Archive for: March, 2011

Jean Jennings Bartik (12/27/24 – 3/23/2011)

Mar 28 2011 Published by under computing history, women

Jean Bartik, the last of the six "female computers" I blogged about last month, passed away last week.

CNN wrote a nice obituary. I liked this part a lot:

"Jean is probably one of the most significant pioneers in computing," Rickman said. "Jean worked hard and, as a woman in a man's world at that time, especially in the business world, it's amazing what she was able to accomplish."

Bartik graduated from Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in 1945 as the school's one math major. She recalled living on her parents' farm, refusing the teaching jobs her father suggested and avoiding all talk of marrying a farmer and having babies. Instead, she took a train to Philadelphia to work for the military.

Forget babies! I'm going to go program computers.

I love that. It was such a revolutionary thing to do in the 1940s. Hard to imagine in today's world how revolutionary that was.

The article ends with a quote from Jean:

In February, Bartik said women hadn't gotten far enough in technology, but she saw a promising future.

"Women are busily working on it," she said. "I have high hopes for them."

My thoughts go out to her family and friends. I hope they can take comfort in the fact that hundreds of women all over the world have been inspired by Jean, including this one.

PS - In case you were wondering, the banner at the top of my FCS blog features two other "female computers" who were Jean's contemporaries, Ester Gerston and Gloria Ruth Gorden. Here's a picture of Jean programming the ENIAC.

One response so far

Gasp. Did a *girl* hack HB Gary?

Mar 21 2011 Published by under security, women

A 16 year-old girl?

But that's impossible! Girls don't even know what computers are, let alone how to do something as complex as launching a SQL injection attack*.

Clearly this must be a ploy by Anonymous. It's all men in Anonymous. There are no girls on the internet!

This trope is a common one that the media does little to dispell. In addition to perpetuating the belief that the only thing  women could possibly ever do on a computer is use Facebook, they also seem to imply women could never possibly do something as Dark and Dangerous as hacking.


I of course do not condone black hat hacking - but - I think everyone assuming Kayla must be a guy is sexist.


(*) Actually, what I find the most entertaining in the media is that most of these attacks to not require much cleverness. They are just exploiting human engineering error (poorly written code) or human social error (social engineering). Given most software looks like Swiss cheese as far as security is concerned, and given most people have no training on how to spot a social engineering ploy, the success of these attacks is hardly surprising.

16 responses so far

Happy Pi Day!

Mar 14 2011 Published by under geek-culture

Happy Pi Day!

Today is March 14th, or 3/14, and in geek culture we celebrate today as Pi day. Usually by wearing Pi T-shirts, baking pies, ordering pizza, and other such things.

I'm sadly too busy with deadlines and travel to cook, and don't own any Pi t-shirts, so instead I thought it would be fun to post some incredibly corny filk, complete with wonderfully punny pictures. Enjoy!

4 responses so far