Category Archives: Coding

Women & Technology Again

$ 0 Talk radio

It’s no longer the Golden Age of radio in America and finally girls will have more than a cracked fairy tale to be her moral guide.

All around her are images of womanhood, independent and clear.   Live-streaming, in movies and in newspapers, women are being positively depicted, and a young girl sees herself, without feeling uncomfortable in her skin.  Successful women like Hillary Clinton, Mae C. Jemison, Sara Blakely and Oprah Winfrey smile from the covers of glossy magazines.

The narrative has changed, she can do both- be a mother and have a career.  There’s no sky and no limit to her dreams; from pink sneakers to blue high heels, she can perform!   Hopefully she’ll think outside the gender box, because there’s no social corset and hairpins to keep her tied down, unless she wants to wear them.   Now, metaphorically and literally, she can breathe.

Technology has made life better for all, by freeing her from domestic drudgery to a life of luxury– washing machines and egg beaters gave the gift of time, to read books and to learn.  Because we always knew she could code, given the opportunity to learn code.

The apron has been spun around and the letter “S” reveals two things, one it always was a cape and two, it’s washable.   She has choices!  And while there’s much to get excited about, there’s still a wall to overcome.  Gender orientation is such a huge part of society’s psyche, that it’s not easily cast aside.  And maybe that’s why it continues to be practiced in maternity wards across the country, where the gender color-code begins, when our babies are separated by little blue bands for boys and a little pink bands for girls.   Shouldn’t we start out with the same, equally?

Instead, adults complete the gender code cycle, by unwittingly buying into the color system, toys that should be tools of development create subtle pigeon-holes.  We as a society still respond when we see a little boy playing with Barbie dolls, because we ourselves have been raised to adhere to the gender color code.   And so the stage is set and the cycle continues, gender orientation is passed awkwardly along from one generation to the next.

But things are changing, I did see a little boy playing with a pink truck.  And on Dacia Street a little girl was busy fixing the wheel of her baby carriage, her hands were dirty with axle grease.  I smiled, this is the stuff of her fairy tales.

And hopefully, babies will eventually all be allowed to grow up according to what’s in their heads, and not by what’s inside their diapers.

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Filed under Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls

Ideas: Selling More Than Technology

# vacuum hoover tech

What if the vacuum cleaner salesmen did more than just suction up pet hairs?

What if there was a subliminal conversation?  Words of encouragement and a smile that hinted, “your time is more valuable, than you think”.

If a sales pitch is the purest form of Persuasive Speech, then it also has to be flattering.  As she watched him unload and pack up his machine, her mind would have wandered.   Demonstrations have that before-after effect.

Think, Prometheus returning with fire…

It’s likely that the first reaction to a flame was to reach out and touch it, but as any moth has discovered, a touch can be fatal.   So, the second more thought out reaction  to fire would’ve been to apply a “Best Use Practice” and not get burnt.

The vacuum cleaner was thought to be, just another fad; more for those with health issues, like breathing problems than the general population.  But then the vacuum cleaner did the one thing that all great technology does, it stayed.

Whisk!  The broom industry went into lower sales and poof, the carpet beater was gone!

Once the vacuum cleaner became affordable, the salesman became a welcome guest at every door.   He was a hero, with a simple gesture and a smile, no need of a sales pitch.   Technology had ignited a flame.

An added bonus was watching the salesman bend down to plug the vacuum cleaner in, to stand and turn it on.  Oh, what a treat that must’ve been, as he guided the vacuum cleaner across the dirty floor.   Surely, she must’ve smirked just a little, as a man did the proverbial “women’s work”.

Stuck in the carpet, were bits of dirt and shards of glass, just like her dreams.  Scattered long ago and deeply embedded in the carpet’s fiber.  So much so, that she had forgotten about them, until she saw the carpet become clean, its color returned.   She might’ve gasped a little to think of new uses of her free time, more vivid.

For days and weeks after the salesman had gone, she’d think back on the possibilities; of what she could achieve with the gift of time.  She shared her ideas with other women , at the window, shopping and back fence.  And if women can think alike, then they can raise their daughters with more education, so she’ll become a doctor, engineer and coder.  Maybe those vacuum cleaner salesmen hadn’t intended to, but they ended up selling more than a product, they sold her an idea.

Isn’t technology clever?  It completely changed the labor pool in a task driven society!

No gimmicks.  And eventually she’ll be paid equally.

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Filed under Coding, Consumers, Gender Equality, innovation, Vacuum cleaners, Women

Cellophane: An Unsung Technology

$ marceau and Printed_Circuit_Board_Wallpaper_bgv2

“Wow!”

And just like that, the art of pantomime gets us.

Our attention is snatched away and whatever we were purportedly doing– strolling along, roller blading or running, we stop to do an about face to our own reality, to watch his painted face.

Desperate outstretched fingers seem amphibian and web-like; pressed against a sheet of glass that isn’t there, tells a compelling story of anguish.   We empathize with his herculean effort to get from underneath the crushing weight.  And even though we know it’s simply air that holds him back, we cheer for his freedom!

The street artist treks up Mount Ceenomore, to hear nothing and say nothing in a magical show of humanity.  The myth of Sisyphus intrigues us, the daily grind is mesmerizing and so is the mime’s control over his agile limbs, taunt muscles and loose facial skin.  And his thorough command of silence that calls out to us, not to help but to simply share the experience.

Like a glass ceiling or an invisible box that only he can feel, processing…

The mime’s performance reminds me of how modular obstacles in life can actually be; easily moved and erected.  Constructed of short-comings, self-imposed lamentations and even by the most loving, a grandmother or doting father.

Harmless, ambiguous words that provide their own walls, that are systemic to a nation or a culture, that reiterates a woman’s role as a mother.  And leaves her to languish in a kitchen.

Small girls are given baby dolls and miniature tea sets, dressed up to mimic their mothers in some infused setting, a long ago time and place.  Where etiquette modified behavior and nods of approval were given each time she remembered to cross her legs at the ankle.

Stay clean and to be sweet…

Women do it to other women.  Discussed and served on a platter and covered with cellophane, used to preserve the female.  How her life should be, what she should do and old innuendos.  It may be too late for my generation to dismantle the invisible walls that shuttered off technical spaces, but I imagine a different existence for my daughters.

A digital world where we’re mindful of our words, that we don’t recreate a mime’s struggle of walls and elevator rides that don’t go up.  Where she’s paid more than chump change, pennies tossed into a basket for a million dollar act.

Someone asked me about my bucket list, I don’t have one.   If I did it wouldn’t be a list of things I wish to achieve in my lifetime, but rather a list of dreams I was told couldn’t come true, without ever having dreamt of them.

Like a mime on a street, as we stop and watch him, as he does nothing.

 

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Filed under Coding, Girls, Women

Bartering Technology for Cool Pink Lemonade

11 Lemonade Girls

What if Norman Rockwell’s America had been depicted differently?

What if little boys and little girls were treated equally, that they might pursue similar dreams, based on their aptitude; and not by what was in their diapers.  Maybe then, coding, and entrepreneurships wouldn’t be as male dominated as they are…

What if “Rosie”, the Riveter wasn’t just a wartime phenomenon, but was commonly seen in everyday life, as a woman no more extraordinary than the housewife attached by an apron string, by choice.

What if after the war she was promoted to CEO and we saw that image as well.  What dreams might her daughters and grandchildren have and how might they have lived, seeing themselves depicted equally?

That’s what I think. And I’m only thinking that way now, because this past August my idea was accepted and then advanced to phase two of the YouNoodle competition, Verizon’s Powerful Answers.  And as I moved along in the competition, the portion which I found most difficult was entrepreneurial, because I had no training in that area.  So I did my research and pushed forward, but it did sit with me and ultimately, my idea was passed on.

That’s what encouragement or lack of encouragement does, it can sit and become a burden, one that vexes you, or it can inspire you to rise and push, that you might become your greater self.  I call it a lemonade stance!  Taking life’s lemons and bartering them for a chance to live your life, your way!

Sometimes, we do it to ourselves, because it might be easier to create our own club, rather than knock on the door of his club.  But we need to remember that separate is never equal.

And being comfortable to speak, doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be heard; because we’ve effectively made it easier to be ignored, as a group huddled to one side of society.

I’m not a history revisionist, but if I were… we’d all know the wives of the great men of America.  Her story, the wife’s story would be motivational, for surely she had a story, as we all do and must.

Of the five men who have been credited with making America one of the most affluent and influential countries in the world, we know very little of their wives.   Try looking them up, there’s very limited information about them and it’s not simply because of the times, but society that has historically and effectively stifled them.

In tribute…

Laura Celestia Spelman, Abolitionist, Philanthropist and teacher married John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) who she met in an accounting class.

Sophie Johnson married Cornelius Vanderbilt (Railroad) and ran the Bellona House, a hotel for weary travelers of her husband’s steamships.

Clara Bryant married Henry Ford (Automobile) and along with gardening was a business supporter in her husband’s business deals, that included convincing him to sign off on a Union contract.

Frances Tracy (2nd wife) married J.P. Morgan (Financier).  She preferred the quiet of the suburbs and home.

Louise Whitfield married Andrew Carnegie (Steel) and was a philanthropist.  She said it best:  “I am the unknown wife of a somewhat well-known businessman.”

But it’s wintertime in New England, a wonderful time for white fluffy snow that appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities.  A good time to pause and ponder life’s inequities, and like snow, thaw ideas that then nourish future minds, and grow so a child might become her greater-self and he might know of her.

Let’s begin by bartering life’s lemons for lemonade; to build lemonade stands.  So we can pass along tech advice, while we sip on cool pink lemonade and reimagine stories of what a damsel in distress looks like.

Cheers!

 

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Filed under AARP, Coding, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Women

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

If Bees Pollinated Technology

2 bees tech

Have you ever had a moment, when everything that you’re doing seems to be moving along at a nice clip; each in its orderly fashion, when BLAM! Life happens?

You can’t know for certain if it’s all bad, because you don’t know exactly what’s gone wrong.  But there’s that disconnect, that general feeling of disbelief.

Change can be very disconcerting, especially when everything you’ve worked so hard for has gone awry.   Then you’re left with fear, that perhaps it’s over and then you find that it’s not over, but nothing is as it was and you’re completely off your game.  Disoriented.  That’s when the real disruption begins.

Disruption in the Digital age, like the Industrial Age before is a certainty. How much is not, and that will be sorted out later by historians, with that 20-20 tool they call hindsight.  And hindsight can and does reveal correctable flaws, but time is a luxury, not a commodity.  A poor decision today may have devastating effects for future generations, but technology is exciting!

And it’s moving so fast!  The internet keeps getting better, social media, and collaborations.   Open platforms, bugs and fixes that we mindlessly download to our tablets, that add value to our smartphones.  And apps, games and upgrades, with the promise of more– the Internet of Things!

The buzz of new technology has quieted the buzz of bees.

When I was younger I could hear them, whispering.  Back then I rushed into things without any concern about them or the size of my footprint on the earth.  But I’m older now and these things do matter.   (Perhaps, I’m worried about getting into heaven.)  But whatever the reason I’m straining to listen and I’m not hearing the whispering sound of bees.

Scientists attribute it to hive disorientation, a result of the hertz frequency used by our cellphones. Others say pesticide usage has weakened the bees’ immune systems. Still others believe it’s a combination, in addition to the effects of global warming. But they all agree that bees are disappearing.

Here are a few facts about bees.   Of the 20,000 species of bees in the world, only 4 species make honey. Bees are the only insect that makes food for humans. Honey is the only food in the world that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life. Bees pollinate plant life in the original ecosystem that supports ALL life.

We might want to pay attention to the changes that are taking place, those harbingers of disruption. Bees are disappearing.

Bees have been around since the Triassic Age; right alongside the dinosaurs.  Oh and in case you didn’t know, dinosaurs were huge and they’re all gone now.

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Filed under Apps, bees, bees disappearing, cellphone, Coding, technology, Telecommunications

Readers of Code

world book 9

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

Welcome to the Digital Divide

1 Range Circuit_Board
For years, the digital world seemed to be just up ahead; a futuristic place that existed beyond our dreams and over a mountain, like a rainbow. It culled our imaginations, and made us ask “What if?”

The digital divide seemed accessible by car and markings on the roadway, those dashes painted on the asphalt guided us along, by keeping us in our respective lanes. It was orderly, like life itself.

Trees flew past so fast that they didn’t resemble themselves, instead the blurred images helped fuel our curiosity. From the car’s window we pondered life and the big blue marble, called earth. Road trips had that effect. And when we returned to school we’d have questions, like “What does a cloud taste like?”

On Monday morning, we’d gather in the schoolyard and whisper; a discussion about which questions should be brought up in class; the probable, the impossible and the iffy-iffy.

One student would ask a question, the teacher would answer and then someone else would ask a question. Like a string of pearls in a leap frog fashion- a question led to an answer to a question and another and so on; until finally the bell rang. The class would end and the teacher wouldn’t have taught us anything; and somehow, we felt empowered by the disruption.

It was especially exciting when the teacher realized, albeit too late, that he’d been duped into answering pointless questions. It validated our cleverness and added meaning to our lives. A harmless prank, one in which we delayed progress, that is the day’s lessons and entertained ourselves.

And it’s about to begin again, but this time there’s more at stake. It’s not simply a question of what a cloud tastes like, but rather what exactly can a cloud do with big Data?

Deciding that and what questions to ask isn’t as provocative, as the next question, that is: “How do we protect our information?” and “What information is worth protecting?” and “Is a data breach the only way to know the difference?”

Welcome to the digital divide, a disruption in progress.

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Filed under Big Data, Coding, Consumers, social media, tech, technology

On Track To Pink Coding

train circuit 4
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

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