November 09, 2017

Showing initiative

It worries me when I hear "[person] is coming straight from university" as an argument for someone's lack initiative. Isn't that when you normally are full of new ideas and feel you can change the world, before you've gotten stuck in structures and old ideas?

Maybe it also depends where you study, as I meet a lot of amazing people who recently finished university and are extremely innovative and looking for challenges and solutions.
Those of us with more / longer experience  have to watch that we stay on top on what's happening in and make an active effort to not get stuck in old habits - especially true for those of us in tech. Stand still and you'll begin ti lose competitiveness and edge.  
A diverse, a mixed environnement will help us with that and be beneficial for all, not the least the business. We all benefit from diversity - however it requires,just like everything else, initiative and drive from all.
Things rarely just land in anyone's lap without effort.
The ability to show initiative is possibly the most important ability and quite frankly skill that I am looking for in a person.

Am I unreasonable?

And how do you support someone lacking initiative the best way, to get them to show more initiative? They need challenging tasks where they get to take the lead, of course, they need mentoring, but it's also tough when work needs to be done. 

Too easy to fall into the trap of giving them tasks where it matters less if they fail - but my opinion is that it rarely helps, boredom is a lousy motivator, I'm speaking from experience. That's why standard language training isn't for me, I cannot learn from a nonsense text book, I need an environment where I can see a use of what I'm learning - send me to a food market, let me end up in a situation where I have to grow with the task. Personally I think that is the best way of getting people to really learn: Give them a challenge that they can grow with - just keep an eye on them so they seek support if they need to.

September 09, 2017

On the road again

It's been a very long time since I wrote anything on this blog. 

The reasons are many, in a way it feels like blogging is old school and no longer so interesting, but maybe the biggest reason is lack of time.

Blogging simply hasn't been my priority.

On the other hand I'm travelling a lot so you'd think there would be a lot to write about, but sadly that's not really the case - much of my time the last 5-6 months I've been on the road for work, with a very hectic schedule.

Much of my time is spent in Czech Republic right now, and fact is I'm typing this from a craft beer pub in Prague.

However there are things I want to share, so hopefully I'll get back to that. The blog is not dead, it's just in very deep sleep... But let's see what we can do about that!

April 07, 2017

Devfest Düsseldorf in the making

A Developer Conference

Some of you who stop by here from time to time may know/remember that I am part of the organiser team for #GDGDUS - GDG Düsseldorf (more about it here) and Women Techmakers Düsseldorf. 

We are a part of a bigger community, Google Developers across the globe. While GDG != Google we do have a connection to Google and we are supported by Google - but most of all, GDG across the globe and across the DACH region cooperate in various formats. We could not do this without the members and we wouldn't be so strong if we didn't cooperate with GDG:s in the rest of the DACH region - sharing ideas, discussing approaches, speaking at each others event, meeting up on a regular basis, online or face to face - at the Firebase Devsummit, for example. 

Many GDG:s run events at the same time, the next big one coming up is Google I/O Extended which we of course do here in Düsseldorf as well. 

But the really big thing coming up is coming up in the autumn - Devfest season! Devfest - Developer Fest - is a conference series and GDG:s across the globe organise developer conferences across the globe, developer conferences covering different topics in the tech field - from Cloud to Android, from hardcore code to design, usability, accessibility.  

April 04, 2017

What happened to all the travel posts?

Where are the photos and everything else from travel?

There was a time when I posted much more, and there was a time when  there were a lot more travel posts.

There was also a time when there was another blog, more anonymous,  with quite a  bit of travel tips - that blog is long gone, I deactivated it and stopped writing when I had started to move to Taiwan.

There used to be an artblog as well but that has been gone even longer, and it wasn't up and running very long either - took a lot of time to do all the research I felt it needed.

With the travel tips and ideas: Well, the blog turned more into a blog about tech, sustainability, events and so on.

However there is another forum, a little blog where I post very little text but I post photos now and then - the photoblog. Feel free to visit me there! With the photos there are little stories as well so it might be interesting.

Today I was dreaming about San Jose in California and I posted a photo from there.

March 27, 2017

Today's inspiration - and tomorrow's

On technology and society - and the end user in the centre

If we want technology to serve society rather than enslave it, we have to build systems accessible to all people - be they male or female, young, old, disabled, computer wizards or technophobes.
The quote above is supposedly from Anita Borg, one of the more important names to know when it comes to tech. When she said it and in what context I don't know, nor do I know if it is an actual quote from Anita Borg - internet is full of fake quotes - but nevertheless it is the one I pick today. 

Anita Borg, a name you should know if you are in IT, and especially if you are a woman in IT - follow the link to read more about the mission of the Anita Borg Institute (see link).  

And when you build technology, think about the quote above. It is one of the ideas that drive me - usability and accessibility are two of the things that drive me and the work that I do in IT - that, and I am guided by the LEAN principles (from Toyota Lean, I was, after all, fostered into automotive at an early age...)  - identify value, map the value stream, create flow, establish pull, and improve/seek perfection. The LEAN principles are in my eyes applicable throughout an organisation and very useful also when it comes to building software, or running a department not related to any type of production; Put the customer in the centre - and work with the customer (end user/internal customer/external customer) in focus. 

If we all did that, and adhered to the Anita Borg ideas, we'd have far less frustrating systems out there. 

March 13, 2017

Kite flying

 Fun in the sun 

On a completely different subject... Kite flying....

Going through old photos, after a recent hard disk crash, I found some old photos from when I did some kite flying here in Düsseldorf - or rather tried to.

It was a few years ago. Some weeks, or maybe months earlier I had walked past a children's toy store and found a kite. A cheap one, just some plastic toy, really, one I had to put together myself, but one with a long tail and two handles. I remember having a kite when I was a small kid, however the kites me and my brothers had were small kites, without a proper tail and with only one string attached, this one was slightly fancier, but really only a little - or if it was simply more modern.

I remember kite flying, I remember there being many kids out in a field - mind you, at that time I lived in a very small village so "many" was certainly relative (we were only about 32 kids in the whole area born the same year as me and we only had one small shop, for the most urgent things you could need - everything else you had to have a car or other transportation for.) It felt like there were many kids though as we all somehow stuck together - kids from various age groups, we often played games together, and kite flying was one of those things. 

Kite flying was the thing for a while, and everyone would gather out on a big field and try and fly their kites.  I don't think we were ever very successful though, at least I can't remember a lot of actual flying, but I do remember gathering on the field, a big bunch of kids, with our kites. It never quite left me.

Travelling in Asia I have always been absolutely mesmerised with the kite flyers, they seem to stand there, almost still, while the kites are flying, higher and higher, listening to the tiniest move of the wrists of the kite flyers, and reacting to the wind, going higher and higher.

March 12, 2017

Job searching

Job application process in Germany - not exactly Agile... 

Currently I am between projects, and hence I am looking for a new position or a new project - preferably a fixed one. 

While I am flexible when it comes to location I would prefer to stay in Germany, at least now. I like Düsseldorf, I wouldn't mind staying here, but I also don't mind moving. 

Companies are also looking for staff, not the least in IT. OK, many of them are looking for programmers and I am not a programmer even if I have a good conceptual understanding of programming and even if I do know a bit - it's been a very long time since I did anything in that field - I got pulled into sysadmin, database management and so forth when I first started, and even that was quite a while ago - I have been doing a lot of project management, and the list of IT projects is long. 

And there are a lot of interesting positions out there. 

Yet there are a lot of positions I never apply to.

Many German companies are, sadly, missing out on a lot of good people, simply by being too stuck in their ways, many claim to want to be agile - but the HR process is anything BUT agile. 

If I can send a personal letter and my CV, I am happy. 

If I have to register in a database, where they require me to give in every piece of information about myself, before I even know if they are interested in someone with my profile or not - I am not going to waste my time.

March 08, 2017

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day!

A good day to celebrate both how far we have come - women are allowed in  most jobs, we have the right to vote in most countries - at least where voting is allowed - we can theoretically become whatever we want - but also a day to remember how long we still have to go.

You may be allowed in all jobs as a woman but there are a lot of jobs where you won't be hired, because someone has the idea that "that's not interesting to women", or "she will anyhow have kids soon and leave" or "she is too old" or "[choose the job] is better for men because [pick silly reason]" or "she is too nice looking and she would just be a distraction" or "she is not pretty enough so she wouldn't represent our brand well".

There is also a long way to go, also in the countries that are deemed to be the most equal: Women are still doing the majority of the house work even when working full time, women still get, on average, lower pay for the same job (or a different title when doing the same job). Women are still told that they are "bossy" when men "have leadership skills" - and so forth. 

January 30, 2017


I am deeply troubled by what's going on in US at the moment. The fact that I don't write about it here on the blog doesn't take away from that.

I am engaged and involved in various forums and I want to try and keep my own blog as positive as possible, so I will not give the new US leadership more attention than they are already getting - it is really important to stand up against bullies and people who try and rule through fear - looking overall the world is a good place, and people are good.

When it comes to news: We are ALL biased. You can't go through life unbiased, it is simply not possible - with machine learning not even robots are unbiased, because it depends where and what they learn from.

I only have this to ask.

CHECK the sources. Don't buy into anything automatically. Critical thinking is needed now more than ever. Check more than one source, and if something sounds too crazy, double- and triple check.

THINK - think for yourself.

Democracy is built on the people but for democracy to really work and not be demo-Crazy critical thinking is absolutely necessary. It is difficult - but our future depends on it.

And ALWAYS remember that when it comes to politics , there is no such thing as "somebody else's problem".

When it comes to Climate change that is even more true.

What we do now will have an impact generations ahead.

January 26, 2017

Firebase Dev Summit

In November this year I had the pleasure of attending the first Firebase Developer Summit here in Europe, in Berlin, a city I really like. Quite an interesting experience that taught me a lot and allowed me a chance to meet the engineering team behind Firebase, a Google product. You'll see me, the woman in a red scarf , in the background at around 00:54... 😃

Firebase is really a mobile/web app platform, and while ⽕ Firebase ⽕ has been around for a while some of the new functionality makes it very attractive to work with, at least for me - not the least because the platform can be used both for mobile (Android) and web. I find it very useful to not have to worry about the infrastructure, and things like authentication - with Firebase I can use the Google sign on. Overall SSO, Single SignOn is something I find very useful, even if I, personally, tend to use different log-ons for my own accounts. I love back-end and fiddling with infrastructure, but let's face it - it is time consuming and why waste time on it if someone else already provides what you need? It's the same thing as with cloud services and cloud in general. Spend your time on what's really important (like the customers and their needs) and let someone else handle the infrastructure.

Other things that make Firebase attractive is the Firebase Analytics - useful to be able to actually see WHERE your users have problems so you can continue to improve - I am overall a big fan of continuous improvement.

However this is not really a post about Firebase itself, there is plenty of material out there for everyone who has an interest - not the least the talks from Google I/O, and it is better if the experts do the selling. 

January 01, 2017

2016 coming to an end - looking forward to 2017

2016 - an odd year, here is to 2017

Two highlights 2016 for me has certainly been Brittany in May (something I never wrote about here) and California for Google I/O, also in May. 

I love France and I really enjoy going there, enjoy  the food, the people, the atmosphere - and that I went for a friend's birthday, together with a bunch of other friends while I also had time to have "alone time" - that made it even better. 

Google I/O was fantastic too, I learnt a lot and met a lot of inspiring people. I really enjoy California, I only wish that I had had more time to actually see and do more things, meet up with more friends and revisit many of the places I have been to before - I have spent a lot of time in California over the years, mainly because I have many friends there - that's what happens when you hang out with a lot of like minded techies. Coming back to Santa Cruz was fantastic - just next time I need to plan better and have more time (it was a last minute decision to go)

Other than that, this year has been an odd year, and I think and know many agree with me on that - and I am not thinking about the popstars and actors that passed away, no matter how sad. 

It's also been a year of far less travel than I am used to and prefer - although the many great trips to Berlin have been really interesting. I have also spent a lot of time on my own this year - I like being alone, as long as I am not lonely, but 2017 will be the year when I reclaim my social life. It is important to have a mix. 

While it's been a year of  lot of work, trainings, seminars, 

For 2017 I promise myself to travel more, do more of the things I like. Laugh more often, dance more often and not be depending on other people - I can only take responsibility for my own happiness and I am responsible for making sure that I keep on challenging myself, keep on growing as a person. 

Change is good, change is great, as long as you do the change for you and as long as you feel that you take part of the change - and that is my New Year promise to myself. 

I hope more people will do the same.