Baron Schwartz's Website
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.
Oct 10, 2017
After leaving CrossFit, I found a workout rhythm that works well for me, and gradually stocked my basement and patio with a few essentials so I can vary my workouts. Now I can do pretty much anything I used to do at a really nice CrossFit gym.1 CrossFit is great because the equipment needed is fairly minimal anyway. People often ask “where are the machines?” and the insider’s joke is “we don’t use machines, we build them.” Here’s what’s in my “garage gym.”
Oct 8, 2017
I’ve found a workout routine that I’ve been able to maintain despite the challenges of parenting, travel, sickness, and founding and leading a startup company. Not only do I sustain the regimen, it sustains me. This is my workout practice.
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.
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?”
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. The 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.
Aug 5, 2017
I wrote previously about meditation, and in a subsequent post I wrote about the meditative qualities I found in writing cursive. As my meditation practice continues, I find myself seeing these experiences differently than I did before.
Jul 10, 2017
The removal of the query cache in MySQL 8.0 improves user experience and has been celebrated by many members of the MySQL community. With this good news, obviously, Hitler isn’t happy. (Parody Video).
Jun 4, 2017
When I was a child, my parents posted a yellowed, faded page from a newspaper on our refrigerator door. It was filled with little oval portraits of famous people and scientists proclaiming that heavier-than-air flight was impossible. My memory is that there were perhaps 40 of them, each with a quote and a date within a few years of the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk.
This might be one of the childhood influences that resonates most strongly in me today. There are dozens of examples of people disdainfully saying “you can’t do that” during my career.
I tried to find an image of the page I remember, but didn’t (maybe it’s impossible?), so I looked for quotes and am producing my own version of it below.
May 28, 2017
Most conference proposals are too boring, even when the speakers and topics are great. This is a pity. I think something about the process of submitting to a CfP sets a trap for most speakers. This post is my advice for avoiding that trap.
TL;DR: Your proposal should focus on your story about what you’ve done personally and what you’ve learned. Your story, not the topic. And, don’t tell us anything about the importance of the topic or how high the stakes are.
May 26, 2017
Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML) are so over-hyped today that I usually don’t talk about them. But there are real and valid uses for these technologies in monitoring and performance management. Some companies have already been employing ML and AI with good results for a long time. VividCortex’s own adaptive fault detection uses ML, a fact we don’t generally publicize.
AI and ML aren’t magic, and I think we need a broader understanding of this. And understanding that there are a few types of ML use cases, especially for monitoring, could be useful to a lot of people.
Apr 9, 2017
Production servers often have much more dynamic, complex workload and behaviors than you might be accustomed to seeing, because most monitoring products aggregate system behavior into high-level global metrics, losing all the detail. Multivariate analysis by another dimension often reveals something unexpected about server behavior. This can prompt you to explore the system, and sometimes leads to a deeper understanding of it. Here’s one such example.
Apr 3, 2017
A couple of years ago, during a time of crisis in my company, I realized I’d created a mess. But the scariest thing was I didn’t know what I’d done wrong. Of all the many things I did, what, exactly, was making things go so badly? It turned out that most of my problems were caused by bad interviewing technique. I was setting every interview up for failure, and I didn’t know it.
Mar 19, 2017
The rise of the LAMP stack in the early- to mid-2000s created a shift in the technology landscape, as well as the impetus for contenders to emerge. I’ve been reflecting on key factors in that phenomenon and what’s happened since then—and what it can teach us about what’s happening now.
Mar 4, 2017
It makes me a bit uncomfortable when people say I’m a good person, because sometimes I’m actually a jerk! Thankfully, I’ve found that gentleness is a skill I can learn if I care enough to try, and I’ve gotten better at it over time. I’ve also found that when I’m nice and I focus on the positive, I get better results. Here are some things I’ve learned about how to be a kinder person in my writing.
Feb 26, 2017
One of the things I appreciate about living in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia is the abundance of artisanal products that are high-quality and produced locally. There’s a vibrant network of people making food, drink, and physical goods: wineries, chocolate, art, blacksmithing, and much more. Many of our local producers are recognized worldwide. As a newly minted coffee lover, I also appreciate the variety and quality of coffee roasters in town and nearby. Of course, we have to import the beans, but there’s much to the coffee story after the beans are harvested. Here are some of my favorite local coffee resources.
Feb 25, 2017
The spreadsheet is one of the most powerful inventions in the history of computing. But with that power comes responsibility: just as with a programming language, the spreadsheet itself can become difficult to understand and maintain.
Feb 21, 2017
After thinking about smart watches, activity trackers, and similar devices for a while, I bought a Withings Steel HR. My goal was to find a traditional stylish-looking watch with long battery life, heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, and activity tracking. Here’s my experience thus far (updated after a year; scroll down).
TL;DR: Using the Withings Steel HR has changed the way I use my smartphone. I love how much less distracted I am. I’m pretty happy with the health tracking features, and I like the traditional watch styling and long battery life.
Feb 19, 2017
Venture capital is a competitive industry. Investors compete to win the best companies, so they pitch founders on the value they bring to their portfolio companies. When I was a new founder, their pitches didn’t resonate with me. I found it difficult to understand how they could help. A few years later, I get it; they really can add value. This is what I’ve found so far.
Jan 28, 2017
Leadership is, by definition, a process of transition. None of us is born to be a leader. Those who are leaders have become leaders through change, and it is a very difficult and unnatural process. A lot of this process involves learning, through repeatedly asking and answering the question, “what does a leader do?”
As a first-time CEO, I ask this question of other CEOs again and again, and write down their answers. I also find food for thought in blogs and books. As you might expect, answers from different CEOs differ a lot, but they have similarities.
Here are compilations of leadership advice from several CEOs.