how easy should be it reach an author?

I was reading Deep Work:Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. On page 243, the author writes:

Most nonfiction authors are easy to reach. They include an e-mail address on their author websites along with an open invitation to send them any request or suggestion that comes to mind. Many even encourage this feedback as a necessary commitment to the elusive but much-touted importance of “community building” among their readers. But here’s the thing: I don’t buy it.

Scott and I are non-fiction authors of three cert books. We don’t encourage email. We do encourage communication. All three of our books encourage readers to contact us using the forums at This works well for us because there are others who have the possibility to answer and it doesn’t come with a quick reply assumption. (Although we often do reply within a day or two if nobody else has first).

We do like hearing from readers. We like hearing about their success on the exam. We like hearing when they find an errata. (see why posting errata matters). We like hearing what they are looking for clarification.

I wonder if this comes from our domain. Computer programmers don’t write a book expecting to make loads of money. And we aren’t required to publish for our jobs. The author of this book is a professor. So I wonder if he thinks of his book differently? Or if it is that Scott and I were active on the forums before writing a book so wish to remain accessible?

why do i speak as a programmer

I was at Toastmasters officer training and someone in my group asked if being a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) has helped professionally. The trainer for our group doesn’t work in a field where she speaks so not really. I mentioned that it has helped me. I joined Toastmasters to get better at presenting technical content in a humorous and engaging way. I’m definitely better at that than when I started. I’m also more comfortable dealing with unexpected events while speaking.

But what really surprised me was the sharp decrease in the time it takes me to prepare for a presentation. That alone has helped me professionally. I had an opportunity to speak to between 100 and 200 people at the NY Java User Group. I joke that I was the “opening act” for Maurice Naftalin. People registered to hear him speak about Java. He wasn’t able to arrive at the start of the meeting so the group needed someone to speak for 30 minutes. On three days notice, I was able to do it and do a good job. (And I spent most of that three days doing other things.) That decreased preparation time is something that Toastmasters has helped me with!

The person with the question asked why I speak as a programmer. He commented that it makes sense for business analysts. But implied us programmers only talk to computers. So why speak do I as a programmer?

  • Teaching and mentoring – Whether it is a short training session and work or speaking at a conference, being a more effective speaker helps people learn better.
  • Audits – I work for a bank which means we have regular audits. Being able to explain what we do (without being nervous) is a useful skill.
  • Work presentations – Pitching an idea, design meetings, etc.
  • Writing – Scott and I have written three books and this blog. Yes, I know writing isn’t speaking. But some of the skills translate. Like organizing your material.
  • Networking – It’s useful when people google you that they find stuff :).

github two factor and eclipse

I was talking to a coworker recently about using Eclipse with Git. I had done this back in 2010, but it has been a while. I use git at the command line. He also said Eclipse Oxygen support for Git is better than in the past. Could be. To be honest, I don’t remember doing this in 2010 other than the command line being far easier.

Anyway, I decided to try again. The UI was intuitive. I went to commit. The git staging view (confirmation dialog) showed up at the bottom where the console is rather than popping up like SVN does, but that’s minor. It gave me a choice of “commit and push” which is nice as it isn’t a two step operation.

Then I hit a problem. I turned on GitHub two factor authentication back in 2014. Which means my user id/password isn’t accepted through Eclipse. Luckily this is easy to get past:

  1. Go to github and choose settings (from the upper right pulldown under your avatar)
  2. Click the very last link which is Personal Access Tokens
  3. Choose “Create new token”
  4. Enter a description. I choose “Mac Eclipse”
  5. Choose which permissions you want to grant. I chose the Repo checkbox.

Then I tried to commit and push using my git username and the generated token string as the password. Success. (I didn’t pull because nobody else use this repo)

Note: I got an error “git-receive-pack not permitted” when I didn’t choose the Repo checkbox. In Eclipse, it showed my change as committed (which it was), but it wasn’t pushed.