Monthly Archives: March 2008

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Laser & barbecue

This week is a little bit crazy. I have three appointments to hospitals and on Wednesday I am participating in a seminar about transgender issues in the Swedish Parliament.

I had my last laser treatment in November and now it was time again. It is a bit hard to fit in since I don’t really feel comfortable at work when I have been at the treatment. I usually feel numb and a bit strange in my face. Another bad thing is that this treatment is the only thing that my hospital is not funding so I have spent considerable amount of money on this. Today I had on the anaesthesia cream for almost one and a half hour and it really made a difference. I almost did not feel a thing! I like this kind of laser since the method includes blowing cold air over my face while shooting the pulses. The other one that we used earlier did not had this feature and also had different kind of pulses that stung a lot more.

I had my beloved car at the auto shop today (a wiper lever and a sensor for the ABS need to be replaced) and unfortunately it was not as easy as I thought to fix it so they told me that they had to keep it for a while longer. However, I got to keep my rental car which is a rather cool blue and white Mini Cooper 2007. People seem to be looking at that much more than my silver Mini Copper S.

In the afternoon my beloved friend popped by to see the latest version of the documentary movie I am editing. It is taking more time than planned to put it together but some parts looks really good now. Suddenly her boyfriend called and suggested that because of the nice weather we just had to organize a small barbecue on her garden. So we did. The coal really objected to catch fire but finally we had a nice hot bed of glowing coal and we had spicy hot dogs in the dark. Really nice and a bit cool to have a barbecue in march, especially in Sweden. It was nice to see my friend and her boyfriend again and I got the chance to discuss my experience at the tapas bar last Thursday. Friends are great!

A radiating Friday topped off with lasagna and info modeling

I was working in Stockholm today and that is always nice since it opens up to do nice things after work. Today me and my best friend had decided to meet at one of the LGBT-places close to where we both live. It was wonderful to see her again and she provided more lotion for my soul which made me feel very good. So good that I later got an SMS where she told me it was nice to see me radiating like that. Feeling good and having someone close to you noticing it is even better someway…

Later in the evening I met together with a couple of other friends who made me a wonderful lasagna dinner while we where doing some “work” related to my engagement in the NGO RFSL. We are on our way to rolling out Alfresco and we had great discussions around the metadata model for our configuration. A tedious but necessary thing to do in order to make the most of our deployment.

Falling down from the clouds…

This happened at the end of the the tapas dinner at San Leandros at Sveavägen but I did not wan’t to “pollute” that post with negative feelings so I created new one instead. It is hard to describe what it feels when everything is great so it is sometimes easier to explain what happens when I am brought down and it feels a bit like falling down from the clouds. Well, there I was having a dinner and talking to this wonderful woman and was feeling good. During my last years I have developed a good (often too good) radar that detects when people are behaving strange around me and after 2 hours or so I detected that two young men where behaving a bit strange at the table next to us. I tried to not make to much of it and wasn’t really sure what it was.

However, just when we were about to leave the tapas bar I saw behind her that something was happening at the other table and one of the guys started staring at me. I like to mention that he wasn’t the most handsome man I have seen, his face was rather disfigured. So after he stared at me for a short while I asked if something was wrong. Then he seemed to gain support from his friend and started to approach me. Then he started…”you see me and my friend have had this discussion for a while here…”

And I know what was coming…

“so I have to ask you if you are a man or a woman?”

Poff…down from the clouds. It does not matter what I feel when people around me sometimes believe they have the right to question me and who I am. Here I was dressed in my Air Force uniform (coming straight from work) and felt that I was looking great. Do these people think at all? Read my f—ing nametag! So I was both sad and angry and I at least managed to tell him that I refused to answer his question and I asked him to go away. He genuinely seemed surprised and went back to his table. What bothers me most is that this man who most likely had some experiences of people staring at him, would do that same thing to me.

Another thing that I just can’t understand is this….if I make a great effort to present myself as the woman I am, I think/hope that maybe 90-95% of the signals I send out are unquestionable feminine. So why does this little sign of doubt make people question my gender altogether??? Isn’t that strange?

My tapas-date told me to not make this ruin the evening and it really did not but of course I kept thinking about this a few times over the next day. And well, I obviously had to write this post to get it out of me…

Tapas talk

Remember the wonderful Sunday afternoon I had with a very nice woman a couple of weeks ago? Today, we had dinner together at the Tapas bar on Sveavägen in downtown Stockholm. It was very nice to see her again and it was a great way to wind down after work and talk about life and everything. We had planned on seeing each other earlier but travel, fever and life in general seemed to be in the way all the time so I really looked forward to seeing her. Sometimes I feel that lesbian women I meet are so different from me that we both have some trouble to relate so she is such a welcome exception from that. There are a lot of things that we share and I think that is really cool!

So we ordered a number of different tapas dishes and tried to catch up about what has happened lately. I think we both had a lot of different experiences to share from the last meeting and that was good to do.

I also think it is great that I seem to have more energy each week and have some left to do things like this. I hope it continue this way and I think the fact that I have turned down requests to be on the board of both RFSL and Stockholm Pride will be good for me as well.

Looking forward to seeing her again soon…:)

Today I joined a delegation from RFSL that got a meeting with Sweden’s Minister for Health and Social Affairs Göran Hägglund. Last year a Swedish Government Official Report concering a reformed law concering the judicial aspects of sex change and issues related to intersexuality was finished. We have fought long to have this Report done since the existing law is outdated and desperately needs to be updated. Since RFSL is part of the referral process we had the chance to send a written document about our views of the consequences of the new law. Even if the new (proposed) law contains several improvements there are so many strange proposals in it that we insist that it can not be passed by the Parliament in its current form. One issue is that the new law essentially either forces intersexual infants to be treated during the first weeks or they are considered a transsexual and have to wait until they are 18 years old. Imagine the dispair of young intersexuals that tries to pass their early teenage years with the wrong body and judicial status. We also strongly objects to the proposed forced removal of the hormone producing sex organs.

Anyway we got this meeting to be able to explain this in person to the Minister. He met us together with four other people of his staff and we got almost an hour to explain our views. He seemed nice and listened carefully to what we said and seemed to both feel and understand the issues. However, he is the party leader of the most conservative party in Swedish politics so it is hard to know.

Data-deduplication is so cool!

I just read a blog post by Chuck Hollis at EMC about data deduplication and remembered how important that is to an EMC-platform. However, to me it is not just a way to improve or optimize storage, it is a critical part of any information architecture.

Data deduplication should be a core feature in platforms such as EMC Documentum which put the use of this feature up on the business side of things. Since everything stored in Documentum is an object which may or may not have an attachment in the form of a document that objekt can be exposed to users in one or many folders. The key thing is that these linkages opens up for interesting ways of using data deduplication.

Imagine a corporate environment with thosands of users. A lot of important documents in the company will be used many times by many people in different contexts. Since many of them likely are used as references in different projects such as corporate strategy, marketing documents so forth they are essentially read-only. However since a lot of users need these exact documents they will be imported many times in the repository and not only taking up unneccessary space but also create problems when these documents are updated. People will ask “hey, are all of these documents I found the same version?”

So my solution would be that we have a job running on import that highlights to the user that this particular document is already available and ask the user if they want to use the existing one instead. That renders a link being created to that document in their Folder or Project space.

We can also continously run a job doing reports on the the current status of the repository to see how many duplicates we have and what kind of content is duplicated the most. Documentum Reporting Services could be used to do that for instance. If we want a proactive Knowledge Management function they can either consolidate that directly or create tasks to users asking them if they agree to deduplicate some of their content. However, we need to push hard to have someone to create a really cool and usable interface to manage these “content conflicts”.

This will further help companies manage vital documents and further reduce the confusion of which document is the correct and updated one.

From a technology stand-point the first step would be to use a simple hash function to find exact duplicates but the next step should be to use vector-based indexing technology found in both Autonomy and FAST ESP to also detect similarity levels and possibly use that for further refinement of similar content. That way we de-duplicate the same content found in different formats and have the option of removing one of them or maybe just make one the rendition of the other.

Figuring out the collaboration tools in our intranet toolbox

I see myself as a translator between people speaking military and information technology languages. These two groups come from different worlds and have very different views of the world. The military people likes to speak about requirements from a very abstract standpoint and think the details should be worked out by someone else. They rarely have any knowledge of what the market can offer so when they are invited to a technical demo of somekind they usually approve it if it looks somewhat useful. The IT-people on the other hand have a tendency to strive for cheap, simple and safe solutions which will get adopted if some people in uniform accepts it. So what does that leave us?

Well, it means that if a military officer see a need to collaborate around a text and they are shown a wiki they almost immediately embrace it since it does not really matter if it is a good solution. It is far better than anything they have to today. That is why I think we need to break down our needs into a basic set of tools and define what makes them differ. These tools need to be mutually exclusive:

  • Asynchronous messaging (leave a message that someone picks up later
  • Real-time communication (text, audio and video chat and virtual meeting rooms
  • Presence (know what other people are doing right now)
  • Real-time collaboration on content (Multiple people writing in the same document at the same time)
  • Asynchronous collaboration on content (Multiple people writing at different times in the same document)
  • And then you could add the spatial dimension to this. It is way different to collaborate if you are at the same place or not.

    So that means that a Forum is basically a thread-based structuring of asynchronous messaging while a blog is a individually based contribution of content that can be asynchronously referenced and commented. On the other hand an application such as CoWord is doing real-time collaboration on content. The point of all this is to have some common set of references when evaluation different products and their potential use in the organisation. There is a huge difference in the way a real-time messaging tool can be used versus a tool which is asynchronous and lets you leave a message. Using a wiki in a live virtual meeting is therefore not the best solution.

    A wiki on the other hand is a good example of asynchronous collaboration on content. So is most features found in enterprise content management systems such as Documentum and Alfresco.

    Real-time collaborative editors have not really been a success yet even though their seem to be an obvious need for it in today’s connected world. Wikipedia has a nice article summarizing what is available today. Imaging four people working on a operation order where they each have their own cursor and writing at the same time. Science-fiction? No, try CoWord…

    This toolset also gives us the chance to question product or rather protocol selections we take for granted. Take email for instance. Most people agree that we need that. The concept is familiar for many people and we know what it is used for. Or do we? Since it is basically the essence of asynchronous messaging I argue that it is exactly what we need and not email which is just one implementation of it. An implementation based on standards developed in the early 70-ies which is hopelessly out-dated when it comes to things like security and efficiency. So maybe we should require that particular kind of messaging instead and open up for other technical solutions for it rather than POP/SMTP/IMAP. This is of course particularly appropriate in closes systems which has no connections to the internet which means that “email-interoperability” is no issue.

    So before we cheer at some new collaboration or social media application we should analyze them against our toolbox items and it will be much easier to find out if we like the product or maybe just some part of it.

    There are more stuff in the toolbox but I will come back to them in a later post.

    One year anniversary of my pussy

    Hmm…was that too graphic maybe? 🙂 Well, it is exactly what it is and I feel better celebrating that than the surgery. Well, today one year ago (possibly one day wrong because of the leap year) I had that big surgery that changed my life again to the better. I can remember the feeling I had when I arrived at the hospital as it was yesterday. A dear friend drove me there and left me in a very white and un-cosy room with a bed, a chair and a TV. I was rather nervous and had real trouble to sleep that night. I wasn’t really nervous about the visual result but from the risk that something would go wrong. On the morning of the surgery everything became more hectic so I think the nervousness went away somewhat. I remember how I woke up after almost 5 hours in surgery around 13.30 or so and felt “it is done!”. I was almost motionless and felt no pain only a small nausea that I got some medication from. Then I became worried and wondered if everything had gone ok so the first time a nurse came past I asked her and she said yes. Still it was not until I had met my surgeon and he told me the same thing that I felt calm. At the evening the serious pain started and that was the first day of two real hard weeks with a lof of pain.

    Well, now I ended up in the past again but I think I need to process this a few times to handle it. Last year was a very different year but now I just feel wonderful. I learned a lot from it I think. Things like telling people how I really feel and how to ask for help. I am so grateful to the Swedish health care system and how skilled my surgeon is. Now when I am fully recovered I just feel great. It is like I have been this way all the time. I can’t even picture something else. I smile when I see myself in the mirror and when I look at myself without makeup I more often see that girl looking back at me. The girl that was hidden inside me for so long.

    About visibility when working among men

    Today the Swedish site IT-tjej (IT-girl) has been launched here in Sweden and I found a lot of interesting articles that made me think. Those of who know me know that I am not especially fond of Microsoft but the article featuring their female IT-evangelist Maria Lundahl was really intersting for me. She said that she enjoy the visibility she gets in the male-dominated IT-business and that people often are surprised when she explains what she is working with and why she loves it.

    I am probably the only open transsexual woman working as a career officer in the Swedish Armed Forces so I know I am visible. Probably more than most people, even most women in male-dominated workplaces. Yesterday I wrote about my desire to blend in as “just another woman” and what do I think about this visibility then?

    Well, first of all I guess it depends if I am visible because I am a woman or because I have a transsexual background or possibly both. I have decided to be open with my background just because I have been in a closet to long already. I believe in honesty and openness. However, it is not the first thing I say to new people when I meet them. So that is where I want to blend in and be just another woman. However, that is where my visibility as the only woman kicks in. The hard part is that I have not yet learned to figure out when people notice me because I am a woman or because “there is something unusual with me”.

    Even though I am a career military officer I am passionate about IT and the possibilities it gives us. I am rather nerdy in the sense that I like to dive into the technical details of big enterprise systems such as EMC Documentum and FAST ESP to understand what makes them tick. So I guess that is unfortunately also something that is not so common among women. I hope this new website can be a place for all women (nerdy or not) in the IT-business to meet, learn, grow and get some inspiration from each other. I think that all women that work in something that is not generally seen as a typical female line of work sooner or later need to get together and compare notes from our daily experiences.

    So do I like the visibility…Not necessarily but I must confess that people seem to remember who I am which usually is good 🙂 Whether it is because I am a nerdy female missionary of ECM-systems or an unsual women with a transsexual background I don’t know. And in most cases I guess I have to learn not to care to much.

    So like Maria I get many arched eyebrows when I tell them what I do for a living. I guess people expect me to be a hair dresser or a nurse or something. However, it does not always bother me too much since I guess I am breaking new grounds both for women but especially for those with a transsexual background.

    Why I like when people play with their gender expression

    I just saw a commercial for a shampoo where a couple of small girls where playing with their father’s hair and making pig tails with brightly colored hairpins. The good part was that the man seemed to think it was great fun. I realised that I thought that small thing was good but did not really know why.

    The thing is that is that I want to be seen as just another woman and to be honest preferably rather close to the norm of how a woman in our society should look like. It is partly a practical thing, you know to be able to walk around without being noticed as someone strange – to blend in. But I guess it is also easier to feel good about myself when people see me as the woman I feel I am. So based on that why should I – who want to blend in – like to see that people are positive towards those who either look androgynous or play with their gender expression.

    I think it is the same feeling I have about being around drag queens/drag kings. It is sad but I feel anxious that someone would think that I am one of them instead of “just a woman”. However, rationally I strongly support the rights of all transgender people to be who they are and look how they want.

    So when it is so important for me to look “normal” or at least normatively female why do I see gender-bending as something good?

    I think it is because even though transsexuals like me from experience know that we don’t always “pass”. What happens then is that we go from being a very “normal” (or normatively looking) woman to a person with a strange gender expression no matter how we feel inside. It is cruel but that is the way it is. And it is just when that happens that I also benefit from a society with less conservative rules for what is male/female and a relaxed attitude to people who mix their gender expressions, intentially or not.

    I think most transsexuals start out as rather androgynous but develop into the woman or man they want to be usually with some help from medical treatment. So we basically goes from visible transgender people to rather normatively looking males and females with a rather unusual background. Personally I background I want to be open with most of the time but I understand why some people don’t want to.