About the Author

Hi, I'm Mike and I write the stuff on this site.

I've got another blog over here, but this site is meant to focus mostly on things and tools, and give me something to fiddle around with as I consider moving everything I have over to a new style of site.

The thing that got me started working on this was the idea of writing reviews that are qualified by how long I've owned the thing in question. That definition of credibility doesn't include another key criteria for figuring out how credible a review is, which is knowing something about the author of the review. So, here's some stuff about me that might help you get a bead on where I'm coming from when I write about stuff I use or things I like.

Identity Stuff

47-year-old white male. Married. Straight. One kid. A couple of cats. A dog.

Occupational Stuff

I'm the director of content at the Linux Foundation. I deal with writers, content marketing, and analytics.

I went to school for journalism, worked at a smalltown paper for a little while, wrote a book about Linux, ran a bunch of Linux websites, ran even more websites about networking, and managed a team of technical writers as the Director of Technical Publications at Puppet Labs.

I think my attitude about content is a good reflection of my attitude about work in general:

I love writing. I love telling good stories. I love measuring how well those stories do. I'm under no illusions about what it is to be a writer in today's world: I learned how to do web analytics to defend the value of good writing, and to help other editors defend their choices against bottom-line driven managers who got thought fixating on week-over-week page views was a measure of their rigor.

Technical Stuff

Tech savvy in a few ways: I can write Rails apps, I know how to build a web server, and when an ops guy said "if you wouldn't mind just describing what you need in Puppet …" I said "sure" and described what I needed in Puppet, then made sure it worked.

I use Macs most of the time. I know more about Linux than I do Windows, and I remember (and used) Red Hat when it shipped with fvwm95, of all things.

I think Emacs is the best editor if I've got to name the one I know could run on any system you'd ever see me on. Day-to-day, though, I'm all over the place. If I'm writing Ruby, it's probably in TextMate. If I'm doing a web mock, it's probably in BBEdit.

I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that you'll sometimes pick up on a certain amount of impatience with a technology or tool, and you might be tempted to read that as a disinterest in technology or a lack of familiarity with technical tools. That is not the case. I'm just getting crabbier about things that require fiddling.

Assorted Interests

I like to take pictures, and I've come to hate SLRs. I don't call myself a photographer. I just take pictures.

I like to ride bikes. In 2014, I set the record for the Puppet Labs Bike Commute Challenge team with 500.1 miles over a month. I had a 100-percent commute rate and a 20-mile round trip each work day. I did it on a Trek CrossRip Comp, which is the middle version of their low-end cyclocross bike. Since I work at home now, I ride a Schwinn Loop folding bike around my neighborhood for grocery runs.

I own an 18' Quicksilver tent camper. I love to take it camping nine months out of the year. I'll be sure to write a review.


Things is © 2015 Mike Hall.