There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

Little Barbie Girls

Rebecca Zook of Mashable penned a curious article, “Why Computer Engineer Barbie is Good for Women in Tech.” Curious, because she proceeds to explain why she feels Engineer Barbies are good for us. How they somehow open our eyes and minds to being more tolerant of women in Engineering. And while her claim makes a compelling sound byte, her view is rather… anachronistic.

I have been in the engineering industry for over three decades. My very first job in this particular venue was admittedly somewhat of a fluke. I met Tom, the director of a cutting edge VR Lab who convinced the MIS manager to create a new position: associate programmer analyst. I admittedly still look back on those days with fondness. Why? Because I suppose I was one of the lucky women who had the opportunity to work with men who were far from condescending or geeky or whatever other negative attribute that society likes to lavish upon programmer types. In fact, they loved their jobs and were more than happy to spend hours explaining to me, the “newb,” the finer points of programming. That, and they treated me as an equal. We were a team. And as such, we worked and played together. On Fridays, we would take an extra long lunch, first stopping off for a quick bite to eat and then hit the local arcade. While I totally suck at video games, it was still fun trying. Of course, this was over 30 years ago, so the really nice graphics were relegated to private research labs, such as the one Tom ran.

Tom was a Caltech graduate and eccentric to the bone. He was also brilliant. It was Tom who introduced me to the virtuality those many years ago. Where we donned rather clunky head gear and gloves that provided feedback when you did things like, lifting a virtual chair. The latter, he explained, was necessary in that, in real life, when we lift or move something, we regulate the force we apply in response to the sensory feedback. In this case, the imaginary weight of the virtual chair.

Those were heady times.

Tom was always involved in various projects, including but not limited to a robotic pogo stick that had problems balancing because the battery that powered the thing weighed more than the pogo stick. Then there was the vacuum tube system for modeling the future of really really fast, rail-less trains. I recall when he tested the latter, first using ice and then replacing that with ping pong balls. Both disintegrated before reaching their destination. That was how fast they moved. I loved hanging out at his lab. His projects were, in a word, fascinating.

But, I digress.

Each of us had little side projects where we coded silly little ASCII games. That was around the time I learned one of the first rules of coding, though it had not a thing to really do with coding. And that was, “save often.” While we did not have revision management systems, per se, the operating system we worked on automatically saved file revisions. Something that even today’s so-called high tech operating systems, for example, Microsoft Windows, does not do. Of course, it wasn’t always code. We often played the instead of watching television. When the 300 baud acoustic couplers were replaced by 1200 baud modems, we were geeks in seventh heaven. Though, we never referred to ourselves as geeks, rather we called ourselves, techno-dweebs. Those were truly the days and I have the men who introduced me to the world of bits and bytes to thank. Why? Because they taught me the love of code. Importantly, they taught me the coder’s ethic.

A couple of years later, I decided to enroll in an electrical engineering program. Even though programming came naturally, I was looking for the challenge. Then again, that is part of my make up, part of who I am. I found that challenge in electrical engineering, physics, and math. During this period, I earned extra spending money by providing math and programming tutoring services. And by my second year, I was offered an honorarium instructor position in the Physics department. By my third year, I was offered a job with Rocky Flats. Though, I ended up turning that job down because I really did not feel like glowing. The job involved testing critical mass and distances of various radioactive materials with nothing but a 5 foot thick concrete barrier between us. So, I went back to my roots and the tech company I started out with. This time, as an electrical engineer. While analog modeling and simulation (i.e., ) had been a mainstay of hardware design, I found my niche by being somewhat of an evangelist for modeling and simulating logic circuits. Of course, the first true object oriented language was Simula. So, by the time object oriented programming had become the buzzword of the day, I was well familiar with that particular paradigm.

But enough meandering and back to the article that triggered this trip down memory lane.

Zook makes some rather interesting observations that I am admittedly surprised remain today. Certianly, back when I began my career path, there were very few women in the field. That was, after all, prior to EEO and right at the tail end of the “Old System Boys network”. While I met my share of male chauvinist and often wondered why the women in the field seemed to think they had to dress, behave, and curse like men (and, well, swagger), I never felt that I needed to denounce my femininity in order to achieve my career goals. Just as I do not see why one needs to do so today. Her most curious claim however is that women allegedly feel they must “tone down their femininity” in order to make it in the world of engineering. Yet, outside of talking about her personal clothing tastes, she does not explain why she equates professional attire to loss of femininity.

As for the doll, consider the mixed messages we are sending our children by lauding a pink laptop toting Barbie. The primary being, our society is reluctant to relinquish the old stereotypes, so we give Barbie a pink computer, pink glasses, and “sparkly leggings,” and call her a computer engineer, while ignoring the unrealistic and sexist body type (which all Barbie dolls embody and which we continue to foist upon our children). At the same time, our media machine goes in a completely and extremely opposite direction by portraying “geeky women” as punk rocking freaks with purple hair. Then again, society portrays predators as Elm Street’s “Freddy,” while wondering why we have a problem protecting our children from the “all american and wholesome looking” boy next door. Not surprisingly, phrenology is making a comeback. Our society is obsessed with looks.

Importantly, we appear to be happy to buy into the fallacy that we can divine another’s intelligence or goodness or badness, by simply gazing upon their countenance. Otherwise put, as long as we continue to place people in little stereotypical packages, nothing will change. Of course, in order to change, we have to truly think outside of a box that few will even admit they’re in. Or, just perhaps our society is satisfied with portraying women as nothing more than “little barbie girls in a plastic world.