Startup dudes: Cut the sexist crap

Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Chitchat, Startups | 260 Comments »

Last week I was speaking on what would have otherwise been a terrific panel.  It was Frank Artale from Ignition, Tom Duterme from Groupon M&A, Andy Sack from Lighter Capital & Founder’s Co-op, and me talking about funding & exiting.  The only thing that spoiled it was yet another guy in the tech scene putting forth yet another objectifying/patronizing treatment of someone with two X chromosomes.

In this case, the recipient of the bogus intro was the panel moderator, Rebecca Lovell. Just in case anyone out there in startupland has not  met Rebecca, she’s one of the best-connected people in the Seattle tech scene, with a resume that includes leadership roles at the Alliance of Angels, NWEN, and now Geekwire.  These would all be appropriate topics to use when introducing someone, man or woman. Here’s what the man introducing Rebecca chose to say instead (you can listen to the full audio of the introduction for context):

Rebecca’s one of the smartest ladies I know, and I thought that she was a perfect pick for the role of moderator.  When we selected Rebecca and she said yes, she was a sexy single woman. And since that time, she’s become a sexy married woman, and so I wanted her lucky new spouse to stand up.  So we’ve got not only a very talented, but a happy moderator.

Come on, people.  Really?

This has been bugging me for a while.  I was coaching one team for Techstars Demo Day, and they had a photo of scantily clad women (that had nothing to do with their pitch) that I convinced them to strike.  Two months ago, a company I was coaching showed up for a meeting with me at Google and made a comment about the receptionist’s appearance.  Within earshot of her.

Everyone has a reason.  One person was older.  One person was from another country.  It just doesn’t matter.  If we keep this bullshit up, we’re going to crap all over another generation of women tech entrepreneurs.  And it’s just a rotten thing to do. Think before you open your mouth.

And if you see someone doing this, call them on it. I didn’t… that was my nervous laughter in the background of the recording.

Better late then never.

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How to use your Android phone to get on the internet in the UK

Posted: August 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chitchat | 10 Comments »

Here is the simple process for getting your Android device online with a data SIM in the UK.  It’s terribly fun, I recommend it to everyone.

  1. Before leaving, turn off your phone and do not turn it on again.  Some carriers reportedly will charge you roaming rates when people leave you voicemail if you turn on your phone out of the US, even if you never make or receive a call, because it’s “registered” there.
  2. Pick up a SIM card from the local mobile store, wireless stand, fast food chain, gas station, vending machine, cabbage shop, or hobo.  I opted for the “Orange 3G card”.
  3. Put card in phone.
  4. Hope your phone is unlocked. If not, find a way to make international calls without your phone, and call the *international* support line for the carrier that sold you the phone.  Tell them you need the SIM unlock code and explain why.  Note that only the international support line will give it out (not the usual one), and then only sometimes.  If this fails, you’ll be exploring the seamy underbelly of the internet for the keywords “unlock phone”.  Been there, done that, don’t recommend it.  Other alternatives: travel without data, fly home.
  5. Enter SIM unlock code.  Carefully.  5 or so wrong answers and your phone is a useless brick.
  6. Get on the internet!
  7. Just kidding.  Follow directions in booklet; go to www.orange.co.uk.  Fill out forms to load card with money.  Stare blankly at “postal code” section of credit card info and realize that they don’t support foreign cards.
  8. Call 450.  Navigate phone tree.  Get stuck again when they need post code.
  9. Curse at phone creatively until connected with an operator.
  10. Explain situation.  Provide card info, including US address, which they will accept as your billing code.
  11. Have operator ask you for UK post code “for your current location”.  Argue for a while.  Give up, google “UK post code”, and choose a result at random.
  12. Provide a witty retort when your clever operator with a perfect Pakistani British accent observes that your post code is the same as that of Buckingham Palace.  Stand firm in your assertion.  Share a chuckle.
  13. Put 10 pounds on the card.
  14. Choose an oddly named bonus plan (e.g. “Dolphin”), which is mostly irrelevant, since it takes up to 72 hours to take effect, and you’re leaving in 72 hours.  Note that they won’t mention this detail until the transaction is done.
  15. Tell them you want the 5 pound “250 megabyte” data package.
  16. Get on the internet!
  17. Ha ha, fooled you.  Still joking.   Find your APN settings.  Restore default. If this doesn’t give you something like “orangeweb” or “orangeinternet”, enter a new APN setting, name=orangeinternet, apn=orangeinternet, everything else blank.
  18. Reboot.
  19. Call back because internet isn’t working.
  20. Discover that you need to pay 25 pence for tech support, which you can’t do, since you ignored my advice previously and only put 5 pounds on the card so you have nothing left.
  21. Go through the “top up” thing, get a sales person, vent.
  22. Kindly sales person explains that your internet stops working when you have 0-balance, a fact no one mentioned, and you couldn’t find out because if you have 0-balance you can’t call tech support.  Kindly sales person puts an extra quid on the account so it should work.
  23. Get text message that everything’s working, which awakens spouse since it’s now past midnight local time and you’ve been at this 2 hours.  Disable text message sound.
  24. Reboot.
  25. Get on the internet!  For real this time!
  26. Get text message that your credit card has been declined.  Get booted from the internet.
  27. Get new text message that you have been inexplicably been granted 10 megabytes of internet, and please get the credit card thing sorted.
  28. Get urgent email from amex saying that they declined your ten pound charge just in case you’re not you, despite the fact that you called them yesterday and told them you’d be getting a phone in England so please turn off the fraud alerts.
  29. Use Google Voice to make a free call to Amex to give them a piece of your mind.  Have credit card reinstated.
  30. Call up and have them re-charge the 5 pounds.
  31. Get new URGENT VOICEMAIL from American Express fraud alert, waking wife again, explaining that your card may have been stolen.  Again.
  32. Write bitter and vitriolic blog post.
  33. Raid minibar.  Go to bed. (this step has not yet been tested)

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Hackers targeting Jews

Posted: May 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Chitchat | 12 Comments »

This morning, a family member’s gmail account was hacked. This, in and of itself, is not particularly newsworthy. I had an old hotmail account hacked a few months ago that was using a simple password; someone probably brute forced it. My account was just used to send out lame V1AGRA ads.

On its face, this one wasn’t much different. The hacker used the account to send this to everyone in the contact list:

Hello,

I’m sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it’s because of the situation of things right now,I’m stuck in London UK with family right now,we came down here on vacation ,we were robbed, the situation seems worse as bags,cash ,credit cards and cell phone were stolen at GUN POINT, It’s such a crazy experience for us,we need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is that we still have our passport but don’t have enough money to get our flight ticket back home, please I need you to loan me some money(1000GBP) but I will appreciate any amount you can help with,B’H I will reimburse you as soon as I’m back home, I promise

I helped with the password change and recommended Lastpass, the helpful (if ugly) service I started using after it happened to me.  But this kept nagging at me.  First, the spammer was far more malicious than the one who hit me.  Instead of shilling sketchy blue Bob Dole enhancers, this was was an actual thief.  Second, the con had surreptitiously changed the gmail settings so that all future emails would be forwarded to a hotmail address, then deleted – a very personal invasion.  Third, they deleted all of the contacts stored in the account – probably to make it harder to notify people and prevent them from being warned, but a cruel thing to do nonetheless.

So something drew me back, and I read the email one more time.

B’H?

This is not something you see in your typical Nigerian con.

The mark B”H is an abbreviation for a phrase that means, roughly, “Blessed is the name”.  Some orthodox Jews use it regularly in every email at the beginning; it can also be used as one might say “Thank G-d” in conversation.

2% of the US population is Jewish.  0.2% of the world population is Jewish.  This is a seriously weird thing to put in an email designed to part people with their money.

Unless, that is, you know in advance that those people are Jewish.  Then it’s a pretty cunning way to get the recipient to overlook the fact that your grammar is terrible, your story is hard to believe, and you can’t really corroborate your story with any details.

It’s hard to brute force passwords, but you usually start with a list of usernames drawn from public spaces.  How do you decide which usernames to attack?  Perhaps you start by screening for Jewish last names…

Has anyone seen or heard of anything like this?

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Hello world (redux)

Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Chitchat | No Comments »

What with being gainfully unemployed and all, I’ve decided to revisit my blog.  Those of you with long memories or penchants for manly crafts may remember this URL as the home of “Nothing Severed Yet”, my woodworking blog.  Those entries are still here under the “woodworking” category, but expect future posts to be a bit more varied.

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