Good Things From Other People — June 9

The Healthcare Essay You Need to Read

Sarah Kliff’s essay for Vox on how patients’ free labor is crucial to our healthcare system echoes conversations I’ve had — but Sarah made the whole discussion a lot clearer.

Support AlterConf

In order to maintain the current pace of AlterConfs, Ashe Dryden needs to raise $100,000. I attended AlterConf Portland last year and it was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in my life. I encourage you to watch all of the videos from past AlterConfs, as well as financially support the events.

Make Your First Twitter Bot

Cheap Bots, Done Quick will help you create a new Twitter bot with no coding knowledge. Try it out!

Food by the Numbers

How would you culinarily display the number of people living near a nuclear power plant? What about the number of Facebook users in Arab Spring countries? That’s exactly the question driving Data Cuisine. The creators of the site also offer data cuisine workshops, where they team up with a local chef to create dishes that will represent local data.

PyCon, by the Zines

I spent last week at PyCon NA (in Portland this year — how convenient!). I made a zine to hand out explaining the Python community in Portland, along with suggesting some events for out-of-towners.

Here’s a PDF you can download if you want to check it out.

Even better, I wasn’t the only zine maker at PyCon!

Jessica Garson organized a zine open space where I met a few other media makers. Jessica also gave a lightning talk about teaching with zines (her slides are here).

Roxanne Johnson presented during the poster session (Data People: Learn Python) and brought a zine she made called “Build Your Skills in Data Analysis.”

Audrey Eschright was working on The Recompiler while at PyCon and announced the next call for contributors, covering hardware.

Good Things From Other People — May 27

A Couple of Cool Circuits

Star Simpson’s crowdfunding campaign for Circuit Classics is already funded, but you should considr backing it if you’re interested in learning more about electronics. The Circuit Classics kits each teach a different electronics concept.

The Internet Doesn’t Run on Black Magic

Want to know what’s really going on when you start clicking around on a website? Lyzi Diamond wrote up an amazingly clear explanation of how the internet works. I’m keeping this in my reference file for later.

Callisto Needs Donations

The organization behind Callisto, Sexual Health Innovations, is holding a donation drive until the end of May. An unspecified donor has offered to triple donations received by the organization in May 2016. Selena Decklemann wrote a moving post on how Callisto would have helped her.

Read This Book

I’m maybe halfway through Delia Sherman’s Young Woman in a Garden and I can already tell that I’m going to re-read this short story collection time and again. Some of the stories are clearly fantasy, while others are more magical realism, but across the board, Delia has a delicate touch that makes her writing very enjoyable.

Good Things From Other People — May 19

A Sublime Sublime Theme

If you use Sublime Text, check out this elegant theme: Fairyfloss. The theme comes from Amy Wibowo, the publisher of BubbleSort Zines. Her approach to technology makes me feel like a kid in a candy factory!

Gendered Names in AI

Rose Eveleth wrote a look at the name of the new AI legal assistant from IBM you should definitely read. Using some hard numbers around the impact of gendered names, Rose drives home the impact of not only names but of the people who choose them.

Getting Started with Storium

Storium is a storytelling game that’s resulted in some particularly interesting tales. The game now has several beginner-friendly games pulled out to get new players started.

A Thing I’m Working On

As part of my work as co-chair of Open Source Bridge this year, I’ve promised to wear whatever one lucky backer selects (within certain limits). Even if you’re not interested in my services as a walking advertisement, check out the campaign and consider backing it.

Good Things From Other People — May 12

The Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship Fund

Lesbians Who Tech is raising money to provide scholarships for LGBTQ women who want to attend a code schoolscholarships for LGBTQ women who want to attend a code school. Given how hard it is to access financial aid to attend code schools, these sorts of scholarships are crucial!

A 13-Year-Old You Should Listen To

Sebastian W gave an excellent talk at AlterConf Minneapolis about how the internet criminalizes being a child. Sebastian makes his point clearly (and tells some really funny jokes).

The Phone Wallpaper I Just Downloaded

I’ve had a stock wallpaper on my Android phone since I switched from an iPhone a couple of months ago. I figured out how to change the wallpaper, just to install this design from Post Floral.

The Piggybank Post-Mortem

Oscar Godson had the idea for Portland-based startup Piggybank 3 years ago. He walked away from it about six months ago. Here’s why.

Good Things From Other People — May 5

A Conference with a Dash of Volunteering

Affect Conf covers the “work and design behind social change” and is reinforcing that commitment by including volunteer hours as a part of the conference schedule. Both the talks and the opportunity to see inside some local Portland non-profits are well worth the cost of admission. (Full disclosure: I’m on the content committee for this conference, so I am super excited about the talks we selected.) Register for Affect Conf here.

The Right Workbook

Kari Chapin and Hannah Lee teamed up with Scout Books to create an amazing workbook for the PLA earlier this spring. I got to see some of the pages in person and they’re amazing. Scout Books has a mini-case study on the project and now I can’t stop thinking about what sort of workbooks would really benefit my own projects.

A Better Fairy Tale

The Awl sends a weekly email newsletter that changes format every time. Last week, the format was a fairy tale with an ending that sounds pretty good to me. You can see that fairy tale (plus some great illustrations) online. You can also subscribe to the newsletter on the same page, if that’s your thing.

Maybe a Good Thing?

Stripe announced a new hiring initiative where entire teams can apply to work at the company as a group. This could be really valuable for applicants — if a team’s project ends, moving as a group to a new company can be ideal. There’s an argument to be made that it might even make things easier for folks earlier in their career to access certain companies if they can apply with folks who are more advanced.

But I also have some concerns: the tech industry has a diversity problem, in part because startups tend to hire from people they already know. Keeping teams intact may make landing a job without a personal network even harder, especially for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of working with a good team already. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this experiment.

Good Things from Other People — April 22

Probably the Best Video Synth App of All Time

Jason Grlicky has been working on Lumen for years, creating a software video synthesizers with an enjoyable number of buttons and knobs. I’ve seen a couple of pieces created using Lumen already and there’s a level of artistry that I never expected — and you can use it to make .gif-worthy animations.

Portland’s Slice of the Action

Mattermark did a nice little piece of analysis on the money raised by startups in different cities. The really short version? Most major startup hubs are losing momentum, financially speaking — NYC’s volume of investments dropped 81.68 percent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016. But there are still plenty of cities where the volume of investments rose dramatically, including here in Portland: Up 674.55 percent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.

The Best Rebuttal to Alex St. John

This essay from Amilia St. John is well worth the time you’ll spend reading it. It’s a clear rebuttal of the arguments her father, Alex St. John has made online. Amilia has also taken the time to cite her sources and provide context, while also still maintaining a sense of humor. And Amilia’s explanation of what would really happen if her father’s opinions were correct has a certain delightful twist to it: “Given my allegedly inflexible millennial tendencies and gender inherited victim complex, I have no doubt I will eventually give up on tech and be forced to move into his home (I hope he has space) where I intend to start my dream blog about the college tuition bubble and how baby boomers ruined our economy.”

Following Up from Last Week

The full version of The Recompiler’s third issue is now live online. Read all of it. And when you realize that it’s all amazing, subscribe to the print edition.

Good Things from Other People

Since I haven’t been so great about writing up my own escapades of late, I figured I’d start writing about some of the great things other people are doing so that I can get back in the blogging habit. So here are five things you should take a look at. There’s no particular order beyond not being able to get these ideas out of my head.

Scaling Up a Business

I’m lucky enough to hang out with entrepreneurs pretty much constantly. Two of my friends are in the process of scaling up their businesses, in two very different ways.

Audrey Eschright, the publisher of The Recompiler, is running an experiment: she’s asking for funding to support offering a free online edition of the third issue of the magazine. She’s broken down exactly why — the magazine’s sustainability requires additional revenue. At the time I’m writing this, by the way, Audrey’s just $450 shy of her goal. I not only subscribe to the print edition of The Recompiler, but I also write for it occasionally, so I’m looking forward to the online release of Issue 3.

Kronda Adair is taking a different approach — which makes sense given that she founded a very different type of company. Earlier this month, Kronda wrote a post cataloging the list of changes she’s making at Karvel Digital, including exactly what sort of web design and marketing services she’s offering clients. Given that websites really aren’t ‘set it and forget it’ tools, Kronda is adapting her business to provide the support that keeps her clients getting value out of their website long after the web design process is over. What I find really fascinating, though, is that Kronda is creating a program for people who will never hire her directly. She’s creating Websites that Work, a course that guides individuals and organizations through creating successful websites on their own. The course is geared towards small businesses that can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a website. Kronda is funding the course through an IndieGoGo campaign ending in 8 days.

A ‘Now’ Page

I spend a lot of time staring at other people’s websites, whether I’m looking for an interviewee, a speaker, or someone to rope into whatever escapade I’ve come up with lately. Mike Vardy wrote up a trend that I would like all of us to adopt: the ‘now’ page. Sort of like a more specific ‘about’ page, the ‘now’ page is just a quick run down of what you’re actually working on these days. I’ve started writing up my own ‘now’ page.

Spreadsheets, But Better!

I get excited about spreadsheets in a way that probably concerns normal folks. (This XKCD comic hits a little close to home.) On the plus side, the folks over at Airtable also seem to get emotional about good spreadsheets, and they’ve created a spreadsheet tool so fantastic that I’ve been bringing it up in every spreadsheet-related conversation I can. It’s got a lovely user-experience and is easy to work with, and in perhaps the smartest move since selling pre-sliced bread, Airtable makes all your spreadsheets available via APIs. I have a referral link you’re welcome to use (I get credit to support my insane spreadsheet habits!). You can get most of the functionality you’ll want out of Airtable on a free account, by the way.