Into the Air with Michele Wood

Sep. 29th, 2016 04:58 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
The way Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Michele Wood approaches her picture books is a bit unusual, compared to the traditional way most picture books are made, and her newest book is but one example. Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song was her concept, and for it she created 13 striking original paintings. She then submitted the images, as she explains to me below, to author Cynthia Grady, who wrote text to accompany the artwork. Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner, took on the project, and it arrives on shelves this month.


Sep. 28th, 2016 08:43 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
At MidAmericon II I got to shake hands with Dr. Stanley Love and tell him that I liked his speech (he had accepted the Campbell Award for Best New Writer on behalf of his friend Andy Weir). When I later recounted this to friends I found myself saying things like "I reassured an astronaut, which means I will surely go to heaven" or "I couldn't lie to an astronaut! That's a sin!"

This led me to realize that astronauts are, vaguely, to the general US public now as Catholic nuns (at least schoolteacher nuns) were to previous generations. They are cloistered away to be closer to heaven. They have to live in close quarters and collaborate under conditions of micromanagement. They go through arduous selection processes and care a lot about education. Nuns had Rome, astronauts have Houston. We are in awe of their dedication and endurance and altruism and grace. And just the sight of one of their uniforms/habits triggers that reaction of awe.

(Your mileage may vary, conditions may apply, vanity, vanity, all is vanity.)

Designing for everyone

Sep. 28th, 2016 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How the new LightHouse for the Blind models building for inclusivity

The LightHouse lobby is welcoming to the sighted and blind alike. Photographs by Jasper Sanidad, courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates

This is what you see when you enter the new headquarters of the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco: After passing through glass doors and entering the lobby, your eyes are drawn across the reception area and the sofas and chairs neatly arranged next to it, before coming to rest on a large, modern staircase on the far side of the room next to windows that look out on the cityscape.

This is what it’s like to enter the space if you can’t see: After the glass doors swing silently shut, you enter an insulated space where the acoustics have been purposefully engineered so that you can hear the receptionist welcome you from across the room.

The cement floor is intentionally bare so that the sound of footsteps falling and canes tapping informs you that the space is full of life. If your hand were to graze against the furniture in the lobby, the material would be soft to the touch, as would the smooth wooden handrail to guide you up and down the staircase.

The new $20 million LightHouse, which opened its doors in June, was designed to be a multisensory beacon of community in the lives of the people it serves — those with little to no vision.

It’s also an example of universal design and an innovative workspace for the blind and sighted alike.

LightHouse stairs from the 10th floor

Space to connect

“How do you build a machine for community formation?”

This was one of the questions LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin asked himself in the early design process of the new headquarters.

The LightHouse had already gone through more than a few transformations in its 114-year history. The non-profit started out as a reading room for the blind in a San Francisco library. By 1918, it was a workplace for hundreds of blind people who made products such as rattan furniture, baskets, redwood planters, brooms, and industrial-strength rope and cable under the brand “Blindcraft.” The goal then, which was revolutionary at the time, was to reduce the high unemployment rate among the blind and enable self-sufficiency. After WWII, the center became a rehab center and classroom for returning soldiers, teaching them life skills like how to read Braille.

Today, the core mission of the Lighthouse is to teach and empower the blind community, in the Bay Area and beyond. Under Bashin’s leadership, another goal is to connect tech designers with the millions of blind and visually-impaired people who could benefit from more inclusive technology products and services. On a deeper level, the place provides opportunities for the newly-blind to find mentors and role models.

The idea of community is especially important to Bashin. He was a full-sighted kid. Like 95% of blind people, he lost his vision as an adult, and credits the blind people he met at the time with helping him enter into blindness in a way that made him feel positive and self-confident.

And that’s what he wants for others.

“When someone becomes blind, you’re thinking, what is my life going to be like?” says Bashin. “Is my life going to be confined to these drab social service organizations? Will I be around depressive people with low expectations or are there other opportunities? I want the message for blind people and their families, friends, and children to be one of play and potential.”

The design solution for this at the LightHouse was to dedicate a lot of space to chance encounters. The non-profit is spread out over the top three floors of an 11-story building. On each floor, there is a prominent lounge space full of comfy couches and chairs.

A LightHouse student in mobility training during orientation

The LightHouse still offers life skills classes such as cooking basics, how to walk with a white cane, and more advanced courses like ProTools for blind audio engineers, but for Bashin, the most important lessons aren’t learned in a classroom.

“They happen in informal education when you’re kicking back in a living room space,” he says. That’s when someone might hear a story about a blind person hopping on public transit and heading to another neighborhood for lunch. “Once someone hears that,” he says. “They will never be able to change their opinion of what a blind person can do.”

Design for the human condition

Part of the magic of the new LightHouse comes from how it was designed to be inclusive of all people.

“Typically, architects and designers design for a fairly narrow spectrum of the human condition,” explains Chris Downey, who worked with the architecture firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, as a consultant on the project. “There’s the assumption that we all walk around on two legs, have two arms, two eyes, and experience things in a typical standard way.”

In reality, as Downey knows firsthand, there are many variations of the human experience. He was a practicing architect for 20 years before a 2008 operation left him without his sense of sight or smell. Since then, he has specialized in architecture to accommodate the blind. He’s also a LightHouse board member and teaches universal design at UC Berkeley, which is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people.

In the case of the LightHouse, the architecture is bending to accommodate people, as opposed to people having to bend to accommodate to the architecture, he says. Examples include the attention paid to the level of lighting, more accessible signage, and all the intentional acoustics designed with audio engineers so the blind can experience the space through sound. It’s accessible to the blind, people experiencing hearing loss, or both, and those with mobility impairments.

“We assume the broadest range of human experience as we can for the space,” he says.

Board room with City Hall in the background

Importance of sound

Unsurprisingly, given all the attention put into the acoustics of the new LightHouse, it’s the most common thing sighted people comment on when they visit and experience the space through more than just their eyes. There is the absence of sound in some areas, like the incredible silence in the glass walled-meeting rooms, thanks to extra thick windows, and the wooden slats on some walls and ceilings and colored German felt on others that help insulate and control sound.

In other areas, like the open offices and lounge spaces, voices and energy drift out and infuse the LightHouse with life. Downey sees this attention to sound as a lesson we could learn.

“Typical office space is deadly silent and that’s good for concentration,” Downey says. “But there are times when a little life is helpful.”

Emily Brady loved learning that in LightHouse cooking classes students are taught to listen for the sound of water boiling.

Designing for everyone was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
A tiny book I found almost by chance in the university library while searching for books on evaluating student writing.

I like Carol Bly even when I don't agree with her -- which is fairly often -- so I was curious about what she had against workshopping student fiction. Well, it's this:

If a student is workshopping a manuscript with a deeply felt idea or emotion, but that idea or emotion isn't coming through effectively yet, workshoppers will tend to focus on issues of technique, and this will feel, to the writer, like an invalidation -- even in a small way -- of the deeply felt thing at the center of the story. When you reveal a deeply felt thing and it gets ignored, you feel shame. You feel like it was wrong (too personal, too intimate) to say what you said. And the result is that, as a writer, you get subtly dissuaded from writing anything genuine or passionate; you focus on technique when you should be going deeper into the heart of the story.

(Also, workshops are a way of passing the workload in a creative writing class from professors to students.)

It's an interesting thesis and I can't help but thinking about it in connection with fanfiction; I certainly can't characterize fanfic communities as supportive utopias, but I think that on the whole they do tend to validate the hot squishy stuff at the center of the story. And I think that great fanfic is indeed hotter squishier more intense and passionate than even most very good profic. (I mean, that's also because restraint is explicitly valued in literary fiction...)

The class that I'm in currently actually is explicitly constructed with the aim of recognizing and validating the thematic and emotional content in the piece before we talk about anything technical -- I wonder whether my prof has read Carol Bly or if it's something he got elsewhere -- and at the start of the semester I actually thought it was going to be too nice-at-the-expense-of-honest. But I was wrong. "I can tell you everything that's wrong with your story" doesn't get a person much closer to being a good writer, especially if we want to admit that a BIG PART of being a good writer is being open and vulnerable with your emotions on the page.

(Which doesn't mean writing autobiographically, or melodramatically, or sentimentally. It DOES mean that the most important stuff in your toolbox as a writer is the stuff that is personal to your own mind and your own heart.)
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Introducing new integrations with Salesforce CRM

Slack and Salesforce — both big parts of many people’s working lives. And the better we work together, the more productive you can be. That’s why we’re officially partnering with Salesforce to deliver several new integrations over the next month (with many more to follow). Here’s what’s coming:

Search Salesforce from Slack

Using the /salesforce slash command you can search for an opportunity, customer, contact, or lead in Slack. Your search will return three results, and when you click one, it will expand to provide you with basic account details right where you’re working.

Keep Chatter and Slack in sync

Use either the /chatter slash command or the /slack slash command to send updates from Slack into Chatter and vice versa.

Connect Slack channels with Salesforce records

Assign a Slack channel to a Salesforce customer record and a new section on that record will display the unread message count for the connected channel. This way anyone working in Salesforce will be able to see when an account is being actively discussed in Slack.

Finally, as an added bonus, Salesforce URLs will now unfurl in Slack and include better formatting.

These integrations will be available for your team to use in the next month. Want us to send you a message once they’re ready? Sign up to be notified at our Help Center.

Got a question or need help? Feel free to send feedback or tweet us at @SlackHQ.

Slack: Now with more Salesforce, and vice versa was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

[Linkspam] Monday, September 26

Sep. 26th, 2016 10:38 am
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
[personal profile] tim
'Ladies' Is Gender Neutral, by Alice Goldfuss (2016-09-15). "I hope this has opened some people’s eyes to what it feels like to be excluded, and how something so simple as a shirt that fits can make an impact."

My Childhood Was Appropriate For Children, by Annalee for The Bias (2016-09-23). "Bisexuality is perfectly appropriate for children, because many children are bisexual. Treating bisexuality as an ‘adult’ topic? As if it’s a deviation kids couldn’t possibly understand? That’s what’s not appropriate for children."

Valuing chronically ill graduate students, by Sarcozona for Tenure, She Wrote (2016-09-22). "None of my colleagues would ever say to me that they think I shouldn’t be a scientist or that chronically ill and disabled students should be barred from academia, but when there isn’t (adequate) funding for sick students, chronically ill students are effectively excluded from academia."

ADHD Tipping Points: Why people with ADHD suddenly seem to fall apart, and what you can do about it, by Emily Morson for Mosaic of Minds (2016-09-15). About why people with chronic illness (whether that illness is categorized as mental or physical) often seem to function normally up to a point, then fall apart during adulthood -- writte about ADHD, but I think it can apply just as well to C/PTSD and probably many other illnesses.

[CW: rape] Cockblocking Rapists Is A Moral Obligation; or, How To Stop Rape Right Now, by Thomas MacAulay Millar for Yes Means Yes (2013-10-20). Lots of good points in this, including the importance of noticing boundary-pushing, and this: "What can people do with unsubstantiated accusations? Quite a lot, actually."

Two pieces on the trash fire that is Out magazine's decision to profile professional harassment campaign organizer Milo Yiannopoulos:

Occupy Wall Street, five years on: fire in the dustbin of history, by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman (2016-09-17). 'Being on the left is, in some ways, an exercise in learning how to fail. Of course, all resistance movements eventually fail, because those which do not succeed in overhauling the existing order invariably become the existing order. Wilson, writing as Bey, reminds us that the Temporary Autonomous Zones are, by their nature, ephemeral. “Such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. You can't stay up on the roof forever — but things have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred — a difference is made.”'

Take the Cake: Fat Fury, Fat Love — Claiming 'Fat Space' In Activist Communities, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-09-08). "I too feel intense pressure to be perpetually kind, patient, and educational whenever I write or speak about fat discrimination and body image. Often, I do genuinely feel kind and patient and educational. The problem is that when I don’t feel that way, I am expected to bypass feelings of anger or disappointment in favor of sublimation, with the idea being that this sublimation benefits me/all people (since I am a subset of all people)."

Why I Quit My Job To Live Off My Private Wealth, by Fiona Pearce for Reductress (2016-09-20). "Life is about choices, and you only get one life to live. The only way to take control of your destiny is to decide how you really want to spend your time—which is why I chose to quit my job and live off my vast personal fortune."

New in October 2016

Sep. 26th, 2016 04:05 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
I started six different books over the weekend, and ended up giving up on all six of them. All six! Which was so disheartening, as fall is often prime reading time for me—chilly weather, hot tea, and fluffy blankets make for a perfect reading experience, don’t you think? So let’s take a look at six October titles I’ve got my eye on—maybe one of these six will break my current DNF streak:
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Leonard and I love seeing movies at the Museum of the Moving Image. Every few months we look at the calendar of upcoming films and decide what we'd possibly like to see together, and put it on our shared calendar so we remember. And for every showing (example) the MoMI provides an iCalendar (.ics) file, to help you add it to your electronic calendar. But it's a pain to individually download or refer to each event's .ics file and import it into my electronic calendar -- and the museum's .ics files' DTEND times are often misleading and imply that the event has a duration of 0 seconds. (I've asked them to fix it, and some of their calendar files have correct durations, but some still have DTEND at the same time as DTSTART.)

Saturday morning I had started individually messing with 30+ events, because the MoMI is doing a complete retrospective of Krzysztof Kieslowski's films and I am inwardly bouncing up and down with joyous anticipation about seeing Dekalog again. And then I thought: I bet I can automate some of this tedious labor!

bash terminal showing the successful output of a Python script (a list of movie titles and "Calendar ready for importing: MoMI-movies-chosen-2016-09-26.ics") So I did. The script (Python 3) takes a plain text file of URLs separated by newlines (see movie-urls-sample-file.txt for an example), downloads iCalendar files from the MoMI site, fixes their event end times, and creates a new unified .ics file ready for import into a calendar. Perhaps the messiest bit is how I use a set of regular expressions, and my observations of the customs of MoMI curators, to figure out the probable duration of the event.


  • It can be a bit slow as the number of URLs adds up -- it took maybe 5 minutes to process about 31 events. I oughta profile it and speed it up. But I usually only need to do this about six times a year.
  • This script is not careful, and will overwrite a previously created .ics file at the same address (in case you're running it twice in one day). It has no tests and approximately no error-checking. This was a scratch-my-own-itch, few-hours-on-a-Saturday project. No Maintenance Intended. 'no maintenance intended' badge
  • Absolutely not an official project of the Museum of the Moving Image.
Much thanks to the programming ecology that helped me build this, especially the people who made RegExr, Beautiful Soup (hi Leonard), Requests,, and the bpython interpreter, and the many who have written excellent documentation on Python's standard library. Thanks also to Christine Spang, whose "Email as Distributed Protocol Transport: How Meeting Invites Work and Ideas for the Future" talk at Open Source Bridge 2015 (video) introduced me to hacking with the iCalendar format.

Syllabus and stats

Sep. 24th, 2016 09:49 pm
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
[personal profile] deborah
I've updated the online reading list for my Fantasy and Science Fiction class at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College.

Some random statistics might be interesting. I kept track of them for my own purposes, and then I had too much fun with pivot tables, so I'm sharing some of my results. Keep in mind these are often guesses on my part, because I only needed rough numbers, and I could be wrong.Many stats! )
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[personal profile] tim
I thought I would make a list of my favorite Geek Feminism Blog posts, since it's a bit hard to find some of the great older posts there. I omitted my own posts as well as most cross-posts. (Excluding cross-posts excluded some of my favorite posts, alas, but I wanted to focus on content originally published on the GF blog.)


Why We Document, by Mary Gardiner. "But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers."

Questioning the Merit of Meritocracy, by Skud.


But Women Are an Advanced Social Skill, by Mary Gardiner.

Is requiring Open Source experience sexist?, by Mary Gardiner.

Self-confidence tricks, by Terri Oda.

Geek feminism as opposed to mainstream feminism?, by Mary Gardiner.

How to Appear Incompetent in One Easy Step, by Amber Baldet.

When You Are the Expert in the Room, by Mary Gardiner.

Meritocracy? Might want to re-think how you define merit., by Terri Oda. "It’s not the intelligence of the group members that matters; it’s their social sensitivity."

"Why don't you just hit him?, by Mary Gardiner. "Harassment is not a private matter between harasser and victim, and it’s not the victim’s job to put a stop to it."

Letting down my entire gender, by Terri Oda. "You feel like changing the world rests in your hands, and you let the world down because you had to say no. You had to quit. You had to hide."


On competence, confidence, pernicious socialization, recursion, and tricking yourself, by Sumana Harihareswara. "It’s as though my goalposts came on casters to make them easier to move"

Impostor syndrome and hiring power, by Mary Gardiner.

in memory of nina reiser, by mizchalmers

Geeks as bullied and bullies, by Mary Gardiner

Online harassment as a daily hazard: when trolls feed themselves, by Mary Gardiner.

On being harassed: a little GF history and some current events, by Skud. 'I didn’t quit because I couldn’t handle the technology, or because I had a baby, but because I had become fundamentally disenchanted with a “community” (please imagine me doing sarcastic air quotes) that supports the kind of abuse I’ve experienced and treats most human-related problems — from harassment to accessibility to the infinite variety of names people use (ahem ahem Google Plus) — as “too hard”.'


What she really said: Fighting sexist jokes the geeky way!, by Jessamyn Smith.

How I Got 50% Women Speakers at My Tech Conference, by Courtney Stanton.

I take it we aren’t cute enough for you?, by Mary Gardiner. "I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women."

Pipeline Guilt, by Jessamyn Fairfield. "It’s a heavy burden to want to be the best example for women in your field, at the expense of your own happiness. And it’s easy to hear about the leaky pipeline and see it as prescriptive, implying that individual women have to choose to stay in the pipeline in order to help solve the problem."

How do you look for jobs in an industry known for biases against women?, by Terri Oda.


Dear male allies: your sexism looks a bit like my racism, by mizchalmers. "Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on."

Book Club: Three times a Geek Feminist walked away from Omelas (and two times she didn’t), by mizchalmers. "Now I think the best we can do is practise vigilance. To watch out for people who might be locking children in rooms. And to refrain from locking children in rooms ourselves."

Tech confidence vs. tech competence, by Alex. "This is in stark contrast to communities where tech competence is valued above all else: where people feel they have to hide their mistakes. In such settings we routinely observe low volunteering rates from people in marginalised groups, with low retention from beginning volunteers, because people are too scared to ask for help or too scared to admit that they don’t know how things work."


It is easier now that I look like a guy, by Fortister. "Instead of spending my weekend hacking open source I spend my weekend figuring out how to defend the notion of my humanity."

Dropping the F bomb, by Skud. "Women in tech groups are not necessarily feminist. Some actively work against feminist ideals."

WANT Cover Reveal

Sep. 24th, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] diversityinya_feed

Posted by Cindy Pon

By Cindy Pon

Every book I have written is a book of my heart, but WANT is especially dear to me. A near-future thriller set in Taipei, it is an ode to my birth city, the vibrancy of which is deeply rooted in me. The feel of the air, the smells, these colors shaped my childhood and who I am today. I tried to capture that in WANT. This book is also special because it is the first non-fantasy novel I have ever written and challenged me in so many ways as a writer. But I loved my characters in this book, especially my hero and heroine, and I loved portraying this city I adore, a character in itself, so close to my heart. It is the first YA speculative fiction I’m aware of published by a big US publisher set in Taipei, if not the first young adult set there. So many fantastic firsts!

The WANT cover is stunning and amazing and everything I could have hoped for as an author. I hope you love it too!


Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

Following is a conversation I had with Jen Ung, my Simon Pulse editor, on our thoughts about this cover!

Cindy: I wasn’t expecting it at all when WANT’s first cover iteration dropped into my email. It came as a complete surprise! My reaction? *screaming* and *lying face down* ha! WANT is the first non-fantasy novel I’d ever written, and one of its draws for me was my #cuteasianboy hero Jason Zhou. To see him rendered so wonderfully and featured and centered on the cover, with the lights of Taipei reflected on his helmet—I honestly cannot describe all my feels. I know everyone has a different preference and opinion for book covers. But personally for me, the more Asian faces I can get onto my novels, the better!!

Jen: WANT’s original editor, Michael Strother, and I were also all for showing a #cuteasianboy on the cover! When the designer for the project, Karina Granda, read the first draft of WANT, she described the read as feeling atmospheric and “wet,” and wanted to evoke this with the cover art style. She decided to hire artist Jason Chan, who does a lot of work in the video game space. He also regularly illustrates MG/YA book covers, so she knew he could do a fantastic job applying his video game art style to a YA book cover. The cover you see here is one of Jason’s original concepts, and I think it’s stunning.


Cindy: I feel so so lucky because Jason Chan is an amazing artist, and he really captured the feel of the novel so well. I also love that Karina described the atmosphere of WANT as “wet”. This novel was truly an ode to my birth city, Taipei, which is a very humid city with many rain showers (and typhoons!), and I wrote all that into the book. I’m just so pleased that she picked up on that as a perceptive designer! When I saw the original cover, with Jason’s white blonde hair and eyes closed, I was already blown away. Michael was kind enough to ask if I had any feedback. I did. My main concern was that readers might not see with this first cover iteration that Jason is indeed Asian. I don’t think it’s an unfounded fear, as there are so few Asians featured in young adult novels today, much less Asian boy leads. In fact, I’m certain that WANT will likely be the only YA cover with an Asian hero so prominently shown in 2017. This representation mattered to me. I really appreciated the dream-like quality of having Jason’s eyes closed, but he is such an active hero in the novel, I felt opened eyes and a direct look from him was more suitable. And although he starts with blond hair in the novel, the majority of the story he wears it black. Jason Chan was able to incorporate both suggestions, and I truly feel so happy and fortunate. I don’t think there is any room for doubt that my hero is an Asian boy on the WANT cover. I adore this cover so much.

Jen: We loved Cindy’s suggested changes, and I agree that the tweaks ultimately made for a stronger, more active image. Representation in YA—in terms of both covers and content—is something near and dear to my heart, and I just know that WANT is going to mean so much to so many readers, for so many different reasons. I’m very grateful to the designer and artist for so perfectly capturing the essence of the book, and to Cindy for writing such a fantastic story!

WANT (Simon Pulse) releases June 2017! Add it to your goodreads shelf!

imageCindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow Books), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. Serpentine (Month9Books), the first title in another Chinese-inspired fantasy duology, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and received starred reviews from School Library Journal and VOYA. Sacrifice, the sequel, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection and received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Learn more about her books and art at Chat with her on twitter: @cindypon or follow her on instagram: @cindyponauthor

Slack 101: Onboarding

Sep. 23rd, 2016 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How Slack teaches Slack

While most new Slack employees are familiar with the product, they’ve usually only been on small teams or used it in more casual settings. Joining a team with hundreds of users and thousands of channels brings with it a whole new level of working in Slack.

So in their first week, every new hire spends two one-hour sessions learning how we use our own software to get things done.

Even people who considered themselves expert users learn new things that help them use Slack better. We thought we’d share some tips from these sessions so that any company, whether just starting on Slack or already all-in, can customize them to help get new employees get up to speed.

This first session is mostly spent teaching new employees how to navigate channels, find specific things, and tweak the Slack app to fit their personality and work.

Navigating channels

Everyone at Slack is a member of four vital channels.

The first is a general announcements channel, a low-chatter channel that only includes a handful of important company-wide messages per week. The default name for this channel is #general, but it can be changed (ours is #announcements-global). There are also channels for regional announcements, with specific information for each office and country location (e.g. #announcements-sf), and employees will join the one most applicable to them.

The last two company-wide channels are specific to software startups: a #released channel shows what new features have rolled out to the public, and #released-internal announces new beta features everyone can help test.

Depending on what team someone joins at Slack, they’ll also be added to a handful of additional channels once added to their official user group in Slack.

Channel naming conventions are important as they help everyone find information according to predictable patterns. We have dozens of channels that begin with the following prefixes:

  • #team-* (each team has a channel where they talk to each other, like #team-ios)
  • #triage-* (where problems are reported and handled, from software to HR)
  • #help-* (request general help from these channels, separated by team and function)
  • #feat-* (all new software features are organized as projects in these)
  • #launch-* (all new software feature launches are organized in these)

When someone needs help finding something, they can always ask their own #team-*, but if that doesn’t work, launching the quickswitcher and typing #help- should narrow the options down to a specific team that might have the answer.

Searching in channels

Searching an already busy Slack team is vital to getting information out of it as an employee. The easiest way to start with search is by using the keyboard shortcut command-f (ctrl-f on win/linux) to search just the currently viewed channel. Results can be filtered by messages or files, and you can even filter down to a specific file type, like images.

There are many additional search modifiers, but people tend to use things like has:star, has:(reaction emoji), and time-based modifiers. As part of new hire training, it’s fun to give an exercise where people are asked to search for a message, fact, or file that was posted well before they arrived. For example, how the company got its name (if the answer is deep in your Slack archives, like ours is).

Courteous communication with teammates

We use emoji inside of Slack, but only as frosting, never as cake. That means don’t use emoji to replace words in a sentence, as it makes messages more difficult and slower to read for the team while also being invisible to search if many words are replaced by emoji. Instead, we prefer if people use emoji at the end, or in addition to their message.

We ask that everyone displays first and last names in Slack, so we can use the last name field to alert coworkers when they are out of the office, on extended leave, or sick for the day.

Do Not Disturb settings are worth a revisit to modify from defaults, and employees know they should feel free to use DND mode throughout the day when they’re working on things. DND helps minimize distractions while also letting coworkers know who is busy and won’t be responding immediately to questions.

Other important tips

New users should become familiar with all the options available in preferences. It’s especially good to try out the sidebar settings in the Advanced/Channel List to find which option works best.

We close the first day of training by reminding everyone of the power of marking important messages with a star, as well as using stars on people they DM often and channels that are most important to them, to make it easier to find them in your sidebar.

Our Slack 102 post will go deeper on how to manage a busy Slack team in your workday, cultural tips on how the team works together, and all the settings that help you get your work done.

<a href="">Matt Haughey</a>’s first day at Slack meant going from an eight-person team with four channels to a team with 125 people and 750 channels.

Slack 101: Onboarding was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Redefining Super

Sep. 23rd, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] diversityinya_feed

Posted by Diversity in YA

By C. B. Lee

I’ve lived with depression and suicidal ideation since I was a teenager, much of it stemming from an overwhelming need to live up to my parents and my own expectations, along with never feeling I was good enough, and never feeling like I fit in. I was ashamed of myself, ashamed that I was a burden on my family, ashamed that I had failed in every way: school, career, relationships, and more.

It was a long road to recovery with my depression, and it’s still a work in progress. There’s a huge stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the Asian American community where we were raised to “save face.” Learning the patience to work out what I needed emotionally from my family and friends and being able to voice it has been a long journey.

I escaped into books, devouring anything and everything, disappearing into endless possibilities of worlds, delighted in travelling alongside my favorite heroes as they saved the universe.

And yet at the same time I was always a spectator; I felt wrong and broken for being attracted to more than one gender, because I hardly ever saw it portrayed in novels, especially in speculative fiction. I wasn’t white or straight like the heroes of renown, and I had internalized that adventures and saving the world and falling in love and happy-ever-afters were not for people like me.

I started writing because I wanted to write the books I wish I could have read as a teenager. I want romance and adventure and fantasy and science fiction and horror and every genre imaginable.

My novel Not Your Sidekick began as a project that was born out of frustration. I was tired. I was tired of characters of color being sidelined in supporting roles, I was tired of stories where girls who fell in love with other girls were met with tragedy at every front.

I’ve always loved the superhero genre because there are so many ways you can talk about identity, super or otherwise. One of the things Jess struggles with in Not Your Sidekick is living up to expectations. Since she doesn’t think she’s going to get superpowers, she’s struggling to prove herself. Her parents are immigrants, and she and her siblings are the first born in this new country— similar to my own experience growing up, albeit Jess lives in the year 2132. This theme of redefining success really hits close to home for me, and I wanted to show how first-generation children really feel that pressure.

Not Your Sidekick is lighthearted and and often skirts the line of ridiculous. I don’t take myself too seriously, and the novel doesn’t either; I poke lots of fun at superhero tropes and secret identity shenanigans. While I touch on issues that are important to me, like the theme of expectations and defining your own success— I want most of all to bring joy and laughter and silliness and light. I want readers to have fun.

I hope readers will find joy in the novel, as I have bringing it to the world.

C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber and hiking enthusiast based in California. She is a first-generation Asian American and has a BA in Sociology and Environmental Science, which occasionally comes in handy in her chosen career, but not usually. Lee enjoys reading, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. Her first novel, Seven Tears at High Tide, was published by Duet Books (Interlude Press) in 2015 and named a finalist for two Bisexual Book of the Year Awards. Ms. Lee is also a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow.

Not Your Sidekick is available for purchase.

Time with the Grands

Sep. 23rd, 2016 04:54 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
The bond with a grandparent can be one of the most powerful ones in the lives of children, and there’s no shortage of picture books on shelves about intergenerational ties. I’ve seen a few new ones I want to discuss today, though the last one is actually a slim novel. One thing I like about all of these books is the way the elderly characters are conveyed in the illustrations. It’s hard to get it right; I know I’ve seen some picture book depictions of the elderly that try too hard to stress their age, making the lines in their faces a bit too loud and making them appear, in fact, quite scary to children. That doesn’t happen with any of these I’ve got here today.

New Essay: "Toward a !!Con Aesthetic"

Sep. 22nd, 2016 07:09 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Over at The Recompiler, I have a new essay out: "Toward A !!Con Aesthetic". I talk about (what I consider to be) the countercultural tech conference !!Con, which focuses on "the joy, excitement, and surprise of programming". If you're interested in hospitality and inclusion in tech conferences -- not just in event management but in talks, structure, and themes -- check it out.

Christie Koehler also interviews me about this and about activist role models, my new consulting business, different learning approaches, and more in the latest Recompiler podcast.

[announcement cross-posted from Geek Feminism]


Sep. 22nd, 2016 06:47 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
I deal with occasional bouts of insomnia, and I’m currently in the middle of one. So here I am, in the middle of the night, looking for books about sleeping and sleeplessness.

Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Sep. 22nd, 2016 06:47 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s new novel for young adults, Shame the Stars, deals with a bloody and forgotten time in American history. In 1915, along the Texas-Mexico border, the Texas Rangers violently suppressed real and perceived revolutionary activity by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. There were hundreds of lynchings, countless rapes, and an atmosphere of violence that scarred the victims so badly that their descendants still aren’t talking about it 100 years later. Garcia McCall is also a high school English teacher in San Antonio, Texas; her previous novels have won the Pura Belpré Award and the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award. I asked her recently about the genesis of her new novel.

Initial Impressions of Mac OS Sierra

Sep. 21st, 2016 05:00 pm
[personal profile] jazzyjj
Hey everyone. Subject of this entry is pretty self-explanatory. Last night I began the download process for Mac OS Sierra, Apple's latest release for the Mac platform. I let my system do its thing overnight, and this morning when I got out of bed and came in here the installation process was ready to begin. Thus far I have found Mac OS Sierra to be very good in terms of VoiceOver performance and performance in general. I like the enhancements which Apple has made to existing features, and thus far I've found some pretty cool new ones.

The feature I'd specifically like to focus on in this entry is Siri. I had previously heard demonstrations of Siri, and was impressed. I sort of wondered if it would ever be made available on the Mac, so consequently I'm happy to see it on here. I played around with it a bit earlier today, and it seems to be pretty cool. I thought I'd have to train it to call me by name and recognize my voice, but that hasn't been the case at all thus far. I'd still like to play around with it some more. Although I probably won't use Siri as much as some other people, it's nice that the good Cupertino folks have included it and I will definitely make at least some use of it.

As with Apple's prior releases AppleVis has all the nitty-gritty stuff that VoiceOver and Zoom users need to know, so I won't steal their thunder. But what I will say is that Apple has once again demonstrated their true and ongoing commitment to universal accessibility across their product line.

The final push

Sep. 21st, 2016 05:31 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Real-world stories and strategies for getting that thing done on deadline

Most of us have a complicated relationship with productivity. No matter how many new fads and programs we try, we often fall back into our regular rhythms of struggling through last-minute crunch time.

Instead of inspiring stories of people going all-in on magical approaches, we have a few real stories of how things actually get done.

These aren’t how-tos on filing systems or stuff from best-selling business books, but stories of humans being human, making due with whatever they’ve got to Get It Done.

Mo Cohen, video game designer: applying social pressure

When Cohen is facing a work deadline she knows she has to meet in short order, she resorts to drastic measures.

She starts with a box under her desk filled with pictures. She unloads it, taking out framed pieces of art made by her fans—all drawings of her previous video game characters—and places them around her workspace.

Cohen gets her best work done and meets tough deadlines when she literally has her fans staring back at her through their art.

Katie Lane, attorney and negotiation coach: breaking up the work

For Katie Lane, the trick to getting huge projects done in a small amount of time is a system of rewards that creatively incorporates social pressure from friends.

When she had to create, record, and deliver a three-to-four hour video class on negotiation in less than a month, she broke the class down into chapters, sections, and tasks.

Each task had a reward—five minutes on Twitter, a walk around the block, a cup of coffee or candy. “There were bigger rewards for finishing sections or chapters, like going out with my wife or friends for a drink or lunch or something,” Lane says.

“I made sure they knew it was a reward so I had outside help to keep me motivated.”

Lane is more productive with breaks and rewards than when she tries to push through. “I get more done and make fewer mistakes,” she says. “Plus, I don’t beat up on myself nearly as much, so I feel better once the work is done.”

Mark Goldberg, visual effects supervisor: getting psychedelic (with music)

Goldberg works on a lot of pilots on roughly a four-to-six-week production schedule, which guarantees he’ll be working a lot of overtime.

“When things are tight, and you’re down to the wire, most of the people I work with do the same as I do,” says Goldberg. “Put the earbuds in, hunker down and enter a zone that allows them to work almost without thinking too much.”

Sometimes it comes down to listening to the same albums over and over again, which allows him to clear his brain, focus, and get stuff done.

“Working on shots is kind of like that scene in For Love of The Game,” Goldberg says. “Kevin Costner plays a baseball pitcher who really has to focus, so he does something called ‘clearing the mechanism’ and all the stadium noise fades away as he hones in on the batter in front of him.”

Goldberg’s playlist recommendations (he mostly follows psychedelic-related playlists on Apple Music): Best of 60’s psychedelic rock, Return of Retrofuturism, and Electronic Pioneers.

Ken Tsui, event producer, creative partner at Here There Studio and producer of The Golden Dumpling Cook Off: staying limp

“Someone once told me, apropos of nothing, that I shouldn’t brace for impact in an impending collision because seizing up does more damage to my body than good,” says event producer Ken Tsui. “According to this person, it’s always better to ‘stay limp’.”

Tsui thought it was the strangest advice he’d ever heard, but came around to finding real value in it.

“It re-appropriates nicely into how I best deal with a deadline,” he says. “When I’m being thrown around in the overwhelming inertia of a project and things go wrong in those final moments, seizing and holding on for dear life hasn’t done me any favors.

“In letting that piece of stupid advice echo in my head,” Tsui continues “I’m able to remain flexible, identify what’s essential, translate that into help from my team, and get it done.”

<a href="">Lima Al-Azzeh</a> and <a href="">Matt Haughey</a> both cope with deadlines by eating their feelings.

The final push was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Page generated Sep. 29th, 2016 03:14 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios