I am an opinionated
system administrator tech nerd from Upstate NY (neither Canada nor Westchester) who moved to Massachusetts to work for a mid-sized engineering software company that sponsors some NPR programming. After seven-ish years of dealing with Blue Laws and rotaries, I loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly Portland because apparently I love bridges, strip clubs, and bicycles.
These days, I help package and release software at Puppet Labs but for the last decade or so before that I designed and built web infrastructure capable of withstanding a digging (when that mattered), a fireballing (those still matter), or a slashdotting (if those even still happen?). Once, one of my stacks even survived a go-round on 4Chan’s /b/ board… but only once, and I’m not especially proud of it.
A short summary of work history and idiosyncrasies
I dabble in software development, contributing patches back to tools I use if I think I can add value. That work lives on GitHub; while most of the other tools I’ve written belong to a previous employer, I’m always looking for a new project to contribute to. In a round-about way, that’s how I wound up in release engineering.
Previous to my current role maintaining the production web infrastructure at the New England engineering software company you’ve probably never heard mentioned on NPR, I also worked for a hardcore record label and its merchandising arm, a regional headquarters for a small telecommunications/cable television company that you’ve also probably never heard of, a handful of someone else’s failed dot-com startups (like everyone else in the late ’90s), and a kosher bakery. I really miss that bakery. Seriously. Best boss I’ve ever had.
On the side, I ran an independent web hosting business called Webslum with my cohort Matt Miller. Then we turned corporate, mortgaging our integrity for some of The Good Life™, and shut it down in the face of a consolidating and tumultuous market we couldn’t afford to play ball in anymore. Nowadays I maintain some infrastructure under the name Orange Fort; I do independent consulting and web hosting there, specializing in WordPress and Drupal administrative upkeep. In the years I’ve maintained Orange Fort, I’ve been the go-to admin for web comics, web comic blogs, two lawyers, two prize-winning writers (one of them a Pulitzer), and a few failed start-ups. Most of them will even admit it if you ask them about it!
Here’s some of the more interesting, helpful, or polarizing things I’ve written
- Who is Ryan McKern
- There’s another, much more accomplished Ryan McKern out there, and this is a list of things he’s done.
I like to think of him as my guitar-shredding brother from another (distantly related) mother.
The list is outdated, but if you’re looking for the Ryan McKern who can grow a beard, he’s your guy.
- I am not an engineer (je né suis pas un ingénieur)
- Some words about why I think calling me, or anyone else who doesn’t have a steel pinky
ring an engineer is silly.
- NNTP readers on OS X are built from failure
- Pretty much exactly what it promises on the label: I tried to use a bunch of different NNTP
readers back in 2009, and I completely hated every single one of them. Half of the companies
and products listed don’t even exit anymore. Probably because their software was bullshit.