I’m a Daydream Believer

Originally published in The Human in the Machine on August 12, 2017

As I’m writing this, I don’t really remember why I agreed to write a post about productivity. I have a tendency to say yes because I think I should do something, not because I want to do it. And I certainly don’t want to write about productivity, because then I’ll have to admit that I’m horrible at being productive.

Don’t get me wrong, I can get things done when I need to. I once wrote a 50-page software manual in one day. I’ve written entire talks starting at 10 p.m. in a hotel room the night before the conference. But it has taken me almost three weeks to get started writing this post.

Starting is the hardest part of being productive. Although the middle and the end are hard, too. I have ADHD, so I have trouble keeping my concentration in one place. Right now I work for myself, in a home office, so there is no end to the distractions. Sometimes I just have the sudden urge to dust all the baseboards in the house even though I’m running short on time to get something done before a deadline. (That was yesterday. In my defense, the baseboards did really need dusting.)

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Improving Diversity in Tech Conference Presentation Slides

We talk all the time about the diversity of tech conference speakers. Many conferences aim for having 50% women speakers; other conferences have barely any women at all and make no effort to change that. We talk less often about how many people of color are on stage, but that’s a big issue too, and many conferences are making an effort to improve in that area as well.

But once the speaker gets on stage, does the diversity end there?

I often use stock photos in my slide decks, usually of people using computers and mobile devices. I took a look at one of my recent slide decks, and although I included a good mix of women and men, I found out that only one of the ten photos of people in the deck was of a person of color. That wasn’t intentional, and now that I’m aware of it, I want to do better.

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UX of Directional Signs at Border Crossings

I occasionally watch the TV show Border Security and one of the things that always bothers me is when they have someone who was driving in the U.S. near the border without intending to cross into Canada, but took a wrong turn and ended up at the border crossing.

Definitely street and road signs are often confusing; there have been many times I’ve missed an exit or taken the wrong turn because I couldn’t figure out what the signs were telling me. But I would think that near an international border they would do everything possible to make sure people don’t cross the border accidentally.

Oddly, if you wind up at a border crossing, they don’t let you just turn around and go back. Even if you didn’t intend to enter Canada, once you are at the border you are considered to be entering Canada and all the relevant laws and rules apply. If you weren’t planning to cross the border, you probably aren’t prepared and this can cause big problems: you probably don’t have your passport with you, you may have items in your car that are legal in the U.S. but not in Canada (guns, for example), or your immigration status in the U.S. may not allow you to leave and re-enter the U.S. Read more ›

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Badass Woman #4: ImeIme Umana

ImeIme UmanaIn January, ImeIme Umana was elected the first Black woman president of the Harvard Law Review.

A law review is a scholarly journal focusing on legal issues. The editors of the Harvard Law Review are 92 students who are selected on a mostly competitive basis, and then the editors all vote on which editor will be president. The law review president is basically the highest position a student can hold at Harvard Law School — and the Harvard Law Review is one of the most prestigious law journals in the world, with the largest circulation of any law review.

Past presidents of the Harvard Law Review include Barack Obama, who was the first Black president of the law review in 1990. Read more ›

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