Useful Links: Gender equity, flippa a site, Vine

The brilliant Lauren Bacon wrote a list of fantastic resources to explain What Men (and Everyone, Really) Can Do To Support Gender Equity in Tech. This includes help for conference organizers, employers, managers, team leaders, investors and just about anyone. I support what Sheryl Sandberg said to women in Lean In, but it has to be a systemic effort for things to change.

Want to buy or sell a web site? Look at Flippa.com. I learned about this site from my buddy in New Zealand, Miraz Jordan, who is selling her awesome site Mac Tips. So much good content on Mac Tips, and now someone can buy the whole site.

Vine Is the Show, and Vine Records the Show. I wrote about Vine yesterday on BlogHer and explained how disruptive I think this new six-second video app that works through Twitter has been in just 4 months. What are your thoughts on Vine?

Shared Streaming – Good or Bad?

I was fascinated by a recent article in The New York Times, No TV? No Subscription? No Problem that explained how many people stream TV shows and movies to their devices using shared passwords or shared accounts on sites like HBO Go and Netflix.

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A recent streaming choice from the family thespian

The Times article described how a group of friends all watched the premier of “Game of Thrones” on the same evening via HBO Go but only some of them had accounts there. The others were logging in using the passwords of friends.

This story caught my eye because my son and I share a Netflix account. That means that sometimes one or the other of us log in from my house, or from his house, or from somewhere totally not our own homes to watch movies and TV shows. I’ve logged with no problem in from my daughter’s house in Texas.

I often open up Neflix and get a good laugh because the “top 10 recommendations for you” are such a mashup of tastes. Netflix might recommend a Japanese anime cartoon series (my granddaughter likes these) or a macho action flick (my son likes these) or an independent drama with a strong female lead (guess who likes these).

What does this mean to the companies like HBO Go and Netflix who have a business model that depends on paid subscriptions? Do they plan to crack down on people who share accounts the way my son and I do?

According to New York Times reporter Jenna Wortham, who spoke to some of the companies,

. . . the companies with whom I spoke seemed to have little to no interest in curbing our sharing behavior — in part because they can’t. They have little ability to track and curtail their customers who are sharing account information, according to Jeff Cusson, senior vice president for corporate affairs at HBO. And, he said, the network doesn’t view the sharing “as a pervasive problem at this time.”

In fact, some companies don’t allow shared streaming, meaning two different users cannot stream music or movies at the same time. Spotify and Hulu Plus are examples of this technique. I don’t know about your household, but I can imagine families where three or four people with three or four devices in three or four different rooms of the house all want to use the same service at the same time. Restrictions on streaming would rankle in situations like this.

When my granddaughter spends the night at my house, she may be in the bedroom watching something from Netflix on her computer, while I’m in the living room watching something from Netflix on my TV. If that wasn’t possible, Netflix would really be of no use to me. The reason we can do this is because I don’t have the streaming only plan at Netflix. Digital Trends reported on howNetflix explained their policy about shared streaming, and it applies to some accounts but not others. According to this article,

The volume of devices that can access Netflix streaming is dependent on the current plan. If a Netflix user is on the 2-disc-at-a-time plan in addition to paying for streaming service, that account can access content on two different devices at the same time. However, these combo packages start at $19.98 and range up to $29.98 for four discs with streaming. Consumers also have the option of purchasing multiple streaming subscriptions to increase the number of devices that can access streaming content at an additional cost of $7.99 per account.

It also makes a difference whether you are streaming movies or TV shows.

I’m of two minds about this. If I’m paying for a service, I should be able to let my family share it with me. But I also understand that companies have to have a way to collect subscription dollars from people who use their services if they are going to survive. Would setting up higher priced accounts that allow more users to stream simultaneously be the answer for all providers, not just Netflix?

Are you using shared streaming? What’s your take on the future of this practice?

Note: This post was originally published on BlogHer.

Why We Should Just Listen When a Woman Speaks Up

“One thing is more frightening than speaking your truth and that is not speaking” -Audre Lourde

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Adria Richards by George Kelly via Flickr

Here’s the tale of Adria Richards at the recent PyCon Conference. It unfolded like this:

1. Comments from men seated behind Richards sexualizing forking and dongles made her uncomfortable. She wanted to alert the PyCon organizers in hopes something would be done about it. She choose to alert them with this tweet.

2. The PyCon organizers responded and ask the men to stop.

That should have been the end of the story. Yes, you might have an opinion about how Adria handled it or what the guys were saying, but the fact is the response that followed was way out of proportion to either part of the incident.

3. All hell broke loose. Lots of angry tweets appeared. An unnamed man who was in the photo got fired, even after he apologized. He was not fired by Richards, but by his company, PlayHaven. The PlayHaven blog said

PlayHaven had an employee who was identified as making inappropriate comments at PyCon, and as a company that is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior, we conducted a thorough investigation. The result of this investigation led to the unfortunate outcome of having to let this employee go. We value and protect the privacy of our employees, both past and present, and we will not comment on all the factors that contributed to our parting ways.

Richards told her story on her blog, But You’re a Girl. Richards became the target of hate, death threats, a DDOS attack against her website and publication of all her personal information including her address and phone number. There was also a DDOS attack against her employer, SendGrid, who announced on Facebook within hours of the incident that Richards was fired. Later, SendGrid issued a statement saying,

We understand that Adria believed the conduct to be inappropriate and support her right to report the incident to PyCon personnel. To be clear, SendGrid supports the right to report inappropriate behavior, whenever and wherever it occurs.

What we do not support was how she reported the conduct. Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line. Publicly shaming the offenders – and bystanders – was not the appropriate way to handle the situation.

4. People began taking sides and arguing their cases either for or against the joking men, Richards, the companies doing the firing, the response of the PyCon organizers and more. The arguments tended to reflect the gender and/or racial identity of the person making them, but interestingly there were exceptions to this. It’s in the unpredictable and independent-minded exceptions that I find hope. I’ve highlighted a couple of them in the reading list below – from men writing at TechCrunch and The Verge.

John Koetsier from Venture Beat managed to get through to Richards by email. He reports,

Last night, at about 2 a.m., after a series of emails with her, I said this:

Tell me at least that u will not be the next Kathy Sierra.

Kathy Sierra is a smart, passionate, funny woman in technology who essentially said her goodbyes to the online world after receiving multiple rape and death threats for, essentially, being a woman in technology.

Kathy Sierra hasn’t posted on her blog since 2007. That’s how long incidents like this against women have been a public problem. Richards responded to Koetsier with a simple,

I’m staying safe.

Can We Agree on a few Things?

We all seem to agree on a couple of basic things. Getting more women in tech would be good for the tech scene and good for the bottom line of the companies doing it. Making women feel comfortable in mostly male environments at tech conferences is worth the effort.

Many people in tech and many conference organizers are doing their part in making these two basic trends reality. PyCon, for example, published a Code of Conduct for its 2013 conference which states,

PyCon is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

Yet many men in tech aren’t hearing the message. They set off to work in the morning with their outdated attitudes intact. They pack for a tech conference but forget to bring along their empathy. And yes, some men respond to events they didn’t even witness with disgusting attacks.

Can we agree that women are speaking out – have spoken out in incident after incident –  about this in very public ways but many men aren’t listening? For example, look at this post from last year: DEFCON: Why Conference Harassment Matters. Standardista calls it Death by a 1000 Cuts when describing the long, continued onslaught by haters and trolls against women in the tech community.

Can we agree that women in tech should not have to go up in flames each time they speak out, but should be both respected and heard by their peers?

Come on, everyone, stop yelling and start listening. Let’s stop blowing things out of proportion and ruining lives.

National flame wars like this one don’t change opinions – they merely make people speak out in defense of their current opinions. (Here I am doing the same thing.) Spewing hate only makes flamers look immature and insensitive.

I’ve been reading other articles about this, trying to find the perfect voice of reason that might change minds in Trollville. I’ve collected some of them below in a list that shows you the many opinions about what happened. Reading all sides of the story might help you come up with something that could be a change maker in future stories like this one.

More reading

  • Adria’s original blog post: Forking and Dongle Jokes Don’t Belong at Tech Conferences. You should read her side of the story first.
  • The apology from the fired developer, called Mr. Hank on Hacker news. Following the apology are miles of comments – read them at your own risk.
  • Mashable’s SendGrid Fires Adria Richards with a link to the SendGrid’s Facebook announcement, which seems to have been removed now. Even though SendGrid pulled its announcement about firing Richards off Facebook, Mashable had this quote from it: “Effective immediately, SendGrid has terminated the employment of Adria Richards. While we generally are sensitive and confidential with respect to employee matters, the situation has taken on a public nature. We have taken action that we believe is in the overall best interests of SendGrid, its employees, and our customers. As we continue to process the vast amount of information, we will post something more comprehensive.”
  • SendGrid posted the “more comprehensive” explanation on their blog.
  • At TechCrunch, On the Internet, Everyone Knows You’re A Dick written by John Biggs. He talks about “lad culture” on the Internet and says, “When this laddishness metastasize into true hate posing as defense of the herd it becomes truly dangerous. It is a waste of energy akin to methodically lighting a car on fire because you don’t like the song on the radio.”
  • At City Girl Goes Digital, Why I Stand with Adria Richards. She comments, “As a woman in the tech scene, this week has just been draining. I’m sending all positive light and love her way.”
  • From The Verge: Thug mentality: How two dick jokes exploded into DDOS and death threats. The writer, Russell Brandom, comments, “any legitimate questions have already been lost in the flood of vitriol against Richards, including outright death threats.”
  •  At Feministe, Standing with Adria. She writes, “But inappropriate workplace behavior is the problem. Not the woman who documents it. And even if there’s outrage about her documenting it, firing her from her job is beyond the pale.”
  • At Amada Blum Words, in Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We all Lost, the post starts by saying that the writer doesn’t like Adria Richards and goes on with, “There is some small part of me that appreciated the backlash she received this week, something I’m ashamed to admit, because I’ve long viewed her as a bully who uses these instances to her personal gain, driving traffic to her blog. But people were missing the point.Within 24 hours, Adria was being attacked with the vile words people use only when attacking women. They called her a man hater (this was the nicest thing they said) who robbed a father of three of his livelihood. Then the threats began- on twitter, on her blog, on facebook. She should get raped, she should be fired, she should be killed, she should kill herself.  A petition was started and people threatened SendGrid’s business. The company itself suffered a DDOS attack. All this ridiculousness made Adria look reasonable in comparison.”
  • Standardista, in Death by 1000 Cuts, comments, “It’s tiresome when you’ve heard inappropriate sexual jokes in a professional setting 1,000 times. It’s ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’. At some point the micro-aggression kills your spirit. Adria was tired of confronting directly. Many people argued “why didn’t she just confront them.” Is that our job? How many times do we have to repeat this chore? Many people are too scared to confront people. When was the last time you confronted a mother who was smacking her child? Or a police officer who was harassing a black teenager? Why do people think it’s OK for them to insist that Adria have confronted the men behind her when they themselves don’t confront when they’re offended.”

Hold the Elevator

Imagine we are all trapped in an elevator together. It’s a common enough movie trope for when the characters in a story need to make up or get acquainted. Here we are – the offenders, the offended, the trolls, the opinionators – all together in a small box from which we can’t escape. What would we say to each other while we waited for the elevator to move? Let’s do that.

[Note: This post was also published at BlogHer. I'm closing comments on this post.]

Google Reader: Oh, the Pain

Note: Here are some excerpts from the post I wrote for BlogHer today about alternatives to Google Reader.

Yesterday Google Announced that Google Reader would be retired on July 1. A howl went up from people like me who have a regular blog reading list and a happy relationship with Google Reader. An effort began to urge Google to reconsider, but mostly people began looking around for alternatives to the popular RSS reader.

google reader retires
Scream by soundfromwayout via Flickr with Google Reader Logo

Before I get into the alternatives, I want to point out the directions for getting all your Google Reader subscriptions transferred into some other RSS reader. Google provides an exporting tool called Google Takeout that promises a file of all your Reader data, which can then be imported into another reader.

Now for alternatives. Some are cloud based, some are mobile apps, some are browser plugins, some sync to all your devices from mobile to web.

RSS Readers that Work In All Devices

A cloud based option, Netvibes goes from browser to mobile device. Here are the directions for migrating from Google Reader to Netvibes.

Feedly is a browser based add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. It’s also an iOS and Android app. Lots or reports are saying to stay away from Feedly because it uses a Google Reader based backend, but Feedly announced that they have another backend ready to go and are prepared for the transition.

Newsblur is a works-everywhere choice. The free version is limited to a mere 64 feeds, but the paid version is only $1 a month. It has a Google Reader import function.

Taptu even works on Nook, as well as the usual app platforms. If you’re a tablet person, this might be your fav.

Mobile Apps that Read RSS Feeds

Google Currents is a very slick mobile app that makes reading some of the slow loading sites like Huffington Post really fast. However, I don’t know if it uses Google as a backend, so I’m not sure what its fate will be going forward.

For iOS and Mac only, Reeder is another app with a transition plan in place, according to a tweet from the developer yesterday.

FlipBoard is available for both iOS and Android. You log in via either Twitter or Facebook, and it sounds pretty image oriented like Google+, but it does read RSS feeds.

Pulse has a lot of rave reviews, including one from Steve Jobs, on its website. It works in iOS and Android.

Browser Only RSS Reader

The Old Reader promises to be like the old Google Reader, but has a tool for importing your subscription data from Google Reader.

The Word on the Street

Okay, not on the street. How about the word from the frantic blog consumers at BlogHer who are trying to find their favorite alternatives to Google Reader? So far there have been several good comments about Netvibes, particularly since it is cloud-based and not device dependent. People liked how NetVibes looks and how easy it is to transition, but had complaint that updates are slow. (Every alternative RSS reader site is dealing with heavy traffic right now and getting things going may take some patience.) Feedly got a couple of good comments among BlogHer adopters.

Alyson Hannigan’s Online Stalker Gets Three Year Posting Ban

IMG_2182_edited.JPG

When a New Hampshire man posted online comments about actress Alyson Hannigan, including threats to kill her and her family, she took the matter to court. The result was a three year restraining order banning him from posting anything online about her or her family and from making any effort to meet her.

The stalker, John Hobbs, apparently agreed to the terms the judge set down. There were no fines, no jail time, just a warning in the form of a restraining order.

Hannigan, known for her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Pie and How I Met Your Mother, is married to her former Buffy co-star Alexis Denisof. They have two children.

According to this report in The Mary Sue, there had been a temporary restraining order against the man earlier in the year.

Earlier this year, E! News reported Hannigan got a temporary restraining order against a New Hampshire man after he threatened not only her, but her family, online. They write the man “has possessed a pistol permit since 2000 and was recently discharged from a mental hospital.”

Hannigan is married to former Buffy co-star Alexis Denisof and the couple have two girls together. The individual in question posted threats of violence and death on Facebook more than once with one directly mentioning Denisof. In her original filing, Hannigan reported local police visiting the man who “fully acknowledged his interest” in the actress. They say he agree to visit a mental-health clinic but still said he would be traveling to California to find her.

Question: Are Restraining Orders the Answer

The case involving Alyson Hannigan is just one in a long string of similar cases. Sometimes when the identity of the person doing the harassing is revealed, all anyone gets is a public apology. At least in this case, there is a rule of law to provide more clout.

But my question is this: are restraining orders enough in this type of situation? A restraining order is just a piece of paper. It provides no physical restraint. Should there be more? Should there be fines, jail sentences, required mental health counseling? Should stalkers be put on probation and required to wear ankle bracelets so that police can track their location at all times?

At the very least, couldn’t people who threaten others online be deprived of Internet service and a data plan on their cell phone?

We live in a very public world, a very small world. Privacy for anyone, not just celebrities, is more and more an issue. We know women get threatened online just for speaking at conferences or being bloggers. You don’t have to be a well-known celebrity to be threatened in our current online culture of haters, trolls, and crazies. Are legislators and the legal system in step with the current culture, or do we need some changes – fast?

Note: Originally published on BlogHer.

BlogHer Women and Work Study (Infographic)

The survey included over 1000 women in the BlogHer community. The basic findings show that these women love their work, feel that entrepreneureal spirit about work, believe in mentorship, but still see inequity in the workplace.

The infographic is easier to read if you view it full screen.

You can learn more about the study on BlogHer.

Feedburner API will be history soon. Are you ready?

If you’ve been using Feedburner to track stats, subscribers and send email to your blog’s readers, it’s time to look for an alternative. On October 20, Feedburner will end its run. Or, to put it in Google terms, Feedburner’s API will be deprecated. That API is what allows you to interact with Feedburner stats and other info. Here’s a rundown of your alternatives.

feedburner
Screen capture from Feedburner

Google owns Feedburner. What Google wants you to do is move your feeds into the Google world using their migration tool, which you see in the image above. Since this change was announced months ago, many people have already chosen to do that. If, like me, you’ve dilly dallied about this, now is the time to pay attention.

There are other choices. On Beth’s Blog in Is it Time to Let Feedburner Burn? you can learn how to switch to a service called FeedBlitz. Beth’s Blog walks you through the steps and FeedBlitz provides a detailed Migration Guide.

FeedBlitz will give you the RSS services and the email services you had with Feedburner. One issue, however, is that readers must have an account with FeedBlitz to get your blog post by email. Depending on your demographic, this could be a barrier.

At MomCrunch, Cecily Kellog mentions some of the alternatives in Feedburner Feeds Vanish. (She urges you to download an Excel document of all your subscribers from Feedburner to have on hand. Probably a good idea, just in case you have migration issues.) Cecily mentions these other options,

But if you don’t want to pay for it, there are alternatives. Jetpack (a WordPress Plugin) offers a free email subscription service. You can also use companies like AWeber, MailChimp, and more. Google for other free options (I think they are sticking with the search business, at least).

If you’re using WordPress, you probably have Jetpack installed already. WordPress recommends it. The directions for using Jetpack for Email subscriptions are simple. Basically all you have to do is pull the Blog Subscriptions (Jetpack) widget into your sidebar.

I’ve seen several bloggers mention MailChimp as their choice for the email subscribers because of the MailChimp RSS to Email service. In fact, it was Brenda’s comment on this blog that alerted me to the RSS to email service by MailChimp. Depending on your volume, MailChimp can be free.

FeedBlitz, MailChimp, and AWeber have integrated Twitter and Facebook services for your blog posts in addition to the RSS and email subscription services.

Notify your readers about what you’re doing. Here’s how Schmutzie did it.. I did a similar thing here in What feed are you using to read Web Teacher? That post contains several comments you may find helpful in looking for an alternative.

Bottom line, if you’re still depending on Feedburner, now is the time to decide on what will work for you and make the switch.

Editor’s Note: Cross-posted on blogher.com in a slightly different form.