Straight Punch by Monique Polak
Straight Punch
by Monique Polak

When Tessa gets caught leaving one too many graffiti tags, she finds herself kicked out of school and sent to "New Directions" a last-chance school for troubled teens with an impressive boxing program. Unfortunately, Tessa hates violence and isn't sure how she'll ever fit in given that most of the kids have situations much more dire than her own, but she's not getting out of this.

The backdrop of Montréal (a city with more than a little street art) works well for this coming of age story. I chose to read this while visiting the city, so the setting felt rich to me in ways that it might not have if I'd read it at another time. I was expecting more boxing out of Straight Punch, but actually the thing that struck me most about this were the moments you were seeing the world through Tessa's artist eyes.

I agree that it does feel a little "after school special with troubled teens" but the messages about standing up for what's right and what matters aren't any less true for having been told a thousand times. This book is perhaps better for teens than jaded adult readers, but it's still a nice little story about a teenager finding her inner strengths.

comment count unavailable comments

Terri Oda | terriko | 2014-04-24 00:57:08

I did open source community management for MediaWiki for about three years. At first, in 2011, I was an individual contributor (see my February 2012 post "What Does A Volunteer Development Coordinator Do?"). After several months I became the team lead, and then about two years ago Wikimedia Foundation promoted me and I started managing my team. Dozens of people hit reply-all to congratulate me in messages I still treasure. (You have a "yay" folder too, right?)

I hired our new bug wrangler and our new volunteer coordinator. I got Wikimedia Foundation participating in the Outreach Program for Women paid internships, and we got way better at new developer intake in general. I introduced the Friendly Space Policy for WMF technical events (and we sure ran a lot of them). I introduced some innovations that took, and a few that didn't. When you fix one bottleneck you notice the next one -- that's the nature of bottlenecks -- and so we worked on harder and harder problems.

By external measures I was doing really well. But my management style does a lot better face-to-face, and I found it tiring to try to manage logistics and emotional nuance almost entirely via text - managing up, down, and sideways. And community management is often a customer service job with big gobs of emotional labor (example). By late 2013, I'd sort of plateaued; I wasn't learning as much and as fast as I wanted.

Hacker School gave me an opportunity to reset and to look at Wikimedia with new perspective, and to reawaken my interest in hands-on technical contribution and learning. I came back to a WMF that had just renewed its search for a FLOSS-savvy technical writer with programming skills. And, fortunately, my colleague Quim Gil was willing to make his interim position permanent, and keep on leading the team. So, as of about a month ago, I'm Senior Technical Writer at the Wikimedia Foundation.

And it's great. I've taken our Requests for Comment process in hand, started drafting improved architecture guidelines (not there yet) and our first unified set of performance guidelines, and started planning improved API documentation. And I've been learning bunches. I've learned enough to summarize REST and SOA and HTML templating systems as they relate to MediaWiki. I've learned how our caching layers work and how the new parser works. And I get to translate what I learn into prose and visuals to teach others, and I get to mentor intern Frances Hocutt as we both learn about the MediaWiki web API. For the last several weeks I've concentrated on understanding big things like how SOA will change our architecture, but post-PyCon I'm raring to code more; I'm looking forward to pair programming with Frances.

I feel so fortunate to have such a strong team. (This is one reason you hire people who could replace you - it gives you more room to change.) And I'm grateful to be at Wikimedia Foundation, an organization that nurtured and promoted me, gave me a three-month sabbatical to go to Hacker School, and helped me find different valuable work to do when I came back changed.

The two big problems I worked on as MediaWiki's community manager: inculcating empathy in others, and designing processes that scale. I made a dent in both, and I'll come back to them, and to management in general, in some future when I'm yet another Sumana, changed again.

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-23 20:54:11

This week, GitHub published the results of an investigation into credible allegations of harassment and intimidation against one of its co-founders, the co-founder's wife, and another unnamed employee. It reported that its investigation had found no evidence of illegal actions but did find mistakes and poor judgement by unnamed persons, and announced the resignation of the co-founder in question. It was shortly followed by a blog post from the resigning co-founder which included a clear threat of legal action against anyone who said he or his wife had engaged in gender-based harassment or discrimination.

The sum of these events make it impossible for Ada Initiative to partner with GitHub at this time. One year ago, we partnered with GitHub to offer free private repositories to over 500 women learning to write open source software. This offer ended in December 2013, but these repositories are still in use by many of the recipients. We will work to wind down the free private repository partnership in a way that causes minimum harm to the women using them. GitHub also sponsored AdaCamp DC and AdaCamp San Francisco, our conferences to support women in open technology and culture. We will not accept future sponsorships from or partnerships with GitHub unless the situation changes significantly.

Many resources are available for people wanting to prevent these kinds of problems in their own companies or communities. The Geek Feminism Wiki has a wide range of resources such as an explanation of why sexualized environments are harmful to women. Ashe Dryden offers consulting on increasing diversity at your corporation. Model View Culture regularly publishes insightful pieces on tech culture and the systemic factors affecting it. “The No Asshole Rule” is a management book on creating a culture that repels abusive people. The Ada Initiative Allies Workshop teaches men simple, everyday actions to support women in their workplace.

We are working hard to create a world in which women can participate in open source software, Wikipedia, and other areas of open technology and culture without harassment, intimidation, or discrimination. Sometimes this means refusing to partner with or accept sponsorship from specific people or organizations. It is also contrary to our principles to be silent when our existing sponsors and collaborators' actions consistently do not support our mission.

The Ada Initiative | Ada Initiative | 2014-04-23 16:45:23

My household has donated a few books to the Hacker School library. RESTful Web APIs - easy. I also donated four interrelated books:

  1. Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing
  2. Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change
  3. Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
  4. Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives
Geek feminist reading lists often mention the first three. I ran across Necessary Dreams in a thrift store several years ago and it changed my life, so I wanted to include it. The review Slate published in 2004, when the book came out in 2004, summarizes it pretty well; see also the Broad Universe review.

Author Dr. Anna Fels points out that the childhood or adolescent desire for fame is often a precursor to a more nuanced ambition, combining the urge to master some domain or skill with the desire for the recognition of one's peers or community. She also notes that women, especially, feel the need to hide that wish for fame instead of developing it into a healthy passion to guide our careers. This book blew my mind in the best way when I read it, and massively helped me guide my career development. It now informs my emphasis on explicit encouragement and mentorship of new open source volunteers, and my willingness to openly toot my own horn here on this blog.

The hardcover on my bookshelf (this edition or so) has a text-on-white cover. In contrast, check out the cover for the paperback edition I just bought: it portrays a businesswoman with an infant, and cuts off the woman's head with the title.

Fels, incidentally, discusses the visual language mass media use to discuss white-collar women:

"...women shuttle back and forth between two dissimilar cultural contexts. Articles on professional women often visually represent the incongruity of their dual roles by photographing them in formal work attire -- a suit, a crisp blouse, pumps, stockings, jewelry, a briefcase -- awkwardly clutching a drooling, sprawling toddler."
-p. 190 (paperback)

Did Anchor (the publisher) use this as a spec for the graphic designer?

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-23 02:12:58

The finalists for the 2014 Hugo Awards were announced over the weekend, and gee golly are there some exciting works on that slate. I’m especially excited to see Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut Of Mars” on the ballot (it was denied a place on last year’s ballot because it originally appeared as an Audiobook). It’s sharing the novelette category with Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which I’ve not read yet but am looking forward to checking out.

Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which is up for Best Novel, has been making a lot of shortlists this year, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke awards. I’m also glad to see Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are For Losers” up for the short story Hugo–it’s definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet (Samatar is also in her second year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer).

And I’m excited that my fellow Writing On The Fast Track alum and all-around good guy Mike Underwood is up for Best Fancast for The Skiffy and Fanty Show. The team behind it includes several other wonderful people, including authors and diversity advocates Julia Rios and Stina Leicht.

If you’re interested in checking out these and the other wonderful & deserving works on this year’s ballot and voting for this year’s Hugo awards, supporting memberships to this year’s WorldCon are available for 40$US. In addition to voting rights, supporting Members get a copy of the Hugo Voter Packet, which contains digital editions of most of the works on the ballot. This works out to a pretty great bargain if you’re excited about even a few of the nominated works–plus you get to vote on this year’s Hugos.

You may notice that there are a few surprising names on this year’s ballot. Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day, a writer whose hate speech got him drummed out of the SFWA last year) and Larry Correia encouraged their fans to nominate a particular ‘slate’ that included several vocal conservatives. Some of their fans have since been heard crowing about how they’ve succeeded in making some kind of political point by getting these folks on the ballot.

It’s unfortunate that they’ve chosen to politicize the Hugo awards in this way. But I would remind folks that are thinking about buying a membership that the Hugo Awards use “Instant Runoff Voting,” a system which allows voters to rank the candidates in each category. The system allows people to rank “No Award” higher than any or all candidates on the ballot. Indeed, in 1987, that very thing happened in the novel category: No Award came in ahead of L. Ron Hubbard’s Black Genesis.

Since invoking Beale’s name tends to cause some of the cesspools of the internet to backflow into the tubes, this is your reminder that we have a strictly-enforced comment policy. So if you’re here from Beale’s fan club: run along. Your comment will go straight to moderation and no one will see it.  There are plenty of places online where you can contribute to a net reduction in the worth and dignity of humanity. This is not one of them.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-22 19:00:56

Two women smiling

CC-BY-SA Adam Novak

Simple logo
New Relic logo



The Ada Initiative is pleased to welcome silver sponsors Simple and New Relic, bronze sponsor Spotify, and supporting sponsor Pinboard as the first sponsors of our 2014 AdaCamps. AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture. In 2014, the Ada Initiative will hold three AdaCamps located in technology hubs on three continents: Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India.

Simple is a bank that offers all electronic consumer banking services integrated with budgeting and savings tools. The bank, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, was founded in 2009 and partners with Bancorp Bank, an FDIC insured bank, to hold account funds. Simple is hiring in the Portland, Oregon area.

New Relic makes tools that allow developers of web and mobile apps to monitor and analyze the performance of their applications, all the way from user experience, through servers, and down to the line of application code. New Relic's monitoring tools and platform support Ruby, PHP, .Net, Java, Python, iOS, and Android apps. New Relic has offices in Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. See New Relic's list of job openings to learn more.

Spotify makes it easier to discover new music, share music with friends, and follow your favorite artists. Spotify uses Python extensively and hosts PyLadies meetups at their offices. Spotify has engineering offices in New York, San Francisco, and Gothenburg and is hiring.

Pinboard is a bookmarking and personal archiving site ("Social Bookmarking for Introverts" is their tagline). Pinboard's design is about speed and functionality with a focus on personal management and archiving. In addition to bookmarking and archiving your favorite web sites, Pinboard runs one of Twitter's wittiest accounts. Built by Maciej Cegłowski in the summer of 2009, Pinboard had just over 22,000 active users in 2013. Ada Initiative is a happy Pinboard user.

On behalf of women in open technology and culture, we thank Simple, New Relic, and Pinboard for their generous support.

About AdaCamp

AdaCamp is a conference dedicated to increasing women’s participation in open technology and culture: open source software, Wikipedia-related projects, open data, open geo, library technology, fan fiction, remix culture, and more. AdaCamp brings women together to build community, share skills, discuss problems with open tech/culture communities that affect women, and find ways to address them.

In 2014, the Ada Initiative will hold three AdaCamps located in technology hubs on three continents: Portland, Oregon, USA; Berlin, Germany; and Bangalore, India. Applications to AdaCamp Portland are now closed. Applications for AdaCamp Berlin and Bangalore will be open soon.


Your organization has the opportunity to join Simple, New Relic, and Pinboard in sponsoring AdaCamps in 2014 and reach women leaders in open technology and culture on three continents. Contact us at for more information about becoming a sponsor.

Thank you to the AdaCamp 2014 silver sponsors New Relic and Simple.

The Ada Initiative | Ada Initiative | 2014-04-22 17:45:55

  • Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment | Andy Khouri at ComicsAlliance (April 16): “”I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.” [..] Men are the cure — but we are the cancer too. It is wholly and rightfully and crucially up to men in this society and especially in this subculture to speak out and watch out. To end the cycle of bullying, harassment and violence. To recognize the grotesque irony of degrading women over matters of heroic fictions whose lessons about fairness and decency we’ve supposedly been studying since we were just little boys, and to start putting those ideas into practice as grown-ass men.”
  • To the point of collapse, and beyond | Maria at Crooked Timber (April 8): “Collapse from nervous exhaustion and working too hard [...] somewhere in the late twentieth century we forgot about all this. With antibiotics and behaviourism and god knows what else, the mind body connection got disjointed. People stopped having a good excuse to say they were spent. When burnout and chronic fatigue were ‘discovered’ in the 1980s, the popular view was – and still is, for the most part – incredulity and a sense that people whose bodies had suddenly and seemingly inexplicably forgotten how to be well were somehow faking it. Or asking for it. [...] When something stops having a name, it gets harder to track and compare across generations. Nowadays, it seems easier to categorise fatigue or burnout as depression, as if it’s somehow anomalous and not something entirely to be expected.”
  • ‘Why can’t you just deal with it?’ ‘It’s a compliment!’ | s.e. smith at meloukhia (April 21): “Is it a compliment when a complete stranger says ‘hey, nice shoes!’? Yes, it is – I occasionally compliment fine shoes myself. Is it a compliment when a stranger says ‘nice ass!’? Well… not so much. Because one comment is about an accessory, an item someone deliberately chose as part of her presentation, something she can take on and off. She may have chosen to wear those shoes just for herself, with no one else in mind, but she might still appreciate hearing that someone thinks they’re excellent shoes. But her ass, well, that’s a different story. That’s not something that she can take on and take off. Now, she may have worked quite hard on her butt, and she could be stoked that someone thinks it looks good, but that’s an individual thing, not something generic to all women. The tone and delivery of a compliment about her butt might make a big impression in her perception of it. The fact of the matter is that a comment like ‘nice ass’ feels crude and unpleasant and threatening, because extended from ‘nice ass’ is something slimy and threatening and gross, something sinister.”
  • Pink Weights? (Guest Post) | Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty (April 19): A little outside the usual topics, however, it is a feminist viewpoint on what can be a geeky topic. “I have a mild uterine prolapse, which is like a mild hernia with less reliable surgical options. This condition is quite common, but not talked about very much, perhaps because it involves female bits, or perhaps because it isn’t life threatening. It certainly was news to me. [...] It turns out that despite my level of fitness, I hadn’t been exercising properly. I did not know what “activate your core before lifting” actually meant. I thought it meant bracing your abdominal and back muscles. But that’s not enough, and bracing could actually be doing more harm than good.”
  • Look In the Mirror: Confronting the Contradictions of LGBT Organizations and Our “Leadership” | Christian Emmanuel Castaing at Black Girl Dangerous (April 17): “How dare you or your mission statement proclaim to speak for marginalized communities when, in actuality, you’re developing your career and using your personal definitions of “sex positivity,” “social justice,” and “human rights” to SPEAK OVER the needs of those you claim to speak for? How dare you call yourself an activist when you capitalize on unearned privileges to state “It Gets Better,” while reinforcing a system of “Us” and “Them”? How dare you capitalize on a movement, take the most space, and use the most resources to satisfy your desires over the needs of others? The contradictions in our organizations and within any leader are vast. Keeping a movement that has turned its back on its least protected members demands that we reclaim the movement and hold it responsible. Our leadership cannot avoid being held responsible for unethical behavior, and we should not be afraid to hold them accountable.”

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.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-22 15:00:07

The other day, our friendly performance engineer Ori, who loves to teach, whiteboarded Wikimedia's caching layers for me. Varnish, memcached, MariaDB's query cache, the browser's native cache, LocalStorage, and so on. I took notes and said "OH" a lot.

If you develop a web site that caches cleverly and thoroughly enough, you can avoid slowing down performance with gobs of CPU and database work, and give the user lightning-fast responses to common requests.

Similarly, I have accumulated a set of responses that I often have close to hand, such as:

  • a false name, for use when ordering pizza ("Vicky")
  • a funny and inoffensive joke I once read in Reader's Digest, for use in case someone says "you're a stand-up comedian; say something funny"
  • the ten-second explanation of what I do and where I work
  • h-a-r, i-h-a, r-e-s-as-in-sugar, w-a-r-a (pre-chunked explanation of how to spell my surname)
  • a few general food and beverage preferences (dark leafy greens and legumes; green tea, sparkling water, Malbec, and stout)

Caching works great for slow-changing things, and for things you can say the exact same way every time. On the other hand, every once in a while, someone asks me about my career plans. Then I wave my hands and say things about leadership and open source and moving the needle. At least, this year I do.

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-22 02:20:59

[The poster will be in the next post. I felt that I should write this, and then Easter got in the way.]

I really enjoyed PyCon 2014. But I never loved PyCon 2014 with an all-consuming passion. And this is well.

I was sometimes tired at PyCon 2014. I was certainly tired as I came back home from PyCon 2014.[1] But I was never tired and sad beyond anything in this world at PyCon 2014, or after. And this is very well.

I had a couple of worries at PyCon. I never panicked uncontrollably and without a cause. It was a good feeling.

I loved not being exhilarated but enjoying my time. I even loved being under the weather or worried, because I was a bit down but not crushed. It was well, it was so good.

I'm bipolar, I've got bipolar disorder.[2]

Not so long ago, I was in a really bad place. It took more than I expected: I felt better in August, but I overdid myself and I got stuck back until Christmas. But around Christmas it looked as if things started falling into their place.

Now I'm managing.

I still have to be aware at all times: stop alcohol that moment before; if you're tired above that level go straight to bed and call it a day; if you start laughing that uncontrollably keep an eye on yourself, even if you're watching Some Like It Hot. Learn to find that that, push it and yourself but not beyond that, don't take it badly if you get it wrong. Take your medications, morning and night.

But I'm managing. As in: I've never been better in years.

I'm just a bit torn between enjoying reading books[3] and being able to follow what happens in TV series[4] even more because I know how much the mind can be in a terrible state, and being quite scared because I know how much my mind didn't realise the terrible state in which it[5] was.

As far as work is concerned, I'm just happy. OK, no: I'm worried about the Years I Wasted Being Ill, as usual.[6] But I'm so happy. If I managed to stay afloat during that time, now that I'm well I feel that I can do so much. So healthily. So well.

A whole conference, and I'm just tired because of some work, jet lag, a bad flight and two days preparing what turned out to be a fantastic almost-seven-hours-long Easter lunch for eight people.[7] Never happened before. It's going to happen again. I can't wait.

And (no spoilers, but) I have projects. Things to work on. And I can do it. No, I'm not setting the bar too low: I'm counting my blessings.

Because I've been lucky, blessed, whatever you call it. I had support from many people and from the system (thanks, NHS). I didn't have many sources of stress that others may have; my medications don't give me terrible side effects[8]. But, in the end all that matters is here: I'm well. Not so bad, at least. (I'll be better as soon as I'll overcome the bagnacaoda[9] leftovers.)

So, here's the Attempt at Socially Useful Part of this post:

  1. Mental health issues are bad
  2. Don't even try to deny it
  3. As in "think of the children with cancer,[10] you're just being difficult, get over it"
  4. But they're not invincible
  5. Even when they're incurable, they are (often) treatable
  6. But you have to do something about it
  7. As in avoiding the whole "medications and doctors are evil tools" thing
  8. So, try to get help
  9. And, if you can, remember to fight for people that aren't able to get help
  10. Like people that cannot afford to see a doctor
  11. (Yes that was a hat tip to free health care)
  12. And if you have a mental illness, remember that
    1. You are not alone
    2. It's not shameful to be ill
    3. (My grandmother never said that someone had cancer. She just said that someone had "a bad illness." As if there were good illnesses.)[11]
    4. Yes, it's bad
    5. But you can fight it and win
    6. Because it's not you, it's it
    7. No matter what it puts in your head
    8. And I'm here, cheering for you


Although, if you want to continue the discussion in the comments or drop me an email - feel free.

Now I should really study Django. The tutorial by Tracy Osborn at PyCon was really illuminating.

And I should write something to deal with footnotes in my posts, I guess.


The title is a reference to how Winston Churchill used to call his depression. Which proves that you might win the Battle of Britain but not completely overcome depression. Sometimes one has to settle.

[1] Consider that the journey back home included: a US border control agent calling the paramedics because I had all the symptoms of a heart attack; said paramedic being French-speaking and not knowing the word "spleen," as in "I don't have a spleen"; signing a form to get home as soon as possible; three hours on the tarmac; back to the gate; a change of route so that I could avoid New York, that was shut down due to bad weather (the guy behind me in the queue looked incredibly like Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones); yet another wait; a flight with a lot of turbulence; the worst food I'd had in a while; a four-year-old screaming in my ears for about five hours out of the seven when we were in the air; a mother of said child that acted as her four-year-old were as incontrollable as a six-month-old baby, so much that the flight assistant (who bore a striking resemblance to the director of Torchwood One from Doctor Who) gave up telling her to keep her boy still and seated for landing.

[2] Note on ableism/disability rights/that-sort-of-things. "I've got bipolar disorder" or "I'm bipolar": the issue is complex. How much the mental illness is part of your mind, and how much of your mind is part of you? And even if it isn't: how much an experience such as a mental illness defines someone who has dealt with it? I'm OK with both phrases, but be aware that it's a minefield.

[3] The Lord of the Rings (appendixes included); Harry Potter (all seven books, crying like a baby); God Believes in Love - Straight Talk about Gay Marriage (by Gene Robinson, one of my heroes); Redshirts (by John Scalzi, and you should read it because it's beautiful); The Importance of Being Earnest (which has some absolutely hilarious subtle gender-swapping moments I didn't remember); Il corpo non dimentica (by Violetta Bellocchio, it's available only in Italian - so far; if you read Italian I wholeheartedly recommend it: it's amazing, and I'm not saying it just because I know the author), Marvel: the Untold History (I'm still in the middle of it), Young Avengers written by Kieron Gillen (my welcome-back-home gift from my own best husband in the world).

[4] After a thorough rewatch of Buffy and Angel, Fringe.[4.1] Next: catching up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and maybe Mad Men from scratch.

[4.1] If I ever get my hands on an unlimited amount of money, I want Nina Sharp's stylist to design my outfits.

[5] "It"? "She"? If I'm "she" shouldn't my mind be a "she"?

[6] And anyway I'm telling the whole story (or at least a good part of the story) of my 20kg medical record in instalments in this great web magazine (in Italian; but if you read Italian...).

[7] Hey, the title of this blog is not just a random quote from Grace Hopper.

[8] If you've ever watched Silver Linings Playbook[8.1]: the scene in which the main characters compare the side of effects of psychiatric medications embarrassing everyone at the dinner table rings so true to me.

[8.1] Good film, and it's amazing how it's able to tell a story about people with mental health issues avoiding to fall into stereotypes. (I won't expand or I'll never finish this post.)

[9] Bagnacaoda: Piedmontese dish. It involves garlic, anchovies, butter (a lot of butter), oil (a lot of oil). But, you see: it's eaten with vegetables (dipped in the "bagna"), so it must be healthy. Right? I can give the recipe in the comments, if you wish.

[10] And as a "cancer survivor" I can guarantee you that cancer patients are less than amused to be used for your inspiration porn.[10.1]

[10.1] You should really read the article I just linked.

[11] As JK Rowling (via Albus Dumbledore) says: "Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself."

Marta Maria Casetti | Planning a dinner. | 2014-04-22 01:36:36

OPW Round 7 ran from December 11, 2013 to March 11, 2014. During the three months, I’ve been exposed to, in no particular order: automation with bash scripting, SVN with mercurial, C++ in writing Gazebo plugins and worlds, Python with Google AppEngine and CourseBuilder, Amazon’s EC2 via CloudSim and, of course, Google Hangouts. All these […]

Ana Marian Pedro | The Little Robot Blogs | 2014-04-21 10:00:59

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.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-18 17:07:40

Four sets of four:

  1. Leah Steinberg's Hacker School diary, in illustrated form: 1, 2, 3, 4.

  2. "Four Search Requests, Presented In Descending Order Of Politeness."

  3. Surprises, failures, jokes, and disorientations.

  4. New York, Montreal, San Francisco, New York. (I've been away from home, presenting at PyCon and getting information from colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation -- then home to work with the new skills I've absorbed. Perhaps I have finally found a rhythm for my life.)

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-18 14:30:48

At PyCon this year, I had the pleasure of announcing pip install pyladies.

Yes! You really can install a PyLadies package! It's available on PyPI, with the handbook portion available on Read the Docs.

The pyladies package contains all that a PyLady needs to start her own local PyLadies:

  • Complete handbook that walks through how to start a PyLadies group,
  • A script that launches the handbook, with more functionality slated to be added, including:
    • Interactive script to submit initial interest form,
    • Interactive script to submit final registration form,
    • Tools to admins to interact with Twitter and Meetup APIs,
  • Workshop materials for ideas and blueprints to run events,
  • Images and other assets for swag printing, global and local logos, etc.

This is the bare minimum for a shippable viable product - so issues/ideas and pull requests are welcomed!!

Pyladies | PyLadies | 2014-04-18 01:28:00

On Saturday, April 26th, there is going to be an Open Source Comes to Campus event at Northeastern Illinois University. It's open to all students. I've been helping a bit with organizing it and I'll be mentoring at the event. If you'd like to learn the basics and make your first contribution to FOSS, please follow the link below and sign up :)

Hope to see you then, and happy hacking.

Meg Ford | Meg Ford | 2014-04-17 23:13:02

Lately I’ve been blogging about the proposal for new Fedora websites to account for the effort. So far, the proposal has been met with warm reception and excitement! (Yay!)

We Really Would Love Your Help

Two very important things that I’d like to make clear at this point:

  • This plan is not set in stone. It’s very sketchy, and needs more refinement and ideas. There is most certainly room to join in and contribute to the plan! Things are still quite flexible; we’re still in the early stages!
  • We would love your help! I know this usually goes without saying in FLOSS, but I still think it is worth saying. We would love more folks – with any skillset – to help us figure this out and make this new web presence for Fedora happen!

Are you interested in helping out? Or perhaps you’d just like to play around with our assets – no strings attached – for fun, or follow along on the progress at a lower level than just reading these blog posts? Let’s talk about where the action is happening so you can get in on it! :)

How To Get Involved

Up until this point, the web ideas and mockups have been scattered across various blogs, Fedora people pages, and git repos. We talked a bit last week in #fedora-design about centralizing all of our assets in one place to make it easier to collaborate and for new folks to come on board and help us out. Here’s what we’ve set up so far:

  • A Fedora Design GitHub group – I’ve already added many of our friends from the Fedora Design team. If you’d like to be included, let me know your github usersname!
  • nextweb-assets git repo – This repo has the Inkscape SVG source for the mockups and diagrams I’ve been blogging here. Please feel free to check them out, remix them, or contribute your own! I tried to set up a sensible directory structure. I recommend hooking this repo up to SparkleShare for a nice workflow with Inkscape.
  • mockups-getfedora git repo – This repo holds the prototype Ryan has been working on for the new ‘Brochure Site’ in the proposal.

We also, of course, have #fedora-design in freenode IRC for discussing the design, as well as the design-team mailing list for discussion.

The Fedora Websites team will be setting up a branch for the new websites work sometime by the end of next week. For now, you can take a look at the mockups-getfedora repo. You also might want to set up a local copy of the Fedora websites repo by following these instructions to get familiar with the Fedora websites workflow.

Okay, I hope this makes it abundantly clear that we’d love your help and gives you some clear steps towards starting to get involved should you be interested. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or really anyone on the design team or websites team if you’d like to get started!

Mairin Duffy | Mirn Duffy | 2014-04-17 20:45:35

The Eye Opener, as the name states, is meant to get you back on your feet in the morning. Like many drinks with eggs in them, this is meant as a hangover drink. The yolk is meant to help coat your tummy, and of course the liquor is for your classic hair of the dog. The Lommebogen recipe is unlike any others I've seen. It is quite different from the Savoy and Café Royal books, as well as the modern version, most notably due to using cognac instead of rum, and adding lemon juice. I couldn't find any trails that could show me why the Lommebogen recipe is so different. It just seems to be an outlier that Axel picked up, off from the classic recipe.

In the Savoy/Café Royal recipe one of the sweetening liqueurs is Crème de Noyaux. I had to sort out what that was and if I was going to track it down to add to my bar. It's an almond-flavored liqueur made from apricot pits, and it has a bright red color. Apparently this is generally similar to amaretto except for the color and being a bit sweeter. You can read more about Crème de Noyaux over on the Cold Glass blog, along with another recipe that uses it, the Fairbank. For my purposes I just went ahead with using amaretto. I didn't feel like tracking down a whole bottle for two dashes.

Tip: I've written about using eggs in cocktails before. If you are using egg yolks, in particular, you really need to double strain. (That is, don't rely on just your cocktail strainer, but pour it through a small sieve as well.) The ookey string that attaches to the yolk (the chalaza) is a nasty thing to sip in your drink. Double strain that thing out of there.

Eye Opener

The Recipes

2 oz cognac
1 egg yolk
little lemon juice
1 spoon sugar

Café Royal and Savoy
2 oz rum
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 dashes absinthe
2 dashes curaçao
2 dashes crème de noyaux (or substitute amaretto)

The Tasting

The Lommebogen recipe is just yuck. Completely unbalanced. Perhaps if the lemon and sugar were upped, or something. I dunno, I can't even figure out how to fix it from the taste. I ended up dumping it out.

The Savoy/Café Royal was better, but still not hitting it for me. It's like it wanted to be egg nog, but just really wasn't. I didn't feel that the egg yolk was balancing out the liquor without more sugar, I think. I did prefer the rum version, mostly because it tasted a little sweeter, with the rum and liqueurs there. More modern versions of the recipe cut the rum a little and have a tiny bit more of the liqueurs in there. I think that would turn this into a palatable drink. I love a fair number of flips (which use a whole egg in them) and I'd steer towards one of those before coming back to this one.

This post is part of a series working through some of the cocktails in a Danish bartender's notebook from the 1930s, Lommebogen. You can read more about this project in my initial post, or browse all Lommebogen posts.

Addison Berry | rocktreesky | 2014-04-17 08:58:49

This morning as I was about to get on a plane back from a conference I found out that Dana McCallum, aka Dana L. Contreras, a software engineer at Twitter as well as a feminist activist, was arrested in late January and charged with several felonies including rape, false imprisonment, and domestic violence. Some details of the charges are described on SFgate: SF Women’s Rights Advocate Accused of Raping Wife.

Many of us associated with and its sister organizations would like to make a statement in response.

This is horrifying and came as a shock to many of us in feminist communities, as McCallum has been a fellow feminist activist for some time. The bloggers at would like to express our empathy and support for the victim/survivor and her family.

Another aspect of this case is that the media coverage of the rape and assault charges are almost universally misogynist and transphobic both in their perpetuation of rape culture (for one, by providing an uncritical platform for McCallum’s lawyer) and in their misgendering and obsessive focus on McCallum’s gender identity and history.  Some radical feminist activists (and their many obvious sockpuppets) have also been writing hateful “trans panic” or TERF articles and tweets. We strongly repudiate such responses.

Rape is a horrible violent crime no matter who the rapist is.

The National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling says on a comment on a post by Nitasha Tiku,

“Rape is a horrific crime. Sexual violence is never okay. But this isn’t a transgender story. We can’t speak to the specifics of this case but sexual assault knows no gender. That’s why the FBI recently revised their definition of rape. As this case gains more attention, we must avoid using it as a reason to misrepresent transgender people.”

For anyone who has experienced abuse or sexual assault, it can be helpful to turn to local or broader resources. Here is a list of trans-friendly and inclusive rape survivor organizations and resources.  In San Francisco,  San Francisco Women Against Rape is a good resource;  WOMAN Inc, the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic, and GLIDE also provide many resources for people in the SF Bay Area who have experienced domestic violence. Please don’t go through this on your own; reach out to people around you — you’re not alone.

- Liz Henry


Leigh Honeywell

Valerie Aurora

Brenda Wallace

Tim Chevalier

Annalee Flower Horne

Beth Flanagan

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-16 23:43:11

So a couple of weeks ago we talked about a proposal for the new Fedora website that Ryan Lerch, Matthew Miller, and myself came up with. The feedback we’ve gotten thus far has been overwhelmingly positive, so I’ve put some time into coming up with less vague and hand-wavy ideas as to what a particular sub hub on the Fedora ‘Community Hub’ might look like. Remember, this thing we talked about:


We’re talking about what one of those individual little hubs might look like. The theoretical examples above are very Fedora team-centric; I would like us to follow a model a little more flexible than that in the spirit of Reddit. E.g., it should be easy to break out a new subhub for a specific topic, or a cross-team collaboration / project, etc. So the sub-hubs won’t necessarily be along team lines.

A Sub-hub for the Design Team


Okay, okay, not that kind of sub. (I have a sandwich graphic too, just waiting for its opportunity. :) ) I understand pretty deeply how the Fedora design team works, the workflows and processes we’re involved with, so I figured it’d make the most sense to mock up a subhub for that team. The lovely Tatica volunteered to be the subject of this mockup. :)

This is going to be an obnoxiously big one. We’ll walk through it. Here goes:


Alert Box

The first thing that should hit you is the purple alert box. (I think the color should probably be customizable from a pre-selected set of choices on a per-sub hub basis.) From looking around at various online communities and forums and chatting with folks, it seems a common meme for organizing online communities is having a set of guidelines for how the community is run. The idea with this box is that the community owners / mods can set the message, and it’ll be display to newcomers to the hub or to everybody (if it is ever updated.) It can be dismissed and won’t show up again unless the content is changed. It also links up to a fuller set of community rules and guidelines.

Moderator Box

This is kind of a meta help box. It’s in right sidebar, towards the top. It has a list of the group owners / mods; you can click on their names to get more info about them. It also has a link to the community rules & guidelines (helpful in case you closed out the alert box.) One idea we’ve been kicking around is letting people notify the mods of any issues from this widget; the tension there is making sure it doesn’t become a spam outlet.

Custom subhub banner

Following Reddit’s lead, there’s a space below the main navbar designated for the subhub’s branding. Some of the subreddit artwork I’ve seen isn’t the best quality though. We’ll probably offer a design team service to design the banners for different subhubs in the system. We can also provide a precanned set of nice backgrounds that teams can choose from. The way we’re thinking the banner will work is you can set a repeatable background tile, and then set a graphic that will be displayed left, center, or right.

User / profile config center

This isn’t mocked up yet; the vision there is that it would let you visit your profile page and would also provide a lot of the functionality you have in the FAS2 website today: change your password, change your ssh key, location, etc., as well as manage your group memberships.

Messaging center

This one is also not yet mocked up. It will likely be getting its own blog post soon. There’s a lot of different types of messages/notifications a user could get, so I think we need to sit down and catalogue the ones we know about before mocking anything up. I think it might also be cool to have a place to save/store stuff you like; like a favorites list you can refer back to later.

Nav bar

Okay, so here’s the idea with the navbar. It’s another Reddit-inspired thing. Users logging in for the first time with fresh FAS accounts by default will have a few select hubs in their navbar – perhaps ‘front,’ ‘planet,’ and ‘announce.’ (‘front’ could be maybe some kind of aggregation of the most popular content; planet would be a hub that basically repeats Fedora planet maybe, announce would basically mirror the Fedora project announce-list.)

Once a user joins different FAS groups – or if they are already a member of FAS groups – the hubs associated with the groups they are a member of could appear in their navbar. So here, you see Tatica has ‘designteam,’ ‘ambassadors,’ ‘marketing,’, and ‘LATAM’ subhubs in her navbar, as an example.

You can customize your nav bar by hitting the ‘edit’ button on the far right side of it. Maybe there could be a directory of subhubs across the system when you click on the ‘hubs’ logo in the upper right, and you can add them to your nav from their as well.

Subhub meta bar

This is the topmost widget in the right-hand sidebar. It gives you an idea of how many people are ‘members’ of the subhub (analogous to how many people are members of the FAS group it’s assocaited with,) and how many people follow the hub (‘subscribers.’) It also provides a mechanism for you to subscribe or unsubscribe from the hub.

Example Hyperkitty post

There’s an example post, ‘Fedora Design Github org,’ that I posted to the design-team mailing list a few days ago. This is mean to show how a post from Hyperkitty could appear in this system. The thought / hope is that we could use the Hyperkitty/Mailman API to send comments, or at the very least simply display them and link back out to Hyperkitty for replying and reading other posts.

Alternatively, we could just have a widget for the design-team mailing list, and not integrate posts into the news stream on the hub. We could instead show some of the Hyperkitty widgets currently displayed on list overviews, like the most active threads list or the most recent threads list. That’s another way to go. I’m not sure what’s best yet. Maybe we give subhub owners a choice, depending on how much they actively use the mailing list or not in their particular community.

Glitter Gallery post

We have another example post below the Hyperkitty one; this one is an example Glitter Gallery post. You can view the artwork and make comments on it, and the comments should get sent back to Glitter Gallery.

Example blog post

Further down the main news feed area we have a small snippet of a blog post to show how that would look in the subhub context. The idea here is that the design team has a subplanet on associated with it – – so those posts could show up in the chronological news stream as well.

Chat widget

Another idea in the right-hand sidebar – inspired by waartaa and ideally driven by it – a little chat client that connects to #fedora-design on freenode IRC, where the design team tends to hang out. I do not think the backlog should be blanked on every page load – I think there should always be at least a few hundred lines of backlog stored with the subhub so anybody coming in can follow the conversation from before they joined that they missed out on. It’ll let folks catch up and participate. :)

Nauncier widget

This is just a simple little widget to show that widgets don’t have to be complex – this one drives users who haven’t yet voted on the Fedora supplemental wallpapers to go and vote!

Ticket Widget

The design team has trac queue where we accept requests for artwork and design from across the project. It might be nice to inspire folks to help out with a ticket by having available tickets listed right there. It might be some good motivation too – if someone finishes a ticket or posts something to a ticket – that would be shown in the feed too. When you do good work and complete something, or submit something and are looking for feedback – you’d get more exposure by having that broadcast to the subhub news feed.

Some thoughts

Okay, so hopefully that little tour through the mockup made sense. What do you think?

Overall, I would like to point out that as with Hyperkitty, the design principle here is the same – we do not want to displace folks who are already happy with the tools they use and force them to log into this web system and use only that. If someone posts a reply to a mailing list post through this hubs system, the reply should get send back to the mailing list as a reply and should be perfectly readable by folks using only a mail client to receive postings by email. If someone sends a message in the chat, folks using a traditional IRC client in that channel should be able to see that message and communicate with the sender without issue. The hope here is to bring things together to make it easier and less intimidating for newcomers without sacrificing anything on the current contributors’ side.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Mairin Duffy | Mirn Duffy | 2014-04-16 18:36:49

Were you at PyCon? Did you stop by the Geek Feminism Hackerspace? What did you think of the talks? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-16 16:02:41

Great panel on women leaders in technology with Angie Byron, Holly Ross, and Atefeh Riazi, UN CIO.

Original panel details with speaker bios:

Women in Drupal | Women in Drupal (Formerly DrupalChix) | 2014-04-16 14:56:51


Dan Walsh had a great idea for explaining SELinux policy concepts in a fun way – creating an SELinux coloring book! He wrote up a script, I illustrated it using my Wacom in Inkscape on Fedora, and we turned it into an article. Still. We needed physical coloring books, and what better place to hand them out than at the Red Hat Summit?

We got them printed up and shipped off to the Summit (some in assorted volunteers’ baggage :) ), and they’ve been so popular that Dan is getting close to running out, except a reserve he’s kept for the SELinux for Mere Mortals talk later today. We also handed out some slightly imperfect misprints in the Westford Red Hat office, and we’ve been told a co-worker’s daughter brought hers to pre-school and it was a big hit – the other kids want their own. When it comes to SELinux, we’re starting ‘em young on the setenforce 1 path. :)

How might you get your own copy? Well, we’ve made the coloring book, including the text and artwork, available under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. So download, print, share, remix, and enjoy! :)

Mairin Duffy | Mirn Duffy | 2014-04-16 14:33:01

I started a new job about a month back where I develop web apps to teach high school science concepts, and I must say that I like it very much. It’s hard work, but I am learning a lot, and getting “curiouser and curiouser” by the day.

Besides the debugger on a web browser, I’ve started using this interesting idea of “Rubber duck debugging”[1] while I code, and it helped me solve one or two bugs that I couldn’t solve with the traditional debugger. It’s rather interesting actually, and how it works is that you explain your program line by line to a rubber duck that you place near your laptop. I mostly isolate the section of code that I think is problematic and then use the technique.

I guess it’s mostly just talking your program out for the especially lonely, but it really amuses me, and I’ve started using it more and more often. I use my handy Mallard stress ball instead of a rubber duck, so I haven’t had a chance to name my programming-confidant yet. Maybe it’s time to get a new toy.

[1] –

Aruna Sankaranarayanan | ... | 2014-04-16 06:17:18

In the last few days, I have got several requests from different people, asking me to suggest them how they should start blogging and give them some tips on blogging. 

On one hand, it makes me feel proud to think that my blogs are encouraging others to become a blogger, but at the same time, it increases my responsibility towards my readers.
These questions actually did force me to put on my thinking cap and ponder over the real secrets of being a good blogger. Is blogging really an art?

Photo source:

For me, blogging is as simple as writing your journal. You just need to put your thoughts into words.

If I had to jot down a few important tips on blogging, these would probably be the ones:
  • Know your readers. I am sure while making a blog post, most of us have a target audience in mind. Understanding the reader's perspective is important. Just as a speaker needs to strike the right strings in his or her audience, a writer also needs to do the same.
  • Keep your blog simple. There is not much need to put in too many flowery or high technical words (unless there is an absolute need or requirement for it). A simple blog is easier to read and understand.
  • Make your blog interesting to read. Unless you are writing a completely technical blog, there is no harm in putting in a few light jokes here and there. [Just a word of caution here, let the jokes not be at the cost of anyone's sentiments.]
  • If you have a very techy blog post, you can always add a few screen casts or screen-shots here and there.
    If you are writing a blog on your travel experience etc, adding a few pictures is always fun and interesting.
I do not hold more experience than this about someone seeking an answer to this question can search a little more for available stuff on the internet.

Also, it would be great if some of my readers can leave their views on this topic as a comment on this post.

Priyanka Nag | IVY | 2014-04-16 03:15:07

Online Shopping This year I had planned to try to buy other products online, not only electronics.  I bought clothes at and medicine/cosmetics at They were quick and I always had control: I knew what was going on from the time I paid to the time the products arrived. All went well until I tried […]

Camila Ayres | | 2014-04-15 18:58:57

  • So You’ve Got Yourself a Policy. Now What? | Stephanie Zvan at Freethough Blogs (April 10): “We know from situations in which they’ve failed that “zero-tolerance” policies, policies in which any act that is deemed to be unacceptable results in expulsion and exclusion, don’t work well. They fail in three main ways. People who are against harassment policies in general are quick to point out that they leave no room for honest mistakes. They are correct when talking about zero-tolerance policies, even if they make the same criticism about all policies.”
  • What’s Missing from Journalists’ Tactic of Snagging Stories from Twitter? Respect. | Tina Vasquez at bitchmedia (March 21): “Christine Fox does not consider herself a social justice advocate. On March 12, Fox’s timeline took a decidedly different turn. That night, to illustrate that there is no correlation between clothing and sexual assault, Fox asked her more than 12,000 followers to share what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. It was the first time Fox facilitated a conversation on this scale and it was also the first time she publicly shared her story as an assault survivor. She walked away from her computer that night feeling positive about what took place—and many tweeted to thank her, saying that through the tears, the discussion felt healing. But the next morning, Fox felt her hands go shaky. She felt nauseous and sweaty. She’d later learn from followers on Twitter that after reading through hundreds of tweets about assault, she had likely “triggered” herself, a term she was relatively unfamiliar with. Still, she knew something powerful had happened and she was proud to have sparked it. And then BuzzFeed came along and fucked everything up.”
  • My Cane is Not A Costume – Convention Exclusions and Ways to Think About Oppression at Cons | Derek Newman-Stille at Speculating Canada (April 7): “On a regular basis at speculative and other fan conventions, I get knocked around, shoved, pushed out of the way. People assume that because I am using a cane, I am taking up more than my fair space, after all, I have THREE whole legs on the ground (two legs and a cane). I hope this is because they assume that my cane is the equivalent to their lightsaber, a performative piece, a part of a costume… That is my hope. However, I have seen issues of systemic ableism at cons.”
  • Why are People Perennially Surprised By Internet Misogyny? | s.e. smith at (April 14): “I have a confession: I was tempted to cut and paste this piece, since I’m pretty sure I’ve written it before. I realized that my desire to cut and paste was kind of an indicator of how endlessly circular this topic is, though. [...] I really don’t know how many times people need to say this before the message will sink through: the internet is a dangerous place for women. It’s especially dangerous for women living at the intersections of multiple marginalisations.”
  • Collecting Inspiration with Supersisters | Liz Zanis at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (April 3): “Published in 1979, the Supersisters trading cards were a playful, informative, and accessible way to spread feminism to younger audiences. The series was inspired by Lois Rich’s daughter, an eight-year-old baseball-card collector, who asked why there weren’t any pictures of girls on the cards. With a grant from the New York State Education Department, Lois Rich and her sister, Barbara Egerman, contacted five hundred women of achievement and created cards of the first seventy-two to respond.”

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.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-15 15:00:39

This is SUPER cool. NCWIT and are partnering in a Mother's Day campaign to show pictures of women coders, mother and daughter pairs, etc.

Let's make sure the amazing Women in Drupal are represented. Get your pictures of you, your daughters, you and your daughters, etc. coding away.

Feel free to share this information to as many women coders as you can.

Women in Drupal | Women in Drupal (Formerly DrupalChix) | 2014-04-14 17:49:38

PyCon 2014 happened. (Sprints are still happening.)

This was my 3rd PyCon, but my first year as a serious contributor to the event, which led to an incredibly different feel. I also came as a person running a company building a complex system in Python, and I loved having the overarching mission of what I'm building driving my approach to what I chose to do. PyCon is one of the few conferences I go to where the feeling of acceptance and at-homeness mitigates the introvert overwhelm at nonstop social interaction. It's truly a special event and community.

Here are some highlights:

  • I gave a tutorial about search, which was recorded in its entirety... if you watch this video, I highly recommend skipping the hands-on parts where I'm just walking around helping people out. :)
  • I gave a talk! It's called Subprocess to FFI, and you can find the video here. Through three full iterations of dry runs with feedback, I had a ton of fun preparing this talk. I'd like to give more like it in the future as I continue to level up my speaking skills.
  • Allen Downey came to my talk and found me later to say hi. Omg amazing, made my day.
  • Aux Vivres and Dieu du Ciel, amazing eats and drink with great new and old friends. Special shout out to old Debian friends Micah Anderson, Matt Zimmerman, and Antoine BeauprĂŠ for a good time at Dieu du Ciel.
  • The Geek Feminism open space was a great place to chill out and always find other women to hang with, much thanks to Liz Henry for organizing it.
  • Talking to the community from the Inbox booth on Startup Row in the Expo hall on Friday. Special thanks for Don Sheu and Yannick Gingras for making this happen, it was awesome!
  • The PyLadies lunch. Wow, was that amazing. Not only did I get to meet Julia Evans (who also liked meeting me!), but there was an amazing lineup of amazing women telling everyone about what they're doing. This and Noami Ceder's touching talk about openly transitioning while being a member of the Python community really show how the community walks the walk when it comes to diversity and is always improving.
  • Catching up with old friends like Biella Coleman, Selena Deckelmann, Deb Nicholson, Paul Tagliamonte, Jessica McKellar, Adam Fletcher, and even friends from the bay area who I don't see often. It was hard to walk places without getting too distracted running into people I knew, I got really good at waving and continuing on my way. :)

I didn't get to go to a lot of talks in person this year since my personal schedule was so full, but the PyCon video team is amazing as usual, so I'm looking forward to checking out the archive. It really is a gift to get the videos up while energy from the conference is still so high and people want to check out things they missed and share the talks they loved.

Thanks to everyone, hugs, peace out, et cetera!

Christine Spang | there's gotta be a better way | 2014-04-14 16:32:41

Acum câteva luni de zile plănuiam să plec în Franța, la Paris, și să fac un internship în cadrul proiectului Coccinelle. Între timp planurile mele s-au schimbat, dar nu ăsta e subiectul blog post-ului ăsta.

Prin luna ianuarie am completat o cerere online (cu greu! că la francezi toate site-urile sunt în franceză, iar dacă le trimiți un mail îți răspund în franceză și tot așa) pe site-ul, autoritatea care se ocupă cu distribuția locurilor în căminele pariziene.  Eu căutam cazare începând cu 1 mai. Mi-au spus că întrunirea de distribuție a locurilor pentru perioada de vară are loc în luna aprilie și că o să primesc un mail în perioada respectivă.

Am uitat că am făcut cererea respectivă. În mare parte pentru că mi s-a părut târziu să mă bazez pe ei pentru un răspuns spre finele lui aprilie. Cred că era frumos din partea mea să-i anunț că nu mai am nevoie. :)

Astăzi am primit un răspuns de la în care mă anunță că am primit cazare în căminul respectiv. Am redat aici cu copy/paste conținutul mail-ului.

Eu nu știu franceză, dar deloc. Așa că m-am apucat să mă uit cu Google Translate la conținutul mesajului. Redau paragraful care mi-a atras atenția:

For payment of your deposit by credit card, you must first send us an email authorizing us to charge your credit card for the sum of € 200. You will then need to call us to give us your credit card number , expiry date and security code.

Aha, deci vor numărul de pe card, expiration date și security code. Buuuun.

Zic să-i răspund, înainte să pierd oportunitatea. :)

Thank you very very very much! :D

I would like to pay with my credit card:
the account number is: 1123 5813 2134 5589
expiration date 01/15
security code: 144

Please confirm that everything is OK.

Și-am primit chiar și-un răspuns:

Sorry but I can not charge this cart, I have the following message “invalid card”
Please send me another credit card number . 
Best regards

Mr RIGAUDEAU Pierre Alexandre
Résidence Lila
6 av René Fonck
75019 PARIS
Tél :

Și acum nu știu ce să le mai zic. Idei? :(

Laura Vasilescu | Laura Vasilescu | 2014-04-14 15:21:08

Thank you to everyone who dropped by. Thank you if you let me guide you through the map in the poster, if you took the handout, if you just looked at my Grumpy Cat telling you to test your code.

You'll be able to see and download a version of both poster and handout here in the next days.

And things might evolve into something more...

Marta Maria Casetti | Planning a dinner. | 2014-04-13 19:21:44

[Puts on her best wise auntie look.]

Growing up is also about choices.

[Wise auntie look comes crashing down.]

No, I'm not that good at following my own wisdom. I want to do everything, at once.

But you should also find out which way is your way. Start with your strength first, feel great, then challenge yoursef out of your comfort zone later.

For instance, let's say that you want to move your Python knowledge to yet another level.

But the further you go, the more the roads you see in front of you.

So now it's time for a test. You know, like those "Which Star Wars Character Are You?" tests. But simpler.

And let's hope that this time I don't come out as Greedo.

Q1: Where did you sit when you were in school?

  1. First row. Hand up.
  2. Last row. Under the radar.
  3. School?

Q2: Pick one light reading.

  1. War and Peace. And without skipping the philosophical digressions.
  2. Harry Potter.
  3. The Evil Genius Guide to Taking Over the World.

Q3: Are you still here?

  1. Of course. I don't leave what I'm reading behind.
  2. Uh... yeah?
  3. [Silence. Somewhere someone's smashing something to see how it works.]

Results! Majority of...

  1. Have a cookie. Yes, you can have it. Go to Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. You will be thorough, as usual, and patient. You will come out of the book with a methodic understanding of concepts with some theoretical background (you're allowed to peek into appendices before the end and see what the big-Oh notation is), the satisfaction of overcoming the tricks of many nice exercises, and a beautiful vocabulary (courtesy of the glossary at the end of each chapter).
  2. Have a cookie. Yes, you can take a cookie for each one of your friends. Bring them all here, while we're at it. No, I'm not sending you to the principal's office. I'm sending you to the intermediate projects of the Python Workshops that you can find via those great guys at OpenHatch. Some projects of the Boston Python Workshop are here; but you can find more, and they're always growing. If you're lucky (and, mostly, US-based) you can go and play with your friends live! at one of these workshops. But I guess that just the idea of making your own game of Snakes beats that tic-tac-toe that you were playing with over there.
  3. Have a cookie. Come on, come here. Please. I'll be quick. Have a cookie, yes. I know you're thinking about how to steal the jar. But I have something better for you: go to and see if you can get those tasty cookies. They're not easy to get. You have to deal with the world out there. You'll have to get your hands dirty, I'm afraid. I bet you... Hey! Where are you?

No majority?

You got me. Have all the cookies, you deserve them. Now throw a dice with a number of faces that is a multiple of three to choose between the options above.


Now have fun. Whoever you are, Python's got something for you.

And after you had fun your way, explore the rest. Challenge and surprise yourself.

Let's learn Python and grow up.

My poster at PyCon 2014 will be tomorrow (today, in EST) at 10:00am. Come and say hello.

Marta Maria Casetti | Planning a dinner. | 2014-04-13 19:12:24

Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brasil, Planeta Terra Em fevereiro-março desse ano eu fui ao Brasil, como sempre, visitei principalmente a minha família, mas dessa vez decidimos (eu e o meu marido) descansar um pouco mais e irmos a Bonito, MS. Eu tenho uma amiga morando lá. Bonito é uma cidade indescritível. Eu sempre preferi […]

Camila Ayres | | 2014-04-13 14:07:34

I have fond memories of The Python Tutorial on My first Python textbook was Learn Python The Hard Way, but as you might have gathered, around the tenth chapter of printing text I was a bit dispirited. So I went for something that sounded short, to the point, and a bit official, even dry.

The Python Tutorial was a great help. I read (more on this "read") it, I found what I wanted to know: that's the way you write a while loop, this is the way you define a function, classes are written according to this syntax. Then I moved on, keeping the website as a go-to reference for my little doubts.

I've just gone through it again, and I realise that I was saved by my worst flaws. No, not from, by.

First of all, I can be restless: I got to Defining Functions I enjoyed it, then I peeked into the next chapter and I saw Data Structures, I thought that was useful and quite easy to understand, and that section on Lambda Expressions in the middle of the two left my radar.

Then there's the fact that I knew something about programming. It was in Java, it was very little, but it was more than zero. This means that I knew the names of the topics: if I wanted to write was a while, I knew to look for "loops." (Actually, the while is covered in an example in the chapter before loops. The organisation of the topics is not the strong point of The Python Tutorial.)

Even how I didn't know very much played in my favour: it that the scope of my quest to do what I already knew wasn't so wide to get myself lost in small(ish) details.

So I found The Python Tutorial a great tool, under these two conditions: some (even very basic) background in code, some tendency (ability?) to skim and overlook topics that you'll get back to at a second reading. Also, the topics are many but the pace is quick, and the examples are simple: it's a perfect complement to Dive Into Python 3.

Looking again at The Python Tutorial after using it as a "beginners' text" was a bit a "Princess and the Frog" story: you think that you're over what's in there, then you find out that there's a lot more. The most important thing is in the URL: it's the official tutorial on the PSF website, so it's a gateway for the official documentation.

And there are many other good reasons why The Python Tutorial should always be there in your bookmarks: that drop-down menu (on the upper left of each page) that takes you from the page in Python 2.x to the same page in Python 3.x; the glossary (again, both in the 2.x and 3.x flavour).

So: this official tutorial can sound (or even be) a bit aloof sometimes. But you can (and shall) become fond of the company of this gentleman.

Marta Maria Casetti | Planning a dinner. | 2014-04-12 19:38:25

The Women in Drupal reception, sponsored by Aten Design Group and Amazee Labs, will be held at Max's Wine Bar on Tuesday night starting at 5:30pm. This is an open event, so if you can't make 5:30, show up when you can. We have a fantastic selection of wines and good picked out for you. These events are a great opportunity for women of all experience levels, to meet other Women in Drupal and technology.

Please visit the web page on the Drupalcon Austin site for more information and to register for the event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Women in Drupal | Women in Drupal (Formerly DrupalChix) | 2014-04-12 18:06:11

  • Women do not apply to ‘male-sounding’ job postings | Klaus Becker at Technische Universität München (April 3): “If the advertisement described a large number of traits associated with men, the women found it less appealing and were less inclined to apply. Such traits include ‘assertive’, ‘independent’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘analytical’. Women found words like ‘dedicated’, ‘responsible’, ‘conscientious’ and ‘sociable’ more appealing. For male test subjects, on the other hand, the wording of the job advertisement made no difference.” (Citations follow the press release.)
  • Is the Oculus Rift sexist? (plus response to criticism) | danah boyd at apophenia (April 3): “[M]ilitary researchers had noticed that women seemed to get sick at higher rates in simulators than men. While they seemed to be able to eventually adjust to the simulator, they would then get sick again when switching back into reality. Being an activist and a troublemaker, I walked straight into the office of the head CAVE researcher and declared the CAVE sexist.” Warning: as discussed at the end of the piece, boyd uses some language that trans people have criticised, explaining it as the language of her trans informants.
  • Introducing ‘Sexism Ed’ | Kelly J. Baker at Chronicle Vitae (April 2): “But look: We could lean in until our backs were permanently bent forward and still face discrimination, bias, harassment, and more recently, rescinded job offers… I’ll be writing an occasional column—I’ll call it Sexism Ed—as a way to continue the conversation on sexism and gender discrimination in higher ed.”
  • Creepshots: Microsoft discovers an on-campus peeping tom | Nate Anderson at Ars Technica (April 5): “The Muvi camera [found by a Microsoft vendor employee] contained ‘upskirt’ video footage of women climbing stairs or escalators—or sometimes just standing in checkout lines—and some of it had been shot on Microsoft’s campus.”

Lots of goodness in Model View Culture‘s Funding issue, including:

Check out the whole issue!

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-11 16:17:59

It’s passed a year and a new Summer will begin…a new summer for the women that will be chosen and that will start soon the GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women.

This summer Mozilla will participate with three different projects listed here and among them the Mozilla Bug Wrangler for Desktop QA that is the one I applied for last year. It has been a great experience for me and I want to wish good luck to everyone who submitted the application.

I hope you’ll have a wonderful and productive summer :)

Tiziana Sellitto | Tiziana Sellitto's blog | 2014-04-11 14:14:51

Over the last few months, I've been working through various leadership resources in an effort to learn more about being a better manager through leading instead of managing. I've been in a couple of courses that had me dive into myself first. Knowing who you are, and what motivates you, has a huge impact on how you approach others and the problems before you. It's been an interesting journey, and in some ways raised more questions for me to tackle. In particular I have been pondering my "core values" and my "why," which are supposed to define a quintessential "me." I've been questioning my final, distilled list, and I find that interesting in light of the list I have created. Here are the results of the 21 Day Leadership challenge (mountains and valleys core values exercise) and Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" course:

Core Values

  • Honesty: Being real, being true to myself and others
  • Trust: Something I can count on, including being able to rely on myself
  • Acceptance: Being truly seen for who and what you are
  • Exploration: Honesty comes from questioning and rethinking

To act with humanity and integrity so that everyone gets a fair shot.

You can see that honesty and integrity are important to me. What's interesting is that I feel these very strongly in relation to myself (perhaps more so than I do for honesty with others), which makes me question if I've really gotten to the heart of it. Let me try to explain. I often spend time questioning my own thoughts and reasoning. I want to make sure I am being truly honest with myself about who I am, warts and all. It feels like a fundamental need that underpins everything else listed. I poke and prod myself to try to flush out self-deception. I catch myself in self-deception all the time. I examine my actions to see patterns of self-deception and look for them going forward. Anyway, it's a big part of my internal dialog every day. So I've identified that as a core value, along with other things that I do think highly of and have emotional reactions to. The problem now though is that I am constantly questioning if this list is things I aspire to, or things I actively believe in. Are these truly my values, or the values I want to have? And round it goes.

I have shared this list with others in more private circles, but whenever I do I feel I need to temper it—to qualify it—with something about how I'm not sure these are my values. I'm afraid that others will look at the list, compare it to me, and find me wanting. I'm afraid others will see blatant self-deception. I bet I'm not the only one out there who feels like this, and I feel like sharing this list with room for lots of explanation around it helps me carry the internal conversation further. I'd certainly welcome discussion with anyone else who feels this resonates.

While I've been learning a lot about management and leadership, this plumbing of my internal depths in a new context has been a very rich experience for me—God knows, I've done enough therapy and self-help investigation in the past—even if it isn't as all tidy and neat as it sounds like it should be on the tin. Like much in life, leadership isn't something you learn and you're done. It's a constantly evolving exploration, and it starts with me. Hopefully I will come to a place where I feel more settled with a list of personal core values, but even if I never feel set with them, the examination and exposing of the questions themselves is something I don't want to lose.

Addison Berry | rocktreesky | 2014-04-11 08:19:04

We're kicking off our Spring Fundraising Campaign! Our goal this year is to raise $1,000,000 with a spending budget of $900,000.

As we embark on our 15th year of serving the FreeBSD Project and community, we are proud of how we've helped FreeBSD become the most innovative, realiable, and high-performance operating system. We are doing this by:
  • funding development projects,
  • having an internal technical staff available to work on small and large projects, fixing problems, and areas of system administration and release engineering,
  • providing legal support,
  • funding conferences and summits that allow face-to-face interaction and collaboration between FreeBSD contributors, users, and advocates,
  • and advocating for and educating people about FreeBSD by providing high-quality brochures, white papers, and the FreeBSD Journal.

We can't do this without you! You can help by making a donation today.

Help spread the word by posting on FaceBook, Twitter, your blogs, and asking your company to help. Did you know there are thousands of companies that wil match their employee's donations? Check with your company to see if you can automatically double your donation by having your company match your donation.

Thanks for your support!

Dru Lavigne | FreeBSD Foundation | 2014-04-11 08:17:44

So, are you ready for the next level?

So let's Dive Into Python 3.

You should know how to deal with an if or with a loop, in Python or in another language. You should have learned what a function is. You should have an idea of what "Object Oriented" means. You should be able to keep cool when you see that there's a parallel with a language you don't know.

So you dive straight into the good stuff. In detail.

I said "in detail": the chapters are quite long. But they're well subdivided into sections, so if you don't have to swallow everything in one gulp. I'm looking at you, dear chapter on regular expressions.

And since we're on the subject of chapters and sections: Dive Into Python 3 is probably the most pleasantly readable textbook that I have met. There are the collapsible tables of contents; there is just one column, so you're not distracted from what you're studying. The font is beautiful and easy to read.

Another great idea: the difficulty of each topic is marked at the beginning of each chapter. I think that difficulty is always quite subjective; but it's always good to remark that sometimes prerequisites are harder than more advanced topics.

And then there's the text itself. The writing is conversational but precise; it takes you seriously and it doesn't make you feel stupid if you don't know something. The examples and the snippets of code are neither trivial nor unnecessarily convoluted, and they are cleverly annotated outside the code itself.

So: if you're already comfortable with programming, if you automatically go beyond the "reading" part of teaching yourself into the "writing code and playing around with it" part, here's a fantastic book for you.

Now you might wonder where's the catch. There's mostly one: Dive Into Python 3 is, well, a textbook on Python 3. This means that you have to look elsewhere for Python 2.x; but if you're comfortable with Dive Into Python 3 you shouldn't find googling "Python 2 and 3 differences" too hard. I recommend this page on, that being the website of the PSF is trustworthy by definition. Dive Into Python 3 has an appendix on the 2to3 script; but it's an appendix, and it's marked as "very difficult" in a book that is already not so easy.

Another possible issue is that you cannot really skip chapters. Sections, maybe. But you have to follow the path that's been laid down in the book. This is not a bad thing; but if you're reading something at this level you might sometimes wish to have the chance of a more flexible syllabus. But, on the other hand, if you're at this level you can realise when you have to go back and where to; so no harm done.

One last thing: there are many links from which you can take your study to a deeper level, so you can complement the somewhat "cookbook" flavour of Dive Into Python 3 by looking at the official documentation or even at a good post on a blog. But beware the "Problem with Wikipedia"...

Marta Maria Casetti | Planning a dinner. | 2014-04-10 19:14:54

Today I gave a tutorial at PyCon 2014 entitled Search 101: An Introduction to Information Retrieval.

It was an experiment of sorts: the first workshop I've run primarily by myself, my first tutorial at PyCon, my first paid teaching gig. It was an opportunity to take some of the lessons I learned from teaching the Boston Python Workshop and apply them to a new situation.

The material itself is a distillation of many hours of frustration with the documentation for various open source search engine libraries, frustration that they didn't tell me where to start or about the big picture, they just jumped straight into the details.

Here's what worked:

  • IPython Notebook. Oh em gee. I started writing the class's handout using IPython Notebook because it was a simple way to easily embed syntax-highlighted code into a markdown document that was viewable in a browser. Not only was it a super quick and fun way to write the handout, but many students used the interactive execution features to play around with the example code.
  • Not having a paper handout. Saved trees, printing hassle, and no one seemed to mind.
  • Putting everything in a git repo... git is sufficiently ubiquitous these days that students didn't really have trouble getting a copy, and appreciated having everything in one place, with simple setup instructions. I brought a clone of the repo on a USB stick as a backup plan.

Here's what caused problems:

  • Mostly, the IPython dependency pyzmq, which requires compilation. I don't know what the current landscape is for Python distribution, but installing these libraries through pip is still a pain. I've heard rumour that more ubiquitous wheels may solve this in the future.
  • Some people aren't used to using virtualenv everywhere. Even seeing that, I still think it's worth the confusion to put it forth as the recommended setup method.

Intermediate students are a different crowd than beginners. There was less of an air of discovery in the room, though I organized the class around open-ended tasks. Since the material allowed for folks to take it in the direction of their interest, I found it a bit difficult to gauge whether people were following or not. Overall though, everyone was attentive and studious. I had fun.

Ruben and Stuart, the PyCon tutorial organizers, had logistics running super smoothly, AV, lunch, everything. Thanks for that you guys, you rock. :) And thanks as well to my helpers: Leo, the tutorial host, Eben, my TA, and Roberto, on AV. It's impossible to pay adequate attention to 20+ people as a single person, couldn't have done a decent job without y'all. ;)

Christine Spang | there's gotta be a better way | 2014-04-10 18:00:36

At Inbox we're using Phabricator to review all code going to production. It's a great tool that enables us to easily learn from each other and increase the quality of the code we're writing.

Phabricator is pretty easy to install, but it requires running a bunch of daemons that perform background tasks. It provides a wrapper script called phd which, when invoked, spins up the default set of daemons and backgrounds them. Unfortunately, since it backgrounds the processes, it doesn't play well with the excellent Supervisor, which allows one to automatically bring the daemons up after a reboot or if they crash, since supervisor requires managed processes to stay in the foreground.

If you try to use the obvious phd launch under supervisor... wat wat.

$ supervisorctl status
phd              FATAL      Exited too quickly (process log may have details)

The process error log ends up looking like:

phd start: Unable to start daemons because daemons are already running.
You can view running daemons with 'phd status'.
You can stop running daemons with 'phd stop'.
You can use 'phd restart' to stop all daemons before starting new daemons.

supervisor starts the daemons, but it can't tell that they're running because they automatically background themselves!

There's a debug mode to phd, but running in production we don't necessarily want /var/log to fill up with mountains of debug spew.

Instead, stick the following in your supervisor configuration (on Debian/Ubuntu, paste into the new file /etc/supervisor/conf.d/phd.conf):

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorRepositoryPullLocalDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorGarbageCollectorDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorTaskmasterDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorTaskmasterDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorTaskmasterDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

command=/srv/phabricator/scripts/daemon/phd-daemon PhabricatorTaskmasterDaemon --phd=/var/tmp/phd/pid

Make sure you're not running phd manually, restart the supervisor service (sudo service supervisor restart on Debian/Ubuntu) and you should be good to go.

(Much thanks to Evan Priestley for the quick support and explanation on #phabricator.) Note that this solution is officially not supported and could break.

Christine Spang | there's gotta be a better way | 2014-04-10 18:00:36

This week, Ada Initiative founders Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurora wrote about Funding Activism for Women in Open Source in the Funding issue of Model View Culture, drawing on lessons from their first years raising money for the Ada Initiative:

We founded the Ada Initiative with the principle of paying fair market wages to anyone doing work for us more than a few hours a week. In 2010, this was a moonshot. In 2014, it's increasingly how things are done. More and more diversity in technology initiatives are becoming paid activities, and a growing proportion of the technology industry recognizes this labour as something worth paying for[…]

[F]ull-time diversity activists who want to do effective, controversial, culture-changing work must often work out how to pay themselves, rather than taking existing jobs at tech companies or diversity in tech non-profits.

What follows is a survey of some of the most popular funding sources: corporate sponsorship, individual donations, and consulting and training.

Read the full article, The Ada Initiative Founders on Funding Activism for Women in Open Source, at Model View Culture to learn more about the rationale for each of these funding sources… and their pitfalls!

The Ada Initiative | Ada Initiative | 2014-04-10 16:57:56

Rip. Shred. Tear. Let’s gather up the obstacles to documentation contribution and tear them down one by one. I’ve designed a survey with the help of the OpenStack docs team to determine blockers for docs contributions. If you’ve contributed to OpenStack, please fill it out here:

I want to use this survey to avoid shouting opinions and instead make sure we gather data first. This survey helps us find the biggest barriers so that we can build the best collaboration systems for documentation on OpenStack. Here are the obstacles culled from discussions in the community:

  • The git/gerrit workflow isn’t in my normal work environment
  • The DocBook and WADL (XML source) tools are not in my normal work environment
  • My team or manager doesn’t value documentation so we don’t make time for it
  • Every time I want to contribute to docs, I can’t figure out where to put the information I know
  • When I’ve tried to patch documentation, the review process was difficult or took too long
  • When I’ve contributed to docs, developers changed things without concern for docs, so my efforts were wasted
  • Testing doc patches requires an OpenStack environment I don’t have set up or access to in a lab
  • I think someone else should write the documentation, not me
  • I would only contribute documentation if I were paid to do so

Based on the input from the survey, I want to gather requirements for doc collaboration.

We have different docs for different audiences:

  • cross-project docs for deploy/install/config: openstack-manuals
  • API docs references, standards: api-site and others

These are written with the git/gerrit method. I want to talk about standing up a new docs site that serves our requirements:

Solution must be completely open source
Content must be available online
Content must be indexable by search engines
Content must be searchable
Content should be easily cross-linked by topic and type (priority:low)
Enable comments, ratings, and analytics (or integration) (priority:low)

Readers must get versions of technical content specific to version of product
Modular authoring of content
Graphic and text content should be stored as files, not in a database
Consumers must get technical content in PDF, html, video, audio
Workflow for review and approval prior to publishing content

Content must be re-usable across authors and personas (Single source)
Must support many content authors with multiple authoring tools
Existing content must migrate smoothly
All content versions need to be comparable (diff) across versions
Content must be organizationally segregated based on user personas
Draft content must be reviewable in HTML
Link maintenance – Links must update with little manual maintenance to avoid broken links and link validation

Please take the survey and make your voice heard! Also please join us at a cross-project session at the OpenStack Summit to discuss doc contributions. We’ll go over the results there. The survey is open until the first week of May.

Anne Gentle | Just Write Click openstack | 2014-04-10 16:17:18

The FreeBSD Journal Issue #2 is now available! You can get it on Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon. In this issue you will find captivating articles on pkg(8), Poudriere, PBI Format, plus great pieces on hwpmc(4) and Journaled Soft-updates. If you haven't already subscribed, now is the time!

The positive feedback from both the FreeBSD and outside communities has been incredible. In less than two months, we have signed up over 1,000 subscribers. This shows the hunger the FreeBSD community has had for a FreeBSD focused publication. We are also working on a dynamic version of the magazine that can be read in many web browsers, including those that run on FreeBSD.

The Journal is guided by a dedicated and enthusiastic editorial board made up of people from across the FreeBSD community. The editorial board is responsible for the acquisition and  vetting of content for the magazine.

Your subscriptions and the advertising revenue the Journal receives will help offset the costs of publishing this magazine. So, consider signing up for a subscription today! 

We know you are going to like what you see in the Journal! Please help us spread the word by tweeting, blogging, and posting on your FaceBook page. You can also help by asking your company to put an ad in the Journal. For advertising information contact

And, don't forget you can support the Journal and FreeBSD by making a donation today!

Dru Lavigne | FreeBSD Foundation | 2014-04-10 15:16:21

Mashable just put out a nice-looking chart showing “Passwords You Need to Change Right Now” change in light of the recent Heartbleed carnage. However, it has some serious caveats that I wanted to mention:

  1. It’s probably better to be suspicious of companies whose statements are in present-tense (ex: “We have multiple protections” or even “We were not using OpenSSL”). The vulnerability existed since 2011, so even if a service was protected at the time of its disclosure 3 days ago, it could be have been affected at some point long before then. I am also skeptical that every single company on the list successfully made sure that nothing that they’ve used or given sensitive user data to had a vulnerable version of OpenSSL in the last 2 years.
  2. The article neglects to mention that password reuse means you might have to change passwords on several services for every one that was leaked. The same goes for the fact that one can trigger password resets on multiple services by authenticating a single email account.
  3. You should also clear all stored cookies just in case the server hasn’t invalidated them as they should; many sites use persistent CSRF tokens so logging out doesn’t automatically invalidate them. (Heartbleed trivially exposed user cookies.)
  4. Don’t forget to also change API keys if a service hasn’t force-rotated those already.
  5. It remains highly unclear whether any SSL certificates were compromised because of Heartbleed. If so, changing your password isn’t going to help against a MITM who has the SSL private key unless the website has revoked its SSL certificate and you’ve somehow gotten the revocation statement (LOL). This is complicated. Probably best not to worry about it right now because there’s not much you can do, but we all might have to worry about it a whole lot more depending on which way the pendulum swings in the next few days.
  6. Related-to-#5-but-much-easier: clear TLS session resumption data. I think this usually happens automatically when you restart the browser.

Nonetheless, Mashable made a pretty good chart for keeping track of what information companies have made public regarding the Heartbleed fallout.

Yan Zhu | discrete blogarithm | 2014-04-10 15:04:05

American Scientist is the good stuff. Accessible prose but not condescending, and covering a variety of biological, mathematical, physical, and social sciences. "Programming Your Quantum Computer", "The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs", and "Empirical Software Engineering" brought me much pleasure, as did Henry Petroski's engineering history column. In the March/April 2014 issue, Petroski goes on a tear regarding inaccurate graphical depictions of quadrupeds and sharpened pencils. For four angry pages. Whatever, it's Petroski, even his nerd rage is fun.

"Scalable Web Architecture and Distributed Systems" by Kate Matsudaira gives a general overview of web architecture; I found it helpful in understanding the context of "service-oriented architectures" and the challenges of big-scale web architecture in general. MediaWiki currently does NOT have a service-oriented architecture as Matsudaira describes it, but engineers are working on changing MediaWiki from a giant spaghetti ball into a more logical, convenient, and maintainable set of interfaces/services. (The overview also has a bit of humor; I especially laughed at Figure 1.6.)

"Little Ambushes" by Joanne Merriam portrays the thing I always want out of science fiction: making a real connection with the Other. Her "Harvest" and "Sundowning" tear my heart out, too. Her work reminds me of things I've loved in the work of Maureen McHugh, Nancy Kress, and Connie Willis.

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-09 04:29:17

This is probably going to be a wildly unpopular opinion and IDGAF. So many of my non-technical friends are freaking out that I feel the need to provide a bit of reassurance/reality.

First, an analogy.

In 2005 we learned that you can open a Kryptonite U-lock with a ballpoint pen. Everyone freaked out and changed their bike locks ASAP. Remember that?

Now, I wasn’t riding a bike at the time, but I started riding a bike a few years later in San Francisco, and I know how widespread bike theft is there. I used multiple levels of protection for my bike: a good lock, fancy locking posts on the seat and handlebars, and I parked my bike somewhere secure (work, home) about 90% of the time and only locked it up in public for short periods. Everywhere I went I saw sad, dismembered bike frames hanging forlornly from railings, reminding me of the danger. Those were paranoid times, and if I’d been riding in SF in 2005 you can bet I would have been first in line to replace my U-lock.

These days I live in Ballarat, a country town in Victoria, Australia. Few people ride bikes here and even fewer steal them. I happily leave my bike unlocked on friends’ front porches, dump it under a tree while I watch birds on the lake, lean it against the front of a shop just locked to itself while I grab a coffee, or park it outside divey music venues while I attend gigs late at night. I have approximately zero expectation of anything happening to it. If I heard that my bike lock had been compromised, I wouldn’t be in too desperate a hurry to change it.

Here’s the thing: if you are an ordinary Jane or Joe living the Internet equivalent of my cycling life in Ballarat, you don’t need to freak out about this thing.

Here are some websites I use where I’m not going to bother changing my password:

  • The place where I save interesting recipes
  • The one I go to to look at gifs of people in bands
  • That guitar forum
  • The one with the cool jewelry
  • The wiki I edit occasionally
  • The social network I only signed up for out of a sense of obligation but never use

Why? Because a) probably nobody’s going to bother trying to steal the passwords from there, and b) even if they did, so what?

This Heartbleed bug effectively reduces the privacy of an SSL-protected site (one whose URL starts with https://, which will probably show a lock in your browser’s address bar) to that of one without. Would you login to a site without SSL? Do you even know if the site uses SSL? If you’d login to your pet/recipe/knitting/music site anyway — if you’d do it from a coffee shop or airport — if you’d do it from a laptop or tablet or phone doesn’t have a strong password on it — if you don’t use two-factor authentication or don’t know what that means — then basically this won’t matter to you.

(I’m not saying it shouldn’t matter. You should probably set strong passwords and use VPNs and two-factor authentication. Just like you should probably lock your bike up everywhere you go, floss, and get your pap smears on the regular. Right? Right? *crickets*)

So if you’re a regular Jane — not working in IT security, not keeping state secrets, etc — here’s where you really need to change your passwords:

  • Any site you use to login to other sites (eg. Google, Facebook)
  • Any site that gives access to a good chunk of your money with just your password (eg. your bank, PayPal, Amazon)

(To do this: use this site to check if the site in question is affected, then if it’s “all clear” change your password. Don’t bother changing your password on a still-affected site, as that defeats the purpose. Oh, and you should probably change your passwords on those sites semi-regularly anyway, like maybe when you change the batteries in your smoke alarm. Which I just realised I should have done the other day and didn’t. Which tells you everything, really.)

Beyond those couple of key websites, you need to do a little risk assessment. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Has anyone ever heard of this site? Does anyone care? Is it likely to be a target of ominous dudes in balaclavas?
  • If I lost my login to this site, or someone could snoop what I had on that account, what is the worst that could happen?

If your answer is “I’d lose my job” or “I absolutely cannot survive without my extensive collection of Bucky/Steve fanart” then by all means change your password.

If your answer is “Eh, I’d sign up for a new one” or “Wait, even I’d forgotten that site existed” then you can probably stop freaking out quite so much.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Internet security expert, just a moderately well-informed techhead. Some people, including better-informed ones, will disagree with me. You take this advice at your own risk. La la la what the fuck ever, you’ll most likely be fine.

Skud | Infotropism | 2014-04-09 00:21:46

Bonus Game Jam Walkout Section

  • Game Jam Walkout | The Mary Sue (April 2): “GAME_JAM was supposed to be a YouTube-based webseries, a reality show about four teams of game developers competing to win prizes and promote their careers. According to many of the folks involved, it was hamstrung by terrible contracts, mismanaged sponsorship, and a director who sought every opportunity to fabricate conflict against the will of participants, and a general misunderstanding of what game development actually involved. But the thing that united the sixteen contestants into walking off the show was when it attempted to get them to impugn the place of women in coding and game making.”
  • How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day | Indie Statik (March 31): “Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?” Silence. It was like the wind was sucked out of the room behind the barrier
  • Let’s talk about accountability | msminotaur (March 31): Account from one of the women involved.
  • Unreality | Zoe Quinn: “My feelings after being on and subsequently walking off a reality show about game jams”

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.

Geek Feminism | Geek Feminism Blog | 2014-04-08 14:54:41

As you might know, I’ve been working on 3000 Acres over the last few months. My time there is almost up and they’re looking for volunteers to continue developing the site. If anyone in the Melbourne area is interested in working with me on this, and then taking it over, please get in touch! It would be a great way to get involved in a tech project for sustainability/social good, and the 3000 Acres team are lovely people with a great vision. Feel free to drop me an email or ping me via whatever other means is convenient, and please help us get the word out.

3000 Acres connects people with vacant land to help them start community gardens. In 2013 3000 Acres was the winner of the VicHealth Seed Challenge, and is supported by VicHealth and The Australian Centre for Social Innnovation (TACSI) along with a range of partners from the sustainability, horticulture, and urban planning fields. We are in the process of incorporating as a non-profit.

Our website, which is the main way people interact with us, launched in February 2014. The site helps people map vacant lots, connect with other community members, and find community garden resources. Since our launch we have continued to improve and add features to our site.

So far, our web development has been done by one part-time developer. We are looking for another (or multiple) volunteer developers to help us continue to improve the site, and to help make our code ready to roll out to other cities.

We’re looking for someone with the following skills and experience:

  • Intermediate level Rails experience (or less Rails experience but strong backend web experience in general). You should be comfortable using an MVC framework, designing data structures, coding complex features, etc.
  • Comfort with CSS and Javascript (we mostly use Bootstrap 3.0 and Leaflet.js) and with light design work (eg. layout, icons)
  • Familiarity with agile software development, including iteration planning, test driven development, continuous integration, etc.
  • Strong communication skills: you’ll particularly use them for writing web copy, advising on information architecture, and project management.
  • You should be in Melbourne or able to travel regularly to Melbourne to meet with us. Phone, Skype, and screen sharing may also be used — our current developer is based in Ballarat.

We welcome applications from people of diverse backgrounds, and are flexible in our requirements; if you think you have skills that would work, even if they don’t match the above description exactly, please get in touch.

We envision this role being around 8 hours a week ongoing (somewhat flexible, and mostly from your own location). Initially you will work closely with our current developer, who can provide in-depth training/mentoring and documentation on our existing infrastructure and processes. Over the next 3 months you will become increasingly independent, after which time you will be expected to be able to create and maintain high-quality code without close technical supervision.

For more information you can check out:

If you’re interested in working with us, please drop Alex an email at No resume required — just let us know a bit about yourself, your experience, and why you want to work with us. If you can show us an example of some relevant work you’ve done in the past, that would be fantastic.

Skud | Infotropism | 2014-04-08 04:12:33

I'm noodling around, thinking about vision, perspectives, and leadership.

In a 2012 interview with MIT Technology Review (in their compilation Twelve Tomorrows), Neal Stephenson spoke about science fiction's role in innovation (pp. 5-6):

... a less obvious utility, that science fiction can provide a coherent picture of an alternate reality in which some innovation happened. Not just the technical innovation itself, but the social context and the economic context that causes that innovation to make sense. It can be sort of like an invisible magnetic field that gets iron filings to line up. In big engineering organizations, you've got all these people working on small pieces of a bigger problem, and there's an enormous amount of communication that has to take place to keep them all working in a coordinated fashion. That communication is tedious and expensive, but if everybody's got the same picture in their heads, maybe you don't have to communicate as much.

Worldviews and ideologies sure are powerful things, and nearly all of Stephenson's fiction and nonfiction has focused on the effects of people's diverse perspectives. (See some of my previous thoughts on Stephenson.) I used to say that he and Le Guin were my favorite authors, and they have this in common. You see the arbitrage possibilities of a new, subversive perspective, and you see how much power you unleash by converting a whole community to a new worldview.

In the late nineties, Simon Stow introduced me to the idea that the social sciences provide many useful lenses. I still remember him in that ground-floor Kroeber classroom, miming an optometrist, checking whether A or B made things clearer, then B or C.

A few years later, a pal of mine said something about the difficulty of explaining scientific concepts to people who did not already have sufficient bootloaded prerequisites:

That one sort of floored me, because radiation is one of my "basis concepts" that I use to explain other things. (Yes, I think of my scientific knowledge as being spanned by a basis set of conceptual eigenvectors. The basis set idea is also one of my "basis concepts". Yes, I also know that I'm weird.)
Eight years after that, I led a Foo Camp session called "Models We Use To Understand The World". We run into a lot of different situations, and pre-loading our 'scopes with different lenses provides requisite variety so we have a fighting chance to understand them. "Metaphors We Live By", right? Feel free to replicate that session at your next unconference, by the way.

For each of us, certain clichés are as foundational as the G, A, T, and C in DNA. I ought to really catalogue mine someday, but here's a start. I tell people about the career Venn diagram, or my version of exit, voice, and loyalty, or my rhetorical triangle. We cargo cult, or expand the Overton window, or arbitrage, or decide it's an efficient market. We decide that at least we'll earn some XP, or satisfice or do cognitive load-balancing, or concentrate on our core competence, or try to fix the kyriarchy. I think about that law of user interface, that if you make something 10% easier then twice as many people will do it. I remember the three skills of adulthood. Recently I started noticing the activist-organizer split in my work and in others'.

Wouldn't it be great if job interviews helped you check the other person's basis concepts? (Or if matchmaking sites offered that, come to think of it.)

You have to have lots of lenses if you're going to be a leader, because you'll get ambiguous and inadequate information about situations and you want to pattern-match to see what fits your plan and what doesn't. You need to develop a clear, robust vision, persuade others it's what they should want too, and negotiate with them.

And even if you don't aim for formal leadership positions, it's probably worthwhile to catalogue the lenses you tend to use. Blog it if you want.

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-06 19:18:34

Last night I was talking with some folks at Subcontinental Drift (open mic for South Asian-ish folks) who are paratechnical but find learning to program frightening or intimidating. It's not their fault; we (technologists and educators) basically suck at helping people understand that

  1. this is indeed hard; it's not your fault if you have trouble
  2. but we have a lot of different approaches that work for different learning styles; finding the learning styles that work for you is pretty useful
  3. and if you try, and try a different approach when you get stuck, you WILL make progress
  4. and none of it is magic
  5. and none of it was God-given to the elite who currently act like it's easy

Nothing here is particularly new. But we gotta say it, because there are so many people saying or implying the opposite.

Sumana Harihareswara | Cogito, Ergo Sumana | 2014-04-06 18:51:49