Before Grace Hopper

I’m on my way to Grace Hopper right now, which I’ve never been to before. My employer is actually paying to send me. Paying for my hotel and my flight (and the Wi-Fi which allows me to write this post) and paying me for the time I spend enriching myself here.

I’m so honored and privileged to work for a company that actually invests in me as an employee, that sees me as an asset, that wants to grow me so I can flourish for them. Maybe it’s a sign of not having found the right career direction before, or not being picky enough with my prior employers and positions, or me successfully escaping impostor syndrome or maximizing my networking, or me needing time to grow into the seasoned pro that is finally an obvious hire at a big tech company like Microsoft.* Whatever the cocktail of reasons is, I’ll take it!

I’ll get to connect with colleagues from App Camp for Girls, and from my current and past jobs. I’ll connect with fellow Bryn Mawr graduates who have pursued careers in tech. I’ll meet new people and compliment a thousand cute smartwatch bands and sensible but snappy pairs of shoes. I’ll take on loads of swag I don’t really need and regret it later, and give away fewer of my beautifully letterpressed business cards than I hoped because nobody wants to carry around more *stuff*. I’ll get buttons caught on my lanyard; I’ll snag my necklace with my badge; I’ll get blisters and sweat and my brain and heart and contacts will be completely full. I’ll lose literally every pen I bring including the one I swipe from the hotel. I’ll take notes in three different apps and only collate them on the plane home when I re-read Liz’s blog post and type up my own post-conference post.

I’ll chat freely, comfortable that this audience won’t judge uptalk or complain about the word “just” or dole out creepy-toned compliments or judge my bubbly effervescence as technical incompetence, because I’ll be surrounded by my peers who deal with that all the time, and by allies who know that sexism in tech is a problem and are determined to find a way to improve this culture.

I’ll learn about new technologies and ways of thinking. I’ll have “aha” moments when I realize something someone said makes me see the solution to a problem I didn’t know I was solving for, or makes me realize I’m asking the wrong questions to get the answers I need. I’ll write my first few lines of code since App Camp. I’ll have a deeper appreciation for the roles my colleagues perform, and I’ll brainstorm ways for us to work better together. I’ll learn to automate something I previously did manually. I’ll focus on eradicating some habit that’s been holding me back in my meetings or my slide decks. I’ll hit that “connect” button SO many times on LinkedIn. I’ll forget to change my Twitter display name back to its usual form for like a week. And I’ll have a freaking BLAST.

I love conferences! Eeeeee!


*Yes, I shamelessly put in the Careers section link. No, I’m not kidding. At least throw your hat in the ring; this place is amazing! :)

I know I’ve been posting videos galore lately, but all the links are coming to me at once! :) Here’s my run-through of the talk I eventually gave at AltConf, for the Seattle Xcoders Meetup.

Three things of note (at least to me):

I know this shirt didn’t read great on camera. I had to rush from work, it sucked. I won’t make this mistake again!

Also in the vanity field, though, I have no idea why this camera is SO unflattering! I feel like it widened me by like 30%, haha. Just watch the slides, OK?

It went over better than you can hear; we didn’t have the audience audio captured so it’s hard to tell when my jokes actually get laughs but I swear they do. However, I gained stage presence and improved and changed the talk A LOT for AltConf, so when I do eventually post that version you should watch it too or just trust that it’s better, haha.


Donut.JS lightning talk

Back in late May, I spoke at DonutJS, a totally rad Meetup organized by a bunch of Portland tech wonder-folk. It’s such a great and fun community! I highly encourage folks to attend and/or present if they’re in Portland and can swing it.

This was my first-ever public speaking gig! OK, I guess second, since I spoke to a Meetup group of all of three people about social media one time in like 2013. And I’m always the MC of App Camp for Girls in Seattle, and I’ve been leading webinars for my Microsoft job for months. But still, it was my first “someone asked me to speak at a thing and I said yes!” engagement.

It was challenging because I knew I was later going to speak at AltConf, which was a much longer time slot—10 minutes at DonutJS vs. 45 minutes at AltConf. So I had to choose where I wanted to chop things apart and which points I wanted to focus on. In the end, even though the App Camp discussion was more personally meaningful, I thought the online dating failure arc made for a better ten-minute story for a semi-technical audience, so I went with it. I hope you enjoy; I’ll post the longer AltConf version as soon as it’s out!

Udacity interview with Kate Rotondo

When I spoke at AltConf back in June, Udacity asked to interview me and I was lucky enough to get paired with my pal Kate Rotondo as my interviewer. Hooray for networking! Hooray for connections! Hooray for women in tech! :)

You can read about the interview here, or just cut to watching the video below.

This was a ton of fun, and we covered a lot of different topics including App Camp for Girls. Thanks to Udacity and Kate for the opportunity!

Speaking in Portland and San Francisco

I’m speaking at two upcoming events—I’d love it if you came!

First we have Donut.js, a casual gathering that is so very Portland. “A fun night of code and donuts” is the slogan, and your entry includes a donut, come on! I’ll be presenting on Tuesday, May 30th, talking about online dating (but more from a UX perspective than a dating advice perspective). Tickets are $10 atCup & Bar, I’d love it if you came to join us!

Then on June 15th at 1 PM, I’m speaking at AltConf in San Francisco. AltConf is a free conference that runs parallel to Apple’s WWDC; I’d be honored if you came to hear me, but the session will also be recorded if you miss it. This talk will be more about my transition from The Heartographer to working at Microsoft, why online dating is kind of a garbage fire these days, why I made the shift away from entrepreneurship, and partly about App Camp too. It’ll be a longer time slot and a much more robust discussion, plus I think you’ll find my slides funny. :)

Speaking of, I’m also in town for the James Dempsey and the Breakpoints/App Camp for Girls fundraising party that night, which you should absolutely buy tickets to before they all disappear. (And by the way, you can always contribute whenever if you just wanna be rad.) Hope to see you there! Fuck it, hope to see you at all three things! (Might as well go big, right?)

Support Live Captioning at UIKonf

My friends and acquaintances in the tech industry constantly impress me. It’s inspiring and humbling to know so many people who are determined to help change tech by making sure it’s a welcoming community for marginalized people.

My pals Doug, Jeff, and Ashley over at SoundOff are in Round Two of fundraising, this time for live captioning at UIKonf in Berlin in May. Live captioning for UIKonf is not only going to open up the conference to the deaf community and the hard of hearing, but will be indispensable for many of the attendees for whom English is not their first language. Like all conferences SoundOff works with, UIKonf features a strong Code of Conduct to set expectations for attendees, speakers, and sponsors.

Captioning for the two days of talks will cost $3,000. They’re nearly there now, but they need your (and my) support to meet their goal! Donate now to help SoundOff make UIKonf accessible to as many people as possible! I’m off to make my contribution now. If you’re one of those wonderful allies who’s always wondering how you personally can help make a difference in our broken industry, this is a great way to start!


Back to Big Tech :)

I started a job at Microsoft last month. That’s right, I’m no longer an online dating coach! Now I’m a full-time Program Manager, working with early access customers to improve our products. I’m SO excited. (You might be surprised that I’m leaving behind the company I’ve built over the course of a decade, but the fact is, I’ve been burnt out on self employment for a few months now and have been actively seeking a role just like this one. I feel very fortunate to have made this move… and I’m keeping the podcast!)

Despite my elation, a change in routine is always challenging. There are so many things I have to readjust to, especially after three years of home-office-based self employment for my own one-woman company. Here are some of the odd adjustments I’m still getting used to:

Business Casual

Oh my god, it’s weird having to dress up for work again. Sure, I had to look good for my clients, but I was also mostly interacting with them via video chat. So, you know, nice shirt, nice lipstick, mascara, visible earrings, decent lighting on my face, cool backdrop = that’s all I needed to make a good impression. Now I have to worry about so much more!

HAIR. I have a lot of hair. (I started growing out a shorter cut when my husband proposed to me in early 2009 so I’d have “wedding hair;” I’ve basically been waiting for an excuse to stop growing it out ever since then.) I’m actually really liking my long locks these days, but they can be hard to wrangle in a manner that is both attractive and professional.

If I wear my hair down, which everyone agrees is the most flattering on me, it can get sorta vavoom/Jessica Rabbit real quick. Not a great “take me seriously as a new coworker” vibe. And yet, frumpier sleek coiffs make me less attractive, which generally harms my likability and therefore effectiveness because everyone everywhere is implicitly sexist. Yes, even other women, usually subconsciously; this is a Society Thing and not a Workplace Thing but I’m far more aware of it in a workplace where I inherently pay more attention to how professional microsociety views me.

And, like, when do I shower? At night, and risk Crazy AM Hair because you never know what you’ll get when you sleep on it wet? In the morning, and work out some sort of car vent system that simultaneously dries my waves while preventing condensation on the windshield during damp winter weather?

Don’t pretend this isn’t a real workflow I need to develop. For now, I have an entire drugstore stashed in the filing cabinet in my office. We’ll see what sticks.

SHOES. Business-appropriate footwear that’s comfortable, fashionable, and professional can be tricky. Sure, on regular weeks I can get away with a much more casual vibe, but I started my tenure here by jumping right into a massive customer-facing event. (Followed by a global all-hands among my distributed team, in case you were wondering.)

I gotta BRING IT with the footwear, espeically with an international audience (trust me, we Americans are slobs with our footwear and other countries judge us, I think often appropriately, based on this; wear better shoes; you probably need them). I also gotta be able to walk somewhat long distances with no warning because that’s what event planning occasionally requires. And yet I gotta keep it office appropriate.

I’ve been doing OK-ish on new footwear acquisitions, but I’ve probably bought four different pairs f because I truly didn’t have anything suitable and comfortable. (I have angry feet; don’t ask. Doesn’t help that I’m a size 11, a wide calf, AND a tall calf so sleek boots dip in for the knee joint about four inches below my knee, you know, right in the middle of my calf muscle bulge. It’s real attractive, trust.)

These have been wonderful for fancy days; a few other recent acqusitions help on chiller days. I’m astounded by how much I spent on shoes in the space of a month; totally worth it but like these are the actions of a woman with a suddenly regular paycheck, haha.

CLOTHES. I think I dress well in public most of the time, but the challenge is that now I have to actually remember what I’ve worn recently and mix it up enough to look like I actually change my clothes. I have TONS of stuff, but I tend to get fixated on two or three pieces that I feel really good in, and then re-wear those VERY frequently. Running my own home-based business allowed me to do this with few people noticing, except for my husband, who doesn’t count in this context, obvs. I might need to start documenting my outfits in some sort of insanely pragmatic yet ridiculous selfie journal for this express purpose instead of whatever look-how-wrinkly-I-got usual purpose people do that for.

Oh, and that customer-facing event with the business casual dress code? CHALLENGING clothing-wise (although I think we all did great, tbh). I tweeted about it and there were some helpful (though occasionally inconsistent) replies, in case you want to peek. It’s just psychologically much more fun to dress up because you want to than because you have to, haha.

COMMUTE GEAR. Is there any more hideous and forlorn retail category than the commuter bag? They’re so depressingly pragmatically ugly. And the ones that look halfway decent hurt your tech and your back. Unacceptable. The very few exceptions to these rules cost like my entire hiring bonus (btw first one of those ever, what’s up future new bag). And much like my feet, my back/shoulders/neck are wrecked from the nefarious and confusing spread of chronic tennis elbow.

Please, send me links to acceptable commuter backpack (not messenger for me) models for me to hand-wringingly reject privately but appreciate publicly because we all know I’m going to have to make some kind of lame compromise. I HATE spending money on something that doesn’t feel exciting or well designed, haha. (I can’t believe I once owned an LG Chocolate phone, but that slider mechanism was incredible. Where is the LG Chocolate of commuter backpacks, I need that.)

Office buildings

BATHROOMS. Let’s talk about corporate restrooms. Specifically, auto-flushing toilets. Note to toilets: I will tell you when I’m done. You don’t need to interpret every shift as I pull my shirt back over my waistband or fish in my purse for a tampon as an auxiliary flush cue. You can just flush the one time, when I’m truly done, not before and not after and not when the door bangs slightly ajar either. Our state is still technically in a drought, you know! I know it’s confusing because of all the rain, but it has something to do with snow melt and global warming and I’m seriously not making this up. Quit wasting all that water.

(Athough, to be fair, another Big Tech former employer’s way-too-low-flushing toilets were definitely worse, and they also seemed like they over-taxed the local sewer system so the air around the urban campus smelled like sewage all the time. Point to Microsoft, even with caveats.)

Also, real quick: paper towel machines with automatic sensors. I am a Paper Towel Ghost. I can get soap and water just fine most of the time, but I stand there waving like an idiot dripping on the floor begging you for a towel. Have mercy on the new hire and let her dry her hands! (The kitchen towel dispenser mysteriously works fine every time; different model.)

KITCHENS. Sepecifically, CORPORATE KITCHEN SINKS WITH SPONGES. UGH. Sponges in corporate kitchens are always disgusting and stinky. I made the mistake of washing out my mug with one on my first day and my hand smelled like spongefoul all day long.

Here’s my handy if slightly wasteful trick, if you don’t want to literally bring in your own sponge like I plan to do:

-Get a paper towel
-Squeeze some dish soap into it
-Pour some sugar on [me] [er, on the soap]

Now you have the abrasion power of a scrubby sponge with none of the icky smell. And I checked with facilities; this is compostable when you’re done scrubbing. You’re welcome!

OFFICE EQUIPMENT. Despite having great coverage for equipment, I find all office furniture and gear wanting. The furniture pieces are ugly, the color palettes are boring neutrals that somehow always still manage to clash and depress, and the standard-issue equipment is never quite good enough. In addition to the stuff I’ll be getting via the ergonomics department, I have like four keyboards I brought in from home, and monitors sitting on reams of copy paper. Sigh. At least they’re free.

Actual tech company stuff

Okay, now that I’ve griped about the sometimes silly challenges, let’s talk about some WONDERFUL changes this brings to my life.

SALARY. Listen, sometimes it’s nice to have a paycheck that comes from someone else. It’s been a while. That’s all I have to say on this matter. :)

BENEFITS. It’s been ages since I had benefits that covered me, or were at all luxurious. Not having to worry about in/out of network is golden. Knowing that even with a high dedicutible my out-of-pocket max won’t be insane is also wonderful. I’ve had some scary and expensive ER visits and surgeries in the past couple years that we only just finished paying off, because emergency stuff is expensive and our benefits sucked. It’s insane how broken this system is in our country, but I’m super-duper-grateful to have cushy corporate coverage again.

PERKS. I get to ride a privilege bus! With Wi-Fi! It’s confusing and sometimes hard to book seats on, but it exists and I’ve never not gotten a ride when I wanted one yet. I’ve never worked anywhere that operated its own bus service from my home neighborhood to my work neighborhood before. Ridiculous. I haven’t yet gotten into the swing of doing actual work on the bus; we’ll see how that goes. Today I made a Twitter list. (Baby steps.) Oh, and I get a free gym membership to a gym so great that there is an individual spray bottle and towel roll at each and every machine in all rooms. Think about that. That is a fancy-ass gym. For FREE.

AN OFFICE. I’ve never had an office at an actual job; it’s great even though you have to be proactive about seeking out coworker interaction with anyone not immediately across the hallway. I swear there’s a whole Door Status Etiquette thing I could get into here, and its various translations and misinterpretations, but the point is, the ability to close a door when you need to focus or talk without disturbing others is amazing. And I bought a rug, and a lamp Grant hates and wouldn’t want around our house. And hey, my whole team happens to work from home every Friday, so I still get to enjoy my home office.

Pro tip for people in windowless offices like mine:

-Buy multiple plants and lamps
-Buy multiple grow bulbs; I like this one because it’s also full spectrum for SAD help (can’t hurt, right?)
-Buy multiple outlet timers; this two-pack works for me
-Set up lamps to point at plants, depending on plant light exposure needs (read the damn tag silly)
-Set up timers to light up about when you want to get in and shut off about when you want to leave
-The click off is jarring enough, I find, to serve as a signal to go home!

I’ll post more about office design as it evolves. But to tease the next section, I was able to put in a request to have my bright orange wall painted soothing gray. Heck yeah. :)


INFRASTRUCTURE AND RESOURCES. Today I got a free flu shot at the Microsoft Living Well Center, which has doctors and a little drugstore and pharmacy and an ergonomic assessment center with incredibly in-depth equipment options. That’s not even half of it! There are cafeterias in walking distance from any building. There are free parking spots if you just keep looking for them. There is a phone number for helpdesk, a website for facilities requests, an intranet to answer your every question that’s much easier to grasp than most intranets I’ve seen. I love a place with resources and infrastructure like this so you can self help and solve problems and be more effective.

There’s insanely helpful personality testing to improve collaboration across teams with diverse people. There are training modules on like everything. Eventually I can even formally seek a mentor. FORMALLY. I’ve only ever gotten on-the-fly soak-it-up-when-you-can mentorship in my life. To have a program that facilitates and formalizes this process just blows my mind. I haven’t been there long enough to take advantage of this, but I look forward to learning from Microsoft badasses with insights to share someday.

There is also a fridge in each kitchen full of free beverages that are mostly a bad idea for me but still nice to have, and nice filtered water and ice machines and vending machines that take Apple Pay, and if I remember to keep Wi-Fi turned on I can stretch the range on my Apple Watch to make vending purchases with my phone sitting on my office desk many meters away. Cool. It sells apple chips (not Apple Chips though). I love apple chips. I think they’re even organic.

Oh, and during events there’s lovely catered food for free, and in the cafeterias there’s lovely infused water for free. I like cucumber best. And there are Coke Freestyle machines. And really fresh healthy meal options including a totally well-stocked salad bar, which has a price cap so if you get all heavy items like I do you can never be charged more than a certain reasonable ceiling. #smokedsalmon

VOLUNTEERING. Microsoft has great volunteering campaigns with encouragement and matching. I’ve never worked anywhere that made my dollars count this much more when it comes to causes I care about. My first question in my first sync with my boss was how/if I could work App Camp for Girls volunteering into my schedule successfully; I’m confident that I won’t feel like having a day job cramps my volunteering much at all even if I now have to take official vacation time to pull it off. In fact, I think the structured giving and the increased connection opportunities with more women in tech will only help in the bigger picture.

All in all, I might seem quieter on Twitter than usual, but don’t fret—it’s because I’m soaking up all the joy this new gig has to offer. And now I only blog/tweet/podcast evenings and weekends. :)

Let’s all cry at conferences

I just got back from xoxofest; I almost immediately set upon writing this piece on Medium.

… I cried a lot. And so did a lot of other people I know there. And we were all sorta embarrassed/ashamed. Which is weird, if you think about it, because if it’s common enough that lots of us did it, why isn’t it more normalized?

Give it a read and/or recommend if you like. It seems like it has legs, because a lot of people really resonated with what I said—I’m quite a bit prouder of this than most of my work that ends up going modestly viral, because this one feels more meaningful and emotional and less, you know, retail based or silly tech humor based.

Oh, and if you’re a Twitter-like person, maybe you feel like RTing it instead? I don’t know. Do whatever you want. I had fun writing it.

Here are a few after-the-fact notes and questions:

  1. Most people got that my parenthetical in the above tweet was totally a deliberate parody of shitty clickbaity article headlines from sites like Upworthy etc., but two guys replied being like “ew, no way will I touch that icky clickbaity link.” I like to think I had actually conveyed the parody pretty well, by deliberately frontloading the actual thing the article was about before listing the joke headline, and also stripping capitalization which is counter to my usual Serious Person Style Guide vibe (which only people who know me and pay attention to that sort of thing would pick up on). But what do you think? Given character limits, are there any tricks you flippant-yet-serious writers would have employed to more clearly convey that that parenthetical was satire/a joke? Would you just kill it? Would you worry about people misinterpreting it, or trust that those who got it were more your people anyway, or what? I’m genuinely curious now.
  2. I thought about including a header image in the post, but I didn’t really feel like it needed one, and I dislike the modern blog trend of having to come up with images when most of what I actually want to convey can be done via text, and I wasn’t sure about copyright issues if I used the amazing HBO show Enlightened’s cover art with Laura Dern, so I didn’t go that route, and I didn’t want to have to spend a stock photo credit on a post since I generally use those for my business only, and I seriously considered trying to find a pic of me crying but then I was like “I’d have to stage it to get that full mascara-runny effect and that seems like too much work” so I didn’t, but then all my social media preview tools pulled this image from my bio, and that’s kind of the opposite of a crying lady so it felt like a weird unintended juxtaposition to me, and only some sites let you strip out the image preview in a native link preview, and hey for once Facebook is doing something better than all the other sites, and anyway how would you fellow blogger types have handled THAT mouthful? ;)
  3. I also thought about posting it here and cross-posting it to Medium, because I’m big on personal blogs and putting my weight behind something that I run and control as opposed to throwing in with whatever the new trendy outlet is, but I actually really love the blogging experience on Medium and I love the way comments/footnotes work and I struggle to replicate that on my own WordPress-based site and I tend to do a bunch of little fine-tuney edits all over the place and I didn’t want to have to keep track of them in two places so I just posted the whole thing there instead and linked to it here, but now these numbered things have become weighty enough that they’re sort of worth exploring (I think?) and I’ve bifurcated this very blog post experience from the far more visible Medium one and maybe that’s a mistake? Guess what…. can you guess? I’m also curious how you’d handle THAT.

OK, done now. Bye for now, Internet!

iMore piece on Apple Watch bands

Hey y’all! In case you missed the tweet, I worked my old Apple Watch band blog post into a piece for iMore this week. Enjoy! (Or rage-comment, if that’s your thing! I employed my good husband to filter the useful constructive criticism so I don’t have to read the parts that make me want to bury the entire internet under a little stone cairn in the backyard and never look back.) Cheers!At least "she" comes first here, right?


This picture makes me mad all over again every dang time I see it, heh. But hey, it prompted me to add the category “feminism” which I’ve apparently never done before. So thanks Apple, I guess? :)

NSBrief and Watchscreen

Back in June, I was interviewed by Saul Mora on NSBrief Podcast, talking about app development and whatnot despite having very little voice left after a busy WWDC week! Give it a listen here.

And earlier today, I was featured on Mark D. Mill’s “Watchscreen” series, talking about how I use my Apple Watch. You can peruse that here.

Happy geeking!



Here's my not-particularly-well-organized Watch screen.

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