Fair Winds and Following Seas, Michael Bartosh

by Chuck Toporek

A good friend and author has passed, far too soon.

I just got word this morning from a friend at Apple that my friend and author, Michael Bartosh, died tragically on Saturday night/Sunday morning while in Japan.

It's hard to know exactly what to say right now, other than I'm shocked and deeply saddened. Business issues aside, I've lost a friend, and the entire Mac community has lost a strong advocate for the platform.

Before he approached me a few years ago with a proposal to write a Mac OS X Server book for O'Reilly, I had been lurking on the macos-x-server list, watching and monitoring posts to find the right author for our book. Michael's posts and replies always seemed helpful, and I was about to approach him to see if he was interested in writing a Server book for us when he beat me to the punch. In the same week that I received a proposal from Joel Rennich of AFP548, Bartosh's proposal crossed my desk and I was left with a tough decision to make. Both proposals were great, but ultimately I chose Michael because I liked the depth and tack he planned to take with the book. (No offense, Joel.)

Some people think that the author/editor relationship is just a business relationship, but for me, it's much different. I know my authors are pouring their heart and soul into their books, and I know they're making sacrifices to write. When you work on a project with someone for more than a few weeks, you end up becoming friends. And with Michael, it was hard not to like the guy and want to be in his circle of friends. When you're an editor, you get to know the author as more than just another writer, but as a person, and they get to know you, and that's the sort of relationship I like to have with my authors. I've always thought, "Life is too short, so let's have fun with this project and make it the best."

I'll be honest here, Michael wasn't the best author I had in the sense of meeting deadlines, but I have to admit in the 9+ years I've been editing books for O'Reilly, he was the best damned technical writer I've worked with. Hands-down. Michael didn't pull any punches, and that's one of the things I liked most about him. He was a perfectionist, and he took the time to test things over and over to make sure what he was writing reflected what was the current state of the technology. When we first started working on "Essential Mac OS X Panther Server Administration," Michael asked if I thought he was being too critical of something (I honestly can't remember what it was now), and my response to him was "Hell no!", because not only was he being critical, he was being critical with an authoritative voice, and he offered solutions and work-arounds to the problem. I told him not to fear being critical, because that's what our readers wanted -- an authority, and someone who's got your back. Michael knew his shit, and he could make sense out of complex topics like Open Directory and Directory Services, and do it in such a way that he made you feel smart, too.

Great guy. Excellent writer. Huge loss for us all, especially his family and friends closer than I.

Fair winds and following seas, Michael.


Tom Bridge
2006-06-12 09:09:58
This is really awful news, and I feel for Michael's family and friends today.