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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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    Impossible to please

    John Gruber gets exactly how I feel about computers: “Real Mac users, to me, are people with much higher standards, impossibly high standards, and who use Macs not because they’re great, but because they suck less than everything else.”

    Things to improve a cold morning

    Good tea, good music, and my cinema display back from Apple with a new logic board. Happiness!

    AGU 2009

    I just got back from the 2009 AGU meeting. Because I am too lazy to organize my bookmarks interested in sharing information with my colleagues, I’m bookmarking a bunch of interesting stuff here. It turns out that the stuff we’ve been working on has a name, and a newly-formed AGU division, and is actually a respectable branch of research. Who knew? So, some earth science informatics links, and a couple of things I need to investigate:

    • AGU ESSI (this one could use a design update)
    • Talkoot
    • Earth Science Informatics journal
    • I should actually join the AGU
    • Everyone seems to love Drupal (Dad, I hereby apologize for not paying more attention to you when you told me it was cool. You were right. I hope you can read the internet wherever you are now.)
    • Protovis unexpectedly appeared in my RSS feed (thanks to FlowingData) and looks very cool.


    Via O’Reilly Radar, Funny Characters in Unicode. Mmm, the intersection of philology and computing, one of my favorite topics.

    Dear Facebook

    Dear Facebook,

    Look, I like you. You allow me to keep in touch casually with a lot of old friends whom I don’t have time to email individually. You let me see cute pictures of my friends’ kids who live halfway around the world. And you let me quietly ignore people whose status updates get on my nerves.

    But this whole “reconnect” nonsense has got to go. First, you suggested I reconnect with my father, who passed away two months ago. I know your algorithm has no way of knowing who is and isn’t still with us, I’m a programmer too, but still, way to ruin my day, guys. Now you keep suggesting I chat with, message, or otherwise reconnect with friends. Let me make this very clear: I already have a Jewish mother. I do not need you to monitor my communications and keep track of how often I chat with Olivia or how many friends Steve has. You are a tool, a means of contacting people, not a Big Brother, and especially not a Guilt Generator. I talked to Paula yesterday and emailed her this morning, I don’t need to post on her Wall this afternoon. I know you do this so that I can click around to other people’s pages and see more advertising there, but if you keep making your service more annoying instead of more useful, your users are going to leave.

    Or at least we’re going to read it on the iPhone where there is less stupid crap.



    Via O’Reilly Radar: SuperBetter is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time. The idea is that when you’re recovering from a major injury or coping with an illness, you turn your recovery into a game, and recruit your friends to play too. My dad would have loved this.



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