binary girl: the secret blog

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Archive for the ‘work’ Category

the goings-on!

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

I’ve started updating much less frequently than in the past, mainly because I feel like both kids are old enough that writing about them is a possible intrusion on their privacy. And, I am CONSTANTLY WORKING. So, in ye old tradition, here’s a listicle!

– I am finalizing a proposal for a panel at the Grace Hopper Conference (in Houston again this year, in October), about redefining the technical interview. I am pumped.
– Max is doing incredible with his reading. He literally sounds out everything, and is already well past where Katie was when she entered Kindergarten — probably a side-effect of having an older sibling, but it’s incredible to watch. He writes these adorable journal entries at school that are practically short-stories in length (so much better than his “this is a cat” lazyman entries of a few months ago).
– Katie’s reading is great, too! She’s already a grade level above, and her motivation continues to grow as a side-effect of being able to unlock more and more information. Her math is also astonishingly good. This is all great, because we’re now investigating some pretty serious testing for her, and it relieves me that she won’t be struggling academically on top of everything else going on.
– I am working way too much and I miss seeing my family. But it won’t be like this for always…

the rare public post

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Looking back over my recent forays into bloggery, it occurs to me that most of this stuff is locked down (with friends-only copies going to Livejournal, which I can’t believe I still use, although the flow of posts there is ridiculously diminished compared to the days of yore pre-Facebook). So, boom! A public post!

I have, as usual, been concentrating on myself as a parent, and the quality of my interactions with both K and M, as well as B. We’ve made some changes at home (mainly between Brandon and Katie’s interactions) which have had the side-effect of mellowing K out a bit — she’s been better across the board in staggering ways. I can’t decide if part of it is that my commute is so much less intensive (seriously, I went from a ~45 min drive to 10 min, it’s amazing in nearly every way) so I’m present to support B more or what, and I am probably jinxing things in every possible way, but I went from such abject panic about our situation at the beginning of the month to satisfaction that it’s making my head spin.

Here’s a little quizlet from FB I gave the kids over the last two days:

1. What is something I always say to you?
“Sweetie bean, you’re my sweetie bean.”
2. What makes me happy?
I’ve got a good one, “I care if you die!”
3. What makes me sad?
“I don’t care if you die!”
4. How do I make you laugh?
Saying “Maxie is a sweetie bean” and then you tickle me!
5. What was I like as a child?
I don’t know!
6. How old am I?
I don’t know? 20?
7. How tall am I?
30 inches tall.
8. What is my favorite thing to do?
Play video games! I mean, make your children happy!
9. What do I do when you’re not around?
Punch your nipple, that’s what I think!
10. What am I really good at?
You are really good at work!
11. What is something I’m not good at?
Saying “nipple”.
12. What do I do for a job?
Work. You sit at your desk and look at stuff on your computer.
13. What is my favorite food?
Holy Toledos! Tacquitos!
14. What do you enjoy doing with me?
Get Legos!
Answers by: Max; 5

1. What is something I always say to you?
“I love you.”
2. What makes me happy?
Seeing me and Max getting along and brother and sister stuff.
3. What makes me sad?
When me and Max fight.
4. How do I make you laugh?
By tickling us and doing silly jokes.
5. What was I like as a child?
I think you had glasses and dark long hair, clothes, shoes, books, and a school.
6. How old am I?
39.
7. How tall am I?
You never told me this! Thirty inches?
8. What is my favorite thing to do?
Be with your family and do stuff with them and play games with them and tickling them and cuddling with them and loving on them.
9. What do I do when you’re not around?
Go to work.
10. What am I really good at?
Making people happy.
11. What is something I’m not good at?
Drawing.
12. What do I do for a job?
Computers.
13. What is my favorite food?
Mint chocolate chip.
14. What do you enjoy doing with me?
Cuddling with you.
Answers by: Katie; 7

When I talked to them, I found it weirdly satisfying that they replied in ways that make me think that they think I’m not so bad. I spend so much time teeth-gnashing about whether or not we’re totally messing them up that it’s good to know that in their minds, we’re not totally the worst. :P

new jobbery!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Starting tomorrow, I will no longer be a BrightRoller/Yahoo; I decided to abdicate the throne and am moving to a small biotech that is in the same city I live in. I’m nervous and excited! WOO!

I am hoping not commuting 45m+ each way every day will leave me more time for ponderings that aren’t just “here’s shit my kids did”. But who knows. :D

In other news, I just turned a year older yesterday, and it began with me taking my littlest to get an emergency root canal. In my defense, though, that’s what he gets for getting to go to Legoland and Universal Studios (oh, and his grandparents’ house) with his sister for two weeks. So ha on him! HA! SILVER TOOTH FOR YOU, BUDDY.

i gave a speech!

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

I gave my speech to the whole of Yahoo as part of the weekly all-hands, and it went REALLY well, imo. Not sure how many people were motivated by it, but strangers are still stopping me to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

Then, today, I noticed someone giving a tour to a bunch of kids through our office and I stepped out of the meeting I was about to start with the management team to talk to them briefly and tell them who were are (as former BrightRoll employees). I told them that if they ever wanted to talk to a woman in software engineering that I was always happy to do so, and later that afternoon someone from their program at Stanford emailed me to talk to them — they are part of a program that is a free college prep program for underrepresented students of color. How awesome would it be to be able to positively influence these kids?!

So, plugging along. I’m working more than ever, and trying to change Yahoo for the better. My team continues to be amazing. :D

work… is insane

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

This week is insane. Not only are we doing QPRs (trying to represent a year for the BR folk at the same time that we calibrate everyone, etc), and mid-year promotions, and quarterly planning, and kicking off a new hiring process, but I’m presenting at the Yahoo all-hands on Friday, at my own accord, talking about myself and disruption. YIKES.

Today in sprint planning my team awarded me “the Sparklepony award” as a sign that I was most representative of our cultural values over the last sprint. They talked about why they nominated me and I almost cried, because I’m a sap.

yet another update

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

I think I am pretty much terrible at blogging these days. Honestly, the issue isn’t everyone moving away from LJ, although that certainly led to me being less constant… right now my life is so dang busy that I just don’t have time. I should actually be working right now, while the kids are in tae kwon do with Brandon, but I am burnt out enough that I figure taking a break isn’t such a bad thing. :)

My commute now that I’m working at Yahoo has gotten significantly longer, which prompted us to get an electric car, since I can use that to sail by a lot of the commute traffic in the HOV lane. Since I just got it this weekend, I don’t have the stickers yet (you need plates first), but I was so frustrated by 101 today that I used it anyway and shaved 10 minutes off my commute — and I didn’t get in it right away or use it the whole distance because I was feeling pretty guilty about doing something that’s probably illegal (although I’m not 100% sure, since it IS an electric car). It is incredibly adorable AND super peppy, which is such a change from my minivan! I didn’t sell the minivan, though, because it’s also VERY wee (a two-door Fiat 500e), and ironically, the van broke down the day after we bought the Fiat. (It’s all fixed now, though.)

In other world news, I’m healing fabulously, and recently apparently became the co-president of Women in Technology at Yahoo, which is exciting! Woo! My team is amazing (as usual) and I’m building relationships with the engineers who are on the teams we integrated with, who are all fairly great people. Max moved into the family class at TKD so the three of them are all taking it together (I’m not allowed to do that sort of exercise yet, it’s 45 days out and I’m still restricted to “walking”).

I went to the Mama’s Night Out fundraiser for Unravel (the pediatric cancer charity that Jennifer’s mom, Libby, started), with Ava. It was fun but sobering. I feel lucky to have motivated people in my life who are trying to make change in the world so that our kids have it better than we do.

AND TOMORROW IS KATIE’S LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN WHAT IS THAT EVEN

Yahoo acquires BrightRoll

Monday, January 19th, 2015

At Levi's stadium!

On Fri Yahoo gave us onesies and I just realized it is hooded. OMG.

That seems awfully official!

I'm imagining myself... as a bunny.

My new desk lamp, courtesy of Brandon!

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

My new desk lamp, courtesy of Brandon!

I’m a huge love of Tetris, and always have been. This was my Christmas present from Brandon — the pieces all separate and light up when they touch. It’s awesome!

work birthday shenanigans

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Best office ever!

This stuff is awesome.

We, without fail, get celebratory food items for people’s birthdays, but since mine was on the Friday of a five-day weekend (because of NYE), I didn’t expect that I would be covered! I was truly touched and surprised, even more so when one of the engineers on my team presented me with some delicious Polish vodka he got for me in Chicago when visiting his family. My BrightRoll family is really awesome. <3

And then this happened outside Slider Bar…

Monday, January 5th, 2015

And then this happened outside Slider Bar...

I met the vmware office mascot and he is FUZZY (and named Georgie).

things no one asks you if you’re a male engineer, 1 of a series

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Since I joined BrightRoll, I’ve been hosting our bi-weekly all-hands engineering demos, where each of our five engineering teams presents their demos for the last sprint to the rest of the department plus anyone else in the company who is interested. (I was actually tasked with re-imagining them, since everyone involved hated how they were going… I think they’re in a really good place now, from the feedback I’ve gotten!) That means that each week I work with our A/V techs on setting up the presentation itself, the remote sharing, etc.

So, at the holiday party, one of the newer techs who I’ve been working with for a few months asks me: “Are you like, the [admin] of the Palo Alto office?”

Really?

My response: “No, I’m the [eng manager guy 1] or [eng manager guy 2] of Palo Alto.”

He looked stunned. But someone please explain to me the rationale behind thinking that an admin runs engineering demos?

Holiday party goodness!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Holiday party goodness!

Sweet as heck shirt that Tom got me because he’s rad!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Sweet as heck shirt that Tom got me because he's rad!

stuff that has happened since my last post…

Monday, December 15th, 2014

1: BrightRoll was just acquired by Yahoo, so I’ve been acquired twice now. One of the VPs who was part of the acquisition of Danger by Microsoft is a SVP at Yahoo… so I guess he’s following me around? :D
2: Katie got her first report card! It was not anything unexpected, and her teacher has really connected with her, which I feel fortunate about. The best part of the feedback was that she’s apparently a very good integrator, so she understands concepts and then explains them to kids in her class who are having a hard time with them using real-world examples. I like the idea that she’s helping other kids learn.
3: My children are ridiculously old. It’s funny that I can still remember when 6 and 4 seemed impossibly far away for either of them, and now they’re well on their way out of those ages. Relatedly: I got rid of all of my cloth diapers and I’m okay with that.
4: The kids seem to think that our money is communal. Katie said taking coins from the change pineapple (not a jar, but a pineapple) to put into her own piggy bank isn’t “stealing” because “it’s the family’s money”, and Max has told me to get “lots of jobs” so they can buy as many presents as they want for themselves.
5: Working with the kids on holiday stuff is so much easier now that they’re older. Decorating for both Halloween and Christmas has been much more communal, but it also means that I can see that the kids need to work on their boundaries (not touching all the ornaments but instead waiting for me to give them ones that won’t break) as much as I need to work on my patience (I literally can only decorate the tree with them in 20 minute intervals before I am so agitated from the near-misses that I’m going to explode). Their independence working on projects (mainly for Katie) means that things like building gingerbread houses goes much more smoothly than it has in the past, and the result is more of their own work vs. something we mostly did for them.

Otherwise, I really like my job, and my family and husband, and am generally smiley! WOO!

Robin Hood!

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Robin Hood!

A bunch of dorky people and a CEO

Friday, November 21st, 2014

A bunch of dorky people and a CEO

Work dinosaur is watching me. @brightroll #hax

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Work dinosaur is watching me. @brightroll #hax

… and then I suddenly understood something about Shanley Kane.

Monday, July 21st, 2014

I’ve been a software engineer in the professional world for 19 years. I’ve had my share of experiences with other software engineers and managers, shared in both this blog and it’s former incarnation, which have clearly been based in abject sexism, but it has happily always felt like it has been the exception, never the rule.

Recently, my husband sent me this article, though, and I was suddenly filled with RAGE. It suddenly occurred to me on a very basic level just how rampant and deeply-held some of the behaviors we experience are, and how much I’ve normalized them as part of my long-term experience. I’ve changed in real, measurable ways, in terms of how I react to certain situations based on some of this; some of those ways I’m fine with (I’m very one-of-the-boys in terms of what I consider acceptable conversational topics, but that generally fits with my personality and is something that I think attracted my husband to me, besides my HUGE BRAIN OF AWESOME), but others honestly bother me (any time someone tries to help me in a way that I believe reflects on their opinion of my skill or how I can do my job will cause a knee-jerk “I CAN DO THIS, ASSHOLE” reaction; I have terrible impostor syndrome).

Anyway. That article, and my rage as a result, led to a really awful interaction with a guy I used to work… click to enjoy (for certain values of “enjoy”). But, in the midst of all of that, I suddenly had a stark realization about Shanley Kane, who always seemed to me as an extremist who didn’t accurately represent my experience and who, in fact, sometimes made it harder for me to do my job: she is that blind rage, and she is feeling it all the time in order to afford me the places where I can relax and exist and do my job in this environment without constantly seething about things that are so deeply-rooted that it will take generations to undo. What I saw as the things that make her dangerous to me personally (“guys will have reactions to me because they will think that I’m off-the-handle in the same way because we are both female engineers”) are actually important (“guys should check their reactions as being part of a deep-seated need for reflection and change” — because if people group us together because we are both female engineers, THAT IS THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE). She is choosing to have this rage (as much as anyone can choose how they feel) because the only thing that will possibly have any affect here — if anything can have an affect — is constant pressure on people to see how their behavior is responsible at all levels for the current state that we’re in.

So… that was a weird paradigm shift for me — not about Shanley in specific, but in admitting to myself that my experiences count for something and I am not the only one having them. I’m not a special snowflake in this way, and knowing that … well, knowing that sucks, because I hate thinking about other people having the same ones.

software engineering: a tip (or two) for the interviewer

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Recently I had a funny LinkedIn recruiter email that was so hilariously busy touting the amazingness of this company that I had to follow their advice when they said, “Our employees love us so much, check us out on Glassdoor!”

So, I did, of course, because I wanted to see what their employees were gushingly saying. And, of course, I went to the section for people who had interviewed at the company, and found something startling: a bunch of people interviewing for senior software engineering level positions were reporting having tech screens that included questions like, “What is polymorphism?” and “What are the difference between the private, protected, and public modifiers?”

I’ve done a LOT of interviewing in my day, because I love interviewing people and getting to know them. That said, it seems like an incredibly rookie mistake to fail to moderate your interviewing style based on the role you’re interviewing someone to occupy. When I speak to a senior software engineer, I expect them to be driven, imaginative, creative, and able to lead themselves meaningfully through a project, and if I spend my time speaking to them about the mundanity of software engineering, then I’m missing an incredible opportunity to make sure that they actually fit the role of senior, vs something more junior to that role. The ability to do software engineering at a level above entry has NOTHING to do with the mundanity of a language and EVERYTHING to do with the ability to be handed a problem and to think your way through it.

And before you tell me some horror story you heard once about a guy who got in at CTO-level because of an ineffective interviewing process and a resume full of lies, let me counter with this: when you bring someone in to interview, throw some imagined problem at them on a whiteboard, and see them work through it, you can pretty much assess their ability and whether or not their resume makes sense. And relatedly, PLEASE let’s stop with these ridiculous “implement quicksort” crap questions, unless you’re working somewhere where you suddenly need to reimplement quicksort in some fashion because the version provided to you in the API isn’t fast enough or whatever. Most of the time, we’re solving problems like, “I’m writing an app for fantasy football and need to be able to output a leaderboard, including tie-breakers.”

Maybe next time I do a phone screen and they ask me one of those questions I will just point them to this post.

Jean giving me a mustache

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013



Jean giving me a mustache

Originally uploaded by alibee09