Life on the raw

O’Reilly Media, 1992-present

What they do: publish books on technical and other subjects, software, and online products

My work there: I recruit authors and choose topics for books, edit them and support the production process, and develop strategies with the marketing group. O’Reilly editors are unusually involved in the shaping of the book’s scope and tone, and in technical reviews.

Why I went there: it’s the greatest opportunity for creative exploration I’ve ever had, and a lot of fun.

Hitachi Computer Products, 1991-1992

What they did: create software products based on OSF/1 (a version of UNIX) and other standards.

My work there: I wrote programmer’s documentation and developed formats and tools for document production.

Why I went there: they are committed to quality and offered impressive resources for doing a good job.

MASSCOMP, 1988-1991

What they did: manufacture real-time computers and software.

My work there: fun! I got the chance to design and implement an entirely new format based on structured documentation (a rigid style that was popular for a while in the computer field). I tested and wrote about real-time software in operating systems, languages, and the X Window System.

Why I went there: they made a lot of interesting products and showed an unusual level of respect for documentation.

CSPI, 1985-1988

What they do: manufacture array processors, back-end systems that perform scientific calculations very fast.

My work there: documented language constructs and tools related to FORTRAN and their assembly language, and hardware.

Why I went there: it was near the beginning of my career and the work offered a chance to learn a lot about architectures and languages.

Honeywell Information Systems, 1983-1985

What they did: build general-purpose computer systems

My work there: software documentation, mostly for OSI networks

Why I went there: it was a traditional place for new technical writers to start out, and I had an opportunity to study network software that was surprisingly advanced (for that time)

Middlesex Community College, 1983-1984

What they do: offer an excellent choice of practical courses, including computer courses

My work there: taught PDP-11 assembly language, one of the classic topics in computer academia

Why I went there: I was recommended to them by my own teacher, and wanted to share my new-found knowledge

Academic publications


Middlesex Community College, certificate in technical writing, 1983. This intensive course is one of the best ways to be prepared for the entering the field, and also a good way to develop the connections that land a job.

Smith College School for Social Work, no degree. After a few years of working with severely ill mental patients, I entered this college thinking that I’d make that my career. But I discovered that the strains of doing social work were too much for me.

Brandeis University, B.A. in Music, 1978.

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