Benedict Cumberbatch Lied To Me And Broke My Heart

Ever wondered how Frankenstein’s Creature learned to speak? He listened to an impoverished professor reading aloud and explaining one of the greatest books of the Enlightenment.

Those of you who recently saw the brilliant Frankenstein/Creature role swap done by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller by the National Theater will remember that De Lacey used Paradise Lost to teach the Creature to read.


Actually, in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Creature learned from a book called The Ruins, or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires, by Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney.

I love audiobooks, and I realized that no one has ever done an audiobook of The Ruins! This rich and magical book, a source for art we love and even our own political freedoms, is in danger of being forgotten.

So over the last several months, I have been recording the audiobook of Volney’s greatest work for the first time ever in human history!

I hope you want to learn about the rise and fall of empires the same way that Frankenstein’s Creature did. I need your support to finish the recording, redo some of the first chapters, and get a sound engineer and editor to turn this from digital recordings into an audiobook! Back my project and spread the word, and together we will bring a lost treasure of the Enlightenment to audiobook and to the world!


Share this project at!

Developer at AtlasCamp apologizes to “all getting offended” by his sexist joke

**EDITED 17:44 Pacific 6/4/14** Saha develops for Atlassian, but does not work for them.

Today, Jonathan Doklovic, an Atlassian developer at Atlassian’s AtlasCamp in Berlin, Germany presented a talk that contained this slide:


Then, Marko Saha (Director, Agile Enterprise Solutions at Ambientia) tweeted it because he thought it was funny.

The tweet has gone viral. Atlassian’s CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, has already responded with a blog post here:

On failing our values, our team, and our industry

There’s a problem. While the creator of the slide hasn’t responded, Marko Saha has responded by halfheartedly apologizing “to those offended”,

referring to the social media response to his sexist joke as a hassle,

claimed the slide was taken out of context,

And seems to be referring to the lack of consequences anyone faced as bullshit, because

Soooo, Atlassian? You’ve got a mess to clean up there. You might start by letting your dev know that this is inappropriate behavior BEFORE handling the PR in a situation like this. Second, Ambientia has a mess to clean up as well. The last thing Saha tweeted, an hour ago, was a list of literary insults.

PyCon Code Of Conduct Warning Cards

Hey, folks. You all might be seeing the giant mess that is coming out of the firing of several people over two jokes at PyCon 2013 this year. I’m Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack, and I and my colleague Liz Dahlstrom were there. We had a great time this year, and will certainly be at Montreal next year. (Some of you may know that I and Liz are co-founders of LadyCoders; we’re not wearing that hat right now and we’re not writing on that site. We’re just two devs who have some thoughts on this topic)

I’ll try to relate the facts as dryly as possible: Adria Richards, a developer evangelist at SendGrid with more than 10,000 Twitter followers, overheard two PlayHaven devs speaking behind her at a large speaking panel at PyCon in Santa Clara
last weekend, and took offense to their language, which by their later admission was in violation of the PyCon code of conduct. Adria turned around and took pictures of the two men and posted them on Twitter, with a comment about the sexual nature of their conversation. The men (Alex Reid and supposedly Hacker News handle mr-hank) were publicly outed. mr-hank, who says he is a father of three, lost his job. Richards wrote a post explaining her side, and so did the man who lost his job. There’s an excellent post up at Ars Technica that also tells the tale.

As the Internet does upon occasion, it lost its $#1%. Richards was just fired from SendGrid; arguably she can no longer function in her role in developer relations, and
her site has been DDOSed. mr-hank has been fired from his job at PlayHaven, and a petition is now up asking for his reinstatement.

Liz and I were also at Defcon last year, and will be this year. In fact, we’re writing up our speaker proposals now. How many of you remember these?

rugby cards

Liz and I have been talking about the situation. We’re wondering–how can we give people who become uncomfortable at PyCon more options? How much of this problem could have been fixed if Richards had had some way to tell these guys that what they were doing was making her feel uncomfortable without having to confront them? I can tell you now that at Defcon, when I saw a woman pull out a red card and show it to someone,
every single person’s attention instantly fixed on that situation. A quiet apology was issued, the (now) gentleman exited the room, chastened, and having learned not to talk about his manparts loudly and drunkenly, and in front of someone who didn’t want to hear it. 99.9% of the time, we are just socially clueless nerds. I have been known to tell some truly appallingly clueless jokes, and I actually got yellow carded last year at Defcon. I’m serious. If we had a way to make our wishes known while taking most of the confrontation out of the situation, I think that the convention would be a much happier and more comfortable place for everyone.

We don’t want to see PyCon ruined for everyone. It is one of the most overall open and friendly environments in tech that either of us has attended, and we’d like it to stay that way. We don’t want silence to begin as soon as a woman enters the room because everyone there is afraid of public shaming and losing their job. We also don’t want women to be
afraid to speak up because of the nastiness that has ensued over the last few days.

So, Liz and I are going to carry on the work of KC from Defcon. Read more about this amazing woman: The Red/Yellow Card Project.

See these three cards? We just mocked them up. We want to put them in the swag bags next year at PyCon 2014 Montreal. All please note that we will ask for Diana’s ok (Diana is next year’s PyCon chair) on the wording. We think it’s ok, but we’ll check to make sure that it doesn’t give anyone legal hiccups before we send them to the printers.




We want to make this convention better, and without a tool to help us communicate with tact and clarity, we think the confusion will continue. If you’d like to help us out with printing costs, you can donate to the paypal account below. We’d like to put these cards in swag bags for everyone.


Look, we were playing Cards Against Humanity in that exact same game that Adria was playing in. We had a great time. This was in the
hotel, away from the con, and nowhere near where the Code of Conduct applied, but even there we would have respected anyone’s wishes to be quieter, kinder, or chill out if someone had been unhappy. There’s no joy in making other people uncomfortable or unhappy. All most nerds need is to know that what they’re doing is inappropriate, and they’ll stop.

Twitter   tarah   dirnonline  kennethlove ...

We’re all really inappropriate people. Let’s make an easy way to tell each other when it happens.

SDCC Just Didn’t Think About The Ladies This Time.

I normally never critique a company for not hiring female devs or DBAs; I tend to think it’s the responsibility of women to be good enough to deserve employment. This time, however, I think it’s quite appropriate for a system that seriously screwed with women who have two last names after marriage.

I’ll start by saying I got my San Diego Comic-Con badges just fine. Two 4-day with preview night badges successfully purchased for myself and my husband…but it nearly didn’t happen, and it certainly didn’t happen because I followed instructions.

You may all remember the giant cluster that was last year’s registration process. Comic-Con spent an extra five months trying to fix their problems concerning server balancing and site overload. They set up a system using preregistration for member IDs that had to be verified in advance. I applaud the effort; it seems that with a few hitches, this year went much better than last. There were two
serious issues, however.

In a predictable moment, the link included in the Comic-Con registration email (, for all of you who maniacally clicked it hundreds of time) went down due to tracking on the URL from the email. Their tracking and analytics system was their bottleneck. As a dev, I had some advantage here, since I expected that to happen and had already set up two machines in front of me with two different browsers and the link pasted into the address bar ready to hit ‘enter’. I popped in at #1906 in line on my main box in FF and #3222 on my netbook in Chrome.

Turns out that in a moment of epic (pun intended, as Epic Registration is the in-use system) failure, San Diego Comic-Con Member IDs created by people with spaces or punctuation in their names were utterly useless. In the badge registration email, I was told to register with the last name of VLACK, though my last name is Wheeler
Van Vlack. After VLACK didn’t work, I tried WHEELER VAN VLACK and was deeply fortunate that it worked. Chelsey St. Juniors has a space and period in her last name, and missed out on her badges entirely, since the information in her badge registration email was incorrect.

Others complaining on Facebook say that people with a space in their last names have not received confirmation emails. One woman’s comment (Lisa Wong Rodriguez, if I remember correctly) concerning her Member ID and last name not working has been deleted.

People on the Comic-Con International’s Facebook page who are commenting on this issue are being deleted, or so they claim. In a bit of investigative journalism, I’ve posted a comment there as well and already received a response. Far from deleting my comment, Comic-Con has acknowledged that they screwed up people with multiple last names. Still, note Tina’s comment at the bottom.

I want to congratulate Comic-Con for acknowledging their fault, but really–how many men have two last names like these women do? I’ll pay Comic-Con the compliment of assuming there were no talented female devs or DBAs available to do a quick smoke test for stupid.



Comic-Con has responded to my post on Facebook, and they say that the system was broken for all
people who had strange last names with any spaces or punctuation. I absolutely agree: their system was broken. They assert that because men sometimes have spaces and punctuation in their last names (Sr., Jr., etc), that they were affected too; I heartily concur. I never said that this was a deliberate attempt to keep women out of Comic-Con; what I said was that hiring a woman to look over the system might have prevented this problem. Women were, I think, disproportionately affected by this error–and I’m open to refutation on this point. I think that, proportionately, there were more women with multiple or hyphenated last names who didn’t get their badges than men who have a Sr. or Jr. tacked-on.

Should the past haunt Julian Assange?

I see that Julian Assange has been awarded the Sydney Peace Medal. I’m not sure whether to be concerned or not; this may turn out to be something like awarding Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize before he started bombing hell out of Israel again. There are still outstanding rape allegations against Assange, and unfortunately, the kind of personality that enjoys breaking some of the rules tends to be someone who enjoys breaking all of the rules.

Does this mean that Assange doesn’t have the right to be considered innocent unless and until he faces an unbiased trial with a jury of his peers? Not remotely. However, I question the judgment of
Australian social influence in this case. In a rush to justify Assange’s ideals of openness and accountability, and amid the recent Canadian refusal to extradite a terror suspect to the US based on concerns that we’re violating the Geneva Convention, it’s entirely possible that we’re rushing to justify the man’s actions as well as his ideals.

I have no opinion on Assange’s guilt or innocence. I know that when two different people accuse the same man of the same crime that most civilized nations who empanel grand juries would find cause to at least explore the issue of his guilt or innocence. I’m hoping that in the rush to crucify the US for our actions in Guantanamo Bay that we as a globe do not fail to examine the facts surrounding those allegations. I hold to the same ideals that men throughout history have; Aristotle viewed women as subhuman and slavery as part of the natural order of society. I can find those views and actions repulsive while still cheering for his concepts of social
responsibility, republican government, and the search for truth.

Google Wave, Google Wave–wherefore art thou gone?

Google Docs Gets A Dose Of Gmail Features

At least Google Docs is getting some love and integration with more useful features. Given the inherent nature of shared documents, and now that Google Wave has waved bye-bye, we all need a document collaboration tool that is more efficient than attaching text to emails and losing track of them in the process.

I use Unfuddle to track version control for project notebooks and store repositories for various code trunks, and I cheerfully pay for those features. $9 is ridiculously tiny for the level of configuration and service provided by those kind folks, but on an every day level, we all have a document (a contract, a business letter, a memo, or a price estimate) that needs to be passed back and forth between a small group of people for changes and editing about five or
six times until it’s ready. Google Wave was the absolute best way to get that done; without it, the new Google Docs–which I’ve been lovingly poring over–is the new best way to share and edit a document so that people aren’t waiting for their ‘turn’ in the email chain.

It also means that the last person on the email chain doesn’t unwittingly delete or re-add elements to a document which have been carefully excised or composed for reasons they can’t see at the moment. Google Docs isn’t Wave yet, but it’ll do for now.

And in the meantime, I’m planning on creating a VPS and hosting my own Wave server. Cuz it’s fun. And nostalgic.

Looking for a Logo

How does one go about getting a logo made? I’ve gotten a couple of tentative offers, some concepts, and a few ridiculous quotes, but no one seems to do real logo work anymore. I’ve got two people promising drawings, but I haven’t actually seen anything yet.

Does anyone have recommendations for me? I’d really like to see some concept drawings of a nerdy superheroine. Comment on this post if you’re interested; you can use your Facebook login to do so.

Best tech movie.

Tron: Legacy is supposed to be visually appealing, but staggeringly short on storyline. I’ll go see it in IMAX 3D, but it’s unlikely that I’ll bother with getting it afterwards. Oddly, the movies with the greatest stories are the ones I tend to wait to see.

<br />

Are there any movies you’ve determined you’d like to see in the theater due to a total lack of interest in their story?

Icy cool…but for how long?

The polar ice caps are melting.

I’m not a global warming theorist, and I have no real opinion on climate change. I mostly don’t hold forth and/or pontificate on things I don’t understand, and as a scientist, I think it’s my obligation to not discuss matters that I haven’t researched.

There are a few pieces of incontrovertible evidence of some form of global climate shift, however. Whether or not there is any effect on that shift caused by humanity is a subject for more dogmatic minds than my own, but I do see the differences in the ice caps shown in these pictures.

I’m not sure what to make of those pictures, but I’m uncomfortable with the notion that when I climb Mt. Everest in about five years (when I’ll have trained to do so and have awesome pink climbing gear) that the accomplishment will matter somewhat less than Hillary and
Norgay would have hoped.

If it’s a simple stroll to a lovely grassy peak, what’s the point?