The backstory on our creation of Archiverly:

On the first day of SXSW my grandmother passed away. It was a big blow. I attend SXSW for inspiration and insight. To say that I was not in a great place for such things would be insufficient. But I also knew that, as any grandmother, mine would have wanted her grandchildren to go on and make the best of what they had in front of them. So I attended SXSW with a heavy heart. As the days passed, Jen and I had an idea precipitated by grief.

I wished I could hear my grandmother’s voice again. I wished I could hear her stories. I wished I had spent more time with her and gotten to know her. But alas, wishes cannot bring her back.

Getting to really know your grandparents, parents, friends and loved ones can be tough. Some you didn’t know in their youth. While with others there’s just limited time to spend with them. What if we could gift our memories to those we love?

So Archiverly was born. We decided to build a platform that anyone could access and record on their own. We wanted to create a place where you could ask your parents 5 states away to record their memories. We would prompt them with interesting questions to get them to open up, and you wouldn’t have to make the time to record them yourself. You wouldn’t have to find a place to store it and share it with your family. You’d just record and then they’d be stored and accessible by you and anyone else you wanted to share it with. Easy, accessible and secure.

I’ve started recording my own memories for my family. It’s surprising how much you can remember once you’re asked a question and asked to expound upon it. I found myself crying at some moments and laughing at others. To say I’m excited to hear what my parents, family and friends will record is putting it lightly. I’m excited for all the possibilities that this platform will make available to us!

So I hope you’ll sign up to be one of our first testers and participants. We’re excited, I hope you are too! Sign up Here!

We’re working on a new parent segment too, for that first year. Using the same system, just different questions. Everything is such a whirlwind in that first year. A monthly prompt with 2-3 questions about the current age of your baby would’ve been so wonderful for us. What a great thing to look back upon.

Austin Petfinder

I spent this Spring playing with data from the City of Austin. Specifically I wanted to see if I could come up with a better pet locator than the one the Austin Animal Center currently had. I also thought it would be nice to visualize the data. So I setup a Django project and used the sodapy Python package for the Socrata Open Data API that the City of Austin uses, to grab the FY 2015 data from the Austin Animal Center.
I put my code up on github, so if you’d like to take a look and modify it to your city, please feel free.

I ran into a couple of issues. One was that if the location was input incorrectly, the City of Austin feed would break and I’d get no data. I emailed the data owner the first time it happened and it was fixed pretty quickly. I haven’t had to email them since around April, so hopefully this has been fixed. The other issue is that the location is pretty haphazardly input. I wanted a search that would do location based searches. So you could look for a lost pet that was found perhaps 5 miles from where you lost it. I had to find a solution to get location coordinates. Google has a fantastic geocode api, but it’s also limited to 2500 requests a day. I looked into other geocoding apis, but they had issues parsing the addresses. The Google API was much better at deciphering addresses. So in the end I did manual batches daily for a few days to get all the entries for the Fiscal year geocoded. If you aren’t concerned with older data, you can just start fresh and not deal with this piece. With the lat and lon figured out, I used Great Circle math instead of a GIS library. That took some tinkering, but I’m glad I got it to work. Something I can look back at and reference. It was a nice learning experience.

The site is now live at I’ll have to update the feed to the current FY every year since that’s how the hourly data is delivered from the data source, but other than that, it should be an easy site to maintain. I hope you find the code and site useful!

The Boy Who Made Me a Mother

I started this blog to chronicle the challenges and triumphs of being a mother and a technologist. A woman on a career path change. While it’ll continue to be that. I need to interject another piece to my narrative. This is a part of me. Many people try to stay away from pain and loss and reality, but it happens. More than many people realize.

5 years ago today I gave birth to my first son, 17 weeks early. William Alejandro Kramer was born at about 5 in the morning. His lungs weren’t really ready to take that first breath, but with help he did. I was able to see him before they whisked him away to the NICU and he was perfect. Tiny, but perfect. We knew a family that had, had a 23 week old girl and she was at the time around 4. She was not without problems, but thriving. So we had hope. We held onto hope for about 24 hours. But early the next day we spoke to the neonatologist and found out that William would not be a miracle little boy. He would die. It was a painful morning. And now 5 years later, I still recall the tears the doctors, nurses and we shared in that sterile room. That day was full of firsts and lasts for William and at the end of the day we were able to spend a few hours holding him and talking to him in a private room before he finally left us.

I have a separate site for little William where I posted pictures, stories and videos a few months after his death. If you interested or if you’ve gone through something similar, message me and I’ll share it with you.

Today we will celebrate his birth and his life. We’ll have cake and talk to our two other children about him. We’ll be happy to have known him. Tears will be shed, but happiness will prevail. We are better for having had him in our lives.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day. I may not be full of the happiness I have today, and that’s ok. William will always be a part of our lives, and mourning him is a part of that.

Life is precious. Cherish it. Live it fully. Be kind to one another.

Google I/O

Women Techmakers at Google I/o 2015 Image courtesy of Natalie Villalobos and Women Techmakers

Women Techmakers at Google I/O 2015 Image from Natalie Villalobos and Women Techmakers via Twitter.

I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to Google I/O this year. Google I/O is Google’s yearly developers conference held in San Francisco. They have a lottery to win the chance to buy a ticket. While the conference itself was great in content and scope, I’m going to focus this post on Google’s push for diversity. Specifically their push to get more women into tech, at conferences and generally in the same room as men in the tech community.

My first indication of how hard Google was working on this came when I got the invite for a ticket from the Women Techmakers group. They were searching for women and they were doing a great job finding us. I saw their outreach at PyLadies and Systers via their respective mailing lists. I’m pretty sure they contacted other groups as well.

Once I did buy my ticket, I was invited to the Women Techmakers’ Slack. They created a safe place for women to meet prior to the conference. In hindsight, this was complete brilliance. We joined the Slack group about a month before the conference. More than 750 women opted to sign up for it. We were able to create subgroups and plan events. We had a connection way before the conference even started. It was exciting to see so much brilliance and energy in one place. I was able to connect with women developers from all over the globe. I found a subgroup of Latinas that helped me realize I wasn’t going to be the lone hispanic female. I know we all exist, don’t get my wrong, but this huge group helped immensely with feelings of inadequacy and feelings of “I don’t belong.” As the conference approached, plans were made for a dinners the night before, meetups with subgroups, and big group pictures. The excitement in the Slack was invigorating!

Items from the Women Techmakers' Dinner at Town Hall

Items from the Women Techmakers’ Dinner at Town Hall in San Francisco

Then the day came to go start this journey. I stood in line to get my badge and noticed women. Not 50/50 obviously, but enough that I didn’t feel like I stuck out. Then that evening, I went to the Women Techmakers dinner I had been invited to at Town Hall. Wow! I have never, at any conference or event, felt like I did when I walked into that restaurant. It was amazing. The women there spanned races, ages, sizes and languages. I don’t want to seem like I’m overblowing this, but it was transformational. I felt like I could do anything. I could be successful. I had no clue what levels these women were at, but they were there and I was there. And by golly we belonged there. The evening was fantastic. Dinner was superb. The conversations floated between work, families, fears and accomplishments. I left that evening knowing that whatever else happened at the conference, this day had already given me much more than I had expected for my entire trip.

Bright and early the next day I headed out to grab a spot in line for the Keynote. I had secured a seat by picking up my badge early the day before so I was excited to just get in line! We waited for a really long time. Then the winds shifted and we started moving past big Android mascots and volunteers handing out donuts and coffee. Once inside, I periscoped our walk into the Keynote, because this is the kind of thing one does at a tech conference. It was amazing. You can see the Keynote here, but being there was surreal! Curved screens spanned three walls of the huge room. The screens turned from a giant aquarium with a whale swimming across to a Rube Goldberg machine. The Keynote had multiple Women speakers, which cemented my thoughts on Google’s push. They’re trying, hard! They also announced my favorite thing out of Google I/O, Google Photos. I’m not sure what I would do without it now. They’ve got so many exceptional projects they’re working on. It was a very fun and energizing way to kick off the conference.

After the keynote we all got Google Cardboard VR boxes. I had a ton of fun playing with it and my iPhone. We would also later get Nexus 9’s. Swag perks of Google I/O are pretty nice! I grabbed some lunch and then made my way to sessions. There were playgrounds and activities all around, so when one (or many) sessions would fill up, you could stop and swing or go sit on a Fatboy beanbag and relax. I ended up going through some code labs they had setup. It was a big curve to overcome when you’re not in that ecosystem, but it was interesting and made me want to look at them again when I was back home. Before the conference day was over, we had Systers group photo taken. There I met Marian and Kim. I also saw Tamara from the night before. We quickly bonded and decided to walk to the Systers party before heading out to the Google I/O After Hours party.


The next day was a rough one for me. I woke up with a migraine and wasn’t able to capitalize on all the sessions. I opted to recover on a beanbag and get my new Nexus up and running. I managed to make the afternoon sessions. And I got to the Lovefield talk I’d been wanting to see. Though seating and distractions didn’t help with getting a good grasp on it. I also managed to make the Engineering for the Stratosphere talk presented by Women Techmakers. It’s an amazing project! Then the day started to wind down. The conference was ending with an improv performance done by some of the Googlers in town. And the Women Techmakers still had one last picture to take. (see top)
I ended up at an Uber party and the Google Closing Party that evening. I had some great conversations with people and bid my goodbyes early. I had a flight out the next day and had to pack up that nice Google Swag!

Google Swag!

Google Swag!


A few weeks after, I was having a particularly stressful day. I was feeling like I was being used as the token hispanic female for a project. I said the following to a friend:

IMG_2184“Sometimes I just feel like that’s why I’m at some things.[Being a Hispanic Female] But I will say that at Google I/O the feeling of anything is possible was super prevalent because there were so many women and all kinds of women. Maybe not all of them were android developers(me) but just seeing them there, sends a conscious and subconscious message not just to men, but very much to women. It’s ok for us to be here.

So I’ll continue to do it, sometimes reluctantly. Because I’ve experienced what it’s like to see people like me where it seems like they shouldn’t be. And it made a difference.”

Machine Learning – Coursera

I recently completed the Coursera Machine Learning course by Andrew Ng. It was an extraordinary intro to Machine Learning. If you have an interest in how your photo software can figure out who is in a picture or how your spam filter works so well, you’d really enjoy this class. The class is being offered self-paced now and can be taken whenever you have time, even better!

A couple of requirements for the course are linear algebra and Octave. If you’re rusty with Linear Algebra, there’s a good optional review at the beginning. But don’t worry I mixed up my matrix multiplication at first a lot, it just takes some time to recall it. As for Octave, it’s an open source language that is very compatible with MATLAB. I didn’t have any big issues with it as a language. It felt pretty easy to transition to it from my Python background. So if you’ve never used MATLAB or Octave, don’t let that stop you. As long as you know a programming language you can pick up what you need for this class fairly easily.

I did end up having a few weeks where I thought I would never get through the programming exercises, but with a little persistence and help from the forums, I was able to complete them all.

Here’s some simple Octave code:
% Vectors and Matrices
A=[1,2,3]; % row vector
B=[1;2;3]; % column vector
C=[1,2;3,4]; % 2 X 2 matrix
D=C'; % inverse matrix
E = eye(5); % creates a 5X5 identity matrix
% simple for loop to display each row in a matrix
for i = 1:rows(E)

The course takes about about 10 hours a week of work at it’s peak, a little less in the beginning and at the end. Between watching all the lectures, taking the quizzes and working through the exercises. While that may not seem like much, I didn’t get to do much else while taking it. We had a slew of timing problems with childcare and work time. I ended up working well into the evenings a couple of days. I don’t regret the class one bit, but I do wish I’d had more daylight hours to work on it and my Python projects.

As for the lectures, I was so blown away with the quality and thoughtfulness that went into them. I was always happy to see Andrew Ng. He always had a smile and a way to make everything slide easily into place. Even when the concepts were hard to digest, he reassured the class that it was ok to get lost. Obviously he’s taught for a long time, but I just didn’t expect to feel welcome and taught so well through an online pre-recorded class. I appreciate all the time and effort that has been put into this course.

K-Means Clustering. An example of an Unsupervised learning algorithm.

A couple of highlights were learning how computer vision works and the magic of unsupervised learning. Maybe I’m naive, but after taking this class I felt that the curtain had been pulled back. It’s not really magic, it’s all just 0’s and 1’s. Fancy that!


PyData Dallas 2015

April 24-26, Plano, TX

I spent the last weekend of April in Plano, Texas exploring the Data Analysis side of Python. Thanks to Numfocus, PyLadiesATX was able to give scholarships to 5 Austin PyLadies to attend. So I had a great group of women to experience my first PyData with. I ended up driving up there with one of them. It was a great way to get to know another mom and break up the monotony of the drive up to DFW.

The first day was for tutorials. I took Python Data Analytics Workshop – NumPy, pandas, matplotlib, and SciPy taught by Vivian Zhang, the Bokeh Tutorial by Bryan Van De Ven and Building machine learning applications in Python by Rajat Arya. pydata_pyladiesI’m really glad I went to these, I’d say the most helpful was Vivian’s talk. It was a nice little overview of the Data Analytics basics.

The next day was full of sessions and manning the PyLadies booth. PyLadies from DFW, Neetu Jain and Sheila Allen, helped man the table. We were able to connect with several people and hand out information and get interest going. My favorite talk of the day was Philip Cloud’s Blaze talk. Continuum Analytics is doing really interesting things right now. And Blaze is pretty neat!

Sunday was probably my favorite day of the conference. Highlights were a a talk by Houston PyLadies organizer, Paige Bailey. Her talk was about analyzing Houston Police Department Crime Data. Then there was Kyle Maxwell from Verisign that gave a talk on fighting cyber crime with Python. I really enjoy real world application talks. I can get a lot of concrete data from tutorials and books, but real life use cases are just brain candy! The day was capped off with a now Austin PyLady who was previously the lead organizer for PyLadies España, Christine Doig. She’s also at Continuum Analytics and her talk was titled, Reproducible Multi-language Data Science with Conda. Conda is pretty neat. I remember hearing so many rumblings about people who had anaconda installed and couldn’t get virtual environments going to our Python classes. But now I know better. Conda is your environment, and it’s pretty slick.

We packed up after Christine’s talk and headed back to Austin. It was overall a good conference. I was able to listen to several PyLadies and enjoy some really interesting talks.

Interviews and Anxiety

This is a personal, and somewhat embarrassing post. So if you feel uncomfortable with those things, skip on down to the next post.

Let’s go back to second grade and a UIL team being formed for an event called “Storytelling”. The premise is that you are told a short story and then one by one you come back and retell the story. So you listen, interpret and retell. But I apparently had some performance anxiety. So much so that I still vividly remember the tryout day. I had been practicing for weeks with a teacher. Being an overachiever with parents that were oh so proud of their excelling little girl, I was excited and nervous at the prospect. On tryout day, they told us a story, and I listened. Then I walked out and had no recollection of the story at all. They handed out numbers for our order and I, of course, got the last number. I think there were probably 10 of us. I excused myself to the bathroom. I remember shutting the door and crying. Sobbing and sobbing hoping I would disappear. Some girls asked if I was ok. I said yes, but then came the knock from a friend saying I was up next. I remember not being able to stop crying. I was frozen. Eventually a teacher came and got me out. They led me to the room where the teachers were waiting for me and in between stifled cries I said, “I don’t remember the story.” They looked sad. They tried to coax something out of me. They asked if I remembered a tree or another character that had obviously been in the story. I couldn’t function. I shook my head no and was finally led out to cry by myself again. They made us wait for the results. I think a teacher tried to hug me. But I was just a ball of small sobs. I went home and cried to my mom. This day almost 30 years later still haunts me. It made a lot of impacts on my life. And I’ve tried so very hard to never have that day repeat itself.

But that day came yesterday. I’ve been working on so many different projects and events that my mind is just mush. I had an interview yesterday. One of those long ones that involve talking to several people at a company. An interview loop. Everything was going as smoothly as an awkward girl could hope for. I stumbled and said a couple of things you probably shouldn’t say, but nothing crazy. I got food caught in my teeth, but I recovered. Then came the technical part. I was so afraid of it. I had been working on my Machine Learning class for days to get it done before SXSW weekend and just hadn’t had time to refocus on Python. So I froze. I didn’t cry this time. I just shook. My brain was empty. I couldn’t pull anything out of it. My hands haven’t shaken that much in ages. It was totally and utterly embarrassing. I know how to code, but I apparently suck at it under pressure. The guys in the room looked baffled and sad. I instantly recalled my teachers. They were trying to coax some spark, but there was just nothing I could do to make it pop back into my head. I kept looking at the piece of paper and nope. I was able to recall database structure, but Python, nope, just a pile of “huh”? I briefly looked it up on my phone after and slapped my forehead.

Thankfully today is better. My body is no longer vibrating and I don’t gasp every few minutes from my brain recalling the ordeal. I’m writing this incase someone else has had this feeling before. You’re not alone. Performance anxiety is no fun. I’ll be looking into resources for this and will update this post with some useful links. But for now, I needed to get this out. If you’d like to trade stories, comment or send me a message, I’m irma at

Women in Technology

Last Tuesday, I went to a Women in Technology Panel, presented by General Assembly. On the heels of PyMoms launching I felt it important to hear what successful women were saying about succeeding in Technology. It was a fascinating conversation with an hour of Q&A. But it wasn’t until the end that the question of family came up. With a room of predominantly 20 somethings, it’s not the first thing they’re thinking. But in that room were a lot of women that would become mothers. It’s an important question. And unfortunately noone on the panel was a mother. There were at least two other mothers in the audience, but that was probably it. Being a meetup held on a Tuesday at 7pm was probably a factor in that. But what do we do about family and excelling in Tech? The panel murmured and one said, “Have a supportive husband.” While I don’t disagree with this. Not every mother has that or even a spouse at all. And having a supportive husband should not be the end all answer. Or should it be? How are successful fathers going to conferences and technical meetups throughout the week? Is it solely because of a supportive spouse? Maybe.

At the panel, I heard from a lot of Type A personalities, which just makes sense. The way to be heard and the way to succeed is to be a little more assertive. A little more engaged. I don’t think I’ll ever be as assertive and strong willed as a Type A. But I can learn from them. And I think women must begin to put themselves in front. I know societal norms don’t conform to this, but it’s what we must do mentally to start getting traction. One can have children and stay in the loop. Men do this all the time. We just have to have our moments of selfishness. We also have to start asking for things. Hey guys, sometimes its nice to do a meetup on a Sunday or a Saturday morning. If planned with some time, those are generally the times parents can come. Sitters are more available, homework isn’t pressing and they’re probably more relaxed and receptive.

Being a parent is tough. I’m hoping we can shed more and more light on it, especially in the Tech space. We want women and we want them to stay! Let’s work on it.

Fulfilling Time

February 23rd. The date has been staring at me all day. I’ve had such a busy two months, I hardly noticed the passage of time. It’s been a good busy, let me recap!

PyMoms officially began yesterday here in Austin. It’s currently a subgroup of PyLadies for mothers and mothers-to-be. Kate McInnis and I are organizing them. We’ll be doing monthly hackdays and socials. Our first meetup was a success. We talked about languages and life balance and children. Conversations ranged from encouraging young women to code, to gender bias, to childcare and back to how each one of us makes it all work. Motherhood, coding and cookies. It’s a pretty rocky road to traverse, and I’m glad we have this group to connect with. If you’re interested, please join our PyLadies meetup. We’ll send out notices for the next meetup soon!

SciPy is also around the corner, July 6-12, and with that I’ve volunteered to co-chair the Communications Committee. Calls for proposals and tutorials are open. We’ll be doing a lot of outreach. Pick your poison on how you’d like to get updates: Visit the site, follow us on twitter, like us on Facebook, or put us in a circle on Google+. If you have any questions about it, feel free to email me.

Then there’s SXSW! My New Parents in Tech meetup is on the calendar, the cash bar will be setup and I’ll be there to help the conversations start. I’m really excited about this meetup. I’ve heard this topic come up a lot lately. Parents want to know what works, what doesn’t and how to manage it all. Spoiler though, no magic bullet, but let’s talk about it!

On the personal development side, I’ve been taking Stanford’s Machine Learning course on Coursera. I’m on week 4, Neural Networks! So far I’ve really enjoyed it. Andrew Ng is a great professor. He’s very methodical and makes learning easy. I also love Coursera’s resources. The forums and moderators are fantastic and I love the wiki that goes with the class. I don’t think I’ve run into a question that wasn’t already answered in one of those two places. It’s a fascinating topic and I’m excited to see how the next 5 weeks will go.

And finally there’s been the job hunt. I started applying at a few specific places to start with. I’m trying to find my best fit. I’m looking for an environment where I’ll be able to solve interesting problems, be exposed to new ideas and work with smart people. I’m excited at the prospects, and luckily, I have the time to find that special place. I had a really great interview on Friday, but I also had a huge migraine. Hopefully the next one will be even better when my head is on straight!

These past few months have been a whirlwind. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. I’m happy to be facilitating these meetups and functions. I’m really excited about making these events happen. I love enabling others and this has been a great time to do it.

P.S. If you’re interested in Women in Technology, UT’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering day is on Saturday. You can still volunteer here. If you’re interested in specifically helping PyLadies at it, shoot me an email!

Happy New Year

It’s not quite January 1st, but close enough!

The kids are in school and being tended, and it’s my first day back at Vuka. I’m feeling productive so here are a few announcements.

I wrote a few months ago about my proposal to SXSW Interactive. After the first round of approvals in November, I wasn’t selected, but I was shortlisted to the maybe list. It was promising! And in December I was officially on the list. My meet up is going to happen! On Saturday, March 15th at 5pm I’ll be hosting “New Parents in Tech”. I’m beyond excited! If you have any insights or resources for this group of professionals, please email me. I’ll post more details as the day nears.

Related to that topic, Kate MacInnis and I have begun organizing a group of mothers in our PyLadies meetup group, currently called PyMoms.
At PyTexas last year, one of the discussion topics was being an active participant in the local technology talks and being a mother. There’s a need for more outreach and more mom friendly meetups. So hopefully this group will begin to help with that need. I currently have a survey up for it. If you’re a mom in technology here in Austin, please take a few minutes and let us know what kind of meetups you’re interested in.

I’ve also been working on an Etsy listing notification site, based on Flask. It’s not as full featured as I’d like and definitely needs some debugging, but it’s live and deployed. My plan had been to grab an Etsy affiliate account and let it run and pay for itself, but I found out today the Etsy doesn’t allow US affiliates. I’m pretty sure they used to. In any case, I’ll blog more about the highs and lows of that project when I fix the last blockers.

Then there’s the job hunt. I haven’t started looking officially, but 2015 will be the year I get back into the workforce proper. Coding for myself is wonderful, but I’m eager to start working on real projects with smart people who can help me learn faster. Not having a real work commitment has also made me the default flexible parent. So if the kids are off or the sitter is sick, I’m at home and all my projects are put on hold. Half of November and all of December were devoted to family. I love them, but it’s still demoralizing when you’re trying to deploy, understand and overall accomplish a lot and you’re kept away.

And finally a high note, this weekend I attended Data Day Texas. The conference was a nice way to kickstart the year. The female to male ratio was great. I also won an Arduino Esplora at P.Taylor Goetz‘ talk “Beyond the Tweeting Toaster”! There were so many interesting talks that it felt like it could’ve been a two day conference. We were even given some space to setup a PyLadies table and talk to some wonderful women. Overall a good conference with unexpected bonuses!
For a more comprehensive write-up on it checkout Jen’s recap!