Friday, September 28, 2012

Google sponsored Geek Girls Dinner

I had the pleasure through Girls in Tech Los Angeles to attend last week the first Geek Girls Dinner in the LA area.  Geek Girls Dinner is a global movement getting us geeky gals together to network and be inspired by motivational awesome women in our fields.  This first event in Los Angeles was no exception. 

First of all, it was at Google's campus in Santa Monica.  You truly are a geek if you get excited just walking up to Google's offices.  As I signed in I could see the couches in the employee work area were in the iconic Blue/Red/Yellow/Green colors of Google's logo.  I so wanted to go wander about their work area but alas, it was blocked by big burly security guards.  No worries, the Google hosted bar stopped me in my tracks  - with drinks like "Rover on Mars", "Solar Flare" and "Curiosity" calling my name I probably wouldn't have made it past the bar.

After mixing, networking, yummy appetizers and cocktails we all filed into the Google auditorium to be inspired by Nagin Cox of JPL/NASA and Maja Mataric, professor of Neurological Robotics from USC.  Nagin Cox has been involved with the Mars Rover project from the beginning and is a fantastic engaging speaker.  It was so fun to move with her through the evolution of NASA's exploration of Mars from the orbital satellites to the first Rover, Spirit and Opportunity and finally, Curiosity. She is an inspiration to us all and one picture in her slide show struck me as the epitome of exactly what we women face in this man's world - it was of Nagin Cox with her arms in the air in victory as Curriosity landed in the mission control room surrounded by men.  Nagin - the lone woman.  A victory in so many ways.

Maja Mataric's talk was very different from Nagin Cox's in that some of her points were how she balances between her children, her research, her classes, her grad students and the politics of being a tenured professor.  Maja Mataric is plowing new ground in robotics and how these human size robots will be caregivers for stroke victims, physical therapy and all sorts of age related issues.  I'm paraphrasing here but she drove home the point to us that you don't have to make a choice between work and family.  Just make it work and do what is right for you.  If you can't make a 9 am meeting with your boss because you need to take your kid to school, just say, "Hey, that doesn't work for me, I'll be there at 10"  I'm sure that being a published, tenured brilliant robotasist who has spoken in front of congress gives you a lot of power to make those sort of statements without being fired - but the point remains. 

The picture is of the yummy little 'droid cupcakes there were our post talk dessert.

What is the main take away from an event like this? There is no limit to what we can do as women!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Flight

What an amazing day this was.  I quickly drove home from work and scooped up Dena who had a picnic lunch, the dog and lawn chairs waiting.  We raced off to Kenneth Hahn park in Baldwin Hills and had a very easy time of getting a primo spot.  Not too many people were there.  I chatted with other people and the excitement in the air was thick.  We were expecting the 747 with the shuttle on top to come in from Santa Monica Pier after its fly by on the San Francisco bridge, then go down Wilshire, do a circle around city hall, up to the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign and then make a circuit back out over the ocean.

The pilots of the 747 had no real flight plan to adhere to and as long as they kept in touch with air traffic controllers they could do whatever they wanted, and they did, much to the delight of people all over the southland, including Disneyland where tourists from all over the world got a once in a lifetime sight.

Here are some shots I took as we were startled as Endeavour flew right over our heads.  We had no idea it would be so close, we were busy looking much north and had to do a quick one eighty as the roar came overhead.  Click on the pictures to make them larger.  Yes, those are fighter jets escorting the shuttle.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Microsoft Training Today

I was very happy to receive five of my companies Microsoft Training Vouchers for an authorized course which gives me five days of training.  I went back to New Horizons where I originally got my MCSE and my CCNA training and talked to a rep. I noticed that now they have three methods of training delivery - Instructor Led, Mentored Learning and remote learning which I think is watching videos from home. I made absolutely sure that I signed up for IL training (Instructor Led) as I do not want to sit and watch videos, I would be asleep in minutes.

I'm taking Windows Server 2008 Configure & admin class which was supposed to start at 7:30 this morning.  On Friday I received an email confirming the class and I noticed deep in the email that the class was from 8am to 4pm.  What?  Just to be sure I arrived at 7:30 am to a room with a TV, microphone and one other student.  It appears that instructor led no longer necessarily means the instructor is actually in the room.  I was pretty peeved for the first 45 minutes because grand assumptions were made that I'd attended classes before, I knew how to log in to the New Horizons portal and Illuminate, etc.  I told the guy I didn't even know what that was.

After he got me all settled I put on my headphones and tried to settle in.  Fortunately, the instructor is fairly interactive.  He makes you answer questions, put check marks, happy faces and raise your hand in the video session area, etc.  So it actually isn't too bad.  So far, today has been a review of old material - after all, the original concepts of Windows servers are still the same but the devil is in the details. 

We'll see how it goes but it appears you can teach this old dog new tricks but I'm still not on board with this new learning style.  I know its the way of the future but I'm not too happy about it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Thanks to Tony and Dante

It's almost never that I cannot think of a title for my blog.  Often it starts with a title and builds from there.  Tonight, I am having troubles.

It started innocently enough with an evening walk with Geppetto.  A beautiful evening, nice and cool, a quiet city, peaceful.  Just me and my dog....until we rounded a corner and then, there he was.  A Cholo looking hispanic guy with the telltale tan kahki's, white t-shirt and which socks way up the calves.  Hey, we live in a good neighborhood so I wasn't nervous.  Lately, Geppetto has become a little leash aggressive.  Most dogs he'll give a little nip too.  Needless to say, this pisses off the neighbors although they would never say anything.  I don't want our dog to be ostracized. 

It's quite dark on this part of the street, Geppetto and I pull over and the guy says, "is your dog friendly?"  "No", I say, "he seems to be a little aggressive with black dogs."  "My dog is very friendly, do you think they can try it?"  "Sure, why not."  They sniff around each other and then Geppetto does his typical ignore the other dog stance, turning his back and pretending to be interested in something across the street.  The guys dog, Dante (black 17 lb cocker spaniel) , comes up to me and gives me a lick.  I pet him and Geppetto give a little whine.  The guy says, "the pound told me not to take this dog because he was so aggressive and by the time I picked him up I was terrified of being bitten.  I cradled him in my hands and could feel his ribs, I cried.  He had so much hair you couldn't tell how skinny he was.  I nursed him back to health.  He saved my life."   I looked up and studied my new friend Tony.  He lives a couple streets over and I've not seen him before.  He looks like a guy that needed saving but was on his way back.  He talked a little about his ex-girlfriend and I wondered if that was his downfall or if it was something else.  Dante knows, that's for sure.

Amazing how many people say that.  "My dog saved my life."  I have a bumper sticker on my truck that says "who rescued who?"  It's very true but lately I've been guilty of forgetting that.  We got Geppetto in August of 2011 - just a few weeks before my cancer diagnosis.  After my surgery I walked that dog every day, sometimes twice no matter what.  It started with half a block.  I barely made it home.  I broke out in a cold sweat but vowed to try again.  I guess I lied, one day I just couldn't do it and called Eco Wash and Karen sent someone over to walk Geppetto.  That was the only day though.  I built up that half a block to 2 miles before I went back to work.  It's important to keep perspective during our busy lives.  I forget that quite often.   Thanks Tony for reminding me.