Weekly Round Up 3/9/18

 

 

At least they’re consistent.
Trump’s science and tech report focuses on deregulation

That’s because they have us beat in every other race.
The New U.S.-China Rivalry: A Technology Race


I’m gonna file this on under “DUH!”

Too Much Tech and Secrecy, Not Enough Leadership. Discuss.

 

Somewhere, there is a Russian troll reading this and thinking, “Please let Microsoft win! Please let Microsoft win!”
Pentagon kicks off a winner-take-all among tech companies for multibillion-dollar cloud-computing contract

 


See above…

Google tech used by Pentagon ‘to analyse drone videos’

 


Boy, this guy just doesn’t get it…

FBI chief asks tech industry to build crytpo-busting not-a-backdoor

Why can’t they use tech to make pizza that doesn’t suck?
How Domino’s is using tech to woo Millennials and beat rival Pizza Hut

 

Don’t laugh, it could easily be another story about tech addiction…
If You’re Reading This on Your Phone, You Probably Have Tech Neck

WIT: The Dangers of Keeping Women Out of Tech

 

 

By Mallory Pickett of WIRED.com

IN 1978 A young woman named Maria Klawe arrived at the University of Toronto to pursue a doctorate in computer science. She had never used a computer—much less written a line of code—but she had a PhD in math and a drive to succeed in a male-dominated field. She was so good that, nine months later, the university asked her to be a professor.

Today, however, computer science is one of the few STEM fields in which the number of women has been steadily decreasing since the ’80s. In the tech industry, women hold only around one-fifth of technical roles. In light of these stats, the prevailing view in Silicon Valley these days is “This is terrible, let’s fix it.”

In Southern California, Klawe has done what tech has not. For the past 11 years, she has served as the president of Harvey Mudd College­—a small liberal arts school in Claremont, California, known for its intensive STEM focus—where the number of women in its computer science program has grown from 10 percent to 40 percent. On the subject, she’s optimistic: Change is possible. Now it’s the industry’s turn—and it could take a lesson from Klawe.

When you meet with men in the tech industry, can you tell that some of them doubt women can succeed in technical work?
That they don’t think women are suited for this? Oh, yeah.

People say that?
I was yelled at by one CEO who said his company was bringing women into technical roles but that if he saw it get to 30 percent, he’d know their hiring process was really screwed up. So I asked if he knew that we’re graduating women in computer science at more than 40 percent. He just blew me off. And when I asked him why there are so few women on his leadership team, he just said, “Gender isn’t an issue for us.”

So what about those screwed-up hiring practices? How do they work?
Look at the interview process. If I’m interviewing somebody, I would probably say, “Oh, it’s so nice to see you, welcome to Harvey Mudd, we’re really delighted to have you here with us.” But it would be quite common for a tech company to start an interview without even saying good morning or good afternoon, just: “I want to know what you know about pointers in C++, so show me how to do that.” Very adversarial, bragging, trying to show how much smarter they are. There are some women who feel perfectly comfortable in those environments, but I would say for the most part they don’t. Also, that kind of environment is just obnoxious.

But that’s how so many companies conduct interviews. Google comes to mind.
Google has studied their interview process, and I’ve heard that it overpredicts success for men and underpredicts success for women. [Google disputes this.] They just haven’t changed much.

Should they change? Judging from how well these companies are doing, it seems like those methods work. I mean, Steve Jobs was apparently an asshole—
He was an asshole. I met him.

—and Amazon reportedly has a terrible work environment, yet these are successful companies.
Yep.

So why change just to be friendlier to women?
Google, Facebook, Microsoft—all these companies were successful because they figured out a new way to make money. Google monetized search through advertising, Facebook became an advertising platform, Microsoft created a dominant software platform. But it’s probably an error to associate their success with their managerial style or their culture.

Some would say those managerial styles and cultures are crucial, not coincidental.
Let’s go back to the first big tech companies, like IBM and HP. Both were highly inclusive, really worked on hiring and promoting women and people of color. In fact, virtually every woman or person of color who’s a leader in the tech industry today—who’s roughly my age, 66—came up through IBM or HP. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and all the people in that generation came along in the ’80s or late ’70s. This happened to be a time when girls and young women were being turned away from computers. Computers became a boys’ domain almost overnight.

How?
Women were once about a third, maybe 35 percent, of the computer science majors in this country. Part of that was—I mean, this sounds so ridiculous—but part of that was because women had better typing skills and were thought of as being more careful. In the ’70s women were majoring in computer science because it was something they were expected to be good at. Then we had personal computers entering homes and schools.
There are two kinds of things you can do on a PC as a child. One is word processing. Bo-ring! The other is playing games like Pong and Space Invaders—computational power at that time couldn’t do graphics more sophisticated than that. And who likes to play those kinds of games? Boys. So it’s not particularly surprising that very quickly boys took over.

Is there a business reason for getting back to a culture in which computers aren’t seen as a boy thing?
The reality is, if tech companies can’t persuade more women and people of color to major in computer science, they are not going to be able to fill the positions that they have. Everybody’s looking at the same talent. They absolutely know what it costs to recruit a single person, and they know that if their churn for employees is, say, every 13 months, that’s not a good business case for them.

 

So when you actually start to increase the enrollment of women in computer science programs, what happens?
Well, at pretty much every place—not just Mudd but Carnegie Mellon, MIT, University of Washington, UBC, Princeton—that has made a significant effort to recruit women into engineering and computer science, not only do the female students do as well, they also take on most of the leadership roles.

With that in mind, have you noticed a change on campus?
Huge. It’s more social, people are happier—it’s just a different vibe. Before, there was a very particular culture, which is fairly common, where computer science is the central focus in the lives of most of the students. They read Reddit and GitHub, they play a lot of videogames, they do hacking projects. There are still students like that, but there are also people who care more about ballroom dancing.

What’s so important about having ballroom dancers be computer scientists?
If computer science is going to affect every aspect of society—and it is—you really would like to have some dancers, and some artists, and some doctors able to work at the interface of computer science in their field. That’s where the demand will be. Having that breadth of knowledge means you have better teams working on projects.

Sure, but is teamwork as important as your ability to write good code?
These days, agile software development often relies on pair programming, where you have two people—a driver and a navigator. The driver codes, the navigator looks over their shoulder and asks questions, and they flip roles about once every half hour. The result is much higher quality software. There are fewer faults.

Yet women still feel unwelcome. What changes at Mudd addressed that?
One was to make the introductory computer science course less intimidating. If you emphasize needing a special kind of brain, students who are underrepresented will do much worse. But if you say this is a discipline that rewards hard work and persistence, everyone does better.

We also started emphasizing more practical applications in introductory classes. In the past we presented computer science as interesting just for its own structure. That was very effective at attracting white and Asian men to the discipline, but only a subset of them, and it was generally not effective for women or people of color. When you start to make the argument that computer science is worth studying because of the things you can do with it, you attract not only more women but also a lot of men who wouldn’t have been interested in the usual approaches.

If everyone knows it’s a good idea to be more inclusive, and everyone wants to support their female employees, why aren’t more companies doing it?
Because changing culture is hard. Every company has somewhat different attributes that make recruiting people and keeping people difficult. Apple is one company that I don’t think is particularly trying. They hired their first VP of diversity and inclusion, and that person stayed for less than a year.

Are some companies succeeding?
Etsy convinced people who weren’t in software development jobs to be trained for technical roles, and they managed to get to almost 30 percent female in their engineering population relatively quickly. Accenture is doing extremely well and came in at roughly 40 percent female in their hires last year.

How did they do that?
The executive in charge of hiring came to me for help. I said, first of all, change your job descriptions. Don’t just list the technical skills you’re looking for. List communication skills, creativity, and people skills, so women will know it’s a workplace that values those things and because those are traits women tend to have more confidence about.

Gender isn’t the only concern, of course. If the percentage of female technical employees is in the teens at many companies, black and brown employees are—
In the single digits! Like, one-handed digits.

What is Harvey Mudd doing about that?
The truth is we made very little progress on race until about five years ago.

What happened?
We had been running a program where we would bring in 35 to 40 high school students for a weekend, and it was primarily aimed at students of color and women. Five years ago, we doubled the program and did two cohorts instead of one. And I started reaching out to African American leaders across the country. We also did research on how to recruit more Hispanic students, and we learned Hispanic families want their kids to stay close to home. So we needed to focus on admitting students from schools in Southern California.

What would you say to schools that are not making these changes?
What’s facing us is a very, very different future. The haves will be the people who have the skills that are needed, and the have-nots will be the people whose skills are no longer needed—because of automation, because of AI, because of robotics. We don’t know how fast certain kinds of routine jobs will go away, but we do know it will put a further income gap between people who have that kind of education and knowledge and people who don’t. If there are not many women, or people of color, or older people, or low­-income people getting that technical education and those technical jobs, it’s going to further polarize the situation in the country. It’s a question of transforming our society so a large enough fraction of people have opportunities for productive work.

So the stakes are high.
We want the Earth to survive. It’s pretty straightforward.


Do you have a woman in tech you admire? Tell us about her in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 1/19/18

 

 


I love my Nook and my iPad for reading, nothing will ever beat the smell of a new book.

How Technology Is (and Isn’t) Changing Our Reading Habits

 


White Collar Automation for the win!!

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2018

 


They can’t stop the Government from deporting people who’ve been here for 30 years, but the Tech industry wants to focus on the spouses of the dreamers?

Tech Industry Urges U.S. to Keep Work Permits for H-1B Spouses.

 

Wait, what?
Microsoft tops Thomson Reuters top 100 global tech leaders list.

 

They’re gonna cure us of our iPhone addiction too…

‘Time well spent’ is shaping up to be tech’s next big debate.

 

They can’t agree on a budget and our kids are eating Tide Pods, but yeah, Washington is gonna close the digital divide.
Washington’s next big tech battle: closing the country’s digital divide.

 

 

Preach!!
Sundar Pichai Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Digital technology must empower workers, not alienate them.

 

 

A nice idea but, I draw the line at having to but my dog an iPhone.
Pet tech can entertain some 4-legged family members.

Weekly Round Up 1/12/18

 

 

Again?! Steve Jobs may have been a tyrant when it came to the details but, this sh*t rarely happened on his watch.

Yet another macOS High Sierra bug: Unlock App Store system preferences with any password.


With all the Technology surrounding these guys, you’d think they’d pay better attention to the world around them. I mean, I know they live in a bubble, but c’mon!
Data Sheet—Darkness Hits CES Amid the Tech Backlash.

 

And my hometown made the list! Charlotte NC for the win!
Tech’s New Hotbeds: Cities With Fastest Growth In STEM Jobs Are Far From Silicon Valley.

Wait, does this mean no more Jitterbug?!
Tech for the elderly is a growing area, but founders should think more about whether their gadget will be used.

 

I think Steve would be more worried about the lack of leadership in his company right now, actually.
The ‘father of the iPod’ says tech addiction would worry Steve Jobs if he were alive today.

 

What, bribes don’t work on Congress anymore? Since when?!
Tech executives join more than 100 business leaders calling on Congress to move quickly on DACA.

 

You know, when I was a kid, I remember my parents writing to Captain Kangaroo and asking him to cut his programming in half so I’d watch less. SMH
Kids and Smartphones: Should Tech Companies or Parents Set the Limits?

App of the Week: OmniGraffle

 

A refresh of the long-time Mac drawing app from the Omni Group now pulls in images and text from other apps.

By Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher of Apple Insider

Like its fellow Omni Group apps OmniFocus and OmniPlan, the drawing and charting software OmniGraffle 3.2 has been updated for iOS 11. All three now take advantage of the new operating system’s drag and drop features to change and improve how you work with the apps.

If you’re an AppleInsider reader, you’re already aware that The Omni Group’s software dates back to the dawn of the PowerPC era. More than 20 years later, the company is still updating its suite of software, with OmniGraffle getting a new iOS version for iOS 11.

It’s a drawing application but not for art or sketching. Rather, it’s for making illustrations specifically to explain things. So OmniGraffle is often used for organization charts or for floor plans. You can get very elaborate and detailed, so much so that app designers can mock up in OmniGraffle how their software will look.

OmniGraffle is also meant for just explaining things quickly so it has tools and features to make drawing fast. It’s also got an extremely dedicated following among its users who share and sell collections of templates called Stencils.

If you’ve used MacDraw II, or LucidChart, you’ve got a pretty good handle on what OmniGraffle can do for you. What it can do for you now with iOS 11 is speed up how you can compile a drawing from other people’s Stencils or your own previous documents.

 

This is done by iOS 11’s drag and drop. It’s the same new drag and drop that has been added to the OmniFocus To Do app where it’s made a significant improvement. It’s the same feature that’s been added to OmniPlan and fixed an issue there that’s been dogging that project management software from the start.

Drag and drop doesn’t make as big a change to OmniGraffle, though. It’s a nice addition and one that when you’ve tried it, you won’t want to go back yet it doesn’t dramatically transform the app.

There are three aspects to how OmniGraffle exploits this new feature. You can now drag items in to your drawing, for instance, and you can drag elements between your drawings. Say you’ve got a floor plan for your house and are now doing one for your office: that sofa shape you spent ages drawing would work fine as a couch in the office plan so you just drag it over.

Similarly, if you’re planning out a bigger office with lots of cubicles then you can just draw one and duplicate it.

In theory you can also drag cubicles or pot plants in your drawings out of OmniGraffle and into other apps but currently that’s limited by how many other apps support this feature. This has long been an issue with OmniGraffle and really all such drawing apps like Lucidchart and Microsoft Visio: the way they play with other apps. You can get drawings from any of them into the rest but typically with some difficulty and actually OmniGraffle’s drag and drop may ultimately improve that. Once other apps are also updated to accept dragged and dropped items.

These most common uses for OmniGraffle —the floor plans, charts and app design —all tend to be jobs where you will reuse elements over and over again. So while everyone will be different, the odds are that you’re most likely to drag elements from one OmniGraffle drawing to another and we can see you building up a library of often-used elements.

Dragging these around is quick and handy, but only once you know how. You could spend the next week stabbing wildly at buttons and options without discovering how to drag an item across multiple documents. That’s really an aspect of iOS 11, however: OmniGraffle uses the same multi-finger approach that the system does.

 

Press and hold on an item you want to drag and then with a different finger, tap at the button to take you out of the current OmniGraffle document. That’s a Library icon which needs finding: rather than to the top left of the screen, OmniGraffle places it in the middle and just to the left the document title.

When you’re back in the Document Picker, as the Omni Group calls it, you can tap to open any other drawing. So long as you’re still holding that element you’ve dragged from the first document, you can now drop it anywhere in the new.

Once it’s in that new drawing, though, you can use exactly the same technique to drag it between different layers of the document.

We keep saying that you’re dragging elements of a drawing around but those elements can be text as well as shapes or re-used templates. You can drag text in from OmniFocus or OmniPlan, for instance. That’s not going to save you a lot of time unless you’re dragging a lot of text but it could be a way to make sure you’re consistent across many documents.

It’s the same process for dragging text or graphics out of OmniGraffle into other apps. We had most success doing it with the app’s stablemates OmniPlan and OmniFocus but even that success was limited.

When we drag to OmniPlan, any text in the item we’re dragging goes into that project management app’s list of tasks and a bar appears representing it in the Gantt chart. When we dragged the same item into OmniFocus, it was entered as a new task called “PDF document.pdf” with an attachment of that name which has the graphic item in it.

You’re not going to do that. Maybe you’d drag the elements from an org chart over to OmniPlan so that you had every member of staff listed but that’s a stretch. Project plans tend to start with what needs to be done rather than who you’ve got to give work to. So really the dragging out of OmniGraffle won’t become hugely useful until other drawing apps adopt iOS 11’s new features too.

OmniGraffle aims to be a complete drawing package. It also aims to make it quick for you to create detailed and technical drawings. So the ability to quickly re-use elements fits in perfectly with that.

It’s not the kind of update that you go wow at or that you know you will rush to use. What is, though, is the kind of update you’ll become so accustomed to that previous versions will seem slow. OmniGraffle is all about making clear, professional drawings with speed and without fuss, however. So this is an update that makes good use of the new iOS 11 features.

OmniGraffle 3.2 for iOS has a free trial version on the App Store and then costs $49.99 for the Standard version. A Pro version is a further $4.99 upgrade or you can go straight from the trial to Pro for $99.99.

 

Do you have a favorite technical drawing rule? Tell us about it in the comments below!

WIT: Apple Included This One Feature Every Woman Should Know About

 

 

 

By LANI SEELINGER of Bustle.com

The new iPhone update is officially out, and say what you will about the new aesthetic features, there’s one feature that could potentially save lives. With the iOS 11, you can place an emergency SOS call from a locked iPhone, and really, this trick is something every woman should know about the new update.

In previous iPhone operating systems, you could call emergency services from a locked screen or by giving Siri the command “charge my phone 100 percent.” While those were effective ways to get yourself out of trouble in most cases, the former wouldn’t always work if the phone’s screen was broken, and the latter wasn’t very discreet.

Now, Apple has fixed both of those problems with this new update. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this feature, but if you should ever be in a tight spot when even speaking to your phone or bringing it out to look at would be dangerous, now you can just quickly press the sleep/wake button five times, and then it will automatically get you in touch with emergency services. If you’ve set an emergency contact in the phone, it will also alert that person that you’re in trouble and give them your location.

And just as an emergency feature should be, it’s incredibly easy to enable.

If you do want it to make a phone call automatically after you’ve pressed the sleep/wake button five times, you have to enable “Auto Call” in your settings. The automatic setting also comes with a protection against just accidentally calling 911 — pressing the button five times starts a three-second countdown, which comes with a countdown noise so you have a chance to cancel the call if you’ve triggered it accidentally. You can turn that countdown sound off in the settings, though. You might want that if you were in a circumstance where an iPhone sound could alert a potential criminal to your location — which, again, is hopefully a situation that you will never find yourself in.

There are a couple of limitations to the feature; for example, it only works in certain countries. If you’re not in the U..S, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain or the UK, then you’ll have to wait for a future update to take advantage of it. All things considered — including the large percentage of the world’s population in those countries — it’s not bad for a start.

While this update will make every iPhone user who has access to it just a little bit safer, it’s especially key for women, who are in many ways much more in danger of being targeted in their everyday lives than men. This could be an effective way to help women who find themselves facing intimate partner violence, a situation in which it’s easy to imagine that even the simple act of making a phone call could put the woman in far greater danger than if she were able to make the call more discreetly.

From a woman’s perspective, this is a big improvement over the days when Apple found itself in hot water for not including a menstrual cycle tracker in its health app update back in 2014. They did manage to fix that little bug back in 2015, this is another signal that Apple is really making a commitment to keeping women safe and healthy. Really the only thing you have to worry about here is activating the call without knowing it — but are you really in the habit of pressing the sleep/wake button five times without paying attention to it? This is a case where it’s definitely better safe than sorry.

Tell us your thoughts on this new personal safety feature in the comments below!

App of the Week: tbh

Download This: tbh App may have cracked anonymous apps’ bullying problem.

 

 

 

By Karissa Bell of Mashable

Another anonymous app is at the top of the App Store and it might be because it’s figured out anonymous apps’ biggest problem: bullying.

Called “tbh,” short for “to be honest,” the app takes an unconventional approach to anonymity. While it allows friends to anonymously communicate, it only allows users to exchange compliments, which are sent via in-app quizzes. 

The app, which is aimed at middle schoolers and high schoolers, connects to your address book so you can find people you know. It serves up a series of “polls” about your friends. The questions change but they are all positive, asking you to choose the “world’s best party planner,” or who is “too lit to be legit.”

The app keeps identities a secret, but users can see some details about who’s picked them (e.g. “a girl in the tenth grade”). It’s also borrowed some of the addictive dynamics of free-to-play games, though it doesn’t use in-app purchases at the moment.

 

If someone “chooses” you in a poll, you earn “gems,” which you can use to unlock more features within the app. You can only complete a set number of polls at a time and when you run out, you need to wait for a timer before you can take on more. 

That all may sound gimmicky, but it’s proven to be a winning formula with teens. The app, which is currently only available in a handful of states, has been steadily climbing the App Store charts since it launched in August. On Thursday, it reached the top spot, beating out Facebook, Snapchat, Gmail, and the other apps that typically sit at the top of the App Store.

Addicting Candy Crush-like rules aside, some of that success may also be attributed to tbh’s emphasis on positivity. There are only positive “polls” so users aren’t able to easily bully each other — a problem that’s plagued Sarahah and other teen-centric anonymous apps.

Whether that will be enough to make the app stick with image-obsessed teens is another matter. But it’s definitely off to a strong start.

Download tbh here

How do you feel about these types of Apps gaining popularity? Sound off in the comments below!

Women In Tech: 10 tips to reach the top

Lyft event: Things women should know about climbing tech’s career ladder

 

 

By LISA M. KRIEGER of MercuryNews

Decades after women began entering the tech workplace, relatively few have made it into corporate management.

What’s it take to reach the top? At a Monday night panel discussion at Lyft by its UpLyft Women employee group and organized by a San Francisco-based organization of  professional international women called The Expat Woman, leaders discussed their journeys to success in the tech industry, the gender gap in senior leadership roles and advice for women in ways to forge ahead in their fields.

What they said: Women need to get better with self-promotion and personal branding. They need to build strong networks outside their company, not just inside. They should seek out many mentors, not just one. Learn new skills. Enjoy risk. Setbacks? Failure? Bounce back.

The conversations steered clear of recent revelations about Uber detailed by Susan Fowler, a software engineer who exposed a culture of sexual harassment and sexism.

Rather, the leaders offered practical suggestions to young women in tech — a new pool of candidates who tend to be ethnically diverse and have grown up in a digital world. There is competition for these women as tech companies are under growing pressure to broaden and diversify their workforce.

Specifically, they offered this advice for how to rise through the ranks of technology firms:

• Be visible, said Nolwenn Godard, director of pricing product at Paypal  “Make sure strategic people know your impact, know your influence…And you need to be known outside your company, outside your immediate circle. This requires networking. Most of the opportunities will come from your network.”

• Mentors – keep it casual, said Anisha Mocherla of market operations at Lyft.  “Guys don’t have official mentors. They don’t ask: ‘Will you be my mentor?’ ” she said. “Just approach co-workers and say: ‘I’m thinking about this — what do you think?’… Don’t just have one mentor. Different people are good at different things — find them. Find multiple mentors for different topics.”

• Take risks, said Maire Sogabe, chief of staff to the chief security officer at PG&E.  “For instance, try to take the opportunity to manage people early in your career … and hone those skills. Be persistent — you may not always get the opportunity that is put forward. Sign up for (online) courses through Udemy or Coursera. Use that knowledge to reinvest in yourself and the brand that you want to be — not just what you are right now … Keep at it. You need to work at what you want to do and who you want to be.”

• A career is a jungle gym, not a ladder, said Yvonne Chen, head of marketing/senior director of marketing at Udemy for Business. “Think in terms of the long game — build a skill set. Not always is each step a step up,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a step to the side. But you’re learning something new or different.”

• Raise your hand, said Iliana Quinonez, director, solution engineering at Salesforce. “Women tend to be on the shy side. Don’t be,” she said. “Build your brand. If your boss has a project and is super overwhelmed, say: ‘I can help with that.’ Just go for it.”

• Build a three-minute elevator pitch — about you, said PGE’s Sogabe. “Say who you are, what you want and what you expect from your career. That’s key.”

• Communicate your business impact, said Paypal’s Godard. ” Women tend to receive less constructive feedback, are less exposed to ‘stretch opportunities’ and get fewer special assignments. Feedback tends to be less factual and more focused on communication styles.” To counter that, describe your results for the business.

• Volunteer. But only do things that add value to your own career, said Godard. “Don’t volunteer to take notes. Volunteer for something that is recognized,” she said.

• Compartmentalize, said Salesforce’s Quinonez. “Maybe you didn’t get the opportunity on this project. That doesn’t mean … there aren’t other projects,” she said.

• Pick the right partner, said PGE’s Sogabe. “I would never be able to devote myself to my career if my husband did not do the laundry, dishes and help out,” she said. “Find a real partner.”

 

Do you have any advice for other women looking to shatter the glass ceiling covering the Tech Industry? Give us your tips in the comments below!

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