Chemistry sets redux


As I remarked before, the main problem with today’s chemistry sets is that they are inane to the point of boredom. I bought my eldest daughter one a few years ago and we both gave up on it because it was so tedious.

But that does not justify Tesco’s claim that they are only for boys!

This storm has just begun…

The PyCon row


I have never written any Python. Maybe that might change in the future, but not soon I think.

English: Python logo Deutsch: Python Logo
English: Python logo Deutsch: Python Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So PyCon, a big conference for Python developers, normally would not matter to me, especially as it is on another continent.

But this year’s PyCon saw a huge row about allegedly offensive and sexist behaviour. In my view the sexist bit is moot, the offensive bit is mild – if stripped of context. And the context is a year’s worth of rows about much more clearly sexist and offensive behaviour at developer conferences.

I won’t go into the details of the row, because I have no real knowledge of the detail beyond what I have read this evening, but I do have a sense that this is a sign of the software industry waking up to its very serious problems with women and the ridiculous behaviour and poor socialisation of many of the men who work in it.

So the row may have a positive outcome for the rest of us. Eventually.

Geeklist spamming people


I had never heard of Geeklist until last week, when I received an email from them and then read the story about their promotion of “brogramming” and abusive response to being called out for it.

The email came first – and as I had never head of them this –

Hi, my name is Jenny and I work for Geeklist, sorry to bug in advance! I noticed you have your email listed on github, so I wanted to reach out and send you a quick note (only this once and never again I promise!). We recently added integration with Github‘s API and wanted to see if you are interested in testing it out and give us feedback, perhaps you can add Groovy-Life or valext?

I realize this comes out of nowhere, but this might be interesting way to connect with other awesome geeks too (mabye), would love to hear feedback in general on that as well.  We have a ton of geeks in our system already ranging from Matz the creator of Ruby http://geekli.st/matzand awesome geeks building great products http://geekli.st/dtrinh/i-helped-build-path-2

If you are cool with this and want to check it out go to: http://geekli.st/invite/********** and use this code: ******

We are only sending this to a few people, so let me know if you wish to invite others! thank you so much and sorry to bug you!

– made me think they were a genuine community effort. I made a note to have another look.

But having read about their attitude to women that other other look is now a good deal more sceptical – though even I thought it odd they suggested I added a program designed to analyse the XML output of a hardcore debugging tool.

And, of course, the first thing I noticed on a second look was the subject line:

RE: Quick question / your work on Github

As I have never written to Geeklist about anything and had never even heard of them before the email turned up it is obvious that this email was not “RE:” anything. It is spam from some spammers trying to cheat spam filters and will be treated in just the same way as the occasional other bits of spam mail that get through the filter.

I hope others will follow a similar course of action.

I would not have minded if they had actually badged the email as what it really was – as they say my email is on Github and if you consciously post your email it is because you want or expect people to get in touch. But the crude attempts at psychological manipulation – hi my name is jenny – and above all the dishonest subject line mean it is straight to the WPB for them.

Nasty computer scientists (again)


Autism spectrum
Autism spectrum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My gut feeling is that we are about to see another “internet bubble” burst: money has again flooded in to the development community (partly because in a recessionary environment cash is being hoarded just about everywhere else), skilled staff are in short supply and a massive IPO (Facebook) is about to happen, which will only, if temporarily, increase the frenzy.

With the bubble along come the nasties – or as one of them apparently refers to himself the “No Talent Ass-Clowns”. The person concerned, one Matt Van Horn, has probably taken enough flak for his immature and ridiculous behaviour, so I won’t focus on him, but on the more general issue of why so many poorly adjusted and socialised males are attracted to computing? (It’s for others to judge if I fall into either group here, but I think I can at least be allowed to get away with regarding myself as higher functioning if they do.)

Perhaps it is partly some self-selecting autism spectrum thing (computers do what you tell them without the burden of emotional interaction), but I also have to pin a lot of the blame on the promotion of the “hacker culture” by its high priests – whether in the Orthodox Branch – or the Reformed Wing.

Neither RMS nor ESR are particularly attractive characters, whatever their technical or marketing skills may be, so holding them up as the great paragons of the computer revolution is almost certainly counter-productive.