Archive for the 'computing' Category

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day! From the Finding Ada site:

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

I’ve been working in various aspects of science and technology for almost twenty years, give or take a couple years in grad school. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any overt discrimination, as far as I can tell, and for that I give credit to a series of very enlightened employers and a tremendous undergraduate education at Wellesley College. Wellesley’s physics, astronomy, and computer science departments not only taught me how to be a scientist, but also that women could succeed and excel in the physical sciences. The long list of impressive alumnae made it very clear that there was no reason we students couldn’t succeed too. This post is a thank you and a tribute to all the women who made that education possible and who have been role models to Wellesley students and women in technology everywhere. A few of my favorites:


  • Sarah Whiting, Wellesley’s first physics professor and founder of the astronomy department.
  • Phyllis Fleming, physics, whom I wish I’d had the chance to know better.
  • Ellen Hildreth, computer science, who taught me programming.
  • Wendy Bauer, astronomy, who taught me astrophotography and observing techniques.
  • Lauri Wardell, physics lab instructor, who spent many, many hours teaching us how to align equipment and solder circuits and make our experiments work.
  • Alumnae:

  • Annie Jump Cannon, astronomer and co-creator of the Harvard stellar classification system.
  • Martha Haynes, astronomer (my senior thesis was based on some of her work).
  • Persis Drell, physicist and director of SLAC.
  • Pam Melroy, astronaut.
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    Why I’m not buying stock in Adobe

    If I had money to buy stock, that is. Daring Fireball posted this interesting article today, all about why Apple and Flash don’t play nicely together. At my office we’ve spent a bit of the past year discussing whether to do our interactive visualizations in Flash or Javascript (e.g. Flot, Protovis, or my new favorite, jqPlot). Amusingly, one of the assumptions of the article is the ubiquity of Flash on the web, while our discussions here have revolved around the problem of “what do we do for users who don’t have Flash installed?” Just one more way in which the scientific community has a different set of requirements than the general public.

    Snow Leopard

    I’ve just been reading Pogue’s review of Snow Leopard. The features which excite me the most:

    • Showing the date in the menu bar, so I don’t have to expend any brainpower whatsoever to remember what day it is;
    • Not having to sit around for quite so long waiting for Safari to boot up;
    • And most of all, the option to record your screen actions as a movie. I recently gave my mom my old iBook (she can’t get Snow Leopard, alas, as it’s only for Intel chips), and it is very tedious typing out instructions for “how to burn a CD” or “how to install Adium.” This will be so much better.



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