About

Look how hungry I am

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.

Go on…

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.

Look how classy I am

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.