Archive for November, 2014

Monday : 11-10-14

Achievement: Inbox Invite!

This isn’t going to be a long post but I just wanted to excitedly share that I finally got my hands on a invite for Inbox. So far ( the few hours I’ve had it) it seems interesting and I’m excited to see how it will compare to Mailbox which I’ve previously discussed. The one plus I see so far is being able to access it from the web, which is kind of nice. I look forward to writing something up further about it after I’ve had time to see how it works and integrates into my day to day email usage.

One of my good friends got his hands on invites and was nice enough to give one to me so you rock Jonathan! Thanks so much again!

Thursday : 11-06-14

Confession: I’m addicted to Templates.

I’m not sure exactly how far back this goes so bare with me on this tale. I know that I got my first taste of the power I could wield with templates when I took my Microsoft Office User Specialist class in high school. I chose the program as a sophomore in high school because I liked computers a bit and thought I could be a Secretary. I had this weird fascination with watching the inner workings of offices wherever I went and I thought that meant I would make a good secretary. My parents were a little confused with why that was my goal, but were willing to support me any way that they could. Thus, I wound up learning about how businesses use Office 2003 to make their lives easier.

As a gamer, I was always trying to find ways to be more efficient of my time and applied that to homework often. With the knowledge I was picking up about Office, I created templates for the major types of assignments that I would get ( which was pretty limited at that point). Shaving off several minutes getting a template for certain class assignments or for note taking typically added up or made me happy to see what more I could do. I carried this habit through college and to my first Tech Support Jobs.

When I took on the role of Account Coordinator, which was basically a Team Leader, templates became a more central part of what I did. I made many templates because I hated typing things out and it typically ensured responses were accurate and followed procedure. I painstakingly made email templates, call recording templates, report templates, and more. I would spend hours tweaking them and coming up with new templates. There were even times I’d do this off hours staying wayy into Third Shift because I had learned a new technique.

The thrill of sharing them with my co-workers also drove me further in my pursuits. At first, I only shared them with a few people as shortcuts to help them out. After a while my templates became necessities as I found it ensured everyone followed the team procedures which needed to be very strictly adhered to per our customer’s request. I got a sense of joy however, when they were recognized as making someone’s life easier or being exactly what they needed. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve worked there, I still hear tales of how they use my templates and it brings a sense of pride to me. My legacy will live on in a way.

Now, at my current job, my affair continues even more so. I’ve now branched out from simply just Office Templates and make any kind of form or documentation I can get my hands on. It’s an insatiable quest to perfect and create new templates to increase efficiency. I enjoy learning new software or techniques to improve on my methods. My current goal is to learn some automation software as well to enhance the templates I’ve created.

It’s a weird addiction and I’m still not even sure I get it, but there are certainly worse things. But now it feels good to confess about my weird fascination. Do any of you have any obsessions on par with templates? What drives them and how do you embrace them to be productive or better at your job?

Wednesday : 11-05-14

RE: I don’t know how to be a woman in tech

This is a response to a piece I read the other day several months back that I had a lot to say that a simple Social Media share was not adequate to express the level of feelings and thoughts that I have on this topic.

If you haven’t already done so, please check out Sandi MacPherson’s “I don’t know how to be a woman in tech”. Which is here.

Okay done? Welcome back. This is a topic that, even as she identifies that’s been getting a lot of thought space with recent news. As companies such as Google, VMware and smaller companies are disclosing their numbers of women in technical jobs within their companies. It’s great really to see that these companies are now willing to give people a peek about their numbers and also as a way to have conversations about how we can improve diversity. However, there’s also another side, it’s about how we are trying to have these conversations and how the media is trying to start them.

Everytime someone talks about this topic, the articles go a few familiar paths. We get Woman A who gets quoted in the article with her struggles being a woman in a very male dominated field. How she has been harassed, how she felt being the only girl asking where the ladies room was, etc. Then they zero in on how she grew up, as if putting these events under a microscope are going to provide an “AH, HA!” moment and finally reveal the perfect recipe to get women into STEM careers. If there is more than one woman we focus on, it’s now Woman B’s turn. Woman B either has to be very agreeable to the set of circumstances laid out or disagree entirely and say it’s not all women who live through this treatment. If she agrees, the comments fill with how one sided this all is with these women and their negative experiences. If she disagrees, the comments are now all about why she couldn’t support her fellow woman and how downright awful she is for dismissing other women for simply saying it doesn’t happen to her. There rarely is any middle grown, or other voices heard throughout the article. There’s some statistics sprinkled in for good measure. Then both groups of women are asked about what needs to be changed. I mean they suffered through all of this to be in the field, so clearly they now know what goes through the mind of every woman out there… Right? Yet, no thoughtful conversation is started from these. Our media acts like they moved mountains, but nothing has changed.

Is it because these women just failed and “didn’t know how to be a woman in tech”? Nope. Is it because the media was out to get all the women? Nope. It’s because it’s a complex issue that doesn’t have an easy button to address and it’s an issue that doesn’t exist for just women or just for the tech industry. We could probably be having a very similar conversation about male nurses, women welders, and any other field suffering diversity issues. And it also doesn’t just apply to gender but race too.

Sandi MacPherson feels useless because everytime one of these pieces comes out, it seems to focus in on these women as if they have the road map or insight to fix everything. If we’re always the one looked at, how else are we supposed to feel? I’m sure as women in the field we can share our experiences but all of it is anecdotal and as such there’s only so much to be gained from it.

You know how you fix this? Not knowing how to be a woman in tech.. Scribble that one word out there and become a person in tech. Because we as tech industry are a team. If we want to be a more diverse team then it will take management, recruitment, educational professionals, companies, employees, and consumers all together to make change. Men and Women, techs and non-techs. We need to be better human beings to one another first and foremost and use this to solve the rest of the issues. We need to listen to men and women both and talk more about it. We need to have tech events not cost more than what a college student pays for a credit hour at school so we can hear more of what people have to say. But most importantly none of these things should be the express burden of any woman in the field because it’s not our fault and not what we study. We are amazing technology professionals, let us be good at that. Let HR, psychology, and any other professional involved with identifying trends in industries the ability to study the issue and provide solutions based on their collective expertise.

Women should want to encourage other women to be there. And doing this does not always mean women have to give priority to other women. We should want to invest in startups, but we should never HAVE to just because it’s a woman lead startup. Putting these feelings of inadequacy on women for not doing X to fix this problem isn’t making the tech industry more innovative or more diverse. It will however start to make women feel inadequate, which is creates another problem while failing to resolve the original.

Let’s start making the field awesome regardless of gender while also helping fix the diversity issues. So, regardless of who you are, you want to work for a tech company because it gives your heart joy to walk into work each day. That’s a good starting place and then diversity becomes easier to make possible if everyone’s beating down the doors to work on these jobs.

Sandi MacPherson is a woman in tech, but she’s also a person. I’m glad she’s a fellow lady in the field, but I’m happier she’s another passionate person in the industry who loves what she’s doing. Lets worry about that and worry less about what eggshells we should walk on to fix a diversity issue that we did not cause. We just decided we liked doing this for a living, went to school for it, and worked entry level positions which ate our social lives to get to where we are now. Diversity can be addressed if we start to make women more comfortable in the industry instead of being the center for these discussions.