Women in Free Software

March 04, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Engineering Meeting

Engineering Meeting The weekly Mozilla engineering meeting.

March 04, 2014 07:00 PM

Geek Feminism Blog

Anchorage Programming Workshop logo

This is a guest post by Coral Sheldon-Hess, a web developer and librarian in Anchorage, Alaska.
She blogs at sheldon-hess.org/coral and tweets as @web_kunoichi.

This post originally appeared on Coral’s blog.

I’ve been rolling this post around in my head for a couple of days, in between attending conference and binge-(re)watching Firefly.

It turns out, I have put a lot of time and effort—and, more importantly, thought—into creating and running a WiT group, so I have a lot to say on this topic. Also, Rebecca Stavick’s post isn’t the first anti-WiT-post I’ve read by a woman (great response to that one, here), never mind dealing with men’s arguments against these groups; so I’ve had time to think through a lot of these issues.

Myth #1 – Meeting as a group of women isn’t valuable in a male-dominated field.

Rosie the RiveterI really liked Eric Phetteplace’s response on Twitter, but I’m going to add a bit, since I have more than 280 characters to play with.

Networking is incredibly important to moving forward in one’s career, maybe especially so in tech circles, where everything moves so quickly and invitations to work on cool projects, or give important talks, depend so heavily on who knows you. So, on the surface, sure, it makes sense to get face time with male colleagues, and nobody is suggesting you shouldn’t.

But networking within a group of women is also incredibly valuable. Take the Merrill Lynch Four, who met and shared information and talked up one another’s work; they all ultimately ended up better off for it. Self-promotion can be hard for women, but promoting the work of other women? It’s easy to do, it’s never frowned upon, and it’s very effective! Also, it’s only possible if you can get into an environment where 1) you’re talking to other women, 2) about work-related stuff, and 3) you won’t be interrupted by men, who are, on average, better at self-promotion and are therefore likely to dominate the discussion.

Myth #2 – Learning with women is less valuable than learning in a gender-mixed group.

I think most people are aware that women have a lower level of confidence than equally competent men, in STEM subjects, as explored in the Fiorentine paper from 1988, comparing male and female medical students. (Short version: women consistently rated themselves lower on every attribute than their equally capable male colleagues.) You can find a bunch of respectable academic citations about differences in teacher behavior toward male and female students here, but I can also tell you, from six years’ worth of personal experience in male-dominated STEM classrooms: women get very little opportunity to talk, even if they are brave enough to do so. Which they aren’t, on average, due to the confidence gap: women report being afraid of asking stupid questions in front of their far more confident male peers, in part because they tend to misinterpret increased confidence as increased competence.

xkcd: How it works (Two male figures: There is also a legitimate concern, when a woman is outnumbered by men in a STEM setting, that anything she does wrong will be extrapolated unfairly out to all women.

Women in a male-dominated environment, trying to learn about a field that’s generally viewed as male-dominated, also suffer from stereotype threat, which is made worse by prominent tech industry assholes (sorry, but he is) who make incorrect sweeping generalizations like “You have to have started programming at the age of 13 to be any good.” That is, as Philip Guo will tell you, total crap.

Do you know how you go about combating stereotype threat for women? Logic dictates—and now a study shows—that female role models are essential.

So, there it is: female-dominated classrooms, with female instructors, are an obvious win, for women learning technology concepts.

Myth #3 – These groups support gender stereotypes by using “dumbed-down language” and female-coded fonts/colors.

Anchorage Programming Workshop logoAt first, I was totally on board with the idea that pink is problematic, which is why we chose a nice, bright blue-green for Anchorage Programming Workshop, with a logo featuring the Venus mirror to try to emphasize the “for women” aspect. Neither of the hosts for the group is overly feminine in our manner or dress, and we didn’t want to risk excluding other women who don’t identify with pink and rounded fonts. “Our group is for all women!” – that was our intended message.

But you know what? We ended up with pissed off dudes approaching our booth at the Anchorage Maker Faire and parents lamenting that we wouldn’t teach their sons how to code. Until we changed our RSVP form, we got guys RSVPing for our events and then not showing up after receiving the email (that went to all participants) emphasizing that “men are welcome, provided they are the guests of female-identified participants.”

I don’t think we’d get as much of that if we had gone with pink. So… I actually kind of respect the other groups’ forethought, on that count.

As for the “dumbed down language” thing, you know what? “Dumbed down” is so very rarely applicable that I propose we strike it from the lexicon. Making something approachable and friendly, so it doesn’t frighten off someone with low confidence, is a good thing! It’s also really hard to do, so, PROTIP: people who have put a lot of effort into making something usable get really angry when you use a phrase that dismisses their efforts and implies that incomprehensibility is a good goal.

Anything written by a competent instructor for an audience of new people will look “dumbed down” (argh) to an expert; that’s sort of the point. If you go look at the intro video and first week of CS50x, a freshman-level CS class at Harvard and online, you’ll see the same kind of language, the same reassuring tone. Because that is the right way to approach an introduction to technology. It has nothing to do with gender.

We do agree on one thing, sort of:

WiT groups—actually, all technology groups—need to do everything they can to be open to people who aren’t “exactly the same” as one another. Most WiT groups are really good about using “female-identified” as their descriptor, rather than just “female,” which is code that they are LGBT-friendly. Most have codes of conduct, which help advertise their commitment to diversity. Some are explicitly for women of color. These are all great! (And already happening, just, you know, for the record…) That isn’t to say any given WiT group shouldn’t work harder to increase the diversity of its participants; I just disagree that gender is the only path to diversity.

I find anti-WiT rhetoric frustrating, because it’s coming from both sides: men feel left out and want to tell us all about it, and women feel compelled to share their knee-jerk reactions to the color pink. Nobody starts with the assumption “This is a valid approach, based on good research and careful plans,” even though that is, in fact, the case. The arguments against these programs are shallow and easily countered, with only a few minutes’ research, yet they just keep coming.

Fact: WiT groups are a benefit to women and to the technology community at large, and their pedagogy and branding are, for the most part, well thought out and well implemented. They are worthwhile, and they deserve support. If you think they can be improved, volunteer to help, instead of tearing them down with grumpy blog posts.

by gfguestblogger at March 04, 2014 04:55 PM

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We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on PinboardDelicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

by gfspamspam at March 04, 2014 02:47 PM

March 03, 2014

Suw Charman-Anderson

Create more than you consume

Hi. My name is Suw and I’m addicted to reading meaningless crap on the internet. 

There. I’ve said it. I have a procrastination problem. It’s a very specific problem, though, because it doesn’t affect my paid work. When a client is paying me to write a report, do some research, or write, I generally have no problem getting my head down and cracking on. If I do have a moment of procrastination, it probably means that I am hungry as a lack of calories often results in my brain switching off, but that’s easily fixed by getting lunch or a snack. 

No, my procrastination problem is most acute when it comes to my creative writing. I try to treat writing as work, so that it gets equal billing in my priorities as client projects do, but it’s not always that easy to convince my hindbrain that what I’m doing — indeed, what I’m doing right now — is making a valuable contribution to my career and quality of life. It doesn’t make me any money, so I find it difficult to put it on an equal footing as the work that pays my rent. But when I am not writing, I’m really quite miserable, so the calculation should be easy: A Suw that is writing is a happy Suw, so Suw should write. Somehow, though, that calculation doesn’t convince my hindbrain one little bit.

The trouble is that writing is infinitely put-off-able, and the internet is full of mildly interesting things to read and, occasionally, useful information that I need to know. It’s also full of people and, as someone who works from home, social media gives me a comforting level of social contact that I wouldn’t otherwise get. Unfortunately, much of that social contact is via random chitchat on Twitter, and Twitter is phenomenally good at piquing curiosity. What was that tweet in response to? Why is this person angry about this link? What funny cat picture lies behind that link? 

It becomes incredibly easy to while away the hours when one is not working by reading vast quantities of stuff that has very little utility, but which sates one’s innate craving for novelty. In fact, as I’m writing this, sitting in an apartment in Sheboygan, WI, without internet access except for via my husband’s iPad, the urge to put my laptop down and pick up his iPad just to see if anything interesting has been posted on Twitter feels almost physical.

The internet has wormed its way into my brain and is eating it. 

Add to this the fact that it’s also incredibly easy to lose one’s writing mojo to insecurity and soon enough you’ll find that months have gone by and you’ve not written a thing. You may even find that you’ve picked up a new hobby to fill the time that you once would have used to write, and are using the fact of that as another stick to beat yourself with. Soon enough, your urge to write might appear to have evaporated completely, and you start to believe that you’re not a writer at all anymore. 

Havi Brooks deals with this latter point most effectively:

There are many ways to know you are a writer, and doubting it is something writers go through, so let’s drop this pain-heavy rule that you must be writing now in order to claim that lost part of you.

That isn’t how it works, it isn’t helpful, and it isn’t the loving spark of truth. Sometimes writing lives in the spaces in between the words. Sometimes the process of not-writing is how you get quiet enough to return to it. Blame about the not-writing make this harder.

Let’s not perpetuate that. Let’s not tell these stories anymore. Let’s not pretend that ASS IN CHAIR is the only answer.

Let’s end it here and now. With love.

It’s a powerful read, and full of truth. But, even if I can forgive myself for my long periods of not writing, that still leaves me procrastinating actual writing far too often and for too long, and my delaying tactic of choice is always to read shit on the internet. No number of hopefully conceived but ultimately doomed New Year’s Resolutions will solve that problem. 

But, just recently, I read the blog post How to be useful, despite your smartphone addiction by Mark Schaefer, and whilst most of the post I can take or leave, one subheading leapt out at me: 

Create more than you consume. 

This. So very this. My resolution to publish a new piece of work per month was, in retrospect, a hard ask because it put artificial pressure on me to complete stories without giving me a sense of where the time to do that might come from. But this edict, to create more than I consume, gives me a clear choice to make. I can read shit on the internet, or I can stop and use that time instead to write. I can binge-listen to multiple episodes of my latest love, Cabin Pressure, or I can eek them out a bit by only listening to one if I have spent half an hour writing first instead. 

Creating more than you consume is not about finding extra time, it is about choosing carefully how you use your time. It’s not forcing me to make a choice between, say, going to the gym first thing in the morning or writing, it’s giving me a choice between doing something that is having an increasingly negative impact on my state of mind and is thus something I should stop, ie reading crap on the internet, and doing something that makes me happy, ie writing. This is an easy choice. Framing it in this way makes it not just easy, but compelling, a choice that will decrease the crappiness and increase my happiness. 

I have no doubt that my implementation of this edict will be prone to stumbles and falls. I checked Twitter four times whilst writing this post, though to my credit I didn’t click on a single link. Making any kind of major change to habitual behaviours is hard, but bad days can be followed by good days, and all you need to do is keep on trying to increase the number of good days. 

by Suw at March 03, 2014 08:58 PM

Mitchell Baker

The Monday Meeting

The Monday Meeting The Monday Project Meeting

March 03, 2014 07:00 PM

March 02, 2014

Donna Benjamin

Panopoly: Magical Mystery Tour

Here's the slides from the Panopoly talk I gave at DrupalSouth.

by donna at March 02, 2014 10:28 PM

Terri Oda

Google Summer of Code: What do I do next?

Python's in as a mentoring organization again this year, and I'm running the show again this year. Exciting and exhausting!

In an attempt to cut down on the student questions that go directly to me, I made a flow chart of "what to do next" :

gsoc

(there's also a more accessible version posted at the bottom of our ideas page)

I am amused to tell you all that it's already cut down significantly on the amount of "what do I do next?" emails I've gotten as an org admin compared to this time last year. I'm not sure if it's because it's more eye-catching or better placed or what makes it more effective, since those instructions could be found in the section for students before. We'll see its magical powers hold once the student application period opens, though!

comment count unavailable comments

March 02, 2014 06:45 AM

March 01, 2014

Geek Feminism Blog

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  • 6 Ways to Scare Off Technical Women From Your Company | Co.LABS: “Are you trying to create more diverse software teams by hiring more women? Here are six things NOT to do during the recruiting and interviewing process.”
  • Astronaut Mae Jemison on interstellar travel: ‘We can’t do this with just half of the population’ | TNW: “Jemison, who is the first African-American woman to go to space, emphasized that, as women become a greater part of STEM education and industries, it’s important for women to be in the room ‘helping to make the choices.’”
  • What Privacy Advocates Get Wrong | mathbabe: “There’s a wicked irony when it comes to many privacy advocates. They are often narrowly focused on the their own individual privacy issues, but when it comes down to it they are typically super educated well-off nerds with few revolutionary thoughts. In other words, the very people obsessing over their privacy are people who are not particularly vulnerable to the predatory attacks of either the NSA or the private companies that make use of private data.”
  • Lean Against: Building an Alternative to Lean In Within Tech | Model View Culture : “To make true progress, our efforts must refuse to construct a harmless straw-men of endemic discrimination: we must name and address rampant physical and sexual violence and harassment in tech, institutionalized racism, systemic barriers to achievement, overt and implicit bias, and the people and systems who benefit from them.”
  • On the Double Standards of Internet Discourse: “Where the double standard comes into play is that many people will remain resolute in their position that any activist, any person who cares about liberation, any marginalized person has a moral obligation to educate any and all people who ask, whever they ask. No one espects this from respondents in tech forums. If someone messes up and they get mocked, few of these people dig in their heels and suggest that the respondents are morally obliged to help them. Instead, they are often chastised for breaking the community standards of engagement (and often will accept this as their due).”
  • I Didn’t Want To Lean Out | Model View Culture: “When a pipeline leaks, we don’t blame the water. We fix the pipe and design the next one to leak less. Why do we blame women who leave STEM fields?”
  • Bad Ally Quiz | Julie Pagano: “The topic of bad ‘allies’ has come up a lot lately. Some people want to know how to identify bad allies. Others want to know if they are being bad allies. Below is a list of common issues in the ever popular internet quiz style to help you determine if yourself or someone else might be a bad ally.”
  • The Importance of the Unlikeable Heroine | Claire Legrand: “These characters learn from their mistakes, and they grow and change, but at the end of the day, they can look at themselves in the mirror and proclaim, ‘Here I am. This is me. You may not always like me—I may not always like me—but I will not be someone else because you say I should be. I will not lose myself to your expectations. I will not become someone else just to be liked.’”
  • Gendered Language: Feature or Bug In Software Documentation? | Model View Culture: “Ultimately, whatever the underlying motivation, when you compare the tacit messaging with the explicit messaging, you can see that these dismissals are false. While the explicit message says that the work of redressing sexism is ‘trivial’ and therefore not worth doing, the tacit message — that is, the sheer volume of responses attempting to establish the ‘triviality’ of anti-sexist conversation — says otherwise.”
  • Meet Terri Conley: The Psychologist With an Alternative Theory of Hookup Culture | NYMag: “Terri Conley’s Stigmatized Sexualities Lab has been producing research that’s the rare, refreshing exception. A University of Michigan professor of psychology and women’s studies, she’s systematically debunking the conventional wisdom surrounding gender, sexuality, orgasm, and desire.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

by gfspamspam at March 01, 2014 02:21 AM

February 28, 2014

Lydia Pintscher

Are you KDE e.V.’s new Event Manager?

Akademy is KDE’s community gathering every year. It is the place and time where KDE gets to meet face-to-face. Where we talk about our work. Where we have important discussions. Where we prepare for crucial decisions. Where we have fun. Where we meet friends. Where we make a difference. Where we plan our next steps for world domination. Or in short: Where things that really matter happen. But such an event does not just magically happen. It takes a lot of effort from a dedicated local team, previous Akademy organizers and many more people. To support the organisation of Akademy 2014 in Brno KDE e.V. is looking to hire an event manager. If you have what it takes to manage an event for a crowd of about 200 charming free software people you should apply. If you know someone who would be a good fit please let them know about this opportunity.

More details about the job and how to apply in the job ad.

ak2013-group-photo

by Lydia at February 28, 2014 06:34 PM

February 27, 2014

Geek Feminism Blog

gfguestblogger

nina de jesus is a digital projects librarian on Mississauga land. Interests include digital preservation, information ethics, and long walks on the beach. nina conducts experiments on her life as performance art in an attempt to resist, challenge, and inspire discourse on #libtechwomen. This post originally appeared on nina’s blog.

The basic notion of the filter bubble is that personalization on the internet (with google search, facebook, etc) creates this individualized spaces where we only see things we already agree with, stuff that confirms our points of view, rather than stuff that challenges us or makes us uncomfortable.

The first and most glaring problem with this idea is that it wholly makes this into a technological problem when it is a social problem.

On the whole, we actually know this. Idioms like “birds of a feather flock together” suggest that we have a very basic, folk understanding that people tend to stick with other people who are like them. This is something that holds true in pretty much every social arena that you care to pick. From the moment we are born, we already exist in a filter bubble. A bubble that is determined by many factors outside of our control: race, gender, class, geography, etc.

Eli Pariser mentions that he is from Maine. Which is one of the least racially diverse states in the US, with 95% of the people in the 2010 US Census reporting that they are white. The fact that he is able to posit filter bubbles as a predominantly technological problem while growing up in one of the most racially segregated and homogenous states in America is… well. Exactly how my point is proven.

The thing is. Say he successfully solves the technological problem. How will this, in anyway, deal with the fact that his home state’s demographics precludes most of the white inhabitants from ever actually encountering a person of colour in real life? Where, arguably, it is far more critical that we don’t have filter bubbles so that we can experience the humanity of other people, rather than just being exposed to facts/articles/whatever.

This also explains why his solution won’t work. As the recent piece about polarization on Twitter demonstrates… Most people don’t bother seeking out stuff that disagrees with them. This is stark on a site like Twitter, where your timeline is still chronological feed, rather than one decided by relevance. You can follow people you don’t agree with, see what they post, etc. But most of us don’t bother. And this isn’t going to change anytime soon and no amount of tech whatever will change it either.

Second. Only the most privileged of people are truly able to exist within a filter bubble.

The other main part of his notion of the bubble is that it is good for ‘democracy’ and ‘responsible citizenship’ for people to be exposed to contrary view points that make them uncomfortable or challenge them.

The fact that, in his narrative, he has to describe how he used the internet, as a youth, to seek out these contrary viewpoints demonstrates, more than anything, the amount of privilege he has as a (presumably) straight, white, cis d00d.

This is a problem I often find with people who are similarly privileged.

Existing in the world as a marginalized person means that there is never a filter bubble. You don’t get protection like this.

And it doesn’t deal with the biggest culprit of filtering: the public education system. This is something particularly relevant given that it is February, Black History month. The solitary month every year where Black people get to show up in history. And we also know that every single time this month comes around, white people complain and ask why they can’t have all twelve months for white history (re: white mythology).

Then we can talk about the media in Canada. About how most of the books I read in or out of school had white men/boys as protagonists. Or how most TV shows, movies, etc. and so on likewise not only have white men/boys as protagonists, but also very much serve to emphasize this point of view as default, normal, unmarked.

I have literally spent my entire life listening to, learning about, being exposed to ideas, thoughts, worldviews that make me uncomfortable and that I do not agree with.

Instead of having to expend effort to find stuff that disagrees with me, I’m always on an eternal search for information that agrees with me. As soon as I was able to access the internet, visit the library on my own, have any amount of agency and control over the information I consumed, I have been seeking things that let me know that I am a human being. That I (and people like me) actually exist. That we live, breath, have adventures, have a history, that we have fun, that we are sad — just that we are human. That we exist.

Last, what are, precisely, the viewpoints that disagree with me or make me uncomfortable?

On the first pass, I’d say it is probably the points of view of the people who shout things like “ft” “chk” or “t**y” at me when I’m moving around and existing in public space (so happy that these people are excersing their good democratic citizenship by treating me to their challenging viewpoints in public!).

What does this mean for the internet?

Maybe it means reading sensationalized and dehumanizing stories about the death of a trans Latina, Lorena Escalera from notorious liberal/left media news rag, the New York Times.

Maybe it means reading an imperialist post when I’m just trying to learn about Ruby.

Or perhaps seeing something about how because some men are sexual predators, trans women deserve no public protection or acccommodatons.

Does it mean that I should spend my time reading the content at stormwatch or Fox News?

Or maybe it could mean that the internet is one of the very few places I have any real amount of control to filter out these points of view so that I can find people who agree with me. People I can build community with. People I can rant to/with. Find support for things that most of the world refuses to support me for.

Because, at the end of the day, I do, in fact have to live in the real world. The world where (this was me yesterday at Ryerson) I have to spend 15 minutes looking for a gender neutral washroom (and another 10 waiting for it to be unoccupied) because using either gendered washroom makes me uncomfortable and feel very unsafe. The world where if I want to regularly watch TV shows with PoC, I have to watch them in languages I don’t understand. Where I get stared at all the time in public — which does nothing to help my agoraphobia. Basically the world where — almnost my entire life — I’ve felt unsafe in most public spaces.

But, hey, filter bubbles, amirite?

by gfguestblogger at February 27, 2014 04:00 PM

February 26, 2014

Lydia Pintscher

Dinner with the KDE e.V. board?

The board of KDE e.V. and a number of other KDE contributors are going to be in Berlin from 21st to 23rd of March for an extended board meeting. We’d like to meet up with KDE contributors and users as well as other Free Software contributors for a dinner. This will be on the 22nd. If you’re going to join please let me know by email (lydia at kde org) within the next week so we can reserve enough space.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

by Lydia at February 26, 2014 11:46 PM

Helen McCall

What makes me want to work in the Ubuntu Community?



My beginnings in Linux

In 1995 I was a scientist developing methods for automated visual identification from digital video images. I became aware of something called Linux that a few dedicated hackers were developing. So I built my first PC out of the remains of several broken machines that people had thrown away, and tried out the first distributions; ygdrazil and Slackware. Installing packages was very troublsome because I had to download tarballs at work and split them across many floppy disks. Then I found someone called John Winters who was setting up what he called the Linux Buyers Consortium (LBC) to import linux CDs from the USA into Britain. I joined LBC and got some CDs and installed Debian version 1. At last I had a useable Linux workstation! For the next few years I offered support and advice on the LBC discussion list (email) in Britain.

How I came to Ubuntu

I switched from using Debian to using Ubuntu in 2004 for the simple reason that the development cycles were shorter and so I could keep my computer up-to-date with stable versions much more easily. For the next few years I used Ubuntu for all of my Community Theatre, and Community Circus activities. Script writing and producing all the planning documents for directing in the theatre, using LaTeX. And composing music for physical theatre and contemporary circus, using Lilypond.

My Need to Contribute

This year I began a major film-making project for our circus troupe developing videos for training, and videos of our artistic productions. These needed to be fully professional.

I tried all the video editors I could find which ran on Linux, and was sorely disappointed in what I found. The only one I found which could produce anything matching any of my requirements was kdenlive, which I used to produce my first promotional DVD. However I couldn't get kdenlive to do anything useful with HD video.

Then this summer I found a reference to something being developed very rapidly called OpenShot. I gave this a trial, and very quickly realised it had an enormous potential. Acting on advice from the author of OpenShot, Jonathan Thomas, I wrote and contributed some Project Profiles which allowed me to edit in full HD 1920x1080 resolution, which is what I so desperately needed. OpenShot was still lacking some major functionality, but my experience with contributing my tiny bits made me realise that if I offered to help the team, this would speed up the process of getting what I needed - a fully professional HD non-linear video editor working on Ubuntu.

I explained to Jonathan Thomas that my programming skills were very rusty, but that I could help with documentation and producing a Help Manual using Gnome Help, and also help out with software testing. I was very quickly welcomed onto the OpenShot Development Team.

Since then I have been doing an awful lot of software testing, whilst producing my HD videos for our circus troupe. And doing a lot of bug management and answering questions, and helping with translations. I have been struggling over the production of the Help Manual. Mostly because my best friend died a few weeks ago and this left me feeling less than perfectly creative. The other reasons were that I needed to learn how to produce .deb packages for Ubuntu so I could produce a good openshot-docs package fully compliant with Ubuntu and with the Gnome Documentation Project (GDP), and also I had great difficulty trying to discover how to get my Gnome Help files to be properly indexed by the Gnome Help software yelp. Another problem was that Jonathan was updating OpenShot so fast that my screenshots were becoming out of date before I had even written the annotation for them! :-/

Last week I started to get my creative mood back again. I joined Ubuntu Women. Suddenly I had access to really useful help in solving my problems. The first problem solved was how to get my help files properly indexed by yelp when my openshot-docs package was installed. Without this you couldn't find my help files by searching in Gnome Help. Now I understand the .omf files and what they are for ;-)

I am also getting very useful help from Ubuntu Women on producing .deb packages for Ubuntu, and I have started refining my openshot-docs package, and I am also building a .deb package for the Creative Commons package cc-publisher to submit to Ubuntu. I have also joined wikipedia and I am regularly updating the OpenShot page there.


My next step with Ubuntu will be to try and become a full Ubuntu Member. :-)



by Helen McCall (noreply@blogger.com) at February 26, 2014 10:34 PM

Mitchell Baker

Rust Meetup February 2014

Rust Meetup February 2014 David Renshaw talks about Cap'n Proto in Rust, Steven Fackler about macro export, and Kevin Cantu about testing.

February 26, 2014 04:00 AM

February 25, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Engineering Meeting

Engineering Meeting The weekly Mozilla engineering meeting.

February 25, 2014 07:00 PM

Rust Paris Meetup February 2014

Rust Paris Meetup February 2014 Parisians gathering to share knowledge, learn about Rust and contribute to existing projects or to the Rust project itself.

February 25, 2014 06:00 PM

Compcast 1: Reviewing screenshots, reporting bugs

Compcast 1: Reviewing screenshots, reporting bugs An introduction to reviewing screenshots and reporting site compatibility bugs.

February 25, 2014 06:47 AM

Geek Feminism Blog

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  • 7 Disney Princesses My Daughter Wishes Existed | cecilyk on babble (Feb 21, 2014): ”Like so many 7-year-old girls, my daughter is utterly obsessed with Disney Princesses. [...] But because I’m a feminist, I annoy my daughter by having long discussions with her about the way Disney portrays women and how she feels about it. [...] she also longs for a princess that is more, well, like her. So we sat down together, and she gave me a list of what she would love to see in a Disney Princess. Take note, Disney!”
  • What I learned while editing Wikipedia | Noopur Raval on opensource.com (Jan 27, 2014): ”My work with the Wikimedia Foundation and editing Wikipedia has helped me take a hard look at myself as a woman of colour from India in technology. [...] The question I ask myself now everyday is whether merely enabling access through infrastructure and providing free platforms like Wikipedia can help us resolve uneven digital geographies created in the process.”
  • Software Engineering Made a Woman Outta Me | Jennifer Gilbert on Medium (Feb 18, 2014): ”When I decided to learn to code, I knew I was entering a male-dominated field. But I considered that challenge far less worrisome than, say, taming the black magic of recursion. [...] And yet, the day I became a software engineer, I became a woman. It was a lonely moment. My dad wasn’t even there to awkwardly hug me before yelling for my mother and excusing himself to Any Room But This One. [...] The biggest tomboy alive can suddenly feel like Programmer Barbie if her surrounding context is male enough.”
  • debian women – MiniDebConf Barcelona 2014 | DebConf (2014): ”On the 15th and 16th of March, Barcelona will host a Mini DebConf with both talks and social events, to which everyone in Debian is invited but the speakers in the talks are all people who identify themselves as female. We consider this important to: Encourage women who haven’t yet given their first DebConf talk; Provide role models for women who are interested in contributing; Debunk the myth that there are not enough women who can give talks in DebConf. The idea behind the conference is not to talk about women in free software, or women in debian, but rather to make discussion about Debian subjects more inclusive for women. [...] We are still raising funds to cover the costs of running the conference and to offer travel sponsorship to people who cannot pay for it. Please, consider donating any amount you can, everything helps!”
  • Rubrics Like the Bechdel Test are a Start, Not an End | s.e. smith (Feb 14, 2014):
    “The obvious question you have to ask after applying it is ‘why did it pass (or fail)’? You can point to specific scenes, or lack thereof, that helped a film or other piece of media meet the standard, and you can note shortcomings of the Bechdel test; for example, if a piece of media is a solo performance by a woman, it’s going to fail, but does that mean it’s necessarily sexist? If a movie passed, does that mean it’s not sexist? Two women talking to each other about something other than a man in a piece of media don’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t contain sexist stereotypes or other problems.”
  • Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction | Aja Romano on The Daily Dot (Feb 15, 2014): ”A conversation on a science-fiction forum this week revealed a section of the community that’s teeming with indignation about recent attempts to make the genre more progressive. [...] But these days, the sci-fi community is an increasingly large, public place. And with the advent of instant communication across the Internet, more voices are coming to the table and speaking out”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

by gfspamspam at February 25, 2014 02:00 AM

February 24, 2014

Stormy Peters

Use your vacation to do good in exotic locations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kids on Computers is planning a trip to the Huajuapan de Leon, Mexico area in June. If you can, please join us! If you can’t, please consider donating to help the labs we’ll be working on.

Most of us will be going down for a week or so. There are travel stipends available for those willing to spend a month helping in the area.

What could I possibly do to help? I ask myself this every time I go. Especially since I usually drag my kids along. Here are the things you can help with.

  1. Technical skills. If you can plug in computers, troubleshoot basic hardware problems, install Linux on lots of different kinds of old hardware, figure out why a mouse isn’t working, any of those things, you’ll be very much appreciated! We have to have at least one Linux guru on every trip. The rest of us follow directions. Upgrading 20 old computers in a school with no internet can be a long, manual process; it goes faster with more hands.
    IMG_2154
  2. Language skills. This trip is to Mexico. A large majority of the volunteers will not speak fluent Spanish. None of the kids and teachers in these schools will speak much English. If you can help translate, that’s a huge benefit. Not just when setting up the labs but when figuring out where to get supplies or going out for dinner. And if you don’t know the Spanish words for technical gadgets, it’s sometimes a really funny experience, especially when you’re not sure what you are trying to describe might look like. I’d never used ethernet crimpers until a trip to Mexico.
  3. Teaching skills. When we teach a class, we like to have lots of helpers. Helpers to show people how a mouse works, how to double click and how to change windows. Often neither the kids nor the teachers have used a mouse or a keyboard before, much less opened an app or saved a file.
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  4. Logistical, herding cat skills. When you have 4 or 5 schools you are trying to work with, all spread out in different towns and 8 or 10 volunteers with different skills and you need a Spanish speaker with each group and someone who can figure out why the network is down in this school and someone who can update Linux on 4 laptops in another school … you need some logistical people. People who can help track who is where and what needs to be done.
  5. Documentation and note taking. We have all sorts of things we should and try to document. What computers are in which school? What’s installed on them? What finally worked to get Linux installed on that computer that had no USB drive? What should we bring next time? What worked in that class? What didn’t? What apps did the kids use the most? Every evening we try to spend some time working on this, but having someone dedicated to documenting what we’ve done, what works and what still needs to be done, who could do it while we are at the schools, would be great.
  6. Errand runner, make things out of paper clips person. We are always missing something, short something, need something. We soldered ethernet cables at one school! After stringing them across a road!
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Besides just logistical efforts, there’s the benefit to you and what your support brings to the area.

  1. Support local efforts. I recently read this effort that said international volunteers are often just in the way. I agree, that sometimes local resources exist and if they are there, you should use them. In our case, I think there are very few people with technical skills in the little towns we go to. We do try to pull in local university students and technical people whenever possible. And we have to go back frequently, because going once, setting things up and then leaving isn’t helpful. They get new teachers, forget passwords, computers break. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    With the travel grants, we hope to get local university students from nearby towns involved. But the other major benefit of bringing in outside people is that you get local people excited about it.When we set up 18 de Marzo, because we were there, we were able to bring in local media, the local school district, the mayor … because we visited the school, the school got more interest from local supporters.
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Unfortunately, they still don’t have internet access nor an accessible high school. But they do have a super involved parent organization and a full time computer teacher funded by student families!
  2. Spread the word. If you go on vacation to Huajuapan de Leon, you’re going to have the experience of a life time. And you are going to share your pictures and stories with all your family and friends. A few of them may join us next time. Or donate. Or just be more aware of the world.
  3. Spread your horizons. I take my kids so that they can see that kids have fun without Xboxes. They have a blast playing soccer and making new friends. And, yes, they did find the only arcade machine within miles. In the back corner of a little tiny store tucked away on a side street.
    IMG_2172

What to expect?

  1. It’s slow. Most of us are used to scheduling every minute of our time and being as efficient as possible. It doesn’t work that way on a volunteer trip to rural Mexico. Just getting there takes a while. We fly down to Oaxaca, spend the night. Walk across town the next day, get a van ride, drive through the mountains, walk to our hotel. Work doesn’t start until 2-3 days after you leave home!
  2. It’s not perfect. This is a volunteer run trip. And each trip presents different challenges. And not everyone has phones. Almost no one has internet. Getting from school to school means coordinating rides, arriving to find out they weren’t ready for you or the teachers were on strike, figuring out what equipment you need, what some of you can do while a couple of people drive all the way back to town to buy as much ethernet cable as they can, waiting around while your most seasoned Linux guru figures out why the installs aren’t working, … if you enjoy the people, what you are trying to do and use the time to get to know each other and the schools better, it’s great. If you came just to do technical work, it’d be frustrating.
  3. Friendly people. The other volunteers and especially the teachers, families and students are awesome. Everyone is appreciative, helpful and outgoing. Just super. The parents usually feed us. Lots of people give us rides. Some people open up their houses. My kids make friends everywhere. Terrific people.
  4. Not completely modernized. We stay in Huajuapan which is a decent sized small city. It’s got lots of restaurants and a few hotels. Grocery stores and mobile phone shops. And the water is often not hot. And the sidewalks can prove challenging. You might end up riding in the back of a pickup truck. Or walking a long ways in very hot, humid weather. On the good side, there’s no McDonalds and all the little shops are very interesting and very reasonable.
    IMG_20110529_164410
  5. Beautiful. The area around Huajuapan de Leon is gorgeous mountainous country side.
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  6. Pretty inexpensive. Airfare is a bit pricey but after that it’s not expensive. Hotel rooms run $10-40/night. Dinners might run $3-15/person depending on what you decide to eat. So you can stay there pretty inexpensively. The van ride to Huajuapan is so cheap, I can’t figure out how the price of the ride from Oaxaca can cover gas. I spent a good hour of the trip doing math in my head and I have no idea how they are making a profit. Cabs around town are just $1-2, but cabs out to the other towns where are labs are can be quite pricey. (The cab drivers are friendly though. Avni and I took a cab out to Saucitlan de Morelos once and the cab driver was not just worried about leaving us there when we couldn’t find our friends, he was worried about the whole town because they had no phones and no cell service!)

So should you come? If any of that sounds fun, absolutely. We need you and you’ll be doing good in the world while having fun. If you can’t, no worries. If possible, contribute to some cause to make the world a better place. You can donate to Kids on Computers! :)

by stormy at February 24, 2014 08:54 PM

Lydia Pintscher

GSoC 2014: Work with KDE this summer!

Google Summer of Code 2014 logo

KDE has once again been selected as an organisation to mentor students as part of Google Summer of Code. I’m really looking forward to working with amazing students again. We have awesome mentors and exciting ideas lined up. So if you’re a student and want to work with KDE this summer you should have a look at our ideas list. If you have questions you can come to our IRC channel #kde-soc on freenode or send an email to the mailinglist kde-soc@kde.org.

by Lydia at February 24, 2014 07:26 PM

Mitchell Baker

The Monday Meeting

The Monday Meeting The Monday Project Meeting

February 24, 2014 07:00 PM

Geek Feminism Blog

gfguestblogger

This post is by a guest blogger who wishes to remain anonymous.

I recently received an invitation to attend a guest lecture in my research institute entitled: “Tits struggling to keep up (with climate change)”. Is this funny? Is it a clever pun? Is it sexist? Is it insensitive?

I have seen many cases of scientists trying to make their topics more inviting with a ‘sexy’ title to a paper or talk, and, if followed through properly, it can be a very effective way of engaging an audience who might otherwise be bored by the topic. This example, however, does not qualify in my mind as an effective tool for communication. Instead, I would say that this is exactly the kind of lazy title-tweaking that makes up some of the subtle sexism that continues to pervade the higher education research environment.

I call this lazy for two reasons: first, because it cashes in on the sexist structures which are widespread in our society, and the assumption that simply linking an idea to female sexual organs will be enough to make it interesting to the masses; second, because in order for a ‘sexy’ title to be truly effective, it needs to be placed in the context of a larger theme within the paper or talk, which will continue to highlight the ‘fun’ side of the research while presenting the relevant data. I hardly think that the presentation is peppered with pictures of the breasts of aging women instead of birds.

Recently it was mentioned to me by (male) senior members of staff that the institute is trying to encourage women to enter and remain in research. So, a female colleague and I discussed the sexist/insensitive attitude of the title and decided to comment. The institute’s response? “There is no pun.”

Now, I find this hard to believe, considering the construction of the sentence. If there were no pun, the use of parenthesis would be unnecessary. However, it is just barely possible that the scientist in question has a poor understanding of parenthetical usage. It is also possible that the title was meant as a joke, which we were meant to find mildly amusing, and enticing enough to attend the lecture.

In the end, it doesn’t matter; whether the title was meant as an ‘inoffensive’ joke, or was simply insensitive, these are the small pin-pricks that jab at female scientists on a daily basis. To be reminded that your worth as a human being, in a societal context, is still largely based on your appearance and adherence to strict sexual and social norms, despite your ground-breaking research, and to have this happen while you are at work, and to be expected to laugh at this reminder, rather than mention how unwelcome it is, is not acceptable. It is this laziness and this insensitivity that subtly reminds women of ‘their place’ in even the most prestigious labs and universities.

by gfguestblogger at February 24, 2014 04:00 PM

Terri Oda

Wantable Intimates Box, January 2014

This is my favourite wantable box so far!

Let's start with the boring and work our way up:

Wantable Socks - Color: Black



Wantable Socks
Wantable, your system isn't so good with colour, is it? Pretty sure that's not black.

These are a cheaped out part of the box, for me. I could buy these at the drug store for probably $3.99 or less, so the claimed $6 by stamping a wantable brand on the tag is pushing it.

That said, they're kind of cute neon socks. I'm not a huge fan of short socks since I've moved out of the desert and have discovered that short socks often result in damp ankles, and I hate damp ankles, but I'll enjoy these when I'm not leaving the house, anyhow.

Hiding the more intimate parts for those who might not want panties showing up on their feeds... )


PACT Navy Bandana Camisole



PACT camisole

I love love love this piece. It fits me perfectly, has a bit of runching in the front so it sits properly on my boobs, goes down to my hips, it's soft, and it even claims that profits of the sale went towards urban garden projects. How cool is that?

My only complaint is their flavour text about the organic cotton, which I'm too lazy to look up right now but it included something like "it's certified organic, which means no harsh pesticides" FAIL. Certified organic means a restricted set of organic pesticides, not no pesticides, and many of those organic pesticides are plenty harsh and dangerous.

20140210-IMG_0937.jpg

Mis-information aside, PACT seems like a pretty cool company. They're a bit hippy-dippy, but they claim to be sweatshop-free and their prices are reasonable, so I'm willing to give them a bunch of money. The hard part is in deciding what I want and how many tank tops I can justify buying at once...

Claimed value: $28 (Actual value: Originally $30 on PACT's website, but currently marked down to $12)

Summary


Lots of winners in this box, and only one pair of panties that was annoying. I discovered a new brand which I like, even if they don't understand what certified organic means. I am pleased!

... which is just as well, because February's box is so underwhelming that I may return it entirely. Stay tuned for pictures!

comment count unavailable comments

February 24, 2014 10:16 AM

February 21, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Firefox Marketplace Planning Meeting

Firefox Marketplace Planning Meeting A bi-weekly planning and status meeting for the Firefox Marketplace.

February 21, 2014 06:00 PM

Geek Feminism Blog

gfspamspam

  • Being Trans in the Tech Industry | Brook Shelly on The Toast (Feb 7, 2014): ”For trans women that choose to not disclose their history to employers, coworkers, or even the world at large – which is our right – we face the struggle of speaking up that might force our hand on disclosure. If I call out or discuss something transmisogynistic, do they see me in a different light? At what point do I become safely “othered” in their mind?”
  • We Know Tech Companies Are Sexist, But This Is Horrifying | Mark Gongloff on The Huffington Post (Feb 5, 2014): “Please first take note of the breathtaking lack of women in executive positions across the entire corporate universe. But then look at just how much worse things are in Silicon Valley: Nearly half of the SV 150 companies have no female executives at all, while 84 percent of the S&P 500 manages to have at least one. That is an astounding number.”
  • Black Canary is a Totally Bisexual Superhero on “Arrow,” Kissed A Hot Lady On TV Last Night | Mey on Autostraddle (Feb 6, 2014): ”In the latest episode of the CW’s show Arrow, “Heir to the Demon,” one of the main characters, Sara Lance, also known as the superhero Black Canary, came out as queer. She’s the first superhero from one of the two major companies (DC and Marvel) to be visibly and explicitly queer on either television or film.”
  • These Women Are Building The Software That Quietly Runs The World | Julie Bort on Business Insider Australia (Feb 10, 2014): ”we asked the Linux Foundation, the granddaddy of all open-source projects, to give us a list of stand-out women doing fabulous work. [...] So, here’s our list of women with awesome careers working on Linux, the tech that’s quietly running the world.”
  • Sunday Reflections: Time to Not Be Nice | Christie on Teen Librarian Toolbox (Feb 9, 2014): ”Girls (and women) do not need to be ‘friendly’ on the internet. We need to be intelligent, coherent, sound, passionate, and LOUD in our voices, our passions, and for our beliefs and for our rights. We need to stand up for the right to control our bodies, no matter whether it is to have children or not, no matter whether it is to have sex or not, and to have the right to choose WHEN and WHERE that encounter is. We need to be able to have the voice to say NO when we don’t want something, no matter if it’s a hug, a glance, someone calling us honey or sweetheart, or even a slice of cheese on a hamburger.”
  • Women who program aren’t unicorns | Julia Evans  on Medium (Feb 10, 2104): ”I know so many women who code now. A ton of the people I follow on Twitter are women and the people I talk to about programming are largely women. I feel surprised when I go to a meetup and it’s all men, because it’s no longer the community that I’m used to.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

by gfspamspam at February 21, 2014 02:00 AM

February 20, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Community Building Forum

Community Building Forum The Grow Mozilla Community Building Forum

February 20, 2014 06:00 PM

Suw Charman-Anderson

Adobe Creative Cloud subscription warning!

If, like me, you’ve signed up for one of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscriptions under the assumption that because you paid monthly, after the first year the contract was also monthly, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Your subscription is yearly and if you cancel at any point, you will pay a penalty fee 50% of the monthly fees still outstanding.

I signed up for a subscription to InDesign on 30 July 2012, and thought that the contract was a year long, with monthly payments and after the first year a monthly rolling contract. That was not the case: When it automatically renewed in July 2013, it signed me up for a new one year contract, with penalty fees for early cancellation. So even though I paid monthly, the contract was annual.

That’s not a subscription or a membership – they use both terms to describe it – in my opinion. That’s a yearly renewable contract, and it should be described as thus, and the penalty fees much more clearly and prominently described. There are no mentions of the penalty fees on their membership plans page at all, and there’s no mention of penalty fees in their yearly renewal email either.

The first I heard of these penalties was when I tried to cancel my account this morning, and was forced to talk to a “customer service” agent via chat – there is no other way to cancel your account. This is the relevant bit of the conversation:

AdobeJust to confirm, you would like to  to cancel Creative Cloud single-app membership for InDesign (one-year) purchased on 30-Jul-2012 with order #: [redacted]

Suw Charman-Anderson: yes please

AdobeThank you for confirming.

AdobeSuw, If I offer you the next month free subscription, would you be willing to continue the subscription and to avoid the cancellation fees?

Suw Charman-Anderson: no, because I have no use for this software for the foreseeable future.

AdobeThe annual plan you enrolled in offers lower monthly payments and requires a one-year commitment. This plan is ideal for someone with an ongoing need to use Adobe’s Creative software.

AdobeIf you decide to end your subscription before the one-year period is over, you no longer qualify for one-year subscription pricing.

Suw Charman-Anderson: i don’t have any need for your software.

Adobe: You will be billed at 50% of your monthly rate for the remaining months in your annual contract. Hence, you will be charged Subtotal:35.75, Tax:8.22,  Grand Total:43.97 .

At this point, I got very cross, although politely so. I had no clear warning that there were penalties in the renewal email or when I signed up, though I am now sure that it was buried somewhere in the bottom of the Ts&Cs. These kinds of sharp practices are relatively rare in the UK and Europe now, thanks to strong consumer protection laws, so I’m not used to having to look out for them.

But Adobe is quite happy to sting you with unethical small print, although I can’t understand why they would do so. Why make it difficult for you to cancel, and then rub salt in to the wound by slapping penalties on top of inconvenience?

If I could have subscribed and unsubscribed easily, as and when I needed the software, then I would have done that, probably indefinitely. As it is, instead of having a loyal customer who’ll give them money relatively regularly for the rest of her working life, they now have someone who feels ripped off and determined to never give them another penny, and make sure other people know the risks of a Creative Cloud membership.

Instead of creating an evangelist for their products, they’ve alienated a previously loyal customer. I will be searching for alternatives to InDesign, and will give another company my money. I’m not averse to paying for good software, but I’ve never been able to afford Adobe software. I thought the Creative Cloud was a way to be able to access really awesome software at an affordable rate, but no, it’s just another way for Adobe to treat its customers like shit. Well done Adobe.

If you’d like to help me recoup the money I’ve lost to Adobe, please buy one of my books from the sidebar! Ten copies of A Passion for Science and I’ll break even on my penalty fee!

UPDATE: It seems that if you scream loudly enough on social media, Adobe will refund the penalty fee. I have told them, though, that they need to be much clearer in their communications about penalty fees, though I bet they don’t change a thing. Instead, if this happens to you, make sure you take to Twitter and kick up a fuss.

by Suw at February 20, 2014 04:55 PM

February 18, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Engineering Meeting

Engineering Meeting The weekly Mozilla engineering meeting.

February 18, 2014 07:00 PM

Terri Oda

Book review: Cress

Cress (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
Cress (Lunar Chronicles)
by Marissa Meyer

This is book 3 of the Lunar Chronicles, which started with Cinder and continued with Scarlet.

This is a sci-fi series with characters inspired from fairy tales. Some of the big moments are there, and the motivations (Scarlet, for example, is looking for her missing grandmother), but for the most part the characters are their own. If you like princesses who also fix androids and get covered in grease, this is a series you should be reading.

Cress is a Rapunzel who's trapped in a communications satellite being forced to hack spaceships and newsfeeds as a spy for the evil queen. I was horribly disappointed, given her repeatedly demonstrated computer skills, that unlike the other girls, she had to be the one who's sitting around dreaming of a dashing hero to rescue her from her "tower" in space. But in many ways, having her start there is giving Cress (and even the man she casts as her hero, much to his disbelief) a fair bit of room to grow. I quickly got so caught up in the adventure story that it didn't seem to matter so much that I thought she was a bit too traditional a princess.

It's hard to tell you much about the book without spoilers, but there's adventure and politics and daring rescues (more than one!) and spaceships and hacking and opera. (There's also violence, mind control, and torture. The latter is definitely not described in great detail, but it's definitely worth warning about.) If you liked the Vorkosigan series but wanted it to be mostly about women and less about women-that-Miles-totally-has-a-crush-on, this might tickle your fancy. If you like fairy tale retellings and also space ships, ditto. If you're looking for a book for your kids that isn't too heavy handed about feminism and social justice but it's still there *and* with romantic subplots, this is not the best in the series, but it's still there.

I continue to love the series, and despite my initial misgivings about Cress, I found myself caring about her along with the motley crew that's being assembled here. I am eagerly awaiting the next book!

comment count unavailable comments

February 18, 2014 05:31 AM

Audiobook Review: A Wounded Name

This is a review of an audiobook I got free-in-exchange-for-review from Librarything. Flipping through reviews, it seems I'm of the minority opinion in that I thought this was brilliant despite being hard to read/listen through:


A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison
A Wounded Name
by Dot Hutchison

When I heard about this retelling of Hamlet set in a semi-modern private high school and told from the point of view of Ophelia, I was worried that it would be like the dubious graphic novel retellings I've seen of other classic literature.

This, however, is different. It's more like a fairy tale retelling, haunting and odd, where the fairies are as terrifying as they are magical. It's a picture of madness and depression told with a modern psychology eye but in almost classical prose.

I though the audiobook narrator did an excellent job of rendering Ophelia, mad and sane at once, filled with the passions of a teenager who you know is never going to see the end of the story.

It's a beautiful rendering of the classical tale from another perspective, shining light into different smaller tragedies within the whole. It's not an easy thing to read, watching the characters spiral into oblivion, but it's definitely a unique take on the tragedy.

Note: this book is likely very triggering for depression, self-harm, suicide -- some of it is as one might expect from the source, some goes beyond.

Edit: Those local to me, feel free to ask to borrow this!

comment count unavailable comments

February 18, 2014 04:31 AM

Book Review: Mara

I've been reading a lot of stuff that didn't grab me quite enough to recommend or not-recommend, but my sister's careful reviews of the novels she reads has made me feel guilty about my lazy evaluation strategy. ;)

So, here's a graphic novel I finished yesterday:

Mara TP by Brian Wood
Mara TP
by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle (Illustrator)

A quick flip through the book told me that it was dystopian sci-fi volleyball, and that was enough reason to take it home from the library. I recognized Brian Wood's name, because I've liked him on some things, but not so much on others.

The story starts by grounding title character Mara into a world of expensively-sponsored high-stakes sports in a world that drafts children for sports and war, but Mara herself seems to care more about her brother and her friend and teammate than she cares about the politics of sponsorship. I guess it's because of this solid grounding that I found the second half of the book was a bit too emotionally adrift. It's a great concept, and I can see the bones of a story in there that I would have loved, but it didn't quite come together for me.

Would I recommend it despite the ending? Yes. But I still mourn for the story it maybe could have been.

comment count unavailable comments

February 18, 2014 04:02 AM

Geek Feminism Blog

gfspamspam

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on PinboardDelicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

by gfspamspam at February 18, 2014 12:00 AM

February 17, 2014

Terri Oda

Photogenic Mailbox in Snow

The snow is gone at this point (now it's all "risk of flooding" and "high winds" out here), but I thought I'd share a photo from last weekend:

Photogenic Mailbox in snow

This mailbox has a little spotlight above it (presumably so people don't drive into it or so that the mail carrier can find it), which always amuses me. I personally refer to it as "photogenic mailbox" because of the spotlight. Photogenic mailbox is apparently also photogenic in the snow, not just the dark.

I imagine I'll use photogenic mailbox in a presentation about GNU Mailman, someday!

Note: you can actually see the spotlight, or evidence of it, if you look at the photo carefully. I should have photoshopped that out, but it turns out photoshop was installed on the hard drive that died, so I haven't sorted that out and gotten it re-installed yet.

comment count unavailable comments

February 17, 2014 06:55 AM

February 13, 2014

Suw Charman-Anderson

Hello, Sheboygan! *Waves at Chicago and New York*

For those of you who know Kevin or me well, it will come as no surprise to hear that we are finally moving to the USA: Kevin yesterday started his new job as Executive Editor of the Sheboygan Press and the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, both a part of Gannett. I am still in the UK, and will follow when I have my visa, probably in May or June (though it’s anyone’s guess, really!).

There’s a lot to write about regarding this move, but I suspect that the biggest question on most of my friends’ lips will be, “But what will you do for work, Suw?” The answer to that is that I will be taking my social media consulting across the Pond, still focused on media and publishing. Sheboygan is more well known for its bratwurst than its international publishing companies, but it’s only a couple of hours drive from Chicago and just over two hours flight from New York. I’ve plenty of experience working remotely, of course, and will also be interested to see what the local market is like in towns like Milwaukee.

Although Kevin and I started my visa application in September last year, it is a drawn out process, as you can imagine. It’s impossible to know exactly how long it will take before I get the green light to move, but it’s not likely to happen much before May. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to cram in as much work in the UK as possible, so if you’ve ever thought about getting me in, email me now! I’ve just revamped my website to give more details of the strategy workshops I have developed and the bespoke social technology consulting that I do.

If you’re an American publisher interested in social media, then I’ll be at the London Book Fair in April, so get in touch and we’ll find a time to meet. I’m eager to start conversations soon for engagements during the summer.

As for Ada Lovelace Day, that will continue as normal. This year, it is hosted by the Ri, who are already doing a fantastic job of taking care of us, and our producer, Helen Arney, will continue her great work putting the event line-up together. Today I have a meeting for next year’s event, which will also be hosted in London. I will be back for both, and the centre of gravity for Ada Lovelace Day will remain in London for the next two years, not least because it gives me a good excuse to come back and visit friends and family!

I am very excited indeed about this move. I’ve visited Sheboygan, and it’s a lovely lakeside town with a proper British pub and a picturesque downtown. There are some great outdoors opportunities, and finally the chance for us to own our own house, something quite impossible in Woking. And I hope to have a bit more time to write and to make and to enjoy exploring my new country. Grabbity and Sir Izacat Mewton will of course be coming with us, and I can’t wait to see them exploring their new house and enjoying a bit more space. So, stay tuned. I’ve a lot of pent-up blogging that needs to come out!

by Suw at February 13, 2014 09:40 AM

Geek Feminism Blog

puzzlement

Welcome to a special edition of Linkspam, featuring a number of recent articles about feminist hackerspaces.

First, Geek Feminism’s own Liz Henry documents The Rise of Feminist Hackerspaces and How to Make Your Own:

We’d like to build spaces without harassment, without having to worry about jerks, and more ambitiously, with active encouragement to explore. The culture we’re developing supports making, learning, and teaching, which is a goal we share with many other hackerspaces. Ours is starting with a few extra values; intersectional feminism, support for feminist activism and strong respect for personal boundaries. We’re trying to build structures that help us form strong social ties and share responsibility.

It’s very exciting. I know what you’re thinking. You want a feminist hackerspace full of creative, talented non-jerks near you!

Elsewhere:

Anyone founded, founding, attending or contemplating a feminist hackerspace? Ask questions and share tips in comments!

by Mary at February 13, 2014 01:51 AM

February 12, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Toronto Data Science Group Meetup - I Can See Clearly Now

Toronto Data Science Group Meetup - I Can See Clearly Now Toronto Data Science Group Meetup - I Can See Clearly Now

February 12, 2014 11:00 PM