Friday, June 26, 2009

3 Twilight books down, one to go :-)

Eclipse (Twilight, #3) Eclipse (The Twilight Saga) by Stephenie Meyer

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is my favorite in the series so far. A much more compelling plot than the first two books, with a very exciting climax with unexpected twists and turns.

I am still very annoyed with the glamorization of an uber-exclusive relationship. I mean, really, it's not healthy to see only your boyfriend - 24 hours a day, particularly not for emotionally developing teenagers, yet it wasn't until this book that Bella's father even mentioned that he wanted her to spend time with other people besides Edward. And her father isn't even aware of the fact that Edward spends all night, every night, with her.

Not to mention how controlling Edward was of Bella early in the book. That type of behaviour is never healthy, but can be especially dangerous with teenagers who are still developing a personality.

Other than those nits, the story in this book was compelling and a real page turner.

Of course, since it is a "juvenile" or "young adult" book, it is a very fast read for an adult.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Up to my eyeballs in tests

As a Change Request Team advocate, I am stringent about asking for test results and always very annoyed when an implementor complains about how complicated the tests are to run.

Now after having spent the last several days finding working test hardware from our pool of test machines, and fighting with test installations and executions... I'm still waiting for my baseline results. I haven't even run the full tests on my own bits yet.

Which is another story.... while my builds were successful and my changes to libelfsign seemed to be kosher, I found that after doing a bfu that my test machines wouldn't even boot.  No, I didn't change libc... so I was very surprised that such behaviour was seen. Yes, I knew things like kerberos and IPsec would not work correctly if libelfsign (a core component of the Cryptographic Framework) wasn't working - but inability to boot? I was shocked.  With some help from pwernau and meem, I finally got one of the systems up in single user mode to discover the linker was doing something... unusual.

Fortunately, a very responsive Rod Evans came and looked at my limping test system and figured out what the linker was doing wrong (and also something one of the libraries in my calling path was doing wrong), and now I've got systems I can play with.

Except when I forget to sync my x86 build workspace with my sparc workspace and I build archives without Rod's fix... and then wedge another test machine.

Hopefully the code will be up for review soon, when I will add another blog entry detailing what it is exactly I'm trying to do and why.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just finished the second Twilight book, New Moon

New Moon (Twilight, #2)

New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2)
by Stephenie Meyer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this book a lot more than Twilight, as I found the characters more interesting and better developed. I loved the character of Jacob Black, though I did find the constant foreshadowing in Twilight and this book about Jacob's tribe ruined what could've been an interesting plot development (as I saw it coming in the first book!)

Jacob Black is the one character that isn't totally self absorbed and not overly melodramatic. Yes, I realize these are supposed to be teenagers, but I don't remember being that bad (but perhaps it's selective memory :-).

View all my reviews.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

OpenSolaris Turns 4!

Wow, it's been four years now since Sun launched OpenSolaris.  We've come a long way since then - built up a budding community, taken lots of contributions from outside, and we're even turning out a pretty decent OS based on this now! It's on my desktop, laptop and home machine.  There's still a lot to do, but overall I'm very impressed.

It's been very cool doing code reviews openly and getting design feedback directly from the real world before any code is even written. This has greatly changed the way I do my job, for the better!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Continuing the Lemming theme... I finished reading Twilight!

Twilight (Twilight, #1) Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
by Stephenie Meyer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Okay, I'll admit it - I didn't want to like this book. I am a huge fan of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, so I did not see a lot of this book as being as original as many folks said it was (ie vampires with feelings and intelligence, as opposed to cold blooded monsters). That aside, the story is compelling and it is a quick and easy read for an adult. I now feel like I can relate to the rest of the world that has already read this book. Finally, I am so glad I am not a teenager anymore, though, and so easily caught up in such intense emotions. :-)

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Professional BusinessWomen of California: Closing Session

The closing session of the Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference closed with a panel from Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful & Highest Paid Women in Business list.

Laura Liswood, Secretary General for the Council of Women World Leaders was moderating and started out describing her adventure she had when she sought out to interview all 15 living women who had been president or prime minister of their countries. It was an interesting journey, one she was even surprised she was able to complete!

Our panelists that afternoon were Safra Catz, President, Oracle; Deborah McWhinney, President, Citi Personal Wealth Management; and Joanne Maguire, Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin.

All of the women discussed career paths and how to get what you need from your career.  They all had good advice, but some pieces of wisdom from Ms. Catz really stood out to me.  She noted that no one will make your career easy for you - you need to make your own opportunities. And, back to our  Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, she simply stated, "you don't ask, you don't get." Then finally, "You're not men. You may be better."

Unfortunately, most of the time for the panel was used up by Liswood's introduction and the two previous speakers and the session ran over by 30 minutes. This meant many of us missed our trains - I know, I was running to the train station with several other women, none of us really appropriately dressed for running :-)

On the bright side, I did get to meet an energetic woman that was just a bit sweaty, like me, on the train, and discuss all that we saw and heard during the day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Professional BusinessWomen of California: Afternoon Keynotes

The afternoon keynotes at the Professional BusinessWomen of California were focused on financial advice and retirement planning.

Valerie Coleman Morris started out with some sage advice: "Don't worry about what you've lost, you can't get it back."  Harsh, but true. I know I've personally spent too much time on the "what if" game for my 401K and other investments.

Ms. Morris's emphasis on this for woman is due to the fact that in general women spend 13 years less in the workplace than men do - which means we really need to start thinking about retirement sooner and more seriously, to make the most use of all of our working years.  Yes, this is SO hard to think about fresh out of college - all I can say is that I am so glad that there was an older man in my first day of orientation at work that told me retirement is sooner than I thought and talked me into starting my 401K right away.

She warned us that because women live longer, we are more likely to find ourselves with many medical needs that are not covered by any sort of insurance. More reason to save.  Also, she said the average age of widowhood was 55.5, so you won't be able to count on joint social security income or anything of that sort.

Ms. Morris also cautioned all women that were in a committed relationship to make sure that they knew where all the accounts were, where to find account numbers, and any brokerages holding any investments.

To keep our financial planning paranoia going, the next speaker was Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz - yes, the same family as the famous Charles Schwab brokerage. Ms. Schwab-Pomerantz stressed how concerned she was that financial planning of any sort was not being taught in school, and how critical this good planning is for all of us having a secure future.

Ms. Schwab-Pomerantz talked about how to keep our heads above water, even in this economy, giving these few "easy" guidelines to follow (okay, they're not easy, but they definitely have merit and I'm pretty sure she knows what she's talking about):

  • Have an emergency fund

    •  Should be a minimum of 3 months worth of expenses

  • Minimize debt

    • Should not have more than 30% of your income in debt

  • Save

    • Hard to think about while minimizing that debt and creating your emergency fund, but she said that if you think you'll need a retirement income of $50,000 a year you will need to save at least $1.25 million. Wow!

  • Have a will and a trust

    • Again, hard to think about while young and healthy, but you have no idea what will happen when to either your or your spouse.

  • Health Insurance

    • Without this, one health crisis may wipe out all of your savings and put you back to square one at any time.

Both of these women gave me a lot to think about!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wired to Care: Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference: Session III

When it came time for my third session at the Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference, none of the options really stood out to me as relevant for my career or personal growth, so I chose the topic covering a bit about how our brains work: Wired to Care.

Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, presented on this topic, which was surprisingly fascinating! He talked about the importance of empathizing with your customers and the people in your organization in order to prosper as an individual and as a business.

He started out by telling us the Xbox story and how Microsoft had set out to crush PlayStation II. They assembled a large team of game playing, young software engineers and gave them free reign to design, in their opinion, the best game system out there.  These developers suddenly found themselves in their dream job, making game systems for themselves! They knew just what to develop, because they were the customer base. The system did it job, selling millions of units. Microsoft saw this as a huge success.

When Microsoft decided to take on the iPod, they took that *same* team that did such a great job with the Xbox to work on the Zune. The problem is, these guys didn't understand who they were developing for. When interviewed later, they noted they were just implementing what was on the PowerPoint slides, not taking any risks or making major changes to the design - because they didn't really understand the end user. It wasn't them.

Mr Patnaik went on to outline the major aspects of growth and innovation: empathy, creativity, and execution.

He talked about a visit he had to Harley Davidson and one of the first thing he noticed is that the parking spots at the front were marked "No Cages"; that is, no motorcycle rider jargon for no cars. All of the best parking spots were reserved for motorcycles. Many of the employees, particularly those higher up, are riders themselves - and not just weekend riders, but men and women that use a motorcycle as a primary means of transportation, folks that went to rallies, people that really knew what the customer wanted, because they are their own customer.

Similarly at Nike, the campus is full of gyms, tracks, pools, climbing walls, etc.  All of their buildings are named after great athletes - they are surrounded by this day and night. They are encouraged to try out the new gear and provide feedback on it.  I don't have to tell you how successful Nike is at selling athletic gear.  This is about where Patnaik mentioned that empathy goes beyond what you have direct experience with and how even Nike's cricket line is sucessful, even though that is not a sport played in the US, where Nike is based. They understand and relate to all of their customers, not just the ones that are exactly like them.

In contrast, Patnaik talked about a visit he had with a senior executive in marketing for Delta Airlines. This fellow started out the conversation with Patnaik saying that "Airline travel in America is great!" which, frankly, surprised Patnaik (and everyone in the room for this session!)  After spending an hour talking this particular executive, Patnaik discovered why he didn't see any issues with air travel today: When it was about 40 minutes before his flight, his administrative assistant would call him down to a private shuttle bus for Delta employees, which took the executive to a private entrance to the aiport for Delta executives, where he waited in no lines, crossed the tarmac and boarded into first class moments before the door closed.  This is a far cry from the normal experience the rest of us have flying today: expensive shuttles that are often late, or begging a friend to take us to the airport, long lines to check in, long lines for security, expensive food & water beyond the gate (which you have to buy because you won't get any on the plane), long wait for boarding that comes with pushing and shoving from folks who don't care what group number they're in, etc, etc.

Patnaik mentioned that Delta spent $250,000 on a survey to find out how their custmers really felt about flying today - something they could've done themselves as part of their regular job if they didn't take advantage of the special perks available to them.

At Jump Associates, the company Patnaik founded, they actually track how well they think companies are going to do based on their empathy they have for customers, called the Empath-O-Meter.

One way to see you have a clear empathy problem is when you discover that your business uses different words for your product (or components) than your customers.  Patnaik went on to say that American automotive manufacturers call the dashboard the "instrument panel", and while we may know what they are talking about, the awkward word choice is jarring when we hear it.  Worse, a candy manufacturer called their candy bars: "filled bar with inclusions". That sounds like it needs medical treatment ;)

The main issue here is that if you don't have tangible experiences, you will lose touch with your customer base.

Early in the conversation, Patnaik mentions that he prefers using the word empathic over empathetic, because the latter sounds too much like pathetic and the two words are synonyms.  Taking his lead, two days after the conference I was at another event and our table was brainstorming and I decided to use the word empathic. About 2 minutes into this brainstorming, a woman at the table said, "Um, you're using the wrong word. That's not a word. You mean empathetic." So much for using what I learned at this conference ;-)

The key points that I did take away were that empathy is not a special occasion thing - it needs to happen every day as a natural part of your existence and business.  Empathy doesn't mean "I understand people like me" - it means, "I understand people."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference - Lunch Keynote!

This is where the conference took a definite turn for the political!

The opening speaker was Meg Whitman, former eBay guru and now California Gubernatorial candidate. She made it very clear that her motivation for getting involved in politics at this stage in her career was how strongly she felt that the price of inaction is far greater than the price of a mistake. She sees California's current stalemate with budgets and those terrible propositions as a fear to take action and make decisions that Californians will pay for for many years to come.

Whitman's basic premise is that people are basically good. That's how eBay works with sellers and buyers who will never meet face to face, yet can trust each other to fulfill a contract. She is passionate about improving California, showing how clearly appalled she is that California is now ranked 48th in the nation for K-12 schools and that the droupout rate in one of the largest high school districts, LA Unified, is 50%. FIFTY! that is insane.  I remember as a kid being told how wonderful the CA schools were and how those students would have a better chance of getting into good colleges than we would as Indiana students. What has happened?

Next we heard from a Democrat and the founder of PBWC, US Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Ms Speier spent the majority of her time emphasizing the economic gaps women still face in California.  When PBWC was started in 1989, women were making 57 cents for every dollar a man made. Now, 20 years later, California women are making 85 cents per every male dollar.  Yes, it's better - but why is there still a gap?

She went on to tell a heartbreaking story of Lilly Ledbetter who had been a manager at Goodyear for 20 years.  When she was about to retire, someone gave her an anonymous note letting her know she'd actually been seriously underpaid for the last 20 years. She sued and was originally awarded $3million dollars in back pay, but when this went to the supreme court they took the judgement away from her. Their opinion was that she should've been aware and filed her grievance at the time, and because she waited 20 years she didn't deserve the award. 

Ms Speier also noted that in the United States, we still allow cosmetics to be made from things that we know cause cancer and birth defects! She told us that nearly all lipsticks sold in the US contain lead. LEAD. In something we all put on our mouths.  I am sure the manufacturers say you are not supposed to eat your lipstick, but really, how many of you out there bite your lip on occassion? Or possibly let your lips touch your food while you're eating. You get the point....

I'm not sure what she can do about this, but I do know that the EU has made great strides in this area and their women still get nice makeup. I'll have to start doing some research into the brands I use.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leverage Your Language: Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference - Session II!

I'm still processing all of the events from that Professional BusinessWomen of California's Conference, even though nearly a month has passed!  The second session of the day for me, Leverage Your Language to Get the Respect, Results and Rewards you Deserve was presented by Colette Carlson, was one of my favorites.

Colette's energy was contagious and it was hard to not get enthusiastic about communication - an area I know I can always improve in!  Colette frequently referred to one of my favorite books,Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, and reminded us that we need to ask for what we need to be successful. She stated that playing it safe will cost us all time, money and sanity.

Throughout the talk, Colette continued to stress that congruency between thoughts, words and actions were critical.  This is something I know I don't always get right, and find myself surprised by someone's reaction to something I said where in my head I meant no ill-will or judgment. In fact, I had a situation turn "crucial" on me this week at CommunityOne, and I'm not sure why.

Colette had a lot of self-invented acronyms which did remind me a bit of Gary Busey, but hers were actually useful. For example, Limiting Ideas Eliminate Success (LIES) - which goes along with the entire idea of asking for what you need and what you want. She said she uses this with her kids all the time - instead of focusing on what she *doesn't* want them to do, she will ask them to do what she wants: "Please walk around the pool" vs "Don't run!".

She cautioned us to be careful about raising our voices as that is more likely to be seen as aggressive vs assertive, and reminded us to avoid being passive agressive at all costs as it will hurt relationships and prevent you from getting what you need and want.

At this point, she started drilling into specific use of language. To keep conversations safe and productive, she says we should only start a sentence with the word "you" if it is a compliment, and use "I" for stating concers.  For example,
 "You are a great hostess" is a better compliment than "I had a great time at the party".  Also, something like "I am concerned about the schedule" is better than "you are not meeting the timeline" - because the latter immediately puts the person the defense and will engage their "reptilian" brain - not the best state to have rational conversations.

Other recommendations: use "investing" vs "spending" for use of time, and "get to" vs "have to" to show that you appreciate the work and activities you are doing.  She also says to lose the word "should" from your vocabulary: it really should be will, choose or must.  For example, "I will go to that charity banquet tonight" - too many "shoulds" that you never get to can be disheartening, and means things really should be dropped from your list.

Avoid apologizing for your opinions or attempting to set expectations low - because people will listen with less credence to what follows. Never say, "I could be wrong" or "you won't like this idea" or "I'm sure I'm forgetting something".

Colette noted that it is very important to accept praise with grace and not to b
elittle your own accomplishments and to make sure you show up to meetings and events with confidence and a smile!  Be proud of who you are and why you are being included, and only pay compliments if they are sincere. People can see through insincerity and will like you less for it. I know I've personally seen many examples of this in my career!

She cautioned women against starting right out with the whole story when asked a simple question. For example, if your boss asks you "how was the meeting" you shouldn't start out with "well, the plane was running late and then our taxi didn't show up....." but give the results, "We made a lot of progress and I think the design is going to be accepted. I can fill you in on the details later if you want".  She said this is something women do - and I know I'm guilty of this, as I do love telling stories. :-)

At this point, she went into a barrage of meeting skills that I think we can all benefit from:

  • Speak up early

  • Be Inclusive

    • connect to everyone with your eyes, not just one person.

  • Avoid raising your hand

    • children raise their hands, not adults. This is something she sees as a unique female meeting habit.

  • Make statements

    • Don't present your ideas as questions

    • Claim your ideas

  • Focus on others

  • It's better to be interested than interesting

  • Provide Value

  • Share your "because" (basically what led you to your conclusions or why you are asking for things)

  • Stories, when told at the right time, make things more memorable

  • always smile

It was a LOT to absorb and typing up this blog entry a month later was a good exercise for me to remember all of this. Next comes the tricky part: using it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Like a lemming, I'm on twitter now

Taking the lead from my friend Valerie and prodding from Richard, I now exist on twitter!  You can follow me using bubbva

I feel like such a dork blogging about my twitter feed. Perhaps I should've facebooked about it instead. ha!

and, yes, I know that lemmings really don't follow each other off of cliffs and that it was a myth created and propogated by Disney.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Goodbye CDE...hello OpenSolaris!

I've been using OpenSolaris at home and on my laptop for months, but was still running Nevada builds on my SPARC desktop in the office... with CDE (you know, that super old, yet super fast, Common Desktop Environment).  Well, I got a new desktop recently which is Intel based, and with the brand spanking new release of OpenSolaris 2009.06, it seemed like I needed to move into the 21st century.

While I would still like an "advanced" installer, I do think the installation went amazingly quickly and very smoothly. I had to make several adjustments to the system after installation to get it running with NIS on the Sun internal network with a static IP address, and download some of my favorite software - which was so easy with the "pkg" command! This release is much faster and smoother than what I have been running on my laptop - clearly time to upgrade that as well. I was pleased to see how easy it was to install flash and acroread as well.

The problems didn't really start until I logged in with my Sun internal home directory mounted - when I found I had some horribly ancient and mostly broken GNOME configurations (probably from the last time I seriously played around with it, back in S9 or early S10 days). gnome-cleanup took care of that and got me to a nice clean GNOME login. A few minor adjustments so that things like mouse-over to make active for windows, and a change of my default gnome-terminal preferences and I'm mostly off and running.

I also hit problems with my .xmodmaprc file, as it apparently used "keycodes" which do not translate between Xsun on SPARC and Xorg on x86. Thanks to one of the desktop team members, Michael, he told me about "xev" and that it would be the keycode lines in the file I needed to fix. With a few tweaks, my ergonomic keyboard is now behaving just the way I like it.

I did try a modern mail reader, ThunderBird, but after being annoyed it didn't believe most of my mail folders were actually mail folders (due to missing IMAP leading message), and how annoying it was to save to the folders it did recognize, I switched back to pine after about 10 minutes. (yes, I know there is a newer version of that software, alpine, but I don't like that one either ;).

Now I just gotta figure out what to do about my network calendar being stored in a format for dtcm ;)

Monday, June 1, 2009

OGB Town Hall tonight!

I've made it to CommunityOne West and am enjoying the first set of sessions and just wanted to remind you all that the OpenSolaris Governing Board is doing our first Town Hall in room 305 of the Moscone Center as part of CommunityOne West.