Archive for May, 2012

Women don’t ask…or maybe we do….

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

There is always discussion online and offline about the lack of equality of women’s and men’s pay in the IT industry. Women often get paid significantly less (a quick google search will point you to endless articles on the topic) and many say that this is because women are poor negotiators in this space, or we under emphasize our skills and worth while men tend to over emphasize them. This is a stereotype that is now common, one that this brilliant critique of the book women don’t ask examines in detail.

I’ve never read the book but I have heard of it and been recommended to read it. I’m inclined to agree with the critique on a lot of levels. Firstly the research basis is somewhat flawed, especially when discussing the possible multiple interpretations of the word “negotiate”. I also think the premise is a little disturbing: by strongly arguing for the stereotype with little empirical evidence to base it on I think the authors are doing a disservice to women by suggesting a “character flaw” that possibly does not exist. I’m a believer that if you tell someone something enough times, they will believe it. We are told we (women) cannot negotiate so tell us enough times and we will never be able to improve on this (if it is actually a deficiency at all).

I agree with the comments on the article that we should spin this to be more positive, to empower women to ask for what they think they deserve, rather than enforcing even more negative stereotypes. Ask away!

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From me to you, happy Friday…

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I woke to this beautiful sweet rose on my bedside this morning, so fresh from the garden it still had raindrops on it. I appreciate the wonderful things in my life every single day, I hope you do too x

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Will you or won’t you Spotify?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

I heard Spotify was on its way to Australia. It launched in NZ days ago and it was reported as being well received. So I was surprised to see the headline accompanying its launch here as “artist anger as spotify launches in Australia” link. It seems the lesser known artists/musicians feel that the service doesn’t help them as much as it does the more mainstream well known artists and one complaint is that the tech gurus who created the service (one of who was the original creator of Napster, the first widely available file sharing service) are taking away money that is deservedly the theirs (musicians).

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Spotify makes money primarily from advertisements much like google. So every time a song is played via the service, Spotify makes money from advertisers. I don’t know if or how much money goes to the record labels at this point. Once users get sick of hearing ads during the songs they are playing, they can subscribe to a premium service minus the ads. I’m sure at this point the record labels get a cut, as do Spotify. How much of that money actually makes its way back to the artists through the record label food chain is one reasons musicians are not happy.

What I have to wonder though, is how similar this business model is to the pirate bay (which has been strangely inaccessible in oz in the past few days) and online communities sharing unauthorized music. People are still listening to music for free via Spotify as they would with TPB (I’m not sure how many will pay for a premo service), the act of listening to music for free is just now considered legit because a corporation (tech company, not music company) is taking money from advertisers and legitimizing the access to this music. The pirate bay does something similar, takes money from advertisers and provides music to users (albeit in a much less user friendly playable format).

The main difference is, how much goes to record labels? The comments from musicians in this article suggest very little is going there. I need to investigate to find out more. But food for thought!

Are you a man or a man-shaped animal?

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

I started my Monday morning reading this post via the systers mailing list about a recent Dell conference in Copenhagen. In the long time past I would have been appalled, but now I’m just embarrassed for the company, the women who work there under this kind of controversy, and the men who work there who really are MEN.

I picked up the title of the post from the article and I like it. As some commenters on the blog pointed out, reasonable men would not behave in this pack mentality reinforcing us and them. Many of the men I work with in the tech industry are very supportive of women and they understand the importance of having diversity in all aspects of technology development (this view is not just about having more women in tech, but increasing representation of other minorities and important groups often overlooked also (indigenous, elderly etc)). In my opinion, the “men” who agree with the comments made by the speaker have a twisted view of reality and are not men at all, but men-shaped animals (with very little resemblance to being useful members of the technology industry and society in general). Do not be confused, this behaviour led by a worldwide leading technology company is APPALLING! Dell should be ashamed and they deserve the backlash they get from this.

We have seen similar scenarios from yahoo and a host of other big tech companies, when will it stop? I certainly don’t enjoy “man bashing” (or man shaped animal bashing to keep consistent) but people and companies like this deserve to be exposed for their archaic, out of touch and discriminatory views. It is difficult enough being in a minority in your workplace and industry as a woman, without these further ridiculous views. I’m do not consider myself a feminist, but I do believe in equality for men and women, and I’m just glad I wasn’t one of the few women in the room when this took place.

Oh well, another reason for me not to buy a Dell in future 🙂

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Link source

UPDATE: I’ve been pulled up on my comment that I’m not a feminist, because according to the definition, I am (someone who believes in equal rights for men and women). But I’ve disliked the word since a male colleague called me “a feminist” many years ago, and he said it to me with a kind of distaste in his mouth, suggesting a negative perception of my values because he saw my views as being anti-male and pro female superiority. I’m definitely not either of those things. I hate meaningless labels that then get morphed by particular interests in society (piracy is another example of this). My other problem with the term is, doesn’t everyone (or almost in western societies) agree in equality for men and women? Maybe this is shortsighted and naive of me to think this, but this view reflects the majority of behaviour that I see even as one of the few women working in the IT industry. I realise there is a need for “feminism” because we haven’t always been so fortunate (women) and of course we still have a long way to go in terms of equal pay etc. but how about we just be positive and passionate members of society and be the best people we can be. If part of that means mentoring and empowering others (particularly women) then I’m all for that as part of my everyday.

Oh and there has been an “apology”from Dell. Falls short of anything useful to counteract the damage they have done though.

Mac attack!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Are you a PC or a Mac?

I’m a long time proud Mac! So I thought the new skin for my blog is appropriate for this post. It looks like the first Mac I used back in high school. Good memories!

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, and I hope my advice reaches you in time!

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It’s a falsely held belief that Macs don’t get viruses. Until now this was somewhat true but not because of any technical superiority of the Mac. It was just not worth it for virus writer to target the small number of Mac users for a very long time (there is an interesting discussion here). This has now changed with the growing popularity of Macs.

So….my Mac started behaving badly recently, excel wouldn’t open, the word ribbon would not appear, I had printing problems and I was getting regularly bumped off my home network. Frustrating! It took me a bit to consider a virus as the problem so I started googling and I found and downloaded the free sophos anti virus for Macs.

Link to Sophos

I was somewhat surprised it found 22 viruses! At least I had an answer for why my Mac was misbehaving, but after quarantining and deleting the infected files, I had to work out how to repair the damage the virus caused. I reinstalled office and I still had the same problems. So I deleted every single inkling of office (I found a great blog post with instructions on deleting preference files etc.) and reinstalled it, which fixed my office errors to my excitement!

I’m less happy to report that my network problems persist, I need to manually reconnect regularly during the day. So the problem I now face is do I reformat my Mac, or buy a new one? Of course I have a backup (if you don’t, do it NOW!) but I’m wondering if my backup also has a virus? I hope not! I better scan it.

My Mac is 6 years old so maybe it’s time for an upgrade. I am well and truly out of hard drivespace. My Mac actually died six months ago, six months out of warranty, and Apple kindly replaced the logic board ($1200 value!) because I hadn’t claimed on my warranty and I bought the apple protection plan. I was impressed with that! While I decide, I’ll keep an eye on macrumours to see what the new soon to be released macbookpro model looks like…