4 More Websites I’m Impressed With

cjrEarlier this year, I shared 5 sites I’ve got bookmarked that I thought might surprise some folks. But maybe not, I’m a nerd, and some sites I’ve got bookmarked might be predictable. To be honest, I’m a sucker for those that do factchecking well and those that humor me.

On that note, here are 4 websites that impress me:

  1. Thrilling Adventure Hour – one of my very favorite podcasts, endlessly smart and entertaining.
  2. feedly – how I get my news feeds (really, it’s all the sites that matter to you, in one place – so it’s kinda the keeper of my news).
  3. Columbia Journalism Review – news regarding the evolution of news (disclaimer: I’m on their Board of Overseers).
  4.  Zatz Not Funny! – I love TV, and TV tech, and great site for the latter.

Honestly, I could keep going, and the list could keep growing, but I’ll save more for later… Hey, what are some sites that you’ve got bookmarked?

Why We Need More Women In Tech

Women and girls still face a lot of obstacles in shaping technologies. The digital gender divide might be getting worse. Women and girls everywhere are missing, underrepresented, and dropping out from technology fields. As a result,  today’s tech – and increasingly today’s world – does not reflect the diversity of women’s experiences or ingenuity.

This isn’t fair, it’s not treating people like you want to be treated.

Beyond that, I’ve observed that technology is improved when women and girls have equal access. That’s pretty much common sense, since tech talent has no gender bias, and I’ve got over forty years working with women engineers and programmers that proves it. (We need a lot more, and in the U.S. we’re talking about a renewed emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — education.)

Too often, women in STEM get little acknowledgement for the work they’re doing. As a nerd, it’s my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It’s one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org. Earlier this year, I shared some big news: for the first time, in 2014,  women outnumbered men in a UC Berkeley Computer Science course. We need to continue supporting trends like this. It’s really important, folks.

women in tech

All this is why I’ve added my voice as an advocate to Global Fund for Women’s petition with UN Women calling for an end to the global gender technology gap. I wrote more about it over on HuffPo…

Specifically, I’m adding my name to call on the United Nations, governments around the world, and key decision makers to remove all barriers to the development and use of technology, increase investment in girls’ science and technology education around the world, and ensure women’s and girls’ full participation as developers and innovators.

Join me and add your signature to the Global Fund for Women and UN Women’s petition. Let’s make our call loud — we want to reach 20,000 signatures by March 5 in time to deliver the petition for International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Tell your colleagues, friends, and social networks that their signature can make a difference in shaping the type of future we live in.

New, Free App Aids Military Families

MML in handMilitary families shouldn’t have to struggle to find information they need.

MyMilitaryLife, an app by the National Military Family Association, eliminates the stressful search by connecting families with credible and tailored information. With the new Military Spouses Advice feature, spouses can recommend resources and share their expertise.

Users have unique access to advice from fellow military family members. Spouses can also rate resources and provide reviews on programs and services they’ve used. MyMilitaryLife is free for both iPhone and Android devices.

Features include:

  • Customized to-do lists
  • Tailored suggestions based on branch of Service, location, and needs
  • User rating system for resources
  • Advice from fellow military spouses
  • Due date reminders
  • Notices of new programs
  • Emergency phone numbers specific to military family needs
  • Social networking features to share information

Please note: If you download this app from a smart phone, it’ll take you to the app store or Google Play (depending on the device). If you click from a computer, you’ll be redirected to the online version of the app. The only downside to the computer version is that it hasn’t been updated with the new feature above.

Regardless if you’re in the app or online, you can enter as a guest. As a guest, you can view content, but you’ve gotta create an account to add content.

Folks, it looks like a good attempt to provide milfams with the resources they need, but we need military spouses and family members to enter info on programs and add reviews for this to be effective.

Who should learn to code? Everyone.

I believe that everyone deserves the chance to learn how to code, if that’s what they want. And maybe that desire for equality’s based in my nerdly values, but it’s something that’s important. I’ve been supporting Girls Who Code for some time now, and they do real good work closing the gender gap in the tech and engineering sectors. Women in tech is an effort I’ve been supporting pretty frequently.

Speaking of coding, a coupla weeks ago Tim Heaton, who’s involved in Morristown community service, sent me an email about what’s going on with tech in Morristown, NJ. Tim’s email inspired me to ask  him to write a blog post for craigconnects…

Who should learn to code? Everyone.

Bill Gates :“Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer.”

Cube jockey: “The Everyone Should Learn to Program” movement is wrong because it falsely equates programming with essential skills like reading, writing, and math. In my 30- year programming career…… ”

Thirty years?

Thirty years ago there was one phone company. Michael Jordan was a freshman at NC. President Ronald Reagan made GPS available for civilian use. The McNugget was born. And the Apple IIe was introduced — one of its amazing features was that it could display lower- and upper-case letters!

Thirty years ago it was really difficult to learn a computer language. Running a program often meant getting up in the middle of the night for your allotted run time. Programs were boxes of punch cards. Machines talking to machines was sci-fi. A phone was something shared with neighbors. To this day a computer to my dad (an ex-IBM programmer) is a room-sized monster, nothing else qualifies. A PC is just a typewriter. A mobile phone is just a phone.

Career programmers don’t think just anyone can do it.

They will tell you that you need 10 years of coding experience to know enough to be “worthy.” And this was certainly true 30 years ago. Then it took a whole day to run a program, now it happens every time you turn on your phone. Most importantly, the open source community and free online learning sites is a true paradigm shift that has broken down the knowledge barrier.

In medieval times, the Guilds were founded to stifle competition by restricting knowledge. Today it is the same. Fortifying this false barrier in technology is the notion that jobs requiring even minimal skill need certification (with apologies to some of my favorite professions): Bar-Tending, Physical Trainer, Project Management or Database Administrator. The Guilds during the Middle Ages protected their members for the same reason as today’s: Job security. However, developing your ideas into a product doesn’t mean being chained in a cubicle for 10 years or lugging around a stack of cards in the middle of the night. Coding is no longer difficult. The open source movement has seen to that.

To the modern programming Guilds, I agree that it takes years to understand what others have written in the millions of lines of enterprise code. I’m not suggesting that everyone should be a programmer anymore than I would suggest that anyone could be a concert pianist. The difference is that developing useful applications with code is much, much easier than learning to play the piano.

So, if anyone could code, why is learning to code important?handel

Because being creative is not enough in today’s workplace. To be successful you must be able execute your ideas. And you have a far better idea of what is useful than the tradition-bound, 30-year career programmer – or some dude in Chennai for that matter .

A modern analogy may be found in music. Is the artist Pitbull a musician? If we could ask Friedrich Handel’s opinion – maybe not, and if we could shoot him back to Handel’s time – definitely not. Today however, Pitbull is a multi-platinum artist. Same thing with technology. One doesn’t need to be a computer prodigy to be a successful technologist, one needs to know how the technology works well enough to write a song or build an mobile application.

A note to Handel: I don’t think much of Pitbull’s music either.

It’s more important to understand the market and communicate with people, in both music and technology, than to write beautiful composition or code. Most of the successful people in technology are not great coders, but they understand enough to execute their ideas. To the career programmers – the cubicles are yours. To the executors of ideas – the world is ours.

Rosetta Stone or Code.org? – One final note.

The most amazing thing about computer languages is that, like music, they are universal. Whatever I create in computer code is understood by everyone else in the world, immediately and simultaneously. Multilingual education forgot to include the universal language: Computer languages.

Who should learn to code? Everyone who has a problem that needs solving.

Teach yourself and join the effort to teach kids how to solve problems: Code.org

 

Guest Blog Post by Tim Heaton

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Bay Area’s Most Influential Biz-Tech Figure, Clerical Error?

Folks, it seems I’ve won the Bay Area’s Most Influential Biz-Tech Figure… (clerical error?)

biztech

(you can see a bigger version of the image here…)
And, on that note…

craig
I thought this photo seemed appropriate. Though, it’s a bit of a joke, I’m in a pedi-cab modeled after the Iron Throne in the Game of Thrones. In the Game of Thrones, you win, or, well, you don’t win. On the other hand, Mrs Newmark suggests that in the Turkey chair I look like a Turducken… Yes, the Throne kinda looks like Turkey wings, and I guess that makes it a TurNerden, the tech Turducken. Anyway, Winter is Coming.

Everyone, thanks for the very kind words you’ve sent my way, and please remember my reference to “clerical error.”

6 Women Making Waves for Social Justice in Tech

tech social justice

Folks, my teams and I have been following your comments about women in the tech sector that you really admire.

We’ve researched many of the women you’ve shared, and appreciate the time you took to mention ’em. The following is a list of women who really have their boots on the ground, all suggestions from comments. Please keep ’em coming. And maybe follow these women who are doing a lot of work for social good in the tech arena.

1. Selena Deckelmann, A major contributor to PostgreSQL and a Data Architect at Mozilla. She’s been involved with free and open source software since 1995 and began running conferences for PostgreSQL in 2007. In 2012, she founded PyLadiesPDX, a Portland chapter of PyLadies. Selena also founded Open Source Bridge and Postgres Open, and speaks internationally about open source, databases, and community when she’s not keeping chickens and giving technical talks.


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2. Leslie Hawthorn, Community Manager at Elasticsearch, where she leads community relations efforts. Leslie’s spent the past decade creating, cultivating, and enabling open source communities. She created the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launched Google’s #2 Developer Blog, received an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010, and gave a few great talks on many things open source.


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3. Deb Nicholson, Director of Community Outreach for the Open Invention Network, works at the intersection of technology and social justice. She’s been a free speech advocate, economic justice organizer and civil liberties defender. After working in Massachusetts politics for fifteen years, Deb became involved in the free software movement.

She’s the Community Outreach Director at the Open Invention Network and the Community Manager at Media Goblin. She also serves on the board at Open Hatch, a non-profit dedicated to matching prospective free software contributors with communities, tools and education.

(We could not find a Twitter account for Deb Nicholson…)

4. Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, Automation and Tools Engineer at Hewlett-Packard on the OpenStack Infra team. Elizabeth’s also a Community Council member for Ubuntu and a Board Member for Partimus, an organization that puts Linux hardware in schools.

5. Keila Banks, A web designer, programmer, videographer, and publisher of content making use of mostly open source software. She speaks to audiences of adults and youth alike on being raised in a family filled with technology and how she uses Linux and open source software in ways that will challenge you to ask yourself, are you smarter than a 5th grade open source user?

(We could not find a Twitter account for Keila Banks…)

6. Val Aurora, Co-Founder  and Executive Director of the Ada Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to increase women’s participation in the free culture movement, open source technology, and open source culture. Val’s a writer, programmer, and feminist activist, and speaks about women in open technology and culture, feminism, and harassment. She also co-founded Double Union, a feminist hackerspace in San Francisco


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How Tech Can Turn a Community Into a Global Village

Folks, I received a really good letter from the Organic Health Response‘s IT Coordinator, Brian Mattah. He wrote about his experience with technology on Mfangano Island:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I am Brian Mattah, a native of Mfangano Island, Kenya. I began working for the Organic Health Response (OHR) in January 2010, immediately after college. This was my first time deploying hands-on skills attained from school and all seemed new and interesting.

Aside from all career domains revolving around technological advances, it’s become absolutely inevitable for people, even in villages, to survive without internet. That’s why OHR thought it wise to incept the Ekialo Kiona Centre, to make Mfangano Island, Kenya a Global Village through our Cyber-VCT program. Once receiving voluntary counseling and testing with one of our HIV Counselors, anyone from the island has free and unlimited access to broadband internet, the first of it’s kind in these rural communities.

In addition to running our Cyber lab, I had the opportunity to join Inveneo in 2012 to deploy a 90-km broadband link over Lake Victoria. Through this install I have been able to gain a greater level of expertise in networking, especially since the OHR Network is purely of Last Mile Design. It was amazing when EK Centre received internet services from Kisumu – a stretch of about 90 kilometers – to provide high speed wireless access in this remote location. The wireless network has eventually provided the solution and met everyone’s needs by simply avoiding laying wire and fiber optic cables which are really expensive undertaking that can be environmentally demanding and requiring high maintenance.

In the course of deploying this network, I gained really important tips and had a hands-on trial on the Installations and configurations of network devices ranging from ubiquity’s Rocket M5, NanoBridges, NanoStations, mikrotik routers, and Ethernet switches. Since then I have set up three more NanoBridges, a NanoStation and a mikrotik router. I have also gained vast knowledge in network administration and been able to monitor and troubleshoot connection hitches that have come up. Each day I continue to grow and learn new skills. It is what makes my job rewarding.ITlab_2 5 14 (3)

The craigslist Charitable Fund has continued to support our Cyber-VCT program, as well as the broadband internet that has opened up Mfangano as a global village. Ero kamano (thank you!)!

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Folks, Brian’s doing real good work, and I’m happy to personally support the programs and the broadband Internet on Mfangano Island, in addition to the support from craigconnects and the craigslist charitable fund to make all of this possible. More updates to come…

6 Impressive Women in Engineering

It’s important to acknowledge and support the people on the backend doing good work. Too often, women engineers get little to no acknowledgement for the work they’re doing. As a nerd, it’s my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It’s one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org.

My team and I have compiled a list of women in engineering who are the real deal. These women work and build the companies that many of us use every single day, but you may have never heard of them. This is a selection that people don’t hear enough about, as opposed to the notoriety that some others get. I’d like to challenge you to check out the work that these women are doing.

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1. Holly Liu, Cofounder and Chief of Staff at Kabam

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Kabam is the leader in the western world for free-to-play core games. Holly also oversees Kabam’s corporate culture as head of People Operations (“People Ops”), which is responsible for driving Kabam’s vision, mission, and values for its more than 800 employees in offices around the world. Holly has helped build a world-class human resources team that is responsible for recruiting and retaining top talent and has grown Kabam’s personnel base by 500% in three years.

Holly was named to Forbes’ “Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs to Watch” in 2013 and one of Fortune’s “10 Most Powerful Women in Gaming.”

2. Avni Shah, Director of Product Management at Google

Avni is in charge of Chrome development at Google. She was one of two women to present at Google’s recent developer’s conference I/O. During her presentation, Avni introduced the new version of Chrome coming in the next Android update dubbed Android L.

3. Nadine Harik, Engineering Manager at Pinterest

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Before joining the Pinterest team, Nadine was at Google overseeing the Web and mobile Web teams

When Nadine first started working the the tech field, she described how quickly she became tired of explaining her role at the tech companies she worked for to strangers who assumed she was in HR or community management.

“Now,” Nadine says, “I tend to always preface with, ‘I work at Pinterest and I’m an engineer at Pinterest.'”

4. Merline Saintil, Head of Global Engineering Operations at Yahoo, and Advisor for EngageClick

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Merline is an international technology executive, business advisor, and operations expert, having distinguished herself as a leader in fast growing sectors of cloud computing, mobile, online payments and commerce. She has been involved in the process of creating software as well as managing global teams to produce world-class products in a variety of positions at Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal and Joyent, Inc.

Merline currently serves on the Strategic Development Board and co-leads the COO C-Suite of Watermark (leading organization for Executive Women).

Outside of her business interests, Merline said she’s advising Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (CA-18) on the first mobile app challenge for high school students sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives. She has a passion for mentoring, investing, supporting women in technology

5. Ruchi Sanghvi, Head of Operations at Dropbox

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Prior to joining Dropbox, Sanghvi served as the co-founder and CEO of Cove, a collaboration, coordination and communication product for organizations and communities.

Sanghvi holds the distinction of being the first female engineer at Facebook and was instrumental in implementing the first versions of key features such as News Feed. She then led product management and strategy for Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect. She was also responsible for core product areas such as privacy and user engagement.

The BBC asked Ruchi what it was like to be the first female engineer at Facebook? She said she “‘was used to being in a minority: at engineering school, she was one of the five female students in a class of 150.’

But at Facebook, she says, she truly came into her own.

‘You had to be opinionated, you had to make sure your point of view was heard, you had to ask questions. Sometimes people would tell you were stupid and you’d start all over again,'” she said.

6.  Hilary Mason, Founder and Chief Executive at Fast Forward Labs

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Before founding Fast Forward Labs, Hilary was chief scientist at link-shortening company Bitly for almost four years and more recently worked part-time for Accel Partners as a data scientist in residence.

A subscription to Fast Forward Labs includes quarterly R&D reports, prototypes, innovation events, and an ongoing dialogue with their team on the topics of innovation and near future technologies.

Hopefully you learned about someone new, and maybe started following that person. I’d appreciate it if you left a comment with someone you’d like to see in a 2.0 version of this list. My team and I would like to hear from you about some women in engineering who really have their boots on the ground. Thanks!

How to Use Social Media Better, For Equality

Hey, I have a commitment to fairness, based on a (naive) nerd desire to make life less unfair.

I’ve created a video asking you to help create a more fair world, please indulge me and watch, and share it. It’s for a good cause, and is a brief discussion of social media for the Women in Public Service Project.

The thing is, social media can be harnessed for policy-making, and remember that real change doesn’t happen from the top down. That is, the act of discussing policy in social media helps participants buy into it, and later, the discussion record helps other join the effort.

So, my challenge for you to is work with each other, within your networks, then between networks, to commit to the mutual acquisition of power, on a near daily basis, from now to 2050.

The gist of the challenge is to use social networking such that your discussions can extend beyond tens or hundreds of people into millions of people. This can span countries, time, and cultures.

Caveat: trolls, sometimes professional ones, will seek profit at your expense. Watch out for trolls who tell a good, heart-wrenching story.troll meme

I’ll help however I can, and I have confidence in you. So, what I’m asking of you is commitment to collaborate with people in your immediate network.

My challenge to you is to work together, with each other, in your networks, then transcend networks. I’m making a big ask of you…Can I have your commitment?

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