How Washington State poker laws affect structured games

In Washington State, no limit holdem cash games are illegal. You cannot find it even in Native casinos. In addition, online gambling is illegal here. These limits (pun intended) mean that poker players, even the very best at no limit, must play only structured ring games, and can only get their NLHE fix in tournaments. There are a plethora of cardrooms here with table games (but no slots, dice, or roulette), because card play must be used to promote food sales.

I make my money on the turn in Washington State. I do so very indirectly based on two reactions I can see from other players. First, remember that many no limit players are in structured games only because they cannot play NLHE in Washington. This means that they’re overcompensating for the value of a bluff on the turn, and undercompensating for the value of a bluff on the river.

Here’s the example. Last night, I’m in the cutoff – 1 happily snarfing my excellent Singapore noodles and I wake up to AKs. Under the gun +1 leads out with a raise. One call, and I repop. BB stays in, and we see a flop of queen/rag/rag with 1 of my suit. UTG+1 c-bets, and I call, smugly. BB folds. Turn comes a blank, and UTG+1 checks. I bet, he calls. Right at this moment, I’ve taken control, because I know he has some kind of standalone pair, maybe 8s or 9s, and he hasn’t put me on a hand. NLHE players are very loose right in this moment. He should have folded to my bet on the turn rather than hanging on for one more bet. River comes a rag, and I bet. He folds his almost certainly 100% hand, and I drag the pot, because he stuck around to see if he’d pick up a miracle. He gave me too little credit on the turn, and too much on the river. This pattern repeats constantly, and any time I see someone c-bet the flop and check/call me on the turn if we’re heads up, I’m at 75% to take the pot without seeing his hand on the river. He was playing like an NLHE player. I can add that bet pattern and super tight play to ABC poker and take small pots like a machine all day.

Due to the high caliber of Washington players, playing structured games here is like training at high altitude for the Bellagio 10/20 and 20/40 games. If you can beat the 4/8 games here, you can beat the 10/20 games in Vegas, and if you can beat the 6/12 (often the Big Game at any cardroom) you can beat the 20/40 game in Vegas. I haven’t even tried the 20/40 game at Diamond Lil’s; I’d lose my shirt. I do just fine in the 8/16 game there, though 😉

Howto: Fix MySQL Server dependency problems on Ubuntu LTS

Have you encountered this error?

An error occurred while setting the password for the MySQL administrative user.
This may have happened because the account already has a password, or because of a
communication problem with the MySQL server.

Or maybe seen this?

Errors were encountered while processing:

Or this?

dpkg: error processing package mysql-server (--configure):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured

This is a total bastard of a problem. Here’s what worked for me:

sudo apt-get purge mysql-server mysql-client mysql-common mysql-server-5.5
sudo dpkg --purge mysql*
sudo rm -rf /etc/mysql
sudo apt-get install -f
sudo dpkg --configure -a
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo apt-get autoclean
sudo apt-get install mysql-server
sudo reboot

Purge everything that even looks like mysql. Remove the /etc/mysql directory manually, because mysql-common is going to try to hide there. Fix any broken dependencies and reconfigure any broken packages. You may get the same error again when trying to reinstall mysql-server. I threw up my hands and went to bed at that point, woke up this morning deciding to finally learn PostgreSQL, got this error:

E: Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock - open (11: Resource temporarily unavailable)

and believe it or not, a reboot fixed the problem for me. mysqld started on reboot. I rubbed my eyes, and wrote this post in case it ever bloody well happens again.

Automator will not save service in General in Yosemite OSX for keyboard shortcuts

You might have had the same problem I just did: I tried to create a global hotkey shortcut command situation for popping up a new mail message. I’m trying hard to only look at my inbox Xx/day, but I often have emails I need to send. So, I tried to create a global shortcut using Automator on my OSX Mac. The tutorials all said to open Automator, create a new Service with no input from any application, drag the New Mail Message or whatever over to the workflow, save it, and then go find it under the “General” tab in System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Services -> General. Unfortunately, that General section on the right of Services didn’t appear.

Here’s why: you need to save your Automator Workflow Service in ~/Library/Services. I went and looked in that folder, and found that my workflow wasn’t being saved there. Turns out when I was saving the workflow automatically in iCloud instead.

Screenshot 2015-07-10 16.55.39

See the save location? Go to wherever you’re saving that workflow and drop it into your user/Library/Services folder.

How to set up a TP-LINK router on Apple/Mac

TP-LINK routers are best sellers on Amazon, and I like my new one a LOT. I had a 5-year old Vizio router that did yeoman’s service, but had started to drop connections and in general behave like an amnesiac hash addict.

I liked the reviews, which said that TP-LINK routers were dead easy to set up.

It was not.

I have a Mac Mini that operates as a home server, and I had some nonstandard configuration issues to deal with. Turns out that there were 3 issues. First, I couldn’t get to the router configuration page on a browser. I had to clone the previous MAC address, and finally, I had static internal IPs set on most of my devices in the house including the machine I was installing the router on. So, here are the easy steps to fix it if you have plugged in a TP-LINK router on a Mac home network and you can’t get it set up.

  1. Go into Network Preferences. Open your ethernet connection and go to TCP/IP. Clear the manual setting from your DHCP, and permit the machine to be assigned an internal IP from the DHCP server in the router.
  2. Hit in your browser. This should theoretically get you to the router config page. It worked for me. That’s the default IP for TP-LINK.
  3. admin/admin are the un/pw for TP-LINK.
  4. Keep a browser window open so you can see whether you’ve got a connection.
  5. If you do, good. You’re fine to set static IPs/MAC bindings.
  6. If not, try cloning the MAC. Go to the MAC settings in the router config, hit the “clone” button, save, and reboot the router.
  7. Does it work yet? If not, add a static IP for the box you’re working on while configuring the router.
  8. Hard cycle the router and modem.
  9. Set static IPs and MAC bindings.
  10. Profit!

I’ll keep updating these instructions. I’m assuming you know to set a different un/pw for your router if you’re actually able to follow these instructions. Per the usual, 18 months from now, I’ll reset the router and totally forget how I got it working, so this post is more for me than all y’all.

How to get a short link from a Google Maps location

The Google Maps interface has changed, and it’s hard to tell how to share a location from a dropped pin or a business you want to find.Perhaps you’d like to make an easy short link to your house that you can share with people again and again. It just took me five minutes of Googling to figure it out, and even then it was too complex. I’m putting this post out there so that I can remember it myself!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Search for the location you want to find.
  2. Now, look in the bottom right hand corner where you see this: Screenshot 2015-06-04 15.29.58
  3. Click on the little gear so that this window pops:Screenshot 2015-06-04 15.28.04
  4. Click “Share or embed map” at the top.
  5. You’ll see this little popup in the middle of the screen:Screenshot 2015-06-04 15.31.33
  6. Click the “Short URL” box to get a short URL that is reusable and shareable!

3 tips to prep for video job interviews

I do a lot of video interviews and meetings. I’m the CEO of Fizzmint, an employee task administration and compliance management tech startup here in Seattle, and many of our team are remote. I’ve conducted about 300 video interviews at this point, and I’d like to share my three best tips for preparing to do well. Hopefully, this will help you figure out how to give a great first impression over video for your future employers!

First off: the background matters. In a phone call, the only thing the interviewer can assess you with is the sound of your voice. In a video call, the only visual information you can convey is your face and whatever the interviewer sees behind you. This means that they’ll be looking hard for any clues about your personality and who you are from the choices you make about your backdrop. I did in fact just say “choices”. Whether you know it or not, you’ve chosen to present yourself a certain way, and if you don’t think about what your interviewer sees behind you, you might be in trouble.

I recently interviewed a programmer from a different city than Seattle. He clicked his video on, and like every other techie. I started asking him questions. About two minutes into the interview, I started looking behind him. He had several extremely explicit drawings, sculptures, and images of nude women in various poses on the office walls behind him. They were obviously artistic, but I question his judgment in having them as his professional backdrop. I can’t remember his name or his skillset now, but I remember with icy and perfect clarity the two labias that were framing his head.

If you don’t know what backdrop to have, just put you and your camera opposite a plain wall. A corollary to this is that you should make sure your sleepy roommate doesn’t parade around behind you wearing boxers and not much else. I’ve seen that one too…and my eyes are still burning.

Second, check your tech a full two days before the interview. I use Google Hangouts by preference since it allows me to share screens and add people easily to the hangout…crucial if I want to do a video round where I call in a few people at a time. This usually doesn’t present any problem, but you do have to install a browser plugin and have a Google or Gmail account. Most people are fine with it, and/or can get it set up in about 15 minutes. I don’t like Skype, since it costs extra to do video conferencing the way I like, and I’m unenthused about the fact that Microsoft is unashamedly parsing my voice data for ads and targeting.

About 1 out of every 4 interviews I do, someone hasn’t checked to make sure they can do Google Hangout video — and this is after I tell them specifically that we’ll be using it. So recently that it actually inspired this post, a developer didn’t show up in the pre-created video link at the specified time. He didn’t show up when I invited him specifically again. He didn’t show up when I cancelled that hangout and tried inviting him personally to a new one. He emailed to say that he was waiting on me. I told him to call me himself. He didn’t. He emailed again (15 minutes late, telling me he hadn’t even installed the browser plugin before our meeting) to tell me that he guessed the plugin didn’t work for him, and he’d try something else. 20 minutes after he was supposed to be impressing me, I told him I was moving on.

Sure, sometimes there are real technical difficulties. However, the difference between someone who was prepared and is having troubles, and someone who didn’t bother to check in advance that a technology they’d never used before would work for them is that 15-minute timespan. If someone’s having actual troubles, I get an email from them one minute after the meeting has started telling me that something is wrong. If someone didn’t know they’d have to install that browser plugin, meaning they did not prepare, they email me 15 minutes after the meeting starts. Check your tech and the equipment you’ll be using and do a live test with a friend.

Hell, I don’t know why I’m even telling you this. It’s actually a very good check to make sure that someone is the kind of person who prepares ahead before I spend time interviewing them.

Third, dress for the video interview (at least from the waist up) as you would for the actual interview. I’m wearing a perfectly proper button down shirt now (with yoga pants and Chewbacca house shoes that my cat likes to cuddle with), but everything showing on video is all buttoned-up, as it were.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen people show up in their pyjamas, tshirts, robes, and in one spectacular instance, what was clearly the top half of a bikini with a ratted hoodie tossed over it. How we dress conveys a world of information to people, and if you’re not dressed like you take this conversation with me seriously, it doesn’t matter how awesome you are as a marketer or programmer or administrator. In addition, there’s lots of research out there discussing how our clothing choices affect our posture and speech patterns. People wearing better clothing do better on tests objectively, and people who feel like they’re well-turned-out project a greater air of confidence and competence.

If you have Star Trek or Buffy action figures, I strongly suggest you hang them on the wall behind you. That is all; good day.

[cross-posted to Medium]

The care and feeding of successful crowdfunding backers

I have run several successful Kickstarters, and this list applies to all crowdfunding campaigns after they’ve succeeded and before you’ve fulfilled the rewards.

LadyCoders 2012
Volney’s Ruins 2014
Women In Tech: The Book

I have completely fulfilled the rewards for the LadyCoders Kickstarter, but the other two are still in process. It’s tough to think of what to send to people after the Kickstarter has succeeded. The Volney audiobook and the Women In Tech book tend to be “Yup, still working” kinds of updates, and I’m never sure what will be a good way to continue to communicate gratitude and inclusiveness.

I try to show people what it looks like to work on these projects. Recently, I did an update that showed me and one of my co-authors working on writing the Women In Tech book with a selfie of the two of us. On the Volney audiobook, I shared some tutorials and audiobook processing tips I’d learned, as well as the somewhat frustrating knowledge that some of the work I’d done needed to be re-done to fix some of the sound issues.

Here’s some ideas for what to share with your backers when all you can think to say is “Yup, still working.”

  1. 60-second selfie video talking about something that has frustrated you in the process, or something you just recently learned about the process.
  2. 3-5 minute video tutorial on something you just did that might be interesting to your backers. If you just learned something about the process, talk about it.
  3. If you have people working on the project with you, interview one of them on video for a minute to talk about what their portion of the process is like.
  4. A photo of you working on the project, and the funnier and more lifelike the better.
  5. Reposting some of the resources you have used to create something. I repost some links on audiobook production and talk about the best resources I found.
  6. A picture or quick video of you using, playing with, or trying out the incomplete product or prototype, along with a rapid update on how the process is working.
  7. A Buzzfeed-style list of the top ten things you didn’t know before doing this project.
  8. A guest backer update from a new person. I may ask for some of the people involved in the publishing process for my book to write a paragraph or two on what it’s like working on book publishing.
  9. I’ll keep adding ideas to this, because I’ll want them myself again! Please offer suggestions and new backer update ideas!

    Cross-posted to Medium.

Completely remove CrashPlan from your Mac

Have you tried to delete CrashPlan from your Applications folder and gotten the message that the “CrashPlan app is locked” in a popup?

Here’s the solution:

  1. Shut down the CrashPlan app in the system tray.
  2. You may need to elevate permissions or use ‘sudo’ to perform some of these commands.
  3. Open a Terminal window. You can find Terminal under Utilities in the Applications folder.
  4. Enter this: cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/
  5. Enter this: rm -R CrashPlan
  6. Enter this: cd /Applications/
  7. Enter this: cd ..
  8. Enter this: ls -lhdO /Applications/
  9. Enter these two commands: chflags noschg and chflags nouchg
  10. You should now be able to go to the Applications folder and delete

Some of this solution taken from the Mac Rumors Forum.

Tell your Women In Tech story in our Medium channel!

I had a stunning number of women volunteer to write chapters for Women In Techthe book we just kickstarted. I think somewhere around 150 women volunteered at last count, and I keep getting emails! I was honored and thrilled that so many women wanted me to help them tell their story, and I’m so proud to announce now that we’re launching a Medium channel to provide a platform for women to tell their stories in the same way that Brianna, Keren, Kristin, Angie, Kamilah, Miah, Katie, and I are. If you write a great story, you may get an email from me about future work 😉

We’re also looking for a publication editor on an ongoing basis, so please let me know if you’re interested in helping women tell their stories!


If you’re interested in telling your story, I have to make you a writer for the publication. Send me an email with your Medium username so I can add you, and then I’ll have you submit your essay to! I’m a little new at this Medium thing, so if you have any issues submitting your essay, just email or tweet me and I’ll get you fixed up.

If you follow this structure, more or less, you’ll get to the heart of your life and experiences. Vary or change this any way you see fit; this outline is just intended to give you a place to start.

  1. Growing up
    1. Where were you born?
    2. What was it like growing up as you?
    3. What is your family like?
    4. When did you start to have an interest in tech?
    5. Did you go to college? What did you major in?
  2. Early career
    1. Did you start out in technology? 
    2. How did your career start to grow more and more aligned with what you’re doing now—or did it?
    3. What early lessons did you learn as you started working in all your different jobs that helped teach you what you needed to know to get where you are?
  3. Now
    1. What are some of the times that you felt that you couldn’t keep going on?
    2. What made you push through?
    3. Are you happy doing what you do?
    4. Why?
    5. What will some of your next goals be?
    6. What do you do to help others succeed and what are your passions involving mentoring and volunteering?
  4. Reflections
    1. Is it possible for others to do what you did?
    2. If you could go back and change anything, would you—and why?
    3. What do you wish people knew about you that they don’t?
    4. What do you hope telling your story will accomplish?


  • Liberally sprinkle this whole essay with examples that focus in on how you felt at times when you were at decision crossroads and what made you make the choices you did.
  • Do not let your own modesty stop you from talking about yourself. Talk about yourself and your accomplishments instead of doing a general critique of the system.
  • Think of this autobiographical essay as an explanation of how you got where you are now. This is a moment to show what you did, not tell others how to replicate what you did. Huge numbers of women in tech (including me) did not have a computer science degree and came into tech through a side door faced with difficult decisions, self teaching, and life-altering moments. 
  • This is only about you, your story, and how other women can see possibilities for themselves through your story. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. I can’t wait to hear from you!

From Engineer To Executive

I recently did the keynote talk for the Puget Sound Python users group, and while it wasn’t filmed, I had a couple of requests that I post the material somewhere. Here you go!

Going from an engineer to someone who can manage people and execute on the company vision takes a commitment to changing yourself, changing your environment, and changing how you relate to others. There are three key areas that I had to work on and will be striving towards for the rest of my life. They are: (1) your people skills, (2) a will to change, and (3) your support network.

First, let’s take a look at people skills. You need to lose your contempt for interpersonal skills. You may be one badass engineer, but if you cannot communicate your purpose and assign tasks to your subordinates in such a way that they’re enthused about the tasks you set for them, you can’t be an executive. That’s it. Learn to rephrase your requests and statements about situations in a positive way. Many engineers are uncomfortable about dealing with people, and you’ll need to not only lose that discomfort, but actively enjoy employing your people skills. Note that I don’t say that you have to actively enjoy people. I’m a full-bore introvert, and dealing with people takes it out of me if I cannot escape and recharge. However, I can always enjoy that I have a skill, and that I’m getting better at using it every day.

If you don’t like social media, tough cookies. You need fans and connections. These are people that you can transmit ideas to, and from whom you get updates on how the world thinks and works. Make the connections on LinkedIn and open up your Twitter and Facebook profiles. You won’t be able to hide what you say anyway, and you may as well keep your lack of privacy in mind. You no longer get to bury your head in the sand when it comes to social issues. You’ll need to keep updated on meaningful news. There would be no excuse for a leader of people who made a tone deaf crack about protesters the day after the Ferguson grand jury decision because s/he didn’t know what was happening in the world. You can be yourself on social media, but you cannot treat your public pronouncements as if they reflect only on you now. I am communicative on social media, but I don’t complain about individual people anymore, no matter how bad the customer service was. I have the ability to point attention at issues, and as a representative of my company regardless of how many disclaimers I put in bios, I have to respect that I’d be punching down, not up. Remember the same.

The last thing on people skills, and the hardest lesson I’m still working on is this: don’t be the smartest person in the room. That’s a direct quote from a mentor of mine. It was an especially hard lesson for me to learn. As a female engineer, I’ve been screaming for 15 years that I’m right, that my code is good enough, that my solution works, and that I belong in this room with the rest of the engineers. I’ve had to shift my approach a lot. Now, what matters is that the people that I’m talking with feel like they’re heard, not that I’m smart. That is how they’ll build consensus on the right way to solve a problem. If you figure out how to do this, please tell me.

Second, let’s talk about your personal will to change your life and grow. This is a very difficult topic, because it has to do with social class, judgment, and your own goals. There’s a common phenomenon among professional athletes and musicians who succeed dramatically. Those among them who came from less privileged backgrounds often will struggle with negative influences from the people who loved and supported them while they were on the way up. I have friends and dear loved ones who have loved and supported me, but are still fighting to give up drugs, get out of prison, and get their lives together. I can love them and be there for them to the best of my ability without being pulled into problems I have no power to fix. Think very hard about the people you surround yourself with. The motivational speaker Jim Rohn very famously said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I choose to be around people that I like AND admire. I think of people who I respect for their kindness, entrepreneurial spirit, irrepressible joy, courtesy, intelligence, and strength, and then I figure out if we like the same comic books and TV shows (thee must like Arrow or I will not have to do with thee). Those are the people I try to spend my time with.

Develop your own sense of judgment about people to the point that you’ve learned to trust your instincts about someone’s character before you start making final hiring decisions. I screw up sometimes, and I make mistakes all the time. However, we have built a culture at Fizzmint that ultimately reflects my personal decisions about people’s characters, and I have to trust that I make good decisions while always being willing to revisit those choices if needed later. You are going to start learning to consciously harness the judgments you make about people, because if you don’t, you’ll judge unconsciously. That’s how poor hiring decisions get made, like hiring a team of nothing but straight white men and thinking it’s because they’re the only ones tough enough to stand up for their coding choices. Without examining how you judge others, you’ll do so without thought. Don’t not think.

If there’s any one thing I can tell you about being a different person and one that others will respect, it’s this: be on time. People who are habitually punctual have a whole lot of other life skills nailed down. They manage their time well. They’re honest with themselves about how long tasks will take. They have the logistics of their city and transport down. They respect you and your time. They have built time into their day for small tasks, often after they’ve arrived early to meetings. They likely sleep and eat on a healthier schedule. I and everyone else understand that sometimes you cannot help being late. There’s a difference, however, between someone whose definition of ‘on time’ is 5 minutes late, and who arrives more than 15 minutes late half the time, and a person who arrives early or on time 19 out of 20 times. The habitually late person is not honest with themselves about their commitments and how long their day will take to execute on–or they’re pushovers about letting others dictate their schedule. That’s not someone I want managing others. The more time I spend with the people who run companies, the more I realize that this is one of the unstated expectations on people who should be trusted with making decisions. When I set up coffee with a fellow CEO, s/he is nearly never late. That’s even in Seattle, which has a truly terrible transportation system, and which can unexpectedly jam up with hours of traffic and overpacked buses and trains.

Develop your personality and interests outside technology. I have lots and lots of interests, side projects, hobbies, and fun things I do. I have to, or I would be a deadly dull person with a stultifying lack of stories, points of commonality, and conversation openers. I like reading audiobooks, and I’m currently running a Kickstarter to bring Frankenstein’s Creature’s favorite book to audiobook for the first time ever. I helped found and currently am on the board of Hack The People, the world’s largest tech mentorship initiative. I help underrepresented hackers propose to speak through Defcon Unlocked and Infosec Unlocked. I take cat pictures and read and play WoW and do triathlons and cook. If you don’t have a cool hobby and some volunteer commitments, get some, or you’ll be boring. Also, you’ll miss out on personal growth and contributing to your community.

Finally, let’s talk about your support network. There is nothing, NOTHING more important than your mentors and mentees. Your colleagues can come and go, but you MUST develop tight relationships with people who want to teach you, and whom you can teach. You never really learn something until you teach it, and you need to pass on what you learn. This blog is part of how I pass on information to people, after I filter it through my own experience and understanding. I’ve been given truly terrible advice, and truly spectacular advice, but the common thread there is this: someone cared enough to try to help me.

Join your professional association or a group of people who do the job you’re currently doing and the job you want to be doing. Learn from them. Treat your network like a million dollars, because that’s literally what they are to you. Create weak and strong ties to people in your community and in your virtual network. Find a person you admire online that you’ve never met in real life, and tell them that you admire them. You might be surprised at the result. Most of what people face when they’re public-facing is criticism, anger, and second-guessing (unless you’re Taylor Swift, in which case bless your heart, honey). It’s always nice to hear that someone’s picking up what you’re putting down.

Add some comments about your best tricks and tips for how you transitioned from engineering to executive work, and post your questions. I’ll do my best and point you at the right people if I don’t know the answer!