Bruno Lowagie's blog

My sites in 2010

This time last year, I was furious at my (now ex-)hosting provider: the dedicated server on which my sites were hosted had crashed and all the data on it was lost. In the small-print of the contract, it said that the hosting provider wasn't obliged to take back-ups, so it took me about a week to restore my own back-ups. About four months later, the server crashed again due to yet another hardware failure. This time, the hard disk remained intact and no data was lost, but I decided to change to another provider anyway. Again, it took me some time to restore my sites, and during this process, I made a mistake that is clearly visible in my user statistics. Let's take a look:

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Manning's Bestseller top 10

If you'd ask me what was the most important thing that happened to me in 2006, I'd have answered: I've written en published my first book! I've written and published my first book! I fear some people in my close and not so close neighborhood got very bored because of me repeating I've written and published my first book! over and over again. Four years later, I've written and published my second book, and I was very curious to find out if it would make the top 10 in Manning's Bestseller lists of 2010.

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Our new work space

Yesterday, I blogged about my library. Today I have an update:

My wife is working on the desktop; I work on the bordeaux laptop. Do you notice the other differences? Some books were too heavy, and were bending the shelves. We had to move two entire rows down.

Library: mission accomplished

Yesterday, I wrote about my library, and how I cleared all my bookshelves.
I've spent all afternoon, and part of this morning organizing all my book. This is the result:

Mission accomplished! Now I have to see if I find a table or a desk to put there.

Cleaning up my library

I can't enter my working room anymore. It's full of paper documents, wires, DVDs and CDs, hardware (a crashed hard disk, an old and a new printer,...), boxes with books, and so on. I'm too ashamed to take a picture. Because of this mess, I've moved downstairs and... I've been working on iText on the kitchen table the last few weeks. That's not an ideal situation, so I need to do something.

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Taming Text MEAP

I've finished reading the six chapters of Taming Text that are available through Manning's Early Access Progam. See one of my previous posts to find out more about the first three chapters. These are the other chapters I've read:

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Books I've read last month

After my first book was published, I suffered from something that felt like "word blindness." No, I didn't have a neurological condition, but I shared some of the symptons: whenever I started reading a book, I forgot what the first sentence was about by the time I reached the third sentence. I had to read the same sentence over and over again before I understood what it was about. It's as if I had lost the ability to read. Before, I used to read at least one book a week, so I was very worried when this happened.
I blame it on the proof reading process of the first edition. I think I overdid it. In any case: I was much more relaxed writing and editing the second edition. After the first edition, it took more than a year before I managed to read a complete book, and even then my "one book a week" average was a thing of the past. Until recently.

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About me

The project is still in beta, but I already reserved my name on about.me:

For the moment, the service is free. I'm not sure what they'll add to justify a premium account.

Taming Text

A couple of years ago, I think it was in 2008, but I don't remember if Inigo was already in the hospital or not, I reviewed a proposal written by Grant Ingersoll for a book named Taming Text. We spent a lot of time on fine-tuning the table of contents, and I wondered what had happened with the book. I searched the Manning website, and found out that six chapters of the book are available in the Manning Early Access Program.

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Birth of a new website

About a year ago, a consultancy company made a SWOT analysis for iText. This SWOT analysis was very interesting because it opened our eyes: the facts laid out in the reports were known to us, but somehow we saw them as separate concerns and we missed the overview to choose priorities.
One of the weaknesses is demonstrated in the following slide:
I'm an engineer, not a web designer. In the past, I've built websites for iText. Whenever I needed something new, I started a new website from scratch. As I didn't have much time, none of these websites were ever complete, and more importantly: none of my websites gave a professional impression.
This had to change, so I launced a request asking for web designers to create a new web site for iText. I received many responses, and the quotes ranged from too cheap to be true to so expensive only a major such as Adobe could afford to pay for it.
One of the replies surprised me. I was looking for a company that could write me HTML, CSS and maybe some PHP, but Namahn answered with a counter-question: Is that what you really need? Wouldn't it make more sense to think about the information architecture first? You can change the way your site looks, but does this solve your problem? Wouldn't you rather build a structure for your site before you think about its appearance?
These unexpected questions were very much to the point, so I decided to work with these guys.

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