Phone on Fire Newsletter Issue 5
Sunday, January 07th, 2007 | Author: lisaksimone


Welcome to Issue #5 : The Ballbreaker Epiphany

So I had a 2-hour conversation with my editor, Tiffany, two days after I received a thick package via DHL. The raw copy-edit comments from Carol, and the proofs of the whole book with the copyedit changes already in place. Figures and fonts and everything! It is so cool that they show me every little thing they changed, so I can see it explicitly. Right up an engineer’s alley.

Read more about my stress during this time, and my discussions with the publisher that resulted in our extended forays into Urban Dictionary com.

Copy Edit, Type-A Engineers, and Really Stupid Mistakes!!!

Carol (who did the copy-edit) did a great job of finding every little nit screwup grammar-hyphen, mismatched indefinite-antecedent (had to Google that one…) 11-vs.-eleven, what-vs.that (sorry dad) weak modifier filtering I did. Had done. Whatever. I am amazed how many times I INCORRECTLY proofread dumb stuff like “their” vs. “they’re.” You really just get too close to the work to see the mistakes. Carol has many years of embedded experience, and then many more years experience in publishing…a very well respected person, and I am so pleased that she accepted this project.

So I chewed down several nails for nothing. Carol removed perhaps 15 sentences in the whole book, and only 2 entire paragraphs. She asked me to rewrite maybe another 40 sentences. She astutely identified some subtle (and not-so-subtle!) problems and many times suggested great resolutions. Additional thanks go out to my shark-diving scuba buddy (Thanks, RP!) who offered me his “pinky nails” to continue my stress-fest. (The irony is, perhaps, that I don’t actually chew my nails …although I did drink more than a couple 6’s of Negra Modelo anticipating the copy-edits.

Speaking of mistakes…I am in the middle of reading the whole thing through from beginning to end, working through the math, code, etc, for bugs (unintentional ones). (Lisa Type A? Nahhhh.) And now, after not seeing the manuscript for 4 months, finding stuff I missed. Like the fact that a Snow Lion’s habitat is not the hot open savanna. And that (idiot!) a Snow Lion is a mythical beast, and not a real live animal that could be featured as a part of a wildlife nature preserve (with corresponding embedded device to learn about said collection of animals…).

Crap. Sigh. (Redoing code…)

Anyway, the Ballbreaker Epiphany…we have all come to terms with the PG-forays in the book. Tiffany and I spent a good 20 minutes…(could it have been longer?) looking for alternates to d*ckhead and a$hole. We utilized an excellent resource perhaps you have heard of…Urban Just go there. Who knew all the variations for d*ickhead!

After several silly forays into Could-we-say-that? I-don’t-think-so-Land, we reached some compromises, and Ballbreaker was actually a better adjective for the twit customer being described. And did we spend any time debating the relative merit of priority-inheritance or an architectural change to message-passing to solve the mystery of Chapter 6?

Nahhh…we stuck to the important stuff. Ballbreaker.

The Cover Art Saga

Still don’t have cover art. But, DO have rabid editor who descended on design team, asking, “Did you NOT get the memo about what we wanted???” Hope to have new (please please please BETTER) cover art in a week or so.

Book Signing and the Premier!
The book will premier at the Embedded Systems Conference ( in San Jose, CA, the first week of April. Register now, and attendance to the show floor is free. My book signing is in the Elsevier booth, from 12-2 pm on Tuesday April 3rd. It will be right after Al Gore’s Keynote Speech on “The Democratization of Technology.”

If he tries to claim that he invented the Internet again…..

Your Thoughts and Wishes

My good friend Bill has been my primary technical reviewer for this manuscript, and a great resource and friend since we started working together at Lucent more than a decade ago. We spent a lot of late nights at work on the Omaha mobile phone project (elements of which appear in the book) and exchanged several 2 am emails for Phone on Fire about a particular technical detail or how a bug should be fixed. Really smart guy.

Bill had a stroke on Friday, and we are going day-to-day on his progress. If you have some thoughts and wishes to spare, please send them to Bill and his family.

Until next time, I remain up to my eyeballs in Chapter 6 and beyond…


About this Newsletter
This is an occasional newsletter with information about my upcoming book, “If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the Phone on Fire? Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed in Technical Mysteries for Engineers.” Tell me to Take a Hike if you aren’t interested in the Newsletter. No Problem.