My quest for a standalone Touch ID

I have loved having Touch ID on my Macs ever since it made it’s debut on the 2018 MacBook Air. My work laptop is a 2021 MacBook Pro. And with my work laptops I prefer to use a mechanical keyboard. When still going into an office, this preference used to annoy many of my coworkers, but now I only get to annoy them when I am simultaneously speak and type on Teams meetings (or in a webinar or two in the past).

My current work desk setup has my MacBook Pro open on a laptop stand, elevated on an arm above my desk. With its being open I do have access to the built-in Touch ID sensor, but it’s inconvenient to reach up there to touch it.

Now, you may think to yourself “i”Is this really such an inconvenience? How often do you have to reach up there?” I will grant the reader that it’s not a constant need, but one of my main uses for it is to unlock 1Password, especially since I make use of its new wonderful ssh agent feature. And, being a Linux admin, I use ssh a lot.

Several months ago I happened across this gist for extracting the TouchID sensor from an Apple keyboard. I loved the idea, but at that time there weren’t a lot of options for me to create a case to hold the sensor. A few months later I check back and I find a simple 3D printed case for it. I didn’t, at that time, own a 3D printer but I had been wanting a good excuse to buy one.

I finally purchased a Creality Ender 3 V2 Neo back in December. I immediately set to attempting to print that case. I was having no luck getting it printed to my satisfaction. I set that aside and printed some other random things (mainly some things my daughter requested once she found out I had a printer). Aside from a few glitches here and there everything else seemed to print fine.

For some reason I revisited the gist and scrolled to the bottom and found that someone else had designed a case that seemed much easier to print. I downloaded and printed that design and was convinced I was ready to proceed.

Of course the first thing I was going to need was a “donor” keyboard from which to remove the Touch ID sensor.

Following along with the instructions from the previously referenced gist, I began the disassembly and extraction of the sensor.

Once I was done with that operation, it was time to install the parts in the case. Sadly, at this point I was ready to be done, so I don’t have as many pictures of this part of the process. Here you can see the sensor in the case itself.

And here is the finished product, sitting on my desk within easy reach.

The pain of being from a small town

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky. Since my father’s passing almost two years ago I return here on a regular basis (every two to three weeks is the current cadence) to help my mom.

I am back again this weekend with the unenviable task of taking her to put flowers on my father’s grave. This is just something my family has done for generations, placing flowers on family graves on Memorial Day and Christmas. Knowing this weekend is already destined to be emotional, I wasn’t prepared for where a trip to the post office would take me. Mom needed some Christmas packages mailed out and asked me to take them to the post office for her. The lady at the counter looked at the return address and asked if I was Von’s son. I replied “Yes, I am.” After a bit of chit-chat back and forth about mom and how’s she doing she then said “Your dad was a good man, I miss seeing him.” I muttered back “He was the best.” and had to fight back the welling of tears in my eyes.

Call Todd, he’ll answer his phone…

When working for a major retailer the on-call was supposed to be either a text or call from the service desk referencing an incident which required immediate attention. But quite often someone would call the service desk and instead of opening an incident they would simply ask for the phone number of the Linux on-call and would call us directly. On one occasion I had a DBA do this and call me on a Saturday morning for an issue in a non-prod environment. I would have something similar happen to me a few months later as I was the secondary on-call and the primary on-call failed to answer his phone. Needless to say this was a point of contention with our team and we pushed our management to get it changed.

We did have some success in having our management push back on the service desk to not do this and that they should be the only direct contact with the on-call person. Most of the other admins on the team took that as the opportunity to set their phones to only alert on calls and texts from the service desk number.

Fast forward to around 2:00 AM one Sunday morning and after a water pipe had broken over the server closet at one of the retail locations and work was underway to restore service. And though our team didn’t directly support the servers in question, the person from the backup team was having trouble restoring some files and needed some Linux assistance. They attempted to call the primary on-call…no answer. Then they tried the secondary…again no answer. They then escalated to our manager and funnily enough, he didn’t answer either. The next stop, our director and she answered the phone. After being apprised of the situation what was her response? “Call Todd, he’ll answer his phone.” And that’s what happened. I groggily answered and after being told I had been called I got online and provided the assistance.

We care more than most

One universal truth I’ve come to realize in the many organizations I have worked for is that the UNIX/Linux team is the catch-all team for random issues. Having a mystery issue with your application? Not sure who handles some piece of infrastructure? Need some random piece of software updated? Call the UNIX/Linux team! They may not support it, but they’ll know who should. That, or they’ll wind up getting stuck with supporting it. When noting this phenomena at a prior company one teammate said “[W]e care more than most!”

I wonder why that is. What is it about our particular expertise that coincides with this? Is it coincidental that many times the equivalent Windows support teams are known to behave the opposite?


I keep thinking I should really be writing more here, but I never follow through on it, obviously. I have many ideas in my head for things I would like to write about. Some of them are technical items related to my chosen field (UNIX/Linux systems administration). Others are more general topics related to my views on the world.

My problem is that once I think of something I would like to write, I immediately tell myself that nobody would want to read it. Or I think that even if they would like to read it, they’ll never find it buried here in my little corner of the Internet. I know I should do this regardless of these thoughts, but I just can’t seem to get past them most times. But, from here on out, I am going to make a concerted effort to write more.

Which brings me to the question, is anyone out there? If you’d rather not bother with commenting below, send me an email (tcampbell29 at or message on Facebook to let me know.

Volunteer opportunity

I just finished my application to serve on the Patient Advisory Council for Transplantation (PACT) at Carolinas Medical Center. To quote the invitation to apply:

PACT allows patients and families to offer leadership and input on policies, programs, and practices dealing with care and services for the patients and family members we serve. The importance of this council creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.



This month marks 20 years since I made the first major move of my life. I left Cincinnati for Phoenix in July, 1994.

I still find it hard to fathom that it has been that long. I recently visited there and a lot of it still felt very familiar. I am quickly approaching my nine year anniversary of moving to Mooresville from Phoenix. Again, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long.

I have at least one more major move planned. At some point I want to move to the Pacific Northwest. Initially I would love to live and work in urban Seattle (Queen Anne/Downtown area), but that may be more or less a pipe dream. That would require the perfect job opportunity (one that I could walk to) as well as a major downsizing (or investment in a storage locker). I would also love to live on the Oregon Coast in the small town of Manzanita. That will most likely have to wait for retirement, which in these uncertain times may be a pipe dream as well.


Today marks the one year anniversary of my donation surgery. I thought I should take a few moments to reflect on everything that has happened since then and the lessons learned along the way. I will also discuss some if the things I would do differently or offer as advice for anyone else who may consider a similar journey.

I am finding it hard to believe that it has been a year already. As I age I am finding that time is passing too quickly for my comfort. We should all remember that our time here is but a speck in a very brief moment of time. You should treasure it and make the most of it. Okay, enough of that, it’s time to get on with it.

The First and foremost item to discuss is my health. With the exception of my little scare in the Grand Canyon, I have had no significant medical issues or complications from the surgery. I had my one year follow up appointment just over a week ago and everything came back fine. My creatinine levels continue to decrease. It was 1.46 at my six month and 1.42 last week. This is a good indication that my remaining kidney is continuing to get stronger and take up the slack.

As for my scars, they continuse to fade. Not that they will ever go completely away, not do I want them to. Here’s a photo comparing them from two weeks after surgery and today.


My recipient, Tripp, is doing well also. I saw him a few weeks ago at the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walk. Though they still have not removed his dialysis port yet.

Unfortunately I have backtracked on my soda consumption. I had weened myself down to one (and sometimes none) per week. I have allowed myself to get where I am having one per day. I hope to someday reduce that again. I’ve also gained back about half the weight I had lost since I started the process. I feel I am back to a healthy weight and have also started hitting the gym.

Looking back over the past year it is impossible not to see things that I would now do differently.

I hate to admit it, but my desire to schedule my surgery to fit with the planned Grand Canyon hike is one of the things I would probably change. There are a couple of reasons why I say that.

The first one is that, had I delayed, I could have possibly started a chained donation and had that much greater an impact with my donation. That being said, things could have gone wrong with that as well. The recipient of my kidney could have had issues and not fared as well as Tripp has thus far. So I try not to second guess myself too much about this.

Another reason to have delayed surgery would have been so that I would have been in much better shape for the hike. I lost a lot of conditioning and prep time during my recovery. But, I do believe that my having that to shoot for providing good motivation during my recovery.

I do occasionally wonder if meeting my recipient was the best idea. Maybe I should have waited longer before making that decision.

Finally, one thing that I do regret is my lack of patience during the whole process. Yes, it was due to my scheduling desires. But all those involved are working for such a great cause that I should have had more patience and cut them some slack.

In closing I can’t say enough about what a personally rewarding experience this was. The support and love I received from my family and friends was overwhelming. The care I received from everyone at CMC was top notch. I would not hesitate in trusting them with my life again. Let’s just hope it doesn’t become necessary any time soon. I thank you all!

It’s set

On Tuesday at 6:00 PM, I will meet my recipient. There may be media there as well. My coordinator let me know that he is nervous about meeting, but really wants to. I told her I am the same way and that I would probably be pretty emotional when I do. The current plan is for him to already be in the clinic and I will walk into meet him. Wow! I’m getting shaky and teary eyed just thinking about it as I write this. There will be no more updates until then.

Major updates

First, I finally heard back from y coordinator this afternoon. As of right now, she is working on scheduling our meeting my recipient next Tuesday (10/29) evening.

The second major update is that she asked this:

What are your thoughts on the hospital’s PR dept and maybe a news station doing a story about your journey and the promotion of organ donation?

Of course I replied with an emphatic “Yes!”