Nancy Lyons

Podcast #34: We’re Baaaaaack

You may have been asking yourself, “Where are Nancy and Meghan? Are they okay? Have they forgotten about us?” It’s been a busy couple of months in the Geek Girls’ world, but we finally had a chance to hop back into the podcast studio and fill you in on what’s been going on in our lives. We’ve been traveling from coast to coast, attending conferences and spotting celebs (well, one celeb and a few Law & Order extras).

Oh, by the way, who could take a home computer set-up and make it sound dirty? Nancy, that’s who.

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Links & Related Info

Girls in Tech MSP Happy Hour

June 29th, Moscow on the Hill

More details & RSVP here.

She’s Geeky MSP
September 23-24, Science Museum of Minnesota

More details coming soon here.

More information about Rebecca McDonald’s speech.

Minnewebcon Keynote

Being Smart About ‘The Cloud’

“The Cloud” is something that is coming up for me, and my cohorts, in meetings, planning sessions and hosting discussions more and more all the time.  As we talk about it more I’m noticing some really interesting ways that people respond to the idea of ‘The Cloud.’  This post isn’t about explaining what the cloud actually is because we’ve already done that twice, in a blog post and a podcast.  Instead I’d like to debunk a few of the more common assumptions I’m hearing about the cloud in order to encourage people to be thoughtful about the cloud solutions they consider.

In an effort to keep things simple I’m just going to list some of the most common misperceptions about the cloud and my response to those inaccuracies:

1)  Putting my software or web business in the cloud means I never have to think about it.  

-Not really true.  Yes, it’s true that by tapping into cloud infrastructure you don’t have to invest in hardware and software and infrastructure.  But to think that by abdicating all control to some nameless, faceless entity without making yourself or any part of your organization responsible for some awareness of where things are or how they are managed or by whom and how often is just irresponsible.  You wouldn’t leave a brick and mortar store open and unattended – why would you do it to your digital business?  

2) The cloud never goes down – it is 100% reliable in terms of up-time.  

-This is my favorite assumption.  Cloud services aren’t magic.  They run on the same kind of hardware that has always served as the backbone of the network we call the internet.  Yes it may be more robust and of a much larger scale.  But technology, by it’s very nature is fallible.  It fails.  Anyone who’s been using Gmail for the last year can recall at least one time when it was down for nearly an entire business day.  Gmail is a service in the ‘cloud’ and it is owned and maintained by one of the largest, most magical technology companies on the planet.  And yet – it went down – and in doing so it paralyzed business and panicked it’s users for a period of many hours.  It happens.  Understanding that the cloud is capable of failure going into it will save a lot of headache and disappointment when you’re confronted with that failure.

3) Big businesses trust the cloud and never have to worry — that’s enough for me.

-References are a good thing for any business.  Being able to point to companies or brands that have good experiences with any service is a great way to feel more comfortable choosing a technology provider.  But big companies suffer technology failures too.  Case in point–recently customers (and not just any old customers) using Amazon cloud services experienced some significant down time.  Some of the customers were so big that the outage made the news – both because of the business that was effected and the amount of time the services were down. 

4) Cloud services are more secure than other options.  

-This is probably pretty true – in that it is in the cloud provider’s best interest to significantly invest in securing their networks because protecting their client’s data is probably their single most critical responsibility.  However, criminals think like criminals – and they are constantly exploring ways to exploit weaknesses in technology — which, as I’ve already mentioned, is not infallible.  To assume that any service provider is 100% secure is not the way to consider their offering.  Instead, care about the process they have in place for continued and rigorous evaluation of their security  – do they have 3rd party scanning and audits of their systems to ensure they are always working to prevent exploits?  And find out what the process is in response to a security vulnerability.  If they get hacked – what happens?  What procedures are in place to notify their administrators, and you, and then what happens to re-secure your date and prevent this sort of issue going forward?

5)  Only giant global brands can offer cloud services or software in any sort of meaningful way.  

-This is completely false.  Cloud services can be offered by companies with names that are NOT Amazon or Microsoft and they can be just as reliable and secure.  And, if service and accessibility are important to you – you might actually want to consider a smaller provider.  Because we all know how hard it is to get through to giant, national service providers.  As with any business service – thinking critically and strategically about your needs and expectations and mapping out a plan are the best ways to approach your business requirements.  Think about what is important to you and make a list of those priorities – is it service with a smile?  Is it a 24/7 help line?  Is it price?  Is it security and monitoring?  Create a matrix of products and service guarantees and compare them by price and service level.  In the end you’ll understand more about what it means to use cloud hosting and/or computing services – and you’ll have a better grasp of what it means for your business.   

The important lesson in all of this is – just because the service is attached to a globally recognized brand like, say Verizon, for instance, doesn’t mean that you are without any responsibility and it certainly doesn’t mean the technology itself is flawless.  There is no such thing as fail-proof technology.  What you’re thinking of is magic.  

Digitwirl: Get a personal assistant. Siri-ously

People are people, so it should be no surprise that even those who appear to be glamorous rock star-types get just as overwhelmed as the rest of us when it comes to the minutaie of life. You know, that long list of piddly tasks that — as my pal Nancy says — can make you feel like you’re being eaten alive by sunfish. The bites are tiny, but they add up!

I’m thrilled to see this week’s twirl in action; as usual, Carley digs into an app I’ve been meaning to check out for a long time. You know, when I have “spare time.” It’s nice to see Siri in action; I’m giving it a test run this week!

Let’s not even get into the thrill I experienced at seeing my ’90s girl-crush Lisa Loeb on screen. Geek girls in glasses? YES!

Digitwirl: Get a personal assistant. Siri-ously.

Sometimes the smallest tasks take the most time. And who doesn’t have a seemingly neverending to-do list? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a personal assistant to take care of all that stuff for you? Guess what, there’s an app for that. And it is Siri-ously amazing.

In this week’s Twirl, Carley’s talking to her pal Lisa Loeb: a wonderfully talented singer, and typically time-challenged mom. She’s looking to simplify her life, just like we all are. You’ll be as amazed as she was when we introduced her to Siri, a virtual assistant that is at your beck and call. Siri can send you reminders for things you need to do, find businesses and restaurants wherever you are, show you what kids’ events are going on, and even tweet—all without touching a keypad. This productivity app uses simple voice command: you say it, Siri does it. Don’t you wish you could say the same about your family?

Digitwirl is the weekly web show that offers simple solutions to modern day problems.  In 3-minutes, Digitwirl brings busy women the very best time, money, and sanity-saving technology, and then teaches them how to use it, step-by-step.  Digitwirl was created by technology lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, who uses lots of technology to manage her busy life as mom of two and entrepreneur.  Subscribe to get weekly show alerts and exclusive deals at, or follow Digitwirl on Twitter at @digitwirlr

Home Entertainment How-Tos

We got into so much detail about our home setups in Podcast #33, we thought it’d be helpful to provide some videos and photos!

Kyle DeLaHunt’s set-up:

Kyle explains how to get files into iTunes without copying them (SO HANDY if you’re storing movie or music files on an external drive!):

Photos of Kyle’s home set-up:

The 250-pound Television
Apple TV and Amplifier
External Hard Drives

Meghan Wilker’s set-up:

Meghan gives a walk-through of her entertainment system:

Meghan’s husband, Jeremy, explaining how to recreate their setup component-by-component (in 5 minutes):

Nancy Lyons’s set-up:

Podcast #33: Geek of the Week – Kyle DeLaHunt

In our 33rd podcast, we chat with home entertainment guru Kyle DeLaHunt. Kyle, a second generation A/V geek, has been nerding out about home entertainment since the age of 8. We asked him to come down to the studio and discuss how to make simple digital home entertainment systems to fit your needs. We talked about his setup, and each of our own (which we cover with photos and video on this blog post here).

Kyle (@dels) and Kate (@cleverkate) will be hosting a Twitter chat for this topic on Wednesday 3/23, from 8-9 PM. Follow them on Twitter for more information!

More about this week’s geek: Kyle grew up in a household full of electronics. His first computer was an Apple IIC. His first CD was ‘Slippery When Wet’. Were he to become independently wealthy, he might very well travel across the heartland, playing Wolfenstein on a IIC while listening to Slippery When Wet on repeat. With that not being too likely, he will continue to advise music students, take photos and play music for fun (and money occasionally), and prognosticate on the future of your tech industry of choice.

Check out our “Home Entertainment How-Tos” blog post for videos and pictures of Kyle’s, Meghan’s and Nancy’s home entertainment systems.

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Podcast #32: Informational Interviews

Whether you’re still in school, looking for a career change, or just want to meet some bitchin’ new contacts in your field, informational interviews can be key in connecting with your dream job. It’s up to you, though, to get the most out of your time with the interviewer.

In Podcast 32, we discuss how to reach out and request an informational interview, as well as what to do and what NOT to do when you’re finally face-to-face with the person you’re interested in learning about.

And, hey: we had so much good advice we decided to write it down, too. Here’s our blog post on Informational Interviews.

Podcast #031: Hot Mess

Anything goes when Nora McInerny walks into a room.  The same can be said for this podcast.  We originally planned on talking about manners and etiquette regarding Facebook friendship with family.  But, Nora’s a bit of a wild card, and so are we. Come along as we go from point A to point B while taking brief pitstops at high school proms and family get-togethers.  We might even sneak a quick nap in during a story about children.

About our guest: Nora McInerny is Meghan’s younger, blonder, and taller sister. She is a writer and humorist whose words appear in various locations on the internet.

Podcast #30: MIMA Recap

In our 30th podcast, we discuss the process behind our presentations, focusing on our recent speaking gig at MIMA where we spoke on the subject of Cultivating a User-Centered Culture.   If you attended the event, you may have been asking yourself, “Why has the projector been displaying nothing but the color blue for the past 15 minutes?” or “Why are Meghan’s shoes filled with snow?” Well, look no further.  For the love of Bieber, we will answer those questions, plus many more right here and right now.

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Update: After recording this we discovered that it was Kristina Halvorson‘s dongle that saved the day. Thanks, Kristina! (And thanks to Andrew at ech03, too!)

Additional Resources

Podcast #29: Geek of the Week – Jodi Chromey

This week’s Geek of the Week, supergenius Jodi Chromey, stops by the studio for a choreographed ‘Pinky Tuscadero hand jive’ with Nancy and to chat about her career as a writer. Jodi initially claimed to be more “nerd” than “geek”, but after talking about her former life as a tech writer and then admitting to her love of Fonzie, her past blogs about Dawson’s Creek and cataloging her Sweet Valley High books as a child, it became obvious that we had chosen a true geek.

Jodi began writing her blog, I Will Dare, in 2000. Aside from her own blog, I Will Dare, Jodi is the editor for Minnesota Reads and is the mastermind behind

In this podcast, Jodi offers up advice on becoming a writer while giving us a brief glimpse into what inspires her (peanut butter and gin!), which begs the question, how did it take us this long to invite Jodi to be our Geek of the Week?

Additional Resources

Creepy Hand Model

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Podcast #28: Facebook Mail & Personal Branding

So, Facebook Messages. Everyone’s talking about it, but what is it?

  • What are the basic features? 
  • What does this mean for Facebook users?
  • Does this mean more social media overload, or better filters?

We also discuss personal branding and ways to create a central landing page that you can drive people to, so they are aware of all the places they can connect with you. There are some great new services out there to help you put together a homepage for yourself that centralizes your social accounts, or you can get all fancy and build a site yourself.

Additional Resources

Here are some other related blog posts we’ve written in the past about ways to DIY a web site:

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Have a topic you’d like us to talk about? Drop us a line at [email protected] or leave us a comment on our Facebook page!