Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

Hey Chongqing, we're coming to your city!

We know, it's hard for you guys in Chongqing to make it to Beijing so we're sending a couple of our best and brightest engineers to talk to you about Sun's open source technologies. Sandy Cheng and Jacky Cao will be at Chongqing University on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 2:30-4:30pm. The venue is: Classroom 213, main building of Area A, ChongQing University (重庆大学A校区主教213教室). They'll talk to you about OpenSolaris (including DTrace, Zones and ZFS) and Java, and you can ask them questions about anything you want.

If you live in Chongqing please stop by the event. If you know someone who is there please forward this announcement to them. See you there!

flyer for chongqing

Wednesday Jan 16, 2008

I think the XO has cute ears

Let's say you're 8 years old and you have the choice between these 2 computers:
olpc, classmate

Which one do you pick? For me the choice was easy.
me and olpc

Seriously, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an XO at the last OpenSolaris Beijing User Group meeting, where I met Fred Muller, President of the Beijing Linux User's Group. I was talking to him about the XO since it runs Linux and Fred goes, "Yeah, I have an XO in my backpack here." It was so cool. I spent the rest of the meeting in the back of the conference room playing with it. Here's what I thought of it:

1) It doesn't have the wind-up crank that many of us think it has. Instead it has this pull-string thingy that I never saw but apparently has the same effect as the crank. The wind-up crank was apparently something of a media play to help people understand that it can run without electricity if needed. And it looks like that message got out because as soon as people picked up the XO they all said, "Where's that crank thingy?"

2) The interface wasn't intuitive for me. They say that's common for people who have used computers before and are used to a Windows or Unix desktop. The XO is supposed to be intuitive for kids who have never used computers before. But I wonder what happens to the kids when they leave the XO world and go into mainstream computing environments, which hopefully they will one day.

3) It was darn hard to get the thing connected to the world wide web. I spent ages (30 seconds) trying and didn't succeed. The XO is set up to let kids network with other kids in their classroom and is apparently not so good at letting them network with the rest of the world. I think networking with the world is more important than networking with each other in a classroom. But maybe I just caught the XO on a bad wireless day or something.

4) The XO has lots of features that let kids play with the computer and with each other. This has got to be more appealing for them than your average computer. The screen rotates so people sitting across from you can see your display. The XO's speakers look like ears when they're fully extended. The whole thing is very durable and rugged. I imagine even my 4-year-old son would have a hard time breaking this thing. I like the fact that the XO is made not only for the developing world but specifically for kids in the developing world.

Overall, I'm a big fan of OLPC and the XO and I want to see this underdog win. However I'm concerned about the fact that the leadership at OLPC can't seem to forge and maintain the right partnerships in the industry. Maybe that's a mission impossible, given all the other tech titans who see the developing world as one of their final frontiers, and they don't want anyone else going in to get the spoils before they do.

These are my impressions after playing with the XO for a few minutes. If any of you readers have additional information, insights or clarifications please leave a comment.

Monday Jan 07, 2008

Intel not Inside

It's really disappointing that Intel and One Laptop per Child can't work together better to get a laptop into the hands of the world's poorest children. The story of their recent break-up is here.

Meanwhile AMD and Linux are inside and OLPC is alive and kicking.

Tuesday Nov 06, 2007

Did you ever notice?

Have you ever noticed that when people say, "I'm sorry but...", they aren't sorry about what they're about to say?

And when they say, "I hate to say this but...", really they don't hate to say it?

Update: Here's a good one that came in via the comments section from Madhan - whatever comes after "IMHO" is usually not a humble opinion.

Monday Oct 15, 2007

Sun Tech Days is around the corner!

tech days

The Shanghai Tech Days event is October 23-25. Beijing Tech Days is November 1-3.

These events are a great opportunity to get your hands on the latest Sun technologies, get Solaris installed on your laptop (even though it's insanely easy now, we're going to have an Installfest anyway), hear from some of our brightest folks what we're up to, and share your opinions with us. Registration is still open for both events, just visit our website.

In case you want to plan your trip so that you can meet yours truly, you'll want to attend the Beijing event. I'll be there, at the Globalization booth. Please stop by and say hi. :)

Saturday Sep 29, 2007

Travelling at the Speed of Twitter

twitter logo

This morning 8:29am: I log on at work in Beijing, see a posting on Twitter that something is going on at Sun's Santa Clara campus. Someone mentions the campus being "under siege". I have 4 employees visiting that campus this week and am worried about them.

santa clara campus

8:34am: Send a query to ThinGuy via Twitter, asking what's going on in Santa Clara.

8:36am: I send an email to my employees, asking if they're all OK.

8:38am: Thin Guy tells me via Twitter it's not a big deal, someone robbed a liquor store close to the Santa Clara campus, and the police were searching the area around the Santa Clara campus.

8:42am: One of my employees responds to my mail: "We are ok. We are all together. We are still waiting for the message that it is ok for us to leave. No colleagues here know what is happening... I will drop you a message when we leave office."

8:45am: I respond via email, telling my folks what I learned from Thin Guy on Twitter. At least now they know why they're stuck in the building.

9:00am: My folks confirm that they've been cleared to leave the building.

10 hours later: I'm still in awe of the fact that I was sitting halfway around the globe and yet it was possible for me to know more about what was going on in the Santa Clara parking lot than people who were inside the building. That's the power of the web ... and Twitter ... and ThinGuy ... Amazing.

Thursday Sep 20, 2007

Working from Home

I blogged recently that my team moved to a Work From Home program. It's a wonderful program that allows people to work for Sun regardless of where they live, it lets people be home for a really special moment that they would have missed if they'd been working in the office, it lets them take a picture of the wildlife that passes outside the window of their home office, and of course it lets them take conference calls while wearing their pajamas.

Most people love it.

The problem was, I hated it.

I gave it 2 months and with each passing day I hated it more.

I missed the face-to-face contact with other people. I missed the bright lights and the big whiteboards and even the office coffee machine.

And I'm an introvert. I was supposed to be OK at home, drawing energy from within and all.

So a couple of weeks ago I moved back to a regular Sun office.

And that's the cool thing about Sun as an employer - we're flexible. If you want to work at home, we'll make that possible. And if you want to drink the office coffee under harsh lighting like me, we can make that happen too.

Wednesday Sep 19, 2007


I love the Open Office logo. I think it's the cloud-like swirls at the top. Seriously now, look at it, doesn't it just make you feel good?


Yes I know, I'm weird. Don't waste your comments telling me what I already know. ;)

Monday Jun 04, 2007

The New Rules for Success

new rules for success You all know that I adore Boston Globe columnist and blogger Penelope Trunk, so you can imagine when she (personally, yes!) asked me to read a galley copy of her new book Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success I had to make time for it.

The book has two parts: "Relish the Path from Starter Job to Dream Job" and "How to Get What You Want From the People You Work With". Based on where I am in my career and my life, Part One was a little too elementary for me. The book is targeted at 18-40-year-olds but I bet even the 18-year-olds already know most of Part One, which gives basic advice about job hunting, resumes, interviewing, etc. Penelope recommends, for example, that after writing a cover letter you set it aside for a few hours and then come back to it to look for typos that you missed the first time around. Now if you're 40 years old and haven't figured out that sort of thing, this book isn't going to be able to save you.

But thank goodness I didn't write the book off during Part One because Part Two is its saving grace. Here Penelope leaves behind the basic job-searching advice and shares what she learned from some very intense
years in Corporate America. She is the big sister I wish I had had when I first started my career - she could have spared me some painful first-hand lessons, or at least I would have learned them a whole lot
quicker. (I should pause to say I do have a wonderful big sister but she's on a totally different career track in a different industry.) Take for example the chapter "There are no bad bosses, only whiny employees." If you've ever thought of your boss as a hurdle or a stumbling block or a bottleneck, you need to read this chapter. It will teach you how to manage your relationship with your manager so that you both come out shining.

In Part Two Penelope does more than re-affirm the lessons I've already learned. She also confirms things that seem logical to me but are seldom articulated like "Mud-slinging means you're losing ground" or "Show a genuine interest in the people around you at work". In fact if you observe the behavior of many executives today, I'd say they're giving you a very different message about how to get ahead. Penelope's one of the few voices out there encouraging people to just be nice to each other, and she reassures you that nice guys can finish first.

Finally, there were perspectives in Penelope's book that were completely new to me even though I've been working for many years. The best example is the chapter called "Use sexual harassment to boost your career". I know, the title might make you want to throw the book down but you really have to read it to appreciate it. And whether you agree with her or not, Penelope will give you some new perspectives on sexual harassment in the office, and on many other topics.

Whether Penelope's career advice is fresh for you or old hat, there's one thing that will make you love her book - it's the humor. She is one of the funniest people I know. The book is packed with witty one-liners and hilarious antics from her past. Penelope's the kind of person I wish I had as a co-worker because she would rejoice with you in the good times, talk you through the rough times, and make you laugh through it all. Since we live on different sides of the globe Penelope and I can't be office mates but I will keep her book on my office bookshelf and will flip through it whenever I need a good laugh and some encouragement.

Friday May 11, 2007

My team started working from home this week

Sun has a Work from Home program called OpenWork and about 80% of my team started participating this week. I've gotten a lot of questions from people here in China, where Working from Home is still a novelty among R&D teams.

Q: Did you give up your Sun office for this? I mean did you take down all your pictures from the wall and clear out your desk drawers?
A: Yes.

Q: So how do you get an office on the days when you do come in to the office?
A: I have to reserve a flex office.

Q: Aren't you worried your team's productivity will go down because of this?
A: Not at all. If people's productivity was high only because their managers and I were staring over their shoulder at the office all day that would be a sign of a bigger problem. I'm more worried about them working longer and harder because it's so easy now that we're all set up to work from home. And besides if their productivity did go down it would be obvious right away and in that case we could move someone back to the office.

Q: Are you worried people will lose their sense of affiliation to the team?
A: That is one of the biggest risks since we don't see each other every day now. To mitigate this, we talk a lot via phone, IM, and email when we're working from home. And everyone is required to come in to the office on Thursdays, where we get a lot of quality face time with each other.

Q: What kinds of equipment did Sun give you for your home office?
A: A laptop, printer, desk, chair. And Sun will pay for my home internet connection and office supplies that I use.

Q: How do you work with your kids running around you all day?
A: Clearly you've met my children and know that this would be impossible. They're at school all day while I'm working at home. And I work some before they get up and after they go to bed so it's quiet then.

Q: Do you go to the kitchen every half hour for a snack, since it's so close and convenient?
A: Not yet, but so many people are suggesting that this could be a problem that I'm sure it will become one for me. Thanks for that!

Q:Do you work in your pajamas?
A: I made an agreement with myself that I would get up every morning, shower, get dressed and brush my teeth, just as if I were going in to work. Somehow that gets me into work mode. But these are early days for me working from home. I understand from longer-term OpenWorkers like Linda and Pam that over time your standards for personal grooming might go downhill in a frightening way change.

BTW here's a picture of my home office. I promise to post a better one when I get it more organized and my husband brings home the good camera.
home office

Tuesday May 08, 2007

What is in a "Rescue Bag"?

When I was working at Sun's Tokyo office last month I had to explore the contents of the "Rescue Bag" that hangs at each workspace:
japan rescue bag

It contains: a hard hat, gloves, a towel, a mask, a flashlight, batteries and a bag that you can hold over your head to get fresh air for a few minutes (someone please leave me a comment and tell me what it's really called - I don't think it's a 'smoke shut' as the katakana on the package would imply).
rescue bag contents

This is one of the things I love about Japan: the devotion to details, to perfection, to the corner cases. The things you don't care about most of the time but when you do care, you REALLY REALLY care about them.

BTW I have to give you a close-up of the picture on the front of the bag-that-you-can-hold-over-your-head-to-get-fresh-air-for-a-few-minutes. I think all things considered this woman is holding up pretty well, don't you?
air bag

Monday Apr 09, 2007

Leadership Training

After much deliberation I finally selected a venue for my team's Leadership Training course. We ended up at a hotel on the outskirts of Beijing close to the Summer Palace called ChongXueShanZhuang Hotel. It was very reasonable (about $65 for a half-day) and the scenery was gorgeous. We felt like we were very far away from the office - here's the view we had from the training room:

leadership training

Chris Barclay of Gingko led the training for us (here's a link to his company's website but if you want to know who he really is I recommend this site instead). It was a nice treat for me to be a participant and not a leader. We did exercises to decide if we were foxes, St. Bernards or lions, and we talked about bridging communication and cultural gaps. The training was very much worth the time we invested. Chris is a fantastic trainer, I highly recommend him.

I am still reeling from something I learned in the training - that I am apparently unstructured and can be over-powering when surrounded by a group of introverts. I say reeling. "In denial" is probably a better term.

Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

If you sent someone a text message that said

"Sorry, I'm going to be a few minutes late for our appointment" and the person responded "ack", would you assume:
A) They're surprised and disappointed (a la Bloom County)
B) They're sending you a snippet of networking code that means "acknowledged"

A), right? Totally. Me too. I sent back a message saying, "I'm so sorry! We can re-schedule".

Turns out it was actually B in this case.

Management at Sun: Open-Sourced

OK, maybe I'm stretching the definition of open-sourcing a little bit... This blog lets you into the minds of the Geezers (three experienced managers at Sun) and how they handle situations that people managers face every day.

The Geezers take a question that was sent in via the blog, and then each one answers it without seeing the others' answers. The result? Their answers can be very different. It's proof that when it comes to people management there is seldom a right or wrong answer.

I love the fact that these managers are willing to have their thoughts posted on a blog, where people both within and outside Sun can benefit from it. This willingness to be open and transparent is one of the things I love most about Sun.

Thursday Mar 15, 2007

Seemed like a great idea to me

I'm going to do some leadership training with my new team here in Beijing and I've lined up a great instructor, Chris Barclay, who gave me a discount so I'm plugging him for free on my blog.

Anyway what I still need is a venue. Turns out it's totally expensive to rent a conference room at the hotel that I was considering, the Somerset. However, the guest rooms in this hotel are spacious suites with a bed of course but also a living room area, full kitchen and dining room. And it's fairly inexpensive to get a guest room for a day (well, for a night technically). Maybe they'll give me a discount now that I've plugged them too.
hotel, hotel

(Thanks to Robs for the pictures.)

Being ever-conscious about using Sun's money wisely, I was considering having the training in a guest room at this hotel. "Is that weird though?" I asked Jasper, one of the managers in my team.

Most books that attempt to describe Chinese culture for Westerners will tell you that Chinese people tend to defer to their managers and will never openly disagree with them.

Not so with Jasper! Without blinking an eye he answered, "Yes, that's weird." He went on to explain, "Imagine people heard we went off for a day of leadership training. In a hotel room."

Yeah, I guess he has a point.

I am so happy to know that my team doesn't mind disagreeing with me openly. Please keep it up guys.

Unless I say something like "I think these jeans make me look thin, don't you?" Then you just smile and nod, ok? ;)

If you have time, leave a comment and tell me what you think about disagreeing with your manager in public, bridging cultural gaps at work, or about the appropriateness of a hotel room as a venue for corporate training.

Friday Mar 09, 2007

No way is my blog worth this much!

Thanks to FlexRex for this cool link. Clearly it's flawed though, no way is my blog worth 3 times as much as Rex's! The flaw is probably the way they count - I think I'm getting credit for all the comments I leave on other people's blogs that include a link back to my own. And I don't think this tool is giving Rex credit for that adorable graphic he has.

My blog is worth $11,290.80.
How much is your blog worth?

Wednesday Feb 28, 2007

Globalization Blogs

I've been doing an interesting side-project the last couple of weeks - it's an inventory of the blogs from my team, the Globalization team. There are 153 of us all over the world but the biggest constituencies are in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dublin, Prague, Bangalore, Beijing and Tokyo.

Here are some interesting things I learned.

1. Almost all of the bloggers felt bad that they didn't update their content more regularly.

2. Almost all of the non-bloggers said they don't blog because they don't know what they would write about. (I point them to my blog and say, "See, lack of content doesn't have to stop ya!")

3. The majority of our bloggers (75%) are in the Asian offices. Most of the content is in English, but many also post in Japanese or Chinese.

4. Some of our bloggers have pretty popular content - 3 of them are regularly found on the "Hot Blogs" list on the front page of They are Akira, Masaki and Petr.

Here's the list of all the blogs, along with a note about their languages:
Masaki Katakai, some English, some Japanese
Akira Ohsone, mostly Japanese
Petr Tomasek, English
Sandy Cheng, some Chinese, some English
Ienup Sung, some English, some Chinese
Young Joo Pintaske, English
Leon Fan, mostly Chinese
Yong Sun, mostly Chinese
Melanie Gao, English
Jeffrey Chen, Chinese
Janice Campbell, English
Keiichi Oono, Japanese
Pravat Chandra, English
Shinsuke Sugaya, Japanese
Osamu Sayama, some Japanese, some English
Selvam N, English
Suresh Chandrasekharan, English,
Sofia Nilsson, English
Tomas Veseley English
Paul Duan, Chinese
Will Zhang, Chinese
Brian Yuan, English
Magda, Jakub and Jeremie, French
Tom Garland, English
Hiroko Matano, English
Harry Fu, English
Reiko Saito, Japanese
Prague G11n Team Group Blog, mostly English
Michael Fang, English
Xue Wei, English
Aaron Cheng, English
Rebecca Liu, English and Chinese
Beijing Globalization Team group blog, Chinese & English
Portal G11n group blog, English
Portal G11n group blog, Simp. Chinese version, Simp. Chinese
Portal G11n group blog, Japanese version, Japanese
Solaris Prague blog, English
Hanaki's blog, Japanese
Shioda's blog, English
Kenji's blog, English
Ogino's blog, English
The Aquarium, Japanese, group blog, Japanese
Netbeans support blog, Japanese
Bigadmin Japan, Japanese
Kazutoshi Nimura's blog, Japanese

Blog on! :)

Monday Feb 05, 2007

I'm not sure what I would get out of a mentor relationship...

We've got a couple of mentor programs starting up at Sun now and a surprising number of people have come to me saying, "I just don't know if I'd get anything out of a mentor relationship." So I tell them about my mentor and what I learned from her.

When I was the most senior PM in my team 7 years ago, my learning curve practically flat-lined for a good 2 years. Then I was re-orged into a team where I was the most junior PM and I found myself surrounded by a huge selection of awesome mentors. I learned from all of them but picked one in particular to be my mentor. Here's what I got out of that relationship:

- Feedback about my strengths and weaknesses from someone who wasn't in my reporting chain, which I believe allowed her to be more frank.

- Tips about program management that you won't find in any book.

- Introductions to people I never would have met unless I walked up and introduced myself.

- Enough confidence to walk up and introduce myself to people when my mentor wasn't around.

- Respect by association. People thought that because I hung around with my mentor, I must be pretty sharp too.

- Opportunities to watch my mentor perform and ask her later what it was like from her perspective, why she did this, why she did that, etc.

- A champion who did some awesome PR for me. My goal today is to try to live up to the reputation she built for me.

- A friend.

- A desire to mentor others.

If you want to read more about the benefits of mentoring please check out Penelope Trunk's posts about mentor relationships.

And you might want to check out Katy Dickinson's blog, she runs the SEED (Sun Engineering Enrichment and Development) Mentoring program at Sun. On her blog you can see what sorts of benefits you can get from the SEED program, which is open only to Sun employees. But if you work outside of Sun her blog will give you an idea of what to look for in your own company's mentoring program.

Thursday Jan 04, 2007

New Year, New Job

January 1 was my first day in my new job as the Manager of Sun's Asia Globalization Center in Beijing. Since Jan. 1-3 were holidays in China my first 3 days on the job were really easy. Here's what I've done so far today, my first real day in the new job:
- Packed up my old office.
- Unpacked in my new office.
- Went to lunch with one of my managers, Susan, and her team.
- Confirmed that I have an admin to manage my calendar - yahoo! This is absolutely the best perq of the job so far. Thank you Grace!
- Walked into someone else's office, thinking it was mine.
- Started a list of people I've met and a few details about them, so I can remember them by name next time I see them. (Cheating, I know.)
- IM'd with my mentor Pat.
- Decided that in my new office I'll have music playing quietly in the background so hooked up my iPod speakers.
- Subscribed to the necessary email aliases.
- Walked back into the other person's office.
- Transferred my previous team to their new manager. Technically it was a snap but emotionally it was harder than I thought.

This move is an internal one within Sun. I used to manage the program managers and the admins for the Solaris team in Beijing and I was the Chief-of-Staff for the Engineering Director in Beijing. In this new role I manage the globalization team, which includes engineers, program managers, linguists, interns, contractors, and probably some others that I'm yet to discover. My team localizes most of Sun's software products into Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and in some cases Korean. This new job is a challenge for me because for the first time I'm:
a) managing managers and
b) managing people whose job I couldn't do if I had to
c) managing people whom I didn't hire

Thanks to the book The Leadership Pipeline I'm aware of these challenges and will master them with time, I'm sure. I'm lucky to have lots of very supportive people around me.

BTW there is no window in my new office so instead of posting
"View-From-My-Office" pictures I'll have to do "View-From-The-Breakroom" ones. And you won't believe the view from there:

google sign

Yes, Google lives in the building next door and they have gigantic letters. It's a good and constant reminder that there is competition among employers and we need to make sure this is a great environment for our folks. And I like a little competition, as anyone in my previous team will probably tell you.

Friday Nov 03, 2006

I'm curious why people are coming to my blog

Why are you visiting this blog site?
I searched for a particular topic and landed here.
I've subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog.
I'm a frequent visitor to one or more Sun blogs.
I was referred here by another site.
Dunno. I may simply be hard up for entertainment. :)
Free polls from


The grilled cheese sandwich of blogosphere


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