On Software

1) All software has bugs. Sometimes this is because people have been told to code in a hurry to meet shipping deadlines. Sometimes it is due to the way metal and other software interact with it. Mostly it is karma.

2) In the 21 st Century,It is okay to insult someone over his software , but not over most other things. Sometimes I think people are passionate not just for their own software but to just diss the other guys. It is a politically convenient release.

3) Bloggers writing about software are full of bull-by products. If they were any good in writing code, they would not have time to write a blog. Mostly bloggers on code are people whose coding enthusiasm is more than their coding competence.

4) Software is easier than it looks to people who know it. To those who dont know how to code, it will always be a bit of magic.

5) Despite immense progress, initiatives and encouragement- the number of females writing code is too low . Comparatively, figuratively and literally. If you are a male and want a social life- get into marketing while the hair is still black.

Man walks into Bar. Says to Women at Bar. ” Hey,What do you do, Me- I write code”


6) People who write software end up making more money not just because they create useful stuff that helps get work done faster or helps reduce boredom for people. They make more money because they are mostly passionate, logical problem thinkers, focused, hard working and better read on a variety of subjects than others. That’s your cue to how to make money even if you cannot code.

7) I would rather write much more code rather than write poetry. But I sometimes think they are related. Just manipulating words in different languages to manipulate output in different machines or people.

8) Kids should be taught software at early age , as that is a skill that helps in their education and thinking. More education for the kids!

9) Laying off talented software people because you found a cheaper , younger alternative half across the globe is sometimes evil. It is also inevitable. Learn more software as you grow older.

10) The best software is the one in your head. It was written by a better programmer too.


Updated Interview Elissa Fink -VP Tableau Software

Here is an interview with Elissa Fink, VP Marketing of that new wonderful software called Tableau that makes data visualization so nice and easy to learn and work with.

Elissa Fink, VP, Marketing

Ajay-  Describe your career journey from high school to over 20 plus years in marketing. What are the various trends that you have seen come and go in marketing.

Elissa- I studied literature and linguistics in college and didn’t discover analytics until my first job selling advertising for the Wall Street Journal. Oddly enough, the study of linguistics is not that far from decision analytics: they both are about taking a structured view of information and trying to see and understand common patterns. At the Journal, I was completely captivated analyzing and comparing readership data. At the same time, the idea of using computers in marketing was becoming more common. I knew that the intersection of technology and marketing was going to radically change things – how we understand consumers, how we market and sell products, and how we engage with customers. So from that point on, I’ve always been focused on technology and marketing, whether it’s working as a marketer at technology companies or applying technology to marketing problems for other types of companies.  There have been so many interesting trends. Taking a long view, a key trend I’ve noticed is how marketers work to understand, influence and motivate consumer behavior. We’ve moved marketing from where it was primarily unpredictable, qualitative and aimed at talking to mass audiences, where the advertising agency was king. Now it’s a discipline that is more data-driven, quantitative and aimed at conversations with individuals, where the best analytics wins. As with any trend, the pendulum swings far too much to either side causing backlashes but overall, I think we are in a great place now. We are using data-driven analytics to understand consumer behavior. But pure analytics is not the be-all, end-all; good marketing has to rely on understanding human emotions, intuition and gut feel – consumers are far from rational so taking only a rational or analytical view of them will never explain everything we need to know.

Ajay- Do you think technology companies are still predominantly dominated by men . How have you seen diversity evolve over the years. What initiatives has Tableau taken for both hiring and retaining great talent.

Elissa- The thing I love about the technology industry is that its key success metrics – inventing new products that rapidly gain mass adoption in pursuit of making profit – are fairly objective. There’s little subjective nature to the counting of dollars collected selling a product and dollars spent building a product. So if a female can deliver a better product and bigger profits faster and better, then that female is going to get the resources, jobs, power and authority to do exactly that. That’s not to say that the technology industry is gender-blind, race-blind, etc. It isn’t – technology is far from perfect. For example, the industry doesn’t have enough diversity in positions of power. But I think overall, in comparison to a lot of other industries, it’s pretty darn good at giving people with great ideas the opportunities to realize their visions regardless of their backgrounds or characteristics.

At Tableau, we are very serious about bringing in and developing talented people – they are the key to our growth and success. Hiring is our #1 initiative so we’ve spent a lot of time and energy both on finding great candidates and on making Tableau a place that they want to work. This includes things like special recruiting events, employee referral programs, a flexible work environment, fun social events, and the rewards of working for a start-up. Probably our biggest advantage is the company itself – working with people you respect on amazing, cutting-edge products that delight customers and are changing the world is all too rare in the industry but a reality at Tableau. One of our senior software developers put it best when he wrote “The emphasis is on working smarter rather than longer: family and friends are why we work, not the other way around. Tableau is all about happy, energized employees executing at the highest level and delivering a highly usable, high quality, useful product to our customers.” People who want to be at a place like that should check out our openings at http://www.tableausoftware.com/jobs.

Ajay- What are most notable features in tableau’s latest edition. What are the principal software that competes with Tableau Software products and how would you say Tableau compares with them.

Elissa- Tableau 6.1 will be out in July and we are really excited about it for 3 reasons.

First, we’re introducing our mobile business intelligence capabilities. Our customers can have Tableau anywhere they need it. When someone creates an interactive dashboard or analytical application with Tableau and it’s viewed on a mobile device, an iPad in particular, the viewer will have a native, touch-optimized experience. No trying to get your fingertips to act like a mouse. And the author didn’t have to create anything special for the iPad; she just creates her analytics the usual way in Tableau. Tableau knows the dashboard is being viewed on an iPad and presents an optimized experience.

Second, we’ve take our in-memory analytics engine up yet another level. Speed and performance are faster and now people can update data incrementally rapidly. Introduced in 6.0, our data engine makes any data fast in just a few clicks. We don’t run out of memory like other applications. So if I build an incredible dashboard on my 8-gig RAM PC and you try to use it on your 2-gig RAM laptop, no problem.

And, third, we’re introducing more features for the international markets – including French and German versions of Tableau Desktop along with more international mapping options.  It’s because we are constantly innovating particularly around user experience that we can compete so well in the market despite our relatively small size. Gartner’s seminal research study about the Business Intelligence market reported a massive market shift earlier this year: for the first time, the ease-of-use of a business intelligence platform was more important than depth of functionality. In other words, functionality that lots of people can actually use is more important than having sophisticated functionality that only specialists can use. Since we focus so heavily on making easy-to-use products that help people rapidly see and understand their data, this is good news for our customers and for us.

Ajay-  Cloud computing is the next big thing with everyone having a cloud version of their software. So how would you run Cloud versions of Tableau Server (say deploying it on an Amazon Ec2  or a private cloud)

Elissa- In addition to the usual benefits espoused about Cloud computing, the thing I love best is that it makes data and information more easily accessible to more people. Easy accessibility and scalability are completely aligned with Tableau’s mission. Our free product Tableau Public and our product for commercial websites Tableau Digital are two Cloud-based products that deliver data and interactive analytics anywhere. People often talk about large business intelligence deployments as having thousands of users. With Tableau Public and Tableau Digital, we literally have millions of users. We’re serving up tens of thousands of visualizations simultaneously – talk about accessibility and scalability!  We have lots of customers connecting to databases in the Cloud and running Tableau Server in the Cloud. It’s actually not complex to set up. In fact, we focus a lot of resources on making installation and deployment easy and fast, whether it’s in the cloud, on premise or what have you. We don’t want people to have spend weeks or months on massive roll-out projects. We want it to be minutes, hours, maybe a day or 2. With the Cloud, we see that people can get started and get results faster and easier than ever before. And that’s what we’re about.

Ajay- Describe some of the latest awards that Tableau has been wining. Also how is Tableau helping universities help address the shortage of Business Intelligence and Big Data professionals.

Elissa-Tableau has been very fortunate. Lately, we’ve been acknowledged by both Gartner and IDC as the fastest growing business intelligence software vendor in the world. In addition, our customers and Tableau have won multiple distinctions including InfoWorld Technology Leadership awards, Inc 500, Deloitte Fast 500, SQL Server Magazine Editors’ Choice and Community Choice awards, Data Hero awards, CODiEs, American Business Awards among others. One area we’re very passionate about is academia, participating with professors, students and universities to help build a new generation of professionals who understand how to use data. Data analysis should not be exclusively for specialists. Everyone should be able to see and understand data, whatever their background. We come from academic roots, having been spun out of a Stanford research project. Consequently, we strongly believe in supporting universities worldwide and offer 2 academic programs. The first is Tableau For Teaching, where any professor can request free term-length licenses of Tableau for academic instruction during his or her courses. And, we offer a low-cost Student Edition of Tableau so that students can choose to use Tableau in any of their courses at any time.

Elissa Fink, VP Marketing,Tableau Software


Elissa Fink is Tableau Software’s Vice President of Marketing. With 20+ years helping companies improve their marketing operations through applied data analysis, Elissa has held executive positions in marketing, business strategy, product management, and product development. Prior to Tableau, Elissa was EVP Marketing at IXI Corporation, now owned by Equifax. She has also served in executive positions at Tele Atlas (acquired by TomTom), TopTier Software (acquired by SAP), and Nielsen/Claritas. Elissa also sold national advertising for the Wall Street Journal. She’s a frequent speaker and has spoken at conferences including the DMA, the NCDM, Location Intelligence, the AIR National Forum and others. Elissa is a graduate of Santa Clara University and holds an MBA in Marketing and Decision Systems from the University of Southern California.

Elissa first discovered Tableau late one afternoon at her previous company. Three hours later, she was still “at play” with her data. “After just a few minutes using the product, I was getting answers to questions that were taking my company’s programmers weeks to create. It was instantly obvious that Tableau was on a special mission with something unique to offer the world. I just had to be a part of it.”

To know more – read at http://www.tableausoftware.com/

and existing data viz at http://www.tableausoftware.com/learn/gallery

Storm seasons: measuring and tracking key indicators
What’s happening with local real estate prices?
How are sales opportunities shaping up?
Identify your best performing products
Applying user-defined parameters to provide context
Not all tech companies are rocket ships
What’s really driving the economy?
Considering factors and industry influencers
The complete orbit along the inside, or around a fixed circle
How early do you have to be at the airport?
What happens if sales grow but so does customer churn?
What are the trends for new retail locations?
How have student choices changed?
Do patients who disclose their HIV status recover better?
Closer look at where gas prices swing in areas of the U.S.
U.S. Census data shows more women of greater age
Where do students come from and how does it affect their grades?
Tracking customer service effectiveness
Comparing national and local test scores
What factors correlate with high overall satisfaction ratings?
Fund inflows largely outweighed outflows well after the bubble
Which programs are competing for federal stimulus dollars?
Oil prices and volatility
A classic candlestick chart
How do oil, gold and CPI relate to the GDP growth rate?


The Mommy Track

Image via Wikipedia

A new paper quantitatively analyzes the impact of child bearing on women. Summary-

Women [who score in the upper third on a standardized test] have a net 8 percent reduction in pay during the first five years after giving birth

From http://papers.nber.org/papers/w16582

Having a child lowers a woman’s lifetime earnings, but how much depends upon her skill level. In The Mommy Track Divides: The Impact of Childbearing on Wages of Women of Differing Skill Levels (NBER Working Paper No. 16582), co-authors Elizabeth Ty Wilde, Lily Batchelder, and David Ellwood estimate that having a child costs the average high skilled woman $230,000 in lost lifetime wages relative to similar women who never gave birth. By comparison, low skilled women experience a lifetime wage loss of only $49,000.

Using the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), Wilde et. al. divided women into high, medium, and low skill categories based on their Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores. The authors use these skill categories, combined with earnings, labor force participation, and family formation data, to chart the labor market progress of women before and after childbirth, from ages 14-to-21 in 1979 through 41-to-49 in 2006, this study’s final sample year.

High scoring and low scoring women differed in a number of ways. While 70-75 percent of higher scoring women work full-time all year prior to their first birth, only 55-60 percent of low scoring women do. As they age, the high scoring women enjoy steeper wage growth than low scoring women; low scoring women’s wages do not change much if they reenter the labor market after they have their first child. Five years after the first birth, about 35 percent of each group is working full-time. However, the high scoring women who are not working full-time are more likely to be working part-time than the low scoring women, who are more likely to leave the workforce entirely.


Men’s earning profiles are relatively unaffected by having children although men who never have children earn less on average than those who do. High scoring women who have children late also tend to earn more than high scoring childless women. Their earnings advantage occurs before they have children and narrows substantially after they become mothers.

Business Intelligence and Stat Computing: The White Man's Last Stand

Unknown White Male
Image via Wikipedia

Name an industry in which top level executives are mostly white males, new recruits are mostly male (white or Indian/Chinese), women are primarily shunted into publicity relationships, social media or marketing.

Statistical Computing And Business Intelligence are the white man’s last stand to preserve an exclusive club of hail fellow well met and lets catch up after drinks culture. Newer startups are the exception in the business intelligence world , but  a whiter face helps (so do an Indian or Chinese male) to attract a mostly male white venture capital industry.

I have earlier talked about technology being totally dominated by Asian males at grad student level and ASA membership almost not representing minorities like blacks and yes women- but this is about corporate culture in the traditional BI world.

If you are connected to the BI or Stat Computing world, who would you rather hire AND who have you actually hired- with identical resumes

White Male or White Female or Brown Indian Male/Female or Yellow Male/Female or Black Male or Black Female

How many Black Grad Assistants do you see in tech corridors- (Nah- it is easier to get a  hard working Chinese /Indian- who smiles and does a great job at $12/hour)

How many non- Asian non white Authors do you see in technology and does that compare to pie chart below

racist image Pictures, Images and Photos

Note_ 2010 Census numbers arent available for STEM, and I was unable to find ethnic background for various technology companies, because though these numbers are collected for legal purposes, they are not publicly shared.

Any technology company which has more than 40% women , or more than 10% blacks would be fairly representative to the US population. Anecdotal evidence suggests European employment for minorities is worse (especially for Asians) but better for women.

Any data sources to support/ refute these hypothesis are welcome for purposes of scientific inquiry.

racist math image Pictures, Images and Photos

Blogging Motivations

Doctor Girlfriend
Image via Wikipedia

My blogging motivations

1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words:

I am addicted to writing prose and poetry ergo blog.

2. Pass it on to 10 others.

3. If you read this and are blogging and have not yet done this, consider yourself tagged.

From: Dr. Girlfriend


Interview Sarah Blow – Girly Geekdom Founder

Here is an interview with Sarah Blow, community manager of the famous twitter startup TweetMeMe which is very popular to bloggers and founder of Girly Geek Dinners – a community effort to promote women in areas of technology and sciences.

Sarah tweets under the name Girly Geek while I tweet under the name Dude of Data, so I met her by chance on the Twitter.

Here is the interview-

1) Describe your career in science from high school to your present position.

That could take a while…. High School for me was split into Middle School for 2 years where Science was dull but practical and Secondary School where Science was a lot of fun and I set the table on fire in the chemistry lesson… My Chemistry teacher always reminds me how incendiary I am! and High School was up north for my A levels where I didn’t choose science subjects as I really wasn’t sure about the science teachers there. However at the last school I did an AS in computer science and it was my teacher there that recommended I considered a career in the technology industry. Originally I was considering law. As a young child I wanted to study law and go to Cambridge. As I grew up I guess things changed, I loved playing with my Commadore 64 and was good with databases etc so my natural progression was to Computer Science.

I didn’t study A Level maths so my options were somewhat limited however I got my first choice University placement at Manchester University (UMIST as it was then). Whilst there I won a scholarship to do my Masters of Enterprise in Computer Science and then went onto my first job as a Software Engineer at Cardinal Health. Then I started the Girl Geek Dinners and decided a change was in order in terms of my career as I found I was good at the community aspect of engaging people with technology. So I looked around for a while and then moved to my current position as Community Manager at TweetMeme.

B) What are the challenges and complexities in managing the community for Tweetmeme

TweetMeme has over 150 million buttons across hundreds of thousands of websites around the world crossing language, location, content management systems and server farms. As such it is my role to ensure those buttons are installed and working as the users require. That’s a LOT of users and a LOT of buttons to look after. I also support the developers that help to create the plugins for the different content management platforms and those using our API. The complexities of all this are the different languages, implementations, levels of understanding of code and template editing as well as the conversational language translations. In my case I speak and can understand French, some German, some Spanish and some Italian. However Google Translate is my friend!

I also communicate with the press and news services, put announcements up on our blog site, and create the support documentation found in our help area and on our forums. When users feedback comments and suggestions I also represent them and their views within technical meetings and in the design decision process. So really my role is incredibly varied and covers a real range of things.

2) Why are there so few women in science compared to other fields- even though it is quite a lucrative profession.

I think there are many barriers from when you grow up and what your parents expect you to do as a career, through to career advice at schools through to what options you choose at GCSE and what maths paper you do (higher or lower) as these do have a big impact on what doors you leave open or close. I also believe personal choice and interest areas have a lot to do with what you consider as a potential career option. Many people just don’t consider computing as a career these days as computers are fundamental to all jobs.

When you look at what jobs you considered as a young child did you aspire to be the next Bill Gates or was it more likely a fighter pilot, fireman or something similarly heroic. Many females look to nursing/ doctor roles as their heroic roles or law where they can put baddies behind bars. Many look to vetinary sciences or forensic science too.

What you aren’t told as a child is where there are heroic jobs in the real world that can lead you to do wonderful things and yet still be able to make money and have fun!

3) Describe your work at GirlyGeekdom on promoting women geeks. ( or women in science careers)

This question mentions specifically the GirlyGeekdom site http://girlygeekdom.com which was a blog site that I created a few years ago after starting Girl Geek Dinners where I could create and bring together interesting geeky content to inspire others to use, play with and enjoy. I wanted to create a fun and energetic environment where anyone male or female could feel like they were in a little geeky world. Which is where the name of the site GirlyGeekdom came from. The promotion of women geeks is only part of what we do on the site but it does bring together issues from around the world and hopefully move beyond that to bring sensible conclusions and a route forward. One thing I didn’t want the site to be was a list of complaints and issues with no attempt at finding solutions.

To help encourage more females into the industry we let them know about awards and intiatives that identify great female role models. We interview interesting people from the tech industry when we come across them and place them into our inspire series of video’s. We also have regular competitions supported by industry sponsors to get young people interacting with our site. We have both serious and non-serious content and we have a range of volunteer writers from around the world submitting great inspirational articles.

4) What are some tools you can recommend for getting un interested students interested in science careers.

One of the great recent tools to get young people interested in science based careers is to mix some of the things they already love doing with science. So for example recently I was introduced to the Manga Guide series which is basically a merge of manga stories with scientific based content in a fun non-science based story approach. This sort of thing is great for getting those who haven’t considered science as fun to look at it in a different way but still with the opportunity to learn more about it!

Other tools include advice on how to work your way through the University Clearing process, including all the links to useful sites recommended by the UK govornment etc. If you don’t get your first choices for uni, then why you should consider computer science or similar subjects as a suitable alternative!

5) How important is work life balance for you? What do you do to de stress.

Work life balance is very important to me and I get a LOT of requests on my time regarding both GirlyGeekdom, Girl Geek Dinners, my day job, friends, family and my hobbies. As such I have to tread a very fine balancing act to ensure that I meet expectations in all of those areas. A large part of doing that is actually to set reasonable expectations with each group of people with regard to my time and availability. I’m actually very lucky as my work isn’t too far from home and as such I do get to spend time there.

I work for a start up company called TweetMeme as their Community Manager so I’m on the internet daily looking after their community. I also do a lot of things outside of that. I tend to rest at lunchtime and take the breaks that I need. I don’t tend to work through every break I get as I’ve tried that in the past and that just tires me out. Instead I tend to time box things. So work is generally my standard office hours. I use my phone for emails on the go and tend to keep up with those then and when I’m at home cooking my tea! (Multi tasking works well!) I keep weekends free for friends and family as much as I can and evenings are a combination of GirlyGeekdom, Girl Geek Dinners, social events for work and spending time with family or relaxing.

In terms of what I do to de-stress… I do a range of things. I’m a member of a really nice gym which has some beautiful swimming pools which I love! So you’ll find me in the gym or the pool if it’s been a particularly crazy week. Or alternatively enjoying a good film at home or a good book and some relaxing music. Then at the weekends you’ll find me doing the more fun stuff that takes time to do! So I’m into rock climbing, white water kayaking, kite surfing and diving. In the summer I also get back into my roller blading!

6) Can we expect a Girly Geekdom in United States. What about a book?

In terms of a GirlyGeekdom in the US… well if someone from the US wants to write on the site they are always welcome, they just need to ask. We already have Girl Geek Dinners out there in 9 different locations, so there’s nothing to stop more of them happening. I’d love to do a Girl Geek conference which may well be called GirlyGeekdom but I don’t think that will be 2010… but it could be a 2011 possibility! As for a book! That’s an interesting question. I’ve considered it but right now I don’t have the time to write one, so if I did then it would probably be a combination of blog posts and ideas or the how to guide on GIrl Geek Dinners.

About SARAH-

Contacts who are into the new media space can contact her through Twitter or via LinkedIn. For those who are into the more traditional channels of communication then you can contact Sarah via e-mail. A more detailed perspective is given on her blog here.

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