Top News Briefs: Timmothy Pitzen Hoax; Chicago vs Smollett; Braam Jordaan To Receive Silver Award in the Order of the Baobab from President of South Africa; 3 Deaf People Start Deaf-centered outdoor space in West Virginia: Lost River Vacations; Interviews with Three Deaf Software Engineers in Bay Area
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Friday, April 5. Ready for news?
Top News Briefs: Timmothy Pitzen Hoax; Chicago vs Smollett
Here are two top news briefs.
The first — the person yesterday who many thought could be the missing boy, Timmothy Pitzen, was not him. It was a 23-year old man, Brian Rini. It was a hoax. DNA testing confirmed he was a different person. Rini was charged with lying to federal agents and he faces up to 8 years in prison.
Pitzen’s family said they would never stop looking for him.
The second news — the city of Chicago wants to force Jussie Smollett to pay a fine of $130,000 for police overtime during the investigation of a hate crime he reported — which police said was a hoax. Chicago also wants him to apologize.
Smollett’s lawyer said this was harassment and that he will not be intimidated in paying the fine, that they would fight back with legal challenges, but that they prefer this matter to be closed and for him to move on with his life.
Braam Jordaan To Receive Silver Award in the Order of the Baobab from President of South Africa
Braam Jordaan, a Deaf South African who is known around the world for his creative talents and advocacy work, will receive a silver award in the Order of the Baobab from South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Jordaan received a letter from the president inviting him to attend the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria with one guest, with all expenses covered by the president’s office. The awards ceremony will be on April 25.
The award is to recognize Jordaan’s “brilliant efforts at raising awareness on the importance of sign language and the human rights of deaf people around the world through [his] colorful spectrum of films and books.”
Jordaan is currently the CEO of Convo Communications Canada. He was a representative for the World Federation of the Deaf and the WFD Youth Section and have done work with the UN.
He is a talented animator and received many awards for his story, “The Rubbish Monster.” His other creative work include Sipho the Lion for a WFD event in South Africa, an animated signing rabbit character for a sign language dictionary in Toronto, and animation work for the “Gallaudet” short film.
Jordaan has also done important advocacy work in responding to the fake interpreter fiasco in South Africa and pushing the Obama White House to caption their videos.
Congratulations to Jordaan for the honor.
3 Deaf People Start Deaf-centered outdoor space in West Virginia: Lost River Vacations
Three Deaf business owners have joined forces to buy 23 acres of land in Lost River, West Virginia with a dream to convert it into a campground with several tiny houses. The land is close to a state park.
The three are Jane Jonas, Shawn Harrington, and Andrew St. Cyr. They told “The Daily Moth” that they are outdoor lovers and were sad that there was a lack of Deaf-centered outdoor spaces in the mid-Atlantic region, so they decided to do something about it.
The land at Lost River was completely wild at purchase. They have created a road and a parking lot, added electricity, drilled for a well, and set up septic.
Harrington, who owns a construction business, has worked with other Deaf craftsmen to build a tiny house. It will be used for rentals in the future. The group hopes to expand it to 8-10 houses for rent.
I asked Harrington why did the three choose Lost River?
Harrington: Why did we choose Lost River? One of our business partners, Jane Jonas, went there for a vacation. She fell in love with the place and told me about it. We each also visited Lost River on our own time. We saw that it was a beautiful, mountainous, retreat-style and quiet location. It was not that far away too! We felt instantly connected with the local community too. They’re very friendly and welcoming. We felt connected so that’s why we picked the city of Lost River.
Alex: The three said the project was done entirely by the Deaf ecosystem. The group has bigger visions for the land and the retreat.
Harrington: Our plan is to add more features and they include collaborating with Deaf project management and trail builders. They would build hiking trails on our land and we have a large swath of land. This is an exciting time for us and also we’ll get connected with Deaf disc golf course builders. They will build a 9 or18 holes course on our land. That’s our next project. We’re pretty ecstatic.
We’re really looking forward to showcasing the LRV because we’ve worked hard for a long time, coming up two years, and I’m really proud of how the three of us built connections with Deaf businesses. We really believe in supporting the Deaf ecosystem.
Alex: The three will have a launch party at a Deaf-owned brewery, Streetcar 82, in Hyattsville, Maryland on April 28 and will start a Kickstarter and an auction to raise more funds to expand the center. If you live in the area, you can attend by RSVPing.
Calvin Young from “Seek the World” will be there and will release a video about their process.
So, the three has turned their vision into reality, and want to go even further with our support. For more information, go to the link in the transcript.
Interviews with Three Deaf Software Engineers in Bay Area
Hello, many of you have either mobile phones or computers and most of you have both of these.
The world is full of websites and services such as YouTube, Netflix and Facebook. What type of people do they need?
Computer programmers and software engineers, which are similar.
They’re responsible for creating code in order to develop applications for our mobile phones and install programs in our computers.
I interviewed three deaf people and they are professional software engineers.
Take a look and enjoy.
My name is Will Johansson. I work for Lyft as an iOS engineer.
My name is Anja Berens. I work here at Yelp on the Release Engineering team.
My name is Allison Weiner. I graduated with a degree in Accounting. Over time, I realized that it was not for me so now, I’m a software engineering student here in San Francisco at Holberton School.
Does Software Engineering require you to have training or obtain a degree?
Well, it depends. Some people will teach themselves. Some people will take a bootstrap class which is like, you know, a coder camp kind of thing or, like I did, go to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and got a degree in Computer Sciences. It varies.
For those people who are considering specializing in software engineering, have just graduated and want to start a career in software engineering, what advice do you have for these people?
My two biggest pointers would be, first, be curious and secondly, be resilient. Be curious because every time a new iPhone is released, with a new version, you have to be curious and learn how these iPhones function, learn how to implement programs and how to write code for these programs which always need to be adjusted. Be curious about that. Secondly, be resilient because sometimes I will get up at 2 in the morning and stubbornly try to solve a problem. I might cry and be stressed out, but I keep moving forward until I come up with a breakthrough. It feels so good to finish.
I wonder how software engineering benefits deaf people.
My feeling is there are two main reasons: first, it’s broadly available to the deaf population. Software engineers make a lot of accessibility tools. Back then, we couldn’t communicate with hearing people. Now we have Video Relay Service, FaceTime, captioning, and it’s all thanks to software engineers. That’s number one. Secondly, for those deaf people who work as software engineers, I feel it’s a huge benefit because software engineers don’t require a lot of face-to-face communication which means less communication barriers. We can easily send each other messages electronically.
I’ve noticed that there are three subfields within software engineering. There’s the front end, the back end and full stack. Would you mind explaining these subfields?
Sure, you are correct. First, the front end means they interact with people using iPhone apps or through web applications. This is user interface (UI) development and that’s the front end. The back end means they try to figure out how things work. For example, the front end for the driver and the rider on a Lyft means they need to be matched up for a ride. How that works is the driver looks for a rider and the rider looks for a driver, right? Each person submits a request and the back end connects those two and sends them a notification of who their driver and rider is. The full stack is really a combination of both. Some people enjoy both. They’re highly capable of working in both capacities and they’re more knowledgeable in how they work so that’s why they call it the full stack.
Many people have told me that the software engineer interview process is really tough. I’m curious about your experience with your interview process.
Yes, it’s tough. My experience here was I submitted a resume then they did a screening and they contacted me for a brief phone interview screening. They asked me simple questions like what a base-2 was. After I answered all their questions, they sent me homework with questions and usually gives you two days to complete. In my case, it wasn’t that bad, it took me about 2 or 3 hours to finish and submit. A few days later, they contacted me and asked me if I wanted to fly onto their site which I agreed to. They paid for my flight and flew me over here then we did an on-site interview.
During the first interview, we started off light by talking about technology like how I would address different scenarios. Afterwards, we would take a break, go to the bathroom or eat snacks then we moved onto the second phase where we used the famous white board and they would ask you how you would solve different problems. I would write solutions on the white board and run your interviewer through the process. After that’s done, we have a lunch break in the middle of four phases. After we eat, we do the third interview where it’s kind of more like, they ask me what I have difficulties with, what my experiences are with these difficulties and how I would address these challenges. After that’s finished, we move onto the last part of the process which is what we call a cultural fitting and that is where you sit down with an interviewer and you kind of analyze their company and they would decide if they’re a good fit and that I’m a good fit as well. I would decide if I’m comfortable with them too. It goes both ways. After we’ve done, I flew back home. About a week later, they reached out to me and gave me an offer.
These software engineers usually work with computers, does that mean most of them work from home?
Well, some companies offer full remote positions, yes, but some companies are stricter and require you to come into the office. Some companies offer a mixture of both. In my case, I usually come into the office, but if I need a day or two to work from home, I can do that.
I wonder why there’s not many female employees in technology-related fields?
I feel there’s many reasons why…but I feel there are three biggest factors. First, based on my upbringing, in school girls usually gravitate towards reading and writing while boys often focus on technology, math and science so of course, they eventually specialize in these fields and there are less women in those fields. Another reason, I feel, is when men rise up in the ranks, they often have stronger networking that is mainly male-to-male which means whenever women try to break through, they have a hard time building camaraderie. Men have an easier time building these connections. Lastly, and this applies to many fields, many women who want to state their opinion are often not taken seriously and cast aside. So, of course, over time women lose motivation because they’re not being listened to. So I feel these are the main reasons.
Ah, now you as a woman must be excited to become a software engineer, right?!
That is all for this week. Thank you for watching “The Daily Moth!” Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light!
Gallaudet University: [gallaudet.edu]