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This is not an exaggeration: Over a million dollars raised for nonprofits

Folks, huge news! The #HolidayChallenge just passed $1,000,000. That's a million dollars for charities.

As many of you know, I'm helping to fund the CrowdRise #HolidayChallenge to help nonprofits around the country raise money this holiday season. This is many of the orgs' year-end fundraising campaign, and they could really use your help.

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There are some really good causes that funds are being raised for, and I'm so inspired. There are animal rights and sanctuary orgs, greenhouse projects, promotion of education, veterans, mental health, human rights groups, women's health, self-esteem and body image groups, orgs raising money to help children with diseases, literacy campaigns, and the list goes on, and on.

If you're able, take a look through all of the good orgs participating in this challenge, and give to one that really sticks out to you.

This week the Bonus Challenge is fun, the first two fundraising teams to raise $250, beginning at noon EST each day, will go head to head in a heated game of rock, paper, scissors. The winner each day will get $1,500 for their cause. You can help decide who wins this week.

Bonus Challenge #1 was won by Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance.

Bonus Challenge #2 was won by Cure JM.

Bonus Challenge #3 was won by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

Bonus Challenge #4 is happening right now.

There are seven Bonus Challenges total and they're all listed here.

There are a lot of Huffington Post winners so far. 119 teams have raised at least $1,000 for their cause, winning at least one of the HuffPost prizes. HuffPost is offering "tiered" prizes during the Challenge, which are called "HuffPost Prizes for Everyone" because they're non-competitive. If you raise the money required in a tier, you get the prize and when you reach the next tier, you get that prize too.

When CrowdRise was gearing up for the #HolidayChallenge, five charities won "Get your charity profiled by a HuffPost reporter." They are:

• Building Botswana

ShoeHeals

• Chicago Adventure Therapy

Canstruction

• Toilet Hackers

 Now head on over to the Holiday Challenge, and let's try to raise $2M for charity, what do ya say?

Will You Stand With Me For Equality For Immigrants?

Folks, I support immigration fairness. I received an email from Jose Antonio Vargas this morning about showing support for fairness and equality on behalf of immigrants. I'm from a family of recent immigrants, and like to note that now and then.

Jose said:

Today (Monday), just as Congressional members prepare to go home for the holidays without taking action on immigration, Define American, the non-partisan media/culture campaign I founded, is launching a new symbol of unity for the immigrant rights movement—the Pledge.

Pledge DefineAmerican

Unlike the LGBT movement's equal sign, the immigrant rights movement does not have a symbol. The Pledge is a way of showing support for fairness and equality on behalf of 11 million immigrants like me–many of us Americans in all but papers. And to promote the symbol, I directed a new online video that features 30 undocumented immigrants—college students, a housekeeper, a Congressional intern, even—pledging allegiance to the American flag and government that have yet to recognize us. Here is the video: 

Folks, here's how you can support this effort.

1) Add the Pledge symbol to your Twitter avatar and Facebook profile. It's simple to do, and you can do so by clicking here.

( I just changed my profile photos today, and it was really simple.)

2) Please tweet this sometime today.

.@joseiswriting just launched a new symbol for the #immigration movement http://ow.ly/rysZV via @DefineAmerican #4all

 

To promote the Pledge, a new symbol of unity for immigration fairness, 30 undocumented Americans—immigrants born in various countries like Mexico, Argentina, Kenya and India, but all of whom call the U.S. home—gathered to film that video pledging allegiance to the American flag and government that have yet to recognize them.

This cause needs allies. To stand alongside your undocumented family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers and classmates, please check out DefineAmerican.com, take the pledge and renew your vows to America.

 

5 More Women in Tech Organizations You Should Know

Folks, a while back my team and I created a list of the Top 10 Women in Tech Orgs and I'm following up with some of the suggestions that have been sent in. I checked out all of the orgs that people commented about, and appreciate the great women in tech organizations that are really getting the job done.

Here are 5 more women in tech orgs that you should know about:

App Camp For Girls teaches girls how to brainstorm, design, build and pitch iPhone apps. It's a place where girls can put their creative power to work, concepting and building apps, while learning more about the business of software and being inspired by women who are professional software developers. The org is planning to expand beyond Portland, Oregon, in Summer 2014, and are recruiting organizers now. 


APPCAMPFORGIRLS

Women Tech Council provides mentoring, visibility and networking for women. The community is built for women who currently work for technology companies, and for those that may work in technology roles in other market sectors. Women Tech Council provides leadership, resources, and mentoring for women while maintaining a strong bond with the business community supporting avenues for top technology talent and visible sponsorship opportunities. They support women-owned and women-operated technology companies, and pride themselves on recognizing women leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology business and supporting them.


women tech council

Dames Making Games is a nonprofit, educational feminist organization dedicated to supporting Dames interested in creating games. They welcome all people of any gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, religion, ability, nationality, socioeconomic status, and immigrant status as members. Their goals are to:

    • Demonstrate the value of diversity in a broad range of disciplines related to games
    • Highlight the achievements of diverse Toronto-based gamemakers
    • Provide a community and venue for dames to confidently explore playing, discussing, and creating games


dames

Women in Wireless is a great community of visionary mobilists. The org empowers and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media. They do this through inspirational panels and webinars, leadership development, mentoring, and networking.


women in wireless

Women's Coding Collective began with the merging of Web Start Women and their counterpart Codagogy. Web Start Women's mission was to encourage women entrepreneurs in the local community to learn tech skills that would further their businesses. Then they built Codagogy to make web programming education accessible to women anywhere and everywhere. These initiatives grew and developed so that a new name was needed to encompass all that they had become, hence the Women's Coding Collective (WCC). The WCC is an even stronger, more focused web development community for women coders and creators.


womens coding collective

 

 

Any other orgs you think I should be looking at? Thanks!

Big Idea 2014: How to Fix Washington's Approach to Tech

Much of the business of Washington is based on getting info around, much of the good news has not been reported, and I'd like to get the word out to make things better. This is the short, oversimplified version, based on 37 years of direct observation in both private and public sectors.

This is mostly about doing software based on actually listening to people and then acting on feedback, with a focus on the "ground truth" and what we can learn from that.

I think it was 1969 when some guys at Bell Labs started inventing something called Unix. It was a simple, very effective operating system, which could be ported to most any computer, since the source code could be checked out by outsiders, then adapted. It was in the spirit of what we now call "open source," but the code was AT&T proprietary, limiting its use. Key to its effectiveness was that it was built in modest increments, by people who'd use it, both at Bell Labs and at the universities and labs who built Internet tech.

Note those elements: Built with real humility, talking to people, piece by piece.

Back then, software was most often developed starting with requirements or specifications docs. These were written by managers or people in marketing, the popular kids, who didn't so much as talk to the people who'd run the software.

Once the docs were written, they tossed it to the people who'd write the code.

If the software actually got developed, it would frequently be late, over budget, and sometimes bought by no one except people who had to. (That's like a lot of Federal software projects.)

In Washington, this is called the "waterfall" approach, since the docs are kind of tossed over some barrier which limits the ability of coders to talk to people, and which meant the software was frequently built as a big, complex monolith.

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I saw this approach used to develop the first operating system for the IBM Series/1 minicomputer, great hardware, in the late seventies. Whenever I asked why the software was so hard to use, I was explicitly told by the developers that usability wasn't a requirement. (I'm not making this up.)

Bell Labs asked us about porting Unix to the S/1, and my recommendation is that we could do better, but why fix what's not broken?

Turns out that a modest, maverick effort at IBM Research resulted in S/1 Event Driven Executive, which I feel was much better than the official product. For the matter, two versions of Unix were built for the S/1, both too late.Otherwise, the history of the whole industry could be different.

Years later, Linus Torvalds figured that Unix was pretty good but too proprietary, so he started building what's now called Linux. It's pretty much a Unix clone, but it's open source in the sense that anyone can build stuff on it.

(Special props to Linus, who initiated this global, grassroots effort. Linus, like Jimmy Wales and Craig Newmark, is not an Internet Billionaire.)

That worked in a really big way, and much of the world runs on Linux, not only servers but our phones. Specifically, the Android operating system is a tight version of Linux, and it runs on hundreds of millions of phones. Even though developed in a large corporate environment, Google, it's a pretty modest effort, based on what people need, rather than the imagination of the popular kids.

For the most part, government software is done using the waterfall approach, in isolation from the people who'd use it, even as much of private industry has moved on. However, there have been efforts which go against that grain.

Long ago, clinicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs realized they needed a really good health records system. Without permission, they built something called VistA, built by the people who use it, ground up. It's perhaps one of the largest, and most effective health records systems around. No waterfall requirements, just a very modest approach.

Now, Veterans Affairs got the Veterans Benefits Management System, VBMS, just in recent months. It hasn't been reported, but the piles of paper you see at VA offices has been disappearing dramatically after they were scanned in. Vets' claims are just starting to get processed this way, and it looks good so far. We need to get Vets Service Orgs like the American Legion, Vets of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Vets directly involved, via the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, or vendor software via Digits to Digits.

VBMS development involved a lot of waterfall stuff, but much more recently, VA people are actually directly listening to people on that and acting on that. If vets, VSOs, or VA workers find a problem or have a suggestion, they contact contact actual humans to get stuff done.

Terminology: the antithesis of the waterfall approach is usually called "agile software development." I'm not very smart, and the version of it that I've practiced is this:

repeat forever:

  • listen to people
  • do stuff based on that

Please permit me to call that "agile"; seriously, I'm kinda simple-minded, that works for me.

(Seriously, people can contact for specifics. I'll act in my capacity as the official VA "nerd-in-residence", hold me to that. Email craig@craigslist.org)

So, here's the deal:

  • small, modest efforts by programmers get stuff done, they can ask for forgiveness later.
  • listen to the people who use the system.
  • even systems started by the waterfall approach can become much more agile, with commitment from the boss.
  • open source approaches get stuff done, often a lot better than proprietary approaches. Can cost less, get done faster, possibly more reliable and secure.

Programmers who get stuff done this way, well, we're nerds. The alternative to the Federal government's waterfall approach to software development? Get the popular kids, for the most part, out of the way, and let the nerds get stuff done.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

5 Fun Facts About Craig on his Birthday

The craigconnects' team here to wish Craig a very Happy Birthday! We thought we'd share 5 fun facts about Craig with you on his birthday.

  1. Craig always says "I'm not as funny as I think I am," but he's wrong.
  2. His "rabbi" is Leonard Cohen. He usually says it like that, too, with the quotation marks.
  3. Craig and his wife wanted to get married by Skype but they knew their mothers wouldn't put up with that.
  4. Craig loves birds and squirrels a lot. He and his wife started a birdography, they call it Eileen and Craig's birdography spectacular. And when Craig talks about squirrels, he says, "Those urban survivors are quite sneaky, and for that matter, I've been told I can get a little squirrelly, and more than once…"
  5. His first real job was at IBM, in the old Boca Raton lab, in 1976.

If you'd like to help Craig celebrate his 61st birthday, consider making a donation to one of the 500+ charities over at the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge that Craig is supporting.

craigbdaymeme