Back from Cuba

Just spend almost 2 weeks in Cuba on a photography trip.  Will start writing about Cuba and posting here.  Fascinating place.  Complicated relationships, between US and Cuba, me and Cuba.  More to come soon.

Random hotel thoughts at the end of a long trip

I haven’t counted, but have probably stayed at a dozen hotels or more on this trip, ranging from simple to luxurious, in 3 countries: Thailand (developed), Myanmar (undeveloped) and, in Laos, Luang Prabang (in between).

  • Having glass (clear or frosted) between a hotel room and its bathroom makes a lot of sense when the electricity is unreliable.
  • Having a refrigerator in a hotel room where all the power goes off when the room key is removed from its slot does not make sense, however.
  • Having an electric hot water pot in the room is nice – but only if there’s an outlet someplace other than behind the TV, and one that fits the pot’s plug.
  • All-in-one bathroom/showers are fine, but the placement of the towel rack needs careful thought.  My current hotel solved the problem by having no towel racks at all — not the best choice.
  • The one-handle faucet is now very popular. But it stinks in terms of usability. You have a 2-ended lever, and one side of the circle is labeled hot, the other cold. But which end of the level is turned toward the temperature indicator? In my current hotel room, pointing the top of the lever at “cold” yields hot water.
  • Why do hotels so rarely restock tea/coffee and minibar?

Things Have Changed — But…

Young women today don’t realize, I think, how things were, and not that long ago. Gail Collins’ new book reminds us of how things were.


When I was in high school I decided to be a “lady lawyer” — that was the term for women lawyers, since there were so few.


In college at a Jesuit university, if we women EVER wore pants, we had to leave campus by the shortest route possible.  My dorm roommate could go to breakfast in her nightgown with a coat over it, but not in pants.  This wasn’t just about what we wore — it was about control.

When I got an “honorary” scholarlship at my first choice Jesuit university — i.e. no money — a male friend who was a student there told me they never gave scholarships to women.

In one of my first jobs, at a bank, a woman co-worker in a low-level clerical job pointed out to me that she had exactly the same educational credentials as the male junior executive in our dept.  Our dept. was managed by a woman, who said that she got into management because she couldn’t type.  If she could have typed they would have made her a secretary.

When I was married and tried to apply for a credit card in my own name, I had to fight with the bank.  And some friends had to fight with the hospital when their first child was born — the wife had kept her own name, and the hospital wasn’t about to register a child with a different last name than its mother.

When I got my PhD and went on the academic job market, at the major job-hunting conference someone I interviewed with (fortunately) told me my dean was undermining me. He was telling people that I had a husband in SF and so wasn’t mobile, even though I was interviewing for jobs all over the country.

And in today’s NY Times, an op-ed by a woman who went to college in the 80’s who says “My generation was wrong to think the fight for equality was over.”

Comcast, cable box, and Tivo

UPDATE  1/18/10: Followed MLD’s advice from Jan 6 — and it worked — the Tivo serial cable works better than the IR blaster.  See my comment, below, dated today.

My long cable box to Tivo nightmare is over.  I’m posting these instructions for those who may go through the same horrid mess. I didn’t find these anywhere.

Comcast in Berkeley — from who I have gotten truly terrible customer service throughout this —  is switching to new, digital equipment; independent of but, to confuse things, simultaneous with, the larger digital changeover.  I have talked with roughly two dozen people at Comcast (I’m not exaggerating) and gotten every possible story about whether I can, and if so how, still use my Tivo Series 2 and my analog TV with their new box.  I have a perfectly good TV and a Tivo box with lifetime service; I had no intention of buying new ones, not just now.  I find it annoying enough that I have to pay for cable, but the TV I watch is almost exclusively on cable channels.

Ta-da — here’s how you do it.

1. Get a Tivo IR Blaster. In theory, this came with your Tivo.  It enables the Tivo remote control to control your cable box.  If I did have one, I have no idea where it is now.  I got one at Weaknees.com – they sell other Tivo accessories.  I was told to be sure to get the kind where the sensors at the end turn at 90 degree angles, like this you see in this image from http://www.weaknees.com/tivo-cables.php

The purple end plugs into the back of the Tivo, into “channel change – IR”.

Use a flashlight to see the IR receiver behind the dark glass in front of your cable box. The two “boot” ends go over and under the box so that they both shine on the IR receiver, though another images from Tivo suggests you can get away with just one sensor:

2. Run the cables from wall to cable box to Tivo to TV.

3. Go into Tivo settings and have it run setup again. You have to tell it that you’re using a cable box (which I wasn’t before), and it has to figure out which one, which is what the setup process allows you to tell it to do.  (There’s probably a more direct route than running setup all over again, but I didn’t think of that in time.)

4. Make sure the Tivo and the Cable Box both require the same TV channel (slider on the back of the Tivo picks 3 or 4) and set the TV to the correct channel.

5. Finally!  You can control Tivo and the cable box simultaneously, using the Tivo remote control, and the Tivo can record from cable. Until I did all this, I could (1) set tivo and tv on ch 3 and see whatever channel the cable box was set to, but (2) could not record.

It has taken me approximately a month, two dozen calls, one visit to Comcast, and one visit from a Comcast service person.  The latter finally was able to tell me what to do (thanks, Keisha!) but couldn’t get things set up because I didn’t have an IR blaster. And she didn’t tell me that I had to rerun Tivo setup once I got it — I was stumped at why I had all the pieces connected but they weren’t working together.

Update July 28: One more thing: it only records correctly if I leave the Tivo box ON.  That’s a waste of energy, but I had trouble recording — it thought it had the right channel, everything looked right, the show listed was the one I asked to be recorded — but the content was wrong; it wasn’t changing channels.  It seems that the only solution is to never turn the Tivo box off.

Women Who Tech TeleSummit

Kaliya Hamlin sent the following message to the members of She’s Geeky.

Registration is now open for the 2009 Women Who Tech TeleSummit scheduled for May 12, 2009 from 11AM EST to 6PM EST. I’m so excited about this year’s line up and I know you will be too. Check it out! http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html.

Women have really rocked the tech and social media world this past year and we are proud to be featuring Lisa Stone of BlogHer, Allison Fine of Personal Democracy Forum, Rashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Charelene Li, co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Shireen Mitchell of Digital Sistas, Holly Ross of NTEN, Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach and so much more.

Our thought provoking panels (held by phone and web) will inspire you and give you the latest resources and tools that you can take back to the office and launch a successful and meaningful campaign or build your online personal brand, determine the ROI of your organizations social media outreach, get that big promotion or even launch your own startup. Check out these awesome panels: http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html

* Launching Your Own Startup * Breaking Through the Digital Ceiling * Social Media ROI * Women and Open Source * Tools Galore in Online Communications * Democratizing Data and Watch-Dogging the Government * Video Activism * Tech Marketing in a Recession * Social Networks and Diversity Barriers * Innovation and Tech Career Reinvention * What Shirky Didn’t Tell Us * Feminine Mystique

Click the link below to view the full panel descriptions and register now! Like last year we expect the panels to fill up super fast. http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html

Also we will be having fun after-parties after the TeleSummit on May 12th in Washington, DC, NYC, San Francisco, and London so save the date and come get your tech on with us. I will send a follow up email about the after-parties next week. I would also like to thank our amazing sponsors for their generous support of Women Who Tech. FreePress, Democracy In Action, Rad Campaign, Convio, Care2, NTEN, and Massey Media. Questions, comments? Email me anytime at Allyson@womenwhotech.com. You can also reach me on twitter @womenwhotech.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Berkeley

Photo by Peg Skorpinski for UC Berkeley.  (Not mine!)

The Death of the Traditional Media — and the Pulitzer Prizes

Pulitzer Prize Medal

Pulitzer Prize Medal

I  read this list of this year’s Pulitzers and thought about those who are saying that journalism is dead.  This is clearly the kind of investigation and reporting that need to be done  [all the below quoted from the NYT artice]:

  • The Las Vegas Sun for the exposure of the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip amid lax enforcement of regulations, leading to changes in policy and improved safety conditions;
  • The Houston Chronicle Staff for becoming a lifeline to the city when Hurricane Ike struck;
  • David Barstow of The New York Times for his reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended;
  • Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times for their fexploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires across the western United States;
  • The East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ, for adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.

How are we going to support this kind of journalism?  We need fulltime journalists with resources behind them; but how?