Category Archives: Code

Thinking Outside The Bubble

1 Internet of everything

 

What’s in a name?

I was thinking that we humans have a tendency to forget things. That is, we walk into a room and fully forget what we came in to get; we drive our car home and forget where we put the car keys.   Well, we should all be able to remember this name.

“The Internet of Things”

Lazy and rather unimaginative, this name does what most names don’t actually do, it defines, describes and categorizes, then answers the question: “What is it?”

Once a theory and quickly realized, anything equipped with a sensor could be in constant communication with a computer processor.  I can almost imagine the first MIT scientists throwing their hands up in technological glee, fully inspired by the sheer volume of their discovery!

Now a coffee pot in their office could “talk” to the refrigerator down the hall.  And both could be programmed to “talk” to humans, as well as machines and more, these enchanted objects would be able to add cream and milk to your grocery list, as well as perform “yet to be thought of” applications.  Big Data (with it’s equally unimaginative name) would gather and collect executable data, which could be analyzed in real time.

Mind boggling and still evolving into what just might be “the internet of nearly EVERYTHING”.

The Digital Age has jettisoned technology closer to a television cartoon with a similar name (The Jetsons).  We don’t have flying cars, but who knows?  Everything seems possible with sensors and a computer’s magical little black box, that processes code.  That leads to technology getting smarter and smarter.

Change is coming, both progressive and disruptive.   It can decimate confidence, shake up the bottom line and place a strain on long standing traditions.  And we’re all prone to its “Goosies”,  that skin tingling sensation induced by excitement or fear or disbelief.

Mature businesses, like older people will feel it acutely, maybe more so than start-up companies and younger, tech savvy people, who never used letterhead on bond paper and couldn’t tell the difference.  But having different efficiency levels shouldn’t be a license to feast, one on the other.

It’s wiser to work together; bartering and collaborating like our ancestors did when they first discovered fire.  And again, when they put fire to a best use practice, smelting iron and forging steel.   Factoid, teamwork will always lessen a load.

We’ll have to use technology smartly, because finger swipes across a screen is not a measure of intelligence.   We’ll also need to put on our thinking caps, which will act as a protective helmet in the event of a crash.

The mind is a powerful bubble making machine, full of ideas.  So, what happens when a thought bubble pops?

I say we harness the gases for propulsion, fasten your seatbelt.   It’s gonna be a helluva ride!

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, cellphone, Code, Coding, gadget, Internet, ipad, iPhone, tech, technology, Twitter

Readers of Code

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I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

On Track To Pink Coding

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The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age has exposed gaps in the skilled labor market, that if left to their own vices will effect a businesses’ bottom line. And those shortages need to be addressed before demand outmatches supply.

But while companies like Google are interested in funding initiatives for girl’s who code, not every girl is interested in coding.

In the ninety-four years since women were given the right to vote, there has been one female democratic vice-presidential candidate* (Ferraro 1984), there has been one female speaker of the House of Representatives (Pelosi, 2007); one female nominated for the Democratic Presidential Primary (Clinton, 2008) ; one female Vice Presidential Republican nominee (Palin, 2008); One female four-star U.S. General in the Army (Dunwoody, 2008); one female four-star General in the U.S. Air Force (Wolfenbarger, 2012); one Female four-star admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Howard, 2013). And we’ve yet to see a woman president.

The slow process of closing the gender gap in America is systemic. It has as much to do with status quo, as it has to do with nation building– that other job, of having babies. And just as not every girl is interested in coding; not every girl is interested in having babies. The truth is that finally, girls have a choice and it’s more than trying out for cheer-leading and not making the squad. It’s a real life choice, one that puts them on a track towards greatness; with real consequences and unmitigated outcomes.

Coding should be taught in the school system, as part of the core curriculum in classrooms across the country. So that all children, particularly girls can be exposed to it and perhaps discover a real interest, which a teacher can then nurture. Teaching our girls is different from teaching our boys, so it mustn’t be competitive.

But if we are going to allow companies to recruit our girls and teach our daughters coding; to essentially allow a business to restock the labor pool to their own specifications, shouldn’t we demand that it be done in good faith? And wouldn’t that include the closing of the gender wage gap that exists? And shouldn’t that include legislation?

I’m only asking, because history is gnawing at me. The legacy of businesses who shuttled and carried unskilled laborers across borders and over the seas. Who cheaply laid down railroad tracks and mined coal and fired the steel used to build skyscrapers. The un-named Chinese, German and Hungarian immigrants who helped to build this great nation, but who barely fill a chapter in its history books.

Not every girl will want to code, but we owe her the chance. Let it be in a classroom of her peers. In the end she may not become a coder, or a neurosurgeon or the conductor of a high-speed train; but society has a need to prepare her, to teach her and then to welcome her into the Digital Age.

*I neglected to include Ms. Geraldine Ferraro in the first posting. My gratitude and thanks go out to Dan for bringing the oversight to my attention. In addition to providing the link http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/geraldine-ferraro-dies-75-woman-vice-president-candidate-remembered/story?id=13228533

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Filed under Code, Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Google, Marketability, profitability, technology

Smart Technology Isn’t Osmosis

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We embrace smart technology as though owning a smart device will in effect, make us smarter. As if by magic, call it the osmosis of gadgetry, we’ll improve upon ourselves. Well truth is we can, but generally that’s not how it works.

It can and it should, but instead we’re becoming less focused and we’re losing our abilities and our skills. The point of GPS is to guide us along roads and highways, not to lead us by the hand. But that’s exactly what’s done, and we’re losing our ability to read a road map. It isn’t an art form; it’ a skillset. And we might lose it, unless we make a conscious effort to maintain our skills. Because the mind, like an unexercised body loses tone and becomes less efficient.

It begins with the small stuff, like numbers. We use to know our own and other important telephone numbers, but now we store them on our smart device. Leaving ourselves vulnerable to a partially charged or dead battery; or worse when we lose or misplace them.

But I recall a different time, one in which children studied and knew their telephone numbers by heart, as if it were a sign of passage. Once memorized, they could go all the way downtown. The furthest any of them had ever been without an adult, alone and away from home. This was an achievement!

But things change, and now the stakes are higher.

American society is dumbing-down, becoming lax when we most need to stay sharp. Technology requires aptitude, not just as it’s being invented, but also as an end-user. Adults need to pull up a chair and learn old lessons over again, how to flex our memory so that we can smartly use the technology.

With our minds clear and focused, as it manipulates two digits: 1’s and 0’s.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Code, gadget, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized

New Fairytales and Girls Spin Code

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The Age of Technology, with its Internet of Things and Big Data are game changers.

And it seems that we’re going to need more players. Luckily for us, we have a whole lot of girls who are willing to play. But how serious are we about getting girls into coding? Not very, if we’re not changing the way society views and treats women.

We need to begin by providing girls with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her better stories that will enrich her mind. And most important of all, we need to start her off with the right toys, the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls. Yes, America is in need of a gender make-over.

Once upon a time, fairytales were enough to placate children and to teach them life lessons. Stories like Snow White and Sleeping beauty excited a girl’s imagination, with their common damsel in distress motif.

Fairytales were especially great if you were a boy. Good for the ego and chauvinistic in nature, they lifted him up and his imagination thrived with dreams of greatness.

But it has a different effect on girls. For her, fairytales unwittingly skew the image of women. The subliminal message is always the same, that women are weak and aren’t as important as men. In nearly every Disney movie the mother dies in the early scenes, as she does in Bambi; or she’s the mother completely missing, as in Rumpelstiltskin. Most recent attempts at changing the format fall short and revert to the modern version of the ineffectual mother, as in The Princess and The Frog.

Perhaps we should limit a girl’s exposure to Disney movies; maybe shorten the amount of time she spends playing with Barbie dolls and Easy Bake ovens. Maybe we should give her more video games to play, ones that will engage her intellectually.

Or maybe we can tell her a different fairytale, one in which a woman saves a man that’s in distress. It happens.

And then there’s still that bit about “equal pay for equal work”. Yes, we have to fix that, so a girl will believe that women are worthy; it establishes a level of respect. And in a healthy society, a boy or a man also needs to know that a woman who does the same job is being compensated for a job well done. It establishes a level of respect.

And finally, if we’re serious about girls doing code, we need to provide her with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her the proper stories to enrich her mind; and we need to start her off with the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, tech, technology, Women