Sunday, October 17, 2010

GHC Codeathon for Humanity

I wrote a post about the Codeathon for Humanity held at GHC this year for the Open Source Business Resource (OSBR), a publication of the Talent First Network, in which I talked about the great strategies used by the organizers to ensure maximum participation and engagement.

I’ve just returned from the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) in Atlanta and had the opportunity to experience my first open source mini-codeathon and learn about the humanitarian open source project, Sahana Eden.

Sahana Eden is an open source disaster management platform that can be used in a wide variety of ways to provide organization on the ground in the aftermath of a catastrophe.

Read the complete post here. A special thanks to Terri Oda for the photos.

OSBR also has a great issue on Women and Open Source, which is worth the read.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

After the Grace Hopper Conference: There's More!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the success of the 10th Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing! Whether or not you attended, you can benefit from the event and help us make the next even better.

Your Feedback is Important
If you attended the conference please complete the GHC10 evaluation survey. The survey data will be independently reviewed and analyzed, then used both to report on the impact of this year's event and to improve future conferences. If you can't find the email with the evaluation link, look for a reminder from ABI's Caroline Simard early next week.

Session Notes, Slides, Blog Posts
Our speakers, volunteers, and many attendees have been posting their notes, slides, supplementary materials and links to related blog posts on our GHC10 notes wiki. If you presented, blogged about or took notes at GHC10, add your content or links to the wiki, too.

Photos and Videos:
Stay Connected
Don't lose that great feeling of GHC community! Stay connected with the Grace Hopper Celebration Community through your Poken connections, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Systers and more. Get connected with the parent Anita Borg Institute Community for year round updates on ABI programs, research, and awards.

Save the Dates!
Mark your calendar for the Grace Hopper Celebration, November 8-12, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. Subscribe to the ABI e-newsletter to make sure you don't miss the Call for Participation, scholarship application deadlines and more.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Collaborative Risktaking and Innovation: Value Creation and Measurements

I received quite a few requests from participants who attended my Collaborative Risktaking workshop on how to create and measure their value both internally (organizational) and externally (customer collaborations, partner projects, conference participation, etc.), so instead of responding individually I've decided to write a (longish) blog post. I do refererence a number of different terms that can be found in the wiki notes, my presentation and supplemental infographics.

Just as there is no one size fits all for personal risktaking, there is no single way for you to create and measure value. It depends on a number of variables:
  • Your organization's culture
  • Your natural strengths, experience and expertise
  • Your circumstances (transitioning into, within or out of a role/position)
  • Your comfort zone in dealing with the unknowns of a situation (risktaking)

Value Creation - It's All Around You

Your ability to create and sustain value is a key differentiator in a reinvented world, where the new innovation currency requires you to design, manage, and extend the reach of your "career capital".
Value creation includes both the introduction of innovative products and services that create or extend value for the company within a targeted timeframe and innovative process and product improvements that sustain value over time. Companies and institutions need both in order to thrive in the new world of business.
Beginning with your natural strengths and what "hums your heart" are you a builder or do you like to redesign and reinvent? If you're the former, you begin by looking around your department or business unit for what isn't being done, but should be if the company or institution hopes to remain competitive and avoid a missed opportunity.

You're going to view these challenges through your personal experience, professional skill sets, and natural strengths. This means that you could have five builder types in a room and each one would see a different opportunity.

It requires you to use both your Intuition and Peripheral Vision in order to Connect the Dots of what's inside you, what's around you, and what is missing a.k.a. opportunities. By paying attention in new ways and seeing possibilities through new eyes, you'll begin to notice emerging trends and the early curve of inflection points for your greater organization or institution.

If you're someone who prefers to redesign and reinvent, you can do what I did to create value and acquire a personal brand of someone who could "fix it, get rid of it, or reinvent it". I would target projects with promise that ended too quickly, lost funding, or became political hot potatoes that no one wanted to touch.

These Ugly Dog Projects (UDPs) would sometimes have "orphaned teams" still intact--people who were passionate about the project. We used our influencing skills to persuade budget owners to take a chance on us--become heroes for very little funding, no time commitment, and low risk on their part. Because these UDPs were so low on the organization's radar (or completely off the screen!) we were able to take greater risks that resulted in more successful outcomes to the surprise (and shock) of many.

Selling Your Idea

Develop a one-page proposal or succinct business plan that states your case, how you plan to approach this challenge, the expected costs, desired resources and required skills, what the risks and pay offs would be for the organization, e.g., new revenue stream, streamlined process, improved service levels, etc.

Your proposal might be for a new product or process or, perhaps, building upon an existing product or service that rejuvenates and extends the reach to a different market segment or audience.

This is when you want to leverage your Global Decision Network (GDN), your innovation safety network, that hears your pitch first and helps you to "work out the bugs" before you take your idea on the road. Don't overlook the fact that your GDN members might also be potential funding sources or who may know a budget manager with decision-making authority. You may discover that your idea complements something that is already "in the hopper". This is the time for you to vet your idea within a safe environment.

You're now ready to socialize your idea beyond your GDN a.k.a Innovation Tribe once you incorporate their feedback. At this point you're going to ask for funding or resources (sometimes both). Your goal is to make it easy for people to say YES.

Measuring Value - Direct and Indirect

Begin by asking yourself, "How does my organization or institution define value?" You want to start here because this identifies your playing field and how the company defines success. If you're going to break some rules along the way, you first need to know what the formal and informal rules are for your organization.

Then you want to learn how your company / institution measures value. What business models do they use to track and capture this value. Is Return on Investment (ROI) the primary means of quantifying value? Perhaps, your organization uses other means as well, such as Cost Benefit Analysis or Return on Innovation Investment.

This is where the value of having a GDN member on your team who is finance savvy comes in. She can help you to quantify the total value of your project or process improvement. This includes both direct and indirect costs:
Direct costs are those for activities or services that benefit specific projects, e.g., salaries for project staff and materials required for a particular project.

Indirect costs
are those for activities or services that benefit more than one project. Their precise benefits to a specific project are difficult to trace. For example, it may be difficult to determine precisely how your contributions and activities benefit a specific project.

It gets tougher to capture the value of your personal contributions when you are not a member of a team responsible for tracking the progress and measuring the direct and indirect cost savings and/or revenue generation of a project.
So how do you quantify your influence for different projects if your involvement is as a subject matter expert (SME)?
Begin by reviewing your top 3-5 areas where you spend most of your time (internal and external). These will likely be a combination of both direct involvement, e.g. you either lead a team or are a team member, and indirect involvement, i.e., advisor/ SME where you spend more than 20 percent of your time. These are the areas where you want to capture and quantify your value.

Your goal is to target the low hanging fruit, i.e., those areas where you are already spending your time and adding value. Quantify your expertise and influence by identifying your direct contributions to a project. In other words, how has your expertise helped the team move the project forward faster, i.e., improved productivity (indirect cost savings) or, perhaps, you've identified a "bloated process step" that through its elimination has resulted in direct cost savings to the organization's bottom line. Your unique insights and contributions might identify an entirely new revenue stream.

You're still able to collaborate as a member of a team and contribute on an individual basis. Far too often, I see professionals extend the reach of their influence across the organization but ultimately dilute their influence, credibility and personal power by failing to capture, quantify and share their total value.

In the reinvented world of business you'll need to know how to perform these consistently in order to extend the reach of your career capital.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Activities That Attract 4th-12th Grade Girls and Women to Computing

This was one of the most interactive sessions. The presenter was Barbara Ericson from Georgia Institute of Technology. On entering the conference room, the first thing that caught my attention was a number of green toy dinosaurs kept on the tables. I learned later that those were the Pleo Robots. The session was pure fun. Barbara has been working on investigating activities that attract students, and especially girls, to computing since 2004. She introduced PicoCrickets, Pleo robots, Scratch, and Alice to us one by one and we got hands on experience with Pleo Robots, PicoCricket and Scratch.

Pleo Robots : These are toy robots which the children can program. The robots have an SD card in them through which instructions are read and executed. The Pleo robot was a green dinosaur. It had sensors at some places on its body. When we initially got the robot, we started it and observed its behavior. It had a default program already installed which made it sing songs and move its tail. We also got to program the dinosaur through the Pleo software. Barbara had some of her students walk around the hall to guide us with the programming. The software for programming Pleo runs only on windows. It is a very easy interface which has a timeline and an action box. The action box contains actions like rolling eyes, moving feet, singing, jerking head in x degrees etc. One has to put actions on the timeline to program the robot. We programmed it, saved the file on the SD card, put the SD card back into the dinosaur and started it by thumping its back. The dinosaur has sensors and takes about 20 seconds to perform the programmed action in the SD card after starting the battery. Barbara called it "waking up" period of the dinosaur. The Pleo robot dinosaurs cost $349 each and their batteries last unto 60-90 minutes.

Scratch : This is a free program available on Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. You can also share your creations on the web. The program has an easy to use interface for creating animations with tabs such as motion, looks, control, sound etc. I had a chat with Barbara after the talk and she mentioned that she observes very different behavior in girls and boys when they program the cat on the opening screen of the scratch software. The animations done by the girls are more on the lines of building a home for the cat or drawing flowers around it. On the other hand, the boys try to somehow kill the cat. This observation is a clear indication that we need to find ways aimed specifically at girls to attract them to computer science. Certain things which boys enjoy may not be enjoyable for the girls.

PicoCricket : This was another fun exercise. This is a commercial product and can be bought online. You can plug lights, motors, sensors, and other devices into a PicoCricket, then program them to react, interact, and communicate. We got a number of pico blocks which are simple hardware pieces such as LEDs and timers. Using the software picoblock, we wrote a simple program which measured our reaction time of pressing a button and displayed it on the timer.

The takeaway from the session was that there are variety of products and softwares available, which can be used effectively to attract school going girls and boys to computer science. Barbara has been organizing summer camps for highschool girls where she uses these tools to attract them towards computer science. One of her summer camp attendees is now a junior at Georgia Tech computer science program. Seeing the effect of Barbara's efforts in the form of this student impressed me the most about the session. In the chat with Barbara at the end of the session, she mentioned that their efforts are currently not targeted to get girls interested in specific areas of computer science. I work in security. I have observed that there are fewer girls in the core field of computer science such as systems, networks and security as compared to human computer interaction (HCI). I think the next step in this research would be a way to attract more girls towards these core areas of computer science.

Career and Economic Opportunity in Open Source Software

As part of the open source track at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) this year, there was an informative session on career and economic opportunity in Open Source Software (OSS).

The session served two main purposes -
a) to show that participating in open source projects can provide many skills that can be relevant in obtaining a job and building a career, and,
b) that open source does not necessarily mean free software and therefore, there are multiple ways in which to make a living from OSS.

I've provided a summary/transcript of the discussion in this session on the GHC 2010 Wiki, so below I list some of the key takeaways for me.

a) Building Job and Career Skills from OSS projects
1. Online and multi-site, multi-timezone collaboration and communication is perhaps one of the best skills you can pick up from an OSS project. Interacting with people of different cultures and in different physical locations can prepare you to handle multi-site activities that occur in many large companies today.

In my own experience, I find that being able to interact effectively with a geographically dispersed and culturally diverse team is an increasingly important skill in our globalized world. These kind of soft skills set you apart from those who have equivalent technical expertise.

2. OSS is a great way to slowly build up skills, be it programming, organizational etc. and be able to get feedback (it helps to develop a thick skin :)

I think this is something I will keep in mind when I think I need to build expand my technical skill set.

3. Flexible timings can provide women with the work/life balance that they might be looking for.

OSS might be a great way to keep in touch with the industry and keep your skills and experience up to date while taking a hiatus (like maternity leave)

b) OSS Business
1. Making money from OSS projects is not a bad thing, and shouldn't be seen as such. Indeed, many OSS projects become richer (in quality, and in participation) for having had a few high profile customers that were willing to pay for custom development

2. Providing complementary software, services and support is a widespread revenue model adopted by many companies that leverage OSS

In general, I was inspired to see such names as Cat Allman, Leslie Hawthorn, Stormy Peters and Margo Seltzer participating in the open source track and it serves to reinforce the quality of the content that GHC offered this year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Managing a Career through the Childbearing Years

Panelists: Lynda Grindstaff (Intel), Karin Meyer (Intuit), Phyllis Stewart Pires (SAP), Mary Anne Egan (Siena College), Elizabeth Psihos (Thomson Reuters), and Lalitha Ramanathan (Symantec)

The panelists offered up some good tips for traditional two-parent families juggling child care, child rearing, and careers. Adding other "family blends", such as a single parent without a spousal safety net or a mother in a same sex relationship, also managing their careers while faced with the added challenges of their situations, would have likely required a larger room for this already jam-packed session.

An audience member shared her situation as the main breadwinner while her husband was the stay-at-home dad, receiving questions from the floor about managing the guilt of a less traditional child rearing arrangement.

A majority of the audience included students who did not yet have children, but who were in the early stages of planning how to juggle multiple priorities. What they heard from these seasoned working moms was that trade-offs are a part of the decision to have children and raise a family and that learning how to manage guilt early in the game came with the territory.

Lynda Grindstaff who, along with her husband, works for Intel told the audience that they "needed to develop a thicker skin and make a conscious effort to spend time with their kids". She uses quality, focused time with her children and shares with them what she does. She gets creative in asking for help. "I don't want my kids to not experience sports and other activities just because mom works."

"Don't waste time at work--get the job done," said Karin Meyer who works for Intuit.

"Don't worry about the timing of having children while in school. If a company wants you they want you," panelist Mary Anne Egan shared with the audience. Flexible schedules are a big part of the safety net that Egan and her husband share--she works for Siena College and he works for himself.

Panelists suggested researching Working Mother magazine and other resources for more family friendly companies. A shared tip from an audience member was to make certain that if you're looking to work for a start-up company that other women with children already work there--married men with stay-at-home wives won't understand.

Phyllis Stewart Pires of SAP has juggled childbearing three times, each time returning to different configurations within the organization. "I've breastfed all three, have used all forms of childcare, and over the course of their early years all my children experienced on-site childcare."

Stewart Pires offered a number of creative tips for working moms:
  • Returning from maternity leave - do your due diligence - reinvent your value proposition to the company based on any changes that have occurred while you were on leave.
  • Create a 360 safety net of different networks--part-time moms, full-time moms, PTA, etc. Become an involved person within a smaller network.
  • Consider hosting the weekend sleepovers if you're unable to have kids over M-F.
  • Seize the moments and get your kids to talk to you. Stewart Pires uses a "parking lot strategy" where during the course of the week while transporting her children to different activities, she meets in the car with one while waiting for the other child to finish their activity.
  • Create a visual cue to pull yourself out of a negative cycle.
  • Set clear expectations with your significant other at the beginning before you have children.
  • Find your champions--you may find them in the least likely places, i.e., in your network or at work.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Enlisting Male Advocates in the Workplace

Moderator: Caroline Simard, Anita Borg Institute
Skits: Patty Lopez, Intel Corporation

Panelists: Colin Bodell, Amazon | Gabby Silverman, CA Technologies | Will Allen, HP | Bruce Bigler, Intel Corporation | Luis Recardo Fraga, University of Washington

This all-male panel moderated by Caroline Simard included skits by Patty Lopez of Intel Corporation and offered the audience a fun poke at all too real situations that still occur for women--sometimes obvious messaging, sometimes subtle language--but the results are the same; behavior that can undermine a woman's personal power and confidence.

The male "actors" were good sports about offering before-after versions of themselves with female advocate Colin Bodell of Amazon, at one point during a skit, stating that he felt he needed a shower after playing the "unenlightened" manager.

The ability to collaborate across gender boundaries for enlisting advocates while in school and later in business is instrumental to your success. Female technologists who develop effective communication and relationship management skills will find the path to enlisting and engaging advocates easier to navigate.

However, it's just as important to recognize early on the potential barriers to your success and to speak up and challenge others when a situation warrants it.

"Faculty and students need support at every stage of their career. Gatekeepers can be biased and too many companies don't double check or validate. Find the person who will give you the straight scoop. People who shut you down shouldn't be considered as an advisor or mentor," said Luis Fraga, University of Washington.

Advocate or Mentor?

Amazon's Bodell described the difference between a mentor and advocate as the former being more of a 1:1 confidential relationship, whereas an advocate will work externally on your behalf as your champion.

"Mentors know how the system works--they have knowledge beyond your experience. Advocates can serve as a mentor, but not necessarily vice versa," according to UW's Fraga.

Why They Became Advocates for Women

What motivated these men to become not just supporters of women but true female advocates?

HP's CTO, Will Allen, hopes that his own daughters will have an easier path. Finding women who are "stuck" and helping them to move into and up within the organization occurs during 1:1 mentoring or as part of HP's larger mentoring community.

Bruce Bigler of Intel felt it was important to create a sense of fairness. It was Bigler's marriage to a technical woman and seeing her professional challenges, while also noting the struggles of a female mentor, which served as eye openers for him and ultimately changed his perspective.

Colin Bodell's daughter developed an early interest in technology and he wanted to continue to feed her excitement. As VP for Amazon, he asked himself, "Why shouldn't everyone have the same opportunities?" Bodell's aha moment came three years ago during the Grace Hopper Conference when he had to admit that his company wasn't as good as it could be in advocating for women. "Not recruiting and developing women is a missed opportunity."

Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement at the University of Washington, Luis Fraga believes that with great power comes great responsibility in leadership. He wanted to make a real difference from an institutional level, realizing now that resistance to change both personally and institutionally has now become his responsibility.

Gabriel Silberman, Sr. VP and Director of Labs for CA Technologies attended his first Grace Hopper conference ten years ago where there were 700 women and 10 men. When he started hearing the dialogue shared by women, it forced him out of his comfort zone--understanding for the first time what it meant to be a minority.

Before - After Skits

Here are a couple of the skits videotaped on the fly...

Skit #1 - University advisor and his underlying biases (before) and how a supporting male advocate would respond (after).

Student played by Tyelisa Shields (HP)
Advisor played by Luis Frago (University of Washington)

Skit #2 - Manager delivering annual review using non-supportive language (before) and male advocate support and career development feedback (after).

Manager played by Colin Bodell (
Employee played by Linda Apsley (Microsoft)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Security – Addressing Security and Privacy Risk at Scale in Cloud-based Delivery Systems

Panelists: Kore Koubourlis (Microsoft), Gerlinde Zibulski (SAP AG), Linda Bernardi (StraTerra Partners LLC), and Alyssa Henry (Amazon Simple Storage Service)

A panel of women from industry presented their views on security, privacy and compliance concerns in cloud-based applications and Software as a Service (SaaS). The session began with the introduction of the panelists and a discussion on what a cloud is? Cloud was defined as “pay as you go” type of environment without buying the infrastructure. The main characteristic of cloud is that it should be able to elevate you higher by accomplishing your business tasks. It was interesting to learn about the evolution of cloud. Twenty-five years ago you could rent your computer and software. Similarly, cloud lets you use hardware, software, database, and applications without owning them.

There are different types of clouds. For example:
1. Community cloud – for sharing information with millions of people.
2. Public cloud- enterprises let many end-users use the cloud.
3. Private cloud – this is more security-aware than public or community cloud and could have access restricted to certain IP addresses.

As we move into the clouds, the biggest issue is control over system and data. People can get pretty hung up on that. There is a range of security offered by cloud services. The customers have to choose the type of security and therefore share the responsibility for security of their data and applications with the service providers.

Cloud is not just provided by service providers. Many enterprises can expose part of data or services through private clouds that are operated internally. In the cloud computing environment, the end-users define and drive what they need. They can focus on their applications or core competencies and free themselves from the burden of focusing on tasks that don’t differentiate them from their competitors – in essence, the basic and common functionality can be outsourced to the service providers.

The concept of cloud-architecture is very important. The architecture should be designed to be economic, easy and fast. It depends upon what the end-user wants to get out of cloud. For example, if you have to analyze your data, you should think about cross-analysis of data, and cloud should be architected accordingly.

The businesses that want to put applications on the cloud should find the information about how often the security patches are getting implemented and applied? They should be aware about what happens in case of data breach?

One interesting question that the panelists addressed was - "How can we address our compliance need with architecture of cloud?" They said that this is where the room for innovation is because if something happens that is outside of procedures, it has real and high costs. Therefore compliance is a real issue for large companies.
They gave an anecdote that often customers don’t really know what is going on in all their environments. Often the chances of internal threat are higher than the chances for external threat to data and security. Often, the outside is made secure by the service providers but inside is not secure. There are aspects of compliance that have to be taken care on the customer's end and some provided by the provider's end. One should make sure that the provider has given a clear overview of compliance at the time of selling their services.

There are opportunities of further research in the area of cloud computing. For example,
1) Business-process driven monitoring of services or application.
2) Standard to deal with strategies for data back-up.

Collaborative Leadership in Driving Innovation

Listening to these four dynamic women as moderator, Rebecca Norlander, right, asked them to share their paths taken and the roads not taken, there were commonalities between them that has led to success in their respective fields:
  • Mentoring was a critical component
  • Perseverance when things got tough
  • Resilience when things took the wrong turn
  • Setbacks were viewed as learning opportunities
  • Widened their perspective by reframing the experience
  • Reinventing themselves became part of their "human fabric"
  • Accountability for the personal and professional risks they took
  • Savvy career transitions and adaptability to changing condition

Amy Alving, Chief Technology Officer, SAIC


Pivotal Moment in her Career

"I decided to give up tenure to keep my job in government that I loved. It was risky, but it was a commitment to a new path."

What Amy Looks for When Hiring

She looks for people who can recognize a problem instead of waiting for an invitation to solve it--they step up and own it. People stumble at the lack of initiative.

Reflection: What She Would Do Differently

I would get out of my comfort zone more often.

Kalpana Margabandhu, Director of WebSphere Development, IBM India Software Lab

Pivotal Moment in her Career

Being recognized and awarded for her accomplishments as a woman setting an example in her organization for for reaching beyond what she had considered a limit.

Reflection: What She Would Do Differently

I would take more risks.

Kelli Crane, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Thomson Reuters

Pivotal Moment in her Career

When a woman at the company walked up to her and said "We've never had a senior technology leader who was a woman - ever."

What Kelli Looks for When Hiring

Grounded and balance between work and life. I look for a good technologist with good communication skills and the ability to collaborate in driving innovation. People will watch how you handle diversity more than how you handle success.

Reflection: What She Would Do Differently

Have the courage to do the right thing more often and be true to herself all of the time.

Romea Smith, Senior Vice President, CA Technologies, Support

Pivotal Moment in her Career

When she moved from Texas to Virginia with three children - a big personal and professional risk.

What Romea Looks for When Hiring

You have to want to learn. Someone who is capable without blinders on and who looks for different ways to solve problems. Learning from failure is key. [Dee McCrorey's "Collaborative Risktaking" workshop suggested 15 days to "lick your wounds" and then get back in the game].

Reflection: What She Would Do Differently

I would delegate more.

Panelist Career Tips
  • You don't need to be the best at everything - it's about breadth and depth
  • Love what you do and success will follow
  • Crucial conversations: define governance upfront
  • You need teams at home and at work. Delegate. You need a team to support you
  • You have to make your own choices and that include personal and professional boundaries.
  • Influencing skills are different for everyone - try different approaches, if one thing doesn't work, try something else
  • Mentors help you when your more junior and when you're more senior you mentor others
  • You can't wait for companies to come to you - you need to manage your own career

Digital Healthcare at Technology Crossroads

The complexity and costs associated with the current U.S. healthcare system, although screaming for standardization, cross-platform integration and extreme reinvention, probably won't happen overnight and not without a fight.

Panelists from Google, Intuit, Kaiser Permanente and Symantec shared their companies' immediate and longer range challenges of implementing technology solutions for the rapidly changing healthcare needs of consumers.

The big challenge is moving doctors and hospitals from paper-based systems to informatics and digital imaging of patient information. But change is imminent with the soaring costs of healthcare and with consumers pushing for more control of their personal health records (PHR).

Tammy Neely, Northwest and Hawaii BI Leader for Kaiser Permanente, spoke about the challenges of helping doctors learn how to use technology better and the benefits to everyone when they do. Storage challenges of electronic medical records notwithstanding--8 terabytes on 600+ systems--the benefits of distilling this information has resulted in a triple win for Kaiser: improved patient quality scores, cost savings of $100M and streamlined processes that now make "doctoring fun again".

Ongoing requests by consumers of its popular Quicken product led Intuit to develop Quicken Health, a product that helps users decipher "medical speak" and reconcile doctor and hospital bills along with the ease of paying online. "We wanted to empower consumers to monitor and manage their own health care costs," says Product Manager, Christina Banta, who made a career shift after a series of hospital volunteer jobs led her to see that the collection of patient data and backend systems didn't flow well for patients/customers.

According to Lisa Rom, Symantec Sr. Product Marketing Manager, 30 percent of the world's data by 2012 will be digital imaging. Symantec is looking to lower the cost of storage by moving digital imaging into the cloud instead of data centers, and thus passing the savings along to doctors and hospitals for medical research and patient improvements instead of storage costs.

Google's footprint into the world of healthcare comes via its Google Health site where patient control over individual data provides consumers with the ability to track their overall health and wellness. The site provides you with the means for aggregating your own information and monitoring the trends of your health over time.

So, Who Owns the Data?

Google's Shirley Gaw shared the challenges faced by the company in offering a service where patients don't always own their health information. "Your PHR is part of your Electronic Medical Health Record (EMHR), but in many states this health data is not owned by you. In certain states you can't get your own health records except through your doctors."

Security and privacy issues associated with PHR vs. EMHR requires a trust factor between physician and patient and between hospitals and health partners. Today, many doctors are wary about making decisions based on incomplete info, concerned that patients will be able to change digital data.

According to Neely at Kaiser Permanente, it's a fallacy that paper-based records are more secure, since paper records get faxed all over the place all the time. Symantec's Rom indicated that one of the top areas of identity theft is health related, which is why health transport and encryption of digital imaging files are critical.

Unfortunately, the level of understanding and sophistication of systems and security isn't there yet--doctors still take CDs home and store patient information on personal laptops. So, even though the technology is available the adoption is not.

Top of Mind

According to the panelists, this is what keeps their companies up at night:

Intuit: The ability to acquire the data, how to bring it together, and aggregating financial info.

Symantec: Medical imaging that isn't tagged with patient data and cannot be easily mapped to the patient.

Kaiser Permanente: The Baby Boom and obesity.

Google: Providing a service where consumers don't own their own health data.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CRA-W Grad Track - How to build my professional network

Building a professional network is another one of those skills analogous to when we say 'common sense is not that common'. We are naturally social beings and need a network of people to go about our day-to-day lives. However, in addition to a basic social network, it is crucial to build a professional network and guess what.. it does not come naturally to everyone and is in fact a practiced and honed skill. So none of us are born with this knowledge; only as we climb up our career ladder and interact with peers and leaders, do we begin to gradually learn how to go about it.

Whom to network with?
Everyone! You many never know which contact of yours would end up helping you out at a difficult stage or furthering your success. Especially at conferences such as the GHC, you may not even be aware that the person you just casually passed at the escalator, belongs to the same field as yours and could be a great contact to build. So next time, do not hesitate to strike a conversation with the person standing next to you. Or in a general case, be open to making new connections with all the people in your circles. Important pointer - do not exclude social networks to make professional connections. That is a great way to leverage your existing connections to strike a professional chord with.

When you introduce yourself to someone, it is important to make a personal connection every time. You should be confident, cheerful and exuberant to meet the other person. A smile can go a long way and make sure to look the other person in the eye when you're speaking. This ensures that you will both remember each other and not forget this casual conversation at the turn of the hour.

So how does networking further your career?
A good network has manifold advantages. It makes you and your work known in this era of information overload where you need to strive to make your mark. Also it provides a source of recommendation letters from your advisors or managers, co-workers, directors, other areas of your company, and recruiters in industry. Through your network, you can get invites to give talks and interviews, or to be on several program committees. You can find your network useful in joining technical or community service organizations that help you contribute to the progress around you. Essentially, talking to more like minded people leads to new ideas on topics of interest or different slants on old ideas, thus helping you in your work or when forming new collaborations. Last but not the least, networking also ends up creating long and lasting friendships!

Now comes the harder part.. how do I talk to complete strangers?
The approach is simple - have an "elevator speech" ready and practiced. This is a very concise introduction to you and your work, enough to pique interest and limit it to 2-3 sentences with one sentence each explaining what your project is, what is the value, and what problem it solved. Be sure to explain in layman terms as well to make it relevant to the other person. Convince the person in this short while that what you work on is new and cool. That shouldn't be a problem right? Well it can be if you tend to ramble when it comes to explaining your work or research that your whole world revolves around. Hence, practicing the "elevator speech" frequently will keep you on top of your communication skills while meeting new people.

And of course, do not be shy. I can relate to this as I sometimes hesitate ever so slightly before striking a conversation, thinking why would the other person reciprocate? The trick is not to suddenly go from shy to extrovert but simply to believe in yourself and be confident. If they are not able to interact with you directly, more often that not, they will always direct you to some of their contacts who might help you. You can see how this helps to grow your network through mutual connections. Talking about reciprocation, you should equally show interest in their project and discuss about it; be curious and ask questions about how they got where they did today, what was the journey and the joys and challenges faced.

Follow-up without fail!
It doesn't end there. Following up is as important as anything else you do in the meeting. YOU need to initiate the follow-up. Be ready to be out of your comfort zone and ask for definitive replies to achieve closure on your discussion. Making new connections might come easily to some but maintaining them is equally important and tactfully following up helps achieve that. Earlier in the follow-up process, make sure you remind the other person of the venue and context that you guys first met at and as correspondence grows, this might no longer be needed.

Along with the TO DO's, there are also some important DO NOT's to professional networking. Firstly, don't burn bridges - do not inadvertently commit networking-suicidal mistakes that will ruin your relationships. In a company scenario, one way to avoid burning bridges is to always be humble and respectful towards your managers and to adapt yourself to their feedback instead of being arrogantly adamant and doing something unaccounted for. Don't have a low tolerance on constructive criticism or take things personally (being women, that means overcoming our natural tendency!). Don't use too much of people's time (e.g. hold frequent unnecessary conferences instead of covering ground in your work). Secondly, dont treat your professional network as dumping ground for your personal problems, or for gossiping around. Also do not go overboard with including people from all your circles into your professional network and draw the line consciously, prioritizing ur needs. Do not treat your network as "resources for use" but relationships to nurture and do this tastefully.

Equipped with this knowledge, and as you gather more and more new experiences, you will not only enhance your academic and professional network, but also enhance your personality and be a better and successful person :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grace Hopper 2010 - The Celebration Begins!

Less than a day till the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing starts in Atlanta!

I learnt about the conference last year (was too late to register) and ever since then I've been waiting for GHC 2010. Since this will be my first time at the conference, I've been reading blogs from veterans of the conference (check out the GHC blog feed) and following #ghc10 and @ghc on Twitter to get pointers on how to prepare for the week.

And prepare you must! The sheer volume of planned activities is mindboggling, leave alone those impromptu meetings and outings that are bound to happen. I've taken some time to look through the abstracts of the various seminars and mark those that are most interesting to me.

I'm especially excited about the track on Open Source as I am taking a course on Open Source Business as part of my Masters. I hope to share what I learn with my classmates. There will also be a chance to participate in open source development via the Codeathon for Humanity for the Sahana-Eden project. As a facilitator for this event, I'm looking forward to learning more about their disaster management software platform and how I can use my coding skills for social good.

The codeathon is a brilliant example of the conference theme of "Collaborating Across Boundaries" and my aim will be to look at the talks I attend in this broader context.

I'm also eager to meet many of the accomplished women participating this year, especially those interested in mobile platforms and wireless applications and those who (like me) have taken or are interested in a business career path after a technical degree.

The rest I'm leaving to serendipity :)

Packing for Atlanta! [update]

It turns out I did have time to document getting ready for Atlanta!

Here's what I packed (click the photo to go the Flickr page with notes):

What are you bringing with you to GHC?

Packing for Atlanta!

Ed here!  I wanted to do a quick post about what I'll be bringing with me to Atlanta this year.  Usually I do a video episode of Ed & Ashley's 5 Minute Show, but GHC came up so fast this year!  So, I'm going to do some's good for the environment, right?

Even though we say GHC 2009, this episode applies to GHC 2010.  I'm going to be packing much of the same things this year.

It looks like the weather in Atlanta for next few days will be in the 70s.  Like last year, light layers will be really helpful.  I think sunglasses and sunscreen are a must if you plan on being outside.

I haven't packed yet, so if I have time, I'm going to post a video of some speed packing!  These are things I'm not going to forget to bring to GHC!

  • Light jacket or in my case an adorable cardigan :)
  • Water bottle
  • Business cards (although I'm hoping that I'll get to use my Poken a lot!)
  • Important documents (resume, schedule, boarding pass, etc.)
  • Electronics (Egg [my netbook], video camera, digital camera, phone, etc.)
  • Chargers!
  • Tons of excitement :)
I can't wait to get to Atlanta and see everyone!  I'll be wearing an orange Wheaties hat and I would love to meet you, so please say hello!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Introducing myself - Mona Chitnis

Hello all community members!

I am Mona Chitnis, Computer Science graduate student at Georgia Tech. Its great to see the level of preparation and enthusiasm for GHC '10 and to be an integral part of it. And lucky for me, its in Atlanta this time! I'm from Mumbai, India but for these years that I'm at Georgia Tech, Atlanta is my home. So welcome :)

My work and research revolves around Computer Networks, Distributed Computing and Mobile Apps Development. My motivation behind attending GHC, apart from great networking with researchers and employers of course, is getting to attend the various talks by some of the most accomplished women in computing. I am also a Hopper and I believe its one of the best ways to involve myself with the conference and its participants. So you would see me "hopping around" and trying to help out fellows.

I look forward to posting some very interesting articles covering the conference sessions as the GHC advances for a means of information as well as food for thought. Let us all immerse ourselves in this grand celebration of collaborating with women across boundaries! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Attending GHC from Afar

As my friends well know, I'm really passionate about GHC. In person, I ramble on and on about the benefits of attending. Online, I blog about GHC, tweet about GHC, and post countless FB status updates about GHC. This year, I've even been helping out with the GHC Communities Committee to help spread the news about GHC through the various online communities (Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and here on our blog). You can understand my sorrow, then, when I realized that circumstances would prevent me from attending this year. Undaunted, I figured if I couldn't bring myself to GHC, I'd try to bring GHC to me! Thus, this year, I will be GHC-ing from home.

Due to the early sell-out of the conference, I don't think I'm alone in this. In fact, I think there are probably a lot of people in exactly the same situation. What can we do to keep the GHC spirit alive from wherever we are? Here's a few ideas:

  • Follow up on sessions by reading session notes on the GHC Wiki
  • Read our blog to get the latest updates and info
  • Have a real life meetup (local restaurant, coffee shop, etc) during GHC to network and discuss issues related to advertised sessions.

  • Are you unable to attend GHC this year in person? Which of these ideas would you use to participate from afar? Do you have other ideas on how to connect?

    p.s.: I'm in Seattle and would love to meet others who are missing out on GHC this year and learn about what you're working on! If you're interested in meeting up in Seattle or elsewhere, leave a comment below. I'd love to help people connect no matter where they are.

    New to Grace Hopper? So am I

    The Grace Hopper Conference is among us and I am very excited.  I have been perusing the website to find interesting talks and sessions to attend as well as picking my blogging assignments for the Community Bloggers.  Then it dawned on me, this will be my first GHC experience.  Do I know how to make the best of my opportunity to attend the conference?

    In undergrad, I attended a conference called ABRCMS (the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students).  In fact, after attending 3 times as an undergrad and 2 times as a graduate student recruiting for my University, I consider myself a pretty seasoned ABRCMS veteran.  Here are 3 things I've learned from my ABRCMS experiences that I hope to use at GHC:

    1. Plan ahead:  There are a number of times when I have gotten to a conference or networking function and realized that I forgot my business cards.  Not a good look for anyone.  Make sure that you plan out what you will take with you to the conference.  If you are presenting, guard your poster/powerpoint with your life.  Just recently I managed to accidentally leave my poster at the security gate of the Pittsburgh International Airport. Fellow blogger Gail has a great entry on tips on planning for the conference.  You can find her advice at Getting Ready For a Conference
    2. Attend the Conference:  Conferences are great places to learn about new fields, meet new people, and connect with potential employers, collaborators, and/or friends.  The key to taking advantage of potential opportunities is to ATTEND THE CONFERENCE.  Simple concept, I know, but sometimes I feel the need to state the obvious.  
    3. Elevator Pitch: You never know when you will find yourself in an elevator with or standing next to a potential employer. Have a short introduction of yourself prepared. Keep it short, sweet, and interesting.  If your 90 seconds go over well, maybe you would piqued enough interest to continue the conversation. ~ Make it better ~ Got an iPad (or similar mobile device)? Upload a copy of your most recent poster to display your research if the opportunity presents itself. 
    Now to all you seasoned GHC vets :-)  Please comment on this post with advice for making the most of the Grace Hopper conference.  I'm sure all the newbies like myself as well as others could appreciate the advice. 

    See you in Atlanta! 

    Photo credits to 

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    How to Make the Most of Twitter for Grace Hopper

    Short on time? Jump to "Networking Face-to-Face to Twitter (and Back!)"

    Twitter has hit mainstream. News anchors suggest following their account for the latest updates, companies updating their online presence create accounts, celebrities use it to create their own press. And it is a norm at conferences.

    Grace Hopper is no exception to this rule. Read on to learn how to make the most of it! (PS – Folks to which Twitter is old hat, jump to the NEW! highlights.)

    Setting Up Your Account

    It’s okay to use Twitter to only follow others. BUT – if you’d like to use Twitter to connect with other people, there are some steps you will want to take.

    • Personalize your account.
      • Having a name, profile picture, and bio is your first defense against being assumed a spammer. If you prefer to be more anonymous, you can omit your last name or use a nickname and upload an image that is not a photo. (Keep in mind having a photo allows other conference participants to recognize you.) The main goal is to make you look like a real person. Since, you know, you are. :)
    • Understand the impact of the “Protect my updates” setting
      • With this setting on, others must request permission to see your updates. If you would like your updates to show up in the public stream, this setting must be turned off. To do this, log into Twitter, click Settings, scroll down and make sure “Protect my tweets” is NOT selected.
    • Get out there and tweet!
      • Most important way to distinguish yourself from spammers? Start updating your Twitter account! People don’t follow people who have never tweeted before. They want to know what you have in common and if you tweet about things they want to hear more about.

    Twitter Basics for GHC

    Use the #ghc10 hashtag for ALL (before, during, and after) GHC10-related tweets. Doing this ensures your related tweets show up in the conference Twitter stream (provided your tweets are not protected). You can view the real-time stream by searching for #ghc10 on Twitter. To add a hashtag, simply include #ghc10 somewhere in your tweet.


    The official conference Twitter account is @ghc. Following @ghc connects you to the latest conference news. It is also the account to which you can direct GHC questions. (Make sure to include the conference hashtag in your tweet to @ghc. If someone else knows the answer, they may be able to respond before the official account can get a chance!) If the @ghc account is following you back, you can also address private messages by starting them with d ghc.


    Before, During, After, All Year Round!

    Session/Workshop Hashtags NEW!
    I've already mentioned using the #ghc10 hashtag, but new this year are session/workshop hashtags. When tweeting during and about session/workshops, include BOTH the #ghc10 hashtag and the corresponding session/workshop hashtag. This provides context for those following your tweets and people looking at the overall #ghc10 conference stream.

    Update Your Poken with you Twitter Details NEW!
    I just found out about this so excuse my uber excitement, but Pokens are available to all GHC attendees this year! They are FREE for students and $15 for non-students. (Seems reasonable to me!) You simply touch your Poken device to the Poken of the person you’re connecting with to exchange contact info. So make sure your Poken includes your Twitter details!

    Twitter Lists NEW!
    If there is anyone on these lists that is of particular interest to you, make sure to follow that person so they show up on your Twitter homepage.

    • @ghc/ghc10-attendees
      • This is where you can find all the #ghc10 attendees that are on Twitter. If you're attending GHC and would like to be added to the list, tweet or send a direct message with your request to the @ghc account.
    • @ghc/ghc10-speakers
      • A great list where you can find all the presenters from GHC10 that are on Twitter.
    • @ghc/communities-committee
      • See all the tweets from the members of the GHC Communities Committee.

    Networking Face-to-Face to Twitter (and Back!)
    Include your Twitter name on your conference badge, so the people you meet know they can connect with you online.

    If you pardon me jumping on a soap box a bit, Twitter is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE way to network. The nature of Twitter allows users to loosely stay connected. There is no need for the formal replies email, LinkedIn messages, and even Facebook messages require. Twitterers can choose which tweets to comment on. This leads to awesome scenarios such as receiving a solution from a contact I would not have even thought to ask as a result of tweeting a challenge I was facing. The other general benefit of being connected to your network by Twitter is best described by the video Twitter in Plain English.

    Do take advantage of (and feel completely free to!) follow people in the #ghc10 Twitter stream that are tweeting about things that interest you. The main chunk of my network from past GHC conferences was from connecting with the women on Twitter prior to the conference, briefly meeting them in person (if at all), and then getting to know them over the course of the year via Twitter! Now I look forward to meeting up with my tweeple in real life! :)


    RT – Abbreviation of the word retweet. Retweeting is the action of quoting another user’s tweet. You can either type in RT @username and copy/paste the message or use Twitter’s Retweet button. You would use the copy/paste method if you would like to add a comment.


    Hashtag – A hashtag is a word, phrase (no spaces), or abbreviation that is preceded by the pound (#) sign. It acts as a tag in your tweet.

    DM – Abbreviation for direct message. Direct messages are private messages. To send one, the recipient must be following your Twitter account. Precede your message with d username.


    Tweeple – What I like to call the folks I interact with on Twitter. :)

    Any suggestions or tweaks to my suggestions? Add your thoughts in the comments!

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Transportation while in Atlanta for GHC10

    Some more tips from your local chair.

    To and from the airport:
    The Hyatt and Marriott do NOT provide complimentary shuttle service to or from the airport.
    Marta is the public transportation rail line in Atlanta. There is a rail station at the airport which will take you to within a block of the Hyatt and Marriott hotels. It will run about $3-4 one way from the airport to the Peachtree Center location on the red line. The ride is close to 20 minutes.
    If you take a taxi, expect to pay around $30 for one way with extra charges for additional people.
    If you call the Hyatt, they will hire a car which runs about $40-50 one way.

    All the places I listed in a previous post for sightseeing were within walking distance of the hotels so you would not really need transportation.

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Places to Eat while at GHC10 from the local chair

    Well, eating at good places has always been an adventure when traveling. I got to thinking that some of you may want to know about restaurants in Atlanta while at the conference. So my first group of restaurants will be ones that I personally have visited in a random order.

    Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View on top of the Westin Peachtree Tower
    American, New American & Specialty Cuisine. The food and ambience are exceptional. Expensive. Reservations are required. 210 Peachtree Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30303-1704 (404) 589-7506

    Ted's Montana Grill on Luckie Street
    American & Buffalo Cuisine. I have never had a bad meal at this restaurant. Moderate. No reservations, but sometimes a wait. 133 Luckie St NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30303 (404) 521-9796

    Azio Downtown Downtown
    Italian Cuisine. I do have a weakness for pasta and this did fill the bill. Moderate. Walk-ins and reservations. 229 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303-1601 (404) 222-0808

    Max Lagers Woodfired Grille
    American, Continental, Brewpub Cuisine. Burgers and beer, great combination. Moderate. No reservations. 320 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30308-3210 (404) 525-4400

    Hsu's At Peachtree Center
    Asian, Chinese Cuisine. Everyone in the party enjoyed their meals. Moderate. Reservations recommended. 192 Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303-1712 (404) 659-2788

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Things to do in Atlanta when attending GHC10

    Enjoy a truly unique experience at World of Coca-Cola, a grand museum dedicated to the world’s most popular soft drink. Coca-Cola’s world headquarters is in Atlanta, so it ‘s fitting that there is a museum devoted exclusively to that sweet brown liquid in the bright red can. Along with decades of marketing imagery and product chronology, there are more interactive features such as the working soda fountain and Coke tastings. The exhibits take you on a truly magical tour telling the story of Coca-Cola’s evolution from nineteenth-century beginnings to its global expansion in over 200 countries around the world. World of Coca-Cola is adjacent to Underground Atlanta.

    A fun thing to do on a rainy or steamy day in Atlanta is to take a tour of CNN’s World Headquarters studios. You will get a behind-the-scenes peek at CNN’s off-camera persona, as well as that of some affiliate networks, such as Headline News. The brief but informative 50-minute guided tour will lead you through the studio trenches to show you what it takes to produce and maintain a world-renowned, live, 24-hour news channel. You’ll see a working newsroom, control room, learn the wonders of the teleprompter and meet Ted Turner himself—on video, of course.

    Underground Atlanta is a historic building containing five blocks of cobblestone streets home to a wide variety of shops, restaurants, bars and special events. There’s even a guided history tour that introduces tourists to the building’s past life, commonly unknown to locals. During the day, an assortment of street vendors and entertainment makes this a great place to bring the kids. When the sun goes down, Underground Atlanta heats up with live music, dancing and the usual after-midnight scene. No matter when you choose to go, there is always something to see.

    IMAGINE IT! - Children’s Museum
    A child’s heaven! Imagine It! is a place where kids can have fun and learn, without knowing they’re doing both. With everything at kid level, they can touch, explore, create and invent. For kids and adults, boredom is a foreign word. Along with special programs, the museum’s exhibits are innovative, interactive and educational. For those traveling with young children, this is a must-do experience.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    How to Make the Most of Facebook for Grace Hopper

    Those of you who have been to GHC know what a great opportunity it presents for networking - and those of you who haven't been before are soon to find out! Facebook is a great tool to help you make new connections and maintain them after the conference, so I wanted to share a few tips on using it to help you get the most out of this year's GHC.

    Setting up Your Facebook Account
    If you don't have a profile on Facebook, you can set one up by going to the site and signing up. If you have concerns about privacy, there are options on Facebook that let you secure your information. For example, I tend to keep my profile fairly locked down - I don't turn up in public searches and if you aren't my 'friend' on the site, you can't see any of the details of my profile, including photos, my wall, and videos I'm in. I don't list the year I was born or give out my specific address or phone number, either, and I'm pretty careful about who I add as a 'friend'. Facebook's Safety Center has more tips and advice on staying safe on the site.

    Just because you've locked down your profile doesn't mean you can't use Facebook to network, however! I'll mention several tips throughout the post, but one neat feature of the site I use is its 'lists' (Facebook has a useful FAQ with details on how to set them up and use them here). For example, you can set up a list called 'ghc10 attendees', and if/when you decide to connect with someone from the conference, you can add them to this list. This is useful for two reasons: first, you can keep track of where you met people and when you follow up with them after the conference, it will be easy to find them in your contact list. Second, you can restrict your profile for that list, so that you only reveal some of your personal information. That way you can maintain your privacy but still use the useful features of Facebook to keep in touch with your new GHC buddies.

    Before the Conference
    Before the conference you might not yet know any of the other attendees - but you can still interact with them (even without adding them as friends) by perusing our Grace Hopper Celebration page on Facebook and discussion boards. You'll find conversations on all sorts of topics, from introductions, to your favorite memories of the conference, to the very helpful rides & roommates discussion, which several attendees have successfully used already to find accommodations, roommates, and transportation for the conference! Finally, don't forget to RSVP to the GHC 2010 event on our Facebook page to let others know that you'll be attending!

    During the Conference
    During the conference is a great time to add your connections on Facebook. I found that you meet so many people it can be really overwhelming, so keeping up as it goes along is much easier than trying to do it all later, especially once you are back to your regular work/study schedule. When adding people, Facebook allows you to add a message to your invitation to connect. I strongly suggest adding a personalized message so they can easily remember who you are and the context they met you in - especially since they will likely receive a tonne of invitations during the conference! Something like "Hi ____, it was great meeting you at GHC today and chatting about our careers in networking. Let's keep in touch!"

    After the Conference
    Facebook provides several ways to keep in touch with your new-found connections. You can send private messages, write on your connections' walls, and of course keep posting on our Facebook group page! Keeping your profile updated can help you too - you never know when you might meet your connections again. I've found that several friends joined my company long after the conference was over - and since they updated their profiles I knew about it and was able to reconnect with them once they had arrived, which has been pretty cool!

    All Year Round
    Keep in mind that our GHC page and discussions are up long before the conference, and are useful for other things than just logistics. For example, for GHC 2008, I met several other female students from around the world on the GHC page. We discussed presentation ideas and put together a BOF that was eventually accepted for the conference! If you've got a cool idea for GHC, keep it in mind and feel free to share with us. You might just find some great co-presenters or get the perfect feedback to help make your proposal the best it can be!

    Do you have Facebook tips, advice, or recommendations? How have you used Facebook to aid in networking? We'd love to hear them, so feel free to share them in the comments below.

    You can learn more about other Grace Hopper communities on this blog all week, or by checking out the communities page on the Grace Hopper site!

    How to Make the Most of LinkedIn for Grace Hopper

    While Grace Hopper is a great technical conference, it is also a wonderful place to network and find jobs. When you're preparing for the conference, you should consider creating a LinkedIn profile or updating your existing one. LinkedIn is a great professional networking site, ripe with opportunities to reconnect to past colleagues and find new employment.

    Once your profile is created, you can join the Anita Borg Institute group and the Grace Hopper Celebration subgroup, where you can join the conversation that's already buzzing about the upcoming conference, start scanning job opportunities posted to the ABI group page, and making connections with the recruiters that will be coming to Grace Hopper this year.

    Setting up a basic profile in LinkedIn is pretty easy - the website will walk you through the steps, but if you want people to feel comfortable with you and start connecting, then you need to go beyond just the basics.

    LinkedIn is like an online resume, but unlike your resume you don't have to worry as much about going over one page. In addition to listing your past employers, fill in details about the work you did at each place. You should also fill in your education details, listing any activities you participated in at school, like ACM. LinkedIn will then allow you to find connections at your school and employers, which will help increase your network and exposure in the site.

    The more you personalize your page, the more it will look like it belongs to an actual human and people will be more willing to link with you. You can do this in several ways. I suggest adding a recent photograph, but make sure you look professional (pictures from spring break doing shots on the beach would probably not make the best first impression :). A summary, or bio, at the top is a quick way to let people know what you do and what type of technologies you're interested in.

    Find connections! LinkedIn makes searching for people you may know very easy, as it finds people who worked at the same employer at the same time, or attended the same University at the same time. Once you start making connections, you can go through your connections' connections to find more people you know, and request that they connect with you.

    Adding links to your personal website and blog, if you have them, is another great way to let people learn more about you without cluttering your page.

    One thing to keep in mind is that while LinkedIn is a great place to find a job, you should also keep your page updated even when you are not actively looking. You never know when you suddenly may need a new job, or when a great opportunity may find you through LinkedIn. Growing your network is valuable all year round!

    A word of caution: people generally don't like to see the generic spam from any social networking site when you load in your email address book. So, instead of doing that, send only specific, targeted invitations to people that have not yet joined that you want to connect with - and take time to explain why you want to connect.

    Once you have everything set up, join the conversation in the Grace Hopper Group!

    Any more LinkedIn tips or tricks? What have you done to grow your network?

    You can learn more about other Grace Hopper communities on this blog all week, or by checking out the communities page on the Grace Hopper site!

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    How to Make the Most of Flickr for Grace Hopper

    With the advent of digital cameras, we can all consider ourselves photographers. But what happens to the hundreds of photos you'll inevitably take at this year's Grace Hopper? Instead of letting them sit unopened on your hard drive, why not share them with fellow attendees and those who couldn't make it? The best place to do this is on Flickr!

    Each year, a new Grace Hopper group is set up on Flickr where attendees upload their favourite images. For instance, check out the groups from 2007, 2008, and 2009. There's even a group up there for 2010 already. I still enjoy opening up the group for a year I attended and letting the happy memories return. I think this pool of photos is also an excellent way to get first timers excited about the next conference.

    Here are a few how-to's to help you get started with Flickr.

    How to get an account on Flickr if you don't already have one:

    1. Go to
    2. Click on the "Create Your Own Account" button
    3. If you happen to already have a Yahoo! account, you can just enter that in the appropriate text boxes (Yahoo! ID and password); otherwise, click on "Sign up for Yahoo!"
    4. Fill in the info and click "Create My Account" and follow any remaining instructions.

    When you have a Flickr account, you can add photos to your own profile:

    1. After you log in, you will see a set of menu items along the top (Home, You, Organize & Create, etc).
    2. Click the little arrow beside "You" and click on "Upload Photos and Videos" near the bottom.
    3. Follow the instructions on the screen.
    4. Add titles, tags (e.g. ghc10 for Grace Hopper 2010), and (if you like) descriptions for the photos. These make it easier to organize and search your photos.
    5. Once your photos are uploaded you will see them when you click on "You" - clicking here brings you to your photostream, which is just a big long list of all your photos.
    6. You will probably want to organize your photos into sets (these are kind of like albums). Play around with the "Organize & Create" menu and be sure to consult the Flickr FAQ as needed.

    You can join and add photos to a group:

    1. First navigate to and join a Flickr group (for example, the GHC2010 group).
    2. Once you're in a group you can start participating in discussions.
    3. Above the photos showing on the group's home page is a title called "Group Pool" - this refers to the "pool" of photos members add to the group. You will add photos that are already on your own profile as if the group pool were just another set your photos can belong to.
    4. Beside Group Pool click "Add Something?"
    5. You can choose up to 6 photos from our photo stream to be added to the group pool. You can do this as often as you like.
    Link to or embed photos in other social media:

    Once you have your photos uploaded to your profile, you may want to share them on other social media sites or include them in blog posts.
    1. Navigate to the photo you want to share. You can do this by clicking on "You" at the top, then clicking on the photo of choice.
    2. If you want to share just the link (say, on Twitter), click on "Share", "Grab the link" and then copy the text.
    3. If you want to embed a photo like I did below, click "Grab the HTML", change the size if needed, and copy that text. You can paste it into any editor that lets you write code. For example, on Blogger, you can switch to "Edit HTML" and paste the code where you want the photo to appear. Your photo will even be linked back to the original Flickr page so people can see it big!
    Grace Hopper Celebration-9

    Happy photographing! You'll find more ways to share the Grace Hopper Celebration experience at GHC Community Home.

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