Thu, 1970-01-01 00:00

Week 2: “How Do I Start A Business When I Don’t Have Any Time?”

Erica Douglass - Mon, 2015-01-26 22:54

No time to start a business It’s week 2 of my adventure in 2015 to start a business. I started out last week not knowing what kind of business I wanted to start. This week, I’m taking an introspective look at another common issue people have when they want to start a business–and one that plagues me as well! It’s all about the feeling of not having enough time to start a business.

Technically, I work part-time right now; I’m wrapping up a 3-month consulting gig with Help.com, building their launch plan, website copy, an ebook, and more. (My work will be live on Help.com soon!)

But, when you factor in my coworking space, this blog, finishing taxes and other miscellany of my business that failed/got acquired last year, and helping my boyfriend (who is also an entrepreneur) with his business, the hours I spend working pretty quickly ramp up to full-time.

So I’ve been exploring: How do you build a business when there are so many other things that compete for your time?

Most “Productivity Systems” Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.

And, after months of considering this and testing various “productivity systems”, I’ve come to a pretty simple conclusion. You do one thing every day that moves your business forward–and you don’t let anything stand in the way of getting that one thing done.

This doesn’t mean you don’t take any days off. Feel free to take a day off here or there. In fact, it looks an awful lot like the thing you do to get in shape, or to accomplish any other goal you have set for yourself. Want to get healthier? Walk 10 minutes a day. That’s it. (I often do this if I have to be on a conference call–I think best when I’m pacing, anyway, so it’s a good way to get my exercise.)

The same goes for your business. Want to start a business? Do one thing every day toward making that a reality. Have no idea what you want to start? Your one thing today may be going out to lunch with a local business owner and asking him or her what problems he or she faces–in business or in personal life!

Getting Coaching and Help: Surprisingly Valuable?

Or it could be taking a free, intro “deep coaching” call with a business coach. In this vein, I recently decided to do something that I felt was a bit risky: I asked my friend Rich Litvin to connect me with some of the best coaches he knows so I could do an introductory coaching call with all of them. It felt risky because I know how much coaches charge, and I’m unsure whether I want to commit to spending a lot of money on a coach. But then I thought, how could I ask people to spend money on me as a coach, as I did last year, if I don’t feel comfortable spending a similar amount?

So, between Rich’s intros and reaching out to friends of mine who are professional coaches, I put six in-depth intro calls on my calendar in just two weeks. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have a call with a new coach.

The second coach I met with, John P. Morgan, when I told him about this, had one thing to say: “Wow! This is going to be a life-changing two weeks for you!” And now, about halfway through it, I’d have to agree.

I love that Rich introduced me to people who span the gamut of coaching, from people who’ve run successful businesses to executive coaches to artists like Allison Crow Flanigin, who is a painter and encouraged me to get in touch with my creative side and to bring more “me” into the world. I sort of feel silly saying this after I’ve already hung my shingle out as a coach and had paying clients, but I really get the value of coaching as a business leader now.

I’m glad I overcame my fear around this. At some point, I’ll hire a coach. Why? Because I’ll find the person or people who can propel me forward such that the coaching fee looks like peanuts compared to the value they provide. And if that sentence makes no sense to you, I strongly encourage you to do the same thing I did and schedule intro “deep sessions” with coaches until you find one or more of them who really opens you up and gets you going–and you realize that your creative efforts will be multiplied by hiring them. Honestly, all of the coaches I’ve worked with so far fit in that category. And if the money is a stretch, bring that into your coaching call. Work on creating enough value in the world that the money won’t be a stretch.

I probably sound like I’m writing a sales pitch for my own coaching here, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I coached full-time for a few months in 2014, and although I’d be happy to take a really special, rock star client here or there, it’s not my path to coach full-time. It’s my path to use what I learn from being a coach and apply that to a larger, wider audience: you!

Are You Really “Too Busy”?

One point of clarity that has come up for me through these coaching calls is that I’d like to create a product in 2015. What I want to create isn’t totally clear yet, but I want to work on something around teaching ADHD, super creative people how to get stuff done and launch something out in the world. Obviously that’s something I’m still working on doing myself this year!

Side note: It will be a great sales pitch–I chuckle every time I think about this. “Well, Erica,” some smartass will invariably say, “How do I know your course on Getting Sh*t Done for Highly Creative People will actually work for me?” And I will get the trump card of replying, “Because it exists! Yes, because I used the principles in the course to make the course itself!” Yes, the ultimate smartass comeback. This is what I think about at 1AM when I’m awake in my bed and my brain won’t shut off…comebacks to objections that don’t yet exist about a product that doesn’t yet exist. :)

This year is so exciting for me because it’s all about wiping the slate clean of all those objections. You know, the ones that pop up in your head. “I don’t know what I want to do yet.” Be like me and start blogging about it before you do know what you want to do. Is that scary? Heck yes, it’s scary!

“I’m too busy to start a successful business.” Good! Do one thing every day toward that. And I encourage you to get out of the building with that one thing. Meet with people. Talk with mentors. Have a coffee with a CEO or a small business owner or an investor. Email a question to someone you don’t think will answer. And don’t be attached to anything. You don’t have to “start a startup.” You don’t have to “build a business.” You just have to be you. That’s fun–and that’s what I’m having fun exploring this year, too.

See you next week!

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The post Week 2: “How Do I Start A Business When I Don’t Have Any Time?” appeared first on Starting Your Own Business with Erica Douglass.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Remembering Eric P. Scott (eps)

Elizabeth Krumbach - Sat, 2015-01-24 20:10

Last night I learned the worst kind of news, my friend and valuable member of the Linux community here in San Francisco, Eric P. Scott (eps) recently passed away.

In an excerpt from a post by Chaz Boston Baden, he cites the news from Ron Hipschman:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but It is my sad duty to inform you that Eric passed away sometime in the last week or so. After a period of not hearing from Eric by phone or by email, Karil Daniels (another friend) and I became concerned that something might be more serious than a lost phone or a trip to a convention, so I called his property manager and we met at Eric’s place Friday night. Unfortunately, the worst possible reason for his lack of communication was what we found. According to the medical examiner, he apparently died in his sleep peacefully (he was in bed). Eric had been battling a heart condition. We may learn more next week when they do an examination.

He was a good friend, the kind who was hugely supportive of any local events I had concocted for the Ubuntu California community, but as a friend he was also the thoughtful kind of man who would spontaneously give me thoughtful gifts. Sometimes they were related to an idea he had for promoting Ubuntu, like a new kind of candy we could use for our candy dishes at the Southern California Linux Expo, a toy penguin we could use at booths or a foldable origami-like street car he thought we could use as inspiration for something similar as a giveaway to promote the latest animal associated with an Ubuntu LTS release.

He also went beyond having ideas and we spent time together several times scouring local shops for giveaway booth candy, and once meeting at Costco to buy cookies and chips in bulk for an Ubuntu release party last spring, which he then helped me cart home on a bus! Sometimes after the monthly Ubuntu Hours, which he almost always attended, we’d go out to explore options for candy to include at booth events, with the amusing idea he also came up with: candy dishes that came together to form the Ubuntu logo.

In 2012 we filled the dishes with M&Ms:

The next year we became more germ conscious and he suggested we go with individually wrapped candies, searching the city for ones that would taste good and not too expensive. Plus, he found a California-shaped bowl which fit into our Ubuntu California astonishingly theme well!

He also helped with Partimus, often coming out to hardware triage and installfests we’d have at the schools.


At a Partimus-supported school, back row, middle

As a friend, he was also always welcome to share his knowledge with others. Upon learning that I don’t cook, he gave me advice on some quick and easy things I could do at home, which culminated in the gift of a plastic container built for cooking pasta in the microwave. Skeptical of all things microwave, it’s actually something I now use routinely when I’m eating alone, I even happened to use it last night before learning of his passing.

He was a rail fan and advocate for public transportation, so I could always count on him for the latest transit news, or just a pure geek out about trains in general, which often happened with other rail fans at our regular Bay Area Debian dinners. He had also racked up the miles on his favorite airline alliance, so there were plenty of air geek conversations around ticket prices, destinations and loyalty programs. And though I haven’t really connected with the local science fiction community here in San Francisco (so many hobbies, so little time!), we definitely shared a passion for scifi too.

This is a hard and shocking loss for me. I will deeply miss his friendship and support.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Stress, flu, Walt’s Trains and a scrap book

Elizabeth Krumbach - Tue, 2015-01-20 02:07

I’ve spent this month at home. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty stressed out. Now that I’m finally home I have a ton to catch up on here, I’m getting back into the swing of things with the pure technical (not event, travel, talk) part of my day job and and have my book to work on. I know I haven’t backed off enough from projects I’m part of, even though I’ve made serious efforts to move away from a few leadership roles in 2014, so keeping up with everything remains challenging. Event-wise, I’ve managed to arrange my schedule so I only have 4 trips during this half of the year (down from 5, thanks to retracting a submission to one domestic conference), and 1-3 major local events that I’m either speaking at or hosting. It still feels like too much.

Perhaps adding to my stress was the complete loss of 5 days last week to the flu. I had some sniffles and cough on Friday morning, which quickly turned into a fever that sent me to bed as soon as I wrapped up work in the early evening. Saturday through most of Tuesday are a bit of a blur, I attempted to get some things done but honestly should have just stayed in bed and not tried to work on anything, because nothing I did was useful and actually made it more difficult to pick up where I left off come late Tuesday and into Wednesday. I always forget how truly miserable having the flu is, sleep is the only escape, even something as mind-numbing as TV isn’t easy as everything hurts. However, kitty snuggles are always wonderful.

Sickness aside, strict adherence to taking Saturdays off has helped my stress. I really look forward to my Saturdays when I can relax for a bit, read, watch TV, play video games, visit an exhibit at a museum or make progress in learning how to draw. I’m finally at the point where I no longer feel guilty for taking this time, and it’s pretty refreshing to simply ignore all email and social media for a day, even if I do have the impulse to check both. It turns out it’s not so bad to disconnect for a weekend day, and I come back somewhat refreshed on Sunday. It ultimately does make me more productive during the rest of the week too, and less likely to just check out in the middle of the week in a guiltful and poorly-timed evening of pizza, beer and television.

This Saturday MJ and I enjoyed All Aboard: A Celebration of Walt’s Trains exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum. It was a fantastic exhibit. I’m a total sucker for the entrepreneurial American story of Walt Disney and I love trains, so the mix of the two was really inspiring. This is particularly true as I find my own hobbies being as work-like and passion-driven as my actual work. Walt’s love of trains and creation of a train at his family home in order to have a hobby outside work led to trains at Disney parks around the world. So cool.

No photos are allowed in the exhibit, but I did take some time around the buildings to capture some signs and the beautiful day in the Presidio: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157650347931082/

One evening over these past few weeks took time to put together a scrap book, which I’d been joking about for years (“ticket stub? I’ll keep it for my scrap book!”). Several months ago I dug through drawers and things to find all my “scrap book things” and put them into a bag, collecting everything from said ticket stubs to conference badges from the past 5 years. I finally swung by a craft store recently and picked up some rubber cement, good clear tape and an empty book made for the purpose. Armed with these tools, I spent about 3 hours gluing and taping things into the book one evening after work. The result is a mess, not at all beautiful, but one that I appreciate now that it exists.

I mentioned in my last “life” blog post that I was finishing a services migration from one of my old servers. That’s now done, I shut off my old VPS yesterday. It was pretty sad when I realized I’d been using that VPS for 7 years when the level plan I had offered a mere 360M of RAM (up to 2G now), I had gotten kind of attached! But that faded today when I did an upgrade on my new server and realized how much faster it is. On to bigger and better things! In other computer news, I’m really pushing hard on promoting the upcoming Ubuntu Global Jam here in the city and spent Wednesday evening of this week hosting a small Ubuntu Hour, thankful that it was the only event of the evening as I continued to need rest post-flu.

Today is a Monday, but a holiday in the US. I spent it catching up with work for Partimus in the morning, Ubuntu in the afternoon and this evening I’m currently avoiding doing more work around the house by writing this blog post. I’m happy to say that we did get some tricky light bulbs replaced and whipped out the wood glue in an attempt to give some repair love to the bathroom cabinet. Now off to do some laundry and cat-themed chores before spending a bit more time on my book.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

San Francisco Ubuntu Global Jam at Gandi.net on Sunday February 8th

Elizabeth Krumbach - Mon, 2015-01-19 23:00

For years Gandi.net has been a strong supporter of Open Source communities and non-profits. From their early support of Debian to their current support of Ubuntu via discounts to Ubuntu Members they’ve been directly supportive of projects I’m passionate about. I was delighted when I heard they had opened an office in my own city of San Francisco, and they’ve generously offered to host the next Ubuntu Global Jam for the Ubuntu California team right here at their office in the city.

Gandi.net

+

Ubuntu

=

Jam for days
Jam!

What’s an Ubuntu Global Jam? From the FAQ on the wiki:

A world-wide online and face-to-face event to get people together to work on Ubuntu projects – we want to get as many people online working on things, having a great time doing so, and putting their brick in the wall for free software as possible. This is not only a great opportunity to really help Ubuntu, but to also get together with other Ubuntu fans to make a difference together, either via your LoCo team, your LUG, other free software group, or just getting people together in your house/apartment to work on Ubuntu projects and have a great time.

The event will take place on Sunday, February 8th from noon – 5PM at the Gandi offices on 2nd street, just south of Mission.

Community members will gather to do some Quality Assurance testing on Xubuntu ISOs and packages for the upcoming release, Vivid Vervet, using the trackers built for this purpose. We’re focusing on Xubuntu because that’s the project I volunteer with and I can help put us into contact with the developers as we test the ISOs and submit bugs. The ISO tracker and package tracker used for Xubuntu are used for all recognized flavors of Ubuntu, so what you learn from this event will transfer into testing for Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME and all the rest.

No experience with Testing or Quality Assurance is required and Quality Assurance is not as boring as it sounds, honest :) Plus, one of the best things about doing testing on your hardware is that your bugs are found and submitted prior to release, increasing the chances significantly that any bugs that exist with your hardware are fixed prior to release!

The event will begin with a presentation that gives a tour of how manual testing is done on Ubuntu releases. From there we’ll be able to do Live Testing, Package Testing and Installation testing as we please, working together as we confirm bugs and when we get stuck. Installation Testing is the only one that requires you to make any changes to the laptop you bring along, so feel free to bring along one you can do Live and Package testing on if you’re not able to do installations on your hardware.

I’ll also have the following two laptops for folks to do testing on if they aren’t able to bring along a laptop:

I’ll also be bringing along DVDs and USB sticks with the latest daily builds for tests to be done and some notes about how to go about submitting bugs.

Please RSVP here (full address also available at this link):

http://loco.ubuntu.com/events/ubuntu-california/2984-ubuntu-california-san-francisco-qa-jam/

Or email me at lyz@ubuntu.com if you’re interested in attending and have trouble with or don’t wish to RSVP through the site. Also please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in helping out (it’s ok if you don’t know about QA, I need logistical and promotional help too!).

Food and drinks will be provided, the current menu is a platter of sandwiches and some pizzas, so please let me know if you have dietary restrictions so we can place orders accordingly. I’d hate to exclude folks because of our menu, so I’m happy to accommodate vegan, gluten free, whatever you need, I just need to know :)

Finally, giveaways of Ubuntu stickers and pens for everyone and a couple Ubuntu books (hopefully signed by the authors!) will also be available to a few select attendees.

Somewhere other than San Francisco and interested in hosting or attending an event? The Ubuntu Global Jam is an international event with teams focusing on a variety of topics, details at: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuGlobalJam. Events currently planned for this Jam can be found via this link: http://loco.ubuntu.com/events/global/2967/

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

“What Kind of Business Should I Start?” A Surprising Answer from A Successful Entrepreneur

Erica Douglass - Mon, 2015-01-19 21:10

What kind of business to start I often get asked what you might think is a simple question: “What kind of business should I start?”

For the first time in many years, I find myself in the same boat as the folks who ask me that question. I (surprisingly) don’t have a concrete answer to this question for myself right now–but, as I’ll show you in this post, I have a way to figure it out.

After I sold my software company last year, I did a ton of soul-searching. I coached other successful entrepreneurs, and ended 2014 by taking a 3-month, part-time marketing consulting gig for Help.com, a funded software startup. I’m helping them launch a successful software product into the world while I figure out what kind of business I’d like to start.

Is Starting a Business Right For You?

The first question you have to answer for yourself is deciding whether you really want to start a business, or if you’re more interested in the idea of running a business than the actual daily grind of doing so. You have nothing to lose here–be honest!

The truth is, there are many more profitable routes (especially when you take into account short-term profitability.) I make more money now as a consultant and coach than I did when I was running my software company–and that’s not unusual for strong consultants with an in-demand skillset.

Realistically, if I were only looking at the money side of it, I could easily fulfill all my financial obligations and then some by continuing to do coaching and marketing consulting. I also enjoy what I do–as an early-stage startup consultant, I get to do everything from coding a front-end website to writing blog posts to coaching CEOs to writing marketing copy. I have a unique and interesting skillset that’s in high demand. So why not just do that for a while?

My problem seems to be one that plagues many of my readers, and might sound familiar to you as well: I just don’t enjoy working for other people as much as I enjoy working for myself.

I’m now in my mid-thirties and have started, run, and sold several companies, so I no longer fear diving off a cliff and starting a new business. What’s holding me back right now, though, is that I’m not sure what kind of business I want to start.

That’s why I figured I’d open it up here on my blog.

Stepping Up to The Plate with Personal Transparency

I’ve long been a fan of personal and professional transparency, as espoused by people like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas with their monthly income reports, and Buffer with their vow of complete transparency with their company. More recently, Dan Norris has come onto the scene doing some great income reports and open transparency on his blog.

I like all of these folks, and their respective companies–but I think it’s time for some other people to step up to the plate in this area, particularly more women. And I know that if I feel that way, I need to take the lead and make this happen! So this year is the year where I become more transparent on my blog about what’s going on with my businesses–even if, like you, I don’t always know exactly where I’m headed.

“So How Do You Decide What Business to Start?”

My first step is to take stock of who I am and where I stand right now. If you’re in the same boat I am, give this a shot as well! What are your strengths and weaknesses? Be honest with yourself.

Here’s where I stand:

  1. I want to build a software company, or something that has software as a significant component. I love to code. I’ve been building websites from scratch since 1996 and I still love doing it, 19 years later (wow! 19 years!)
  2. I have a large, overarching goal of building a university. In the interest of full transparency, I don’t think of “building a university” in the typical sense of a giant campus with towering buildings, dorm rooms, and beautiful open spaces. I think of it more as a platform that teaches hyperactive ADHD folks like me how to learn.

    I find startups in this space like Coach.me interesting in that sense–a mobile app where you “check in” to your goals every day and can hire coaches to help you. That’s something in the general space of what I’d like to build when I say “I want to build a university.”

  3. I’d like to start a podcast, but I don’t want to take on too many things at once.
  4. I’m determined to get back into blogging. I’ve realized that to do so, I have to make specific time for it every week. It’s the difference between saying “I’d like to do some yoga” and actually going to classes a few times a week. Blogging takes discipline and focus–two mental muscles I need to build right now, if I want to start another company.
  5. I want to build a profitable company. I definitely feel at odds with the whole “seed funding” mentality. I’m not saying getting funding is wrong for everyone–just that my personal preference in building businesses is to take something that has a small up-front monetary investment and turn it into a profitable cash cow, month after month. That’s who I am and what I do–and that’s what I intend to do in 2015.

Looking at all this, one thing is clear: I don’t yet know exactly what I want to build. This is the point where a lot of people stop–they don’t know exactly what they want to do, so they don’t take action.

Yet, I know a profitable business will only be found by going out there and building something. I’m also excited to blog the entire process, because it will be so illuminating to those of you who really want to become an entrepreneur, but–like me right now–don’t know exactly what you want to do.

The Scary Part: Making A Commitment

My commitment to you is: Every week, I’ll blog here about my progress. If I fall flat on my face, I’ll blog that. If I didn’t do crap for the past week, I’ll write about that. If I end up building something that has nothing to do with software or building a university, but it’s still profitable and works, I’ll share all the details about that!

And, if for some reason, I don’t blog one week, well, I’ll pick it up again the next week. I will fail as I go along. I understand my weaknesses (focus and commitment) and my strengths (a strange and exciting combination–I equally love to code and write copy!)

It’s my hope that, in a year, I can come back here and read at least 50 posts about how I built a business that makes money, is profitable, and is growing. Failing that, I can at least read 50 posts about how I tried–how I found out, week by week, what worked and what didn’t work in going from “I have a vague idea of what I want to build” to actually building a business that makes money.

And, with those 50+ posts, I’ll be able to answer one huge question that hundreds of people have asked me: What kind of business should I start?

I’m right where you are. Stay tuned (and join my email list, below) if you’d like to have some input into where I’m headed in 2015. I welcome your feedback.

Here’s to a very interesting 2015!

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The post “What Kind of Business Should I Start?” A Surprising Answer from A Successful Entrepreneur appeared first on Starting Your Own Business with Erica Douglass.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Another stick figure in peril

Akkana Peck - Sun, 2015-01-18 17:19

One of my favorite categories of funny sign: "Stick figures in peril". This one was on one of those automated gates, where you type in a code and it rolls aside, and on the way out it automatically senses your car.

[Moving gate can cause serious injury or death]

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Last chance to celebrate KDE 2014 fundraiser

Valorie Zimmerman 2 - Thu, 2015-01-15 09:29
Today is your last chance to get a KDE-branded exclusive postcards! Donate at the KDE End of Year 2014 Fundraising.

https://www.kde.org/fundraisers/yearend2014/

They are beautiful!
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Accessing image metadata: storing tags inside the image file

Akkana Peck - Thu, 2015-01-08 17:28

A recent Slashdot discussion on image tagging and organization a while back got me thinking about putting image tags inside each image, in its metadata.

Currently, I use my MetaPho image tagger to update a file named Tags in the same directory as the images I'm tagging. Then I have a script called fotogr that searches for combinations of tags in these Tags files.

That works fine. But I have occasionally wondered if I should also be saving tags inside the images themselves, in case I ever want compatibility with other programs. I decided I should at least figure out how that would work, in case I want to add it to MetaPho.

I thought it would be simple -- add some sort of key in the images's EXIF tags. But no -- EXIF has no provision for tags or keywords. But JPEG (and some other formats) supports lots of tags besides EXIF. Was it one of the XMP tags?

Web searching only increased my confusion; it seems that there is no standard for this, but there have been lots of pseudo-standards over the years. It's not clear what tag most programs read, but my impression is that the most common is the "Keywords" IPTC tag.

Okay. So how would I read or change that from a Python program?

Lots of Python libraries can read EXIF tags, including Python's own PIL library -- I even wrote a few years ago about reading EXIF from PIL. But writing it is another story.

Nearly everybody points to pyexiv2, a fairly mature library that even has a well-written pyexiv2 tutorial. Great! The only problem with it is that the pyexiv2 front page has a big red Deprecation warning saying that it's being replaced by GExiv2. With a link that goes to a nonexistent page; and Debian doesn't seem to have a package for GExiv2, nor could I find a tutorial on it anywhere.

Sigh. I have to say that pyexiv2 sounds like a much better bet for now even if it is supposedly deprecated.

Following the tutorial, I was able to whip up a little proof of concept that can look for an IPTC Keywords tag in an existing image, print out its value, add new tags to it and write it back to the file. import sys import pyexiv2 if len(sys.argv) < 2: print "Usage:", sys.argv[0], "imagename.jpg [tag ...]" sys.exit(1) metadata = pyexiv2.ImageMetadata(sys.argv[1]) metadata.read() newkeywords = sys.argv[2:] keyword_tag = 'Iptc.Application2.Keywords' if keyword_tag in metadata.iptc_keys: tag = metadata[keyword_tag] oldkeywords = tag.value print "Existing keywords:", oldkeywords if not newkeywords: sys.exit(0) for newkey in newkeywords: oldkeywords.append(newkey) tag.value = oldkeywords else: print "No IPTC keywords set yet" if not newkeywords: sys.exit(0) metadata[keyword_tag] = pyexiv2.IptcTag(keyword_tag, newkeywords) tag = metadata[keyword_tag] print "New keywords:", tag.value metadata.write()

Does that mean I'm immediately adding it to MetaPho? No. To be honest, I'm not sure I care very much, since I don't have any other software that uses that IPTC field and no other MetaPho user has ever asked for it. But it's nice to know that if I ever have a reason to add it, I can.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Collaborative innovation in the public service: Game of Thrones style

Pia Waugh - Sun, 2015-01-04 05:06

I recently gave a speech about “collaborative innovation” in the public service, and I thought I’d post it here for those interested :)

The short version was that governments everywhere, or more specifically, public services everywhere are unlikely to get more money to do the same work, and are struggling to deliver and to transform how they do things under the pressure of rapidly changing citizen expectations. The speech used Game of Thrones as a bit of a metaphor for the public service, and basically challenged public servants (the audience), whatever their level, to take personal responsibility for change, to innovate (in the true sense of the word), to collaborate, to lead, to put the citizen first and to engage beyond the confines of their desk, business unit, department or jurisdiction to co-develop develop better ways of doing things. It basically said that the public service needs to better work across the silos.

The long version is below, on YouTube or you can check out the full transcript:

The first thing I guess I wanted to talk about was pressure number one on government. I’m still new to government. I’ve been working in I guess the public service, be it federal or state, only for a couple of years. Prior to that I was an adviser in a politician’s office, but don’t hold that against me, I’m strictly apolitical. Prior to that I was in the industry for 10 years and I’ve been involved in non-profits, I’ve been involved in communities, I’ve been involved in online communities for 15 years. I sort of got a bit of an idea what’s going on when it comes to online communities and online engagement. It’s interesting for me to see a lot of these things done they’ve become very popular and very interesting.

My background is systems administration, which a lot of people would think is very boring, but it’s been a very useful skill for me because in everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to figure out what all the moving parts are, what the inputs are, where the configurations files are; how to tweak those configurations to get the better outputs. The entire thing has been building up my knowledge of the whole system, how the societal-wide system, if you like, operates.

One of the main of pressures I’ve noticed on government of course is around resources. Everyone has less to do more. In some cases, some of those pressures are around fatigued systems that haven’t had investment for 20 years. Fatigued people who have been trying to do more with less for many years. Some of that is around assumptions. There’s a lot of assumptions about what it takes to innovate. I’ve had people say, “Oh yeah, we can totally do an online survey that’ll cost you $4 million.” “Oh my, really? Okay. I’m going to just use Survey Monkey, that’s cool.” There are a lot of perceptions that I would suggest a little out of date.

It was a very opportunistic and a very wonderful thing that I worked in the ACT Government prior to coming into the federal government. A lot of people in the federal government look down on working in other jurisdictions, but it was very useful because when you see what some of the state territory and local governments do with the tiny fraction of the funding that the federal government has, it’s really quite humbling to start to say, “Well why do we have these assumptions that a project is going to cost a billion dollars?”

I think our perceptions about what’s possible today is a little bit out of whack. Some of those resources problems are also limitations for the self-imposed, our assumptions, our expectations and such. So first major pressure that we’re dealing with is around resources, both the real issue and I would argue a slight issue of perception. This is the only gory one (slide), so turn away from it if you like, I should have said that before sorry.

The second pressure is around changing expectations. Citizens now, because of the Internet, are more powerful than ever before. This is a real challenge for entities such as government or a large traditional power brokers shall we say. Having citizens that can solve their own problems, they can make their own applications that can pull data from wherever we like, that can screen scrape what we put online, is a very different situation to whether it be the Game of Thrones land or Medieval times, even up to even only 100 years ago; the role of a citizen was more about being a subject and they were basically subject to whatever you wanted. A citizen today is able to engage and if you’re not responsive to them, if government don’t be agile and actually fill up a role then that void gets picked up by other people, so the internet society is a major pressure of the changing expectations of the public that we serve is a major pressure. When fundamentally, government can’t in a lot of cases innovate quickly enough, particularly in isolation, to solve the new challenges of today and to adapt and grab on to the new opportunities of today.

We (public servants) need to collaborate. We need to collaborate across government. We need to collaborate across jurisdictions and we need to collaborate across society and I would argue the world. These are things that are very, very foreign concepts to a lot of people in the public service. One of the reasons I chose this topic today was because when I undertook to kick off Data.gov.au again, which is just about to hit its first anniversary and I recommend that you come along on the 17th of July, but when I kicked that off, the first thing I did was say, “Well who else is doing stuff? What are they doing? How’s that working? What’s the best practice?” When I chatted to other jurisdictions in Australia, when I chatted to other countries, I sat down and grilled for a couple of hours the Data.gov.uk guys to find out exactly how they do it, how it’s resourced, what their model was. It was fabulous because it really helped us create a strategy which has really worked and it’s continuing to work in Australia.

A lot of these problems and pressures are relatively new, we can’t use old methods to solve these problems. So to quote another Game of Thrones-ism,  if we look back, we are lost.

The third pressure and it’s not too gory, this one. The third pressure is upper management. They don’t always get what we’re trying to do. Let’s be honest, right? I’m very lucky I work for a very innovative, collaborative person who delegates responsibilities down … Audience Member: And still has his head. Pia Waugh: … and still has his head. Well actually it’s the other way around. Upper management is Joffrey Baratheon; but I guess you could say it that way, too. In engaging with upper management, a lot of the time and this has been touched on by several speakers earlier today, a lot of the time they have risks. To manage they have to maintain reputation and when you say we can’t do it that way, if you can’t give a solution that will solve the problem, then what do you expect to happen? We need to engage with upper management to understand what their concerns are, what their risks are and help mitigate those risks. If we can’t do that then it is in a lot of cases to our detriment that our projects are not going to be able to get up.

We need to figure out what the agendas are, we need to be able to align what we’re trying to do effectively and we need to be able to help provide those solutions and engage more constructively, I would suggest, with upper management.

Okay, but the biggest issue, the biggest issue I believe is around what I call systemic silos. So this is how people see government, it’s remote, it’s very hard to get to; it’s one entity. It’s a bit crumbling, a bit off in the realm, it’s out of touch with people, it’s off in the clouds and it’s untouchable. It’s very hard to get to, there’s winding dangerous road you might fall off. Most importantly, it’s one entity. When people have a good or bad experience with your department, they just see that as government. We are all exactly judged by the best and the worst examples of all of these and yet we’re all motivated to work independently of each other in order to meet fairly arbitrary, goals in some cases. In terms of how government sees people, they’re these trouble-making people that climbing up to try and destroy us. They’re a threat, they’re outsiders, they don’t get it. If only we could teach them how government works and then this will all be okay.

Well, it’s not their job; I mean half of the people in government don’t know how government works. By the time you take MOG changes into account, by the time you take changes of functions, changes of management, changes of different approaches, different cultures throughout the public service, the amount of time someone has said to me, “The public service can’t innovate.” I’m like, “Well, the public service is myriad organisations with myriad cultures.” It’s not one entity and yet people see us as one entity. It’s not I think the job of the citizen to understand the complexities of government, but rather the job of the government to abstract the complexities of government to get a better engagement and service for citizens. That’s our job, which means if you’re not collaborating and looking across government, then you’re not actually doing your job, in my opinion. But again, I’m still possibly seen as one of these troublemakers, that’s okay.

This is how government sees government (map of the Realm), a whole map of fiefdoms, of castles to defend, of armies that are beating at your door, people trying to take your food and this is just one department. We don’t have this concept of that flag has these skills that we could use. These people are doing this project; here’s this fantastic thing happening over there that we could chat to. We’re not doing that enough across departments, across jurisdictions, let alone internationally and there’s some fantastic opportunities to actually tap into some of those skills. The solution in my opinion, this massive barrier to doing the work of the public service better is systemic silos. So what’s the solution?

The solution is we need to share. We’re all taught as children to share the cookie and yet as we get into primary school and high school we’re told to hide our cookie. Keep it away. Oh you don’t want to share the cookie because there’s only one cookie and if you gave any of it away you don’t have any cookie left. Well, there’s only so many potatoes in this metaphor and if we don’t share those potatoes then someone’s going to starve and probably the person who’s going to starve is actually right now delivering a service that if they’re not there to deliver, we’re going to have to figure out how to deliver for the one potato that we have. So I’m feeling we have to collaborate and to share those resources is I think a very important step forward.

Innovative collaboration. Innovative collaboration is a totally made up term as are a lot of things are I guess. It’s the concept of actually forging strategic partnerships. I’ve actually had a number of projects now. I didn’t have a lot of funding for Data.gov.au. I don’t need a lot of funding for Data.gov.au because fundamentally, a lot of agencies want to publish data because they see it now to be in their best interest. It helps them improve their policy outcomes, helps them improve their services, helps them improve efficiency in their organisations. Now that we’ve sort of hit that tipping point of agencies wanting to do this stuff increasingly so, it’s not completely proliferated yet, but I’m working on it; now that we sort of hit that tipping point, I’ve got a number of agencies that say, “Well, we’d love to open data but we just need a data model registry.” “Oh, cool. Do you have one?” “Yes, we do but we don’t have anywhere to host it.” “Okay, how about I host it for you. You develop it and I’ll host it. Rock!” I’ve got five of those projects happening right now where I’ve aligned the motivation and the goals of what we’re doing with the motivation and goals of five other departments and we have actually have some fantastic outcomes coming out that meet all the needs of all the players involved, plus create a whole of government improved service.

I think this idea of having a shared load, pooling our resources, pooling our skills, getting a better outcome for everyone is a very important way of thinking. It gives you better improved outcomes in terms of dealing again with upper management. If you start from a premise that most people do, well we’ve only got this number of people and this amount of money and therefore, we’re only going to be able to get this outcome. In a year’s time you’ll be told, “That’s fine, just still do it 20% less.” If you say our engagement with this agency is going to help us get more resilience in a project and more expertise on a project and by the way, upper management, it means we’re splitting the cost with someone else, that starts to help the conversation. You can start to leverage resources across multiple departments, across society and across the world.

Here’s a little how-to, just a couple of ideas, I’m going to go into this into a little bit more detail. In the first case research, so I’m a child of the internet, I’m a little bit unique for my age bracket and that my mom was a geek, so I have been using computers since I was four, 30 years ago. A lot of people my age got their first taste of computing and the internet when they got to university or at best maybe high school whereas I was playing with computers very young. In fact, there’s a wonderful photo if you want to check it out, of my mom and I sitting and looking at the computer very black and white and there’s this beautiful photo of this mother with a tiny child at the computer. What I tell people is that it’s a cute photo but actually my mom had spent three days programming that system and when her back was turned, just five minutes, I completely broke it. The picture is actually of her fixing my first breaking of a system. I guess I could have had a career in testing but anyway I got in big trouble.

One of the things about being a child of the internet or someone, who’s really adopted the internet into the way that I think, is that my work space is not limited to the desk area that I have. I don’t start with a project and sort of go, okay, what’s on my computer, who’s in my immediate team, who’s in my area, my business area. I start with what’s happening in the world. The idea of research is not just to say what’s happening elsewhere so that we can integrate into what we are going to do, but to start to see the whole world as your work space or as your playground or as your sandpit, whichever metaphor you prefer. In this way, you can start to automatically as opposed to by force, start to get into a collaborative mindset.

Research is very important. You need to establish something. You need to actually do something. This is an important one that’s why I’ve got it in bold. You need to demonstrate that success and you need to wrap up. I think a lot of times people get very caught up with establishing a community and then maintaining that community for the sake of maintaining the community. What are the outcomes? You need to identify fairly quickly, is this going to have an outcome or is this sort of a community, an ongoing community which is not necessarily outcome driven? Part of this is around, again, understanding how the system works and how you can actually work in the system. Some of that research is about understanding projects and skills. I’ll jump into a little bit. So what already exists? If I had a mammoth (slide), I’d totally do cool stuff. What exists out there? What are the people and skills that are out there? What are the motivations that exist in those people that are already out there? How can I align with those? What are the projects that are already doing cool stuff? What are the agendas and priorities and I guess systemic motivations that are out there? What tech exists?

And this is why I always contend and I always slip into a talk somewhere, so I’ll slip it in here, you need to have a geek involved somewhere. How many people here would consider yourselves geeks? Not many. You need to have people that have technical literacy in order to make sure that your great idea, your shiny vision; your shiny policy can actually be implemented. If you don’t have a techie person, then you don’t have the person who has a very, very good skill at identifying opportunities and risks. You can say, “Well we’ll just go to our IT department and they’ll give us quote of how much it does to do a survey.” Well in that case, okay, not necessarily our case, it was $4 million. So you need to have techie people who will help you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s possible, what’s probable and how it’s going to possibly work. I highly recommend, you don’t need to be that person but you need to have the different skills in the room.

This is where and I said this on Twitter, I do actually recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’, not because he’s the most brilliant author in the world, but because he has a concept in there that’s very important. Maybe I’ll save you reading it now, but of having three skills – connectedness, so the connector; the maven, your researcher sort of person; and your sales person. Those three skills, one person might have all or none of those skills, but a project needs to have all of those skills represented in some format for the project to go from nothing to being successful or massively distributed. It’s a very interesting concept. It’s been very beneficial to a lot of projects I’ve been involved in. I’ve run a lot of volunteer projects. The biggest of which is happening this weekend, which is GovHack. Having 1,300 participants in an 11-city event only with volunteer organisers is a fairly big deal and part of the reason we can do that is because we align natural motivation with the common vision and we get geeks involved obviously.

What already exists? Identifying the opportunities, identifying what’s out there, treating the world like a basket of goodies that you can draw from. Secondly, you want to form an A team. Communities are great and communities are important. Communities establish a ongoing presence from which you can engage in, draw from, get support and all those kinds of things. This kind of community is very, very important, but innovative collaboration is about building a team to do something, a project team. You want to have your A-list. You want to have a wide variety of skills. You want to have doers. You want to establish the common and different needs of the individuals involved and they might be across departments or across governments or from society. Establishing what is common of the people involved that you want to get out of it and establishing then what’s different is important to making sure that when you go to announce this, that everyone’s needs is taken care of or that it doesn’t put someone off side or whatever. You need to understand the dynamics of your group very, very well and you need to have the right people in the room. You want to plan realistic outcomes and milestones. These need to be tangible.

This is where I get just super pragmatic and I apologise, but if you’re building a team to build the project report to build the team, maybe you’ve lost your way just slightly. If the return on investment or the business case that you’re writing takes 10 times the amount of time to do the project, itself, maybe you could do a little optimisation. So just sort of sitting back and saying what is the scale of what we’re trying to do. What are the tangible outcomes and what is actually necessary for this? This comes back to the concept of again, managing and mapping risk to projects. If the risk is very, very, very low, then maybe the amount of time and effort that goes into building the enormous structure of governance around it, can be somewhat minimised. This is taking a engaged proactive approach with the risk I think is very important in this kind of thing and making sure that the outcomes are actually achievable and tangible. This is also important because if you have tangible outcomes then you can demonstrate tangible outcomes. You need to also avoid scope creep.

I had a project recently that didn’t end up happening. It was a very interesting lesson to me though where something simple was asked and I came out with a way to do it in four weeks. Brilliant! Then the scope started to creep significantly and then it became this and this and then this and then we want to have an elephant with bells on it. Well, you can have the elephants with bells if you do this in this way in six months. So how about you have that as a second project? Anyway, so basically try to hold your ground. Often enough when people ask for something, they don’t know what they’re asking for. We need to be the people that are on the front line saying, “What you want to achieve fundamentally, you’re not going to achieve the way that you’re trying to achieve it. So how about we think about what the actual end goal that we all want is and how to achieve that? And by the way, I’m the technical expert and you should believe me and if you don’t, ask another technical expert but for God’s sake, don’t leave it to someone who doesn’t know how to implement this, please.”

You want to plan your goals. You want to ensure and this another important bit that there is actually someone responsible for each bit, otherwise, your planning committee will get together in another four weeks or eight weeks and will say, “So, how is action A going? Oh nothing’s happened. Okay, how’s action B going?” You need to actually make sure that this nominated responsibilities and they again should align to those individuals’ natural motivations and systemic motivations.

My next bit, don’t reinvent the wheel. I find a lot of projects where someone has gone on and completely recreated something. The amount of time when someone said, “Well that’s a really good piece of software but let’s rewrite it in another language.” In technical land, this is very common, but I see it happen in a process perspective, I see it happen in a policy perspective. Again, going back to see what’s available is very important, but I’ll just throw in another thing here, the idea of taking responsibility is a very scary thing, apparently, in the public service. Let’s go back to the wheel. If your wheel is perfect, you’ve developed it, you’ve designed it, you’ve spent six years getting it to this point and it’s shiny and it’s beautiful and it works, but it’s not connected to a car, what’s the point, seriously?

You want to make sure that what you’re doing needs to actually contribute to something bigger, needs to actually be part of the engine, because if your wheel or if your cog is perfectly defined but the engine as a whole doesn’t work, then there’s a problem there and sometimes that’s out of your control. Quite often what’s missing is someone actually looking end to end and saying, “Well, the reason there’s a problem is because there’s actually a spanner, just here.” If we remove that spanner and I know it’s not my job to remove that spanner, but if someone removed that spanner the whole thing would work. Sometimes it’s very scary for some people to do and I understand that, but you need to understand what you’re doing and how it fits into the bigger picture and how the bigger picture is or isn’t working, I would suggest.

Monitoring. Obviously, measuring and monitoring success in Game of Thrones was a lot more messy than it is for us. They had to deal with birds, they had to feed them, they had to deal with what they fed them. To measure and monitor your project is a lot easier in a lot of cases. There’s a lot of ways to automate it. There’s a lot of ways to come up with it at the beginning. How do we define success, if you don’t define it then you don’t know if you’ve got there. These things are all kind of obvious, but I remember having a real epiphany moment when a very senior person from another department actually, I was talking to him about the challenge that I’m having with a project and I said, “Well if you’re doing this great thing, then why aren’t you shouting it from the rooftop. This is wonderful. It’s very innovative, it’s very clever. You’ve solved a really great problem.” Then he looked at me and said, “Well Pia, you know success is just as bad as failure, don’t you?” It really struck me and then I realised I guess any sort of success or failure is seen as attention and the moment someone puts attention then it’s not very scary. I put to you that having success, having defensible projects, having evidence that actually underpins why, what you’re doing is important, is probably one of the most important things that you can do today to make sure that you continue getting funding, resources and all these kinds of things. Measuring, monitoring, reporting is more important now than ever and luckily and coincidentally, it’s easier now than ever. There’s a lot of ways that we can automate this stuff. There’s a lot of ways that we can put in place these mechanisms from the start of a project. There’s a lot of ways we can use technology to help. We need to define success, we need to defend and promote the outcomes of those projects.

Share the glory. If it’s you sitting on the throne then everyone starts to get a little antsy. I like to say that shared glory is the key to a sustainable success. I’ve had a number of projects and I don’t think I’ve told John this, but I’ve had a couple of things where I’ve collaborated with someone and then I’ve let them announce their part of it first, because that’s a good way to get great relationship. It doesn’t really matter to me if I announce it now or in a week’s time. It helps share the success, it helps share the glory. It means everyone is a little bit more on site and it builds trust. The point that was made earlier today about trust is a very important one and the way that you build trust is by having integrity, following through on what you’re doing and to share the glory a little. Sharing the glory is a very important part because if everyone feels like they’re getting out of the collaboration what they need to justify their work, to justify to their bosses, to justify their investment of time, then that’s a very good thing for everyone.

Everything great starts small. This goes to the point of doing pilots, doing demos. How many of you have heard the term release early, release often? Not many. It’s a technology sector idea, but the idea is rather than taking, in big terms, rather than taking four years to scope something out and then get $100 million and then implement it, yeah I know, right? You actually start to do smaller modular projects and if it fails straight away, then at least you haven’t spent four years and $100 million failing. The other part of release early, release often is fail early, fail often, which sounds very scary in the public sector but it’s a very important thing because from failure and from early releases, you get lessons. You can iteratively improve projects or policies or outcomes that you’re doing if you continually getting out there and actually testing with people and demoing and doing pilots. It’s a very, very useful thing to realise that sometimes even the tiniest baby step is still a step and for yourselves as individuals, we don’t always get the big success that we hope and so you need to make sure that you have a continuous success loop in your own environment and for yourself to make sure that you maintain your own sense of moving forward, I guess, so even small steps are very important steps. Audience Member: Fail early, fail often to succeed sooner. Pia Waugh: That’s probably a better sentence.

There’s a lot of lessons that we can learn from other sector and from other industries, from both the corporate and community sectors, that don’t always necessarily translate in the first instance; but they’re tried and true in those sectors. Understanding why they work and why they do or in some cases don’t map to our sector, I think is very important.

Finally, this is the last thing I want to leave you with. The amount of times that I hear someone say, “Oh, we can’t possibly do that. We need to have good leadership. Leadership is what will take us over the line.” We are the leaders of this sector. We are the future of the public service and so there’s a question about you need to start acting it as well, not you, all of us. You lead through doing. You establish change through being the change you want to see, to quote another great guy. When you actually realising that a large proportion of the SES are actually retiring in the next five to ten years, and realising that we are all the future of the public service means that we can be those leaders. Now if you go to your boss and say, “I want to do this great, cool thing and it’s going to be great and I’m going to go and work with all these other people. I’m going to spend lots of your money.” Yeah, they’re going to probably get a little nervous. If you say to them “here’s why this is going to be good for you, I want to make you look good, I want to achieve something great that’s going to help our work, it’s going to help our area, it’s going to help our department, it’s going to help our Minister, it aligns with all of these things” you’re going to have a better chance of getting it through. There’s a lot of ways that you can demonstrate leadership just at our level, just by working to people directly.

So I spoke before about how the first thing I did was go and research what everyone else was doing, I followed that up by establishing an informal forum. A series of informal get togethers. One of those informal get togethers is across jurisdictional meeting with open data people from other jurisdictions. What that means is every two months I meet with the people who are in charge of the open data policies and practice from most of the states and territories, from a bunch of local governments, from a few other departments at the federal level, just to talk about what we’re all doing; made very clear from the start, this is not formal, this is not mandatory, it’s not top down, it’s not the feds trying to tell you what to do, which is an unfortunate although often accurate picture that the other jurisdictions have of us, which is unfortunate because there’s so much we can learn from them. By just setting that up and getting the tone of that right, everyone is sharing policy, sharing outcomes, sharing projects, starting to share a code, starting to share functionality and we’ve got to a point only I guess eight months into the establishment of that group, where we really started to get some great benefits for everyone and it’s bringing everyone’s base line up.

There’s a lot of leadership to be had at every level and identifying what you can do in your job today is very important rather than waiting for the permission. I remember and I’m going to say a little story that I hope John doesn’t mind, I remember when I started in my job and I got a week into the job and I said to John, “So, I’ve been here a week, I really don’t know if this is what you wanted from me. Are you happy with how I’m going?” He said, “Well Pia, don’t change what you’re doing, but I just want to give you a bit of feedback. I’ve never been in a meeting before with outsiders, with vendors or whatever and had an EL speak before.” I said, “Oh, what’s wrong with your department? What’s wrong with ELs?” Because certainly by a particular level you have expertise, you have knowledge, you have something to contribute, so why wouldn’t you be encouraging people of all levels but certainly of senior levels to be actually speaking and engaging in the meetings. It was a really interesting thought experiment and discussion to be had about the culture.

The amount of people that have said to me, just quietly, “Hey, we’d love to do that but we don’t want to get any criticism.” Well, criticism comes in two forms. It’s either constructive or unconstructive. Now it can be given negatively, it can be given positively, it can be given in a little bottle in the sea, but it only comes in those two forms. If it’s constructive, even if yelled at you online, if it’s something to learn from, take that, roll with it. If it’s unconstructive, you can ignore it safely. It’s about having self knowledge, an understanding of a certain amount of clarity and comfort with the idea that you can improve, that sometimes other people will be the mechanism for you to improve, in a lot of cases it will be other people will be the mechanism for you to improve. Conflict is not a bad thing. Conflict is actually a very healthy thing in a lot of ways, if you engage with it. It’s really up to us about how we engage with conflict or with criticism.

This is again where I’m going to be a slight outsider, but it’s very, very hard, not that I’ve seen this directly, but everything I hear is that it’s very, very hard to get rid of someone in the public service. I put to you, why would you not be brave? Seriously. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, “Oh, I’m so scared about criticism. I’m so scared blah, blah, blah,” and at the same time it be difficult to be fired, why not be brave? We can do great things and it’s up to us as individuals to not wait for that permission to do great things. We can all do great things at lots and lots of different levels. Yes, there will be bad bosses and yes, there will be good bosses, but if you continually pin your ability to shine on those external factors and wait, then you’ll be waiting a long time. Anyway, it’s just my opinion.

So be the leader, be the leader that you want to see. That’s I guess what I wanted to talk about with collaborative innovation.

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

LAST CALL - Christmas Cards!

Gina Feichtinger - Wed, 2014-12-03 16:11
Since a lot of people seem to get into the mood for Christmas it might be a good time for this...
I can't promise I'll manage to write them all but I'd still like to try and send out Christmas cards again this year. The cards will possibly be of the traditional variety so if you don't care for those you can skip this post.
If you'd like to receive a card (again, no promise I'll be able to make it) please comment with your name/address (will be screened) - even if you think I got your address.
If you'd like to send us a Christmas card you're very welcome to do so but don't feel obliged! Our address is available on request via comment/e-mail if you're not sure you have the right one (if you have the ZIP code 1230 then it is)...

This entry was originally posted at http://nilasae.dreamwidth.org/199613.html.
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Make a Birthday Card for Mom in Linux With Scribus

Carla Schroder (O'Reilly articles) - Sun, 2014-10-12 16:15
A good project for getting familiar with Scribus is to create a cheery greeting card. Let's say we have a nice color printer and some good card stock, and we're making Mom a birthday card. Moms love photos of their kids, so find a nice one of yourself. Open Scribus, click the New Document tab, and set your page size and orientation (figure 2). My example is US Letter, landscape, two-sided.
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Assorted Fun Linux Command Line Hacks

Carla Schroder (O'Reilly articles) - Thu, 2014-10-09 17:15
Today's fun command line festivities are inspired by Command Line Magic, who hangs out on Twitter sharing excellent Linux command line incantations for all occasions. Today's assortment includes shell rainbows, Is the Internet on Fire?, Star Wars Traceroute, and creating annoying sounds from the console.
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Wikimania London

Finne Boonen - Sun, 2014-09-28 12:56

Wikimania in London this year was huge, bigger then any of the previous Wikimania’s I’ve been too. (So, excluding DC & Hong Kong). The amount of people made it easy to get lost but it also meant there was a lot of options in content which is a big plus if you’re not big on GLAM or (gender) diversity.

After two-three years of pretty much anything *wiki* hiatus the WMN scholarship that I got and the geographic proximity tipped the balance towards going to Wikimania once more. As a result of the hiatus Wikimania this Wikimania was about the most non-committed one I’ve been too since Frankfurt. Which made for an interesting contrast. For me this Wikimania compared most to Boston, many non-incrowd people and many people on the fringes of the wider Wiki world but who are interested because it’s Wikipedia (and it’s close by).

Luckily there were several people that I’d met before who introduced me to near-future project that would catch my interest (Next years European hackathon, November Amsterdam hackathon). But in some ways it felt like the first Wikimania I ever attended where I felt lost and very confused on how I could get involved with anything beyond editing articles.

I’m going to hang out in irc://freenode.org/#wikimedia-research and work on some pet projects (editor retention) once I hand in my masters thesis so that’s at least one personal goal for Wikimania achieved.

I managed to miss Lieven Scheire’s act but I hope to catch him at the Dutch wikiconference on nov 1st.

 

 

 

 

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Bash Arrays

Renata - Wed, 2014-08-27 17:47

Arrays are helpful, and I’ll give some examples for reference. They can be a little bit confusing, but once you get used to them, it’s easy!

First you initialize the arrays

cat[1]="Bub"
cat[2]="Grumpy"
cat[3]="Luna"

feat[1]="cute"
feat[2]="terrible"
feat[3]="fashion"

Then you use them as you wish. You can, at first, just list them individually

echo "${cat[3]} is ${feat[1]}"

or list all of the items in a specific array
echo “Cats I like: ${cat[@]}”

Something like that would also work:

for i in {1..3}
do
echo "${cat[i]} is ${feat[i]}!"
done

That opens many possibilities. Life is not only about internet cats (although it sometimes seems so).

Make good use of your arrays, they’re great!

(I takes me 8 months to update the site and I write a silly post about bash arrays, I know. Sorry, I was thinking about them.)

Categories: LinuxChix bloggers

Ditch Agile, Go With Common Sense

L J Laubenheimer (Iconoclast Blast) - Tue, 2014-07-15 17:40
I am so sick of Agile I could puke. Agile "methods" and "processes" are often used as a bludgeon to enforce the great speedup, doing more, faster, with fewer resources. I see estimations forced into the PM or manager's demanded hard deadline, hours getting longer because of wasted time in meetings, and "rapid" deployment of garbage code that needs to be rolled back because no integration testing was done (eliminating QA does that to you.)
Categories: LinuxChix bloggers
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