Unstructured thoughts

“Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.”

– Marcus Aurelius

As I sit back today to write, I’m at a loss about what to write. I already know that I will disappoint the old Stoics. Sorry, Marcus.

Indeed, while I seem to catch myself doing a lot of thinking these days, I’m having trouble structuring my thoughts around any one theme. As such, this post in particular might be a bit more of a rambling, messy, train-of-thought type article. I hope you will forgive me; although I myself enjoy reading this kind of prose and considering it almost as a written equivalent of a long, winding conversation with a beloved friend, I can conceive that it doesn’t make for the easiest to consume online content.

I suppose I shall just start from where I am at the moment and work back from there.

Today, I’m working from home. I’m torn, you see, between the creature comforts of my house – fresh hot food at lunchtime, good coffee, a comfortable working environment and a very relaxed dress code – and the efficiency and camaraderie of the office, where my colleagues are my friends and always good for a laugh. I’ve spent the past day or two debugging some minor issues in our OS deployment task sequence, including a particularly annoyingly inconsistent certificate issue plaguing our MBAM escrow script (error code 0x800b0109, if you’re interested). It’s one of those cases where I can pinpoint many (possible) answers, but not the actual root cause. By all accounts, all the necessary certificates for https communication with the service are pushed over GPO, which, unless I’m very mistaken, should be evaluated as soon as the machine joins the domain – the fact that 99% of machines succeed at this comforts me in the opinion – but why that remaining 1% doesn’t is a mystery. Nevertheless I’ve ended up adding a manual import certificate step to my TS – an act which will no doubt cause some poor unsuspecting admin no small amount of grief when it expires in 2031. I can only hope it won’t be me.

Other issues tackled this week range from adding the ActiveDirectory Powershell module to the WinPE image (fun), setting up monitoring jobs for the SCCM webservice (not fun), and discovering the incredibly scary power of the AdminService (downright terrifying, as for some reason every update evaluation prompted by the AdminService replaced the existing collection instead of refreshing it, perfectly happily with zero confirmation or information beyond a cheery HTTP 200. Please, Microsoft, publish a complete AdminService documentation).

I find myself wondering if the end of the project will ever be in sight. I was hoping to have transitioned fully into monitoring by the end of the year for my part in the SCCM rollout, but it’s now already October and there seem to be ever more (admittedly smaller) issues to fix. I also suspect our software package migration will take well over a year more to finish, and we also have to begin Co-Management with Intune before 2022 in order to completely move to MECM (I think that’s the correct acronym; I confess I’ve rather abandoned trying to follow Microsoft’s inane naming conventions since the XBox fiasco). I suppose it doesn’t really matter that much, as management will no doubt find some other busywork for us to do. If I stay, that is. Some of my enthusiasm with the SCCM project was derived from gaining experience with industry standard tools so as to become more employable, as I’m considering moving, both geographically and company-wise, both because sadly this is by far the best way to keep a competitive salary and advance one’s career, but also because there are very few options locally for my partner’s job search.

It’s not my favorite thing, really, moving. I feel like I’ve been travelling non-stop since lockdowns ended, both nationally and internationally, visiting family and friends I haven’t seen in years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed these people immensely and it’s been a joy and a relief to revive some relationships. But I miss lazy weekends, just going out for drinks or on a hike. And it’s not going to stop for a while yet, as I’ve just now booked tickets home and to the missus’ country to visit family over the holiday season. It’s large mental load for me, and as these trips are not relaxing at all, I’m left here in October feeling like summer never happened. I’ve heard that this kind of thinking can be an early sign of burnout, and as my company is notoriously bad at recognizing burnout and acting accordingly (preferring to ignore problems and feedback until employees turn up in the hospital or send in a doctor’s note for 3 months medical leave) I’m trying to delve a bit more into my own state of mind and keep an eye out for myself. As an occasional gamer, I’ve enjoyed listening to Dr K from HealthyGamer.gg and Weldon Green’s podcast on YouTube which present a view of the psychology behind eSports and gaming, but whose general principals have been pretty helpful in understanding my feelings in other aspects of life. I can only recommend them to you, especially if, like me, you’re a man, and society has somewhat unjustly decided that you don’t need a mental health support network and you can either internalise or break down on your own. The least you can do is try to understand your own feelings. Maybe this is the root cause of this vague sense of anxiety I’ve been under.

I feel like I’ve come to the point where this article should stop. Apologies for the abrupt ending. I can’t imagine this article will have been of any help to you, but it feels like it has been for me.

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