Hugo Chavez On Twitter: Here’s To The Proletwitteriat

I’m following a new person on Twitter. He’s got a pretty red background, a pretty standard profile pic and a couple of Tweets already under his belt. Oh, and did I mention, he’s the self-proclaimed socialist leader of Venezuela?

That’s right, Hugo Chavez has officially joined Twitter. And now he’s working on getting Fidel Castro on the blue bird’s bandwagon too.

Personally, I’m a big fan of politicians using social media to communicate directly with their constituents.  Whether you’re a socialist, capitalist, communist, anti-imperialist, or any other ‘ist’, the more transparent you can be with your communications, the better it is for everyone.

Plus, if the simple fact that two countries have a McDonald’s is enough to keep them from warring with each other, doesn’t it stand to reason that sharing social web presences could keep politicians on the same page in the same way?

After all, how could you go to war against someone who Follow Fridays you?

Kids Reenact The Hills: Video Hammers Home That Mommy Wow, I’m A Big Kid Now

In honor of The Hills finally starting to end tonight, someone, somewhere decided to do a big favor to fans everywhere, and create this hilarious viral video of little kids reenacting The Hills.

Now, I’m not gonna lie. My girlfriends and I used to watch The Hills in college. In fact, I actually went to college with one of the current stars – Lo Bosworth, although my only interaction with her was at a few functions I attended with friends who were in the fraternity counterpart to her sorority.

But, my brush with faux-lebrity aside, I did watch The Hills for a while. And, for a while, it felt like a mirror of exactly what my girlfriends and I were going through – internships, boy drama, balancing school and work, the usual growing up and finding yourself stuff.

Now, of course, it’s become more like those fun-house mirrors that distort your looks and make you all dizzy and nauseated if you stare at them for too long.  But back then, when the focus was on a college student and her friends trying to achieve their ambitions, it was a fun, somewhat aspirational take on moving away from home, going after what you want and growing up in the process.

Now, as the series comes to a close, I can’t help but feel just the tiniest twinge of emotion about it. After all, these girls are exactly my age. Like me, they went to school, moved to Hollywood, achieved some success, struggled to stay balanced, drifted apart from old friends, made new ones, etc.

Of course, when I was lusting after Louboutins, they were wearing them. And, my boy drama only rarely involved the kind of folks you’d be likely to see in Us Weekly the next day (the details of that situation are a whole other blog post).

Still, I can’t help but have felt a little bit of an affinity with the girls on The Hills – made all the more so with the memory of ‘girls night’ spent eating junk food and drinking cheap champagne in my dorm room while watching their antics.

All of which makes me feel just a little bit like tonight’s premiere of the final season is more than just the welcome end to a series long past its prime – it’s one more nail in the coffin of my college-era youth. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, as that video proves, that behavior is only cute on a little kid. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m not really a little kid any more.

Fruits Of My Labor

This afternoon, I planted a small kitchen herb garden and sowed the seeds of my very own personal strawberry plant.

It took me about fifteen minutes to prep the soil, sow the seeds and set the finished pots up on my little apartment porch. It took me another ten minutes to clean up. All in all, the whole endeavor took less than half an hour – and would have gone even quicker if I hadn’t somehow managed to spill potting soil all over my white carpet.

I know I’m usually a big proponent of technology and machine-made innovation. But, when it comes to my food, the only technology I want involved is the innovation that created the vaccuum that restored my carpet back to a practically-sparkling white after the great soil spill of 2010.

Which is to say, I cannot wait to enjoy the organic, homegrown, potted-by-hand fruits – and herbs – of today’s labor. It was even worth messing up my manicure for. After all, my nails can be repainted. My body, and the bodies of the friends and family I plan on feeding fresh chives, thyme, basil, parsley, cilantro and strawberries to…well, we only have one shot at taking good care of those.

iPhone Backup Plan: Restore Your Files, Restore Your Sanity

This post was originally published on the Girls in Tech blog:

Earlier this month, my life exploded faster than you can say Eyjafjallajokull. In the same day, my Outlook crashed, my iTunes stopped syncing, my company migrated email servers and my iPhone died. I couldn’t text, couldn’t tweet, couldn’t calendar, couldn’t email, couldn’t find half my contacts. In short, I couldn’t do any of the things that keep my crazy, busy life running at the pace that it does. I wish I could say I learned some important lesson about how life can go on gadget-free – or at least experienced some zen-like appreciation of the peace of not having constant connectivity while everything was down. But I didn’t. I just panicked.

Fortunately, I live pretty close to an Apple Store, and they happened to have a Genius Bar appointment available relatively quickly after I – literally shaking and stammering and cradling my dead iPhone like the precious baby that it is – made my way there. And luckily, there was a fix to get my baby back up and running. But, it involved wiping the whole thing clean. And I mean completely clean. Total factory restore. Which, of course, wouldn’t have been a big deal if I could have just restored my data from the iTunes backup. Or at least re-imported my calendar and contacts from Outlook. But, since everything else was breaking that day too, I couldn’t.

Fortunately for me – and for everyone who has to live with or around me – I had taken some preventative measures just a few months before to protect myself against this very sort of situation. I had begun regularly exporting my Outlook calendar and contacts into CSV files, and copied all my iTunes data into a folder I stored on my desktop, separately from the rest of the iTunes application information.

So, when I switched to using Google to manage my contacts & calendar, it was easy to import those CSV files and start over. When I uninstalled the incredibly buggy iTunes 9.1 (which I’m convinced broke my iPhone 3G in the first place, something you can read aboutall over the interwebs right now), and reinstalled 9.0, I just used my backed up iTunes data to get everything back to normal. And, when I figured out that you could use the iPhone’s built-in exchange feature to sync google data directly with your phone, I knew I was on the right track to getting my life – or at least my sanity – back.

Long story short, backing up turned what could have been a total disaster into just a few short – albeit excruciating – hours of restoring, reinstalling and reconfiguring. Now, in addition to the things I do to back up my iPhone – both in the google cloud and also on my hard drive and flash drive – I’ve also signed up for Mozy to start backing the rest of my data as well. Because, if there’s one thing my own personal techpocalypse did teach me, it’s the value of a good backup plan. Although I still don’t know how to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg In Vogue: What Does Success Mean For Women In The Internet Biz?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandber is apparently one of the May Vogue’s “great American women.”

Coming on the heels (in this case, stilettos) of my recent post about women in technology – and the vibrant discussion that followed on Twitter – I’ve got some mixed feelings about the article.

I perused the full text on Vogue, and was not surprised to see Sandberg receive pretty much the same treatment Glamour gave my idol Marissa Meyer last year. Namely, the glowing praise of her ability to balance a thriving career, a vibrant social life, a loving relationship and – inexplicably – a daily phone call to her friend during said friend’s entire nine months of pregnancy. Apparently, the woman likes to multi-task. And, she makes a lot of lists.

Of course, as with most things involving the way women in tech are portrayed, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I love that there are woman like Sandberg and Mayer, who seem to have it all, and who I can admire from afar for that. And, I love that publications like Vogue and Glamour are helping to bring those women the kind of visibility we need to get more young women excited about tech – and to get tech excited about an influx of more young women.

However, as a high-ranking woman at a tech startup, I can tell you for a fact that you could be the world’s best multi-tasker. It’s still gonna be physically impossible to also always fit in being the world’s best friend and lover too. At least not all the time. So, unless these women have magically cracked the code to 28 hour days, I doubt they really do have it all as well balanced as they’re being made to look like they do. And that should be okay too. And not just okay, but at least acknowledged every once in a while as well.

The social web is one of the few industries that is literally 24/7, 365 days a year. The internet never turns it’s lights off, shuts the doors and takes a vacation. To succeed at the top of the social media sphere, you have to be on call and on your game pretty much all day every day. It’s not a lifestyle that lends itself well to balancing your work and your life. And, the most successful social mediaites are usually the ones who let work win.

That’s why the archetypal social media startup success story is always some guy who lives, works and sleeps at his computer – he’s the one with the razor focus on work, and the crappy social life to show for it. Which is fine, because he happily sacrificied that social life for the mega-millions he’s gonna make when he sells his site to Google.

But, for some reason, the archetypal social media success story for women is shaping up to be this superhero who balances her Blackberry and best friends and boyfriend, and still finds time to cultivate fulfilling hobbies and collect cupcake recipes.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t want to be superwoman (or Wonder Woman, since she had all the cool accessories anyway). But, I also don’t like the fact that this feels like yet another double standard.

So yeah, I love having successful women in technology to admire and aspire to. And I love that mainstream magazines are making more of an effort to feature those woman in all their fashionable glory. But, I’m still wary of precisely how these women – and specifically, what constitutes their ‘success’ – are being portrayed.

Which means I’m still taking that Vogue article with a big ol’ grain of salt. But just one grain – I do still want to be able to fit into that gorgeous dress SJP’s rocking on the cover.

Women In Technology: Is Separate Really The Best Way To Get Equal?

When I first read the headline of this article in Read Write Web, I couldn’t help myself. I groaned. After all, how many articles do we really need telling us how hard it is for woman to rise to the top of the tech industry? Or bemoaning the boys’ club that most of our offices, conferences and events tend to turn into?

Part of me feels like all this discussion of women’s inequality in technology only serves to further highlight the differences between the genders, rather than helping to proactively bridge those gaps.

Then again, I like to complain about the joys of working in an office full of dudes (and I do mean dudes) as much as the next girl. And, I help manage an organization called Girls in Tech. (For the record, I hate the name.) But, I do love the fact that the organization empowers, educates and engages women in technology – not to mention the fact that it encourages us to support each other personally and professionally. And yeah, a lot of the need for that support comes from the fact that many of us don’t get that kind of network of nurturing women in our mostly male-dominated offices. (side note: it’s not that I don’t love the dudes in my office. it’s just that they’re well…all dudes).

So maybe I’m not really one to judge. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still be conflicted. As much as I feel that dialogue and discourse are the best way to change things, I also feel like sometimes too much talking can get in the way of actually taking action. As a proud techtrepneur, who also just so happens to be a proud female, am I better off trying to fight gender inequality by proving I can keep up with the boys’ club? Or, should I shelve my Star Wars references (they’re usually a stretch anyway) and be proudly, loudly female.

After all, I’ve never been big into the bra burning thing. But I do consider myself a pretty staunch feminist. I’m just not sure what the best approach is when it comes to furthering female equality in the tech world. Do we make a big deal out of all those big gaps, or do we keep on keeping on, and hope that the quality of our work speaks for itself? Gloria Steinem never really tackled the whole tech topic.

Either way, I’m still not sure of the answer, and I’ve been grappling with this issue pretty much since I start working in web development. What I am sure of is that the statistic that the RWW article ended on was pretty darn inspiring either way. So, I figured I’d copy them and end on that note too…

“Women have been proven to build companies that are more capital-efficient than those founded by men, and they use less capital to achieve the same or higher revenue performance in early-stage years,” she says. “Women don’t fail as often as men: in fact, women-led high-tech start-ups generate higher revenues per dollar of invested capital and have lower failure rates than those led by men.”

Mad Men: Bye Bye Birdie & Glee: Vogue – Thanks, Internet

This week, the internet gave us musical theater nerds two fantastic viral videos – the Mad Men cast singing the theme from Bye Bye Birdie & Glee’s own Jane Lynch striking a pose, Vogue-style. I would take the time to tell you all about how awesome these videos are, and how much I love the social web for bringing them both to my attention & giving me ample opportunities to enjoy them over and over again. But, I think that in this case, the videos really do speak (or sing) for themselves.

So, grab your glitter, start flexing your jazz hands and just press play already!

Essential Software: Design, Bug Tracking, Blogging & More – AKA: How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love My Apple Store Genius Bar

Yesterday, my iPhone died. For a few terrible hours I thought I had lost everything – literally. My music, my calendar, my contacts, my email, my notes, my bookmarks. Basically, my entire life. Luckily, the genius demi-gods at the Apple Store fixed my most precious accessory. But, first they had to wipe my poor baby completely clean, so she could be reborn into a new phone that actually functioned again.

At the same time, we switched email servers at work. Which anyone who doesn’t have a dedicated IT Department can tell you is about as much fun as taking Michelle “Bombshell” McGee to synagogue with you on Yom Kippur. Oh, and my Outlook, which has been slowly wheezing it’s way towards an untimely death for months now, picked yesterday to finally give up the ghost. So, I spent all night last night & most of today reconfiguring my life. Literally.

Now that I’m slowly starting to feel technologically (and physically, emotionally and mentally secure again), I’m starting to reflect on the whole experience of the past 24 hours. Of watching my technological life flat-line, and having to (sometimes ruthlessly) cut out the cancerous programs that were preying on it (bye bye Outlook and iTunes 9.1, hello Gmail & itunes 9.0).

Suffice it to say, the whole thing got me thinking about software. And specifically, what pieces of the software I stare at all day every day are really essential. And, what pieces I could probably live without (only if I absolutely had to).

And so, without further ado, here’s my list of the 10 pieces of software – other than the obvious entries of iPhone OS & the software that makes my beloved Acer Aspire run day to day – that I find to be most vital to my technological survival. And yes, these ten pieces of tech are totally worth slowly going even blinder than I already am from staring at screens all day.

SEO For Wii: Search Engine Optimization Video Game To Hit Shelves

In case your love of keyword analysis and spreadsheeted statistics didn’t make you nerdy enough, now you can turn your SEO career into a high scoring hobby thanks to Nintendo and Google. Yes, that’s right, as Mashable reported today, the folks behind the Wii have partnered with the folks behind everything else on the web to create a video game out of guessing search result rankings. So far, it looks like it will only be available in Japan.

But, here’s hoping we get to see it on US shelves some day. After all, what could be more fun after a long day of geeking out over google results at work than coming home to your Wii and geeking out over google results in game form? On second thought, maybe it’s best if we don’t answer that. . .

Girls in Tech LA Members Get $100 Off for digiday: Video Upfront

This is yet another great opportunity I’m happy to be sharing straight from the Girls in Tech blog.

There’s no doubt that online video is the future of entertainment. From Netflix movies you can watch on your iPad to promo pieces you can see on your favorite brand’s Facebook page, online video is one of the fastest growing mediums in the modern world. And everyone, from studios to salespeople, publishers to producers, wants a piece of the action.

Which is why Girls in Tech LA is proud to be partnering with DM2 Events to sponsor Digiday: Video Upfront. This bicoastal conference will feature sessions in both New York and LA, and the local leg boasts a keynote by Rob Davis of Ogilvy. Other speakers at the LA conference include representatives from CNN, MSNBC, Fox Networks, MTV Networks, comScore and more.

The whole thing kicks off at noon on April 14, and you can see more details here.  And don’t forget to use code DDVGIT to get $100 off your ticket.