EFF Gives Us Privacy Badger

There are a few organizations I respect completely. ACLU is one. EFF is another.

EFF put out an anti-tracker plugin that installed in your browser cuts back on how much sites can see of your browsing history. Privacy is important. Consider Privacy Badger.

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Tahini Muffins

Tahini Muffin Experiment

  • 2 cups ancient grains gluten free (or all purpose) flour
  • 1/2 cup packed Brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • dash of toasted sesames

Preheat oven to 400 F and line muffin tin with papers.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Mix milk & tahini, add butter, then eggs, then sugar and cardamom.

Add dry ingredients to wet.

I like to use my 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with toasted sesames.

Bake for approximately 15 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a bit before transferring to a plate.

Texture turned out a bit sandy due to the tahini. Cardamom gives it a nice crisp taste. Palate cleanser.

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Fighting Stereotypes: #ILookLikeAnEngineer

Once upon a time a software company posted pictures of their employees. The end.

Or not. One of their engineers happened to be a beautiful woman. Out of nowhere she started getting comments and messages, “You don’t look like an engineer, are you sure you’re not a model they hired to pretend to be an engineer?” And ruder. Her response? #ILookLikeAnEngineer

When I first started down the path of becoming a programmer people would tell me that the money wasn’t good (it was just after the dot com crash) or the hours were awful or any number of negatives. Then they would say wouldn’t you rather be a teacher? Or a project manager? Or a product owner? Or a designer? No, actually, I enjoy the act of programming.

There’s a stereotype around what software engineers look like. The effect of that stereotype is that people who don’t fit the stereotype constantly have to explain why they want to be a software engineer. Since women are assumed to be worse at math than men the reason they want to be software engineers is often thought to be something other than love of the (at times) mathematical nature of the work. Instead of defending ideas that I have around programming I end up defending that I can even have those ideas as a woman.

The #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign touched me. I may not look like a model but I have had been told I don’t look like an engineer. I posted my picture to twitter. I write software. I am an engineer. I look like an engineer.

A week later my boss at Billups asked me if I’d seen #ILookLikeAnEngineer. I showed him my post. He said they wanted to help with the Indiegogo campaign. Then he and the owner of Billups threw the weight of the whole company behind helping get the best possible out-of-home billboard campaign for the project. The team handled the campaign from conception to execution, organizing the printers, getting good deals through contacts in the area, making the whole thing bigger and better pro bono. Yes, pro bono, no charge for our services.

We got the message all over the Bay area – we have coverage in Oakland (Coliseum), Bay Bridge, 101 (Santa Clara & Palo Alto), downtown SF, BART stations. Media formats include: Bulletins (static & digital), Metro-Lights, 2-sheets. (Yes, I’m quoting a coworker who was talking about what we did. I just build the software that helps organize the data and process, everything I know about the process comes from amazing people like Kristana.) AND we partnered with a great data company called ESRI that makes it possible to provide a density map of people in the Bay Area that had a Computer / Mathematical focus for strategic targeted planning. (They also often host the local #golang meetup.)

All that launched this week. What started with me caring about how software engineers who don’t fit the stereotype are viewed became the company I work for doing amazing things for the community. The official press release is here. And yes, they stuck my face on the billboard. Luckily I wasn’t alone and one of the other women who builds Billups’ software was willing to have her picture taken too. So here we are, looking like engineers before going back to work programming in Go, writing tests, creating data structures, building databases, and maintaining our legacy PHP codebase.

Alex & Rebekah looking like engineers

photo credit: Victor Garcia

Categories: feminism, geeky, philosophy, women in computer science | 5 Comments

2016 Hugo Award Contenders Short Story: Cat Pictures Please

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Interstellar

Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Related Work: Reviewing Letters from Gardner

Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing the Goblin Emperor


The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Novel: Reviewing Rat Queens

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)

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2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing Ancillary Sword

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)

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Categories: 2015 Hugos, books, Hugos, reviews | 1 Comment


There are a lot of awful things on the internet. Online people can cluster together and encourage one another in opinions that get you uninvited from all Thanksgivings ever at my house. And then one day some idiot decides that he is going to go forth and take action on behalf of all the idiots online and shoots nine people in a church in Charleston. To quote that idiot, “…no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Conspiracy theories and hate led that man to kill nine people.

There are a lot of awful things in real life. In the U.S. someone convicted of abusing their spouse can go buy a gun with more ease than a woman can get a morning after pill after being raped. And when I vote, when I donate to causes, volunteer, talk to my friends, or witness foul behavior I can speak out in real life and say, “Stop that.” Or better yet, make beautiful things happen through good deeds.

People who say racist things, whether they intend to be racist or not, are not welcome in my house.

People who say racist things, whether they intend to be racist or not, are not welcome in my corner of the internet.

A bit over a month ago I decided I was going to participate in voting for the Hugo Awards. The whole process had gotten muddy and I wanted to help bring it back to being about good science fiction and fantasy. I forced myself to read a bunch of mediocre works, some of which had mildly to extremely offensive themes or points of view. I wrote honestly about what I did and did not like about each story. And I had planned to continue to do so.

The last few days I have stalled on my goal to read everything on the Hugo Awards ballot and in my way I have been doing some internal nudging to figure out why. Then I realized what was bothering me.

The man who is at the center of this year’s Hugo Awards kerfuffle is a racist. That link goes to an interview with him (I won’t link to his site) which I think pretty clearly spells out how racist he is.

The problem with this year’s Hugo Awards? That man put a whole bunch of works published by his publishing house and stories he’s written on the ballot through dishonorable means.

I did not pay for these works but they take up space on my Nook, on my laptop, in my mind, from my days. I am giving him a corner of my intranet.

Now I have never believed that one should avoid reading something just because it is offensive or ridiculous. There are historical and political texts which I do not agree with that I will read. But why am I reading this mediocre stuff? To prove a point?

It’s hitting the point where I feel manipulated. Some kid out there said, “You’re just going to vote against it without even reading it and that’s not fair.” Then I said, “I can too be fair!” Ignoring the fact that it’s unfair to make me read it.

I have read someof the works put forward by the people who gamed the Hugo Awards. So far what I’ve found is that they really weren’t trying to nominate based on quality. They might have stumbled across some quality but they did not nominate based on quality. I am still going to read everything on the Hugo Awards ballot… with a few exceptions.

I cannot give that racist publisher any space in my head, on my hardware, or in my time. From here forward I will not be reading or reviewing anything published by his publishing house or written or edited by him.

We are all human. The color of our skin, our gender, the number of toes we have, our mental abilities and disabilities, they are all asides when it comes down to one basic truth: we are human. We all carry all the potential of humanity from greatest good to greatest evil, most amazing genius and most frustrating stupidity. The color skin, our gender, our physical traits do not predict nor preclude any of those.

Not encouraging racists is the very least I can do for the men and women who died in Charleston. It’s not enough but it’s me trying.

Categories: 2015 Hugos, Hugos, philosophy | Leave a comment

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