Category Archives: Personal

“All hearts beating as 1″

Over the last year and a half I’ve had the opportunity to meet tons of amazing non-white male individuals in the tech industry. It’s been an extraordinary experience to feel, sometimes, that I am not the only one of my kind in the industry, despite having been the only woman in the room for many years in many offices, meetings and other events.

I’ve learnt from their code and their approaches, laughed with their satire, empathised with their personal issues, shared experiences over local food, listened to their local customs, compared them to mine, felt uncomfortable, learnt from this discomfort and understood that not everything is as simple as we think or tacitly accept it is. They are strong, and fragile, and stout, and delicate, and complex, and different, just as I am different from them. This diversity not only has shocked me and my stupid preconceptions and biases, it has also made me grow, and I cannot stress this enough–they’ve made me a better person than I was.

I hardly see most of them in person because we live so far apart, but we still connect online, here and there. Social networks, blogs, meatspaces. I like knowing they are there, sharing the little joys that make them smile, supporting them wherever I can, them supporting me when I feel down, being part of this spontaneous network.

Thank you for being there. I heart you all.

Being a minority in tech is exhausting, consuming, destroying. Unless you’re in one of these minorities, you have no idea of the immense pressure that is applied over you, from every direction, every day. Microcuts, microaggressions, “innocent” comments loaded with double meanings which end up engendering feelings of self doubt and inadequacy. Gross comments. The trolling. I have seen the breakdowns, and they are not pretty. There’s only so much one can handle. Despite all the pressure and impossible requirements we’re supposed to fulfill, we’re just humans, after all.

There’s no week in which I don’t heard of “some episode” from my close circle of IT friends. Most of them never go public. But they are there. They happen.

This week has been incredibly shitty.

I want to keep learning from all these new found friends in the future. I want you to learn from them too. I want them to keep being who they are, and not retreat into a shadow of themselves because they are scared. I want to see this minority grow until it’s just not a minority anymore, and just plain boring normality. Help us make this possible. Watch this:

And watch it a second, and a third time. Internalise the message.

And do something about it.

Short on time? Here’s some CJ quotes:

  • “All change starts with yourself”.
  • “How you act is what your values are”.
  • “Hire someone who doesn’t look like everybody else in your team”
  • “I need you to do something that I can’t do. Stop bad behaviour when you see it.”

And my personal tip: it starts with shutting up, and listening. Really listening.

PS title taken from jen‘s tweet:

From Webcam to Animated GIF: the Secret Behind chat.meatspac.es!

I wrote a guest post for David Walsh’s blog! Here’s it: From Webcam to Animated GIF: the Secret Behind chat.meatspac.es! Read it if you want to find out how to make GIFs with your webcam in JavaScript.

David asked me if I could write this article past year in November. I very clearly remember reading the email at an insane hour while I was jetlagged in Vancouver, right after CascadiaJS had finished, but I have been busy with approximately 18912731823 other things in the meantime. There were also browser bugs to be isolated and fixed, so it’s been a bit of time since then.

It’s funny that I’m flying back to Portland for CascadiaJS and then Vancouver again next week.

Well, actually it’s not funny, it’s thrilling. Yay!

See you there if you’re there, or see you here when I’m back! :-)

Freaking out

I have been to two conferences in the past two days. The first one was in Amsterdam, the second one in Barcelona. At the first one, people would just introduce themselves and maybe we would shake hands. There would also be some good 50 cm between us while we spoke. That was good, and I felt relaxed and at ease.

In Barcelona, it was all totally different. I would be introduced to someone, and unless I was quick enough to lift my hand and make it clear that I would only shake hands, that person would be cheek-kissing and/or hugging me before I knew.

I quickly started feeling uneasy, and as the interactions added up, I was really freaking out at the end of the day.

I hate strangers cheek-kissing me. I hate strangers getting close to me. In general terms, I hate being touched by people, unless they are my family or close friends. And then not even that much.

You are not my friend. We might, in the future, get to be acquaintances and maybe friends. But so far, this is a professional setting, and you should behave that way. Do you kiss your plumber? Do you go around kissing cashiers in the supermarket? Then why are you doing that to me?

Sod the social customs. Why do we women have to consent to have our personal space invaded by a stranger? Respect my boundaries, and I’ll respect you.

Yes, I know that for Spanish people this is “the norm”. But you have to understand that:

  • it freaks out other Spanish people too, it’s not only me.
  • you freak out people from other countries who are not used to that.
  • to hell with the norms.

When you freak people out they are not going to want to interact with you ever again and it might also ruin the day for that person, who will be now on the defensive instead of being relaxed and in a nice mood. Is that what you wanted? I bet not.

I want to think that you all have good intentions but not a clue about what your actions are causing, and that’s why I’m going to ask you to please change the way you approach people in conferences:

A friendly “hello” should suffice to start a conversation. Keep a reasonable distance and let them initiate the hand-shaking, if they want to. In some cultures, women won’t touch men in public, for example, and you have to respect that. And of course, don’t try to hug or kiss them.

A year at Mozilla!

Today marks effectively my first year at Mozilla! A year and a day ago I took my flight to San Francisco and then spent my first week in Mountain View, meeting most of my team mates. Since then, I’ve…

  • been involved in 181 Mozilla bugs
  • done 2151 “things” in github.
  • gone to 17 events, of which I spoke or something similar in 7 of them

When I joined, I said I wasn’t sure what I’d be working on–it would be web related, and so far it’s been. I also said I would not be working in Firefox, and I still am not, but I’m getting closer: I’m lending a bit of my brain to Developer Tools, and I’ve also contributed to Firefox itself by reporting some interesting WebRTC and Web Audio bugs that I accidentally triggered building something else. I’m glad my crazy ideas end up contributing to the betterment of the product and the platform and we can all both enjoy the web and enjoy building for the web :-)

But it’s not all about “the productivity”. If you told me a year ago that I would end up meeting, working and even becoming friends with so many great people, I would have laughed in your face and tell you something like “go home, you’re drunk”. Seriously. It is pointless to try and list all of them here, but you know who you are, and I’m so glad I know you :-)

Finally, I’m seriously bad at “corporate theming”. So I don’t have any picture of myself with a Mozilla t-shirt, or a picture with a cute red panda to end up this post, not even a picture with a fluffy plush fire fox, so I’ll just leave you with this poser:

posing red panda
Walk into the club like…