Don’t Call It An App

Posted by banane on April 2nd, 2012 — in Media, android dev, facebook, iphone dev, technology

Tell me what you think- wrote an article on “appiness” — no, it’s not a Cockney pronunciation of happiness, but the trend towards ever increasing complexity in online interfaces, that makes them ineffective and “appy”.

No Social Network Day 35: Mis-managing My Calendar

Posted by banane on March 28th, 2012 — in social networks

Just a quick note on this Facebook/Twitter black out. A couple of times when I show up for in-real-life event stuff, friends say “OMG I miss you!”, “My Facebook is so quiet with you gone!”, “I can’t wait until you’re back online!” It’s kinda funny. It’s odd because from my perspective, while I may have missed it initially, it’s back to normal for me. But I wonder if you’re on the networks all the time, someone’s absence is bigger than it seems?

Roman Calendar

So far, this social media blackout thing is great. Kinda don’t wanna go back. Why is it working out so well?

OK, there’s this thing my brain does that has always annoyed me, caused stress, etc. and lately it hasn’t happened as much: mis-managing my calendar.

I have a seriously hard time remembering a date/time. If it’s outside of a week, I will totally miss it/transpose it/forget it. Transposing is my favorite thing my brain does. Your concert is on Wed March 12th? I will show up at March 21st. Skiing on President’s Day Weekend, I will book the hotels for MLK’s birthday. Those are real life examples. When I’m showing up to a party, I will re-check my calendar multiple times. Problem is, sometimes I enter the date wrong in the calendar. In “calling to confirm” I convince people it’s the wrong date. Nothing is to be trusted.

You’re thinking, oh everyone botches dates. I’d argue that I botch them with almost persistent regularity. The funny thing is the knowing look on friends and family when I realize I have screwed up a date. Despite going to yoga and dance twice a week I still have to look up the schedule for when they start each day.

Adapting & Adaptations

I’ve consciously or unconsciously done the following to manage this:

Being spontaneous. Besides the regular occurring things, I keep it pretty open. Events are so stressful to schedule and remember, that I’m happier if there’s nothing scheduled. So I end up being a better “last minute” friend.

Associations: Birthdays are in months that are astrological, and I can remember those associating them to personality traits.

Regularity. Dance classes always on Tues/Thurs, yoga on Mon/Wed, etc. The start times are all different, but I just check those daily. You build up subtle clues to the day when you do this, on Thursday the Mission is full of people, certain friends are in the classes, etc.

Confirming. Calling before an event, emailing, etc. to confirm the date/time. Not having any ego about it, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

One Calendar. It’s the laptop’s, not the mobile or the kitchen wall calendar- there’s also a work one but I don’t schedule personal stuff in it. Making sure to enter dates (even if I do it badly, it’s 50% of the way there).

Off Social Networks

So what I realized recently is that being off social networks has helped extremely. I’ve only botched one date- my friend’s singing gig in North Beach, and it was salvageable. I wrote her asking something about it, and she wrote back immediately “You know it’s tomorrow right,” and “I know you ;)” haha. That was a case where I entered in my calendar wrong. My schedule has been as busy as usual but only messing up one event is really big to me.

I’m not sure why being off social networks has helped- the lack of distraction, or it could be that I hold in-real-life events as more important now because they are where I meet and chat with people. My ‘social life nutrition.’

It may also be that I don’t see the events in Facebook. As more of us start scheduling in there, it mutes the “chatter” of events that I’m not directly related to. If someone bothers to email or tell me personally about something, it’s that much more of a real invitation. A digital invitation, especially one shared out to one’s entire network, is less special. It may just b the “clutter” idea- lots of extraneous social information is competing with my adaption skills in calendaring.

Total aside re: Evite.
On the note of digital invites- I won’t attend anything sent by Evite. Why? Not because I’m just randomly picky, it’s just way too stressful. Evite allows you to invite people without putting the logistics in the email. This is nice if you are an organizer and don’t want “looky-lou’s” not committing and just looking at your guest list. But what it means for me, is that in the 5-10 times I look at the invite to confirm the logistics, I have to click through to the site. The problem is here: I have been online so long, that I have many email addresses. Longtime apps like evite have some old email in there, and it takes drudging up 10 passwords to register.

No Social Network Day 29: Bad Internet, Bad

Posted by banane on March 22nd, 2012 — in Uncategorized

Today, I can admit that I don’t miss social networks one bit. A good twitterstorm cures you of any last residual feeling.

Also, the internet was lame today. Long “feminism 101″ conversations on Hacker News. Hacker News, or rather, masses of people down voting, deleted them. (I suspect, no proof).

I was disappointed in a friend’s behavior, I was disappointed in other things. It was all very disappointing.

Cats! Flowers! Puppies!

Wait, no…

Baby Seals!!!

Feminist Reviews of Inappropriate Things

Posted by banane on March 20th, 2012 — in feminism

1. Star Mites
My niece invited me to come see her in Star Mites. Yeah, that’s right, I’m the mean auntie critiquing a community theater performance. The kids were great- the play though… it’s based on the 1989 Broadway production, a science fiction romp of comic book heros turned real, and an adolescent girl as the main character.

Thing is, the feminism is super dated. Yes, the leading character is a girl. And that’s about it. Throughout the entire play she’s whining that she’s not good enough or not strong enough, and it’s just tough to watch that much annoying struggling with confidence. There’s a bit of Shakespearean mistaken identity with the evil Queen’s daughter, and an arranged marriage. There’s a time when the girl falls asleep and the captain of the fighting Star Mites kisses her (while she’s sleeping). Agh! The arranged marriage was just painful to watch, and then, the double for the lead girl goes and sacrifices herself for her mother. So basically what I get from this play is, to survive you have to marry the captain or die. Granted, she does find this hidden superpower, but has to choose between the real world or the fake world.

Second, What TV shows pass or fail the Bechdel test?
I was pleasantly surprised to find the following TV shows pass the Bechdel test- which is- two female characters talking for more than 30 seconds about topics, relevant to the plot, and not about men:

- Good Christian Bitches. Total she-drama.
- Downton Abbey. While there is an obsession with marriages and engagemetns, I can recall (and tell me if you debate this) Duchess and Lady talking about their daughters, their daughters talking about each other while getting dressed, the maid Anna talking about Mary, etc. A reason to re-watch it!

- Arrested Development (“Her?” haha) Lindsey and her Mom usually talk about other family members, which are all men.
- New Girl. Fish out of water story, so only one woman generally on the screen at one time. There is one spot where Zooey’s character is talking to Rich’s new girlfriend and they’re discussing her twee style. Otherwise, notsomuch.
- Alcatraz. Another fish-out-of-water story, so that’s relatively obvious.

No Social Network Day 28: Social Calculator

Posted by banane on March 20th, 2012 — in Uncategorized, facebook, technology

Picture: 1944: IBM co-develops its first computer, the Automated Sequence Controlled Calculator aka Mark I, with Harvard University. It was used by the Navy to calculate gun trajectories. IBM’s illustrated history

In this social experiment of going off social networks, I’ve come to realize a certain calculation, or equation, in my head. I will automate it, but for now, this is the plan.

On each channel: # of new people you’ve met * (talking to loved ones/ time spent online social networks)
The “quality social rate” is the (talking to loved ones / time spent online on network)

Hopefully this shows that the ratio of quality social time is very diminished by various factors that I need to work in (oh where is my 7th grader niece and her math skills that I was “helping” with this weekend?)

- lower the score if the ratio of quality to quantity
- increase if new people involved
- decrease if large time spent (less efficient)
- show improvement if IRL events planned via network

Will probably do this all with a weighting system.

What’s Going on, or, the Why:

What I’ve noticed after weaning myself from our contemporary social networks, is the basic lesson that In Real Life (IRL) interactions are vastly more efficient than our digital replacements. And, as I wrote earlier, that there’s this compulsive “Friend anxiety” about the digital social networks.

So the weighting/calculation here is that: Facebook and Twitter, while social networks, don’t deliver the full healthy meal of a real life encounter. They’re like the McDonalds compared to the Whole Foods’ quinoa salad. They serve in a pinch, but if you subsist on a diet of it, you’re going to be sadly lacking. Oddly, or conversely, and yet just in line with my metaphor, they have addictive gaming elements that make you want to stay on them far past the desireable time period (which makes them not only less nutritious, but less efficient).

It’s not all bad, as these evolve and as we learn our behaviors in relationship to them, we can use them for their beneficial qualities. Meeting new people, that evolve into new friendships and relationships to me is the goal, the optimal health marker in social life. Though Facebook has a lot of benefits, it’s not a relationship creator, but a relationship maintainer, which is important. Twitter, though less interesting than Facebook, does lead to new friends and acquaintances, making its worth and efficiency far higher. Still, I’m going to automate this so that you can calculate and compare your score, hopefully in a way of leading a healthier social life.

No Social Network Day 22: Longer Attention Span

Posted by banane on March 16th, 2012 — in about writing, technology

I write in my head a lot. When I wrote novels more, I wrote whole chapters in my head. And when I took pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, rather, I’d change it all significantly. This blog post was actually something I wrote in an earlier post and took out. I had a few ideas during a call the other night, and wrote them down, and when I read them this morning, it jogged my memory about how I’d written about writing longer emails, but not about reading longer things.

The percolation of an idea is nice, but what’s really great is the first mental draft. As a writing technique, it takes the obvious and puts it in the trash. Will the heroine and the love interest meet up finally in chapter 3? Yes, at yoga. Then, when writing, no, it’s because he asks out the new temp in accounting and he gets stood up, leaves for a cafe, sits next to the heroine, who, all shiny and happy after yoga, commiserates with him over lamer dates.

Using social media, for one, there’s no mental drafts, and two, they’re small and shitty. It’s reduced my mental writing paper to a Post-It – the average room available from Twitter and Facebook.

As a reader- it’s not your fault. The way media comes at you determines your attention span, in a way. Imagine reading down the Facebook feed before you pour yourself a cup of coffee or open the mail. Then, imagine getting a personal letter in the mail. I literally savor those letters for some good couch & coffee time, and sometimes give it a first over read on the way up from the mailbox, then sit down to re-read. Email? Notsomuch. I noticed earlier on in this social-media-blackout that my email reading skills got a lot better. I started slowing down. I was basically over-estimating the sheer amount of stuff I could read and take in, in a day.

Now, I’m realizing as a writer, I’m slowing down. I’m expecting the reader to sit and give a bit more than the purported 3-second reading time (How much time people spend on Facebook statuses in their feed).

One aspect of the world being faster than me, that there’s a whole lot of junk out there. When it’s going by fast, you don’t really care, unless you get one or two good ones a day. And who wants to be judgmental of your aged aunt or niece anyway? In the ye old internet, you went out and found good stuff. So, I’ve started using Google Reader more, and my old and wonderful sites are still subscribed. Diary of a Bookslut, GoodReads, Jezebel, NYTimes Most Emailed Articles, etc. I’m in a la-la-land of good writing. This just makes me *feel* smarter. (*technical note: while Facebook has set up “subscriptions” it largely hasn’t been embraced by the areas of interest I follow)

As a creator-of-things, going fast is in a way a blessing and a curse. When you’re on the fifth chapter of Woodward’s Garden, you need to get yourself writing and “in the world.” It’s not hurried, but it is movement. Distraction is to avoided at all costs. I haven’t actually written since the first week of my social network diet, but I have created a ton of other things, and the overall “opening up of time” in my schedule is pretty awesome. My sister was worried I wasn’t coming back to Facebook, and I told her when (first typed “if”) it would be in proscribed amounts. It’s not like I knew all this time was being taken up, but it definitely was.

Picture 1: Classroom at Providence Saint Joseph School, Sprague, Washington, .
Picture 2: Passive Aggressive

No Social Network Day 18: The Phone, The Disposal, No Plans

Posted by banane on March 10th, 2012 — in technology

I got a funny postcard from my brother-in-law who is not on Facebook. It’s all the living (at the time of photo) First Ladies, and I have to name them in order. I recognized maybe 3, and made some poor guesses on the other 3. And then he made me list the ones that were really still living. (answers below).

Hung out with another friend-not-on-Facebook last night, and he teased me that he used this ancient piece of technology called the PHONE and texting to coordinate things like- his four friends all DJ’ing at the bar, picking up another friend who met us later on that night, etc. “We all coordinate, it just works, we do this every week.” I asked him about old friends, that he would use to connect on Facebook, he explained he just signs up again, gets their info, and deletes his account. The privacy and security issues of Facebook make him uncomfortable.

While it’s been largely positive being offline in the last few weeks, I have to admit yesterday was a low. I hadn’t planned anything for Friday night, and my garbage disposal broke, and while fixing it has a minor reward- wow, I fixed my own appliance- it also has the major suckitude of “I’m spending hours under my sink.” I messaged a few friends trying to horn in on their plans, but for various reasons couldn’t, called my sister and brother-in-law of the postcard fame, to chat, received a nice long letter from my niece, and managed to cobble together what turned out to be a very fun night out. Bookstores were enjoyed, neighbor dogs were coddled, John Coltrane was discussed not twice but three times. Indian songs were identified in rap songs on restaurant speakers: one hit wonder Truth Hurts, (feat. Rakim), “Addictive” 2002, sample: Lata Mangeshkar, pictured. Part of quite an interesting court case regarding the attribution- also, when I heard this song, the Mangeshkar original, I was surprised by just how much of the original song sounds like the “sample”- so I’d say that she was vindicated in getting some attribution and rights out of the label. Mangeshkar has received the Guinness book world record of the most recorded artist in the world. That case seems so avoidable, ha.

(standing: Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, sitting: Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford. Alive: Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan. Photo taken: 1991)

No Social Network Day 15: Urban Cycling & Google Reader

Posted by banane on March 8th, 2012 — in technology

I cleaned out my old Google Reader, abandoned when I started using FriendFeed, and now it’s full of fun stuff, such as the video above (via SFist. I’m not sure which urban cyclist I am, maybe a mix between the commuter-hipster (work in the Mission).

Google reader is amazing. Why did I ever leave it ??!!?? Helps with the solitude and news blackout I was suffering from my loss of Twitter. Facebook was never much of a good newsreader.

On Dressing Girly At Work

Posted by banane on March 7th, 2012 — in feminism, technology

Hanging out after a conference with another female programmer, or, “bragrammer,” I will admit that the first thing we talked about was our clothes. I had admired her dress during her talk, and I was wearing a kind of new sleeveless bike/street jacket vest with scarf, going for a monochrome grey-blue look.

Later on in the conversation, she admitted, “I’ve noticed, when I’m working with more women, I dress more girly. ” She works with 100% guys at her workplace, “… that we talk about clothes, and our appearance more. So I’ve started doing that with the guys.” She’ll comment on a new sweater, a new haircut, etc.. They seem taken aback, but not in a bad way, in a “no one ever notices me” way.

I work in a 50/50 workplace, well, it’s a start-up with 4 people so it’s easy to be 50/50. I’m probably creepily interested (and discuss it in SCRUM) in how their haircuts all change weekly. Still, they all have short hair and haircuts get creative then. Mine is boring, I comb it forward, trim, done. Takes about 5 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I have dropped a lot on a good haircut.

She and I were talking in a positive way about it, but there is definitely a negative way. She and I both noticed that if we wear high heels or skirts at work, it’s going to make people uncomfortable and/or get comments. It’s not that you’re wearing them to not get comments, but it’s also not an invitation to talk about your love life. Some of us, honestly, just want to wear good-looking clothes.

In programming circles, there’s a growing stereotype of the women-programmer: she’s more a punk Girl With a Dragon Tattoo than a woman in high heels. I understand it’s a sign of an evolving idea– a kind of next-step to men who want to make programming more inclusive. “Yes, I can imagine working with a woman,” the guy thinks. But when a woman walks in the door with more of a: “woman I see outside my apartment walking her dog,” “woman at a PTA meeting,” or “woman downtown drinking at that wine bar” look – who is also equally in love with gadgets, social media, github, and hackfests- they’re a little freaked out. They want that “20-something roommate’s little sister who started that comic store” back. Sometimes I get the “do you work in marketing?” or “did you actually code this by yourself?” phrases, that are a tip off. I have my hipster/punk days, sure. The ironic (usually cat) t-shirt, hair in knots, biking up to the conference. My way of handling that moment of incongruence is to sit it out, and, usually, they warm up to the new idea. I’m a hopeless believer in meritocracy?

I’m going to bring this up even though it’s more of an aside: believe it or not, it’s not about looking provocative, but I know that can be the consequence. I was trying to explain the idea of “women dressing for women” to an ex-boyfriend. He was adamant that women dressed for men, that this theory was wrong. My argument is: women, and anyone really, dresses for the best appreciator. If fellow women are also shopping all over Chinatown for the new baggy bright orange purse, they’re going to appreciate that you’ve got it, since they knew how hard it was to find (for under $40). I’ve found that to attract men, a cute sweatshirt and jeans do just fine. If I want to wear nice clothes that I think are nice and fashionable, then I’m dressing for others who also follow the trends. So, I could be dressing for men who like to shop (straight or gay, they exist), it’s really about, dressing well. BTW he was no fashionista- but wore the requisite SF uniform of black North Face and (somewhat cheap, loose) jeans.

Before you go off and talk to your local bragrammer about her clothes, be warned: if a guy mentions what you’re wearing, it’s far different than another woman. I know it’s unfair, but repeated situations have taught us this. I’d recommend to first observe and document before you start out doing it. There’s a safe way of talking about clothes: don’t talk about how it looks on their body. It will be seen more as a talking point about shopping vs. a personal comment.

My Talk at Women Who Code: Winning!

Posted by banane on March 6th, 2012 — in technology

Last Tuesday I spoke on “Winning! At Hackfests” for Women Who Code. 12-15 lightening rounds of women talking about coding. It was really awesome! Favorites: using genetic algorithms to solve computing problems, and digital visualization.

Back to me. Ever since seeing myself on cable access, singing and dancing in a musical at the age of 12, I’ve really cringed whenever I see myself on screen. Mostly because of the disconnect between how I think I appear, and how I really appear. Not that I’m judging the quality of my haircut or anything. It’s just that the brain can be talked into things, etc. But this, oddly, is pretty much how I see myself, ha. I’m moving around bit and the the sync is a bit off, but I got my views across pretty clearly. Note to self: practicing really helps.

The rest of the talks are up too- enjoy: women who code videos via @elsagold