Friday, July 14, 2017

Going with the flow, at least trying to

There are those days when everything seems to be easy, everything seems to flow. These days, alas, are not very often, at least not as often as we would like them to be. Yet some people seem to be in their 'element', in the flow all the time. Maybe they are, hopefully they are. Being in the flow means to me being in harmony with my mind, body and emotions. Those are the times when you don't need to overthink everything, no need to re-phrase the email 10 times looking for just the correct wording, no need to try very hard to remember the name of the coworker you have worked in the past with, no need to strain the brain muscles for solving rudimentary technical and operational problems of the day, but to just go with it. Go with the flow. Those days you know for a fact that you are going in the right destination, no need to jump up, no need to turn to the sides, but to accept the conditions, and do the best with them.

Other days can we quite the opposite. Not much sleep at night, the traffic is horrible when you leave the house and there is no parking once your reach the destination. The coffee is gone and the A/C unit is failing. Before it is 9am there is a production outage, and the partner teams come to you with urgent requests that all have to be addressed immediately. Meetings get scheduled at conflicting times, the interviewee does not show up and internet connection starts failing around 1pm. By the end of the day your big project gets cancelled and your neighbor calls you at work to alert about water somehow leaking out of your house. 

Well this is a bit of an grim picture. But those days happen to, that is a fact. For the most part, the days are not completely rosy or completely brown (i.e. shitty) it is more about what we make of them and how we think of them. 

I am working on this actively - assume best intentions of the person you are talking to. 

Sometimes it is easy to think that the world is against us, especially on those brown days. Therefore, everyone has conspired to get us. But the fact of life is that everyone else is just as self-centered as we are. Let's agree to at least assume the best intentions to start with. Let's become genuinely interested in other people and try hard see things from their perspective.

I am very thankful for an amazing mentor and coach Maggie Helm for helping me identify what was missing in my flow. Contact her for proactive suggestions how to make sense of things and improve life. The flow. It is my journey to restore it. 

Have a good night. 

P.S. As I looked for pictures of a flow in my photo archive, I found the colorful scarf picture above. It resonated more with how I picture my flow currently than my numerous pictures of rivers and waterfalls. Find your flow. It might not be a river, or a scarf or even anything conventional to associate with, or it might be just this.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Traffic and the cryptic billboards

Traffic is terrible in California metro areas. This is just a fact of life.

[Photo: polybutmono/iStock]
Similar to the fact that Bay Area is the Mecca of startups and innovation. You need to accept it as given when you make the move here, or be ready to pay the ever so unbelievable rent price for the place next to your office. Apartments in San Francisco are renting for close to $7K. Check out this announcement! What does $6700 rent you in San Francisco

But who cares when you are in the heart of Silicon Valley, where the dreams come true and opportunities fall from the sky.

I recall an opportunity that fell from the sky on my lap, that I turned down in 2012. Such opportunities haven't "rained" since, but if there is a chant you know to attract amazing opportunities in promising startups let me know.

Probably, every seasoned engineer in the Valley will tell you her story of that one great missed opportunity. Most often however you get to hear stories of the other 9 pursued opportunities that didn't work out.

Here is a good luck bear that will attract the promising startups to find your LinkedIn profile. The opportunity will also be only 10 minutes drive from your home and provide onsite hairdressing and drycleaning services, as well as barista who makes your coffee 7am - 7pm and beer keg.

Christie Hemm KLOK/WIRED

Only in Silicon Valley do the billboards across highways advertise better coding practices, or urge you to "Ask your developer" by Twillo. There are so many more that want to make sure you brain is not just resting during your commute.

I should not be complaining about my commute, since it is under one hour range, but I HATE my commute. I know I should be thankful, since many people got it much worse than I do, yet the though of standstill traffic for around 45 minutes after the long day at work feels dreadful. Move? you say.. Moving is always an option, but after buying a house and settling in, having arrangements for childcare, home services established, moving sounds very unappealing.

But most of us are so sick of looking at those billboards, where traffic piles up and we progress in 0.5MPH speed. Read this article if you happen to stumble across this page and your are not a programmer It really is ok to not get all the billboards, I often don't. I know they are working on me, since when I don't get the billboard I do the research to understand what the company is doing.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Analysis paralysis | Movement for the sake of movement

I feel that I haven't produced much contents lately, seeking perfection and not settling on creating anything that could end up being merely great. Even writing a single sentence takes number of attempts and tons of overthinking, deleting, editing, rewriting. It is not productive or conducive.

Photo credit
So what is it that makes us super productive for stretches of time and unable to accomplish anything tangible for another sometimes longer time stretch?

Have you had one of those days, when you have 5 different challenging tasks on the agenda, and then you go to work, 2 hours in ka-BOOM 💣💣💣, you killed it?! It is only 10am on Monday. The rest of the day and week continue being hyper productive, and you have accomplished months worth of work! Besides your productive day job, there was a social gathering, awesome workout session and on Thursday evening you get an email from an old friend, that opens up huge possibilities for collaboration.

There are also weeks like this. Motivation is absent, yet there is the unconscious need to move some place, because stopping and thinking seem too dangerous. Yet, the movement is not in any defined direction but somewhere arbitrary for no reason else other than the reluctance of stopping and reflecting.

I read the modern-classic novel "Firehouse 451" by Ray Bradbury this week, perhaps very timely with everything else happening in life. Wow, I am impressed with Bradbury's descriptions of the dystopian reality and the similarities of it with today and where we are headed. Our thirst of constant consumption of useless information, through social media, the mockery of news by leading media outlets like CNN and Fox, where every news is now breaking news, the digests of digests written for understanding anything deep without the need to think:

“Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!” 

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Wishing you pleasant rest of the week!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I am a mentor for Google Summer of Code 2017

Today I have accepted the nomination to be a mentor at Google Summer of Code 2017 (GSoC) , for Systers organization. This is the non profit organization behind the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) annual conferences for women in technology and ABI.Local communities in your neighborhood across United States and spreading around the globe.

I have been involved with both these initiatives for many years: spoke at GHC 2015, and was a founding member of ABI.Silicon Valley community. My involvement keeps growing, by becoming a conference review committee member for 2017, and bringing yet more events to Silicon Valley chapter of ABI. But that is for another blog post.

You can find more about the Systers mission for GSoC here. Open source software developed during GSoC this year will provide Systers around the world better communication and collaboration tools.

Systers + GSoC, my awesome graphic created in MS Paint

I will be mentoring a student (who is yet to be identified) to build a new great mobile app for the community. This is really exciting, since:

  1. Getting to know and work with a student on advancing his or her skills in mobile development will be really cool. The end product will make both of us, as well as Google Summer of Code committee and Systers proud we did this. 
  2. It will be up to the student and the mentor to choose the tools and languages to build the open source app!
  3. While I was a student myself in 2008, had applied for GSoC from Ann Arbor, it is great to return to the program as a mentor. 
  4. I will get to meet mentors from around the world when the time for mentor summit comes this fall. Mentors come from a variety of backgrounds, different levels of skills and experiences, ranging from last year's students to industry veterans. We need this diversity. 
  5. Having exposure to open source and doing good! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On parenting and the flu season

Somehow the quote "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans" keeps coming to my mind this weekend. Well, you either know from personal experience or may have heard many times, life changes after having kids.

When you are a fulfilled childless person, following the progression of how your friends, cousins and coworkers suddenly transition from being awesome to pretty boring after they have kids, you know what I am talking about. I had been witnessing this for many years. I followed my friends transition from fun and social, to fixated on baby diets, baby ballet lessons and going to bed with their kids at 8 pm. Suddenly my Facebook feed changed from beachfront weekend gateways, pictures of skiing, hiking and wild water rafting, to endless stream of babies. I judged at the time, yes, I did. "Your babies might seem cute to you, your immediate family and few friends, but others get irritated after the your 100th share of your baby's cuddly posture and cute outfit over the same weekend" had been on my mind for a long time.

Before even planning to get pregnant, I made a deal with my husband and my trusted girlfriend Anna, to let me know if I start turning into one of those people and become annoying on social media. So far neither of them have warned me, possibly because he posts just as many cuddly baby statuses and she is too kind to give me the reality check. I console myself with the thought that at social gatherings I still prefer topics of general geekiness over baby clothes and diet.

The changes to life of parents happen suddenly, they sneak on to you and unleash at full force. Suddenly having a dinner with friends at a nice restaurant doesn't appeal since you can foresee, how are going to be forced to spend most of the time asking your baby not to throw his food at other people, and convincing your toddler not to hit her baby brother. Later, you give in and turn on Peppa Pig (have your really not heard about it?) on your cell phone to try having an adult conversation, while you can feel the judging glances of other dinners burning your back, for egoistically exposing your children to screen time.

Sometimes, you shake yourself and decide to have a fresh start starting Monday. You commit to serious plans of participating in that professional event Thursday evening, having people over for dinner Friday, and working out out over the weekend. And then life with kids happens.

Things get especially bad during the flu season. Kids get the flu from daycares, schools than pass to one another and winter months sometimes seem like an infinite loop of snots in the chase of spring. It gets especially challenging when you have two careers, no backup childcare and have to juggle between two full time work schedules staying home with seek kids and not sleeping the nights. This guarantees to keep you overwhelmed at work for missing days and important meetings and with frustrated your spouse since he couldn't stay home that Tuesday which was so important for you.

Nevertheless, as any loving parent will agree that kids are so worth it all. My two fussy, contagious munchkins are the lights of my life and I wouldn't trade spending my evenings with them for anything.

Overwhelmed working parent.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Create Windows apps in 30 seconds

It's been many years since I read the Sams Teach yourself C++ in 24 hours book by by Jesse Liberty and Rogers Cadenhead, and those 24 hours used to seem like an ethernity!

Today's hack is not about writing awesome code in 30 seconds but rather about simplifying your life working on Windows PC with convenient utilities. During my leave my team at work migrated from Google Talk to Slack for instant messaging and group discussions. Slack is awesome and has a multitude of fans, yet they ignored writing a Windows 10 application (but developed old school desktop application, don't ask me why).

Alright, are you ready? All you need is Windows operating system and Chrome browser. Now please launch Chrome. Click on the Hamburger menu (3 dots) select "More tools" and "Add to desktop":

Chrome will ask you for a confirmation, be sure to select the option "Open as window":

All Done. Now I have added "apps" for Slack, Google News and Google Finance. You can also select to add these to your Taskbar and Windows menu.

Each of these apps run in their separate windows and create a separate process in Task Manager. Now I will have Slack app on my Desktop every time I boot the computer and not forget to launch it.

You can use the same tactics for your everyday tools, such as email, news, weather. They will be haunting your from your desktop so you won't forget to launch them. And if you really want to have them running by the time you log in create a job from your Task Scheduler.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Silicon Valley and the taboo of dress pants

Last week I had a speaking engagement at the ABI.Silicon Valley chapter launch event for women in tech. The event was going to be memorable and exciting since it was the launch, and myself and other 4 awesome women in tech Jessica MongDeepti Gupta, Lulu Li and Steph Tung were the organizers as well as local chapter leaders.

So, I was debating what to wear, and realized that the choices were between wearing a dress or jeans and semi-casual shirt and blazer. I took another look at my wardrobe and realized that I own no dress pants. I had got rid of all suits after they set in my wardrobe without being worn for 5 years, in fact I think I wore a suit last time for a job interview in Michigan in 2008. It turns out dress pants were gone as well.

This made me realize that there is a sort of a taboo on the dress pants as well as suits in Silicon Valley. Just look at these industry leaders delivering their big keynotes and their jeans!

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg  keynote address at F8 conference 2016

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings's keynote address at the 2016 CES conference 
Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC keynote 2016

The morale of the day: if you want to make it to a top executive in Silicon Valley one day, don't wear dress pants on the speaking engagements.