Dreamwidth, Livejournal, and moving forwards

I'm moving my journal to Dreamwidth:

There's a few reasons for this move. Dreamwidth is a neat new project with a lot of women involved, and I love supporting women-friendly projects. Dreamwidth's values seem pretty sound, and match up better with my own. They've made some nice improvements to the codebase that make the whole system nicer to use. And they let me have a nice, ad-free journal (turns out those ads bugged me a lot more than I thought they would).

What does this mean for my old journal? It's going friends-only, although I'll probably cross-post so that people can still see my entries on their friends pages. So if you're reading this on lj and you're not logged in, please update your bookmarks, otherwise everything should continue the same for you because I've already updated the aggregators to use the new url. You can all comment on the new journal using OpenID (just give your lj url as your OpenID and go), and if any of you are interested in moving to Dreamwidth, you can try it out using openID or drop me a line to get my unused invite code.

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Please feel free to comment on the original entry using OpenID.

Want more women in open source? Try paying them.

I think my talk on attracting women to open source went well enough. The room started out looking pretty sleepy and passive, but I'd managed to seed the crowd with some talkative friends, and once a couple of them got the ball rolling people got down to discussion in a good way.

I think the most interesting point made is that if we want more women in open source, we should really make an effort to pay them to do it. As someone who loves doing this as a volunteer, I want to protest, but think about it for a minute: What challenges do women face in open source? Feeling like they don't belong? Paying them is a pretty strong "we want you" signal, both to the woman herself and to others who might challenge her. Not having enough time because of other life-work commitments? Making it your paid gig makes this the "work" part of that equation, rather than some part that just doesn't quite fit. Fewer opportunities for mentoring? Again, having the structure of a company behind you can make it a lot easier to ask for help within a known structure rather than trying to guess the social norms of an open source project. There aren't many women? Well, hiring a few is a great way to get the ball rolling, hopefully making it easier for future women.

Paying women to do open source work isn't going to solve all our problems, but it cuts through a lot of the gordian knot that's there, which is awfully nice.

Of course, then the related problem is "how do we find women to hire?" There's a whole body of work around hiring diversely (which I thought was linked from the geek feminism wiki, but I don't actually see those links at a glance -- anyone want to add them or send me a pointer?), but one of the things I started with talking about was extending an invitation. I don't want to say that women need an invitation, but the benefits of specifically advertising to women are a bit more subtle than that. The big thing is that your message is more likely to get out to more women: If someone tells me they're looking for people, I'll pass around the job to a few friends who might be interested. If someone tells me they're looking for women, I'm more likely to mention it to the larger women's communities I'm involved with. And those women are then more likely to pass it on to their communities... But beyond the exposure, the fact that you're specifically looking for women tells me that at least someone in your company cares about the problem, and is working to solve it. Way to make you sound like a more attractive employer at a glance. Do women need an invitation? Maybe not. But can a female-specifc invitation help your organization attract women? Definitely.

Most of the rest of the discussion was stuff I've heard before, although perhaps new to the assembled folk who may not get bombarded with this stuff regularly.

Unfortunately, I realised halfway through the discussion that I really, honestly, am sick of talking about this. Thankfully, by the time I hit that point the discussion was well away on its own and I had little to do other than point at people. I talk about feminism and geek issues all the time with my CUWISE women, but standing up at a conference where the totals were maybe two hundred folk and maybe less than 10 other women? I won't lie -- it was really disheartening.

I had a great time otherwise, though. Despite being the only girl in a gaggle of guys nearly every day, I never feel out of place with those people. It has always been my fellow open source folk that make the linux symposium worthwhile.

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Please feel free to comment on the original entry using OpenID.

Top-paying jobs for women

A friend sent me this, and I'll probably blog about it more coherently for cu-wise, but for now here's the link:

Top Paying Jobs for Women

I like to believe I'm not hugely financially motivated (as evidenced by remaining a student so long) but I have to admit I feel a twinge of happy to see that computer software engineering is #4 on the list, IT management is #5, and computer scientists come in at #10.

The confusing part, for me, is that computer science and computer engineering are commonly interchangeable jobs (Canada requires engineers to be actually specially trained, but I could go be an "engineer" in the US with my current qualifications), so I'm not sure why the disparity in average salaries.

Attracting Women to Open Source

I'm running a Birds of a Feather session about attracting more women to open source software at the Linux Symposium tomorrow (err, today. Weds, July 15th, 3pm).

Thus far, I have seen a grand total of two other women at the conference. Probably my fault due to my staying on "hallway track" mostly, but even so. (Hallway track = sitting around chatting with people in the hallway rather than attending sessions. I failed to signup in advance for the tutorials so I've been taking a couple of great social-geek days.)

I'm really hoping I'll see a few more women out and about tomorrow. But even if not, it should be interesting. Last year, I blew a few people's minds by talking about the death threats against Debian women (and others. Lucky me -- I've gotten one of those death threats since last year! *sigh*) I've got some good stories and some bad stories to talk about, and hopefully they'll stimulate some good discussion. If I can at least make sure a few people are aware that there are issues, then I'll count this as a win, but it'd be even better if we could actually find some ways to help solve the problem!

So here's hoping for some great new ideas, and an interesting session!

Done proposal draft, returning to Monkey Island.

Got the latest proposal draft sent off late last night. Not entirely pleased with it, since I was getting somewhat incoherent towards the end, but I'm pleased to see it go.

Promptly installed the new Monkey Island and played 'till I was ready to sleep. The first episode had been released earlier that day, so I wasn't even too late getting to it!

My brother and I played quest games before Monkey Island, but it was pretty groundbreaking for us. Monkey Island was the first game we played where not only were you not penalized for taking the funny conversation options, you were rewarded, and no stupid thing you tried got you killed. It was absolutely fantastic, suddenly having a game that really encouraged and rewarded exploration... and humour! We were hooked, and as my sister got a bit older, she was hooked too. So obviously, we've all been waiting for this game for a long time.

And I most definitely haven't been disappointed! I find the movement system a bit kludgey, but I'll get used to it, and the game has hilarious nods to the old games for those of us who played them, as well as plenty of modern references for people who are jumping into this pool for the first time. And oh, the voice acting! That sort of thing can add a lot to a game, done well, and it's most definitely done well here! My siblings and I still quote our favourite one-liners from previous games, and I'm sure we'll pick up more from the new ones.

One of the perks for fangirls like me who preordered the game was access to a special forum. I thought initially that this was a bit of a lame perk, until I saw that voice actor Dominic Armato was answering fan questions in there. And not just the standard "how do you like voice acting?" but also the hilarious questions one might expect from Monkey Island fans, answered with appropriate wit. And not just a few questions, but pages and pages of them! That's one dedicated and funny man, and I look forwards to hearing him to voices on the re-released monkey island 1, when it comes out too.

So... yeah. I'm taking a couple of days off from writing while my supervisor reads the Frankensteinian monster that is my latest thesis draft. And I'm guessing I'm going to spend a lot of that playing Monkey Island. Thanks Telltale Games, for such impeccable timing!

Your source for information on Rachel from Cardholder Servics

I've been busy, first with the workshop that kept me at the university 12hrs/day, and now with finishing the latest thesis proposal draft on a suddenly tighter deadline. (Turns out it is quite late, and while that won't be a problem, I've been told to finish ASAP.) Not to mention Canada Day and my visiting boyfriend who, sadly, has wound up largely ignored so I can write write write.

But apparently while I've been writing for a living, my blog has been surprisingly active. Or rather, this post complaining about Rachel from Cardholder Services has suddenly become abnormally popular and garnered a small collection of comments, months after it was written.

I am mystified and amused by this development. I guess my search rank went up somehow, and now that entry gets to be a place to vent about phone spam. I'm ok with that.

But the funny thing is that I haven't had one of these calls myself in months. Perhaps I just haven't been home enough, or maybe Canada's do not call list is more effective than the US one? Early on, there reports that the the list was being abused, but apparently the CRTC has investigated the claims, and says that it turns out to have been an urban myth. Others remain concerned about the potential for abuse even if there isn't yet evidence of same, particularly because few fines have actually been levied despite many complaints. But somehow, I haven't heard from Rachel from Cardholder Services or that irritating foghorn thing in a month now, so no complaints here!

MBL Canada Day plans

For those interested in hanging out with the MBL folk, our plan is as follows:

Meet inside city hall (by the pool, the usual spot) at 1pm

Wander as per usual.

We'll be in Major's Hill park around 6ish, if anyone wants to meet up just for dinner and fireworks. We usually sit to the left of the stage, under the trees, and can be found by the bubbles and children surrounding us.

(Mental note: buy bubbles today)

I realise the weather forecast doesn't look so good (thunderstorms in the evening). If it's raining and miserable, we may hit up museums and stuff downtown for a bit, then you're are all welcome back at my place for games and general hanging out.

How NOT to get a PhD

Every year, I get a couple of emails from random researchers who want my help finding papers or learning about the area. It's flattering that they think it's worth asking me, I suppose, but many of them do so with such an utter lack of tact or understanding that they border on insulting. They manage in so few words to indicate that they have no clue what they're asking. Here's part of one I got last week:

i am Interested in doing my Phd from one of the very good Candian University.but i dont know which are the best schools in canada.please help me out in this regard.

Now, at least he wasn't insulting, but... umm... I sincerely question the wisdom of cold-emailing a stranger on the internet for advice about a PhD. Doing a doctorate is more of a personal intellectual pilgrimage, and where you do it is, as far as I know, generally heavily reliant upon who you want to work with. This is actually not that far off asking some random stranger, "I hear there are nice girls in Canada. Who should I marry?"

Edit: I should mention that he says elsewhere in the mail that he's currently doing a Master's at an American university, so there shouldn't be a huge cultural divide here. I'm really quite perplexed that he would ask the stuff he did of a complete stranger.

Dear Lazyweb, is my spam a ciphertext?

I got the following message as spam. I'm 99% sure this is random spam noise, but I'm curious to see if it translates to anything. I *think* those are largely real words with other stuff stuck in, like thiskioqlceremony. Anyone feel like making sense of it or pumping it into a decryption algorithm for fun?

Subject: htnm eprd ftz fcygps vj

qcwq txpg positxamion
vkioqthe cfhtpart
you miep by dift
youffcygme syvjfrom talnhtart.
Illbektqo beijnrgfore snqcw.
beqtxp pouncedxamkpony.
fhtnm fileprdlsmy ftzff.
a punygpsych toy vojlallunteer khfktqnee.
is cijalu wargesnnt tohcwqqear
axpgdnd aamkvkyou woqlcsee.

Symbol of my deranged subconscious

I'm not sure what it says about me that when the assignment is "take a picture of a chair" with the dare of "make it something you'd hang on your wall," this is the first thing that springs to mind:

The secret lives of patio chairs

(Also, the runner up photo, "Patio chair in the wild")

Actually, as far as symbols of my deranged subconscious, it's got nothing on my dreams. Two days ago, I woke up as I was controlling water a la Moses. Saving friends and the world and all in the process. Now if only I could take a picture of that.