Thursday, April 14, 2016

Girl Geeks

"It’s hip to be a nerd at Geek Girl conference" by Sarah Shemkus Globe Correspondent  April 05, 2016

More than 200 nerds – both aspiring and accomplished, most of them women – will be flocking to Cambridge Thursday for the Geek Girl Tech Conference.

The daylong event, to be held at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, features panels and workshops that cover tech-heavy topics from industry hiring practices and the basics of launching a business to coding essentials and advanced digital marketing. In the afternoon, five local women-led startups will compete in a business pitch competition known as the Sharkette Tank.

“Any time you can get women who are starting companies out to pitch, it’s a good thing,” said Geek Girl founder Leslie Fishlock.

Men are welcome, and make up as much many as 25 percent of attendees at some events. However, while many conferences have come under fire lately for failing to include many women on panels, 90 percent of Geek Girl presenters are women.

“I was excited to participate in a program that gave woman a special opportunity to ask whatever questions they wanted and feel comfortable and get that sense of camaraderie,” said Meghan Blair-Valero, owner of Fogged In Accounting of Cape Cod and Boston, and a presenter for the past six years.

The seeds of Geek Girl were planted in the early 2000s, when Fishlock was working in Boston’s startup scene and realized how few of her tech colleagues were women.

A few years later, living on Cape Cod and running her own Web development company, she started hosting informal meet-ups at the local coffee shop to answer questions about anything related to tech. As these gatherings quickly grew from five women to 40, Fishlock realized she was on to something.

In 2008, she held the first official Geek Girl event, an evening of short educational presentations in a Hyannis hotel function room. Thirty women were expected; 100 showed up. The next year, the evening event turned into an all-day conference.

“Then we started expanding to different cities,” Fishlock said.

Today Fishlock lives in San Diego and manages Geek Girl events full-time. The organization runs tech conferences in Boston, San Diego, and Charlotte, as well as returning to Cape Cod every year. Fishlock is looking at expanding into Austin and Portland, Ore. as well.

Tickets are still available for Thursday’s event; prices range from $75 for students to $169 for general admission...."

I can't afford those.

Time to pump up the jam, pump it up....

"Boston TechJam will make networking fun and games come June 16" by Amanda Burke Globe Correspondent  March 30, 2016

Boston TechJam, the combination block-party-meets-networking event for the Boston tech scene, will descend on City Hall Plaza for the fourth time on June 16.

The annual event brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, students, tech companies, developers and more for what has become the city’s largest gathering of the tech-obsessed.

TechJam has grown steadily over the years and is expected to attract record numbers this year.

One big change coming this year: the event is no longer 21-plus. TechJam cofounder Mark Lorion said lowering the age of entry to 18 was aimed at attracting college-age tech talent.

Lorion,  the chief marketing and products officer of Boston software company Apperian, said Boston continues to lose talented young developers and entrepreneurs to New York or Silicon Valley after graduation.

Lorion says TechJam is meant to make networking “second-nature and natural,” with an assist from games, live music, and street food. (Fear not: Craft beer will be on tap for the of-age set.)

Tickets are $16.37. TechJam last summer donated its profits to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s Education Foundation. This year, two-thirds of profits will go to the foundation, a nonprofit that supports computing education in Massachusetts...."

"Neighbors tell 9-year-old reporter covering a murder to go ‘play with dolls’" by Kristen De Groot Associated Press  April 05, 2016

9-year-old reporter who wrote about a suspected murder in her small Pennsylvania town is defending herself after some locals lashed out about a young girl covering violent crimes.

Hilde Kate Lysiak got a tip Saturday afternoon about something untoward happening on 9th street in Selinsgrove, about 150 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

She went to the scene to get the details and posted a story and video clip on her website the ‘‘Orange Street News’’ later that day.

Soon after, her Facebook page and YouTube channel were clogged with negative comments urging her to ‘‘play with dolls’’ and have a tea party, and questioning her parents’ judgment in letting her do such work.

‘‘It kind of gets me angry because, just because I’m 9 doesn’t mean I can’t do a great story,’’ she said Tuesday. ‘‘It doesn’t mean I can’t be a reporter.’’

Hilde has run the ‘‘Orange Street News’’ since 2014. She gets some help from her father Matthew Lysiak, a former reporter for the New York Daily News, and her 12-year-old sister, Isabel Rose, who handles videos and photos.

What started out as a newspaper for her family, written in crayon, has become a community news source complete with website and Facebook page.

Matthew Lysiak said Tuesday the comments on his daughter’s stories are usually positive.

‘‘She was embraced when she was doing cuter stories, but about six months into writing the paper, she got more confident and started stepping outside the box,’’ Lysiak said.

The debate is all about whether it’s appropriate for a girl her age to be covering such news.

Lysiak said Hilde caught the journalism bug back when he worked for the Daily News and would occasionally take her along on the job.

‘‘She found journalism really interesting, and my older daughter, too. They would ask lots of questions,’’ Lysiak said.

She’s normally unfazed by comments and normally doesn’t even read them, he said.

‘‘The tea party comment really lit a fuse under her,’’ her father said. ‘‘She was pretty annoyed by it all.’’

Hilde hit back with a video on her news site, posted Sunday, first reading some of the comments aloud, including ‘‘I am disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist. What happened to tea parties?’’ and ‘‘Nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters.’’

She then defended her hard work.

‘‘I know this makes some of you uncomfortable, and I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m 9. But if you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computer and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?’’

Anne Carter, a licensed practical nurse in Selisgrove, was among those who commented disapprovingly on Facebook of Hilde’s involvement in the story.

‘‘I think she’s very talented and her aspirations are great, but it’s probably a bigger case than a 9-year-old should handle,’’ Carter said. ‘‘Adults in the community are having trouble wrapping their heads around what happened. I can’t imagine how a 9-year-old can cover a story like that.’’

Hilde is undeterred. When asked if she has a follow-up story in the works on the suspected homicide Hilde replied: ‘‘You’ll have to find out what happens in the next issue of the Orange Street News.’’