Wired Magazine has a fantastic, in-depth feature on Tim O'Reilly, the publisher of O'Reilly and Associates (world's greatest tech books, hands down). The feature is written by Steven Levy, he of Hackers
, Insanely Great
fame (Hackers was a huge influence on me and a big part of how I ended up working in tech). Between Tim's insight and Levy's vivid writing, this is one of the best profiles I've ever read.
By 1983, O'Reilly had learned enough about computers to start his own business. He set up shop in a converted barn in Newton, Massachusetts-, with about a dozen people, all working in a chaotic open room. "The company then was a loose confederation of people who knew Tim," says Dale Dougherty, who fell into the circle in 1984 and is now O'Reilly's most trusted associate and a 15 percent partner in the business.
What happened in that room was a small revolution in technical writing. The O'Reilly approach was to figure out what a system did and plainly describe how you could work around problems you encountered. "The house style was colloquial - simple and straightforward," Dougherty says. "And the other thing was to tell the whole story, not just what's easy to say."
In 1988, O'Reilly and Associates was producing- a two-volume guide to the programming libraries of the X-Windows system; in the process of showing it to vendors for licensing, people kept asking if they could buy single copies. MIT was about to host a conference on the system, and O'Reilly figured he'd give it a shot. "We went to a local copy shop that night and produced around 300 manuals," he recalls. "Without any authorization, we set up a table in the lobby, with a sign saying copies of an Xlib manual would be available at 4:30. By 4 pm, there was this line of 150 people. They were literally throwing money at us, or sailing their credit cards over other people's heads. That was when we went, 'Publishing could be a really big business.'"
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]