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.