UNIVAC computer, Computer History Museum

Letting Go of a Beloved Technology

It’s both the blessing and the curse of tech that there is always something new to learn, invent, and do. Some technologies require years of study and practice to become truly skilled at, and it can seem as if, the minute you finally reach a pinnacle of achievement with Technology X, along comes Technology Y – and everyone is excited to switch to it.

It’s a painful reckoning. The technology that you loved, worked hard at, possibly helped to create, is being eclipsed. All that you have invested in it – blood, sweat, brains, tears, and time – now feels like wasted effort. What should you do? Continue reading

Deirdré and Brendan at Kata Tjuta

Australia 2014-2015

This was our second trip to Australia – we went three Christmases in a row. The tickets had been paid for before we realized I had breast cancer, and, as it turned out, the trip was an important respite between surgery and chemotherapy.

I only learned for sure that I would have to have chemo the day we landed in Sydney. Knowing that we would be returning to months of hellish treatment, we decided to have as much fun as we could during our vacation! Continue reading

Giving Women Credit

What can be done to improve retention of women in tech? Here’s one suggestion: recognize and reward our accomplishments. As management advice goes, this may seem obvious, even trivial, but it can have huge impact on women’s job satisfaction and career advancement.

Everyone has been given career advice like this:

“In addition to doing excellent work, you must make sure that your work is recognized. This may consist of making a point to tell your boss, or your boss’s boss, what you have done—either orally, or by sending reports or copies of pertinent correspondence.

Deborah Tannen: Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work

In other words, “lean in.” But… there’s a Catch-22 for women in such advice. Continue reading



A few (extremely busy) weeks ago, Brendan Gregg wrote a blog post very different from his usual technical treatises: it was about me. And it’s probably the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.

It’s taken me a while to come up with an adequate response – I have been, most uncharacteristically, struck dumb. 

But, finally… here goes.

Asked to speak at a stranger’s bachelor party, Bill Murray had this excellent advice to give on love and marriage:

“If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t just think… ‘Okay, let’s make a date. Let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world… go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back… you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”

Continue reading

Cancer: The Aftermath

It’s been 11 months since I finished chemo. I’ve had one mammogram (January), due for another in June, with follow-up visits each time with my oncologist, radiation oncologist, and surgeon. So far all clear.

So what happens after cancer is “vanquished”? Frankly, it’s not pretty, or easy, and I haven’t had much mental space to experience feelings of relief or even to simply be glad I survived. My body has been a battlefield for over 18 months. I’m scarred, physically and emotionally, in ways that may never heal. And there are plenty of side effects of treatment still to deal with… Continue reading