I’m in Tech And Had My Eggs Frozen On My 35th Birthday

Last Wednesday, October 8th, I turned 35. On Friday, October 10th, I underwent an egg retrieval process for the purposes of cryopreservation. Even as I write this post, nearly a week later, I still feel the pressure of swollen ovaries, and other annoying side effects from the process.

This week, the week after my egg retrieval procedure, one of the hottest topics in tech news, is that Apple and Facebook will cover the cost of egg freezing for employees. The articles written suggest that Apple and Facebook are allowing the benefit so that their female employees have the option to focus on their careers without the stress or worry of reproductive timelines.

Since the story broke, there has been a number of debates on whether this is a good thing or bad thing for women. Both side of the debates are helpful and have lead to further discussions on creating better workplaces for women. I believe Facebook and Apple are doing a great thing in expanding employee options by covering non-medically necessary treatments, in addition to covering medically necessary fertility treatments. Sure, there is some work to be done in ensuring employees also have flexible work options to care for a family while working. But this does not and should not take away that these benefits are a good thing. These discussion are great, but if we were really honest, these discussions are just the privileged debating benefits for the privileged. I believe many of us are missing the opportunity to have a more impactful discussion on reproductive health issues and the responsibility of both the government and insurance companies.

In the case of someone who is actively trying to have children now, and is unable to do so for medical reasons; what does it look like if that person does not work for Apple or Facebook? Well, for many women, they are left with either finding a way to pay for treatment out of their pockets, forego the option of having children, or adoption (which is another discussion and also filled with many complexities). This is because the state of California does not mandate insurance companies to offer fertility coverage such as cryopreservation, even if it is medically necessary. Therefore, many insurance companies operating in the state of California do not cover these treatments or they cover it very poorly (downright inadequate).

Me being personal:
I went through the egg retrieval process for medical reasons. The procedure was deemed medically necessary in order for myself and my husband to have children. We were one of the privileged ones and was able to find a way to pay for the treatment.  And this is what it costed us:

amex statement

In case you do not have a calculator, total costs this month were $17,100.21: $11,605 for the procedure and $5,495.21 for prescription drugs. Add that to the $30k, we’ve already spent this year in previous failed attempts. As I mentioned before, we consider ourselves privileged to be able to pay this. (it wasn’t easy financially, more like barely covering the month’s rent easy, but we found a way) However, my thoughts are constantly wondering about those who are not able to pay these fees. What about them?

Here’s my ask:
Let’s change the discussion. Let’s support every woman’s reproductive health right, whether at Apple, Facebook, or the corner grocery store. One way to do this is to ask your congress member to support affordable assisted reproductive care. The nonprofit, Resolve.org, makes it easy to send a letter in support to your congress member. And if you’re reading this post, it’s even easier, just click the link below to support reproductive rights. https://secure2.convio.net/res/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=81B399F8646FFB4652B96EE3299CE0C7.app263b?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=499#.VEAzO9R4rWM

My swollen ovaries and my overworked amex card thanks you!

Passion Projects While Procastinating

There are about 20 items on my passion project list. Lately, I haven’t had much time for any passion projects. Most of the projects are time intensive, write a book, build silly game app, and so on. However, tonight, in avoidance of doing other work, I turned my attention to making a board game. I started by setting goals for the game. For example, what was the purpose of the game. I decided on it being a game for children that teaches them the basics of coding. The basics of coding being assignment variables, functions, conditionals and loops. For each subject, I came up with examples using real world objects. The examples for variables and conditionals were the hardest to discover. After this, I then brainstormed a theme for the game. I came up with a treasure hunt theme, in which each player uses pseudo code to move around the board in search of treasure. My draft board game looked like this:

IMG_1838.JPG

My husband and I played a couple of rounds, and discovered some gotchas that will need to be fixed in the game rules. But overall, it was fun, and I felt less guilty about my procrastination.

My next step is play a few rounds with friends. So, if you’re in the San Francisco area, and would love to test it out, let me know. In addition, if you know any teachers of middle school students who would be interested in having their students play the game, please let me know. Would love to see how students respond to the game.

****Post written from phone, excuse any typos

Everything is Awesome! A Day in the Life of this Entrepreneur

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

3:30am My alarms goes off

Hurried out of bed. Poked my husband and said, “Let’s go! You don’t want to miss it.” We had discussed the plans for my birthday the night before. I was uber excited about the lunar eclipse, and we spoke in length about the best place to see the eclipse in full. Initially, we discussed camping on Mt. Diablo, but it wasn’t possible, since I had to be back in San Francisco for an 8:30a doctor appt. Finally, we decided, the best plan was to sneak up on our apartment’s rooftop and watch the eclipse from there. Then at 6:00a, walk to the top of Twin Peaks and have a morning picnic as we watched the sunrise and moonset simultaneously.

What ended up happening was: we opened the blinds, threw some pillows and blankets on the floor, and watched the eclipse from the warmth of our house, inside. By 5:00am, we had already drifted back to sleep, and knew that Twin Peaks was not happening.

Lunar Eclipse Seen From Our House

Lunar Eclipse Seen From Our House

6:00am – 7:00am  Husband’s alarm goes off every 10 minutes from him hitting the snooze. Seriously, he needs to stop that. 

7:10am Husband’s alarm goes off again and I finally wake up in a rage ready to throw his phone out the window.

I walk into the kitchen with a pissy mood, ready to calmly discuss with my husband about his fucking alarm. Oh, pancakes and freshly made bread made for me. My husband, “I had packed a bag to bring the camping stove, I was going to make you pancakes on Twin Peaks, but you looked too comfortable in bed, so I was going to bring it in to you.” Black girl blushing.

8:15am Crowded Bus ride to the doctor’s office.

8:45am – 9:30am Doctor Visit

Found out good news at today’s doctor visit. For the past two, weeks I’ve had a daily doctor’s appointment in the morning. Basically, the result of today’s doctor appointment releases me from having to go every day. Awesome sauce! Sidenote: Nothing serious here, just time consuming.

9:30am Bus ride back home for my 10am

10:00am-11:00am Pair programming

Troubleshooted a problem I was having with on one of my test specs for a client project. I used a service called Airpair in order to pair with another developer.

11:00am – 12:30p Lunch and prepare for 12:30p Customer Development Call

I had the chance to sneak in three personal calls. I caught up with an old friend from Philadelphia, and also spoke to my sister. The inlaws (from Denmark) called to wish me a Happy Birthday. I was successfully able to show off my new Danish skills, thanks to my Monday night Danish classes. All of these calls and another call (later in the day from another sister), were the highlights of my day. I also didn’t realize until much later that I never actually ate lunch.

12:30p – 1:15p Customer Development Call

Interviewed a potential customer to better understand how her company currently does customer support. We are working on a customer support tool at Playpen Labs, so customer interviews are crucial.

1:30p – 1:45p Budget and Scope Call with Client

1:30p Received voicemail from doctor. Change in meds, need to pick up new meds to start tonight. Specialty pharmacy is an hour drive away.

2:00p – 2:30p Catchup with Husband/Cofounder

My husband also had a customer development interview today. We quickly caught up and compared notes on our learnings from the calls. We also decided to strip out some of the features in our prototype, based on today’s learnings.

2:30p Picking up Zipcar with husband for drive to Pharmacist when I realized that I hadn’t eaten since 7am.

2:45p Picking up Zipcar with husband after grabbing a burger.

3:45p Arrive at pharmacy. Prescription order is not ready. Wait around until order is ready

5:00p Start drive back to San Francisco, traffic and all.

My sister called during the drive, which made the traffic manageable.

6:30p Arrive home after dropping off Zipcar

6:30p – 7:30p Procrastinated or Was Lazy (maybe both)

Sat on the couch and complained about being tired. Then debated with myself on whether to start some work now or start fresh tomorrow morning.

7:30p Dinner

8:00p Wrote a list of all the things I did not do today, and will have to do tomorrow and most likely over the weekend.

The list went something like this:

  • Prepare and send a client contract
  • Prepare and send a client proposal
  • CODE on client project
  • CODE Update prototype based on today’s learnings
  • CODE Catch up on ios class

After, I wrote the list, I decided that Everything Was Awesome! And I was going to write a blog post about it. Happy Birthday to Me!

Productivity Hack: Staying In Touch

for the tl;dr – 1)Create a mailchimp mailing list for those you want to stay in contact. 2)Once a month (or whichever frequency works for you) send an email with a personal touch and ask that people reply with their latest happenings. 3)Create an email address to easily auto-subscribe new contacts to the email list. 4)Create a zapier tasks that will add new subscribers to your mailchimp, when a new email is received by the created email address. 5)To add new contacts to your list, send them an email and bcc your created email address.

I’m absolutely miserable at staying in touch. There are so many people that I meet. And I want to know with all these people what they have been up to, what they are working on, any personal status changes, what can I congratulate them on, and/or what areas of their lives need support or encouragement. In the past years, I’ve defaulted to facebook to help me connect and keep my relationships with people that I meet. However, I currently have 1170 friends on facebook and with the fb algorithm, I usually only see the noisy people on my timeline. If I switch to the “most recent” view on fb, it still only shows status updates for the time that I am logged in. Combine that with the fact that a lot of people don’t post much on fb anymore (including myself — but I do lurk *hehe*), and its impossible to stay in touch. Oh, and I’ve never been the type of gal who picks up the phone (sorry).

Most people will argue that its impossible to stay in touch with everyone. Especially, as you get older, move around, and change jobs. I do agree, but I still would like to make some effort to maintain contact. Besides having a general interest in people that I care about, there is also a benefit to “networking” within your existing networks. There are many people who find their next job, opportunity, or mate from introductions from friends. And you never know who will connect you to that “next one” and vice versa.

I am a problem solver. My problem is I want to stay in better contact with friends, family, and associates. My first attempt at solving this problem, was to build a complex software application that keeps an eye on who I interact the most with on fb and suggest people with whom I don’t interact with often. But fb’s graph api isn’t well suited to do this. I also had to rethink a simpler solution.

Here’s the solution that I came up with: Once a month, I’ll send an short personal email out to family, friends, and associates, sharing my latest news, and invite them to reply to the email with their latest. Last month, I sent the first email. The email was sent in mass using mailchimp. Although, it was a mass email, my words were personal. I added a huge caption at the top of the email explaining why they were receiving the email, and it was ok if they wanted to unsubscribe to the email. I also asked friends to let me know whether they hated or loved my approach to staying in touch. Honestly, I was expecting most people to hate the email and unsubscribe with no response. It was quite the opposite. Most people replied and told me they thought it was a great idea. In addition, I learned a lot from the responses, and was able to reestablish contact with many friends. Some of my friends had recently moved or switched jobs. Some shared books that they were reading, and for a few, we made arrangements to meet up in person. I only heard from one person who responded and stated that he didn’t like the email because he thought it was impersonal. I was even thankful for his honest feedback. Overall, my first month of the “keep in touch” email was successful.

Later in the month, as I met more people at events, I found it a pain to log onto mailchimp to add new contacts to my email list. So, I created a Zapier task. Normally, when I meet someone at an event, I always send them a “Nice to meet you/Stay in touch” email. For the Zapier task, I created an email account specifically for this task. So, now when I send a “Nice to meet you” email, I bcc the created email account. The Zapier task is triggered once the account receives a new email, and then it automatically adds a new subscriber to my mailing list. And this is my staying in touch productivity hack.

How do you stay in contact with your network?

Creating Meteor Packages

I’ve had a crush on Meteor for about a year now. And have done a few sample apps. Yesterday, I decided to create a meteor package. One of the cool things about Meteor is its smart packages. The smart packages are similar to other package or libraries in other languages, like Ruby Gems or NPM. However, the Meteor packages really appeal to the lazy programmer in me. For example, a social connect oauth (facebook or twitter login) can be added with two lines of code. One line at the command line to add the package, and the other line in the view to display the login buttons. {Oh, lazy programmers everywhere rejoice} So, yesterday, I decided to take a stab at building a package myself. Currently, packages that are not included Meteor’s core are managed by Atmosphere. Here are some basic steps for building your own meteor package.

0. If you haven’t already installed Meteorite, install it.

$ npm install -g meteorite

1. Create your package using the Meteorite scaffold command

$ mrt create-package my-package
$ cd my-package

2. Inside your directory, you’ll find smart.json and package.js. Your smart.json file contains your name, author and other describing data about your package. This file is mainly used by Atmosphere. Here’s an example smart.json:

{
  "name": "my-package",
  "description": "My package does awesome things",
  "homepage": "https://github.com/diyahm/awesome-package",
  "author": "Hadiyah Mujhid (https://github.com/diyahm)",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "git": "https://github.com/diyahm/awesome-package.git",
  "packages": {}
}

The “packages” in the json is where you would place any package dependencies. You should only place packages that are not included in Meteors’ smart packages, basically the only packages that are included here are the ones on Atmosphere.

Your package.js file is a javascript file loaded by your package. It contains “instructions” used by Meteor for your package. Here’s an exampe package.js file

Package.describe({
  summary: "My awesome package"
});

Package.on_use(function(api) {
    api.use('http', ['server']);

    api.add_files('awesome_common.js', ['client', 'server']);
    api.add_files('awesome_client.js', 'client');
    api.add_files('awesome_server.js', 'server');
});

In this file you include all the packages including Meteor base packages needed. In addition, you specify which of the files you want to load and if they apply to the client or server.

3. After you’ve written the code for your package, it’s time to release it and send it to Atmosphere. (if you haven’t already you will need to create an account on Atmosphere). While in your package’s root directory release and publish your package.

$ mrt release ./
$ mrt publish ./

You will be asked for your Atmosphere credentials when you publish the package at the command line. And voila, that’s how you create a Meteor package.

Marketing for Startups: Meetup Notes

Notes from SOMA Tech Panel Meetup, Marketing for Startups, hosted at Tradeshift.

1. Know your audience. It helps to create personas for your customers. ie. Becky, a 35 year old, stay-at-home mother, may be a persona for one of your users. Where does Becky hang out online and offline? What does Becky read? These might be helpful questions to guide you as you develop your marketing strategy.

2. Understand the culture of the platform that you use for marketing. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can serve different purposes. Typically people using facebook do not like to be “sold at.” Instead they often engage in posts that are entertaining.

3. Identify and connect with the influencers in your market. Listen to their tweets, engage in conversation, develop a relationship. Use social media tools to identify your influencers and when they are online on twitter.

4. Ask influencers to republish their content on your blog or have them as a featured blogger. Ask them for an interview.

5. Attend events and conferences that your customers are attending. Organize events that bring value to your customers. Create blog posts after attending an event for content.

My App is in the App Store (Self Congratulatory post)

I’m pretty ecstatic to announce that I now have an app in the Google Play Store. For all of September, I spent most of my evenings, (along with a cohort of other engineers), learning Android mobile development with CodePath. The coursework was pretty intense, but extremely rewarding. Each week students wrote sample apps, and were responsible for a final team project by  course completion.

My team consisted of Ari Lacenski, Sachi Shah, and myself. Our final project was a airport status mobile app. The app auto-detects your closest airport, and gives you the current status of delays at the airport. It also give relevant information, such as current weather, driving or transit directions. It also allows for the saving of frequently used airports. If you have an android phone, please go to the Android Play Store, search for “airport status playpen”, and download our app.

Screen_Shot_2013-10-12_at_2.36.33_PM

airport-status-appScreenshot_2013-10-12-08-56-58