The “Train Better” podcast is live!

I’m a professional trainer; just about every day, I’m in a different city, country, and/or company teaching Python, data science, and other topics. Over the last few years, I’ve also thought a lot about training as a specialty — and I write about it on my “Trainer Weekly” newsletter, as well as in a “Technical training” Facebook group.

I’ve now launched my “Train Better” podcast, which aims to give advice about the business, pedagogy, and logistics of the training industry. I’ll also interview trainers at various stages of their career, so that we can learn from their successes and failures.

Click here: Train Better podcast

If you’re interested in training, or are already training and want to get better at it, then I hope you’ll enjoy the podcast. If you have suggestions for topics or guests, then please contact me, as well!

Announcing: An online community for technical trainers

Over the last few years, my work has moved away from day-to-day software development, and more in the direction of technical training: Helping companies (and individuals) by teaching people how to solve problems in new ways.  Nowadays, I spend most of my time teaching courses in Python (at a variety of levels), regular expressions, data science, Git, and PostgreSQL.

And I have to say: I love it. I love helping people to do things they couldn’t do before.  I love meeting smart and interesting people who want to do their jobs better.  I love helping companies to become more efficient, and to solve problems they couldn’t solve before.  And I love the travel; next week, I leave for my 16th trip to China, and I’ll likely teach 5-6 classes in Europe before the year is over.

The thing is, I’m not alone: There are other people out there who do training, and who have the same feeling of excitement and satisfaction.

At the same time, trainers are somewhat lonely: To whom do we turn to improve our skills? Not our technical skills, but our skills as trainers? And our business skills as consultants who are looking to improve our knowledge of the training market?

Over the last year, I’ve started to help more and more people who are interested in becoming trainers. I’ve started a coaching practice. I’ve given Webinars and talks at conferences. I’ve started to work on a book on the subject.

But as of last week, I’ve also started a new, free community for technical trainers on Facebook. If you engage in training, or have always wanted to do so, then I invite you to join our new, free community on Facebook, at .

I should note that this group is not for people running training businesses. Rather, it’s for the trainers themselves — the people who spend several days each month in a classroom, trying to get their ideas across in the best possible ways.

In this group, we’ll share ideas about (among other things):

  • How to find clients
  • How to prepare courses
  • What a good syllabus and/or proposals look like
  • How to decide whether a course is worth doing
  • How to price courses
  • Working on your own vs. via training companies
  • How to upsell new courses to your clients
  • How can education research help us to teach better

If you are a trainer, or want to be one, then I urge you to join our new community, at at .  We’ve already had some great exchanges of ideas that will help us all to learn, grow, and improve. Join us, and contribute your voice to our discussion!

Want to learn Chinese?

I run a side project that has nothing to do with computers or programming: Every Monday, I publish “Mandarin Weekly,” a curated collection of links and resources for people learning Chinese.  I’ve been studying Chinese for nearly two years now, and it is one of the most interesting and fun (and challenging!) things I’ve ever done.

Mandarin Weekly is running a giveaway for six months of free Yoyo Chinese, a great online school that teaches Chinese vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, listening comprehension, and even reading characters.  On Sunday, we’ll be giving away two premium six-month memberships to Yoyo Chinese, each worth $100.

If you’ve always wanted to learn Chinese, then this is a great way to do it.  And if you are studying Chinese, then Yoyo is a great way to supplement or improve on your formal classroom studies.  Indeed, I think that anyone learning Chinese can benefit from this course.  To enter the giveaway, just sign up here:

But wait, it gets better: If you enter the giveaway, you get one chance to win.  For every friend you refer to the giveaway, you get an additional three chances.  So if you enter, and then get five friends to enter, you will have 16 chances to win!

And now, back to your regularly scheduled technical blog…

Free Webinar in object-oriented Python on April 1st, 2015

Join me for an hour-long free Webinar about object-oriented Python on April 1st, 2015. I’ll discuss how to use and create classes in Python, how attributes form the core of Python’s object system, and how you should (and shouldn’t) think about Python’s objects. There will be plenty of time for Q&A. Come and join me; it’ll be a lot of fun!

You can register for the Webinar at Eventbrite:

I look forward to seeing you there!

Hello, world (again)

Hello out there!

I’ve been privileged to work with many great people and companies since 1995, when I first started working as a consultant.  I’ve helped companies to create Web applications from an idea, to learn programming languages, to improve their business processes, and to optimize their databases.

The time has come to describe some of what I’ve learned.  Sure, I’ve given plenty of  conference talks, and my Linux Journal column has been published every month since 1996.  But there are all sorts of things that are too short, or too esoteric, for those forums, and this blog is where I can share some thoughts on the intersection between technology and society.

Given that I’m also finishing a PhD in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, you can expect to see some comments about technology and education here, as well.  You’re also welcome to check out the Modeling Commons, the collaborative platform for NetLogo modeling that I have created as part of my doctoral studies.

If you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions, I’m happy to hear them; always feel free to contact me at  I read every message, and am happy to hear from clients and colleagues.