Following up on my last post, figured I’d try talk #2, 8 secrets of success. My secret: when 8 secrets can be boiled into 3 minutes, the biggest secret is that you’ve got a great schmoozer on your hands. Skip it in terms of the material itself, though I did like his slide deck and consistent use of the spiky hair guy. That was a good use of presentation technique – keep the audience interested mostly by talking fast and using a visual cue in new ways on each slide.

Just got a new Twitter follower. Wasn’t someone I knew, so I went out to check out who they were. CEO of a tech company who has a large number of folks who they follow. My suspicion is that this guy noticing my Twitter feed was due more to me following someone else that they follow than anything else, but might be related to OWF or to rugby or to open-source or to who knows what else. Twitter is slightly nondiscriminate.

So, this guy’s tweet feed. Typical executive feed: links to articles they find interesting, which, actually, is far more useful than to me as a Twitter follower than some of the folks who mostly use it to hold visible conversations. Seeing a ‘thanks!’ tweet or ‘I thought the same!’ isn’t enough to make me go check out the full thread to see if there was something useful there. Seeing an interesting article cross-referenced: usually more useful.

2nd tweet down the list:
These High-Tech Underwear Keep Your Farts From Smelling | Co.Exist | ideas + impact #finally

This poor guy, who I’ve never met / will likely never meet, will forever be linked in my brain as the guy who advertised to the world that he’s interested in underwear that covers up his farts… And THAT’s why you need to be careful what you link to. And now I’m sorely tempted to link to it, just to pass along that ‘hee hee’ moment to someone else.

Today I’ve:
– presented half-working stuff at a retrospective and then spent the rest of the day moving it forward
– figured out that one reason my widget wasn’t working was because it was being served as http, rather than https, which caused mixed-content headaches
– configured Apache to deal with https. Worked much more nicely on Linux than it did on Windows. Meaning, I was completely hosed on Windows.
– got PHP working with PDO and MySQL. No, PHP 5.3 does NOT automatically work with PDO. Though yum install nicely gets things working, once you figure out the right set
– compiled node and npm on our Linux instance, as it sure seemed nicer to pull what we need from Git directly to the box with a known build environment, rather than build it and push it up via ftp. Note: compiling node requires things like gcc and make – haven’t seen those since C++ in college. Glad everything just worked, once the right path revealed.
– reviewed a briefing deck for a meeting tomorrow… unclear what these guys are asking for, but they’ve definitely got a pitch in mind
– signed timesheets, updated mine
– talked through demo possibilities with another team

More stuff, too, including futzing with git feature branches, investigating how to create separate user accounts on the ec2 instance so that a git clone wouldn’t expose my password in history, and a few other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten…

And I thought I’d only spend 10 hours “managing” this project.. Uh, maybe that’s right. Except that most everything above is _doing_ rather than managing. That said, a healthy mix keeps me happy. Better bounds on the work day would make me even happier. Too bad I don’t give up until a problem’s solved.

Easter weekend I needed to drive a long way home by myself.  To keep myself awake, I downloaded Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In”.  And then promptly listened to the radio instead for the 5 hour ride, singing at the top of my lungs.

This week I realized my trial subscription to Audible was soon to run out, so it was time to see if audio books were worth the monthly fee.  Each morning I’ve put in my earbuds and listened to the narrator read through Sheryl’s description of and advice for women in professional fields.  Interesting stuff, mostly.  Since I’m already ‘leaning in’ in every way possible, it’s mostly interesting from an anecdotal, other folks have been there kind of experience.  And then an experience today resonated with a big old ‘bong’.

Today I got told that I’m seen as ‘unapproachable’.  Thankfully, not by members of my team: if I’m not approachable to them, they won’t be able to share information that’s key for our collective success.  No, I’m deemed ‘unapproachable’ by members of our client’s advisory team, or at least, that’s the word from my client.  Tomorrow I’ll be following up with the original source…  But today’s the first day where I started to appreciate Sheryl’s statements of how important it is for women to come across as likeable, how that so resonates with folks inherent understanding of women that anything other, any other primary focus causes basically a cognitive dissonance (my phrasing, not hers).  My focus hasn’t been on being likeable; it’s been on helping my team be effective, in helping the advistors be effective in interacting with my team.  Likeable doesn’t enter into it, and isn’t my aim.  Trustworthy, accomplishing things, focused on accomplishing the right things, overcommunicating, … those are the things on which I pride myself.  You don’t like me?  That’s OK, so long as we can still work productively together.  In fact, I’ll respect our working dynamic all the more, actually, if I think we’re making things happen for a reason beyond some likeability factor.  Our relationship is a work relationship: if it proceeds into a friendship, great.  But in the meantime we’ve got work to get done.  I’ll schmooze in the context of work…

Uh, note that I’ve heard no such feedback on my male teammates, who’ve made much less effort….   Hence the mental connection to Sheryl Sandberg’s thoughts….  And high level of annoyance.




Submitted for OSCON 2013, in what’s now become an annual tradition.  I attended in 2010, submitted briefs in 2011 and 2012, and now submit again in 2013.  I have the topic to bring it home: two, actually, both related to government FOSS, with a third idea in mind related to some innovations in our new architecture.  I also have, of course, the strong interest to be a visible female presenter at a technology conference.  Today’s sermon topic at church had to do with living big dreams, specifically those that are bigger than your largest life-bound items, which are tied to purposes put in place for you before you were even born.  I keep returning to themes in my life of Christian business, Christian women leaders, female technology leadership…  these appear to me to be directly in line with listening to talents and interests given, and using them to help show paths to other women so that they too might make use of their talents.  I am convinced that one could update Proverbs 31 to show that same woman providing for her family through programming.  I say with quite a bit of tongue in cheek that her “lamp does not go out at night” could be because much programming is done in the late evening hours.

Rather than resolutions, I’m going to try a Ben Franklin-esque approach, adding new habits over the year. He built himself a list of 13 virtues, and then a cycle in which he concentrated on one per week. He kept a log which then let him hold himself accountable: each day in which he didn’t accomplish his virtue habit, he put in an X mark.  The goal, of course, was to have a week clear of X’s.  On week 1, he worked on habit 1.  On week 2, he logged how he did on habit 1, but really focused on habit 2.  The idea was that by concentrating on a particular habit and logging previous, you’d do well at your focused habit, and at least better than you were doing previously on your previous habits.  Rinse and repeat 4 times (4*13=52) during the year, and you’re making some real progress..

Not being _quite_ so formal here, in terms of keeping a log, but definitely trying an additive approach for habits on for size.  Thinking here the advantage, as opposed to New Year’s resolutions, is you’re adding targets iteratively, rather than having a really large set that you’re bound to fall over on early on.  Previous attempts to set New Year’s resolutions end up with 10 out of 13 failing within the first two months or so.  This, instead, lets me succeed a bit at a time, and also then know I get three more cycles.

– Eating more healthfully: Vegetables, consumption of alcohol
– Spend time with God: Bible-reading, prayer, …
– Organization – day timer system,…
– Spend more time with family – consistent in/out time for work

You’ll see we’re in the first week of the new year: I “cheated” and started early on eating more fruits and vegetables – started the week before.  With the minor scariness of having an apparent allergic reaction to a vegetarian pizza, things have gone swimmingly.  I’m in week 2, working on reading the Bible each night.  Chronological Bible in hand, doing a bit each evening.  So far, success – this one has proved challenging for me before to sustain, though – previous attempts to read through the Bible in a year have take 2 1/2 years or more.  I’m also trying out a new organization system in my Day Timer – counting this as a week 3 thing, as I’m not yet sure what the mechanics for my system are…  Uh, not doing so well on getting out of work on time lately – let’s make that a habit to tackle in week 4 or so..  🙂

Advantage here: I haven’t yet determined all 13 habits.  Observations on the way the year’s going can influence what habits get added in later weeks.  Agile self-improvement.

Had reason to sign up for an Amazon S3 account yesterday to use as a download area for the anticipated spike in traffic to our project in the very near term. Was amazed that:the following set of steps worked so amazingly well:
– the site had me give it some info, including a phone number
– site told me it was going to call, and that I need to punch in a pin # it put up on the screen there
– I got an automated phone call and entered that pin
– as soon as I got off the phone, the site updated itself to say that it was creating my S3 account structure.

Amazing! Web site synched with autodial phone system which (I think) had its message crafted based on my info which then synched back to the web site’s back-end server to do finish processing and do a server push out to the site itself saying that the transaction had completed. Excellent user experience: no time lapses seen and my account got created seamlessly. Very cool use of multiple technologies, done breezily on the part of Amazon.

Hearing lots about the mega million jackpot today. $640 million would certainly make an impact in most folks’ bank accounts. Apparently, $640 mil is more than what most US households would earn in 10,000 years.

Your odds of winning are long.  Ridiculously long.  2 hole in ones in a single golf game long.  You’re more likely to be crushed to death by a vending machine or dying by being a lefty who uses right-hand products, according to the Daily Beast.  But boy, wouldn’t it be nice to live like a mega millionaire?

Um, no.  Not thinking so.  Maybe a mini millionaire.  Someone who has enough money in the bank to not worry about whether they’re covering the bills, not feeling like they’re stuck in their job, able to dream a bit and feel like they could make those dreams (travel, motorcycle, adventures, …) come true.

Mini-millionaire is easy, and a lot less dependent on 1 in 176 million odds.  Live below your means.  If you make 100K, live on 85-90K or less.  If you make 60K, live on 45-50K, or less.  Act like you’re still making the money you started your career with – no cost of living increases, no raises or promotions.  What’s that do for you?  It does a few things.  One, you’re not stuck in what I’ve heard termed as ‘golden handcuffs’.  Golden handcuffs are jobs that you have to keep because they’re the only ones that will give you the kind of salary you need to live on.  You’ll keep going to a place that you don’t like, doesn’t inspire you, or otherwise give you any reason to keep going to work other than that particular paycheck number.  It’s a gilded cage.  It’s a demotivating cage.  You’re not going to do your best work if the reason you’re still there is only pocketbook motivated.  For one thing, there’s always the distraction of looking for the cage upgrade.  Ones’ monetary ‘needs’ have a funny habit of growing, unless specifically kept in check, so soon enough that cage starts feeling just a bit snug.

Second, it gives you a ‘go-to-he**’ fund.  It gives you money in the bank which you can use as a cushion to find a different job at any point.  A guy I knew at a job a few years ago didn’t particularly like his job, but was paid at the top of the market.  He ended up laid off, as top of the line salaries make you top of the line targets.  The top of the line salary part wasn’t a bad thing, but his need to get a job very quickly gave him a large salary-sized problem.  Contrast that with having the freedom to say: I don’t like this job.  I don’t like working for you.  I’m not going to do it anymore.  It’s a wonderful and yes, powerful feeling, to know that you’re working for someone because you want to, not because you specifically need to.  Now, there’s a difference between need to work generally, meaning at some point you need to get another job, versus never wanting to work again.  Somewhat theoretical for me – having a hard time imagining myself not working at all at some point in the future, even if that work is part-time or volunteering or …  My point is, since entering the workforce out of college, it’s been a goal of mine to never work somewhere just because they’re willing to pay me, even if they pay me well.   And a ‘go to he**’ fund is a great tool to help that happen.

Lastly, and on the much more personally rewarding side, one of the things that millionaires often do is give lots of money away to causes they find inspiring.  Warren Buffett has Girls, Inc, Bill Gates has the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie had Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Mellon, etc, etc…  They write checks to help make things happen.  When you live below your means, giving away money no longer is making a choice between helping yourself and helping someone else.  There’s a lot more latitude there to give more freely.  It hasn’t really cost you anything.  Now, one can make the argument that it costs you the things that you’re otherwise not doing in your lifestyle with that excess (my term) money.  Still, though, it costs you something you’re not doing, not something you are – very different dynamic.

Reading the paper this morning, someone in Maryland won one of the Mega Million lottery tickets. It’s not me, I’m certain, as I didn’t buy a ticket.  Whoever won has a lot more means this morning than they did last night.  It should be a bit easier to live within it.  That said, there’re many lottery winners who don’t live within their means and go bankrupt, even at the tune of income of the level of millionaires.  Contrast that with folks who build their habit of living within their means and become ‘The Millionaire Next Door’.  Or, better, the guy who lives like a millionaire because he’s not beholden to his job and gets to give away his money to the causes that he finds near and dear.  Bank account balance may or may not make him a millionaire, but he sure feels like one.

“Everyone” thinks open-source is good.   Software that’s free to you; software whose code is available for you to learn from, extend, or modify; software that’s presumably updated periodically by a hoard of magic elf volunteers for the sake of their own technical intellectual gratification.

Now..  are you one of those folks who contributes to an open-source project?  Hmmm – very different angle.

Now…  are you one of those folks who figures out how to run an open-source project, bringing together the disparate interests of that presumed hoard of volunteers into one uber well-running machine?

Wow.  I used to think that the hardest job in the world to do well would be to set up a high performing team at a fast food restaurant.   Staff turn-over, low pay, and the like.  I’m beginning to reconsider: the most interesting leadership and management challenges seem to be in the open-source space, particularly for projects that have a significant user base and vested interests from many parties interested in driving direction.  Lots of smart people, lots of competing interests, lots of feeling of a need to get somewhere in particular, lots of directions in particular.

Neat things to think about…


Watching for news of OSCON again this year.  Proposal submitted, waiting for word.  The topic I proposed a year or so ago on W3C and OpenAjax Hub seems to have prepared me well for topics ongoing at work nowadays.  May this year’s proposal topic serve me as well, AND get me a ticket to Portland.  Hoping to score the trifecta: a trip to the open-source software convention, an opportunity as a girl geek to speak, and an opportunity to highlight my / my company’s role in something pretty cool.  Hoping!