Susan Kare on design

“What Every Young Designer Should Know, From Legendary Apple Designer Susan Kare”:

“People say graphic design is so different now, because you have so many more pixels and colors to work with,” Kare says. “But when you study art history, you see there’s just nothing new under the sun. Mosaics and needlework, it’s all analogous to pixel and bitmap art. And with it all, good design’s not about what medium you’re working in, it’s about thinking hard about what you want to do and what you have to work with before you start.”

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you say goodbye, I say hello

In saying goodbye to VMware, I decided to say hello to a new adventure.  As of last Monday, I started a new role at Genentech.

In some respects, Genentech and VMware have a lot in common.  Unless you directly work with one of the two companies, you might not have heard of them, but they’re doing important work behind the scenes.  VMware is the foundation of the datacenters and the clouds of many Fortune 500 companies.  Genentech scientists research treatments for diseases.  If you have been prescribed one of the treatments that we make, just like you might not know what software forms the cloud for your company or what is in your bank’s datacenter, you might not look up the name of the company that makes a medical treatment.

At Genentech, I’m working on Access Solutions, which offers coverage and reimbursement support services for patients and health care professionals.  I’m here to understand and improve the user experience of Access Solutions.  I’m a week and two days in to this new role, and I’m only beginning to understand the complexity of what I’ve undertaken.

Why am I here?  The answer is twofold.  First, this role scares me.  It’s very different in every way possible from working on software.  Taking a role like this that scares me is an excellent way to get out of my comfort zone, apply my skills in a new area, and stretch my abilities.  Second, as someone with degrees in computer science and math who has spent 15 years working on software, it’s not often that you get this kind of opportunity to make a material impact on the lives of people when they need all the support that they can get.  I couldn’t turn this chance down.  And so, here I am, sitting in Genentech’s US headquarters in South San Francisco.

I don’t know where this role will take me.  I can’t wait to find out.

Posted in Genentech, Nadyne, user experience | 2 Comments

four years at VMware

I joined VMware in November 2010.  The past four years have been a fantastic ride.  Since joining VMware, I have brought new research methods to the company, introduced an annual UX conference and monthly UX tech talk series, and spoken at many conferences.

Looking over my mail archives, I’ve touched many VMware products.  Some of them are probably always going to be VMware applications, like vSphere.  Some are no longer part of VMware but continue on, like Zimbra.  And some products don’t exist any longer, such as vCloud Director.  Looking at my UX projects documented on our internal wiki, I’ve worked on more than 20 VMware products in the past 4 years.  It’s been awesome to have the opportunity to work on such a broad range of products across VMware’s portfolio.

After four years, it’s time to try my hand at something new.  Thank you, VMware, for everything.

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installing ESXi 5.5 U2 patch 3 on a Mac Pro

As ever, my colleague William Lam is on top of things.  On Friday, he posted step-by-step instructions for installing ESXi 5.5 U2 patch 3 on a Mac Pro.  If you aren’t quite feeling up to doing it yourself, he’s even got an ISO for you to download.

Posted in Mac, vSphere | Leave a comment

43 GB of mysterious “other” on my iPhone

This afternoon, I ran into a problem with iTunes 8 and iOS 8 on my iPhone 5.  When I connected my iPhone, iTunes said that I had 43 GB of “other” data on my phone.  I had no idea what it was.

After much wrangling, I finally came up with a solution that did work.

On the iPhone, I erased it (Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings).  Then, after the iPhone finished erasing, I reconnected it to iTunes, and let it restore from backup.  At first, I thought it didn’t work because the iTunes screen still showed the big yellow bar of “other” data.  A couple of minutes later, it refreshed, and suddenly I had <1GB of “other”.  I did have to reboot my phone and my Mac a couple of times each during this process to get it to work, and I had to sync twice to get all onto the phone.


(Edited to add in some reboots.)

Posted in iPhone, Mac | 2 Comments

ESXi 5.5 Patch03 officially supports Mac Pro 6,1

I got some excellent news from our hardware compatibility team this week.  ESXi 5.5 Patch 03 now officially supports the Mac Pro 6,1.

As ever, William Lam at Virtually Ghetto has full details.

Posted in Apple, vSphere | Leave a comment

“Why are you in Fargo?”

It’s not an existential question, it’s what happens when the TSA encounters a Nobel Prize medal.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”

I’m not entirely convinced that they had a sense of humor to begin with, but we’ll let that one slide.

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Notable Women in Computing card deck

Those of us at GHC14 got to see the first version of the “Notable Women in Computing” card deck.  The people behind it have a Kickstarter for v2:

Women in this card deck were selected after receiving multiple, high-level awards from more than one institution, such as being named an ACM Fellow, IEEE Fellow, and receiving the Turing Award. Our deck also seeks to portray the true diversity of women in computing both current and historical, showcasing professionals from a variety of nations, backgrounds, gender identities, orientations and abilities. There are a dozen or more different groupings of notable women we could have turned into this deck; you can make your own using the instructions at the bottom of [the Kickstarter] page.

I kicked in $20 for v2 (one deck for me, one deck to be donated).


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this is what we face when we try to negotiate

One of the points that I discuss in “The Mid-Career Donut Hole” is that women are penalized for negotiating salary.  Women who attempt to negotiate are viewed as greedy, whereas there is no negative association for men who negotiate.  There have been many attempts at strategies for ameliorating this negative association, although the research is mixed about whether they are effective in doing so.

Today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave another example of how difficult it is for women to negotiate.  When asked at GHC14 about his advice for women who are uncomfortable asking for a raise, he said this:

It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.

According to Nadella, we can’t ask for a raise, we can’t negotiate our salary.  We just have to have faith in the system, which is the same system that has already given us a pay gap and an attrition rate more than twice that of men.

That answer is not sufficient.  As an industry, we have to do better.

Updated just after midnight: I see that, about the same time I posted this, Nadella sent an apology out to Microsoft employees.  I’m glad that Nadella, eight hours after saying such a thing and four hours after trying to pass off his original answer as “inarticulate”, apologized to his employees and acknowledged that his answer was “completely wrong”.  The apology is excellent.  

However, it doesn’t address the basic problem that women face when negotiating: the immediate gut response is “it’s not really about asking for a raise”.  It took the backlash  for it to be acknowledged that trusting the system is not the right answer.  In the vast majority of negotiations, there isn’t an audience watching and live-tweeting.  The gut reaction is the one that sticks, and results in women being penalized for trying to negotiate.  It’s still not enough for women to “just ask” for a raise.

And so, I say again: That answer is not sufficient.  As an industry, we have to do better.

Posted in Microsoft, women | 2 Comments

Google’s Tech gCareer Program

This looks like a great program out of Google that directly addresses some of the problems that women face in their mid-careers.

Google’s Tech gCareer Program is a 3-month program open to all qualified Software Engineers who have taken a break from a Software Engineering position at a high tech company. The program will provide participants with tailored technical training to help them bridge their knowledge gap as a result of extended leave. In addition to skills-based training and programming projects, cohort members will participate in professional development and mentoring sessions aimed at supporting their transition back to work.

Knowing how data-driven Google is, I hope that they will share how many people who go through their program are successfully able to get back into (and keep) a software engineering career.  If it’s successful, perhaps they’ll extend outside of coding too, and perhaps we’ll see other companies create similar programs.

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