Women @ Nest: Tech Open House


Women @ Nest: Tech Open House

On August 10, 2016, I attended a tech open house event at the Nest office in Palo Alto. The event was amazing for a lot of reasons: beautiful office with delicious food, the entire event was incredibly efficiently run, and had wonderful speakers and attendees.

The panel was filled with women at Nest in technical roles (managerial levels and independent contributors) at various stages in their careers. It was really helpful to hear about how they came to tech and then Nest specifically.

I learned a lot, but these were the three main things I’ve retained:

  • One of the speakers recommended having people in your corner who are looking out for you. And she said that men can make great allies in your career trajectory. In her personal history, a lot of men looked out for her success; pushed her into roles they knew she was ready to tackle, even when she didn’t yet believe in herself. (She noted that they tended to be men with daughters, which made me think about Darrell, the UserTesting CEO, who has daughters and is very supportive of women’s issues.)
  • Impostor syndrome came up a lot. It’s not like I felt like I was the only one who sometimes felt like an impostor, but I’ll go ahead and admit that it feels good to not feel so alone in the world. Apparently this is a thing but you know what, keep doing what you were going to do anyway, despite feeling like you don’t belong. Eventually you’ll let yourself belong.
  • That Nest would host such a large event in support of women in tech says a lot about the company’s priorities, which definitely elevated this particular company in my eyes in terms of wanting to consider working there as a woman in tech. Yay, Nest!🙂


PyLadies SF: Lightning Talks Meetup at Yelp


On Tuesday August 9, 2016, I attended my very first coding-related Meetup. It was organized by PyLadies of San Francisco in collaboration with Women Who Code SF. The theme of the meetup was lightning talks, so speakers had 5 minutes to do their presentation. It appealed greatly to my short attention span!

You can see the full list of speakers in the Meetup listing, but here were some standouts for me personally (although most were really interesting!):

  • Xun Tang from Yelp spoke about using Yelp’s public dataset to predict how likely a random (anonymized) user is to give a business a five star rating (link to slides). As someone who relies on Yelp for a lot of things, I’d love to dig into its dataset once I get my bearings.
  • Lena Gunn spoke about working remotely. She had a lot of great advice about successful collaboration and I will butcher it in my summation here, but, here goes:
    • Be direct.
    • Ask effective questions.
    • Own your own time.
    • Learn to facilitate meetings, even when they’re not yours.
  • Lisa Ballard spoke about the site she built out of a fascination for space, wherein she used Python to track where the space probes are: http://spaceprob.es/
  • Liz Lee talked about her non-profit to help people dealing with online harassment: http://www.onlinesosnetwork.org/
  • Rachel Thomas gave a great talk on deep learning, something that I knew 0% about prior to her talk (link to slides). My favorite quote from her talk: “An image is just a matrix of numbers.” Mindblown. Seriously. (Apparently TensorFlow is a good place to get started on learning about this.)
  • Melissa Skevington talked about how she took Gmail data of her family’s group emails and made this site: http://www.skarkov.com/ And from the data, she was able to prove that her parents loved her the most due to the response rate to her messages specifically (versus her sisters). Irrefutable. And easily, the funniest talk of the night.
  • Michelle Glauser, hostess with the mostest, recently started Techtonica to provide free tech training for underrepresented populations in the Bay Area. For free. If you’d like to volunteer, I know she can use the help!

Outside of learning a lot of random, cool things from these wonderful speakers, I also met some great women. So nice, so welcoming. It was an awesome experience overall and I’m really excited about future events!

Black Mountain Backpack Camp in the Monte Bello Preserve

I’ve lived most of my life in the Bay Area and only really started backpacking in 2015. Now that I have all of my own backpacking gear, I’m trying to do it more. But it’s hard sometimes because it can take a long time to drive to the trailhead itself.

Enter: Monte Bello Preserve. I initially saw this listed on Brice Pollock’s post and thought it’d be worth checking out.  Then I bought the One-Night Wilderness book and it was listed in there, too.

Some random tidbits from my night away alone:

  • The relatively short hike to the backpack camp was easily one of the most brutal I’ve ever experienced in my life. EVER. (And I’ve hiked Half Dome.) I did this on July 24, 2016 and the weather was hot and most of the trail was exposed. The heat reflecting off the dirt made Earth feel like a sauna with every step I took. Whenever I reached a small shady spot, I had to psyche myself up to keep hiking. It was so hot.
  • With that said, I’d recommend doing this in late fall or early spring.
  • I took a nap as soon as I got there and set up camp. Naps rule!
  • I really wanted to test out my new hammock. Yes, I finally camped without a tent (though I carried the tent anyway, just in case there were no trees). It was so comfy and afforded a beautiful view of the sun setting and the stars rising.
  • It got so hot in the middle of the night that I had to get out of my sleeping bag.
  • I tried the Knorr Pasta Sides for dinner (yay, $2 dinner). As I didn’t actually hike that much (about 2 miles) and it was so hot, I ended up not finishing the meal. Overall, pretty delicious.
  • As you can see in my rig, I had to use my sleeping pad to shield the wind from the stove to cook dinner.
  • As I was milling around the camp around 6 PM, this random male hiker came over and talked to me about the camp. He seemed friendly enough, but since I was there all by myself and, well, no one else was around for miles, my spidey senses kicked into high alert immediately. I think I acted pretty normally, but do wonder if other solo female hikers experience this feeling. The thing is, I’m usually not the kind of person to think that strangers are out to harm me, either. It was weird that I felt that. Or maybe not?
  • I had work the next day (Monday), so as soon as I woke up at 6:19 AM, I packed up and hiked out. I’m secretly obsessed with how efficiently / quickly I can do things, and noted that it took me about 10 minutes to pack everything up. Woohoo!🙂