February 16, 2016

Techno Bits vol. 60: Packaging Isn't (Quite) Dead

I got a lot of great feedback from last week's issue on an imagined future with no .pkg files, and I wanted to take a second to address a few points of that before this week's issue:
  • Allen Hancock from Watchman Monitoring wanted to make sure that people knew that there are both signed and unsigned versions of Watchman available for download.
  • In a dinner conversation at MacADUK, Greg Neagle was quick to note that Apple uses the .pkg format to deliver .app packages in the AppStore as it stands, and that Apple is actually cheating in its deployment of Server.app, which both creates a whole separate file hierarchy inside the app bundle and a path in /Library/Server/ for all of their work. 
Perhaps "packaging isn't dead" in the same way that "imaging isn't dead." Perhaps packaging and re-packaging not a best practice, but still a refuge against developers that package poorly or arcanely. 

A Wrap-Up from MacADUK

Last week's Mac Admins & Developers Conference at the St. James Theatre in London was an incredible experience. For the last few years, there have been two first-tier Mac Admin conferences: PSU Mac Admins in State College and MacSysadmin in Goteborg. Both are doing incredible work in the community by putting on great meeting places for admins and then releasing session videos. It appears that MacADUK wants to join that first tier, and their debut effort last week was a great event. Look for the session videos to be released in the near future. 

Some sessions I learned a lot from include: In addition, Chris Dawe and I presented our session on Wi-Fi Toolkits and had a great audience. We even (intentionally) jammed the Wi-Fi live with a Baby Monitor to show off interference in the 2.4 band live in front of an audience.

I look forward to seeing how MacADUK approaches their sophomore effort, and I hope that I can write something worth delivering for next year. I strongly encourage folks to join us in London next year, this is one trip to make.

Please don't actually do this.

Links to Read: One Last Thought:

I'm usually not the sort of dude to post Seth Godin links, so I'll issue a trigger warning for those of you that are marketing averse, but this piece on Getting Ahead vs. Doing Well resonated with me on a personal level, and it's worth sharing. More so, I think it's worth talking about. One of my guiding principles in the last decade or so of being a business-owner has been about sharing my skills and my work product. Why? Because it's the difference between getting ahead and doing well. I want everyone to do well.

There's a conference that I've attended in the past that has asked me to not share my slides publicly, because doing so, in their eyes, diminishes their event. I couldn't believe it when he said that he was upset I had shared my deck. Now, sure, he has a budget to work with, and needs all the attendees that he can get, but I couldn't help but think that this is what separated the events like PSUMA and MacSysadmin from the crowd: it's not just about getting butts in the seats, it is also about sharing what it's like to be at these big events.

It's the difference between doing well and getting ahead. I would much, much rather work with people who are focused on doing well than I am with people who are focused on getting ahead. That sort of mercenary behavior feels more and more rampant of late, and it's frustrating.

Lately, in the rush toward managed services in the consulting industry, I've felt a bit hesitant to adopt the practice. I looked at our stable of clients, many of whom we have worked with for almost a decade, and I did some math to figure out what they were paying now versus what they might pay if we went all-in on the MSP model.

I didn't like what I found.

These are people that I consider friends now, that I work with through hard times and good, and in some cases it might've been a tripling or quadrupling of their annual bill. How is that fair to them? I may be good, but I don't see that I'm worth four times what I've been charging just to match the new fancy model. 

That takes me back to one of my most hated terms in the industry: "break-fix"

It seems to indicate that consultants who support "break-fix" are only good at fixing broken things and not providing a longterm relationship with their clients to help them think about their future, about expansion, about security, and to think about these things proactively. 

This is bullshit.

When you toss in terms like this, you are actively trying to denigrate someone's business model in favor of your own. You are trying to get ahead, and not just to do well. If you need to find a good term for this, time-and-materials is a worthy alternative. You can be a T&M Consultant - like we are, most of the time - and still serve your clients well and provide them with good value.

I'm in it to do well, not get ahead, and that means sharing what I know, producing open source projects like munki-in-a-box, putting out video of my talks, releasing my slides, and giving out advice to those who want it. If you want to just get ahead, that's fine, but I don't have to help you along, then, do I?