Interview with Rachel Nabors, Program Manager at Microsoft
Hi. Everyone welcome to girls today, I have with me Rachel, neighbors, neighbors. Delivers. Nice, I got it I got, I got your last name correct. Welcome. To girls I'm very happy to have you happy, to be here yay Cheers, coffee and, CC. Best friends forever right yep can, you please introduce yourself. Well, I'm Rachel neighbors I'm a p.m. here at Microsoft just joined in November, very happy to be here it's. Always been a dream of mine to come see the house that Gates built, why. Is that can you tell us about the backstory I know you told me the story but it's an amazing story so I wanted to tell everyone about it all right all right I, hope you I hope you have some patience it's a little long-winded take your time all. Right so I was raised in the. Middle of nowhere Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains that's, like the, southwestern. Portion of Virginia, and to give you an idea of where I was raised before the recession, we had 20% unemployment and. Those are the reported, unemployment, numbers. So you know that it's, actually much higher than that and I. Was raised there my mom was a was. A retired, systems. Analyst, of all things from the 80s and she thought would be a great idea to move her child to the middle of nowhere and and. Unfortunately. It wasn't really most economically, wise decision, so. I grew up there and about, every other week back. When I was about 12 my. Mother would go to the grocery store in the neighboring town and it had in library so she dropped me off at the library and, when. I was there I would get, on the computers. There and access. The internet and I. Remember looking up and seeing the little plaques on all the computers you know this, computer and Internet access donated. By the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And it, was a big deal because we didn't have access, to the Internet on the mountains it was really hard the the infrastructure, was just not that good. You. Had to live within two miles of a copper, phone wire in order to get the internet for a long time and it. Just hadn't reached our area yet so. I would go and for about half an hour every, week I would be at the library and that's, where I learned HTML and. CSS and started, putting, my art online to share with people and that, actually. Turned. Into, by. Hook or by crook a career, in commenting. I made, comics. For teenage girls and, have. One paper coming here. So. I learned. HTML and CSS it allowed me to put my comics online I got picked up by, girl. Calm which was an iVillage site from back in the day if anyone remembers I village sites it sort of like the Teen Vogue, of. Its era because it was all about you know real. Girls real conversations. And I, made, these comics for teenage girls every. Week I had 400,000 chains reading, this comic from all over the world it was, wonderful, it's amazing and my. God I was using these web development skills to, further it like you see this one is printed but the actual comic was, digital if. You wanted to sell that print copy we don't have Etsy, back then we didn't have. Deviant-art. Where you could post your art if you wanted to share something or sell something you had to build it yourself so, if, you wanted to sell. Comic books like that on the Internet, to your fans who are like I would like to buy one of your comics so much please PLEASE, sell them somewhere and you're like well okay if you really want a paper copy uh, you. Had to build like, you go down download, OS, commerce learn PHP install. It on a server and then it looks terrible, so going to learn CSS and, and, make it look even better and, I, was doing that to run newsletters. Doing that to run a shop a community. Site that I'd built in Drupal and it. Was great it was um so. You learned all of the skills for, this to show the comics, you to show the arts and then, now you're using these skills for, actual career, which is I mean study, is amazing it's, hilarious, to me too because when, I was younger I had expressed, an interest in learning game development, and I.
Was Like I would build my own computer games mom and, there. Were no books about development. Or programming, at my library at that time they had computers, but not computer. Books and my. Mother was like I know. COBOL, on assembler you're gonna get impatient with programming, you make one mistake and, everything. Is broken she. Didn't know about winters. So. She kind, of discouraged, me from pursuing, programming. And development encouraged. Me to pursue art, and, drawing. And comics and the, funny thing was I, found. Out that people would pay me so much more for all the programming I ended up doing anyway. Then, I was getting paid to do the comics and it. Turned out I needed to get jaw surgery and, even. Award-winning. Cartoonists. This. Was before Obamacare. Of course too I have. So many nice, things now. Even. Award-winning, cartoonist can't, pay for things like massive, jaw. Surgery on one's face and everyone. In the community tried, real hard you, know they didn't, collections. Didn't have GoFundMe back then either so, we were just using PayPal it was very sweet but in the end I realized I'm, gonna have to stop making comics and start doing something else what. Could people possibly pay, me to do I looked, at my skills and, turned out all the things I was doing to promote the comics, were more valuable than the comics themselves. Using. The Golden Goose to make omelets, just. Discarding. The shells like well you know the important part is. So. That was that was really interesting but, if it hadn't been for that internet access I never would have gotten started and I don't know where I'd be today probably, still in the middle of nowhere that's. Amazing and now you I. Mean, in addition to being a PMI Microsoft, you also do speak, and a lot of conferences and you, just. Have. A wish to publish the book it's, my first not it's, my first technical, book as opposed to graphic, novel or comic book so, I'm super proud it's, someone isn't and mission at work, yeah, it's with a book apart yeah this is not the the, official, right. You have to write download, it on the Internet by the way if you are an MS library, fan I do believe, it is in our system if you would like to read it and you, said it would also be a link, tout to in the show name yes I will show, would put the link in the description, box, can. You tell us a little bit about the book so, what I was doing before I came to Microsoft. I there was a time between comics, and Microsoft, I. Ended. Up getting into animation web animation, and specifically. Like using animation, and interfaces, to create better user experiences. It's, sort of I like to say that animation, rests at the intersection, of development, UX and design and, in any, one of those three if any one of those three sisters, isn't, cooperating, with the other you're going to have problems when it comes to animation, because, you cannot have good, meaningful.
It's An app that, you can scan business cards and go out will find all the information about that person you'll create a contact, for you and, it lets you take notes sort of like your own personal crm, and so, I have this huge dossier, of all the people I meet at conferences, all the people in my life are in there too and, you know like notes about where I met them what the favorite things are these with their children etc and so, anytime I'm getting ready to meet someone I go to full contact I research, them even if I'm lucky I'll put a picture of their face in there and I'll like study it so that I can remember that person and go, in fully, informed. And and being, able to place them in time and space it's. Interesting but not being able to recognize faces means. A lot of other memories are hard to access it'd, be like if you had a relational, database and you didn't have a key and you had to find people by all of this contextual, information so. I use this app to get all this contextual, information ahead, of time so that I can go out and get those records in my memories and get that person sorted, and be prepared to see them it's, really weird it's kind, of hard to describe to people most people just cut me off and go yeah yeah yeah I bet you meet a lot of people and you can't remember them and I'm so you, know just one person I'm like no no you're really important, to me everyone, is really important, to me it's I want, to be able to place you I want to be able to remember all the things that make you important. Makes you better than any other person like I recognize faces but I don't remember names for example I say I bet you remember this or. At least you have an app or you have a framework to, remember, people and I don't even have that because I just I don't. I wish that there were technologies. That would do all this for me like facial recognition on, glasses would be great if I could look at you and just like there'd, be a name and maybe, a couple of hot hot was like tonight point out who you are would be so useful to me most, people are cagey around facial, recognition but. I would also but, there tend, to be less, cagey about voice, recognition I wouldn't. Mind if my my, app would recognize, voices and then whisper in my ear that's, Jamal you. Know her because she interviewed you on channel 9 and and. She was super fun and you had a great time and she used to work in an agency. In Paris and. That. Would be so useful for me so I'm thinking something like that maybe people would be more comfortable with that's. Amazing, but I think maybe you should start. Creating, that thing right you, have you have all the skills mm-hmm. But. You need a constant internet connection today. We're. Hopeful that Microsoft. Hope. You find. Could. Be a little troublesome on the road yeah. Okay. Um actually, I. Love. Your answer it's even better than my question so now I'm just, I don't know because. My next question was what, would be a dream product. You would love to work on but. Do. You have okay let's say an existing. Something. That already have. Been done by. Microsoft, or outside of Microsoft, could be not just a product could be a service could be a company, could be a non-profit anything. I don't. I don't know if it exists, but I always wanted to work on technology. That helps, people in rural areas, I've. Always thought like for. Instance, systems. To alert people to when their cattles are their, cattle is being preyed upon by by. By, wolves it, would be connected to your house so that when your cows exhibit, a certain. Evasion. Evasion. Flow. Because, they they move in a certain way when there's a predator it, would turn on all the lights and set off an alarm to, let you know to go out and intercede, whatever is going down my chickens used to get killed all the time Oh. It's always a fight with the Predators, to try to keep them away from your livestock and you never want to be killing the Predators like you don't want to remove him from the natural way of things but. When life gets hard and they. The raccoons see a chick in there they're like I could. Go get that that would be easy you don't want to have to go out and hurt the raccoons to make them stop so you have to constantly build better defenses, etc, so. That's the sort of technology I'm I'm keen, on is things that let people. Survive. Better on the fringes of society city, living is easy it's when you're out in rural areas, and disconnected.
Where That connection is more important than ever before, so I don't know if I if products, like that exist, but if they did I'd love to work on them I don't know if the product exists but there's a team who's doing something very similar at Microsoft, yeah and it's called affordable, access I'll hook, you it with her so, I already interviewed Melissa check. On the check. One of the interviewers Minister ceci she's one of my friends and she's working in the affordable, access team and, I, think they're doing a lot of things in rural areas, and with I'll. Put, you in contact I don't know if this exists but something similar exists. So, that would be a nice story, to have a nice talk to have with her which is very nice - okay. That's. Amazing. Thank. You thank you very much do you have any advice to. Any person, who's like hesitating. To come into tech since you you, have this journey of transitioning, from I don't. Want to say from art to tech because you're still an artist doing animation. And doing comics. And everything, but. Someone. May be hesitating. To. Just jump into tech what would you what would be your advice. You. Should just do it you. Might feel like I'm not a technical person I won't, be able to understand, it and perhaps it is true that you will never become a database, analyst, or be. Writing C++. For, the GPU but. Most. Of technology. Right now is so abstracted. That even someone with a minimal. Grasp of these concepts, can still do great things and, people, in different professions whether you're a farmer or an artist you're going to have something, wonderful that you can bring that, isn't here already people. Who've invested in tech early and been coached in that area, of their life for a long time they. Tend to be disconnected, from the, needs and once, and aesthetics. Of other kinds of people you still have something valuable to bring so you should bring it the. Best thing you can do is just start by making something that you want find. Out how join. Local meetup ask for. Help if they're good people they will give you help in spades if, they're not good people you should find a different Meetup or find a different group there's. So many especially, like women in tech kinds. Of online, communities, if. You have an internet connection you, can find a place where you belong and where people want to help you express. The, needs and once that you bring to the table and they're going to value all the other skills you bring with you to it's, amazing thank you Rachel for being on gals I put all the links in the description for the book and for your Twitter account and your website thank.
You So much for having me bye. You.