Posts filed under 'Personal'

Let Me Code

I’m a total fraud. How in the hell, did I end up with a speaker ticket?

When I attended my first railsconf back in 2011, I was a self-proclaimed novice despite the fact that’s I’d been coding rails professionally for two years, despite the fact that I had over 10 years coding experience in other languages prior to that. Obviously, I wasn’t a professional since I had yet to write my first test. Obviously, I was a fraud.

I came to railsconf 2011 to become a ‘real developer’. My lack of testing knowledge branded me as an outsider, and until I could learn ’the right way to code’ I’d never be ‘real’.

Wish I had known back then that I’d come back to railsconf later to hear DHH call TDD a ‘fad diet’. Dunno if I would have felt less like a fraud, but it helps that nowadays folks are challenging the notion that you HAVE to code one way or another.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the foundations are important, patterns and testing are important (sorry DHH), and learning from others is what makes this community great. But you have to keep moving forward even when people keep telling you ‘you’re doing it wrong’. Because everyone will tell you that, all the time.

It’s been a long journey for me leveling up my game, feeling like I finally can hold my own in a room of ‘real engineers’. But now I see a room full of people just like me, and even more people just like me three years ago. They’re here to level up, to become ‘real developers’… maybe not knowing that they already are ‘real’.

1 comment April 23rd, 2014

Bottom line, We All Lose

Here’s an excellent post by Amanda Blum discussing the latest Women in Tech tragedy. I call it a tragedy because people got hurt and damage could have been avoided every step of the way but instead spiraled out of control.

Standing up about women’s issues is hard. Choosing which issues are worthy of fighting the good fight and how best to handle a situation are not always obvious. It’s a touchy subject. Folks are nervous.

Sometimes the pendulum has to swing too far in the other direction before things right themselves. Was her public response an overreaction? Christie Koehler makes a good point in a recent post Bold IdeasUttered Publicly: “…as someone not part of the dominant social order you have limited options for calling attention to transgressive behavior.”

Read the entire post for a thoughtful explanation of what that means, but my take (and from personal experience) is that it’s really, really hard for a minority to speak up directly.

Let’s be honest, when was the last time you called someone out for bad behavior to their face?

Regardless of whether you side with Adria or with how she handled the incident, all can agree that things definitely got out of hand thereafter.

Honestly, I feel bad that someone was fired over something that could easily have come out of my own mouth but it’s the subsequent nerd range and death threats against Adria that make me even more afraid to speak up (about anything) than I was before.

As a dear male colleague said to me, “Why can’t we talk openly about these things without it exploding?”

1 comment March 22nd, 2013


Last night, I had the privilege of being part of the first annual TechiesGotTalent night to showcase the extracurricular activities of local nerds here in Boston.

Kelly Rice did an amazing job of gathering talent from the Boston Startup scene and I was really impressed with the quality of all the acts that performed.

Checkout my 5 minutes with Peter Fernandez here:…

We won third place!

Add comment November 29th, 2012

Liana Takes her Family Green

I am not green. I’m just a programmer. Check out my guest blog on Practically Green!

Add comment May 29th, 2012

BostonRB Outreach and Education

I’ve mostly been MIA this past year on this blog and in the community while I’ve been focusing on “leveling up”. But sadly my endeavors in the community have suffered.

I have either led or participated in the various incarnations of ruby women’s groups in town for the past few years. With toddlers of my own and a husband who works in the evenings it’s been tough keeping something going.

But I’m thrilled to see a passionate group at BostonRB that are working on ideas and events directed at growing and diversifying the ruby community.

It would be really wonderful if there were more local women adding their voices to this conversation.

Checkout the Google Group here:…

Add comment May 25th, 2012

Girls just wanna Ho-Gram…no Bra-Gram… no wait I’m a Pro-Glammer… Wut?

Having come from a life in show business where I was judged daily on the most superficial terms, I’m not readily angered or upset by sexist stupid shit.

There’s just so much of it. Everywhere. That I choose to ignore it.

“…Wut?”, I hear you say.

But here’s where I’m coming from. I have a great deal of respect for the women who are fighting the good fight head on. But that doesn’t work for me. I just don’t win in those situations.

Instead I choose to just be a positive example. Yeah, I guess that’s a passive agressive way of bringing folks to task. But focussing on all the negativity just brings me down. I don’t want to talk about all the things the boys won’t let me do. I don’t want to talk about all the things the boys tell me I’m supposed to be.

All I wanna do is ignore the haters and write awesome code.

But. I think I’ve been naive.

I keep hearing about stuff. Bad stuff. I mean, like the whole Sqoot thing right here in Boston. What year is this? Have ya’all been living under a rock? You can’t get away with that shit anymore. Or can you?

Now, at first I liked the whole bro-gramming meme. To me, it seemed like it started out as a self deprecating joke amongst the hipsters. Hell, I wanted to be a “bro” myself. Seemed like fun. But now, I think the fear is that it’s more of a battle cry to round up fresh tech talent from a pool of jerks.

Well, okay… if you wanna hire assholes then go ahead and add this to your adjective list along with ‘rockstar’, ‘ninja’ and ‘jedi’. But honestly, some guys are taking this bro-grammer thing to heart.

For the last three months, I’ve worked in a startup incubator space. I can stand up and see five or more separate companies with their own personalities all around me. The majority of folks are *wonderful*. And I’ve loved being in such an energized, youthful place.

But then you have your bros. The guys who stand up and pace, talking loudly on their headsets. The ones who throw around terms like ‘gangbang’ and ‘bitch’ to their male colleagues, ignoring the fact that they’re offending people sitting not three feet away.

Oh, and here’s the kicker. One of them upon learning that I was a developer said, “Wow. You’re a girl programmer? You should use that to your advantage.”

Honestly, most if the time I would let a comment like that go. But when weighed against everything else…

So, what do I do about it? What’s my responsibility here? There’s no HR department to complain to.

Honestly, do I need to do anything? These guys are alienating everyone around them. They’re not making the smart, necessary connections within the startup community that they need because men and women alike can’t stand them.

I will personally go out of my way to continue being an awesome rails dev with awesome rails dev friends and encourage them *not* to join “that startup”. And I have faith that they will implode and fail, and look like an ass doing so without my calling them out publicly to people who already hate them.

Ack, I’m back to being passive aggressive.

3 comments April 27th, 2012

Ruby Hero Awards

Via the railsbridge free ruby on rails workshops for women (men are included if they can bring along a female), “the sarah’s” Sarah Allen and Sarah Mei have inspired me to take action here in Boston where I led a similar workshop at Harvard and am planning another workshop (yet to be announced) this May.

In addition, their work has extended to creating workshops for kids AND they have inspired many folks to consider offering childcare when putting together events which just helps everyone be awesome.

This sort of inclusive work is great for everyone in our community. That’s why I’ve nominated them for the Ruby Hero Awards again this year. Shouldn’t you?

Click here:

Add comment March 14th, 2012

She’s Geeky: What’s an Unconference?

Ever think about attending an “UN-conference”?  Wondering what the hell that is?  Well, let me tell ya that after attending the first day of She’s Geeky, I am totally sold.

How does it work?  Well, all the conference attendees are invited to grab a pen and piece of paper to write down a topic that they’d like to talk about.  Either you’re an “expert” and want to share or you’re a novice and want to invite experts to your session to learn more.

We went around the room allowing everyone an opportunity to announce their topic and give a brief description.  Then folks post their topics on a board.  The board has a bunch of color coded stickies denoting the various session spaces.  You pick a sticky put it on your topic so folks know where to meet to discuss your topic and then you post your topic under a session time.

And that’s it.  That’s your conference.  Filled with topics that at least one person was interested in discussing.  And interestingly, it’s rare not to have anyone attend your topic.  Unless you’re totally obscure (and even still!), chances are high that there’s another woman here who wants to chat with you.

The people here are wildly interesting and topics just run the gamut from food for developers (I looked at Django/Python code this morning) to honing your interview, leadership and presentation skills.

I’m finding it hard choosing which topics to attend because I want to listen in on everything. Fortunately, each topic has a designated note taker who is typing furiously so that the notes can be posted on the She’s Geeky site later.

1 comment January 29th, 2011

She’s Geeky: Tech Moms – Navigating your career with kids

I led this session at the end of day one of She’s Geeky.  I chose to have my session in the teepee but it turned out to be too small to hold the group and awfully hot inside.  So we all grabbed pillows and sat on the floor.

There were seven women including myself.  Half of us have school age children and the other half have toddlers and babies.  So there was lots of reminiscing, personal stories and advice.

I brought up a topic that I’ve been struggling with… I call it Mom Fog.  As a coder, it is very difficult to reconcile logical thinking for your job with the very emotional task of raising children.  Since the birth of my son, I find that at last my Mom Fog is beginning to lift.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’m getting more sleep these days, but likely there is a hormonal aspect to it as well.

The women tell me that this is a phenomenon that gets better about a year after birth, but never completely goes away.  And we talked about strategies to capitalize on our manic, ADD days with the opportunities for intense focus that seem to ebb and flow throughout the month.

We even got to hear from the kids who attended today’s event who talked about what it was like to have a “tech mom”.  It was moving to hear them talk about their positive experiences and I hope that my kids will talk about me that way someday.

There are some mom friendly, task management applications out there to check out:  Backpack, Cozi, Things, and organizing advice from FlyLady.

As working moms, a number of us are lucky to have supportive partners and we are encouraged to trust them with our children.  Along those lines, it’s important to remember to build a village to support you.  Ask for help.  And accept help when it is offered.

This morning I was hesitant to introduce this topic since this was my very first She’s Geeky event.  But I’m truly glad that I did.  I got some much needed validation today.  And I’m hoping the other moms got a lot out of it too.

Add comment January 28th, 2011

She’s Geeky: Open Gov Stuff on ID, Privacy, Cyber Security

Attending an Internet data privacy session being led by @identitywoman.  We are discussing and working on a response to the Department of Commerce Green Paper on Privacy.

“The purpose of Identity Commons is to support, facilitate, and promote the creation of an open identity layer for the Internet — one that maximizes control, convenience, and privacy for the individual while encouraging the development of healthy, interoperable communities.”  Check out the Identity Commons Wiki.

Add comment January 28th, 2011

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