danica_mckellar_580pxDear Reader,

I wish Danica McKellar’sMath Doesn’t Suck” had been around when I was young.  I wound up in a remedial math class in the sixth grade because I believed that I was not good at math.  When the other kids said to me, “Congratulations. You’re a dummy like the rest of us. We are all dummies here. Welcome to the dummies class.” I fought. I refused to be labelled a dummy. I wound up back in the advanced math class.

My mother wasn’t much help. When I returned to college as an engineering major she said, “You don’t have the brains for that. Your father can do that. You can’t.” I was reduced to tears. My father got angry and told me not to listen to her. I realized I was really good at math and truly enjoyed it in college. I was scoring ahead of class average through Calculus 2 and I remember how beautiful an integration across two chalkboards was. The jumble of numbers and letters almost danced.

As supportive as my father was he was still surprised. When I found vector analysis intriguing, he said, “You are not doing vector analysis. I do that.” When I insisted I was learning it he asked me to explain it to him. His response was, “I always thought my sons would be doing that, not my daughter. Awesome.” I’ve been lucky to have a lot of good role models. My first cousin, Donna Livant, is an accomplished cancer researcher doing ground-breaking work at her Oncology lab at the University of Michigan. And she is married with a family.

I wonder how many stereotypes arise from a misunderstanding of the different interaction and learning styles between the genders. In addition to a perceived lack of ability women are not viewed as capable of teamwork. My current department is one of the best-kept secrets in the technology field. More than 50% of the management are women as well as the workforce. In the technical field teamwork is not just good for productivity — its a survival skill.

I take a nearly perverse delight in breaking stereotypes.  Trailblazing is not always comfortable, but I find the rewards far outweigh the challenges. I am not living in anyone else’s shadow. Currently, I have the privilege of being asked to be in a series of videos published by Bridge Technical Talent to mentor and foster children’s interests in the technical field. Will this kill the pesky stereotypes? I hope so.

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imagesDear Reader,

The 10 Best-Kept Secrets of being a woman in the technical field:

  1. You have the freedom to be as independent as you want to be.
  2. We struggle with the same challenges as men.  It’s NOT always because we are women.
  3. We CAN all get along.   We DO understand teamwork.
  4. We get to create our identities — it hasn’t been done before.  We are the pioneers and we are the creator of dreams.
  5. Playing with computers is fun.
  6. We are as smart as men — and they don’t mind us being so.
  7. We are treated equally as men when we work hard.
  8. We are paid equally when we ask for what we are worth.
  9. No one cares how pretty or plain we are.
  10. And the best kept secret of all… No line at the ladies’ room!   The men have to wait!

bill-shockDear Reader,

I wound up switching from an unrestricted Internet Provider to a restricted plan because I needed a better connection.   For the first time I encountered datashock.   Once I called up my provider and increased my data for the month, I had to figure out which device was the guilty party and how to manage my errant devices.  For those of you who don’t know data-saving tactics, here is a brief run-down:

  1. Close all your apps. If they are left running in the background they will use data while you are not watching.
  2. For a machine running Windows 8, you can set your metered data settings. Tutorial available here.
  3. Windows 8 also has a built-in function to show estimated data use.  Pull up your networks in the charm bar, right click your network and show data use :Screenshot (19)
  4. For Mac users, its a bit more elusive.  Groovin’ on apps wrote a great post here.
  5. There are a couple free apps in the Apple store Mac users can download to monitor data usage including Onavo:

Screenshot (20)

  1. Make sure apps are not updating automatically if possible.
  2. Video streaming of any kind is your worst enemy.
  3. Make good use of public networks if possible.  Now is the time for a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi.   The price of the meal is less than your data plan.

Happy surfing!


Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” 1

For those of you familiar with Linux – the other operating system – the Ubuntu distribution (version) encapsulates this concept. For those of you who only know Windows or Mac OS, Ubuntu runs on PCs and Apples.  Linux is open source – not commercially owned and free for all and supported by the development community.

BNj2NmdCYAAU5zUI bought my first ever Apple to expand my development skills.  In addition to trying to make me a Mac convert with the fevered enthusiasm of cultists, the Apple store showed me the app that would allow me to utilize my new iPad to remotely connecCAM00019_editedt to my Windows 8 Lenovo Yoga. It was surreal. Apple and PC in harmony through TeamViewer. I took control of my PC and posted to Facebook and rebooted my PC … utilizing my iPad as a remote control. I decided to try this from my Asus Tablet. TeamViewer installed no problem, but I ran into a totally unexpected issue. Due to the fact that Windows 8 and Windows RT (Windows 8 for a tablet) are both touch-controlled and both operate the same way, I could only get into my tablet functions.   The tablet intercepted the touch commands and none of it made it through to my PC.  I eventually outsmarted the tablet to control my pc, but it was awkward at best.  The iPad worked much better because the touch functions on the iPad work differently than the PC. The differences actually made the functioning possible — not the similarities.

Generally any software / hardware compatibility issues are non existant or very low if you stick with one one manufacturer — hence the secret behind Apple’s stable platforms. Also, that is why all Microsoft software is as easy as Mac software to install and use when its all new and staying within Microsoft. In this case, I happened upon an emergent property. Ubuntu. I am what I am because of who we are. Totally unexpected capabilities based on the combination of separate components. I wonder if this is the start of something new or a one-time fluke? Time will tell.

References:

1. From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.


imageDear Reader,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
―     Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs was a visionary.  He resurrected Apple from the dead, he successfully competed against Microsoft, and he innovated culture.  The naysayers could not tarnish Apple’s reputation.   I remember the line outside the retail store on a Friday night waiting for the latest iPhone.   Apple managed to build up a fan following similar to a popular band — that line was reminiscent of people lining up to get tickets to a sold-out show.

2010’s headlines included:

What of Apple today?   Two years into “The Year of Jobs?”

2013’s headlines include:

Additionally, Apple’s stock is not remaining strong and its new product launch at this year’s WWDC met with lukewarm reviews.  I’m left wondering, WWSD (What Would Steve Do)?   We don’t know.   Is this turn of events the beginning of a downward trend for Apple?  Apple users are a tremendously loyal bunch — almost to the point of a cult-like following to an iconic brand.   A good bit of that has to do with the exceptional customer service and support at the retail stores.

However; if Jamie Dihiansan, a self-admitted life-long Apple Guru found reason to switch to PCs, what of less involved individuals?  Apple products have become average among the competitors they inspired.  What is tragic is that Apple would attempt to damage Samsung in a lawsuit rather than raise itself to new excellence on its own merits.  Cruel irony would be that Apple crumbles as Steve Jobs commented on in 2004.

“And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example. Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t. Look at Microsoft — who’s running Microsoft? (interviewer: Steve Ballmer.) Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that’s what happened at Apple, as well.” – Steve Jobs, Business Week.


Dear Reader,IE10

After bravely trekking into the undiscovered country of Windows 8, I decided to add to the adventure by buying an Asus tablet running Windows RT.   So….   while setting up my environment, do you think this tech-savvy diva can set her IE10 homepage??   Nope.   I know I set it on my Lenovo Yoga … three months ago.   Now that I’m fluent with Windows 8, I figured no problem — I’d have this changed.  So I swipe from the top & bottom to vivoleadget into the settings.   No luck.   Swiping from the right to get into the charms bar.   No luck.   Bleeping computer.   So I Google it.  No luck.   Finally, memory resurfaces!  (Whoever said it was all over after 40?).   I went into the traditional desktop.   Opened IE in the desktop.   Went into the internet settings — low and behold, it was there!!   Hallelujah!


Dear Reader,

logo @NEGiveCamp is always a surreal experience.   For one weekend, I’m in an environment of total teamwork absent of self-interest, political agenda, financial goals  – everyone pulling together to help the organizations depending on us.  I planned my week of vacation around this event.

This year, the experience was healing for me.   New England Give Camp is annually hosted by Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.   For those of you blog followers who aren’t familiar with Boston’s geography, that is literally about a block or so from the bombings and where the officer was killed.  In addition to being so geographically close to the horrific events it was chronologically close to the events as well – about 3 weeks after.   I was terrified to get on the train to go into town.  The first night I was awakened at 3 am by a loud bang!   It turns out one of the other campers had stumbled during the night, but I was panicked for a bit.

However, being a New Englander, rather than head to the Bahamas for vacation, I pick up my weapons of choice (my trusty laptop and my courage) and I head into terrorist country.   logo

There is healing in community sharing.   I met old friends and we talked.   We processed the events together.   We worked to fix the problems in the world together.  I saw the young children that were not traumatized by the events, but were rather energized to make a difference.    Joy Olaes Surprenant always comes.   She began a wonderful organization, Catching Joy, that teaches the children the joy of givi559643_312590812203058_1173642950_ang back.   After the events of the terrorism, her organization was flooded by children wanting to know how to make a difference.

My team was helping out the fledgling organization, GVNGTogether – a non-profit that is innovating philanthropy.   Rather than philanthropy being one individual helping others, GVNGTogether is creating a community of philanthropists benefitting others.

I realized that those two terrorists made headlines and an impact.   New England Give Camp may not make the same headlines, but our impact is greater.   We outnumber them.  There are 120 of us volunteers, 24 non-profits and uncounted numbers of people positively impacted by that.   It doesn’t always feel like it, but the good is winning.   Its just not quite as flashy as Superman.