Firebee Dispatch #1: It begins...


Welcome to Dispatches from the Firebees! This is my first dispatch, so I will probably keep it brief, but I wanted to start getting something out there. I waited in a long line at the post office today to get a PO box for this, so I hope it is worth it.

I am starting up this little dispatch to help fill some of the void left behind when I withdrew from twitter. This medium will not be as instant, but I think the benefit of some breathing room and enough characters for nuance will make up for it. I will still write longer pieces on my blog, but this place will collect the shorter thoughts and link sharing that once lived on twitter.

I hope to publish weekly on Fridays, but it may shift by a day or so when I’m very busy.

More on Twitter

To clarify my “leaving” twitter, I am withdrawing from using it as an active place I contribute content and engage with others. It is not a good place to reach me. However, I will continue to use it sparingly for the following uses:

  • Sharing links to my work.
  • Communicating with friends on my private account.
  • Communicating with people at conferences and other events during the event.

One of the reasons, I decided to withdraw from Twitter was the heavy amounts of harassment and the company’s clear disinterest in doing something about it despite repeated requests from their users. Very little came from them in response to the #AskCostolo hashtag campaign, but this week a celebrity was harassed and suddenly they claim they will step up. I’ll believe it when I see it. ::rolls eyes::

Some people try to excuse Twitter’s lack of harassment protections as a difficult computer science problem. I agree that using natural language processing or other complex analytics to identify harassment can be quite difficult. However, there are things they can do that are reasonable programming tasks. I doubt they are trivial, but the company has plenty of staff and could spend time on these features if they thought it was important. Here are two of my big feature requests for twitter. Maybe if they implemented these, I would consider returning.

  • Prevent someone a person has blocked from engaging with them in any way. One common harassment technique is to repeatedly @mention someone who has blocked you, often in reply to conversations they are having with other people. This often leads to the blocker’s mentions filling with half of a conversation with someone they have blocked. Twitters abuse guidelines suggest ignoring harassers. Provide us with a feature that makes this feasible.
  • Provide options to prevent contact from likely spammers or harassing sockpuppet accounts. There are probably a variety of ways to do this one. One example could be preventing brand new accounts (e.g. less than 5 days old) from tweeting at people that do not follow them. This would make it much less appealing for spammers and harassers to create new accounts because there would be a waiting period before they could become an annoyance or danger to legitimate users.

What I’m Up To

  • I bought an intuos pro tablet and started doing art again for the first time in about a decade. I am really enjoying it and using a different part of my brain.
  • I got mini cards from Moo. Yes, I got cards with "Mother of Firebees" on them because I am ridiculously awesome (or awesomely ridiculous).
  • I will be at Madison Ruby for the third year in a row next week. I am super excited and hope to see a bunch of friends there. I am bringing stickers!
  • I am giving a Speaking at Tech Events for Beginners workshop for Code & Supply in Pittsburgh on September 27th. If this turns out well, I may consider shopping the workshop around to conferences next year.


Comic Books

  • Saga - I just finished reading the first three trades of this comic and am sad that I have to wait a while for more. I love the writing by Brian K. Vaughan and the art by Fiona Staples. If possible, go pick it up at your local comic shop. They can be magical places and often have a hard time competing with Amazon. If you’re in Pittsburgh, I recommend Phantom of the Attic in Oakland.


Did you know that the firebees have their own site now? They do! is the home for my random weird drawings and firebee comics. This is my first time really doing art in 10 years, so try to be kind. I swear it will improve with time.

firebee comic

P.S. There is swag if you have a craving for a firebee sticker. I am hoping to design some tshirts soon.


  • I hear my friend Lauren Voswinkel gave an awesome lightning talk at Cascadia Ruby about pay transparency in the tech industry. I am pleased to hear this being discussed so openly.
  • I was reminded this week that Lego made a collection with woman scientists! I was super excited, and then realized they had already sold out. Someone please remind me when they are back in stock.
  • I will likely duplicate the dispatches on my site because I don’t particularly trust other services to archive my content for me.

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See you space cowboy...