Interview with Colin McKinnon

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can just remember my parents reading to me before I could read myself. Story time was a special time and one I have tried to share with my children. Perhaps because of that early experience I have always been something of a book-worm.

While I don't remember the first book I read myself, I do remember a treasured copy of Dr Seuss stories (where my internet nick comes comes from).
How do you approach cover design?
With blind optimisim?

I have learnt not judge books by their covers, but this is the face my book presents to the world. So I did invest time and effort into producing something I thought had aesthetic value. Having said that, I think its great that online retaillers now provide previews for books (and customer reviews).
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Only five?

Although I have a small pile of technical books, the one I keep on my desk is Webmaster in a Nutshell by Robert Eckstein and Stephen Spainhour. Its a bit dated ("a Linux webserver will comfortably run with about 8Mb of RAM"), and my copy is very tatty (from several years of use) but it's still a handy reference.

After that I would pick Stephen Donaldson's First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant - a brilliant re-invention of the fantasy fiction (technically its three books, but let's not quibble).

I find Terry Pratchett's novels very entertaining, so would have to include one...let me think...my favourite character is Sam Vimes, so The Fifth Elephant is third on my list.

Next I have to pick Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. While I suppose that Wilkie Collins invented the detective genre, Sherlock Holmes was (from my reading) the first detective to achieve his results through a demonstrable process of deduction - something that few other crime writers I have read have achieved (or maybe I'm just too thick to understand the others?).

Only one more? I wanted to include Ian (sometimes M.) Banks here, but he's narrowly pipped at the post by Alasdair Gray's Lanark. Not just a great read but a turning point in Scottish literature.
What do you read for pleasure?
A lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy (I'm a computer geek - it's compulsory!)

After finishing the brilliant The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) but being somewhat disappointed with the sequels, I've continued my Swedish crime spree with most of the Wallander books by Henning Mankell.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My 10 inch Android tablet with Moon Reader.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Too soon to answer that one!
Describe your desk
A mess. Right now its scattered with DVDs for various Linux distros after my last patching cycle went awry and I decided I was overdue a reinstall - which is a very long story.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Dundee, Scotland.

It is the nature of childhood to shape us/scar us for life. But as I don't any other childhood to compare it with I couldn't say exactly how it affected my writing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Challenging my own beliefs and preconceptions - while I have accumulated a lot of information over the years, I didn't want to just dump what I thought was good and bad about web performance onto the page - each assertion had to be backed by fact. In the course of my research I did discover a few misconceptions, but also expanded my knowledge.
What are you working on next?
I have recently spent some time working on Problem Analysis. Looking back to my formal IT education, and indeed the training I have had access to since, the whole area of IT support has been rather poorly defined. There are some books appearing on the topic - but mostly fixating on the "root cause". While a very significant concept in Problem Analysis, like the Holy Grail, it may just be mythical.
How did you prepare your manuscript?
For LAMP Performance End-to-end, I originally wrote it up in OpenOffice. But having discovered all the problems in converting that into a portable eBook, next time I will be using something closer to HTML markup. Maybe I'll write a DokuWiki plugin to linearize a set of Wiki pages.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Running around after my children, or helping out at the local Scout group. Once in a while I get to sit down and read a book or write some code.
When did you first start writing?
Age 5. I'm not telling you when that was.
What do your fans mean to you?
It's great to know that one's efforts are appreciated - that the effort was worthwhile. It's great to get feedback too - find out what works for other people, and how they fixed problems.
Published 2015-01-10.
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Books by This Author

Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP Performance End to End
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 112,800. Language: British English. Published: January 10, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Computers & Internet » Internet / application development, Nonfiction » Computers & Internet » System administration / general
A guide to great website page speed and improved capacity. The book covers the journey of data from a server's disk to the mind of the user explaining the bottlenecks/providing practical solutions. Covering content optimization, tuning your TCP stack for mobile clients, what the ZOP+ optimizer flags do, how SaaS/backoffice systems differ from public facing websites, and more.