Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Girl Geek Dinner Zero

The details of the first Girl Geek Dinner for Sydney are out.

Where on Earth is Papua New Guinea?

For those people at work who have asked me where that Papua New Guinea place is... here it is.

Scrabulous Dating

My name is Damana Madden and I'm a facebookaholic.

I'm not saying this because I intend on giving up any time soon. Of course, I can quit whenever I want to. The thing that keeps me going back to facebook, apart from the school friends I haven't spoken to in over a decade that are now my bestest buddies and the witty status updates about people who hate their jobs, just ate food or are savouring their coffee... blah blah blah... the main reason is that I like playing Scrabulous.

While Scrabulous awaits the outcome of the pending law suit from Hasbro for making money out of their game (even though no one was playing much until fb gave these guys a chance), it is splitting in to two distinct personalities. There are the die hard Scrabble players who watch their ratings rise and fall by the drift of seven letters a turn. The other are the lonely, desperate and slightly stimulated players who want to talk about other s-words and demand only attractive 16 year old brunettes with no boyfriends and two girlfriends accept their game invitations. 

It's getting creepy. As someone who often hosts a table - which means inviting anyone to play a Scrabble game, I often run in to people these days who don't want to play at all but only want to talk about other stuff.

It's each individuals choice to accept the game or not but I do find it entertaining that no matter what new applications or ideas are created for the Interblag, it always comes around to being used for this.

Some of my favourite game invites so far are...


Wednesday, 23 January 2008

New Baby

My new baby arrived today after 2 months of waiting and waiting. I can't leave ThoughtWorks now - we've already bonded.

It's a MacBook Pro... in case you can't tell.


Backlit keyboard

Monday, 21 January 2008

Girl Geek Dinners

Hey geek girls, computer chicks, wwwomen and peeps who feel they relate,

If you are in Sydney then check out a new group that might interest you: Girl Geek Dinners Sydney

Stay tuned for our next and first meeting in this town. It's going to be fabulous so don't miss it!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Google is on a Hiring Spreeeeeeeeeeeeeee

It looks like Google is on a hiring spree. I, along with a couple of other friends, was contacted by recruiters from Google US on Friday. It's interesting that they are contacting us all at the same time to go through the torture that is their interview process.

After going through the ThoughtWorks interview process and rather enjoying it regardless of whether I got in or not, and hearing about the Google stages which have resulted in some of the best engineers I know not getting through... I think I'll pass on the offer to interview or chat or whatever.

They found me through linkedin which just didn't make me feel special. Suzi need not worry about me leaving TW for Google any time soon.

How many others have they blindly contacted? How can linkedin or anything like it tell a recruiter that a software engineer is any good? Does this mean they are dropping their standards to get the numbers up? Not meaning me, of course :o)

Thursday, 17 January 2008

I hear you but what you are saying adds nothing

Recent posts have brought the antagonists out of the woodwork. I have chosen not to publish a couple of comments - one in particular demanded that I prove not having women in IT was a problem before talking about it.

I am not sure it is worth the argument but I would like to say that my posts are aimed at an audience of females with the intention to arm them with some of the knowledge I have gained by spending a decade in the IT industry. There is an assumption that my posts address an issue with women in IT, which is based again on the way I've been treated and have seen women treated in IT. In particular, the challenge of the female developer.

My career has consistently seen my role on a team or in an organisation include supporting other female developers. This has encouraged me to share anything I can with other geek girls.

It would be interesting to see if those opposing the gender balance in IT would be willing to replace the word "women" with "blacks" or "gays" and see if they felt there was an argument against other minorities being included in this industry because they don't have what it takes based on nature.

I am happy to discuss this with anyone who is willing to comment on my blog without the vale and protection of anonymity.

Also, are all comments valid? Should they all be published even if they add nothing to the thread?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

It's an XY world but don't let that stop you

Continuing with my series on how to survive as a geek girl in an XY world...

Feeling alienated in a male dominated industry is not unusual for women in IT. The main thing to remember is that you may feel unwelcome or uncomfortable but that doesn't mean you should leave. There are ways to find a place amongst the testosterone without changing who you are.

Geeks, nerds or whatever you choose to call us, have always respected one thing above all else and that is being good at what you do. It's what kept us alive during the dark high school years. That promise that we were good at logic, maths... stuff that the others sucked at and one day that would count for something. We still all respect that.

IT is one of the few meritocracies that I have seen in practice today. If you are good at what you do then you are respected. If you are great then you are celebrated. If you suck then you are rejected and ignored. This goes for men and women, young or old, black or white.

With women, being assertive and demanding respect is not something that we are encouraged to do so it doesn't feel natural. It's not part of our social makeup. Unfortunately, it is what the guys do when they are with other guys. They beat their chests to tell each other what they are good at and why you should respect them. I don't mean in a macho way at all. It's just a guy thing.

As a chick in IT you have to learn to do that. It doesn't have to be like the boys but it does have to be present. You must know when to show what you know and don't back down simply because it might bruise someones ego. That's ok. You are not their mum or their gf.

You have got here through the same degree they did. You work in the same places. You survive as a minority in a world that doesn't always encourage you. It's rigged against you so you simply existing here and now is proof that you mustn't suck.

Confidence is everything. It's a meritocracy so show your merit.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Blogging about Meta Blogging

It feels like 90% of blogosphere is people blogging about what somebody else said about a topic. Instead of contributing new information, we are talking about what others are talking about. Yes, I too am guilty of this on both my blogs.

Here is a guy who says a similar thing.

I am going to consciously try to avoid doing this.

Avoid those Bridget Jones Moments

Being new to Thoughtworks meant that meeting Martin Fowler for the first time was a big deal for me. If you were reading my tweets or saw my status on fb then you know I didn't squeal out loud but I was pretty excited to be sitting right there next to him.

It's my last day on the beach and there he was. I've always thought that I am a confident person who speaks her mind and would meet someone like Martin Fowler and go in to a deep discussion about what I liked about his last book and then move on to the things that don't work for me in what he might have said in a recent blog post.

Instead all I could picture was that painful moment in Bridget Jones where she meets Salman Rushdie and he asks her what she thinks about some topic and all she can do is ask where the bathroom is. I didn't say a thing.

I don't try to be such a fool. It just seems to happen.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Calling in a Build

Paul Duvall has a cool setup he modeled on an idea he got from the 24 TV series, where he phones in commands that are translated to text, sent by email and trigger a build process.

It's kinda pointless but does rock!

Geek Girl Blogs

If you are a geek && a girl && you blog, get your blog added to the aggregator Geek Girl Blogs. Some stuff is technical, some social and all with the intent of encouraging the female voice in IT.

Farewell Blogger, Hello Live Writer

Sticking with the default editor for my blogspot blogs seemed fine as long as I learnt to deal with the mild idiocy of blogger. It was ok until I helped my Mum create a blog and set her up to add her own pics and share her news with family, friends and the entire Interblag. Using her brand spanking new laptop, we created a new post, added all the images inline for the first post and then started to add text. IE refused to allow images to be copied pasted or dragged around in any predictable manner. Damn IE, I thought. Let's use Firefox, it's a little more reliable... fool! Firefox allowed copying and pasting if we used ctrl-c, ctrl-v but not using the contextual menu. There would be no dragging anything in Firefox. Flock and Safari were worse.

It worked on my laptop, which was sitting right next to hers. So that meant it wasn't a Darwin thing :) The only difference was that hers is running Vista. When it was purchased, they didn't have an option to buy XP with it so trusting the advice she ended up with a Vista infected laptop. After problems connecting that laptop to wireless routers and every piece of software she owned not running on it, I can confirm personally that Vista sucks eggs!

Now it looks like she can't blog from blogger using any of her browsers on her laptop so I'm trying alternatives. My aim is to try them before recommending them to her. What I really want is MarsEdit but without going out and buying a Mac, I'll just have to find alternatives.

So here is my first post with Live Writer.

Do you trust mobile phone services online?

After a shocking mobile phone bill resulting from the Christmas period, I decided to embrace an idea suggested to me about using free SMS txting services on the Interblag.

google.com.au had a few sponsored results and there are a bunch that are highly ranked. I followed the first seven to ten links and didn't opt for any of them. If it wasn't the incessant flashing images then it was the verbose and entrapping terms of service that promised to spam your phone and email and take your first born child.

I simply couldn't trust them not to spam me and every person I happened to txt from their site. Some of them were even quite upfront about selling on your email address to spam/advertising groups. You can't even choose not to participate because they will suspend your account if you do that. Is that even legal? Where is the ACCC?

Having worked for a company that was also an SMS aggregator, I know it costs them about 2c for each message. The sites that allow you 100 messages a day are only paying $2 for that, if you end up actually sending all those messages. What they must make for sending out spam to your email and phone would be huge.

The guys who ran a spam company near where I worked in Canberra drove very expensive cars so purely based on that, I assume that if you have no conscience then you can make a bucket load of money doing this kind of stuff.