Tech

Over, Under, And Through: Dealing With Sexism In The Tech Industry

A couple weeks ago, Pax Dickinson got fired from Business Insider very quickly for some very sexist and racist remarks on his Twitter feed. For those of you not coming to this blog for vulgarities, I’ll include this tame one as an example:

paxdickinsontweetIn related but unrelated news, a couple of months ago, Bryan Goldberg launched a website for women which he said was the ‘first of its kind’. He got a lot of flack for implying that he needed to create a website for women. My favorite article from this online magazine aiming to target a smart, interesting, modern female demographic?

bustlearticleUgh.

These, and some other smaller news stories, have stemmed from this subculture of the ‘brogrammer’. This is the idea of a bro who is also a programmer, which as a group have been creating a similarly ridiculous subculture some have compared to Wall Street that women are choosing not to be involved in. (This isn’t just an opinion, there are actually less women in the tech industry then there was in the 1990s.)

Steve Jobs was considered a genius but why don’t we say the same of Marissa Mayer? Can you name any woman in tech besides Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg? (I can’t.)

What can we do about it? Well, you can do what I did and start your own thing. I largely get to stay out of that ‘bro’ subculture since I get to pick my coworkers (men and women who are not sexist). I also get to turn down work with sexist jerks that are potential clients (my female body parts generally scare them off anyway).

In Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which is one of my favorite books ever, she talks about women in the workplace in a general way and it is her advice I follow:

So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work, and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.

If the answer is yes, you have a more difficult road ahead of you. I suggest you model your strategy after the old Sesame Street film piece “Over! Under! Through!” (If you’re under forty you might not remember this film. It taught the concepts of “over, “under,” and “through” by filming toddlers crawling around in an abandoned construction site. They don’t show it anymore because someone has since realized that’s nuts.) If your boss is a jerk, try to find someone above or around your boss who is not a jerk. If you’re lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground—like the rifle range or the car sales total board or the SNL read-through. If so, focus on that.

Again, don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go “Over! Under! Through!” and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing. Don’t care if they like it.

(If you want to read the whole excerpt, just go here. It’s better in a context and it’s not much longer than what I have above.)

So those of us women in industries where we aren’t welcome, let’s go over, around, and through… because this is how things get better. I’ll keep doing my thing and not caring if Pax Dickinson, Bryan Goldberg, or anyone else likes it.

How To Make An Infographic That People Actually Like

howtomakeagreatinfographicAbout once a month, I get an email from someone to the effect of this:

Hi Nicole,

We’ve created an infographic about SOMETHING RIDICULOUS (How Many Shoes Women Buy In A Lifetime/Why Wisconsin Cheese Is Best/Where The Best Cities To Date Are). Here is the link: LINK We thought your blog readers might appreciate it.

Thanks, SOME PERSON I’VE NEVER HEARD FROM OFTEN WITH A GENERIC GMAIL ADDRESS

I usually check out the infographic since they’ve actually bothered to look up the name of the person who owns this website. But it’s usually about some random subject I don’t (and you wouldn’t) care about. With the amount of effort taken to make an infographic (and by effort, I mean time and money), you’d think that most infographics would be pretty well executed. Sadly, not so. In case you are thinking of creating an infographic for your business, allow me to take you through some common pitfalls as I see them.

(If you click each infographic, you can see it bigger on the real website where it lives.)

Problem 1: Where do I look? Here’s an infographic by a non-profit charity that helps people access glasses in developing countries: + Read More

How To Not Be Catfished Online

A relatively recent reality obsession of mine has been the television show Catfish. The premise of the movie (and now spin off show) is that someone is in an internet- based relationship with someone they’ve never met… until they do. And it’s never what you’re expecting.

Here’s a trailer for the show (hosted by Nev, the original Catfish victim (or experiencer- depending on  your outlook) whose experience was documented in the movie).

So it may have struck you, as it did me, that in the days of Google, it’s weird that this kind of thing could happen. Sure before Facebook and Chat Roulette, when most of the country was only online to check email and maybe enter an occasional anonymous chat room, the ability to completely deceive someone about who you are seemed possible.Now this would seem to be much much harder.

While the reveal in this show is supposed to be the shocking part, I am equally as interested in why these people don’t dig around for the identity of a person they are in a relationship with… especially when that person never wants to meet you or video chat.

Am I saying to show up to your next first date knowing the person’s shoe size, birthday, and mother’s maiden name? Of course not. But all of us should know who we are entering (or thinking of entering) into relationships with.

If it’s a question of knowledge you have come to the right place. What tools are at your disposal for this sort of thing? Here are a few:

http://www.fbchecker.com/

This app (that you can install on your Windows computer) will check the Facebook images of a profile against what else is online. Here is a man who apparently is in love with my friend Carrie (have friend requested her with professions of love):

Even having one photo available can help you spot a fake profile. Sadly, this is not Carrie's Irish dream man.

Even having one photo available can help you spot a fake profile. Sadly, this is not Carrie’s Irish dream man.

Google image search

This is one of the Catfish show’s primary tools. You can upload photos (either from a URL or your computer) and see if they exist anywhere on the internet. Please be amused that my photo looks like a dude’s photo:

googleimagesearch

 

But I included this photo not just to make you laugh but to show you what I mean could happen. Look below. See how William Secor and Jack Appleby have the same photo? Clearly one of them (at least) in impersonating the other.

WhoIs Lookup

Is someone pretending to be in an artist or some other figure that you can find a website for? If so, this is handy to know.

Unless a domain is privately registered (which you pay extra for), you can tell who owns a domain by typing into the address bar of your browser:  http://whois.domaintools.com/THEDOMAINNAMEHERE

Here’s what you see when you look up Breaking Even Communications:

whoisrecordbreakingeven

 

You see my name, email, address, and phone number. Not so easy to be mysterious online!

These tools should at least get you started on some paths (pseudonyms, locations, etc.) that can improve your Google searching.

So enjoy looking at all those mysterious muscled guys who friend you on MySpace and bikini girls who find you on Facebook… because now you know what’s behind the curtain.

 

Gaming Week: Where You Should Send Your Kids This Summer

Gaming Week in Massachusetts: Where I'd bring my kids this summer if I had any.

Gaming Week in Massachusetts: Where I’d bring my kids this summer if I had any.

I know a non-parent giving parenting advice is going to go over about as well as a lead balloon. But hear me out.

My friend Matt is not only one of the smartest people I know but also one of the kindest. Him and his awesome wife Emily have two sons and they are great parents.

When Matt told me he wanted to hosting a gaming week, I thought he was a little crazy.

He’s going to take a week of his vacation and create something awesome not just for his son to enjoy but other kids as well.

I’ve recently learned that Matt’s 9 year old Minecraft playing son has set up his own server and has been not only learning a lot about the game but some other skills as well. Check out Matt’s blog post about this.

Don’t believe Matt? Here’s someone on PBS saying the exact same things in video format:

So what are my top five reasons your 7ish to 12ish year old kid should go to this weekend?

1) Matt and Emily will make sure everyone has a great time.
2) Your kids will learn skills that will translate into the real world.
3) There will be non-computer games too to give kiddos a break.
4) They will meet cool people in real life they might not get to otherwise.
5) It’s a relatively affordable learning opportunity.

For more info, you can like the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gamingweek.info

Or if you think this is awesome already and have kids, you can register them here: https://gamingweek.info/registration/

Online Form Software: Your Options

Maybe you read my blog about forms yesterday. Maybe you are doing research on online forms. Maybe you just like this blog and think ‘maybe this nerdy post is something I can use.’ In any case, welcome!

One option you have is hosting your website form elsewhere and simply displaying it on your site. One way of doing this is using Google Docs to make a form then embedding it in your website. Here’s an example of that:

This is my local Rotary club's website which runs on Clubrunner. Can you make a form in Clubrunner software? Maybe but I wasn't going to spend a lot of time figuring it out. So I embedded this signup for our upcoming mini golf tournament on their site.

This is my local Rotary club’s website which runs on Clubrunner. Can you make a form in Clubrunner software? Maybe but I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time figuring it out. So I embedded this signup for our upcoming mini golf tournament on their site.

So technically the form lives on Google but it is displaying on this page.

What’s cool about the Google form? When someone fills it out, it automatically populates a spreadsheet:

Here is the spreadsheet that minigolf signup form is populating. Names have been blurred to protect the other teams butts we will kick.

Here is the spreadsheet that minigolf signup form is populating. Names have been blurred to protect the other teams butts we will kick.

Now I don’t know about you but I find that pretty impressive. Now all I’ll have to do is print off the final spreadsheet and we can do registration at the door and take payment. Easy!

Is Google your only option? Of course not. There are other free form software out there that allow you to create forms and display it on your website. Like this service:

If you are small time, you can totally use the free version of this!

If you are small time, you can totally use the free version of this!

Now what if you have an awesome website driven by a content management system. Can the form live and be displayed on your website? But of course!

Our meeting scheduling form not only saves lots of back and forth emails but get us paid gigs. Win!

Our meeting scheduling form not only saves lots of back and forth emails but get us paid gigs. Win!

We use a form software on our website called Gravity Forms. I love it because not only can I make the form look like how I want but can also look at conversions:

Apparently something about the contact form isn't 'wow'ing people. Good to know.

Apparently something about the contact form isn’t ‘wow’ing people. Good to know.

The software also stores a copy of the form on my server, meaning if I accidentally delete it from my email, I can log into the website and get it again. Oh and it integrates with my Google Analytics and other features I have going on the site.

What? Is my contact form integrated with our email newsletter subscription service? Why yes it is, thanks for noticing.

What? Is my contact form integrated with our email newsletter subscription service? Why yes it is, thanks for noticing.

So in the ideal world, you website software helps you make great forms that integrate with your website (and other online things you have going on). But it’s not an all or nothing proposition; even if you have an old school website you can still have a form displaying there while it lives elsewhere on the internet.

Name the business and you can have a form for that:

Landlord? Take your potential tenant’s (non confidential) information. 

Cat drawer? Let people order their cat drawings online.

Ok there are probably more but if you’ve seen an amazing use of an online form, please leave a comment and we’ll add your idea (crediting you and linking your site of course) to this list!

Joomla Day Boston

This past weekend was Joomla Day Boston. Joomla days happen all over the world and it is a chance for users of Joomla software to get together and talk shop.

For those of you who don’t know, Joomla is a open source software people use to build websites. Breaking Even uses a combination of Joomla and Wordpress to support our clients. We use open source software because:

1) Millions of people are using it and, since it’s open, that means it is constantly being improved by its users… and that there are a lot of places online you can get help.
2) It’s free, meaning a client only has to pay us for customization (versus paying for the software and our time to customize it).
3) Because it’s open (no proprietary), a client can work with a lot of designers besides me. In other words, I can retain clients because they like me, not because they are stuck using my web design software.

I’ve been to a couple Joomla Day events (Joomla Day New England last year and the Joomla World Conference this fall) so on a whim, I applied to speak at Joomla Day Boston about Facebook.  And I got accepted!

Look it's my name... on a website that isn't mine!

By the way, whenever I decide to speak about Facebook, Facebook always immediately likes to change stuff, which makes me have to retake screenshots or otherwise learn stuff (in this case about open graph). So sorry if I inconvenienced you!

So Alice and I drove down Friday and after eating at Thelonius Monkfish (where we were the oldest people by at least ten years) and getting a good night’s sleep, we hit the ground running on Saturday for the conference.

Me talking about the Facebook with a phantom Diet Coke that seemed to appear on my podium despite the fact I don't drink it.

Me talking about the Facebook with a phantom Diet Coke that seemed to appear on my podium despite the fact I don’t drink it.

The main organizer was Dianne Henning, a very talented designer, photographer, and organizer. This was the first ever Joomla Day Boston and nothing went wrong. Go Dianne and all the others who made this possible.

Dianne Henning, who Alice and I both agreed in the car after has this amazing presence in addition to being very knowledgable and warm. The best host we could have asked for.

Dianne Henning, who Alice and I both agreed in the car after has this amazing presence in addition to being very knowledgable and warm. The best host we could have asked for.

My favorite part of the official program was Robbie Adair’s presentation on Joomla menus. While I’ve been working with the software for years, there are some things I’ve been doing and thinking ‘there has to be an easier way’. Robbie’s presentation gave me three of those mind blowing moments.

Robbie's presentation was fantastic. A great balance of interesting theoretical background and practical how-to.

Robbie’s presentation was fantastic. A great balance of interesting theoretical background and practical how-to.

Though the official program was great, those moments not photographed were probably even more powerful. Great conversations over food about technology and life (Thinking here of Jessica Dunbar, Luke Summerfield and JoeJoomla!). Despite geeks having a reputation for not being social, a particular set of us definitely closed the pub we were in even after geeking out for eight hours in a conference.

These photos were taken by Jonathan Neubauer and if you want to see more, they are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonneubauer/

I am very new to this community of people but I am impressed that not only have they welcomed me with open arms but also value my skill set. Thanks to everyone at Joomla Day Boston for making it worth 12 hours in a car!

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