Tag Archives: speaking

Setting myself up on Fiverr

So I just created a gig on Fiverr. Usually, I’m the one who reads every scrap of instruction and advice I can find, and constructs a giant decision tree, trying to anticipate everything that could possibly happen as I work up front. Not this time–I was so eager to get my listing up that I jumped in feet first. It turned out fine, because although it was a bit time and labor intensive, it was simple.

They wanted me to create an account before I got a good look around, so I just went ahead and did it. They wouldn’t let me use an email alias. I’d rather filter my email on an alias than on a keyword, so now I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t lose a message.

I already had a clear, workable idea for a service, and so when they told me I’d be up and running in five minutes, I believed them. I should know better. On the Pricing screen, I was offered the option of creating three tiers for my service. I could have gone ahead with just the tiny test service I had in mind, but I knew this was my opportunity to invent a genuine, serious product, and I should take it.

The hardest part about the Description and FAQ page was paring my sales pitch down to fit the 1200 character limit. Cutting is a fact of life, and I’m finally getting used to it.

Then there was the Gallery page. For as much as I’ve struggled with the Gimp, you’d think I’d have some skills by now. Oh well, I can always polish and improve later.


For reference, the steps are:

1) Overview – tagline and category
2) Pricing – simple product or three tiered system, with the option to offer add-ons (such as expedited delivery and extra re-dos)
3) Description and FAQ – your marketing copy, 1200 chars plus the FAQ
4) Requirements – what you need from the client to do the job (in my case, I needed a video or audio file of the speech I’m to evaluate, plus an optional text description of the client’s goals and objectives)
5) Gallery – one (required) to three still images, and optionally, a video
6) Publish

BTW, if you’d like some coaching on your speech, come see me.


From a Ramble to a Story

Earlier today, an aspiring speaker asked how to turn a 25 minute ramble, which he had already created, into a 10 minute story. By the way he asked, I could tell he knew it was about much more than shortening it; it was about giving it structure. He had a formless collection of ideas, and he wanted a work of art that could plug into the human mind and evoke change in the listener.

He may not have realized it, but he had actually taken the proper first step to write a story from scratch. Brainstorming is a useful first step in writing, no matter the project. His brainstorming just happened to be in spoken form. His intuition for the craft was excellent; he just needed a little information.

Here’s what I told him:

Decide what you message you want your story to have – what enemy you defeated, what lesson you learned, what change you made, or what have you. Choose the event from your ramble that serves as the hinge point of the conflict, lesson or change; that will be the turning point or climax of your story. Everything else in your story will support it.

Now choose the event in which you first meet the enemy or see the need for change, and put it first. Finally, choose several events between these two to illustrate the rising conflict, and make a mini-story from each one, relating them all to each other as you go along. This will be your basic story structure.

Once that is done, choose some descriptive elements to illustrate what life was like before the story begins and put those in an introduction, and likewise, choose some from after it ends for the wrap-up. This will show how the change has been fought for and achieved.

Now you have a hero’s journey, with stasis at the beginning, initiation into the “other” world with the first conflict, rising action building to a climax, resolution, and a higher level of stasis at the end. To see more, google “hero cycle” or “freytag’s pyramid.” Best of luck.

Public Speaking and Making Things Happen

Over the last year or so, I’ve spoken at SCaLE, OSCON, LinuxCon, and the Grace Hopper Celebration, as well as a slew of small local events and Toastmasters clubs. It often doesn’t seem like it, though. It seems like it happened in a fantasy. I have vivid memories of the train and plane rides, the hotel rooms, and sometimes, the expo halls. These haunt me. Less vivid are the memories of the post talk conversations, of looking out over rooms full of interested people, and especially, of connections with people who found my knowledge and perspective valuable. These are the memories that want to dissolve into my ever present mental fog unless I do the challenging emotional work to keep them fresh.

When looking back over what I learned, I wish I had some scintillating insight about speaking, about technology, or even about community to share. I wish I was advanced enough for that. What I actually did learn is something much more basic: that these things actually did happen. They were real, no matter what my avoidant selective memory wants to tell me; and I made them happen by learning and gaining skills, by being able to package and deliver knowledge to help others acquire those skills, and not to be minimized, by responding to calls for participation and catching my breath as I clicked the “Submit” button. I know intellectually that they happened. My current job is to learn it emotionally.

That’s why, as part of my visualization exercises, I’ve been letting those memories flood my internal monitor screen and saying to myself, “This happened. It was real. You made it happen. You had help from wonderful, supportive people who care about you. Still, it was you.” I’m learning to be with the cognitive dissonance surrounding those memories, and to sort out the clash of emotions that create it. Most of all, I’m learning to prevent my old self image from taking over and shutting down that active, ambitious, successful part of me. It’s uncomfortable. But ongoing failure and mediocrity is even more uncomfortable.

I did it. I made it happen, and I can make it and other things happen again, whenever I want. That is the lesson.

Linux Kernel Hacking 101 at NVidia Toastmasters

This is the official online resource area for the Linux Kernel Hacking 101 talk on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at NVidia Toastmasters.

This post is to let you, the attendee know what to expect from the talk, make the additional resources easily accessible in one place, and provide space for additional discussion.

This talk will familiarize you with the activities and habits of a Linux kernel contributor. It is intended to be entry level to people who already know a little about programming. While it’s helpful to be familiar with open source tools and methods (such as the C programming language, Git, and IRC), it isn’t necessary. Most NVidia technical employees probably already know enough to follow the talk easily.

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of an operating system kernel and what it does, please visit this link for a quick intro:

Kernel Definition

The agenda for the talk will be:

1. The creative cycle of coding: finding your contribution, creating and delivering your work, gathering and incorporating feedback
2. Communicating with team members and community: channels of communication and learning, purpose and benefits of working with others
3. Coding your changes: ways of working that are peculiar to the kernel, or helpful in its context
4. Delivering your patch: making your work available and accessible to the human stewards of the codebase

The talk should take about 15-20m.

It is not possible to give sufficient detail about any of the individual technologies and skills that go into the craft of kernel and open source participation, much less all of them. There is a wealth of excellent tutorials and information already online. A list of these has been compiled in the slide deck, and is reproduced below for easy access.

Kernel.org git repositories
Linux Kernel Newbies
Outreachy First Patch Tutorial
The Eudyptula Challenge
KVM Installation
Linux Kernel Mailing List
Various Linux related mailing lists at Gmane
Linux Foundation events
Linux Weekly News
Irssi – The Client of the Future
Wikipedia entry for the grep command
Linux Cross Reference at Free Electrons
Linux Kernel Coding Style (pdf)
Vim the editor
Pro Git (Also available here)
The Mutt E-Mail Client
Video of this talk from SCaLE 13x

Last but not least, here is the Github repository for this talk, including the slide deck. Run

$ git clone https://github.com/shegeek/kernel-hacking-101.git

if you have Git installed on your system.

Thank all of you for participating! Please leave a comment with your evaluation.

What the Heck Is a Kernel?

I attempt to answer that question, for the sake of the layperson, in this Toastmasters speech I gave this afternoon.

My evaluations and feedback were overwhelmingly positive. I got a lot of praise not for just making this topic accessible, but for even trying in the first place. The audience liked my analogies and my jokes. Although my positioning on the stage is sometimes lacking, I was told today that I stood in the perfect place. Glad I finally found my clicker last night, or I’d have had to stand right by my laptop.

My evaluator had some good points about my examples. Yes, the modem is very outdated, and I knew it. I’d started out intending to describe what historically came next, but then lost sight of that, leaving the inappropriate example still there. Also, he zeroed in on the word I was grasping for: “multitasking.” It’s amazing how what we think we know deserts us at times.

It feels good to get out of my loop and connect with other Toastmasters like this. Thanks, Cadence AHgorithms, for welcoming me.