“Meanwhile in San Francisco” by Wendy MacNaughton

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I stumbled across this book by accident recently, and really enjoyed it. One of the reasons I love to travel is because of the different cultural norms… what is “normal” in one location would be considered downright “odd/strange/unusual” in another location. Since I first moved to San Francisco, the different types of people, from different backgrounds, who each call this town “home” continue to fascinate me… and all in a small 7mile x 7mile area.

This book is painted (yes really!) by a San Francisco resident, and does an excellent job of describing the heart of many different aspects of this unique town: Mah Jong in Chinatown, the SF City Library’s fulltime employee who is a social worker for homeless people, Frank Chu, Critical Mass, dogwalkers, Mission Hipsters, Muni drivers … and of course, everything you need to know about a Mission burrito!

A fun read… and a great gift to anyone who has patiently listened while you’ve tried to explain what makes San Francisco so special.

AOSA(vol2) and Mozilla’s Release Engineering: now in Russian!

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book coverMozilla’s Release Engineering was part of “The Architecture of Open Source Applications (vol2)” published in paperback in May2012 and then as electronic downloads from Amazon and Barnes&Noble in Sept2012. Earlier this week, Rail was delighted to discover that the book has now been translated into Russian. It is very cool to see this.

As best as I can tell, this translation work was led by А. Панин (A. Panin), and they did a great job. Even taking the time to recreate the images with embedded translated text. Tricky hard work, and very very great to see. Thanks to Mr Panin for making this happen.

You can download the entire book, or just the Mozilla RelEng portion. (As always, proceeds from book sales go to Amnesty International.)

This makes me wonder – are there any other translations, or translations-in-progress, out there?

“Journey to the Heart of Aikido” by Linda Holiday Sensei and Motomichi Anno Sensei

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(This post is unusual, in that I am “reviewing” a book before reading the final print yet. Maybe “previewing” is more accurate?)

I’ve had the great fortune of repeatedly training on the mat with many world-class Aikido practitioners. Two of these, Linda Holiday Sensei (6th dan, runs Aikido of Santa Cruz dojo) and Motomichi Anno Sensei (8th dan, direct student of OSensei the founder of Aikido, recipient of Japan’s Distinguished Service Award, and ran the Kumano Juku Dojo in Shingu, Japan for ~40 years.) have just published a book they have been working on for literally *years*.

This is exciting.

Training with both of these authors has been pivotal for me, on and off the mat. Over the years, I’ve heard readings of various passages, and even been present for some interviews gathering source material. All random snippets, in various drafts, and out of sequence, which makes it hard to predict how the final form will pull together. What I’ve heard so far have been very meaningful to me, so I’m eager to get my hands on a signed 1st edition of this book on Saturday.

More info in the San Francisco Chronicle’s recent interview with Linda Holiday or the book’s official website. If you are interested, there’s a (free!) open-to-the-public book reading by Linda Holiday with live Aikido demonstrations in San Francisco this Saturday.

Oni gashi mas!

“Brag! The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it” by Peggy Klaus

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Normally, a small book like this (193 pages) would be a quick read for me, but this book took me literally months. Not, I hasten to add, because of any problems with the book or the writing style, that was all fine. The problem was that this book uncovered a bunch of things I am personally working through. I found myself reading a few pages, highlighting some lines, then walking away thinking. Repeat a few times a week. Occasionally, I’d go back and re-read entire chapters.

For me, bragging has negative connotations and is something I avoid like the plague. Stereotypes of obnoxious, pretentious people, loudly telling all within range just how great they are. The very last thing I ever want to be. Whether that is cultural, learned from family, something I developed myself growing up, or a mixture, I don’t know. But it is part of who I am. This book is all about encouraging people to find a comfortable place in between these extremes. As Peggy is quick to note, this means different things to different people, so you need to pay attention to what is authentic for you, as that authenticity is important. People have generations of experience spotting fakes, and worst of all, deep down, you’ll know you are faking it too.

Because of the book title, it took several people pushing to get me to even start reading this book. Chapter#1 opened with a line that stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Myth#1: A job well done speaks for itself.”

I’ve always thought that if I did a good job, or handled a tricky situation well, people would notice. If I solved some complex problem, that people would understand the complexity, understand the importance of the achievement and appreciate the work. In those circumstances, having others recognize and complement the achievement was fine, but any attempt on my part to “brag” about my work would in some way “cheapen the victory”. After reading this book, I now think that is *sometimes* true but not always true. While the people working beside me in the same trenches, working side-by-side with me on the problem might understand the scale of the accomplishment, most people simply don’t know the details. Over time, people might eventually notice that a recurring problem hasn’t happened in a while, or they might simply forget about a previously-annoying problem because it hasn’t happened in a while… but they’d never stop and wonder why. Another common trend is for people to not notice one problem is fixed, but instead notice that a different problem has “appeared”. Oh, and meanwhile, people don’t know what you are working on. Over time, this becomes frustrating for everyone. After reading this book, I’ve learned that I need to make sure I inform people of the work I’m doing, and why it’s important to them. I don’t need to go into all the complexities of the project, unless they ask for more details, but it’s important to make sure others are aware of my work, and the impact it has on them and their work.

I found this a tough read, yet super worth the time. And, yes, I strongly recommend it.

“It ain’t bragging if you done it” (Dizzy Dean)

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr Seuss

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After last week, I’ve proudly added this to my bookshelf.

The book is, of course, fun. But the biggest reason I’m was because I received it at LEAD. This 4-session LEAD series ended Friday, and has been more then just an experience; its “an inflection point”. The excellently designed “coursework” and setup/moderation by Athena, Kate, Debbie and Mihca provided the framework. But the intensity, passion and honesty that everyone engaged within LEAD left me stunned, and immensely proud to know each and every one of them. The book is a small talisman.

ps: (possible NSFW?) below is a really fun reading of the book done at Burning Man 2011.

AOSA(vol2) and Mozilla’s Release Engineering: now on kindle and nook!

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“The Architecture of Open Source Applications (vol2)” was published in paperback format in May2012. More details here. A few days ago, we were also published in ebook format, so now you can download the same book from Amazon (for your kindle) or from Barnes&Noble (for your nook).

Very cool to see this, and big thanks to Amy Brown for making this happen.

(As always, proceeds from book sales go to Amnesty International.)

Mozilla’s Release Engineering published in AOSA(vol2)

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I’m excited to say that The Architecture of Open Source Applications (vol2) is now available.

book coverThis book is a collection of great chapters, each written by different people from different aspects of the open source world. For armenzg, catlee, lsblakk and myself, this was a great opportunity to write a chapter describing the release automation behind Mozilla’s Firefox.

If you were ever curious about the process (and the code!) that allow us to do things like sim-ship a Firefox release in 93 locales, or lets us ship 8 emergency chemspill releases in 42 hours, then please have a read. Hopefully, this might also help others who are doing release automation at scale for other products. If you find a typo in the book, or something that you think could be improved in our automation, please be kind and let us know.

Our release automation constantly evolves, as new product requirements arise or we find new ways to obsessively streamline things, so it’ll be interesting to see how this chapter holds up over time.

In addition to the print version (buy here), the book will soon also be available for purchase as a PDF, for purchase as ebook from Amazon and as a free html download (links coming). All royalties go to Amnesty International.

Big thanks to Greg Wilson and Amy Brown who did a great job of making all this happen, explaining mysteries of the book publishing world to us, and generally cat herding armenzg, catlee, lsblakk and myself through the publishing process, within deadlines, all while also doing our “day jobs” at Mozilla.

(Interesting coincidence: kmoir, who recently joined us at Mozilla’s RelEng, is an author of a chapter in the earlier Architecture of Open Source Applications (vol1) – another interesting read.)

Thank you Armen, Chris and Lukas for helping make this book a reality.

Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

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What? A “management” book?!

Wait. Wait. Wait. This book is different.

Its only 209 pages, in compact standalone chapters collected from a series of blogposts. This makes it a quick read, and also easy to pick up/put down whenever you have a few minutes. Oh, and it’s written by a former Netscape employee, in a readable, down to earth style.

If thats not enough encouragement, try this quick experiment.

Next time you’re having a coffee, read through the first few pages of this book. If you’re not hooked by the time you finish your coffee, move on… with a clear conscience. I couldn’t put it down, so bought it. After reading it cover to cover, and re-reading some chapters multiple times, I came back to buy a bunch more copies to give to friends.

If you are a manager at work, or are responsible for coordinating or mentoring others, you should read this.

If you have a manager at work, you should read this. It’ll give you a better understanding of who you are dealing with, some of the behind-the-scenes tradeoffs that managers wrestle with every day, and also help you figure out if your boss is just marking time while pushing paperwork around, or really trying to make a difference while being a good mentor. Tall order in 209 pages, I know, but I really liked this book.

Once you finish reading the book, if you want more from the same author, you should follow his blog at: http://www.randsinrepose.com.

(Thanks to @Morgamic for organizing a recent event that had copies of this book in the office – that prompted me to dust off and publish this half-written post.)

Steampunk Palin by Jim Felker

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After I saw Aza Raskin mention this, I couldn’t get this out of my head – no matter how hard I tried. So I bought the comic, hoping that would scratch the itch and help me forget.

No luck.

A summary of the plot might help here. Sarah Palin survives an assassination attempt, but wakes up after a coma to discover doctors had to rebuild her as part robot. She teams up with McCain, Obama and a robot army to fight the evil Oil and Nuclear industry that is now polluting Alaska.

My, oh my. I still don’t know what to say.

Towel Day 2010 @ Mozilla

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Towel Day is held in memory of the death of Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001). This year, Tiffney arranged a lunchtime reading of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for Towel Day.

In between the work meetings, and office interrupts at the office, it was really great to take time to pause, sit, re-read portions of these oh-so-familiar books, and this time read them out loud to others. The recipe for Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and also the “S.E.P. at Lord’s Cricket Grounds” are personal favourites, but its all great. Also, for the rest of the entire day, it was fun to see someone walk by with a towel casually slung over their shoulder, and know they were also fans. Mozilla being Mozilla, there were several people who saw my towel and bathrobe who instantly said “oh no, I forgot it was Douglas Adams Towel day”, and only one person who stopped me and asked quizzically – “ummm….are you wearing a bathrobe”!?!

Big thanks to Tiffney for making this happen!

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