Research staff member, policy and networking department
"I’ve learned about the subject matter of the book by 'osmosis.'"
On the book: Bluetooth Revealed (2002)
What made you decide to write a book on this topic?
Many years ago, Brent Miller, a dear fellow IBMer, and I were working closely together on the development of the Bluetooth specification –he was serving as the chair of the Bluetooth Service Discovery task force and I served, among other things, as an the editor for a document that the task force produced. In early 2000, Brent invited me to co-author a book with him on this new wireless technology. We both felt that an authoritative presentation of this exciting and highly promising technology by people that are developing it would help a lot in explaining and promoting the technology to the masses. So, albeit some initial trepidation, I gladly accepted Brent’s invitation.
When the book was published, it was the first ever book about the Bluetooth specification that was written by a promoter member of the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group); the promoter members at the time were 3Com, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, and Nokia. The book covered a real need in the market and it has done pretty well in its category. The year that the 1st edition of the book came out, the book was selected among the top 10 (number 3 to be exact) for the year by the technical book editors for Internet and Computing of Amazon.com.
How did you go about the research necessary to write such a technical book?
I’ve learned about the subject matter of the book by 'osmosis.' I had been involved with the development of the specification of the Bluetooth wireless technology from its outset. As a bit of trivia, our Bluetooth research team prides itself to have hosted the first technical meeting of the Bluetooth SIG’s software technical group back in April 1998. I don’t recall how many people were present at that first meeting, but it was less than a dozen for sure (with about half of them IBM Research people). Nowadays there are hundreds of people participating in many different Bluetooth technical groups.
OK, I diverged somewhat but coming back to your question, as I said I was involved with the Bluetooth specification from its outset of development. Over a span of many years, I’d gained a very intimate knowledge of the technology by participating at and contributing to the proceedings of the various Bluetooth SIG technical groups serving at various capacities, including serving as IBM’s first BARB (Bluetooth Architecture Review Board) member as well as vice-chair of the IEEE 802.15.1 task group that published an IEEE 802 standard adapted from the Bluetooth specification. Thus, the contents of the book reflect my experience gained through my long and deep exposure into the specification. In the book, both Brent and I have provided a lot of “behind the scenes” trivia about the technology that a lot of the book’s readers told us that have enjoyed immensely.
What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Finding the time to organize my thoughts about not only what to write but equally as important why to write what I wrote in the book. Since we were targeting a very wide audience for our book, from business professionals to technically savvy people and researchers, Brent and I had to balance very carefully the content of the book for easy reading, clarity and rigor. In order to do this, and also under the pressure to publish the book as soon as possible in order to hit the market at the right time, I found myself spending day-in and day-out where going to bed at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning became a daily ritual. I credit my wife and my then very young kinds for helping me maintain my sanity and supporting me through this endeavor. We all took a big sigh of relief at the end for a work well done and well received.
What or who inspires and encourages you to write?
That is an interesting question. I don’t use anyone as a model for writing. I simply like to write technical articles whenever I get the chance. But what I like even more is after the contents of the article have been written down to go back and, like an editor for a big budget movie, cut-and-paste the content and move this paragraph here and that paragraph there and add this sentence here and remove that sentence there and make the article not only technically sound but exciting to read by (almost) anyone.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Of course, first of all know your subject well. Then decide who your audience should be and convince yourself that your target audience will really be interested in your book. With this early homework done carefully choose the best content/material to write in your book to excite your target audience and convey your book’s message to them with clarity and rigor appropriate for your target audience. Lastly, but by no means least, don’t forget to explain to those close to you why you have to spend long hours writing the book.
Who are some of your favorite authors today?
Interestingly enough, I don’t read literature and whenever I do it is usually an excruciating long experience. As an example, when I was still a graduate student, I’d started reading George Orwells' classic "1984" in January of 1984. I spend most of the last day of the last month of that year rushing through the last pages of the book, just to finish reading it within the year (this book’s very special year). Every time that I dare, and I mean dare, to pick another book to read, my wife smiles at me and reminds me of "1984" and 1984! In any case, last year I read Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code." This year I read, in the record breaking time of four days, I may add –please don’t write that the book is sparsely written–, Mark Haddon’s "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." I secretly admit that I’ve enjoyed both books immensely; but that does not mean that I would hit the books again any time soon. Both of these books were recommended to me by my wife "…Read this, you’ll like it! They talk about ages old cryptography stuff...," she would say, or "…Look here, there is a math formula in this book..." (or something similar). Needless to say that as far as I am concerned, my wife is a certified bookworm that devours books.
What role did books play in your childhood?
Not much really. Early on, I did not even read my school textbooks –I was a really poor student in my early grades. I don’t think that I read any literature (the term is used liberally here) book until well into my college years. I always preferred playing soccer with the neighborhood kids at the time, and I’ve played a lot of soccer indeed.