Cloudy days

It’s been cloudy in the city of Austin for a few weeks now, and while this isn’t uncommon for this time of the year, it has been impactful for me as it reminds me of the type of weather we’ll find in Seattle. Why is this impactful to me? Well, my family and I are planning on moving to the Seattle later this year, and I certainly cannot wait for it. Seattle is a city I enjoy visiting, which I have multiple times and during different times of the year. Yes, I am aware that there are many days where the word “overcast” is the standard word coming out of local Seattleite’s weather experts, and I am OK with that. You see, overcast weather makes me feel inspired and creative, don’t know why. Cloudy days have a positive effect on my energy and state of mind. While it relaxes me, it also brings good energy to me and the need to write, read, code, or do something creative like that.

Rainy days are beautiful in my opinion, and I am not referring to stormy weather but those rainy days that if you are lucky you’ll see from time to time, and hopefully you’ll give yourself some time just to see it and enjoy it. I am a coffee drinker, and also like to enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea sometimes. Rainy weather makes me want to drink more coffee and more tea. Drinking coffee is like a drug, and I don’t fight against it, I just enjoy it and to be honest, I just cannot resist it even if I wanted to when it is overcast or rainy outside.

There is also the colder temperature; it is common for the temperature to drop just a bit when it is overcast or when it is raining. There is something about having to wear a jacket or a hoody that I enjoy; it just feels right. And while it might be cold outside, it is far more comfortable to be in colder weather than to have to deal with hot temperatures as we do here in Austin, Texas every summer… and fall.

I don’t know about you, but I usually see more people reading, writing, or just having a conversation with each other in public places when it is cloudy and rainy. Perhaps since the weather is “bad,” people tend to stay indoors and talk to each other more than if it was sunny and warm outside, I don’t know. Also, are you less hungry when it is raining? I am, which is yet another reason I have perhaps more time to read, write, code, chat, or any other activity but eating. I overeat, consistently, and I don’t feel guilty because enjoying food is still one of my favorite pastimes.

It’s been cloudy and rainy in Austin for a few weeks now, and I love it. I think this is the world preparing us to be ready for Seattle weather, or at least that is what I tell myself. Oh, and yes I know Seattle doesn’t get as much rain as other places in this country, but they certainly have a fair share of overcast and rainy days, and I am looking forward to it.

What can you do with Azure Functions? Here’s one example.

Last week I attended a tech conference where I learned about Azure Functions. This new service from Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, is something that got me interested. Microsoft is promoting this new service as a server-less option for simple APIs, triggers, notifications, and anything that you can think of that can be processed by a function, regardless of the programming language used.

It’s worth mentioning that just like with any other cloud service or feature, Azure Functions isn’t the solution for everything. However,  Azure Functions are really helpful in supporting your application without the need to provision a new full-featured API, servers, etc.

In this blog post, I will show you an example of an Azure function that serves as an API endpoint, returning text from a simple call to it. Continue reading What can you do with Azure Functions? Here’s one example.

Create and Deploy a React App to Azure using .NET Core and Azure CLI on Mac


Getting Started

In this tutorial, you’ll set up your Mac to do development using .NET Core and Azure. The tutorial also shows you the new and powerful .NET Core Command Line Interface (CLI) Tools.

After you have installed the .NET Core SDK and Visual Studio for Mac, open a terminal window and type the following:

$ cd /users/

$ cd users/yourusername/projects

$ mkdir samplereactapp 

$ cd samplereactapp

The above commands will do the following: browse to the Mac user’s Projects directory and create a new directory to place the react app that we are about to create.


.NET Core’s Command Line Interface (CLI) is very powerful, it allows you to do a lot without leaving the command line which allows for the simple and fast creation of these projects. Double-check your current directory is the new directory you’ve created, in our example this is samplecreateapp. 

To make sure the .NET Core was installed properly, type dotnet –info in the terminal, you should see output that looks like this:

Once you have confirmed that you have all the needed prerequisites, let’s continue to build the React web app. Continue reading Create and Deploy a React App to Azure using .NET Core and Azure CLI on Mac

Remove Bias Out of Job Interviews

Everyone is naturally biased, but when hiring and promoting people, we want to avoid our bias to eliminate discriminatory actions. In 2016, an article from the Harvard Business Review reported the following:

“When sociologist Lauren Rivera interviewed bankers, lawyers, and consultants, they reported that they commonly looked for someone like themselves in interviews. Replicating ourselves in hiring contributes to the prevalent gender segregation of jobs, with, for example, male bankers hiring more male bankers and female teachers hiring more female teachers.”

What can we do to make sure we hire a diverse team and avoid being bias during the recruitment and interviewing phase? One way to avoid this is to make sure you offer interviews to candidates based on merits and nothing else. A good start is to expand your personal network to increase the candidate pipeline with more women, people of color, and other underrepresented minorities. With a wider and more diverse pipeline, you can then focus on selecting people based on merits and nothing else.

Be blind

We need to be blind to information such as names, age, gender, or any other information that isn’t experience or skills. Companies like Applied, Blendoor, Edge, GapJumpers,, Paradigm, and Talent Sonar offer services to help you remove this information from applicant tracking systems to avoid any sort of bias. These services these companies offer can be integrated with existing candidate tracking applications to remove information that can cause discriminatory actions.

Structured interviews

Being blind to some of the candidate’s information is a good start, but it isn’t the final solution. After the initial process of qualifying candidates based on merit, you’ll want to interview the candidates in person, phone, or a video call. In order to do this and remove any bias, you should have a well-defined and structured interview process. Make sure you ask all candidates the same questions, and in the same order, and encourage the interviewers to rate each answer as soon as the candidate answers the question. Standardizing this process will allow for clear comparisons between all candidates and leave very little room for bias.

Avoid group interviews

Another thing to consider is avoiding panel or group interviews altogether. For once, it is difficult to diversify the interview panel and there isn’t any data that proves that a panel or group interviews result in better hires. People interviewing candidates should be independent of each other to get the benefit of a personal and unique perspective about a candidate. After interviewing a candidate, submit their assessment before meeting with others to discuss the applicant. Individual interviews will allow you to collect multiple data points and different perspectives instead of one data point from a group of interviewers.

Work-sample exercises instead of resumes

Resumes are really not a good resource to determine if a person has the skills and experience for a job. Work-sample exercises require applicants to perform tasks or work activities that mirror the tasks employees perform on the job. Prepare work-sample exercises that candidates can use to demonstrate their know-how. To make these work-sample exercises and its results unbiased, do not include the name, gender, age, race, or any other unneeded information about the candidate.

The above suggestions can help eliminate some of the biases, but it will not stop all of our shortcomings. This isn’t perfect but it is a good start to help reduce our biases which can then lead to discriminatory actions.

Want to learn more and participate in our Diversity in Tech Meetup? Please join our meetup and attend an event if you are in Austin, TX.

Image credit: Gary Waters/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.


Traveling instead of vacationing

If you are reading this chances are that you have the ability to travel. Many people out there, entire cultures even, don’t have the ability to travel, at least not outside of their own country. Think about that for a minute. We have this amazing opportunity to go out and discover new places, new cultures, new people, new food, new perspectives. It is all out there, waiting for us to be discovered.

Travel, not vacation

People who travel beyond popular places like beach resorts and the like are people who understand and appreciate people who are different. It opens up your mind and your understanding of new and different ways of living and doing things. You see, people fear things that they don’t know and don’t understand. When you travel, you become a global citizen and start appreciating the differences between you and other people. It’s hard to appreciate or not be afraid of what you don’t know or don’t understand.

Iceland – 2017

Traveling is all about learning about the place where you are, and you do this by eating where locals eat, visiting the places that aren’t necessarily popular with tourists, learn about the people who live there, about what they do, etc. In my experience, walking a city gives you the best opportunity to learn about it. Walk everywhere and you’ll find the small shops you wouldn’t find otherwise, appreciate the architecture, see how the city runs, etc. I also understand that walking long distances or all day might not be feasible to everyone, use public transportation before you try a taxi or a Lyft, Uber or whatever private car service is available in that city.

But travel is expensive

Traveling requires some money, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot unless you travel as if it was a vacation. Traveling as opposed to vacationing is less expensive. When you travel you don’t need to stay at expensive hotels or any hotel, in fact, staying in a house, a bed & breakfast, or a hostel is usually less expensive and it gives you a better sense of the culture and the people who live in that city. When you stay at a hotel, it’s nice because everything is taken care for you, but what you end up experiencing is the hotel’s culture and what they want you to see and feel. You are in a bubble, and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are there to travel and live like a local, this isn’t what you want. It is commonly more expensive too.

Airbnb in Brooklyn – July 2016

Below are some resources to find places to stay when traveling:

When you travel you want to eat at locally owned restaurants, markets, and also cook your own food. This will save you a ton of money and it will give you the opportunity to taste local food, and usually very authentic too. If you are a foodie, this is an opportunity to discover new flavors, so have an open mind and eat what locals eat.

View from B&B in Florence, Italy – 2014

Another difference between traveling and vacationing is that when you travel you can still do some work and earn money. If you travel abroad and are planning on staying at a place for several weeks or months, try getting a job there. There are many opportunities to work abroad, and a job abroad could potentially cover all your expenses while you are out there.

Below are some resources to find work while you travel abroad if you are interested:

There are many more resources, a simple Google search for finding work while traveling abroad will return many results.

Pack light

We all know that when you go on vacation we should pack light but most of us never do it. In most cases it isn’t a problem as most people have a destination and bringing a lot of stuff isn’t much of a problem. However, if you are planning on traveling and not vacationing, make sure you pack light and that you bring only the things that are absolutely necessary. Think about it, if you are traveling around a country or many countries you’ll be hopping on planes, trains, buses, etc. It is impossible to do this if you bring lots of luggage. Instead, bring the things you’ll need like a good pair of sneakers, a few t-shirts, a pair of pants, and a jacket.

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii – 2015

Think about it, if you are traveling around a country or many countries you’ll be hopping on planes, trains, buses, etc. It is impossible to do this if you bring lots of luggage. Instead, bring the things you’ll need like a good pair of sneakers, a good travel backpack, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and a jacket. Most other things such as toiletries you’ll be able to find almost everywhere you go – unless you are truly traveling to a remote location, then just buy it before hopping on the airplane.

Here is an excellent article from Lonely Planet with detailed information on how to pack light: tips from an expert packer.

That’s it, and by the way, if you need a little bit of motivation, watch Given on Netflix, it inspired me to write this post and it is a great movie/documentary.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

Expand your personal network and be part of the solution

Last week I wrote an article where I mentioned we need more color in tech leadership roles. This was the second of a series of articles I am writing on the topic of diversity. I received a lot of praise for the article but also some unexpected reactions to it, like the example below:


The purpose of that article wasn’t to force or pressure anyone into doing anything they don’t want, obviously.
Oh and by the way, here is the definition of people of color in case another person out there starts making fun of that term again.

Thankfully, most of the feedback I received about the article was positive. And the reason of this post is an answer to a question that has come up repeatedly.

Where do I find qualified people of color for tech leadership positions?

My answer to this question is simple, reach out and build relationships with us, people that aren’t white and with no European parentage, also known as POC.

Hiring managers, executives, and even recruiters are overwhelmingly white women and men, and it isn’t uncommon that their personal networks aren’t filled with POC.

Therefore, while we try to increment the number of POC in these positions, white men and women need to make the effort to expand their network beyond people who looks AND behave like them. Diversity in personality is just as important.

Diversity is important, and it is good for business too! I don’t need to list all the benefits of having a diverse workforce, we all know the benefits. My personal favorites are the variety of perspectives and personal networks you find in diverse environments! Both crucial to be a competitive business in today’s world.

How do you expand your network? Reach out to POC within your organization, invite them to coffee, ask them about their ideas, promote them, make them part of your life. Also, attend events and make it a priority to talk to POC.

I host the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX, and you’ll be surprised by the small number of white men who attend the meetup. We need to increase the number of white folks who attend and invite them to be part of the solution, without them, it’ll be hard to move the needle towards getting more diversity in tech and other areas.

We don’t want to exclude white men from the diversity and inclusion programs, everyone is welcome and everyone is needed for true diversity to take place in tech.

What are your thoughts about this? Think of your personal network and decide if it is time for you to reach out to POC and minorities in general.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

Creating a new .NET Core application using the dotnet command line

.NET Core is a general purpose development platform maintained by Microsoft and the .NET community on GitHub. It is cross-platform, supporting Windows, macOS, and Linux, and can be used in device, cloud, and embedded/IoT scenarios.

This is a simple guide to get you started with .NET Core by creating a simple Web API template using the command prompt. The example below, while simple, it shows how powerful and fluid this platform is.

First, let’s find out if you have the .NET Core platform installed, to do this, just open a command prompt and type the following command:

c:\where dotnet

If you have it installed, the above command will show the path to the .NET Core executable. If it doesn’t show you a path to the executable, then you don’t have it yet and you can install it from here.

Now let’s find out what version is installed, in the command prompt, type the following:

C:\dotnet --version

The above command will display the installed version. If you have an older version, you can get an updated version here.

One you have this platform installed, you’ll be set to create your first .NET Core application. To create a new ASP.NET Core web api, type the following commands:

// Create new directory
C:\>mkdir api

// Go to that directory
C:\cd api

// Create new application using the webapi template
C:\api>dotnet new webapi api

// Restores the dependencies and tools of a project
C:\api>dotnet restore

//Runs source code without any explicit compile or launch commands
C:\api>dotnet run

Once you do this, you’ll have a running web api application. This is what you’ll see in the command prompt:

To edit this application, I recommend you download Visual Studio Code or use any other text editor.

Also, in the example above I used the templace webapi to create a ASP.NET Core web api, but there are many other templates you can use to create different applications:

Template description Template name Languages
Console application console [C#], F#
Class library classlib [C#], F#
Unit test project mstest [C#], F#
xUnit test project xunit [C#], F#
ASP.NET Core empty web [C#]
ASP.NET Core web app mvc [C#], F#
ASP.NET Core web api webapi [C#]
Nuget config nugetconfig
Web config webconfig
Solution file sln

Want to create a new Angular or React application? You can install all the available single page application (SPA) templates using the following command:

dotnet new --install Microsoft.AspNetCore.SpaTemplates::*
Templates                              Short Name        Language       
Console Application console [C#], F#
Class library classlib [C#], F#
Unit Test Project mstest [C#], F#
xUnit Test Project xunit [C#], F#
Empty ASP.NET Core Web Application web [C#]
MVC ASP.NET Core Web Application mvc [C#], F#
MVC ASP.NET Core with Angular angular [C#]
MVC ASP.NET Core with Aurelia aurelia [C#]
MVC ASP.NET Core with Knockout.js knockout [C#]
MVC ASP.NET Core with React.js react [C#]
MVC ASP.NET Core with React.js and Redux reactredux [C#]
Web API ASP.NET Core Web Application webapi [C#]
Solution File sln

Happy coding!

We need more color in tech leadership roles

Last month I wrote about the need of sponsoring more women and minorities in tech. The post was inspired by a tweet from Lara Hogan and it also inspired the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX.

Why aren’t there more blacks and Hispanics in tech? The reason to me is quite simple because there aren’t enough people of color in tech leadership roles. That is why. It isn’t difficult to find people of color who have the skills and passion. However, if you are not involved with blacks and Hispanics, of course, it will be difficult to find them, I grew with them, I hang out with them, they are my friends, they are my family, and I am one of them.

There is also the idea that the problem has to do with not enough black and Hispanic students graduating with tech degrees. This isn’t true. While the percentage of black and Hispanic students majoring in computer science and engineering is lower than that of white and Asian students, the truth is that the number of black and Hispanic students hired by tech companies is much lower than the number of them graduating from college with tech degrees.

Those who enter the candidate pipeline fall out somewhere along the way — and the culture and recruiting methods of tech companies seem to have a lot to do with it. — The New York Times

The issue is that blacks and Hispanics who enter the candidate pipeline, fall through the cracks somewhere along the way. You see, the issue for many of these candidates is the lack of other black and Hispanic people in tech companies. Most people do not feel comfortable being the only one person in the team who isn’t like the others. This also affects women, the number of women in tech jobs is also very low when compared to that of white men.

If companies want to increase the diversity in their teams and want to hire more blacks and Hispanics, they need to do it from the start instead of doing it as an afterthought. For established companies, they should seriously consider hiring blacks and Hispanics into tech leadership positions, it will be an advantage for these companies. You see, as minorities, diversity comes naturally to us. It is what we know, it is our life. When we think of minorities, we think of people who are in fact, the majority of people in our lives.

At the Diversity in Tech Meetups, most attendees are black, Hispanic, and Asian. About half of them are women. And a good percentage have identified as LGBT. There are also people of different ages, from recent college graduates to people who have decades of experience in the workforce. It is a very diverse group.

Most black and Hispanics might feel in disadvantage when they see the small percentage of people like them who work at tech companies. I have felt like that before, but since I don’t get intimidated easily, I have been able to find a small level of success while working in tech. Most people of color don’t feel comfortable working at companies where diversity isn’t embraced, and the numbers are there to confirm it.

This is why we should hire more people of color in tech, and into leadership positions. We want more blacks and Hispanics to feel welcome when they obtain a position in tech. And to help them stay, we have to provide a diverse environment in which they and everyone else can thrive. This is one-way companies can help to start changing their workforce and their culture into something that it is more diverse.

More color, and diversity, in general, is good for business.

Six days in Iceland

Earlier this year my son Ricardo (we share the same first name) and I traveled to Iceland and Copenhagen at his request, for his 15th birthday. Prior to this trip, I didn’t know much about Iceland and very little about Copenhagen. When my son was younger, he used to say that he wanted to become an architect and design and build unique and beautiful buildings around the world. My son has changed his mind since then and his passion is making films and tell stories. Iceland is a magnet for photographers, film-makers, and anyone else who can appreciate open spaces and amazing and unique landscapes. This is the reason my son decided to go to Iceland for his 15th birthday. And Copenhagen was my wife’s idea motivated for my son’s earlier love for architecture and the idea that he would like to live in Copenhagen when he becomes and adult.

We started the trip to Iceland from Austin, TX on a flight to Boston. I found this Icelandic airline which offers direct (and cost-effective) flights from various U.S. cities to Iceland, Wow Air. The best option for us living in Texas was to fly to Boston and then take a non-stop flight to Iceland from there.

The experience flying with Wow Air was surprisingly pleasant. I have used European discount carriers before and while their prices are  inexpensive, the experience isn’t always good. The plane was clean, they included free entertainment (movies, TV shows, etc), and the best of all was the service. The flight crew welcomed everyone with a smile and made sure everyone was comfortable on the plane.

Below is a video my son put together showcasing some of the places and moments we experienced in this magnificent place.

Below are some of the photos I took during this trip, I hope you enjoy them and please let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions about this trip, or anything else. Cheers.

Sponsoring and promoting women and minorities in tech

The other day I saw the following tweet from Lara Hogan and it inspired me to do something about it.

The first thing that came to mind was what is the difference between mentoring and sponsoring, then I read the article, and while its focus is about women being over-mentored instead of sponsored, the article painted a clear picture about the differences between the two.

In short, the idea is that while women and other underrepresented minorities are being mentored more than ever, the number of them being sponsored is still low. Sponsoring within the context of helping them get a job, get a raise, a promotion, funding, etc.

This article and the tweet made me think about ways that I could help sponsor women and other underrepresented minorities to get their foot into tech and succeed in it.

Many years ago I was sponsored by a small business owner in Minnesota who believed in me. At that time I was a young Hispanic man who had just graduated from a technical school, didn’t have any professional experience, and couldn’t even speak English clearly (I am still working on it). This person knew that I didn’t have the experience but he saw something in me, he trusted me and took me under his wing. The way he sponsored me was by hiring me to take care of his small office local area network (LAN), maintaining the computers in it, and taking me with him to see his clients where I learned about the business, sales process, and how the business worked. Within a year, I was writing software, meeting with clients to explain the technical side of the projects, and helping with hiring and other tasks.

By the time I left this job to move to Texas (Minnesota winters are long and harsh), I had developed a few web applications, a couple of desktop apps, and an automated process which helped increase the revenue of this business and it also created new revenue streams and offerings to new and existing clients. I acquired experience and self-confidence. It was a win-win.

Today, while I am not in a position to hire or promote someone, I can help others get more exposure and self-confidence. As an organizer of a meetup group and a techie, I can sponsor underrepresented minorities by promoting them, their businesses, and their ideas with the rest of the Austin tech community.

I think we can all agree that diversity in tech (and everywhere) is not only beneficial for the people in these minority groups of which I am part of, but it is also beneficial for the company and people who work around them. A company who embraces diversity and inclusion in the workplace will have the advantage of having access to a variety of viewpoints, increased adaptability, and new perspectives and ideas.

There are already many organizations and programs to help bring underrepresented minorities to a level where they can compete for a job or start a business. However, there is still a lot of work to do to help them get to the finish line, or near it. Once people gain the skills and are ready to start a business or apply for a job, we can still do something to help them get a job, a promotion, a meeting with an investor, etc.

I can help by providing a framework and a platform for underrepresented minorities to expose themselves, their experience, their ideas, and their businesses. There is also a new list on Github that I created today where people can add themselves, a short bio, and a link to their website, business, etc. The goal is exposure and promotion.

This will at the very least increase their exposure and help them create those connections that are indispensable in any industry to succeed.

This is what I can do today.