Tag Archives: podcasts

Great Podcast: 13 Mistakes and 13 Brilliant Strokes

One of my favorite podcasts is the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast. Yesterday, I listened to Hugh Martin of Pacific Biosciences "13 Mistakes and 13 Brilliant Strokes". This is definitely worth the time (54 minutes). Martin has started companies and worked for Kleiner Perkins.  The talk has tidbits ranging from how to grow a company to how to form a company to avoid an inopportune sale by anxious VC's.  It's definitely worth listening to!

Podcasts I’ve listened to recently …

Here are some podcasts that I've listened to in the last week or so, and what I've learned:

  • Hanselminutes: Tom and Mary Poppendieck discuss Lean Software Development.  One topic discussed is "Using Success as a Metric", imploring us to consider that perhaps the metrics that we use to measure success (on time, on budget, in scope) may be inappropriate.  It's always a pleasure to listen to the dynamic duo of lean software development.  I learn something every time I listen to them (or revisit one of their books).  This episode really drives home the importance of determining if a product is a business success.  What good is it to have met cost, schedule and scope if quality and customer satisfaction aren't met?  And how do you determine which measures are important?  So her MEASURE UP chooses a single higher level measurement (e.g., business success, profitable Profit/Loss statement) and balances those against other lower level measurements.  My first exposure to Mary's simple measurement technique was at CodeMash '07 when she suggested that rather than asking a series of survey questions about talks, ask the simple question, "Would you recommend this talk to a colleague?".  Simple. Interesting.
  • Hanselminutes:  Determining the meaning of "done", with Ken Schwaber.  I was really interested in his discussion of what happens when schedules are tight and how software developers are encouraged to minimize tasks and cut corners, and change the meaning of "done" but leaving behind a lot of technical debt with things that still need to be accomplished but aren't in the definition of done.  And so we all feel stressed and incompetent.  Scott drew an interesting analogy to David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD), where if we could only get things into a list (backlog in scrum/agile), then we wouldn't feel so stressed about having to keep those things in our head or not recognizing them as contributing to "done".
  • .NET Rocks: Mark Miller on the Science of Good UI. Mark has a lot of good points about UI design.
  • .NET Rocks: Dan Appleman and Kathleen Dollard on Kids in Computing.  This is an interesting discussion by technologists who also happen to be parents, both about kids USING computers and their interest, or lack thereof, in programming them. 
  • Java Posse Newscast (Episode # 194): As always, the Posse point out interesting things going on in the development community.  Most notable from this week is the discussion of the Fan language, which targets both the Java VM and the .NET CLR.  Regardless of whether or not the language has traction, it's always interesting to "hear these guys think".  They frequently brainstorm on the podcast, and this discussion is a good example of how fun those discussions are, and why they continue to put so much time into this podcast.  Having spent time with them at the Java Posse Roundup, I can say that they really do just sit around and talk about stuff just as they do on the podcast.  I'm very glad to see that they keep the podcast "real" by being as genuine in their discussions on the "air" as they do when they're not recording.

Immersing Students in Research Projects

NSF and Oakland University's REU program

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to speak at the Oakland University REU program, for Computer Science students. The program is funded by the NSF to encourage students to pursue graduate programs and careers in computer science.

Students participate from around the country in this 10 week program and it sounds quite interesting.  One of the groups is doing some biochemistry/neural net research toward drug discovery.  I was surprised to see that the students even receive a stipend to participate in the program (as well as a travel subsidy and housing).  I would definitely encourage college students to apply! 

Yesterday's program brought in several professional women to discuss, in particular, women in computer science fields.  The speakers were all quite different, so I think that the students got a well-rounded view of the industry, from small companies like mine to large companies like Dow Chemical, all of the way to what it's like to direct a university's IT department to what Post-Docs do.   Sadly, I had to miss two of the speaker's presentations, but it was an interesting day.

I talked about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and how unlikely it seemed to me, when I was a student that I would have my own company. I feel like I'm quite risk averse, but I've really learn to accept the risk that comes along with working in my own business as ME being the one who is managing the risk rather than being at the mercy of my boss (who may or may not be truthful with me about the financial status of the company).

I also talked about how I try to stay current, focusing a lot on podcasts and blogs.  I told the students about some of my favorite podcasts (all are available for free on iTunes, but also on websites).

  • Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, for business advice
  • The Java Posse
  • DotNet Rocks
  • IT Conversations

I also really encouraged the students to become involved with user groups in their area (and hoping that one of the students comes out for the July meeting of the Python User Group).  I told the students that in the Ann Arbor area, our user groups are suffering from an aging demographic and that we all feel that we would really benefit from some younger opinions and participation. I know that it's intimidating, but I got some feedback about how to welcome students.  I will likely approach the Ann Arbor Computer Society about doing a program geared toward students and heavily advertise it at the local colleges and universities.

Most of the other speakers discussed work/life balance, which always seems to be a topic at these events, as it was at MICWIC earlier this year.  With 2 young kids at home (ages 2 and 4), this is a work in progress for my husband and I.  The only advice I can offer to students in that regard is to choose their spouse wisely.  Thankfully, I did that right.  One of the participants commented that it didn't seem like any of us had any "down time".  I assured her that I had plenty of down time before the kids were born!  For me at least, it's not the job, but the kids (but they're fun in a totally different way).

We had lunch at the gorgeous Meadowbrook Hall, where photos are prohibited.  There are photos and history on their web page.  If you're in the Detroit area, and haven't visited Meadowbrook, it's definitely worth the trip.

Anyhow, the students were great and I really think that they did a good job with the Women in Computing Day.  By pairing each speaker with a student, they gave each student the opportunity to participate in the process (through introductions).  I hope that they had a good time; I certainly did.

Oakland University's REU program

Meadowbrook Hall, on Oakland's campus

Brooklyn Bridges Program
Brooklyn College in City University of New York (also NSF funded)