Culture Fit

Outstanding article, written by Mark Luckie, former manager of Journalism and News, on “What it’s actually like to be a Black employee at a tech company“.  It’s completely worth the read reshare.

The most impactful detriment to diversity in Silicon Valley is the idea of “culture fit.” Employees are actively encouraged to suggest friends or former colleagues for open roles. The premise is if the employee and the candidate have a congenial relationship outside of the company, the new recruit is more likely to work well with other staffers. The recommended candidates are given preference or special attention during the recruiting process. It should come as no surprise then that there aren’t more applicants of color to select from.

I’ve always thought the phrase “culture fit” sounded weird.  No one has ever formerly defined “culture fit” and it’s ambiguity can be used to exclude people who are totally different, from a “culture fit” standpoint, entry into a company they’d probably succeed at (or the inverse, people are who are a great “culture fit”, but aren’t successful at all).  The next time someone uses the term “culture fit” in any context, I’d encourage you to ask them what they understand that culture to be.

-> What it’s actually like to be a Black employee at a tech company?

WhereIP

Ever wanted to know where in the world a particular IP address was?  Here you go, WhereIP.  I completed this a few weeks ago, but didn’t get a chance to upload the source code until now.

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Check it out on GitHub -> WhereIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young, Black, and Getting Into Tech

It’s not enough to tell a black youth to work hard and they can realize their dreams. Sure, there are some outliers. What makes the difference though, particularly in technology, is for young black boys and girls to see someone who looks like them building a big company, employing hundreds or thousands of people, or realizing a liquidity event. Without a black Mark Zuckerberg, this is hard stuff. It’s not that we don’t appreciate technology – 40% of 18-29 year old African Americans who use the internet are on Twitter. 72% of all African Americans—and 98% of those between the ages of 18 and 29—have either a broadband connection or a smartphone (1). The difference is that most young people view technology from a purely consumer perspective. The typical 14 year old isn’t wondering who’s on the other side of Snapchat actually making the buttons work. It likely never even crosses their mind that some person actually made these apps – like they just magically appear. Those outside of the tech world probably aren’t thinking about the founding team of an app they’re about to download when they’re browsing the app store. This is especially difficult though for African Americans because there aren’t a lot of Evan Spiegel’s, Jack Dorsey’s, or Kevin Systrom’s to reference when you’re trying to engage black youth in tech.

Bingo.  One of the driving factors in my decision to get into technology (and more specifically, software development), I had someone in my life, my mom, who had a job working with computers.  This meant we had a computer we home and eventually the internet (ie. AOL).  This is an area I should become more involved in.  I’m not a hotshot, rock star computer programmer who just had a billion dollar exit, but I think allowing younger black men and women to see people who look like them in this industry is huge.  Especially if those in the industry give back and/or become mentors.

I’m so happy to see initiatives like Black Girls Code and Intech Camp out there bridging the gap.

-> Will Lucas

Google Play In-App Billing Server Purchase Verification

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My current project, PrēmoFM will feature In-App Billing.  I’ve successfully implemented Google Play In-App Billing v3, leaning a lot on the demo available at developer.android.com.  One major fallback of the example provided is on-device purchase verification (Google themselves recommend against on device purchase verification).  No matter how hard you try, Android apps are easily reverse engineered, allowing hackers to compromise your purchase verification logic.  They could spoof purchase interactions and gain access to IAB protected content and features for free.

I implemented my purchase verification using my Node.js-based API server.  When purchase data is returned from Google Play, I send it to my API server for immediate verification.  Once it’s been verified (or not) a response is sent back to the app, unlocking the content or feature.  Here is, more or less, how I verify purchases in Node.js.  It uses Node.js crypto library.