Category Archives: my life in tech

The Efficiency Expert

When we lived in Bangkok during my childhood, my mother taught English as a second language at a language school for adults. One year, the teachers staged a Christmas play. I suppose that they did this partly to celebrate the holiday and give the students exposure to Western holiday traditions, but also because the students didn’t have many opportunities to hear English spoken. (This was well before videotapes. There was only one TV channel in Thailand at the time, which only ran a few hours of programming per week in English, and not many English-language movies were shown at Thai cinemas.)

The play, called “Santa and the Efficiency Expert,” was probably from a book of material considered suitable for children. The story takes place at Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, when someone decides that Santa’s operation is too old-fashioned, and brings in a ruthless efficiency expert to modernize it. The efficiency expert is accompanied by his wife (played by my mother), an even less sympathetic character. 

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Into Africa: Desktop publishing goes to Cameroon

Below is a piece published in Ventura Professional magazine (for users of Ventura Publisher software) around September, 1988. I was horrified that the magazine added cartoons of monkeys unloading a boat in a jungle, a giraffe, and a crocodile. I sent copies of the article to my students in Buea because I thought they’d like to see their names and accomplishments mentioned in print, but I apologized to them for the images. The photos above were not included in the article. – at the state of printing technology at the time, line art was a far cheaper option for the magazine.

Interesting aside: My writing style really hasn’t changed in 33 years.

Into Africa

Have Desktop Publishing, will travel? This lady does, and did from, as the movies used to say, darkest Africa to the snows of Kilimanjaro!

by Deirdré Straughan

What did I do on my summer vacation? Well, I spent most of August in Buea, Cameroon (West Africa), installing a desktop publishing system at the Pan African Institute for Development. PAID is one of four regional institutions which develop and conduct a variety of training programs for public and private sector participants from all over Africa. All such institutions generate a lot of paper, particularly in the form of training manuals. The World Bank’s Economic Development Institute saw that desktop publishing could be valuable to PAID and similar institutions, and asked us to install a system at Buea as a pilot project.

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All Things Open 2018

This was my first time attending ATO, and I delivered my Marketing Your Open Source Project talk. Brendan was also a speaker, though the organizers gravely miscalculated his popularity – they put him in a small room which ended up packed to the walls and way too hot.

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Dreamforce 2018

This used to be one of the world’s largest conferences, with around 180,000 attendees in 2018. Hotel rooms in San Francisco had long been sold out – in at least one prior year, the organizers had docked a cruise ship at a city wharf to house attendees. I was asked at the last minute to do live social media about AWS’ participation in the event, but where I lived in Campbell was too far from the city to commute to the conference, so one of the AWS events staff gave up her hotel room for me (I suspect she was grateful not to have to attend).

You can see in the above photo how big the “campus” was. Somehow the events that I was supposed to cover had me running from the Intercontinental Hotel on one end to the Salesforce tower on the other. At least I wasn’t stuck inside a single conference hall the entire time.

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Red flags in interviewing: How do they treat wait staff?

Everyone seems to have advice about what potential employers and employees should look out for in the hiring process. Some of the suggestions for job seekers come from a position of privilege, and assume that you have multiple job offers to choose among. This was never the case for me, so I completely understand that advice may only be useful when you have choices. What follows is a tip I’ve seen elsewhere, which I share because I have had occasion to confirm it for myself.

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