Tag Archives: writing

On writing

For a variety of reasons which are far too boring to explain, I’m currently writing blog posts on paper. I wouldn’t mention that unless the point was central to the topic of this post, as it is essentially transparent to the reader – the fact that you can actually read this means that I’ve electronically transcribed it by now.

Anyway… here’s what I’m thinking as the process continues:


  • writing, eh. Pen and paper. Takes me back a bit. I mean, I make notes and stuff, but it’s ages since I’ve written long passages on paper.
  • my handwriting got really bad in the last 10 years
  • I can type much faster. This will take me 3 times as long, as I guess I’m about 1.5 to 2x faster at typing, and typing up what I’ve written whilst trying to decipher what I wrote will take 1 to 1.5x longer than typing it direct in the first place.
  • this biro is rubbish
  • how did people cope? My ideas and sentences all arrive out-of-order. I like to be able to rearrange bullet points and paragraphs. Where would I be today without being able to insert and correct words, sentences and paragraphs? Cut-and-paste is marvellous. Ah, this must be what it would be like to use a pre-3.0 iPhone as my regular computer…
  • hyperlinks. A conceptually simple and incredibly powerful concept. I guess that’s why they stuck.
  • I used to do my university essays by making notes by hand; creating an electronic mindmap to organise ideas and sections; and then type the essay. Overkill for blogging, and I remember how hard it was to churn out 3 12 page essays by hand in each of the exams without the weekly writing practice.
  • OK. End of page and rubbish biro. That’s all for this “post”, then.

Make your own Redbook

If you are involved with IBM products you will undoubtedly be aware of Redbooks – deep technical books, usually written to address a particular product or scenario. The Redbooks are written collaboratively through the residency process. As a Redbooks author I have to say that working on one of them was one of the best experiences I’ve had at IBM so far – getting close to the development team, collaborating with folks from four or five different countries, working on hands-on scenarios and building a really strong book out of it.

IBM alphaWorks now has a mashup called My IBM Redbooks where you can go and “build your own book” based on a selection of those available. Essentially you can choose from a list of the books, pick the chapters you want, add a few title pages (name, abstract and preface), and then you are served a PDF version of the aggregated book. The only slight confusing part is that the page numbers and sections from the original book are preserved, so it’s not entirely customisable at this point.

Pretty neat, especially since you don’t always want every chapter and appendix, and some of the books can be several hundred pages long. Worth a look.