On a beautiful, balmy September evening, we came together for another fantastic networking event as a part of our monthly Networking Night Series. This speaker series highlights the work of women at a different tech company each month, organized around a selected theme. This event, sponsored by Intel, featured women developers from the Open Source Technology Center (OTC), the heart of open source at the company, who each shared their insights about a different facet of open source. We appreciate Intel’s support of Women Who Code (WWCode) Portland, and thank them for sponsoring this event.
Suzy Greenberg, Director of Leadership and Licensing in OTC, and Caterina Paun, Senior Director and co-founder of WWCode Portland, kicked off the night with introductions. Caterina talked about the mission of WWCode Portland in building a community to enable members to feel more comfortable and more empowered to forge long careers in tech.
Suzy started with a little confession, “I’ve never written one line of code …” and continued with explanation, “… but I’ve spent the last twenty years storytelling for technology.” With this statement, she acknowledged that all of our contributions are important to the world of tech — from engineering, design and development to program management and advocacy. Storytelling is essential to ‘connecting the dots’ and providing broader context for the importance of the work of our engineering colleagues, and its impact in our daily lives.
“I’ve never been part of a community that is so truly diverse both in the people and the work that we do.” — Suzy Greenberg
“Look around you. This is not what most tech events are like, but these are what our events are like.” — Caterina Paun
Suzy’s address set the tone for the evening, and as Miki Demeter, an Evangelist for WWCode Portland, introduced each speaker, it quickly became obvious that what tied all of these lightning talks together was a passion around technology — particularly open source.
Kelly Hammond, Software Engineering Director whose purview includes the Clear Linux and Robotics Operating System projects, focused on the importance of community to a long-term career in tech. “When I joined the open source software world in 2012, everyone told me, ‘Open source software is different.’ It’s been quite the journey to figure out what people meant when they said that.” She polled the audience about their perceived definition of open source. “How many thought free? Or posted on Github? Or governance?” Then she continued by focusing on what means most to her in open source. She talked about community as the heart of open source, the root of trust that sustains successful open source projects, and the opportunity for individuals to build reputation, and in turn, thriving, long-term careers in tech that surpasses any single job or company. She wrapped up with an invitation to the audience: “There are a lot of communities out there. Find a community that you can join. And for those of you already working in open source, thank you for being on this journey — I’m glad we’re in it together.”
“Community, collaboration, and reputation. These are the beauty of open source software for me.” — Kelly Hammond
Kristen Accardi, Linux kernel security expert, shared her personal journey in tech, and her on-again, off-again, back-on-again love of contributing to the Linux kernel. She found her ideal landing spot at the intersection of “what people will pay you for, the thing that you’re actually good at, the thing that you enjoy doing, and the thing the world needs.” Kristen learned to love Linux in college, and explained, “You’re not just working on a piece of software, you’re working on something that the rest of the world can see, and that the rest of the world can take advantage of and becomes part of the collective project.” She, too, polled the audience: “Who has heard of Spectre or Meltdown?” Nervous laughter spread across the room with the realization that nearly everyone is familiar with these. Her team develops software to harden the kernel, develops tools to improve platform security, provides guidance around secure coding practices and security validation, and conducts architectural reviews of various corporate-level software projects.
“We’re working on many things to make the kernel harder to attack, and to make it more difficult to do side-channel attacks.” — Kristen Accardi
Kristen explained the nature of a side-channel attack, like Spectre, and the actions her team is taking to mitigate such security vulnerabilities. “The question really is, what can we do about this? It turns out, there are several mitigations that we can do in software. We can stop allowing speculative execution to happen by inspecting our code and finding locations that are problems. We can slow down attacks by using general hardening of the kernel.”
Margarita Maroto, Chrome OS Engineering Director, described her exciting journey through the world of the Chrome operating system (OS).
It all began when she was thrust into this world to replace a peer who was moving on to another position within the company. Her penchant for curiosity and continual learning served her well as the team delivered Intel’s first Chromebook to market, a pivotal moment in her first year in Chrome. She explained, “Until then, Chromebooks were viewed as devices that their kids used in school. Enabling Android apps in Chrome OS and on Chromebooks changed the ecosystem. Now there are so many more things you can do with a Chromebook.” In her second year, Intel’s Chromebook sales surpassed that of Apple Macs. She closed with local inspiration for the audience, “Every time you see an advertisement for a Chromebook, think about this: The operating system, the features, everything you’re seeing on the Intel Chromebook was made by your neighbors right here in Oregon.”
“People like you here in Oregon make amazing things happen. Together we can change the industry, the ecosystem, and the world.”
— Margarita Maroto
Monica Ene-Pietrosanu, Software Engineering Director whose team is focused on optimizing the most popular languages and scripting runtimes for the cloud, began with a proclamation: “We are seeing exponential growth in the cloud. More than 85% of applications will be delivered via cloud by 2020. So, cloud is an undisputed reality.”
Why? Because it enables very fast time-to-market with the ability to scale up and down quickly, and store massive amounts of data. She went on to explain that open source software powers much of the cloud. “Open source is sparking so much innovation these days that it’s amazing to see how everything is changing as we look through this new lens.”
She explored three major trends in cloud — a rise in scripting languages and dynamic runtimes, containerized applications, and micro-services — explaining that these trends translate into incredible opportunities to get involved and contribute to the transformation of the cloud. She concluded by highlighting the importance of strong, thriving communities to sustain open source projects through both code and non-code contributions.
“Containers and orchestration, micro-services and dynamic runtime languages are totally changing the way applications are being architected. With these trends comes incredible challenges, and amazing opportunities.” — Monica Ene-Pietrosanu
The lightning talks were followed by an interactive Q&A where the speakers responded to questions from the audience. It was fantastic to see such engagement and interest among the attendees. Thanks so much again to Intel for sponsoring this evening, and helping us grow a healthy, diverse tech community in Portland!
Thank you to Hannah Vinzant and the entire team at Intel for sponsoring this wonderful evening!
Have you contributed to open source, or would you like to?
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Open Source Study Night, Hacktoberfest: Oct 18
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Join us for our next Networking Night!
November 14 at
Cambia / HealthSparq