meghan

Geek of the Week Invitation: Matt Wilson

We wanted to extend an invitation to our first manly Geek of the Week, Matt Wilson, with a little video showing him what it would be like if he accepts the invitation. We worked up some scenarios and put our team to work on creating a visual representation of what the future could hold.

Check out the video below and let us know if you think he’ll accept or not.

Geek of the Week: Jen Kramer

This week’s Geek of the Week is Jen Kramer. Jen is a Joomla geek who’s been building websites for nearly a decade, but her geek roots actually go back to the 70’s when she learned BASIC while sitting on her computer programming grandmother’s lap. You heard that right: her grandma was a coder. We can’t get over how geek-tastic that is.

Jen has a broad knowledge of what it takes to make a “quality website,” but she’s also a fan of open source tools, like Joomla, because you can have a say in what it does or what’s included in the next release. We also LOVE the analogy she used for how to describe “free” open source tools to clients: there’s a difference between free beer and a free puppy. Get it? Listen to the podcast for more!

As a Joomla expert she recently published a book called, “Joomla! Start to Finish: How to Plan, Execute, and Maintain Your Web Site” and is a featured presenter on Lynda.com with presentations ranging from Joomla specifics to general website planning & strategy. Now, if all those things don’t keep her busy enough Jen also leads the Joomla! User Group New England.

Here’s a big thank you to Jen for spending time with us and being our Geek of the Week!

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Email Extensions

A while ago, geeky reader Lorelei from Seattle wrote to ask, “Does the type of email you use matter (yahoo,gmail etc)? A tech guy on NPR seems to think it really says a lot about a person. Thoughts?”

Here’s how I personally feel about this:

1. Your email prefix means more than the extension (e.g. [email protected] vs. [email protected]). Whenever possible, use your name or some variation of your name for your email address. If possible, avoid numbers. Numbers just seem outdated and less professional. If you have an old “unprofessional” email address, go ahead and keep it for personal stuff. You can set up a new one to use for more professional communication.

2. The extension might mean something to some people, but it means less than the prefix. The only extension that seems really outdated is  @aol. @gmail seems more current. @msn, @hotmail and @yahoo are just sort of…whatever.

I think the geekier you are, the more those extensions “mean” to you in the sense that you may pass judgement on people based on them. But reallly? I don’t think I’d refuse an interview to someone just because they had a Yahoo email address. I may, however, think twice if their prefix is [email protected] (Man, I hope that’s not someone’s real address, but it probably is. I’m sorry in advance for using you as an example! I’m sure you’re a nice person.)

Resources

Lifehacker brings up a good point in their post: there are times when what’s most important is to have your own domain. Like my address @meghanwilker.com vs. my address @gmail.com. If you own a small business, it adds to your credibility to have an email address at your own domain instead of one through a free service.

Again, it depends on your audience. Most muggles could care less about what kind of email address you have, so if you’re selling teddy bears on eBay it probably doesn’t matter. But, if you’re looking for venture capital in Silicon Valley, it’s a different story.

Hope that helps! Now let’s just hope krazzygurl1980 doesn’t come after me…

Geek of the Week: Charlene Jaszewski

This week’s geek is Charlene Jaszewski (@theredheadsaid). Charlene is a self-proclaimed geek hybrid, crossing gadget geek and content/usability geek; claiming the geek started before it was even cool to be a geek.

In her professional life Charlene is a freelance content strategist and developer who can be found at KickStartStrategy.com. As a freelancer she spends her days making things simple for the average user and telling you how to make your website more friendly to your users. Before heading up her own company she spent some time doing something really geeky, writing user manuals, which she credits much of her ability to speak for the average user.

In addition to her company she writes a blog called The Red Head Said, which she admits is a bit more snarky than her company’s blog, but it’s her voice and she’s not willing to change it! Lucky for us she brought that same voice and enthusiasm to the podcast, letting us both enjoy and join the conversation, rather than lead an interview!

We also wanted to add another special thank you in here for Charlene and her flexibilty, as you know even geeks can have techinical difficulties, and this podcast was no exception! As they say, third time’s a charm! Thanks Charlene!

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Geek of the Week: Erica Mayer

This week’s geek is Erica Mayer (@ericamayer). Erica recently used her skills and connections to raise $11,111 in less than 3 months for Charity Water. She credits the campaign as opening her eyes to a whole new generation of giving, and says, “It just shows you you don’t know what you’re capable of until you have to do it yourself.”

In addition to talking about saving lives (555 of them!) she gives us a walk through her daily tasks as a Preditor (Producer and Editor) at WCCO, tells us what ROI means to her, drops the #jmu612 hastag, and explains her infamous “Puke Rainbows” slogan. Whew! We still wonder when this girl sleeps, especially with the annoucement of yet another project.

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with Erica; she’s got a knack for being inspiring without being too “head in the clouds.” We also have plans to stop by her office with a video camera so we can show you exactly what a Preditor gets to do all day! Doesn’t it sound fun?

We also have to give her a shout-out for being so accommodating. We had an unfortunate incident with the original audio file, and Erica graciously came back to record a new session with us. Thank you, Erica!

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*Note: While recording this, we mistakenly thought this was our 15th podcast, but it’s really our 16th. See if your ears can detect our very subtle audio correction. (Thank you, Jon Tester.)

Also, we know our audio still isn’t perfect — Meghan is a little quiet on this one while Nancy and Erica’s levels were kind of high. But, we’ll keep getting better y’all! We are still learning how to be audio geeks.

Are you a geek? Do you know a geek? Is there someone you’d like to hear from? Drop us a line at [email protected] or leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

Podcast #15: Phones & Online Bullies

In our 15th podcast we couldn’t decide whether to talk phones or bullies. Luckily, Gossip Girl solved all our problems and we talked about them both!

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Summary

First off all, we’re sorry it took us so long to actually write (or talk) about the Palm Pre & the Palm Pixi, but as women of our word we finally got around to it. Overall we’re both married to our iPhones, but at the end of the day there were some things (like real keys, tethering, and the ability to run multiple apps) that really got us excited about these phones. They’re definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a new phone and want to avoid the horror known as AT&T.

Also, when we recorded this last week we joked that because we now have the 3GS, it’s certain that a 4G will be coming soon. Well, guess what was announced yesterday? AUUUUGGH!

Moving onward, let’s crush cyber bullies! There is much gnashing of teeth about the problem of kids using technology to bully each other. It’s a serious problem, and one that we have a few thoughts around. But, how about this: has anyone noticed how poorly many adults behave online? There are some comments even on this blog that display some pretty poor manners. So, how about we all clean up our act and remember that on the other side of the screen there’s a person with feelings.

Okay. Now, let’s hug.

Hit us up with questions in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Flashbelt Announces 2010 Scholarship Winners

Last year, this blog hosted a heated debate over a presenter at Flashbelt 2009. While a stressful experience for everyone involved, many positive things came out of that very public discussion — one of which was getting to know Flashbelt founder and organizer Dave Schroeder.

For the past three years, Flashbelt has awarded scholarships to attend the four-day conference. This year, the Geek Girls Guide sponsored these scholarships and it’s our pleasure to announce the 2010 winners:

  • Kymberly Wyant, Student – Web & Digital Media Development, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
  • Arlene Birt, Artist & Teacher, Minneapolis
  • Priscilla Mok, Designer/Developer, Chicago

Each winner was awarded a full scholarship which includes a pre-conference workshop ($259) and registration for the conference ($399).

Dave Schroeder, Flashbelt founder, told us, “It was another tricky year to choose the scholarship recipients. All of the applicants were worthy, but these three people really made great cases for both why they wanted to attend and couldn’t, and what they intend to do with the things they learn at Flashbelt.”

All the applicants this year had very impressive applications. In fact, the applications were so impressive that Dave worked out a special deal for all the them: in addition to the 3 “full rides” he gave a 50% discount to all of the scholarship applicants. “That makes me feel great, because the speaker/session line up this year is the best it’s ever been and I don’t want anyone to miss it,” added Schroeder.

Thanks, Dave. We’re proud to be a part of Flashbelt 2010.

Podcast #12: Social Graces

In our 12th podcast we answer a question from our Men’s Auxiliary about social media etiquette. Namely, how to approach people in real life when you really only know them through Twitter.

*Note: The audio on this podcast is a little wonky. Meghan tried a new setting on the mic, it’s not a good setting, it won’t happen again. Thanks for sticking it out!

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Summary

We received a question from a Men’s Auxiliary member about social etiquette and how to cross the line from a digital connection to a face-to-face connection.

I am a college student and an emerging graphic designer. On Twitter I follow several members of the Twin Cities design community and for a number of reasons:  I’ve either met them, found out they are employed at a firm I admire, or just because I want to get to know better the community I am starting to join. Through Twitter I see their faces everyday, know what they’re thinking, doing, what they like, hate etc. The other night at Artcrank I saw and approached one of these members of the design community to talk, and I did so casually using their first name. I guess I struck the person off guard as I instantly knew they had no idea who I was or why I was so friendly. I had initiated a conversation with someone I knew a lot about, but who knew nothing about me, and in that awkward moment it dawned on me that we had never actually met face to face and this person wasn’t one of my twitter followers. So I guess I was a stranger, but only I. 

My question is, have either of you heard of, or experienced yourself, the false sense of camaraderie that Twitter provokes? As a student, not yet employed, I had a jolting awakening that following people on twitter doesn’t mean they see what I am up to, and in regards to potential employers and bosses (people that can throw some weight around) that “first impression experience” has still yet to happen.

Your thoughts?

Thanks,
From the men’s auxiliary,
Kyle

What do you think? Does that explain it? Hit us up with questions in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Social Media After a Layoff, by Laura Wadzinski

A few months ago, I had a conversation with Laura, whom I’ve worked with in the past, about her recent job search experience. She had been part of a layoff, and her description of how social media had played into her job search struck me as something the Geek Girls Guide audience might be interested in. Sure, there’s the requisite “using LinkedIn to network” kind of angle, but what was truly unique to me was how social media (namely the Group feature on both Facebook and LinkedIn) had allowed this group of people to remain connected with each other long after the layoff was over.

In my own past, I’ve worked at a couple of advertising agencies where layoffs are a part of life. Lose a big client, and everyone braces themselves for the axe to fall. After a day of layoffs, both those who were let go and those who weren’t would generally meet at a bar somewhere and commisserate. And that’s about where it would end.

But that was before social media gave us the ability to organize ourselves on the fly. And Laura’s story illustrates how a group of people — like the ones let go from her company — can self-organize to continue to provide support to each other long after the layoff.

One of the books I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about what social media from a sociological (vs. tactical) perspective is Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody.” (Nancy likes to make fun of my for my Shirky fangirl tendencies, but what can I say?! Dude is brilliant.) The subtitle of his book is “The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” and Laura’s story below illustrates that point perfectly.

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This fall I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my job when my position as an interactive marketing planner was eliminated as part of a massive layoff.  As you would imagine (or maybe you know) the days immediately following were extremely confusing and humbling.  I know how to maximize every minute of a 50-hour week job and manage a household, but I felt paralyzed and unsure how to prioritize what to do first, next, or not at all after the layoff.

I began telling myself that I was well-equipped to attack the impending job search.  After all, a job search is the equivalent of developing a marketing plan, of which I’ve spent the bulk of my career in practice. Furthermore, in my most recent position, I was responsible for developing online media strategy (including the use of social networks) for executive recruitment at my company.  So I kept telling myself “I know how to work this thing”.  Then I’d freeze up again.

Within a few days I had my resume updated and was ready to start connecting with my network of friends and former colleagues to help me identify job leads.  The support, information and leads I have received from my established networks on Facebook and LinkedIn have been, and continue to be, incredibly beneficial.

As tactically-focused as I tried to be, there were moments when I couldn’t get through checking my pages without being brought to tears.  Somebody I knew well, or even casually would tell me how sorry they were, tell me I was talented, offer up where they had connections, or ask for my resume so they could pass it along.  The thoughts, the kindness, the offers affected me profoundly. The support and validation from my professional and social networks was as important as the job leads themselves.  I expected some of the kind words and support.  My networks are full of my friends.

What I did not expect was the creation and appearance of a unique group on both Facebook and LinkedIn.  The groups were created by, and for, those individuals that were part of the layoff.  I joined the groups, and would describe them as part job lead swap, and part support group.  When a member comes across a job lead that isn’t a fit for them, they post it.  Usually with an accompanying offer of an introduction to their connection and/or a recommendation.

Recruiters and curious outsiders began requesting entrance to the group and it was put to vote. Some people felt that the more accessible and visible our job search content was, the better (really great point).  However, a majority voted for the Facebook group to stay closed so that we had a confidential and mutually understood place to go, so regardless of whether that day we needed a job lead, a place to vent, or a discussion thread about how to best navigate our severance benefits, it was a safe place to be.  If an unrecognized request to join came through, the group administrator sent it out to the group so someone could vouch.  There actually was a recruiter that got in on the first couple of days before the vote and she graciously announced that she would leave and connect with us on Linked In. We did vote to open the Linked In group to anyone who wanted to help with leads and connections.

The most important thing I learned about using social media in my job search is how powerful it is in delivering qualified job leads.  It helped me avoid the atrophy of sifting through hundreds of openings that were not interesting, or that weren’t a good fit or that I didn’t have a connection to help me get in.  When I did pursue leads, I was going in for my interviews with a recommendation from the connection who had posted the lead.

I also was reminded why I love working in the interactive media space.  It is filled with so many smart, supportive, generous, creative people.  Thank you.


Laura Wadzinski is a Client Services Manager at The Lacek Group.  She has led strategic planning and project management both on the agency side and on the corporate side.

Podcast #11: Don’t Talk Me Out of Hiring You

In our 11th podcast we expand on some thoughts Nancy shared on Future Tense about how women interview for jobs.

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Summary

ZOMG, we’re dismayed at how differently we’ve seen men and women present themselves in the interviews we’ve been conducting at Clockwork recently. Buck up, ladies! Straighten those shoulders, look us in the eye, and tell us why we SHOULD hire you, not why we shouldn’t.

What do you think? Does that explain it? Hit us up with questions in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Gleek Girls Guide

Are you in or around Minneapolis? We’re hosting a Glee premiere party on April 13. You should come (especially if you want to see Nancy sing karaoke)! Get more details and RSVP at gleepremiere.eventbrite.com.