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!

Thing just realized… a GitHub gist is its own repository. I’ve treated it as a place to drop notes, mostly, and only edited them via the Github interface. Tonight I tried cloning my gist, and discovered that worked nicely – I had my notes file handily on my local computer. Better, though, I realized I could add more items to my gist… Could set up separate files, all within the same gist context. Each shows up as a separate block containing content.

I next tried to setup a directory, just to see how it’d be conveyed in the interface. Added a directory, added a file within the directory, pushed it up. Went to the interface – nothing changed. Went back and looked: my branch now shows itself as 1 commit ahead of origin/master, and the push of the directory shows that it was rejected by the remote, with a pre-receive hook which indicates that ‘Gist does not support directories’.

Interestingly, gits do support branches. As I listened to my daughters sing some very odd version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (who had a very advantageous nose…), I created a ‘weirdChildren’ branch. Git says it pushes up to origin, but the Gists don’t actually show me there’s a branch. I deleted my local branch, and then repulled from remote – got the changes that were unique to that branch.

Now, gists do offer a handy ’embed’ artifact, such as the following: . Whether the gist is secret or not, if that URL is given out, the contents of the Gist can be displayed. However, the URL doesn’t at least directly expose a way to browse the branches of a Gist. In GitHub.com, a branch would be exposed by using username/project/tree/branchName. E.g., colemanserious/gobot/tree/bmp180. That same /tree/branchName suffix doesn’t work on Gist, though: you end up on the GitHub’s well done 404 page. TLDR: if you use a branch for a Gist, you can futz with keeping versions hidden from all view, whether through gist searches or through those who’ve got a copy of your gist’s URL.

I recently got a request to submit a headshot photo to go along with my conference talk abstract. I’ve declined to respond, so far. I think I declined to respond the last time I gave a talk, as well. Were I a somewhat famous speaker, perhaps it might make sense to let folks say, oh yeah, I saw that person before – they were a good speaker. I suspect there are better ways to handle even that angle, like citing previous speaking engagements or linking to a video of the person’s previous talks. For the rest of us, it seems more like a way to let folks prejudge you before coming aboard. ‘Hmmm, that person looks friendly. Looks like me / doesn’t look me. Looks like they belong / doesn’t look like they belong.’

Conferences aren’t the only places that want pictures, though. LinkedIn strongly encourages a photo to increase your profile’s score. There’s a bit more logic to that – if someone’s scanning through a list of similar names, the picture lets you recognize the ‘Tina’ that you know, as opposed to the list of Tinas that you don’t.

Small company websites seem to take the headshot even a bit further. It’s a common meme to have a list of folks at the company, indicating their name (sometimes just first, sometimes full) and role within the company. I’ve seen several sites where the headshots are taken just a bit further – rolling over the picture shows another picture of the person, typically in some pose meant to highlight their fun-loving side interacting with the logo or brand image in some way. Perhaps this is meant to highlight their staff as well-rounded or engaging. Unless my role directly requires me to be an entertainer, whether I’m fun-loving or eye-appealing have nothing to do with how well I help the company satisfy its mission.

In my day job as a software engineer, I have used gravatars to help folks identify my work in a list of GitHub commit entries or other social network feeds. The one I use there is a cartoon Monopoly Man holding a pick axe… I thought it might help articulate my willingness to dig in and do the hard work. It happens to scale reasonably well to various sizes, always an advantage in having a consistent branding image. It also happens to look nothing like me. (I’m not male, elderly, or nearly that well-dressed.)

I’d like to encourage others to refrain from the headshot pressure. Or comment on this post and help me better understand why a picture is good supporting information for a conference speaker’s session description. For now, my OSCON bio will still be missing a head shot…

Last time, I talked about Powerball craziness. I confess, I bought tickets, both that Wednesday, and the following Saturday, when the payday was up above $1 bil. The enjoyment of dreaming was well worth the cost of the ticket. And if my ticket investment helped someone else’s dream, I’m OK with that, too.

Today we’re snow crazy. I live in Maryland, which is apparently just about ground zero for winter storm Jonas. The weather predictions are talking 20-30 inches. EVERYTHING’s already closed till Monday, even the local burger places. My kids were already going to be off Monday and Tuesday as part of the regular school schedule, and they got out two hours early today (again, scheduled). But they’re excited to hear that church is already called off for Sunday. They’re making plans for snowball fights, snow tunnels, and (thankfully for me) lots of shoveling. Work kicked me out at 2pm, and there’s pretty good odds we won’t be able to get in on Monday, just based on roads and parking lots being cleared.

There’re much worse things than being holed up at home with folks you love, having reasons to just hang out and have fun together….

My husband tells folks I’m a fast reader. When our kids have been interested in reading new series or things we weren’t certain were appropriate, the rule has been that Mom reads it first, then the kids read it, and Dad gets it last if everyone else thinks it’s good. The kids seem to have inherited the fast-reading trait, so they’re not willing to wait on Dad (no slouch himself, just a more thorough guy who’ll reread sections as he goes along)…

This month, I got my hands on a series my girls have been reading, which they’d originally started on through books bought at the school book fair. They each got one of the last two books in the series for Christmas, bringing their total to 5. But I’d never read any of them. So, Monday Callie handed me the first one, called ‘Cinder‘. Tuesday afternoon I asked her for the second one, ‘Scarlet‘. This morning, I told her I was done Scarlet, and need ‘Cress‘. She groaned, and said, ‘You’re done already?’. It took us a while to track it down across the two girls’ rooms, and I spent a bit of this afternoon napping with a stomach bug, so it feels too late to start reading it this evening. Though I bet she asks me in the morning whether I’m already done…

Sitting here on a Sunday night, realized it’s been a great womens’ sport weekend.  On Friday, caught the USA Rugby Womens’ Premiere League championship series.  Saw a local team (DC Furies!) and a team with former teammates (Glendale Raptors), and some great rugby play.

Saturday morning, my daughter’s soccer team finished out their season with an exhibition game – well matched teams, and LOVED seeing my daughter going head to head defending a guy we’ve known since they were both much younger.  When that competitive drive kicks in with her, nobody is getting past her without a fight.  That’s something I love to see, that fire in the belly transformed into energy to power her long legs.

Sunday morning, I got up and caught the Rhonda Rousey results.  Surprising result – caught the replay later in the day.  Kudos to both Holms for the win, and Rousey for taking the hits she did.  That the undefeated champ met her match means all kinds of good things for interest in womens’ UFC.

And now Sunday evening, I’m watching the Glendale Raptors defend their WPL title.  A UMBC alum is on the pitch, as is someone I’ve played with for Severn River.

Oh, I did watch the Raven’s game while I was on the treadmill at the gym.  The womens’ sports stuff was much more inspiring….


Motorcycle dreaming… I have this image of me on a cruiser, feet out slightly in front of me, riding down the road. The road isn’t crazy, but it isn’t an empty country road, either.

Have had this dream for a good long time. Long ago, I did my first bit of dream fulfillment, buying a black leather motorcycle jacket at a yard sale. I’ve checked out bikes in parking lots and in magazines while waiting for haircuts. I’ve ridden on the back of bikes, and have a brother-in-law who was gracious enough to let me drive his bike around his apartment parking lot.

What I haven’t had is a license and my own bike. This week, I started to correct that. On my birthday, I started my first day of a 4 day motorcycle class. Tomorrow I get to move from classroom to driving range. I’ll happily get up early on a Saturday to get a chance to advance this dream. I’ll be on a Harley Davidson Street 500…  not thinking this is my dream bike, but I’ll happily learn on it for a day or two.

Can’t wait to see what the weekend holds, and where my heart and brain are re: motorcycles by Sunday…!

Is this a programming blog? There’s a discussion going on on the devchix Google group about building a list of programmer blogs  by women.  This is a blog by a woman who often talks about programming.  But it’s not dedicated to programming.  It’s definitely not dedicated to women programming, as the topics that that could cover are relatively narrow (meaning, the topics that are exclusive to women in programming) and my interest in them doesn’t stretch far enough to fill many blog postings.  Yep, there are too few women.  Yep, I like to help women be more visible to help encourage both other women to enter the field / stay in the field, and to make it clear that women belong.  But part of demonstrating that women belong is just, well, belonging.  Not necessarily standing out for being a woman.  Standing out for being good at what I do and standing out for always getting better, for always putting in the effort for what the team’s promised to deliver.

I’ll happily talk to women in the field.  Heck, I organize a regular meetup for women to get together and swap stories.  But, as you often see on this blog, there’s lots more to talk about in lots of venues.  So, if you’re here because you like encouraging women programmers to blog, great!  Just sit through or skip through the rest of the stuff.  Because like (I hope) most people, I’m not so easily labeled as a single category.


I can juggle.  Before you send me a Cirque Du Soleil job posting (ooh, I could be a clown for Cirque?  More realistically, I could do IT for Cirque???), know that my juggling to-date has been of the three ball level.  I learned how in college – I had three softballs, a dorm room, and a roommate who didn’t do anything more violent than complain as the softballs went past her head.  If I’m standing up and have three objects of a reasonable size and shape, I’m likely to start tossing them up in the air and mostly catching them.

What I hadn’t done till recently is have any success with adding a fourth ball.  I’ve been able to juggle two per hand, but only one hand at a time.  (Think: two in right hand, two in left hand – while one’s up, one’s down per hand.)  Whenever I added the second hand, the balls would collide in the middle somehow.  But I’d been told that that’s how to juggle four, so I kept trying.

Last week, I had a breakthrough.  Rather than try to juggle four, two per hand, I treated it as three, where one hand just happened to be holding an extra ball.  That worked – I was juggling three, and had this extra one in my hand.  Not quite juggling four, but a step forward.  My hand had to move and deal with this extra ball.  Then I just tried every so often switching which ball I was holding – e.g., if I threw ball A the first time and held ball B, I might every so often toss ball B and hold ball A.  It’s still not quite as smooth as I’d otherwise like, but it doesn’t screw with my brain the way juggling two per time per hand did.  I’m finally unblocked and making real progress to juggling four.

It struck me that this approach of finding the smallest change that’ll work might suit me in other areas, as well…  instead of crafting a large-scale vision for a software project that takes weeks to go over in my brain, start with a small potentially throw-away step to help me learn more.  Instead of working on a big vision for a technical conference talk, pitch a vision at either a local Toastmasters’ club (to see how the story carries) or at a local tech talk (to see how the tech approach sounds) before investing effort.  Or heck, write the vision or pitch up here and post a link to Twitter.  Get something small down and see whether it seems like it’s moving forward.  Then take the next small step.  For my juggling four, instead of intermittently throwing the ball up, try alternating every 3rd or 4th toss, etc.

For my next circus trick, I’d like to learn to ride the unicycle.  I have a unicycle, so that first step is done.  If anyone has an idea of a next first step, lemme know!


I’m over 40 and overweight.  It’s common enough that as I look around my peers, I can _nearly_ justify that I’m less overweight than most.  But it still bugs the crud out of me to find myself past certain scale thresholds… So, when a local gym that a friend attends put on a weight loss challenge, AND that local gym is a martial arts gym where I’ll get to hit things – I had to give it a go…

3 times a week, I leave more sweat than I ever thought possible on the mat in its classes.  I’ve done more burpees of late than I’d imagined possible.  Tons of pushups and squats, too.  And yet the scale goes nowhere.  Even, on days that cause me to curse, slightly up.

But I continue in the classes…  Because on those days where I curse at the scale, at least I get to hit things.