Ran across a comic strip this morning described as “9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies For Women”. . Linked to the original source, but the reminder of it this evening came from Fast Company’s “How to be a Non-Threatening Woman”, which linked back to the Cooper Review’s original article…

In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive or competent. One way to do that is to alter your leadership style to account for the (sometimes) fragile male ego.

When I first skimmed it this morning, I thought the writer was trying to give good advice… “Trying” being the important word here. I grew frustrated as I read the article, until my caffeine-deprived brain got enough clues that this was a tongue-in-cheek approach and meant to highlight the pain-in-the-rear-edness behaviors some of us experience, and the stereotypical coping strategies / highly annoying behaviors some folks use to cope. (Note that I’m not focusing solely on women doing the coping – seen guys do some of these things as well. Just as highly annoying.)

I’m a woman in tech. Highly outnumbered and have been throughout my career. On my current project, in a room of 35, I’m one of 3 women. The 3rd woman joined one month ago, while the 2nd woman was still on maternity leave. So, for several months, just me in the estrogen column. Neither of the other two women are leaders of groups in the room. Leaving me the sole female leader in a room where the guys shoot rubber bands at each other as a form of male bonding, where another of the tech leads said his frat-hazing treatment of a more junior member of the team was his way of showing care, and where one team member gave another leader in the room a thong as a way of poking fun at his accent in pronouncing ‘thon’… I’ve been talked over, had things demeaningly explained to me, and had my points and ideas repeated by others (and thus finally heard)… I definitely lean to the ‘left’ on the pictures presented in the article, and refuse to shimmy to the right.

Next week, I leave that particular team. I didn’t think I was leaving because of the sort of behaviors demonstrated – there were other reasons to leave. But suddenly realizing how much I’m looking forward to gelling with a new team.

Getting ridiculously excited for the Olympics this year. Not only will this be the year that rugby returns to the Olympics, but my former teammate Carmen Farmer made the team! Carmen and I played for Severn River Rugby, and in 2012 we went to the national tournament for D2 level teams. Came in 2nd in the nation, and Carmen caught the notice of one of the folks recruiting for USA Rugby. She’s fast, she’s tall, she handles the ball well, and she tackles like a beast! Watch for her starting August 6th!

The past two weekends, I’ve had opportunities to go out into the community as my alter-ego, Clementine. Clementine is a blue-haired (for now, anyway) Auguste clown who’s been enjoying spending her time at summer festivals and parades with her pet skunk, Blossom.

Dundalk Heritage Fair - July 4th, 2016

Dundalk Heritage Fair – July 4th, 2016

Clementine was asked a question by a ten-year old(ish) boy along the parade this morning: why does she put on her clown makeup? The answer is: with a bit of work (the makeup and costume stuff) and a good bit of energy, Clementine can be a grower of smiles and happiness. The number of kids (and adults!) who wanted to fist bump, snap pics, high-five, pet Blossom, and just generally enjoy interacting was huge! Clementine got to interact with little kids, big kids, parents of kids, and even had her picture snapped with a senior citizen or two who was enjoying the parade from a wheelchair. Blossom was already wearing beads to deck herself out for the 4th of July parade, and got a new necklace from a little girl along the parade route who was making bead necklaces and thought Blossom needed one more.

My ultimate goal is to get some experience under my belt and see about sharing this opportunity with folks in my church. Our clown alley has members from my age and younger, to retired folks. We have folks who have physical limitations, and some who will never be able to live on their own due to mental handicaps, but who delight in ‘bumping a nose’ and sharing a smile in the community. Each clown has their own set of gifts to share, which seems to me to be a perfect example of what we aspire to in Christian ministry. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” [1 Corinthians 12: 18-20]

In something of a motivation slump at work. The end’s in sight, it’s just farther away than I’d like. So I sit here on a Wednesday morning weighing the many productive things I could be doing today, instead of heading to work.

    I could be…

  • Working on reviewing my Gobot presentation for Golang Maryland tomorrow evening
  • Moving further with my Apache Spark edX class. I did some of it this morning, and am just at the point where I can play with notebooks and actually futz with things…
  • Spending more time with ‘The Children’s Illustrated Guide to Kubernetes’, which I tripped across through a Twitter mention this morning. Kubernetes will turn out to be useful soon-ish, so trying to absorb info, concepts, and practical tutorials
  • Revising my clown makeup approach – doing a festival this weekend, and didn’t like how my last facepaint worked out
  • Practicing balloon animals for that same festival
  • Visiting a friend in a nursing home to try getting her wheelchair in my vehicle ahead of our Orioles game this weekend

List is long, and so rewarding. But if I let myself lapse on going into work today, I’ll want to do it again tomorrow.

If you give a software engineer a free day…

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

Part of my job duties include recruiting new software engineers to join our firm. I think we’re pretty neat. We’re small, though, so its not as if we run mega-magazine campaigns or TV or radio ads. Instead, we rely on a more direct form of recruiting. If I know you, you’re likely to hear about our company. If I don’t know you but we have a chance to talk about professional stuff, you’re likely to hear about our company. If you’re connected to me on LinkedIn, you’re likely to hear about our company. And if LinkedIn thinks you might be a good fit for the candidates we’re searching for, you’re likely to hear about our company.

Where you’re not likely to hear about our company, as heavily anyway: my personal Facebook profile or other social network personas. I keep my professional network fairly broad, and my personal network a bit more close. Microsoft announced today that it’s buying LinkedIn, and various TV talking heads were concerned that LinkedIn’s network reach and stickiness (how many times I’m likely to return in a day/week/etc) aren’t as high as, say, Facebook or Twitter. I don’t go to LinkedIn as often. When I go, it’s for a specific purpose. When I “clock out”, I go to other places. LinkedIn wouldn’t serve me well, and thus wouldn’t receive the money I give it per month to provide search and contact services, if it was as wildly open to interactions as other spots.

So, Microsoft, find better ways to help me source candidates. Find better ways to help me market myself to potential employers. But don’t expose my info to every family member, church member, friend of a friend, etc: I prefer to keep my business activities separate.

Someone had reason to look at my resume today, and commented on my nerderypublic.com URL. Nerd win! Hopefully it helped with the interview… And thank you, dear hubby, for an awesome web presence home.

So, I avoided the #freakout! The conference talk went well. The one thing that didn’t go well was trying to use Periscope. It turns out that attempting to type, show things via a phone, and deal with the inherent delay of viewing “live” in Periscope was more than I could take on at a time. The moderator came up and showed me that there was a light with some sort of button I could push which would then project whatever was under it. Should I end up getting to talk at OSCON again, I’ll investigate that a bit further. As it was, I ended up just providing color commentary to the audience (“if you could see this up close, it’s blinking!”), rather than attempting to deal with one more thing on the fly.

So, the results… beyond me feeling like it went well, I have a few more data points to suggest, hey, this came off very nicely! First, the qualitative: right after my session, I had to jet to the airport to catch my flight. Not one but two different folks in the same security line mentioned that they had just seen my talk and really enjoyed it. Score! Basking in feelings of minor celebrity there in the security checkpoint line. Second, the quantitative: of likely 60 (!!) folks in the room who came to my talk, 6 have taken the time to evaluate my session and give it a rating. Of a potential 5 point rating, I have 6 folks who’ve given me an average of 4.67 as a rating… Just for the record, I’m not one of the 6… I haven’t, unfortunately, taken the time out to rate anyone else’s schedule, so I’m particularly grateful for those who’ve taken the time to give me a good rating.

I’ll be given a reprise of the talk at a local Golang group on June 23rd… Trying to figure out what to add between now and then – doesn’t feel right to give a duplicate talk, exactly. But do want to take advantage of the work already done and expose it to a local audience….

Sitting in the last talk of the day for me before I give my own talk. Mentally running down the ‘yes, this is going to work out well’ game talk. Cataloguing for me to help me debrief later, as well as give me a checklist to consider for further talks…

– Came with equipment that works (advantage over last time, which went OK, though for a rougher week than desired), as well as repair kit and tools.
– Came with the beginnings of a presentation
– When I realized my plans to work on my presentation slides over the weekend got trumped by family schtuff, reprioritized the sessions I wanted to attend, and carved out a slot early in the week
– Checked out the room the day before the presentation and tried out my laptop – no issues. Also had the opportunity to sit in on a session in the same room: good talk, great inspiration for my own.
– Stream of consciousness wrote my talk itself and worked on it throughout several days
– Carved out time for run throughs two nights before: wasn’t happy with the result, so carved out more time the following evening. Prepped notes, rehearsed, refined, rehearsed some more to make sure I fit the time with the stuff that matters.
– Got some sleep. Not much, but some, the night before the presentation.
– Highlighted some key facts in my speaker notes, so I can look quickly and refer.
– Notes include setup requirements, and already have most of those tabs and windows up.
– Scheduled notifications to go off during the event time: won’t have to think about it.

– My talk is right after lunch, which both means folks will be able to get there, and I can get in early to do a last equipment check and rundown. Short lunch!
– Brought juggling balls to let me focus on something other than the talk itself once I get it set up.

– my power supply seemed to stop working overnight: will need to plug in my Raspberry off of a cellphone charger either USB-linked to the site computer (??: suspect that’ll cause concerns…) or to an outlet that I’m not sure will be there.
– the Furby itself is acting flaky. While I’ll be able to talk to it, would really like to see the full demo come together.

– Engage with the audience! That’ll help keep me focused and in the flow.
– Stay relaxed.

I’m prepped, I’m ready, and there’ll be something there that hits someone’s interests. I’ve defined my scope, and worked to focus my flow through. The work done to prep this was fun in itself, helped me learn some things, and gave me a chance to come out again to OSCON. Lots of wins from the build-up to this week. Time to bring it home.

I’m at OSCON 2016 in Austin. As opposed (ahem) to the last time I did this, I have a slide deck ahead of the day of, as well as working hardware. Realized earlier today, though, that working hardware is only practically useful if the audience can see it… Since the video is trained on the stage, rather than on me, unless I do something, it doesn’t practically matter whether my schtuff works. Problem, particularly given the amount of time I’ve spent making sure schtuff works…

To resolve it, I’m experimenting with live streaming. From my phone, I can send out a Periscope stream, which I can then pull up from my browser to make it visible on the screen to those in the audience. Depending upon lighting, maybe this’ll be valuable and maybe it won’t, but at least it’ll be cool!

Woke up today with a pounding sinus headache. That’ll teach me to think I can walk around outside in the springtime without any allergy meds. After a few hours of sleep, the pain was at least muted enough to function in a quiet environment. So, down to the basement I went to work with Furby.

Luckily for me (???!), Furby was quiet today. Too quiet. As in, couldn’t get it to come on at all quiet. Took a step back and futzed with LEDs again, now tied through the ribbon cable. Uh, finally got the LEDs to come through. But then they stayed on – wouldn’t power on/off at my signal. And then they went out.

That hardware thing: no real configuration management. I guess I could take a picture of my breadboard at a quasi working state, but even then, I’d need to zoom in fairly far to see where the pins practically connected. Several errors today just based on not being able to see where the pins aligned on the breakout board, or whether the pins were in the same row…

So, I retreated and wired in my Furby to a straight 5V + GND alignment. The power wire kept coming undone, so the Furby stayed off. When I finally got her on, none of my sound signals were getting picked up. I’d tried replacing components, completely redoing wiring, … nothing was coming together. At around midnight, I was adding up the problems (non-working power on/off, non-working Furby!), comparing it to the time spent today, and started down the path of ‘oh my gosh, what on earth am I going to say at the front of the room next week??!?! Should I find a way to bail out now?!’

I went to bed. Or tried to for a moment, anyway. And then decided to be stubborn and try to see whether a new set of speakers would send out sound differently – if I could get the Furby to react at all, I’d find another power on/off solution, and maybe I just needed a better set of speakers. Disconnected the ones from the family computer, tried to plug them in down here in my lair. No luck. The set upstairs expected to be powered from a bass which sits underneath the computer. The speakers themselves were big enough they’d be a pain to lug on the plane. No way was I lugging the bass, too…

Defeated. And then an idea.. what if I just needed to make the sound louder from my own speakers? There was no volume control on them, but maybe there was a way to control it programatically. Long story short: there is. And with a louder volume, Furby starts behaving. And the conference session was saved.

I still want to figure out a better power solution. But that’ll mean driving blinking things from GPIOs again, and that wasn’t working so well today. And then adding some sort of NPN (?) solution in the middle to let the GPIO interact with a 5V source, instead of the 3.3 it’s happy with. BUT, as of 3:30, I have a Furby responding, with an LCD display showing info. I _could_ give the talk just based on that… We’ll see!