terriko: (Default)
Python's in as a mentoring organization again this year, and I'm running the show again this year. Exciting and exhausting!

In an attempt to cut down on the student questions that go directly to me, I made a flow chart of "what to do next" :


(there's also a more accessible version posted at the bottom of our ideas page)

I am amused to tell you all that it's already cut down significantly on the amount of "what do I do next?" emails I've gotten as an org admin compared to this time last year. I'm not sure if it's because it's more eye-catching or better placed or what makes it more effective, since those instructions could be found in the section for students before. We'll see its magical powers hold once the student application period opens, though!
terriko: (Default)
My former hackerspace, in fundraising for the new space, offered up a reward tier that let you name one of the rooms, which was a pretty fun perk. "My" room is going to be #16 on this map, the larger of the two electronics labs:


Being the sort of person I am, I named it the "Pink Fluffy Unicorn Dancing on Rainbows Laboratory" thanks to this earwormy video. (Original song here, punk version here.)

They can call it PFUDOR labs for short or something. I actually proposed it as a joke when the campaign first was getting set up, but it got so many laughs that I decided it was actually kind of fun to have a name that really didn't take itself too seriously.

A few days after I made the official declaration, I got an email from an adult male friend there, bemoaning my choice of names in a gentle, joking, but also a little bit sincere way.

He is a friend and I don't want to mock his words in public, but I saw the email and thought THIS IS HOW I KNOW I HAVE CHOSEN THE RIGHT NAME. If this even a little hurts the manhood of even someone who knows me and my sense of humour, then you know that the anti-girly sentiment often prevalent in hacklabs is going to be rankled by this for as long as the space lasts. So now not only do I get to earworm my friends, but I run the risk of affronting people who haven't quite dealt with their own minor misogyny? And maybe give the hacklab an excuse to fill a space with rainbows, with all the connotations thereof? That actually kind of sounds like a bigger social win than I was intending, but maybe, just maybe, it'll combine with the already excellent people at Quelab to help keep the space as friendly and fun as it can be.

So next up I'm going to be buying a friend's pony patterns, a bunch of stuff from adafruit, some fabric, and I'll be making a hilarious e-textile pony with glowing rainbow neopixels to go in the space. Because I am not very subtle. ;)
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
Luggage with a built-in scooter is awesome. I've seen ride-on wheeled luggage for kids (and coveted it mightily), and this appears to be the adult-friendly equivalent. Sadly, does not meet a lot of my other criteria (I'd be shocked if they let me avoid gatechecking this) and it's $250 (But at least shipping is free...). I'm tempted just for the awesome factor.

Here's a small hard case that meets a lot more of my criteria. It clocks in at 35cmx39cmx23cm (that's 14"x15"x9" for those of us who have to fly in America) and comes in cheerful colours. I'm actually not sure which one I'd choose -- normally I shun the pinks but that dark one is pretty lovely and would fit nicely into some sort of business-travelling fashionista persona if I dressed the part with some business casuals. But maybe the green or red would be less likely to clash with my existing wardrobe.... Honestly, I'm approaching this project much like I do cosplay, and now that I think about it it's not really that different: I'm playing for an audience to believe me to be someone very specific. Nevermind that I'm still projecting a variant on me; it's all the same body language, fashion, and carefully chosen accessories that make it work.

Similarly, a bright orange gem that could probably work with the persona too. 36x44x20cm (14x17x8") for that one, and only two wheels tucked into the edges so probably a bit more packing space in the final tally.

But despite the obvious appeal for my in-progress traveler persona, I'm not seeing any useful way for me to get reviews of these that I can actually understand since they're shipping from Hong Kong, and I haven't quite decided if I really should be making a hundred dollar gamble just because the colours are fun. I wonder if it's possible to find something similar that's at least a little more local to me? I have learned the useful new search terms "rolling business case" but it's mostly been turning up uninspired blackness.

Incidentally, I *did* check the wirecutter and they do have a section on bags, just not the kind I'm looking for. Bags are one of those few things I'm exceptionally picky about (especially right now while mildly injured, but even when not I tend to have precise requirements) so it probably isn't that much of a loss. They're apparently looking for a freelance bag editor and I rather wish I were actually the right person for that job. Lot of work for little pay, but a chance to try lots of bags!
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
I currently own a 20" rolling carry-on bag that has met my airline & train travel needs for years (I switched to it a year or two before airlines started charging for checked bags), and it's perfect for a week-long conference where I'm coming back or going out with a lot of stuff, or when I'm visiting my parents for close to a month at Christmas, but it seems excessive when I'm going for a weekend trip or a job interview.

I'm considering getting a smaller suitcase for those shorter trips, so I'm working out my requirements. This thread covers more or less what I have in mind, but here's some personal preference/requirement notes:

1. Must have wheels. I used to do backpack+purse for shorter trips, but I've been finding that I often pinch a nerve during travel and I'm pretty sure carrying my camera/laptop on my back is a factor.

2. Can fit my laptop and possibly SLR camera + 2-3 days worth of clothes. Thankfully my clothes are pretty small. Camera may be optional: I'm trying a downgrade to a point and shoot for short trips.

3. Preferably I'd like something that can fit into the overhead bin on the smaller regional jets, since often my flight will have one hop with those. A search says that this means the bag will have to be around 18Lx14Wx7D. Sounds like you can fit larger, but I'd rather not have to argue it out with the gate staff / flight attendant every time. I am perfectly ok with being given a checked tag and then "obliviously" carrying my bag on the plane anyhow as long as it will fit, though.

4. Butnot arguing with the gate/flight staff every time I fly would be awesome. This may mean going with something more backpack-like so I can just put it on my back when I walk on the plane, but mostly it just reinforces "small" and "looks like it holds a laptop." Briefcases should work.

5. Should have an open clothing section as opposed to a bunch of filefolder divider things that will make it harder to pack.

6. Should open fully, at least for the clothing section. Pure preference on my part.

7. I'm not too picky about laptop sleeves, although something I can easily slip a laptop out of for the TSA or in case I do have to check the bag is good. I basically never use my laptop on the plane, I just don't want to skycheck it.

8. If at all possible, not black. Something like 90% of the suitcases I see are black and I don't want to be worrying about someone grabbing mine by mistake.

9. But (and i realize this may contradict the "not black" thing) something that looks more business traveller-y would be good. I have a *lot* of trouble with TSA reps assuming I'm young or an infrequent traveler which is especially frustrating when I go somewhere with J and they immediately assume he's an expert while I get the "oh, hon, you know our machines are perfectly safe?" talk-down-to-the-little-girl spiel. (My new response: "My sister is a physicist who works in health and safety; I'd like to opt out." which is factually true but irrelevant and calculated to throw them and possibly nearby travelers out of their default headspace without getting into an argument.)

I've been finding that
(a) A disturbing number of online sites don't give pictures of the inside of the bags.
(b) A disturbing number of online sites don't give dimensions or even pictures that could help me guess the dimensions
(c) Bags are expensive (duh)
(d) There is an entire market for "women's suitcases" which I find somewhat strange. Particularly given that the "women's briefcase-bags" seem pretty much identical to the non-women's ones.

I don't have any short trips scheduled, but I'm hoping to find some bag options I like and catch a sale (luggage goes on sale quite frequently, so it's a bit ridiculous to pay full price if I've got time to spare).

I would love to hear first hand testimonials from any of you who travel with a bag that might meet my needs, though. It was a recommendation from Linuxchix that drew me to my current bag which has done me pretty well although it's starting to show its age now.
terriko: (Default)
Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. This international day of celebration helps people learn about the achievements of women in STEM, inspiring others and creating new role models for young and old alike.

When I first met Robin Jeffries, I had no idea how important she was. My friend Jen said, "hey, you need to talk to Robin about this" and the three of us sat down and chatted about technical stuff for an hour or so in the middle of a busy conference. It didn't hit me until much later that I'd just spent a time geeking it up with a woman who half the women at GHC would have loved to shake hands with, let alone get a whole lunch with.

Robin has just retired as Her Systers Keeper, a role she took over from Anita Borg when Anita's health was failing. She's not wrong in calling managing a community like this a job of cat herding, but with her guidance Systers has long been a list with an unusually high signal to noise ratio, and one that many technical women turn to when they need advice, want to share a story, or want to rant about the latest news piece about women in computing. I started realizing how much of a role model Robin herself has been to so many when I'd mention her and people would go, "wait, you know Robin Jeffries? I've always wanted to meet her in person!" These were women who were inspired by the stories she shares and her ability to get to the heart of the matter when it comes to the experience of technical women.

I've been fortunate enough to work with Robin doing Google Summer of Code mentoring for Systers, where we've been doing modifications on an open source project dear to my heart, GNU Mailman. She's got an uncanny ability to find good chunks of technical work that our students can manage, a knack for inspiring the people she works with, a good system for managing us all and keeping us to our deadlines, and every time we sit down to talk about how to fix a problem she impresses me with her insights into better architectures and designs. I've rarely had the chance to work with someone of Robin's experience in human computer interaction (read her bio, but in short, she's crazy accomplished and I probably would have been way intimidated if I'd known how much so when I first met her). I'm constantly in awe of how easily she not only applies that experience, but how good she is at conveying it to others and how willing she is to share her skills.

We're probably all benefiting from her knowledge as she applies it to her job at Google, but it's the more direct personal experiences that really get me. For example, despite being in great demand with the Systers 25th anniversary celebrations at GHC12 this year, she came out to help me run Open Source Day activities for women interested in hacking with Systers and Mailman, quickly adopting a whole table of prospective volunteers and walking them through the first stages of evaluating and contributing to an open source project. She regularly makes me wish I'd spent more time studying HCI myself, and forces me to re-evaluate how I design software. We've got one big feature we want to see in Mailman and I'm really looking forwards to working with her on making it happen.

I admire Robin for her amazing technical expertise, for her support of women in computing, and for her ability to balance the two as part of her own busy life for so many years. It has most definitely been my privilege to work with such an amazingly talented woman, and I hope that some day I can approach her level of professional and personal accomplishment.
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