Tag Archives: writing

Exchange 2013 Inside Out enters “early release” period

NewImage Lately I have been busy working on Exchange 2013 Inside Out: Clients, Connectivity, and Unified Messaging. More precisely, I’ve been dividing my time between performing technical review on Tony’s book, Exchange 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox and High Availability, and writing new content for my book. It’s all Exchange, all the time! To be more precise, right now I am about 55% done with the book: the chapters on unified messaging, Lync integration, message hygiene, client management, and mobile device management are done, and I’m working on the transport chapter now. That leaves me with chapters on CAS, load balancing, and Office 365 yet to do– certainly enough to keep me busy!

Microsoft Press is offering an early access program for these books (and a number of others). If you buy the ebook now, you get immediate access to the parts of the book that have been completed (meaning they’ve been through at least the first part of the editorial pipeline), with access to the remaining chapters as they’re finished. When the entire book is released in its final form, you get an electronic copy of it as well. I’m excited to see Microsoft Press offering early access to the book, because all signs point to gathering interest in the practical aspects of deploying Exchange 2013– something both books talk about quite a bit. We are targeting the final version to cover SP1 when it’s released, so there will be updates to the early access versions as well.

Now, back to writing!

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Blacklist blacklist blacklist: the forbidden word

I just got chapter 6 of Exchange 2013 Inside Out: Clients, Connectivity, and Unified Messaging back from Microsoft Press. Like most other major publishers, Microsoft Press has a strict process to try to catch potentially offensive, libelous, slanderous, or sensitive terms before they appear in print. In this particular chapter, the editors requested many changes because of the odd vocabulary associated with message hygiene. For example, it’s OK to say “spam” to mean “an unwanted commercial e-mail message,” but it’s not OK to say “ham” to mean “a legitimate or desired commercial e-mail message” because in some book markets, ham is either unheard of or regarded as offensive.

However, they also busted me for using “blacklist,” as in “real-time blacklist.” This is the accepted term of art for a DNS-based system that allows an e-mail server to look up IP addresses of senders in real time to decide if they appear on a list of known or suspected spammers. Apparently “blacklist” is an offensive word in some contexts, although I’m having a hard time figuring out where or why.

Imagine my surprise when I fired up my Xbox tonight and saw this:

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Now, to be clear, I get it– Microsoft Press is not the same as IEB, Microsoft’s behemoth of a business unit. I’m sure they have different rules or something. And my editor, bless her heart, is only enforcing the rules forced on her by some clique of zampolits…but seriously?! Xbox LIVE has tens of millions of worldwide customers who are seeing this forbidden word. On the other hand,  my book, if I am very lucky, may sell as many as 25,000 copies (that would make it a runaway hit by computer book standards), and yet I can’t use a well-known and commonly accepted term in context.

Sheesh…

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How I got into the writing business, part 2

In part 1, I started talking about how I got into the writing business. Part 1 ended with me having written a couple of non-Windows-related books (including this) and contributing to several Windows-oriented books (like this). I began to wonder if it made sense for me to get an agent, so I started talking to David Rogelberg, the owner of StudioB. He offered me the tempting possibility of being able to write for O’Reilly, something I had always wanted to do. I signed on as a StudioB client and, true to his word, David got me in touch with O’Reilly about writing a book on programming for the Palm Pilot.

Of course, I didn’t know anything about programming for the Pilot, but I wasn’t about to let a minor technicality stop me.

What did stop me was a communications mixup between Robert Denn, my editor at O’Reilly, and another ORA editor who shall remain nameless. This other editor had signed Rhodes and McKeehan– the experts who had written a book on Newton development too– to write a Palm programming book. That left them in the position of having two PalmOS books under contract, only one of which would be written by, y’know, people who knew what they were doing.

Robert offered to let me write a book on another topic. In fact, he even gave me my pick of topics. I wish I could say that I jumped at the chance to write about Exchange, but I didn’t. I had to be more-or-less bullied into it my my agent, who realized the long-term potential of working in the Exchange market. I didn’t know anything about Exchange either, but I was quickly determined to learn, given that I had just signed a contract to write about it. I started joining every Exchange-related mailing list in sight, printed out all the product documentation, and set up Exchange using Virtual PC on my Powerbook. (Yes, that’s right; my O’Reilly Exchange book was written on a Mac– a trend which continues to this day).

I learned sooooo much from the folks on the swynk Exchange list. Not only were there rock stars like Andy Webb, Missy Koslosky, and Ed Crowley there; there were also a ton of Exchange developers. Just to cite one example, one of the primary perpetrators of the Exchange 5.5 MTA was on the list, as was Laurion Burchall, one of the key ESE developers. Everyone on the list was super generous with their time and knowledge, and it didn’t take me long to get up to speed. (My first “live” exposure to the community, though, was attending the 1998 MEC. I was there when Tony Redmond made his famous “I’ll pass on the clap” remark, and I heard Pierre Bijaoui explain that the average human has one breast and one testicle!)

Coincidentally, at about the same time I got a call from O’Reilly: Windows NT Pro magazine was looking for someone to write a regular Exchange column. Was I interested? You bet I was! I started writing it in September of 1998 and it’s been in print ever since, although it’s morphed into a few different forms.

All this time I was still holding down a real job at LJL Enterprises, writing crypto code on the Mac. Eventually my agent brought me an offer that was too good to refuse: Ford Motor Company wanted someone to write a book about their CAD system. I gave my two weeks’ notice, set up my home office, and got ready to hang out my own shingle as a full-time author. That’s when the real adventures started…

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