binary girl: the secret blog



Archive for the ‘work’ Category


Thursday, October 3rd, 2013


Originally uploaded by alibee09

if i posted more regularly…

Monday, September 16th, 2013

…then my posts might be more than just updates! Ha!

Work! It is insanity right now. We are in super-crunch mode.

Del Amitri is reuniting, in case you weren’t aware. I’m pleased.

I decided recently that I would like to convert my beauty products to cruelty-free, including wiping out all products sold in China (because even if a product is labeled cruelty-free, if they are sold in China, they are required under Chinese law to do a minimum of animal testing). (For the record: I am not necessarily against animal testing of things like pharmaceuticals, but I see no reason why beauty products would be tested on animals — my vanity is not worth it.) Someone suggested the line Paula’s Choice to me, and after researching them myself a bit, I was interested enough to purchase some samples (they sell them at a very affordable price so.. yay!). The line was started by a woman who started her career by researching the ingredients in all lines of cosmetics for efficacy, and eventually wrote books about which are the best in terms of living up to their claims from a scientific standpoint (as in which had ingredients that had results backed by clinical studies). She eventually started her own line and also continues to recommend the “best” from all other product lines that she and her team have researched. Besides the fact that I like the stuff their company stands for (they have a green policy, no animal testing, are community-involved, and have a 100% money-back guarantee), I was particularly drawn to two things: 1. the company doesn’t blow smoke about their products doing miracle crap that is never actually realistic (like, making wrinkles disappear or making “botox in a bottle”), and 2. all the ingredients they use are clinically, scientifically proven to do what they say.

Anyway, I liked a few of the samples (cleansers and non-spf moisturizers for night time) but had a severe allergic reaction to one, which made me wish I had spot-tested them instead of used them on my face. For an entire week, I looked like a walking hive, and then tested it on my inner elbow and had hives for another week there. I eventually called them to talk to an “expert”, who after speaking to me about my concerns and skin type, sent me a huge number of new samples (25 — 5 each of 5 products) to try, and introducing me to two I hadn’t considered (BHA, a chemical exfoliant, and retinol). And long story short: after spot-testing EVERY SINGLE ONE, I started using them and DUDE my skin looks AWESOME. It’s smoother than it ever has been and I am actually really, really pleased. SO. If you are considering revamping your skincare or you’re like, “gah, I guess I’m old enough now that I should give a crap”, check them out.

Katie is obsessed with wearing dresses right now.

Max has this totally adorable way of being pissed off.
Max: I want chocolate milk.
Me: No, you can have white milk.
Max: [crosses arms, sticks bottom lip out, turns his back to me] Fine. I’m not going to Jonathan’s birthday party, then. Hmph.
Me: [stifles laughter]
The best part is that he has this look on his face of utter disdain for you and all that you stand for, and turns his back on you as if you are merely a peasant who should be removed from his countenance.

The kids are both doing tae kwon do now and are really enjoying it! They both have on/off days but in general, I’m super happy to see them so engaged in something, and I hope that their excitement for it continues. Right now our schedule is a bit packed, with swimming once a week, tkd twice a week, and gymnastics once a week, so I’d love to stop doing gymnastics (mainly because it’s an inconvenience, and not for any real reason other than at times Katie is very difficult about actually participating) but in general I think they’re cool with the amount of outside-school activities we do.


Wednesday, July 24th, 2013


Originally uploaded by alibee09

Pie from Oklahoma.

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Pie from Oklahoma.

Originally uploaded by alibee09

There are no words.

Friday, April 19th, 2013

There are no words.

Originally uploaded by alibee09

many happenings!

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

+ I got a promotion, yay!
– Katie woke up sort of incoherently crying this morning. She came to bed with me, snoozed for about 15 minutes, woke up crying again, and then went to the bathroom and vomited. :( So, she’s home sick today with Daddy (although she’s much improved now, hurray!)
-/+ Nicky has been also vomiting nearly every day, so the vet looked at him and was worried that he has lymphoma. His blood work came back super good, though — some old liver enzyme values look better, and his red blood cell count is in the normal range, so he doesn’t even look like an IMHA dog! She thinks that the problem might be from his teeth, which need major work, so he’s going to be spending our tax refund for us getting that taken care of.
+ Kiddos have been amazing this week so far. We’re going to have special One-On-One Dinners With Mommy on Thursday and Friday, and I’m excited, except for the fact that both of them are telling me they want me to take them to Johnny Rockets. Save me.
– Sister’s dog is super ill. :( Hopefully we’ll find out more tonight.
+ Got a haircut!
– I’m an idiot and accidentally registered my car as PNO when I thought it was my bike. Correcting this mistake is proving to be a huge PIA.

my comment on the “sexist guys at pycon” shenanigans

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

It seriously bugs me that Adria Richard’s domain is “”.

It also annoys me that someone who is responding to her tweets has the handle “onlygirlintech”.

So… as a chick in tech, the way we deal with being in tech is by acting like it’s either super special and impressive that we’re women (which seems anti-feminist to me) or that we’re the only one (negating the experience of all the others)?

Bah. So many of them women who are espousing themselves tech evangelists are so far removed from representing me as an engineer that it’s mind boggling.

the worst award ever

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I got this email yesterday (from LinkedIn):

Alison, congratulations!
You have one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012.
LinkedIn now has 200 million members. Thanks for playing a unique part in our community!

Well HOT DIGGITY! One in 10 million! I feel so special!

a brief assortment of thoughts

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

– Hey sinuses: breathing through you isn’t really something I consider optional.
– In an agile environment, side-stepping the product owner and assigning items straight to engineers is always the Wrong Way to do something. Your work can still get done as quickly doing things with some semblance of process.
– Listening to Katie sing the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic theme song, in which she probably makes up 85% of the words but sings with all the conviction of an American Idol, is topped in hilarity only by hearing Max say that HE wants to sing it and then having him repeat the intro phrase “My Little Pony, My Little Pony, ahh ahh ahh ahh” five times.
– Life moves fast! Hold on tight!
– People keep telling me I look 11+ years younger than I am. Thanks for the awesome genes, parental units! Word! On the other hand… a kid at the kids’ school told me I am old. Boo!
– I WILL NOT BE SICK BY FRIDAY. I WILL USE THE POWER OF CAPSLOCK AND POSITIVE THINKING. I was totally feeling crappy on Saturday, had a massive sleep-in Sunday (thanks husband!) and felt great for the Superbowl, decided to go on a bike ride over lunch on Monday (which was really great!) and ever since then, I’ve been falling apart. I’m like a piece of soan papdi (best Indian sweet ever), I’m falling apart so much. Although really, I’d like to be better by Thursday, because I’m organizing a team morale event while one of our German cohorts is here where we are all going to shoot each other (laser tag) and I’d like to actually… go. :D (I also organized a dinner for him and a combination of other folk at the totally delicious Blue Line Pizza — omg. They use cornmeal in their crusts. It was heaven.)

In conclusion, cardamom.


software development, interviews: pondering

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I am considered an irregularity among software engineers. In some ways, I think it’s unfair, because the old, tired definition of programmers as anti-social, on-the-spectrum-tendency people who would sooner sneer at you than be interrupted in their dark cave filled with cans of Mt. Dew is categorically untrue — most of the engineers I work with are affable, happy to explain things, and want to make a great product. Beyond my outgoing and extremely social tendencies, however, I’m also a woman, and as much as things have changed in this industry, we’re still a rarity — especially outside of the QA specialty.

I’m not sure why so many more women are in QA than in straight development; I would hazard a guess that it has to do with our problem-solving capabilities but I really think it’s more related to the fact that historically, engineers have ranked “QA development” below “software development” and because this industry continues to be filled with horribly sexist individuals and mentalities, it’s been easier for women to break into this field because it has been considered … less. Since the rise of test-driven development, unit tests, and more methodologies that put a lot of engineering emphasis on QA, though, this is laughable; I expect that most QA developers that I work with are equal in skill to that of a software developer. The industry hasn’t really aligned with that yet, however. (At Microsoft, a QA dev was ranked in skill set lower than an equally leveled software developer.)

Right, so I’m a chick engineer. Most of my friends are NOT engineers, so most of them have no idea what an engineering interview is like. I tell them jokingly that I would pay $50 for someone to interview me by simply asking me what the most difficult problem I’ve worked on was, or what sort of animal I’d be — instead of standing at a whiteboard with a potential coworker asking me to do some random quicksort implementation. (Cue blank look on face of friend, who has no idea what that means.) I find that technical interviews run the gamut:

– startups (places looking to hire “rockstars” or “ninjas” — both of those terms do not mean what you’d think, because if you whipped out a guitar or a shuriken you’d probably be escorted off-site) will be more likely to ask you some off-the-wall interview thing that isn’t aligned with any interview you’ve ever experienced before. Example: an old coworker’s current company gives an interviewee 40 minutes with an engineer, who explains the requirements/priorities, and then has them sit at a desk near other engineers for 3-4 hours implementing Tetris, or some other game/project. (I assume at some point they take a lunch break.) At the end, they share what they’ve developed with the other pertinent team members.
– old-school companies will probably have at least two veteran interviewers (these may fall into the old guard description of a software engineer) who enjoy asking extremely difficult (at least to the stressed out interviewee) algorithmic question and then only begrudgingly provide further elucidation. For example, at Microsoft, someone asked me to do something involving the implementation of quick sort, but refused to remind me at all which sorting method that was (it had been quite some time since I’d done any sorting algorithms at all, and I wasn’t ashamed to say I couldn’t recall which it specifically — other than it being ‘quick’). Imagine being asked to do something in an interview and when you ask for clarification, being denied it. Fun!

Oddly, both of those extremes bother me. Interviewing should be about discovering the abilities of the person in front of you, not about hazing a potential employee or showing how new/different/revolutionary you think your company is. Overall, it seems to me that standard software engineering interviews involve, usually, someone asking a few database questions, an algorithmic question, and about past projects. I know that as someone who has interviewed a lot of people, it’s very important to me to hear how someone works through problems — in fact, that’s often more important than whether or not they get something correct. I try to avoid asking standard questions like “reverse a doubly-linked list” because I find they lack in creativity and tell me literally nothing about the engineer except that they can reproduce some answer they memorized from the Internet.

Someone on Facebook said, regarding the way that these interviews go: “If there’s anything wrong with the quiz-style interview it’s that (a) I find it vicariously embarrassing on behalf of the interviewers; (b) as a candidate I find them rude and insulting partly because they are artificially and stupidly stressful. It is a bad way to start off a business relation with someone. I don’t remember why I ever put up with it other than fear of rejection.”

There needs to be a better way of interviewing software engineers. What is it? Ideas I have include:
– pairing on a piece of code
– having someone send you an example of their work beforehand, and then walking through it together (this seems to be standard across other fields, why don’t we do it?)

See comments: [livejournal | wordpress]

in focus :)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

in focus :)

Originally uploaded by alibee09

Halloween at work :)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Halloween at work :)

Originally uploaded by alibee09


Friday, October 12th, 2012

The past two weeks have been totally crazy. In the midst of preparing for the kids’ birthday party, which was on Sunday, I was given a super high-priority task at work on Friday morning, and I pulled three up-at-7-do-kid-stuff-work-til-6-do-kid-stuff-work-til-midnight days in a row. Happily, it all was pushed live last night, just in time for my work laptop’s hard drive to completely die last night! Hurrah for timing! (On the good side, it’s outperforming expectations! YES!)

That all, of course, happened right after taking K to the hospital for her severe abdominal pain last Monday (turns out it was a virus), then M to the ER on Saturday, then the kids having their yearly appointments this Monday, and then taking M to the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday. He’s handling his hard cast better than the soft one, but he’s been incredibly grumpy and unhappy all week, which I am sure is related to his discomfort. Today I got a call from school because he hit a girl in the face three times in quick succession with his cast when he didn’t want to share the little sofa with her, leaving a bruise on her face. :(

Also, apparently turning four somehow turned K’s legs into jelly, because the major word out of her mouth these days: “uppies”. My back, it is double plus ungood. Then she and M fight over whose arm is where on me. I had no idea that the “stay on your side!!!!!111one” business started so early!

the danger reunion!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Katie was too sick to come to the Danger 10 year reunion on Sunday, so I brought Max while she stayed home with Brandon. It was INCREDIBLY hot down in Mountain View, but the turnout was amazing, and it was super awesome to see everyone — even though I had a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease (especially around Robey and Sharon, d’oh). The odd part about it was how natural and wonderful it felt to see all those people again, to the point that it seemed as if nearly no time had passed, even though it had been at least a year for most of them.

Funny moments:
– the number of people who asked me what nail polish I was wearing (thanks to my posting of manis to FB).
– Max’s obsession with the bouncy house, which was very difficult for him to navigate (at least, climbing the slide inside) until I a) took his socks off so he stopped slipping, and b) the bigger kids started helping him up the slide.
– when we first got there and Max was alone, he climbed inside the bouncy house and laid down. We all thought he was going to nap until he started crying for no apparent reason.
– Max’s food for the day: four juice boxes, a cookie, and a cupcake. Yes, I’m a stellar parent.
– I tried to bring cupcakes home but they were in my car for 10 minutes and all the frosting melted straight off. Delicious (not really) :D

I am so happy that I got to work with such tremendous folk. <3

Some pics:

I worked on 5 of these. :D There was one more but it’s not in the pic, so 6 total. /hardcore ;P

(I stole pics from Carolyn/userinfobluepoof, for the most part. :D )

thanks, honey

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

IM from husband when I told him I was nervous about a presentation I was giving:
You will be good!
And charmingly akward!
Awkward. Man, that word is awkward to spell.
You’re like a female Hugh Grant with no english accent and better teeth and a non-horsey face.

I’m innovative!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I’m innovative!
I won one of the six Q2 innovation awards today!

/me is shocked

Originally uploaded by alibee09

work olympics

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

We just completed the Wize Commerce Office Olympics, Summer 2012; I took home a silver medal! Ava and I videotaped each other competing (I just did individual events while she and another coworker also participated in the team events); here are some videos:

Discus… I don’t even want to talk about my performance here:

Biathalon, where I placed 2nd:

Archery, where I didn’t place:

Then, I decided to take everything one step further and interrupted the medals ceremony last night to show some hard-hitting investigative reporting:

Funnily, when I recorded this, Julian hadn’t gotten any golds — he won his first in the last event, right before the medaling ceremony. There was another coworker who really had won a ridiculous amount of golds, but his sense of humor wasn’t such that I felt like I could call him out in the same way. Julian was great about it. :D

All in all, this was SUPER fun; a real morale-booster. I love my coworkers. :D

some guy in the game room is laughing in a way that sounds like a crying woman

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

On Friday and Saturday, I attended a Railsbridge event at my workplace that was aimed mainly at women, and it was AWESOME. Not only was my teacher engaging (and he happens to be a coworker, which is great), being at an engineering event where the majority of the participants were women was incredible. It was one of the only times I knew I could talk to another woman and ask her what she did (or where her interests lie) and have it actually be more than marginally related to either my own career path or my skill set. Totally empowering.

The event even had childcare for free, which I took advantage of, and the woman who came down bonded instantly with K and M to the point that my little barnacles willingly went with her, leaving me time to do my thing. These are the same people I need to nearly trick in order to get out of school without tears (Max will usually be led away for food, Katie has this whole production of asking me to stay a dozen times before she acquiesces to pushing me out the door). It was incredibly freeing to be able to participate in the class without feeling guilty that they were upset or needing me, somehow.

I’m totally gonna organize one of these events on my own. I want to do it again! Maybe the hubs will even come (given that childcare thing!)

Sunday was difficult to start; we went on a long bike ride (7.5mi each way) and the kids fought in the trailer nearly the entire ride. On the other hand … Brandon and I got out for a long ride, which felt good from an exercise standpoint (and a “family thing” one, too). At one point, we started riding as fast as we could in the hopes that the wind noise would either divert the fighting/screaming or at least drown it out. The new plan: I will take the ride alone and then come back and B will take one kid, and the next week that kid switches. Who knows if it’ll happen, but it was so wretched riding with that kind of fighting going on. The day perked up, though, when Caroline, Josh, Riley, and Tyler came over… my sis and her fam are good stuff.

Edit: I need to add Todd’s response (from LJ) so everyone can see the amazingness:

Ooh, wait–I know this one!

You take K in the trailer, and leave her at the end of the bike path. You come back for M, and do the same. Now, you can’t leave K & M together, or one of them will eat the other, so you bring K back to the *start* of the bike path. Take B to the end of the path, where I assume he gets along passably with M, and then you make a final return trip to fetch K.

I’m pretty sure there’s a chicken in there somewhere, but I forget where that fits into the puzzle…

Live deer!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Live deer!

Originally uploaded by alibee09

the best part about the new kids’ room at work is that it’s 6ft from my desk :)

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

the best part about the new kids’ room at work is that it’s 6ft from my desk :)

Originally uploaded by alibee09