Feminism in Tech – Be a Part of the Solution

My friend (and client) Dan Antion (@dantion) tweeted a link to an excellent article this morning entitled An Open Letter on Feminism In Tech. The subtitle is “We are tired of pretending this stuff doesn’t happen.” I’m right there with this.

My role models about feminism were my mother Christina Bellamy and my paternal Grandfather Denton (of all people!).
Mom and Me18800
Their type of feminism wasn’t the radical feminism of the early 70s with all of it’s harsh demands and in-your-face rhetoric. It was exactly the type of feminism described in this excellent article by a group of women technologists.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, and that we want to be treated as equals.

As more eloquently said in the article, we can’t allow the sorts of bad behavior that occur in tech, or anywhere else. In the article, the writers point out that these tenets should apply to *any* group within tech that isn’t the mainstream, white male group that has dominated the industry historically.

But it goes much further than that.

At our son Calder’s school they have a zero tolerance rule about bullying. It causes some uncomfortable moments, but the effect is virtually zero bullying, creating a nurturing, healthy learning environment. Here’s a Wordle that shows many of the words that describe what this leads to. Take out the obviously unaligned ones, and I’d say that this is how we should make tech feel to women, or anyone else.

Runkle Olweus

Each of us should be a part of the solution. In SharePointlandia (aka the SharePoint Community), we have far less of the bad behavior than what I’ve seen in other technologies. So on some levels, we’re lucky. Working with SharePoint to some degree means a sort of self-selection for people who see collaboration and group work as a useful, productive thing. The characteristics of who is a part of those activities becomes less important. But we aren’t perfect either.  There is always room for improvement and collective enlightenment. (Yeah, that sounds a little sappy, but even when you get really good at something, you can strive to be great.)

To borrow a phrase, “If you see something, say something”. Let’s make sure that SharePointlandia is a land of openness and opportunity for all of us, no matter who or what we are.

Addendum: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Women in SharePoint, which “is dedicated to helping women working as SharePoint professionals reach their career objectives through a variety of community, training and mentoring programs.”

SharePoint Conference .ORG Reston 2014 Wrap Up

I want to thank everyone in the SharePoint practice at Protiviti for another stellar SharePoint Conference .ORG. This was one of the first “big time” conferences at which I was asked to speak four years ago, and it’s always one of my favorites. The Protiviti folks are some of the nicest and most talented people in SharePointLandia.

On Sunday, Kyle Schaeffer (@kyleschaeffer) and I did a workshop on SharePoint 2013 Branding & Responsive Design. Just being in the room with Kyle is an honor; having the opportunity to teach with him is truly a joy. We’ll be repeating our act at the Dallas incarnation of the conference in October.

For the main part of the conference, I talked about Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint. My slides for the session are available on SlideShare, and also embedded below.

Finally, here’s a photo of the five SharePoint MVPs who spoke at the conference. I’m in some truly esteemed company here, from left to right: Liam Cleary (@helloitsliam), me, Benjamin Naiulin (@bniaulin), Dan Usher (@binarybrewery),  and Doug Hemminger (@DougHemminger).

All 5 #SharePoint MVPs from @SPC_ORG 2014!

All 5 #SharePoint MVPs from @SPC_ORG 2014!

Programmer? Interrupted?

My friend Andrew Connell (@andrewconnell) posted a very interesting article called Programmer Interrupted to Facebook today, saying:

…all developers should share this with the one you love or non-developers you work with. Help them understand why you get so pissed when they come into your office to ask the simplest questions. Many times I feel like I’m holding a castle made of cards up with one finger, holding my breath when suddenly there’s this tiny puff of air that brings everything organized to complete chaos Smile

I do think that these effects vary considerably across individuals, and I don’t think it has to be a permanent condition.

When I was a young programmer (my second job in the mid-80s), I was in a highly interrupt-driven environment at Bain & Co., the management consulting company. I did a bunch of different things during my tenure there, but a lot of it was what we called “programming” at the time. Because I was interrupted extremely frequently – sometimes half a dozen times an hour, by my recollection – I simply learned to be better at it over the six years I was there.

At a later job around 1999-2002 at a company called ArsDigita, I was amazed at how defensive the young developers sometimes were with their time. They occasionally could be almost hostile at interruptions, which in a way ensured that they couldn’t learn to deal with them. I think the headphone thing actually made it worse, since an interruption was more jarring to their memory patterns, as it often required a physical incursion to get their attention. They interrupted each other, too, by the way; I’m not basing this just on my observations from interrupting them myself.

I can’t say that I’m great at managing interruptions, but I do think that I learned to be better at it than some people are. I don’t suggest that everyone embrace interruption – or even encourage it as I sometimes do – but I do suggest that everyone should consider how their work environment actually functions most of the time to consider how best to adapt. If you are likely to be interrupted, work to identify how you can best work inside that construct.

Techies often get a bad rap because they are too defensive and say no too often. Part of that bad rap can come from the impression of “my work right now is more important than whatever you are here for” that comes from reacting unpleasantly to interruptions from the very people for whom we are supposed to be doing the work.

Don’t just try to avoid interruption, treating it as an evil, but welcome it on some level so that you can be a better IT professional. You’ll have a happier user base, and you might just learn some new tricks.

SPTechCon SFO 2014 Wrap Up

SPTechConLogoAnother splendid time was had by all at the latest rendition of SPTechCon, this time in sunny (mostly) San Francisco at the Hilton Union Square. The BZMedia folks who put on SPTechCon are great people and both the San Francisco and Boston versions are on my list of favorite SharePoint events.

Announcing SPTechCon BostonIf you weren’t able to attend this one, you may still be interested in my slides. Face it, though: it’s much more fun to go to these events to watch me make a fool of myself in person. Consider, nay decide that you will be, attending the Boston SPTechCon coming up September 16-19, 2014.

I’ve posted them to SlideShare for your fun and enjoyment. Even though several of the sessions I did were repeats of previous performances, they continually evolve, so every deck always has some new goodies in it.


Booting Windows 8.1 in Safe Mode

MinecraftThe other day I realized that I had done something very dumb. I have a killer laptop and I sometimes let my nine year old son play Minecraft on it. The worlds he builds are spectacular. (He also wants you to know that he loves pigs.)

Well, he’s gotten interested in some of the mods that are out there and wanted to try out the Anti-Gravity mod. Minecraft itself is pretty kludgy, but branching off into the wilderness of mods is an entirely different story. There’s no real “place” to find them, just endless forum posts about this, that, and the other thing with links that take you from one forum site to the next with lots of detours into spamware sites and worse.

I thought I’d finally found the mod Calder wanted so I downloaded and installed it. Yeah, too fast. I ended up with my laptop infected with at least two insidious, crapware, bloatware pieces of $hite that I certainly couldn’t leave on there. And the install wasn’t even the mod we wanted.

I’m pretty good at digging myself out of virusland, but one of these little buggers was dug in deep. It was called gorillaprice, and it had itself wedged in way too far to get it out easily.

No problem. I figured I’d just boot my Windows 8 laptop into safe mode and stomp out the little bugger.

Not so fast.

Apparently the wisenheimers in the Windows Division at Microsoft decided that getting to Safe Mode in Windows 8 should be like a treasure hunt, but without a map or eyeballs to help out.

F8 doesn’t do anything on boot up anymore.

I found many articles and blog posts out there, but every single one of them was wrong. No, “mashing” Shift-F8 on start doesn’t work, nor do any of the other ridiculous suggestions I found.

I actually did find an article on the Windows site on Microsoft.com that was close, but not close enough. It didn’t show up very high in Bing results, either, so it took me a while to find it.

I’m running Windows 8.1 with the update on top of the update (I’m up to date), so maybe that’s why the article is off. It’s damn hard to keep documentation up to date, especially when people are running every single variant that is possible all the time. “Smart docs” would be awesome. They could detect what you’ve arrived with and adjust their content accordingly. As soon as they invent them.

Without more ados, here’s what worked to get me into Safe Mode, modified from the instructions at the link above. Count the steps and clicks. It’s tough.

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
  • Under PC settings, tap or click Update and Recovery
  • Click on Recovery
  • Under Advanced startup, tap or click Restart now
  • On the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot
  • Tap or click Advanced options
  • Tap or click Startup Settings
  • Tap or click Restart
  • On the Startup Settings screen, choose the startup setting you want
  • Sign in to your PC with a user account that has administrator rights

Simple as pie, and about as hidden as something could be. Maybe we don’t “need” Safe Mode anymore with the wonderfulness that is Windows 8, but in this pickle I sure did.

BTW, the junk I got is gone and I’m back to running speed. We got the Minecraft mod installed and Calder’s been adding upside-down floating trees to his world. Very cool.