting stuck doing things one way because it’s how you’ve always done it is a great way to miss what’s coming. Chasing the Future means being willing to abandon work that you’ve done, and that can hurt, because a problem solved elegantly comes with it a certain satisfaction in overcoming entropy through clever application of technical knowledge. But staying with an old solution when a new one avoids the problem entirely is unwise in an ever-changing situation.

Go forth, my friends, and solve new problems in 2019. Solve them together, toward making computing a more seamless and enjoyable task for all the participants. The simultaneous promotion of all interests — usability, security, and repetition — is possible.

Sardines at The Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium, December 30th, 2018

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