Sponsors Do More Than Pay The Bills

Oct 24, 2017

I participate in many technical conferences every year, and I’m always struck by the way conferences treat their sponsors. Those that simply acknowledge sponsors for making the event possible are seriously stunting their community. Don’t do that! Your community’s commercial supporters aren’t parasites: they’re an essential part of your ecosystem.

Male Fear of False Accusations Is Irrational

Oct 12, 2017

In the wake of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abusing women, a lot of men have retreated to a position of fear. What if the only way to avoid having your life ruined by a woman’s false accusations of assault is to never be alone with a woman? Like Vice President Pence?

This fear is itself sexist and irrational. This is an opportunity to grow and mature. Let’s dig into why.

When White Supremacy Came To Charlottesville

Oct 6, 2017

On August 11 and 12, 2017, hundreds of white supremacists traveled to my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to protest the planned removal of Confederate memorials. They assaulted, injured, and killed people.

Many people don’t know even the outlines of what happened, and have asked me to describe it to them. I’ve had trouble finding a concise, comprehensive story online. Most news stories are either summarized or focus on only a single incident during the rally, giving no sense of what happened overall. This post is a compilation of some of the major events.

Before you continue, please be aware that this post links to and contains graphic, disturbing images and video.

No Needs No Apologies

Oct 5, 2017

As I stopped on a New York City sidewalk to take a photo, a man approached me. “Hey, sir!” he said. “You from around this area?”

I scanned the area quickly and saw no danger, but I thought I knew where this was headed. “No,” I answered, trying to dismiss him. He waved a small cellphone at me, his wrist gyrating emphatically. “My phone is dead,” he said, his tone hinting that he didn’t believe himself. “Can you help me?”

Effective Sales Outreach

Oct 3, 2017

Sales people contact me a lot. This is common for anyone who’s a founder or executive in a growing company, and I’ve done it too. I don’t mind being contacted. I’ve made new friends and allies. I’ve even bought from some.

But there are different kinds of sales outreach, and some of it just isn’t effective.┬áThe key to effective sales outreach is to realize that there’s either a need, timing, and budget or there isn’t. The outreach itself cannot cause a sale to happen that the prospect wouldn’t otherwise engage in.

What Women Tell Me

Aug 6, 2016

Women tell me things that men rarely, sometimes never tell me. I failed to notice this for years, but the more I listen to women, the more I want to learn from them.

Feelings and Behaviors

Jan 3, 2016

It’s a new year and I drew a diagram.

Why I Don't Give Personal Tech Support

Sep 29, 2015

I don’t give personal, one-to-one technical support for open source software I’ve created, nor do I help people with SQL or other questions. The reasons are not obvious to many people, and this blog is meant to document them. What do I mean by personal tech support? I mean I don’t use private email or other means to answer questions about software I’ve created. I don’t troubleshoot bugs or answer how-to questions individually.

Beware Of The Only Correct Way To Do It

Apr 5, 2015

Everyone who’s been successful at creating something remarkable, and scaling it, likely has developed into a repeatable process. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have scaled it, and you’d never have heard of it. (There are lots of geniuses you’ve never heard of who’ve created remarkable results at an individual level.)

A lot of times they’ll go through several iterations of massive success with this, then write some books, found a consulting company, go on the speaking circuit, and so on. And almost always, they seem to demand rigid adherence to specific sacred-cow principles that must remain inviolate.

You should be really skeptical of anything that smells like this. Sacred cows make the best steaks, and here’s why.

The Ultimate Pen

Mar 7, 2015

In The Ultimate Notebook, I reviewed a large list of notebooks I bought in my quest for the perfect one for me. (I’m happy to say that I’ve been using the Quo Vadis Habana in Raspberry exclusively for a while). But what about the perfect pen? Ah, pens. As much a personal matter as notebooks are. I’ve tried a variety of pens. Here’s my review of some of them.

Respectful Introductions and Recommendations

Feb 23, 2014

TL;DR: Always do double-opt-in introductions. This means you contact each person separately and get their informed consent to the introduction. “Blind” introductions waste time and damage relationships.

In the last few years I’ve increasingly been involved in meeting people. This involves many more requests or offers for recommendations, introductions, and so forth. I’ve learned to be very careful about making or accepting such offers or requests, because they can cause a lot of trouble.

Early-access books: a double-edged sword

Dec 26, 2013

Many technical publishers offer some kind of “early access” to unfinished versions of books. Manning has MEAP, for example, and there’s even LeanPub which is centered on this idea. I’m not a fan of buying these, in most circumstances. Why not? Many authors never finish their books. A prominent example: Nathan Marz’s book on Big Data was supposed to be published in 2012; the date has been pushed back to March 2014 now.

Napkin math: How much waste does Celestial Seasonings save?

Dec 22, 2013

I was idly reading the Celestial Seasonings box today while I made tea. Here’s the end flap: It seemed hard to believe that they really save 3.5 million pounds of waste just by not including that extra packaging, so I decided to do some back-of-the-napkin math. How much paper is in each package of non-Celestial-Seasonings tea? The little bag is about 2 inches by 2 inches, it’s two-sided, and there’s a tag, staple, and string.

Freeing some Velocity videos

Nov 9, 2013

Following my previous post on Velocity videos, I had some private email conversations with good folks at O’Reilly, and a really nice in-person exchange with a top-level person as well. I was surprised to hear them encourage me to publish my videos online freely!

Get out of your comfort zone

Oct 25, 2013

One of the most valuable life skills you can ever develop is to overcome the urge to stay within your comfort zone.

Is soliciting a review commercial or transactional?

Oct 21, 2013

I’ve booked rooms through hotels.com a few times, and they always send me followup emails asking me to rate the stay and so forth. In my view this is commercial/marketing email, not transactional, and I should be able to opt out of it.

More Notebooks and Journals!

Oct 13, 2013

Something interesting happened after I published my ultimate notebook and journal face-off blog post a couple of months ago. I received an email from a company called Grandluxe, asking if I’d like to receive some stationery products in hopes that if I liked them, I’d write a review on them. I had never heard of them before, but they’ve been making paper products for 68 years, and apparently are trying to break out of the Asian market into international territory.

Using encryption? You're suspicious

Aug 1, 2013

Yesterday more details on the NSA’s secret and illegal monitoring activities were revealed. (Yes, the NSA revealed some things themselves, but as far as I can tell, that was only a conciliatory effort and didn’t actually reveal more details – just more talk.) Remember my recent series of blog posts, where I claimed that privacy in today’s world is impossible without trustworthy hardware/software, privacy is impossible unless it’s default, and privacy is essentially unachievable because of the scope of the problem, and the way we’ve built our society and technologies?

The Ultimate Notebook

Jul 10, 2013

If you’re like me, you spend so much time typing on a computer that a good notebook or journal is one of life’s finer pleasures. I’ve kept a diary of my personal life for close to 30 years now, and I have a shelf full of journals. I’ve found a great many that I enjoy writing in, and choosing a different one each time is part of the fun.

TL;DR: The Apica Premium C.D. Notebook is everything. The Quo Vadis Habana is my previous pick, and I love them both.

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Notebook

The moment I first held my newborn daughter in my arms

Jun 5, 2013

This is a personal post, not a technical one. We tell ourselves a lot of lies that are not okay. I want to out one of them. It is important to be real, to be true to oneself. This matters. The lie starts something like this: the moment I held my newborn child in my arms, I looked into her tiny face and felt an all-encompassing, pure love. I was breathless.