[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
At Hacker School we work on becoming better programmers, help each other become better programmers, and talk about that process. Here are some of the things I've said in that context.

On a Julia Evans post, "Fear Makes You A Worse Programmer":

Back to fear - this piece by Skud includes a bit of a horror story -- bad or missing code review led to a bad deploy which led a volunteer to drop out entirely, partly due to fear of messing up again. And here's a story where paranoia by management led to the firm going out of business.

....So the distinction de Becker makes [in The Gift of Fear] is that fear is your subconscious telling you about a genuine threat, because your intuition has put together the facts faster than your conscious self has -- whereas anxiety comes from the messages on the 10 o'clock news, racism, etc. Fear is a friend and anxiety is an interloper. If I were to use that framing, I would say that one characteristic of a mature programmer would be: she has a healthy sense of fear, and the reflex to mitigate scary risks ("we need to put this into version control NOW"), but she has control over anxiety ("people say C is hard to learn, maybe I'm not smart enough").

On choosing your own learning path:

I think you might like this reflective post by Ben Rosenbaum on "the moment in which I actually started to determine my education." (And a few current thoughts, by Indian students speaking to other Indians, that by implication say a lot about breaking expectations.) I try to be conscious of how others explicitly and implicitly guided me into certain achievement paths and avoid doing that with others, avoid making assumptions (so, for instance, I have retrained myself to avoid asking, "where did you go to college?").

On Philip Guo's post about "command line bullshittery" as a barrier to research:

I agree with Philip Guo so thoroughly, especially about the demoralizing effect of the gulf of execution, and that a leader should reduce the incidental complexity that slows down the people she's serving.

....As a card-carrying fan of Neal Stephenson's "How to Win Friends and Influence People^H^H^H^H^H^H^H In The Beginning Was The Command Line", and of [readings] on the usage and philosophy of Unix concentrating on the command line, I do not consider the command line bullshit. But Philip's right to consider the specifics of *getting research software installed and set up* as incidental complexity in the context of his students' substantive work. And that process takes place on the command line. It's like me calling the process of getting across town in Manhattan "L train bullshit"; it is good that the L train exists but arrrrgh.

On better ways to ask and answer code-related questions online (and the concept of a "yak trace," understanding the series of steps a person has taken to make something or debug a problem):

basically I think a yak trace emerges most easily in conversation with a generous interlocutor, whereas many fora online where people ask for help would prefer that help-requesters' initial speech act be delivered with the concision and throughput of a paramedic running alongside a gurney

....In my experience *building even the faintest of relationships* with the asker/user makes it a million times easier to ask the question. In IRC, for example, I've had tremendous success by *starting off saying* (roughly) "Hi [person's nickname]! I'm Sumana, [thing I do] and I live in NYC. Good to meet you, although sorry for the circumstances :/" [wait for reciprocation; most people will reciprocate by giving their name at least] "That problem sounds frustrating. Do you mind if I ask a couple diagnostic questions?" Now we are people together and not just Supplicant and Expert, and I can ask about the environment, and I can say something like "the approach you're using is sort of unusual so I want to check whether you're accidentally making it harder for yourself and there's an easier way to get the functionality you want :) " (although I can't remember the last time I had to literally explicitly say that; usually by this point they are open to talking about their process, their macro goal, etc.).

IMO the affordances of a lot of online tech-help-seeking spaces discourage this kind of necessary trust-building conversation.

In longer-term dev scenarios, understanding the user's underlying goals is a task that product managers and user experience designers have a lot of tools to do. Qualitative interviews. Ethnography. Market research. Looking at traffic stats and discovering/making funnels. IMO Val's insight about what the application developers really wanted was a user experience insight (some folks call it DX, Developer Experience, for stuff like this).

The API usability chapter in Greg Wilson's and Andy Oram's Making Software influenced my thinking thoroughly on this stuff.

Words, other than proper nouns and HTML, in this post that my in-browser spellchecker dislikes: bullshittery, arrrrgh, gurney, IRC, etc., IMO, affordances, tech-help-seeking, dev, stats, DX, API.

Color Commentary

Jan. 30th, 2015 08:48 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Author-illustrator and graphic designer Michael Hall creates children’s books with bright colors; playful shapes; and sentences, for the most part, that beginning readers can handle. A “simple and engaging approach,” as he puts it at his website, is what he’s going for, and boy, does this deceptively simple approach work. I’ve enjoyed his picture books over the years—especially sharing them with children (many of them make great story-time reads)—and his newest picture book, Red: A Crayon’s Story, is one of his very best. It’s filled with such wisdom, this one.

It's On My Mind

Jan. 29th, 2015 03:27 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
So a few years ago, a friend of mine was at a party, and one of the people at that party was a laconic fella, a new boyfriend who hadn't met this group before. Eventually someone got around to asking him what he did for a living. He said something a bit general, about government service, yes, at the federal level, until someone said, "you're a G-man? With the FBI?"

"That's right," he said, briefly, with a small nod.

Someone speculated as to whether he was in New York City because he was concerned with things like the security of the Indian Point nuclear power facility.

"It's on my mind," he replied.

And someone else told a story of a cop or a federal agent, losing their gun while on the job.

"That's frowned upon," he noted.

Ever since then, Leonard and I have found this triad of answers endlessly entertaining. These are polite yet distant ways of giving answers in the affirmative, the negative, and the noncommital.

That said, here are some links that are on my mind (whether I think they're right or frowned upon will be your guess to make!):

Transparency about money: a fiction author, a public speaker, and a publisher are sharing real dollar amounts so you know what you might be getting into. You might also enjoy a similar HOWTO that Leonard and I wrote, about making a one-off anthology.

Disagreeing well: This distinction between task-focused and relationship-focused people (which may be very similar to Rands's organics and mechanics model or my engineer and mother leadership models) will stick with me.

Transformative work and the origins of abuse: In an interview about Jo Walton's new book The Just City, check out Walton's response to the interviewer's question, "Why have Apollo learn about 'equal significance and volition'?"

Catwoman: chaila and beccatoria are telling me to read Genevieve Valentine's run writing Catwoman and I may well listen to them.

"Everything is a bit orange for some reason": I can't decide whether Holly Gramazio's hilarious analysis of games in fiction (e.g., the futuristic sports in dystopia movies) has more insights or jokes, but there are plenty of both.

Impostor syndrome tips: Concrete steps you can take to stop automatically assuming you can't do stuff.

What are you willing to consider?: Danny linked to this piece which I think stands alone (seeing as I haven't read the Chait piece it's responding to (and every time I see Chait's name I think of "TBWA Chiat/Day" and the old Apple ads)). This controversy touches on trust, courage, groupthink, the purposes of different environments and different kinds of environments, how quantity can have a quality all its own, the attention economy, and a zillion other things. Put this in the "on my mind" bucket.

Techish things: Hound is a new competitor to DXR. You should enable automatic updates on your servers. A Python developer is offering code review in exchange for donations to Doctors Without Borders. Learning to sit with discomfort: part of yoga, part of life. Changing history (advanced Git). The Mailman project wants to switch translation platforms. A gentle primer on reverse engineering.

The dream factory, the sausage factory: A television writing room feels a bit like the opening of Anathem (Socratic questioning about scifi/fantasy tropes).

Popular: I'm using Dreamwidth as my RSS reader. Check out the popular feeds, ranked by how many DW users subscribe. The top 10 feeds include the Organization for Transformative Works, Cake Wrecks, & PhD Comics. Also, as a data point, at current writing, the feed for this very blog has more subscribers than Paul Krugman's feed has.

Finally, because I have my immature moments like anyone else: A Project Gutenberg find by Leonard: "Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615-1622" pub. 1882. (It's legitimately historically interesting .... but that's not what caught my attention at first.)

[syndicated profile] fanhackers_feed

Posted by fanhackers

Posted on request from Liorah Golomb:

I am looking for a collaborator with computational linguistic skills for a project mining the dialogue of the U.S. television program Supernatural (CW Network, 2005-present). My goal is to demonstrate, through textual analysis, the originality of the dialogue, the breadth of words and phrases used by the writers, the way language is used to distinguish characters and reveal character traits, etc.The product of this project will be an article for publication in a peer-reviewed venue. Presentation at an appropriate conference is also a possibility.

A chapter that I’ve written about my exploration of this project thus far is forthcoming in Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, March 2015). That chapter documents my process of creating the corpora from fan-created transcripts, testing and selecting concordance tools, and examples of the type of results these efforts will produce. It also discusses the limitations of examining only the dialogue in a visual medium and my own limitations as a non-linguist.

My hope is that a partner with the skills I lack will be able to help me with linguistic concepts as well as determine (1) whether there is a way to codify non-verbal action and communication for analysis and (2) whether it would be useful to encode the text for analysis. Interest in or familiarity with Supernatural is a plus.

I am an academic librarian and Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma with a long history of publishing scholarly work. My CV can be found at ou.academia.edu/LiorahGolomb.

Please contact me to discuss this project further: liorah.golomb@gmail.com.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blizzard Preparedness Reading Guide

Jan. 29th, 2015 07:15 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Almost exactly one year ago today, I wrote about working through a serious case of Winter Malaise by reading a few books about characters who had it far worse than me: a girl dealing with betrayal and lies in Antarctica; a group of teenagers snowed in at a rapidly cooling high school; a nonfiction picture book about a doomed Arctic expedition; a book that opens with a girl stranded on an iceberg.

It's On My Mind

Jan. 29th, 2015 03:27 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
So a few years ago, a friend of mine was at a party, and one of the people at that party was a laconic fella, a new boyfriend who hadn't met this group before. Eventually someone got around to asking him what he did for a living. He said something a bit general, about government service, yes, at the federal level, until someone said, "you're a G-man? With the FBI?"

"That's right," he said, briefly, with a small nod.

Someone speculated as to whether he was in New York City because he was concerned with things like the security of the Indian Point nuclear power facility.

"It's on my mind," he replied.

And someone else told a story of a cop or a federal agent, losing their gun while on the job.

"That's frowned upon," he noted.

Ever since then, Leonard and I have found this triad of answers endlessly entertaining. These are polite yet distant ways of giving answers in the affirmative, the negative, and the noncommital.

That said, here are some links that are on my mind (whether I think they're right or frowned upon will be your guess to make!):

Transparency about money: a fiction author, a public speaker, and a publisher are sharing real dollar amounts so you know what you might be getting into. You might also enjoy a similar HOWTO that Leonard and I wrote, about making a one-off anthology.

Disagreeing well: This distinction between task-focused and relationship-focused people (which may be very similar to Rands's organics and mechanics model or my engineer and mother model) will stick with me.

Transformative work and the origins of abuse: In an interview about Jo Walton's new book The Just City, check out Walton's response to the interviewer's question, "Why have Apollo learn about 'equal significance and volition'?"

Catwoman: chaila and beccatoria are telling me to read Genevieve Valentine's run writing Catwoman and I may well listen to them.

"Everything is a bit orange for some reason": I can't decide whether Holly Gramazio's hilarious analysis of games in fiction (e.g., the futuristic sports in dystopia movies) has more insights or jokes, but there are plenty of both.

Impostor syndrome tips: Concrete steps you can take to stop automatically assuming you can't do stuff.

What are you willing to consider?: Danny linked to this piece which I think stands alone (seeing as I haven't read the Chait piece it's responding to (and every time I see Chait's name I think of "TBWA Chiat/Day" and the old Apple ads)). This controversy touches on trust, courage, groupthink, the purposes of different environments and different kinds of environments, how quantity can have a quality all its own, the attention economy, and a zillion other things. Put this in the "on my mind" bucket.

Techish things: Hound is a new competitor to DXR. You should enable automatic updates on your servers. A Python developer is offering code review in exchange for donations to Doctors Without Borders. Learning to sit with discomfort: part of yoga, part of life. Changing history (advanced Git). The Mailman project wants to switch translation platforms. A gentle primer on reverse engineering.

The dream factory, the sausage factory: A television writing room feels a bit like acts out the opening of Anathem (Socratic questioning about scifi/fantasy tropes).

Popular: I'm using Dreamwidth as my RSS reader. Check out the popular feeds, ranked by how many DW users subscribe. The top 10 feeds include the Organization for Transformative Works, Cake Wrecks, & PhD Comics. Also, as a data point, at current writing, the feed for this very blog has more subscribers than Paul Krugman's feed has.

Finally, because I have my immature moments like anyone else: A Project Gutenberg find by Leonard: "Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615-1622" pub. 1882. (It's legitimately historically interesting .... but that's not what caught my attention at first.)

[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I'm the chair of the Ada Initiative Executive Director search committee, which means it's my name on the announcement we posted about six weeks ago: "The Ada Initiative is growing! Announcing our search for a new Executive Director".

Ada Lovelace We've received applications and expect to receive more, and it's not too late to apply, although we have already started processing our first "batch" of applicants. I thought it would be nice to dash off a quick note about some reasons to apply that you might not have thought of.

The board of directors is pretty great. I'm on it! Very thoughtful people with tons of experience and different perspectives are on it. We would help you make decisions.

The advisors: also great! Again, the quality and quantity of insight available to advise the ED is impressive. I've been on the Advisory Board for years and we have amazing conversations.

You're coming into something that's already working. Check out what TAI did in 2014, and look at the over-the-top success of the 2014 fundraising drive (over 1100 donors gave over $206,000, passing the original goal of $150,000). This ain't no glass cliff or turnaround job; you would be coming in already set up to succeed.

Sustainability includes making sure the ED doesn't burn out. Scroll down to the details in the job post. The hours: 40 hours per week, and we really mean that. Look at the leave (time off) provisions. Your board and your employees and contractors all know that you need rest and relaxation in order to be at the top of your game, and we've built that into the organization at a structural level.

If you're going to apply, please apply soon so the search committee can see how awesome you are even sooner! Thanks!

[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by Larry Shockley

Through the holdings of the National Archives are a myriad of stories that are ready to be told, from struggle and misfortune to triumph and perseverance. In this “Stories From Our Holdings” series, we will endeavor to highlight works that have been created utilizing the tens of millions of our primary source documents, photographs, and films. In accomplishing this mission, we also hope to give well deserved exposure to the individuals who have come through the doors of the National Archives and discovered these stories.


Many stories are discovered while researching the records at the National Archives. One story, “‘The Hard Industry of My Own Hands’: Three American Civil War Widows in Ireland Struggle to Survive,” was created by Damian Shiels, an Ireland- based archaeologist specializing in conflict archaeology, which was first published on his website, Irish in the American Civil War. Mr. Shiels shared his research journey with us by email.

Damian Shiels
Damien Shiels, Photo courtesy of Goodreads, 2014

As he researched his story, Mr. Shiels utilized records culled from the pension files of the National Archives, including personal letters and official government correspondence between Washington D.C and the U.S. Consulate in Ireland, to tell the story of the hardships faced by three Irish women: Eleanor Hogg, Maria Sheppell and Honora Cleary. Although these women were from different religious and geographical backgrounds within Ireland, they shared unenviable commonalities in that all three were poor, illiterate, and had lost their husbands to the American Civil War. Interestingly, they also share the similarity that there is no evidence that any of these women ever set foot in the United States.

Shiels believes that the husbands of these women, Francis Michael Cleary, Farrell Hogg, and Nicholas Sheppell, left  poor lives in Ireland in order to eventually make a better life for their families in America. During this time, service on behalf of the Union Army in the American Civil War was much more financially lucrative than a farmer or laborer’s allowance in impoverished Ireland. As he continued to research the connections between these women, Shiels discovered appeals made by an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Ireland to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, DC. The records showed that a case was made for the women to receive their deceased husbands’ pensions. The records indicate not only where, when, and at what age the men had passed away, but also that they left behind 15 children among them.

Because these records were digitized through a partnership with the National Archives and Fold3, they were available for a researcher in Ireland to discover and use. Since Mr. Shiels is based in Ireland and has no physical access to the U.S. National Archives, finding these records online was extremely valuable. In addition to labeling the NARA/Fold3 holdings on the Civil War Widows’ Pensions an “underused resource by many Civil War scholars,” Shiels also states  that:

“I firmly believe it is one of the finest repositories of information on 19th century Irish emigrants both in Ireland and the US available, but is completely unknown by Irish historians… None of my work on pensions would be possible without the exceptional effort currently taking place in the National Archives to digitize this material and make it available online via Fold3.”

170th New York, Corcoran's Irish Legion

170th New York, Corcoran’s Irish Legion on reserve picket duty. A significant amount of Irish immigrants fought for both the North and the South during the American Civil War. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

If you’d like to learn more about the digitization project that Mr. Shiels used in his research, check out the Civil War Widows’ Pension Digitization Project video on the National Archives’ YouTube channel.

Seeking Sword-Wielding Vigilantes

Jan. 26th, 2015 07:05 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker has been compared to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. The machine is backing it in a big way—I’ve received at least three publicity emails about it in the last month—and, although it only actually comes out in February, it was optioned for a movie TWO YEARS AGO. And it’s true: while I have many, many problems with the book, it does have the potential to make an entertaining (and CGI-laden) popcorn flick.
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Today I’m just passing along a message from a public mailing list that crossed my desk at work:

===========Begin Message=============

We are taking advance questions for mushers through Tuesday morning for the BLM IditaChat, a conversation about women mushers, the Iditarod National Historic Trail, sled dog racing, and sled dogs scheduled for Wednesday morning, Jan. 28, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Alaska time.

Anyone can send in questions or participate in the chat, and we are getting many schools interested (mostly in the Lower 48, we only have advance questions from one Alaska school, let’s change that!).

This is an online conversation similar to online chats or texting, but the conversation runs on Twitter during the scheduled time. Mushers participating this year include Aliy Zirkle, Jodi Bailey, Dan Kaduce, Heidi Sutter, Monica Zappa, and veteran Iditarod mushers Karin Hendrickson and Alan Peck. We also have Kevin Keeler, federal administrator for the Iditarod National Historic Trail, and cosponsor Northern Light Media represented by author, publisher, and photographer Helen Hegener available to answer questions.

A Twitter account is not necessary to view the conversation, as questions for the mushers, Kevin, or Helen can be emailed to blmalaska@blm.gov.

On the day and time of the Iditachat, go to Twitter, enter @BLMALaska in the search window.  Once there, enter #BLMIditaChat in the search window on that page, and there is the conversation, open for public viewing.  If you have a Twitter account, you can send tweets with the #BLMIditaChat hashtag with your tweet so it enters the conversation.  If you do this before Wednesday’s tweet chat, you will see last year’s conversation.

It’s a great way to reach out to mushers and them anything you ever wanted to know.

Again, the BLMIditachat is Wednesday.  The full conversation will be posted on the BLM Alaska website at www.blm.gov/ak.  You can find a link to IditaChat information and musher bios and photos on that page now, as well as resources for more indepth information.

We’re excited!  We hope you and your libraries and communities/schools will participate in this free opportunity.  You can send questions in advance to BLMAlaska@blm.gov, now!

Thank you!

-Karen

Karen J. Laubenstein

State Writer-Editor, Bureau of Land Management

Alaska State Office

907-271-3318    klaubens@blm.gov

===================================End Message=============================


Filed under: alaska Tagged: dog mushing, iditarod, mushing
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
First up is Stephen Savage’s Supertruck. Let’s hear it for the underdog, shall we? Savage’s story opens with a city “full of brave trucks.” There are bucket trucks, fire trucks, and tow trucks. They are capable of tasks that can pretty much save the day: they can fix power lines, put out fires, and rescue vehicles—all very high-profile jobs. But what about the garbage truck? “He just collects trash.”

Finding Wonder in Finding Spring

Jan. 22nd, 2015 07:45 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Little slips of cut paper. Newspapers. Buttons. Old books. Ticket stubs. Graph paper. These are things that author-illustrator Carin Berger is always on the lookout for. In her new book, Finding Spring, she assembles such bits and pieces into the enchanting story of a young bear named Maurice.

"Trade Me" and Courtney Milan

Jan. 21st, 2015 09:14 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Today I snarfled up Trade Me, a new contemporary romance novel by Courtney Milan. It stars a Chinese-American woman studying computer science at UC Berkeley. It's about class and classism, deconstructing the Prince Charming/billionaire trope in romantic fiction, Bay Area tech, ally fails, how to deal with cops, authenticity and adaptation, safety and freedom, trust, parents, and work. And one of the main secondary characters is trans, and all the physicality in the relationship is super consensual, and there is a kind-of reference to Cake Wrecks, and (maybe only I see it) to Randall Munroe's "What If?" blog. I link it thematically to Jo Walton's The Just City, Ellen Ullman's The Bug, and the good parts of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. It's pretty great. (ROT13'd trigger warnings that are spoilers: qvfbeqrerq rngvat naq gur arne-qrngu bs n cnerag.)

I'd heard a bit about Milan before via metaphortunate and rachelmanija and enjoyed the Ask A Man blog, but hadn't gotten around to reading a novel by her yet. Then I heard that Trade Me would star someone who sounds far more like me than a lot of protagonists do, and decided it was time to try out this whole ebook-reading thing. Glad I did!

I know more and more romance authors are writing books with protagonists like me these days, not just Milan, and I should check them out. (Milan, like me, likes Zen Cho, and she further recommends another lawyer romance author, Julie James. According to Milan, James "writes ladies who unapologetically have careers and who care about those careers and don't have to sacrifice them in a fit of self-immolating pain at the end of the book." Hurray!) But I'm going to dwell a moment on how fascinating I find Milan in particular.

First off is the software thing. She wrote and wants people to reuse a chunk of GPL'd software to autogenerate links to a particular book at multiple bookstores. Also she used to use Gentoo. Of course she gives her readers permission to strip DRM from their copies of her books. Basically I would not be surprised if there is super flirty pair programming or a double entendre in a bash script in a future Milan book.

Her FAQ goes into more detail on what she does and why. She's neurodiverse, she encourages fanfic, and she has interesting ideas about the romance genre, diversity, and pay.

She brings an analytical approach to all aspects of her work (informed by her past as a chemist, programmer, and lawyer), and is willing to frankly and transparently talk about circumlocutions and the ways powerful systems, organizations and people -- deliberately or inadvertently -- suppress free speech. As a woman of color ("half-Chinese" in her words) she's also especially aware of the importance of writing fictional representations of women of color in STEM, and of fixing broken standards that lead to unequal representation.

If you are into legal minutiae you might enjoy her post on impotence and annulment; even if you aren't, you might like to see her hypothesize a bit about Regency vase cartels. I totally want to attend the workshop she did providing "a very broad overview of how people thought about property throughout history. When she writes historical romance, she writes people who could have existed as outliers; "I import modern morals into my historical romances. In my mind, that's a feature, not a bug."

Since a great "Must Pleasures Be Guilty?" WisCon panel I did in 2010, I've been particularly interested in new perspectives on the stigmatizing of intentionally pleasurable entertainment, and Milan's "The stigma of happy (a rant)" provides! Milan respects pleasure as a good and, in her work, aims to illustrate the work it takes to get to happy. She can snark about the "shame" of reading something pleasurable (and her fake book covers are spot-on), but she can also go deeper and show that another world is possible, one where we can have healthy, respectful conversations about women's sexual desires.

Milan and I are both geeky feminist Asian-American women who went to Cal and are interested in law, writing, and programming. Trade Me cost USD$3.99 (ebook); I can't put a price on what it feels like to read fiction meant for me, by someone who's only a few alternate universes away from me.

Jennifer Niven

Jan. 21st, 2015 12:32 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
In an arresting author’s note at the end of her teen novel All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven discloses her status as a survivor of loved one’s suicide.
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I recently learned that Courtney Milan, a romance author who's worked as a lawyer and programmer (much like sci-fi author Ken Liu), has also written some ecommerce-related PHP code and released it under the GPL, which makes my day.

I try to keep a mental list of people who have done substantial programming or computer science work and then taken their expertise to a very different field of endeavor, such as music, activism, electoral politics, or fiction writing. We're used to hearing about programmers moving into tech management (including founding startups or managing open source communities) or teaching engineering, but I like to remember that programmers also run for Congress and write TV shows.

The list goes on and on (and I am oversimplifying labels here and leaving a zillion people out -- this is just some people I have heard of):

  • Randall Munroe, cartoonist
  • Vienna Teng, musician
  • Jonathan Coulton, musician
  • Ken Liu, fiction author
  • Charles Stross, fiction author
  • Darcy Burner, Congressional candidate & activist
  • Seth Schoen, activist
  • Vernor Vinge, fiction author
  • Ellen Ullman, fiction author
  • Ryan North, cartoonist
  • Neal Stephenson, fiction author
  • John O'Neill, fiction editor
  • Naomi Novik, fiction author
  • Kristofer Straub, cartoonist
  • Leonard Richardson, fiction author
  • probably Jerry McNerney, Congressional Representative
  • Jane Espenson, screenwriter
  • Courtney Milan, fiction author
  • Ken MacLeod, fiction author
  • Zoe Keating, musician
  • Kathy Sierra, horse trainer & interdisciplinary educator
  • Mel Chua, education researcher
  • James Vasile, lawyer
  • Valerie Aurora, activist
  • Mary Gardiner, activist
  • Danny O'Brien, activist
  • Aaron Swartz, activist
  • Diana Gabaldon, fiction author
  • Luis Villa, lawyer
  • Jamie Zawinski, nightclub owner
  • Fureigh, musician
  • Danni (friend of mine), bike mechanic
....

This is trivia, and I am temperamentally suited to accumulating trivia. But I also like remembering that everyone I meet may have skills I don't immediately see. This bartender, that full-time parent, the candidate for city council whose junk mail I just got -- this might be the second or third or fourth career for any of them, and if we got to talking, maybe we'd all get super animated as we told stories about hilarious bugs.

[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I recently learned that Courtney Milan, a romance author who's worked as a lawyer and programmer (much like sci-fi author Ken Liu), has also written some ecommerce-related PHP code and released it under the GPL, which makes my day.

I try to keep a mental list of people who have done substantial programming or computer science work and then taken their expertise to a very different field of endeavor, such as music, activism, electoral politics, or fiction writing. We're used to hearing about programmers moving into tech management (including founding startups or managing open source communities) or teaching engineering, but I like to remember that programmers also run for Congress and write TV shows.

The list goes on and on (and I am oversimplifying labels here and leaving a zillion people out -- this is just some people I have heard of):

  • Randall Munroe, cartoonist
  • Vienna Teng, musician
  • Jonathan Coulton, musician
  • Ken Liu, fiction author
  • Charles Stross, fiction author
  • Darcy Burner, Congressional candidate & activist
  • Seth Schoen, activist
  • Vernor Vinge, fiction author
  • Ellen Ullman, fiction author
  • Ryan North, cartoonist
  • Neal Stephenson, fiction author
  • John O'Neill, fiction editor
  • Naomi Novik, fiction author
  • Kristofer Straub, cartoonist
  • Leonard Richardson, fiction author
  • probably Jerry McNerney, Congressional Representative
  • Jane Espenson, screenwriter
  • Courtney Milan, fiction author
  • Ken MacLeod, fiction author
  • Zoe Keating, musician
  • Kathy Sierra, horse trainer & interdisciplinary educator
  • Mel Chua, education researcher
  • James Vasile, lawyer
  • Valerie Aurora, activist
  • Mary Gardiner, activist
  • Danny O'Brien, activist
  • Aaron Swartz, activist
  • Diana Gabaldon, fiction author
  • Luis Villa, lawyer
  • Jamie Zawinski, nightclub owner
....

This is trivia, and I am temperamentally suited to accumulating trivia. But I also like remembering that everyone I meet may have skills I don't immediately see. This bartender, that full-time parent, the candidate for city council whose junk mail I just got -- this might be the second or third or fourth career for any of them, and if we got to talking, maybe we'd all get super animated as we told stories about hilarious bugs.

Catching Yourself

Jan. 19th, 2015 08:28 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Friday night, on a date with my husband, when it came up in a conversation about class and geography and family, I tried to remember his ex's name and couldn't.

Earlier today, talking with a friend about the layers of MediaWiki's infrastructure, I momentarily forgot the term "Gadgets."

Nothing else quite like that moment, realizing that when you weren't looking, your mental neighborhood changed, and you changed with it.

A Long Line of Survivors

Jan. 19th, 2015 06:51 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Shortly before her 18th birthday, Shelby Jane Cooper is hit by a car in Scottsdale, Arizona, resulting in multiple fractures in her foot and ankle. While she’s lying on the ground, afraid and alone, a coyote steps up to her and says (telepathically):
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