Categories
Technology WordPress

Ladies Learning WordPress

Yesterday I had the huge pleasure of mentoring at another Ladies Learning Code workshop, led by the multi-talented Elida Arrizza. This one was very close to my heart, since it was WordPress for Beginners.

The 40 participants learned a ton throughout the day, from installing WordPress locally, to getting a handle on The Loop, through customizing a theme.

Ladies Learning Code WordPress Agenda
The Day’s Agenda

Have a peek at the slides and learner files on Github and some of the day’s tweets:

I’ve had a blast mentoring with Ladies Learning Code and look forward to more events in the fall. Special thanks to Nancy Naluz for bringing LLC to Montreal and doing a fabulous job organizing the workshops.

Categories
Technology WordPress

The Gentle Art of the Flatter-Nag

Much digital ink has been spilled on the subject of diversifying the speaker pool at tech events, and in particular, getting more women to give presentations. (I won’t rehash that conversation here, and if you don’t think diversity at tech conferences is important, this post isn’t for you.)

I want to share a simple technique I use to try to get more awesome women speaking at events I care about. And it’s pretty simple. I contact all the women I know who have expertise in the subject at hand – often WordPress – and encourage them to speak.

It’s so simple, but it works. Very often women let self-doubt take over, and need that extra nudge to submit a talk. A friendly word or two of encouragement is often all it takes.

Behold: The Flatter-Nag

flattery battery
flattery battery courtesy of roadsidepictures

One of my friends who I recently prodded to submit a talk to a local conference gave my technique a name I think is quite apt:

Flatter-nagging: Asking someone to do something while simultaneously complimenting them.

Sometimes, they respond that they’d been thinking of applying, but weren’t sure what to pitch. So I help them brainstorm ideas – starting with the simple question “What are you most passionate about when it comes to WordPress” – and that usually helps to narrow down the topic pretty quickly.

Sometimes, the reaction is more like, “Who, me?” They don’t feel like they know enough to speak publicly about WordPress. What I find fascinating is this response has come from people who help users troubleshoot WordPress issues all day! (It’s amazing how we take our knowledge for granted, myself included.)

I gently remind them that they surely know more than they think, and that people love hearing speakers share what they’re passionate about.

If this is an issue you care about, try out my technique sometime – or share it with others. I hope you’ll find it simple, but effective.

Categories
Personal Technology

Robot Calling

The phone rings.

robot on the phone
(cc) Free Press

I glance at the caller ID screen and don’t recognize the number, so I don’t bother picking up. If I’m near a computer or my iPad I’ll probably Google the number for clues.

I check voice mail. Oh, yay! I’ve won a cruise to the Bahamas… for the fourteenth time this year.

Nine out of ten phone calls I get these days are either surveys or robocall spam. The automated calls from my local Honda dealership that are so conversational they sometimes suck me into replying “Hello?” are particularly annoying.

The days of friends and family calling to chat are just about over – and I’ll admit I’m rarely compelled to initiate a call myself. My dad still calls to catch up now and then, which is refreshing.

I miss the sound of the phone ringing as something positive to look forward to. Would it be a friend wanting to see how I’m doing? A family member calling to share their latest news?

I wonder if I’m being nostalgic for no good reason. Email, Facebook, and Twitter are are the main ways I communicate these days, and they seem to serve me well. And yet, every time the phone rings and it’s not a real human, I get a little wistful.

Do you miss having “real” conversations on the phone? Do you still call your friends?

Categories
Technology

Learning from Beginners

Ladies Learning CodeI spent yesterday mentoring an eclectic group of students at a Ladies Learning Code workshop, which introduced HTML and CSS – the building blocks of web design – to a roomful of 40 eager learners. LLC is an amazing cross-Canada nonprofit – with chapters from Newfoundland to Victoria – “working to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-friendly technical skills in a social, collaborative way.”

There was one mentor for every four to five participants – an incredible ratio that allowed us to spend plenty of hands-on time with each student, giving more one-on-one attention to those who needed it.

My group included a Java programmer who’d barely touched HTML before but caught on quickly; a graphic designer encouraged by her company to learn more about what happens to her mockups after they get sent to the website integrators; a married couple consisting of a PhD film student and a social-media specialist at a nonprofit (the couple that learns to code together stays together?); and a Master of Library & Information Studies student who realized she needed to up her game on the tech front, with her school symbolically about to dump the word “Library” from the program’s name.

Venturing outside my usual sphere of WordPress geeks was refreshing. It reminded me that more people than I think use PCs. That not all men taught themselves programming at age eleven. That semi-colons are darned important. That the music HTML and CSS make together is magical. That watching people have lightbulb moments never gets old. That getting women excited about technology is a worthy endeavour.

P1010909

Categories
Technology

Backslash No More

Dear CBC Radio,

I have some news for you – a role-reversal, I know.

It’s not a backslash. When you’re reading out a show’s URL on the air, that character after your domain name, you know the one I mean. It’s not a backslash.

Unless you’re a computer programmer, if you’re under 40 or started using computers later in your life, you likely don’t even recall the need to ever type a backslash. For most folks, the backslash’s usefulness was relegated to the dustbin of operating-system history when Windows supplanted the dreadful DOS as the PC’s OS du jour. The backslash’s glory days were over by the late eighties, early nineties at the latest.

Just in case you’re not clear about what I mean, see the \ character in the middle here:

c prompt

That is a backslash.

The Web has been a daily presence in many people’s lives for nearly twenty years. It’s common knowledge that the slash in a URL goes to the right – in other words, forward.

So, dear CBC radio announcers, could you please stop reading out URLs as “CBC.ca backslash show name”? It makes you look antiquated and out of touch. It makes listeners cringe. And it’s just plain incorrect.

By the way, I’m only bringing this to your attention because I care so much about you. I’m not picking on you – it’s like telling a friend she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe: a brief moment of embarrassment followed by gratefulness and relief.

xoxox

kp

xkcd comic strip
xkcd perfectly encapsulates my feelings on the matter