Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TED Talks in Newtown - Robots

Guerrilla Science! I've been putting up posters on King St. I haven't exactly done a band run and my sticky tape dispenser is dinky but it brings back memories! Thursday night is the first of our planned TED Talks at Newtown Public School and we have no idea how it will go!

THURS 2nd April 6 to 7.30
at Newtown Public School
screening short videos and talks about
the now of robotics and nanotechnology
by Prof Rodney Brooks from MIT
and Hod Lipson from Cornell
chaired by Dr Michael Harries
PhD Artificial Intelligence

Robots & Superhumans

ENTRY FREE, OPEN to all members of community

there will be real robots

This is my second year running a science club at the school. Last year we were overwhelmed with interest from children (60+) but had only a few parent volunteers. This year, I've arranged for paid professional workshops. It's cheap as, yet the enrolments are not quite at the expected level. Perhaps I made it too cheap! Still, my kids are getting great workshops out of it.

We've just finished two sessions of robotics using Lego Mindstorms robots and some of us are inspired to do a science show fundraiser next term to raise money for school robots and laptops and do a robotics competition!

In the meantime... I'm going to try to tweet out the TED talks although it unfortunately clashes with the Sydney Skeptics in the Pub.

Friday, March 27, 2009

twitter will make me go blind

or perhaps my head will explode like the Australian Government Censorship Board homepage.. which was hacked yesterday just before Stephen Conroy's Q&A.

heads up courtesy of the hoydens about twitter @lauredhel and @crazybrave and culprit courtesy of @websinthe who has much of interest to say on #nocleanfeed and other things. I am checking the weather for melon showers and ordering more humour with my politics.

And if one's going to publicly argue as @wickedlibrarian points out you need to tool up as she turns to Skeptics Guide 5x5. Although paraphrasing from Princess Bitchface, in economic terms are you going to recoup your investment in an argument?

This very useful book by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, (also author of Real Wired Child which I haven't yet read) has uncanny parallels to Australian politics!

Although I can see the strange attraction (aka xkcd) in language lab's commentary. much irony.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

final flicker from my feed reader tidy frenzy

I've deleted all the "blog's I'm following" which was halfway duplicating my google reader and not staying up to date. I love you all and will read you more now than before! I even handwrote you all down so that if something blew up I could get you back... so if you're wondering why I'm not following you any more. I am. I'm just better at it now. And now I also have an amazing blogroll!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day - For My Daughters

I'm glad I tidied my feed reader in time to catch the post from Ideologically Impure that alerted me to Ada Lovelace Day from Suw Charman-Anderson who writes on Blogiculum Vitae amongst other places.

So, it's already March 24th and I'm unprepared to blog about women and technology. There are some amazing women, from Hypatia onwards. Choose my tech heroine? I've decided to #ALD09post about... myself.

Yesterday was the first Newtown Kids Science Club day for 2009. We did robotics. Organised by myself. Many parents at the school say to me... "but you're a science teacher... scientist... I couldn't do that!"

No, I'm not and yes I can.

It's time to put aside the barriers. Women in science. Women in sport. Same issue. This is for my daughters. They aren't all sporty. Some like pink. They don't all think that Ripley is a role model like I do. I have 4 children, 1 boy and 3 girls. They are all different.

I've done my share of gender neutral parenting. I'm sick of fixing my children. They are not broke or boys (bar one). It's time to fix their society. Daughter 1 was brought up on Punky Brewster and is now an adult and into burlesque. Daughter 2 was very Barbie, so we got her a pink laptop, a pink screwdriver and sparkly pink soccer balls. She's more like Sailor Moon now. Daughter 3 is a Dora girl, though where is Dora heading now?

I started coaching football (soccer) because I got mad that girls were expected to put up with being the only girl on the team. Never talked to. Never passed the ball. Trial by ordeal. Then IF they played better than the boys... "She's not a bad little player. She fits in well. She's like one of the boys."

No parent of a boy would put up with that! So rather than watch my not so sporty daughters drop out I started coaching. I have sparkly footballs and coach a 50/50 mixed team. No one minds a bit of bling mixed in with their blood sports. Just ask Beckham! Or any other gold boot wearing boy.

I also run the school science club. "But you're a scientist!" No.

I just want my girls to think that science and technology is something they can do, too.

We had a great day programming robots yesterday. My daughters had friends doing the same thing as they were. My son was in a class with girls. Win win situation.
... naturally enough, I'm now looking at the long list of wonderful women being posted about on the Ada Lovelace Day #ALD09 blogroll and "myself" (on page 16) sticks out like dog's balls. That's the point though. Let us all be empowered to be women in technology heroines - for our daughters!

Ideologically Impure rocks Ada Lovelace Day

It's Ada Lovelace Day today! Dedicated to women and technology! I can't do justice to the subject right now and it's just such a GOOD idea that I'm going to quote verbatim from Idealogically Impure's blog entry today. Thank you!

March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day, intended to encourage blogging about women in technology, increase the visibility of women in technology, all that good stuff.It’s named for Ada Lovelace, possibly the world’s first computer programmer (for all she was girl-shaped and even computers themselves were pretty pie-in-the-sky).

I don’t have a post prepped, unfortunately, so I just want to say that events like ALD are brilliant. A few years back I managed to take some Gender Studies papers at uni as a way of getting enough points to complete my degree. One of these was on feminist science studies, an area I’d never even heard about until the first day of class.

The very first lecture was basically a “Who’s Who” of women in science and technology. And when the lecturer went around the group, asking people to name prominent women scientists they knew of, we came up with Marie Curie and Beatrice Hill Tinsley (go Kiwi!). And that was it. Clearly having anticipated this, we then spent an hour going through a potted history of women who made amazing discoveries and formulated brilliant theories … who we had never heard about.

Women like Hypatia, whose death is sometimes used as a marker of the end of the Hellenistic Age. Women like Hildegard of Bingen, who was nothing short of brilliant in a crapload of different fields. Women like Caroline Herschel, a great astronomer and one of the first paid female scientists in England.

If nothing else, I can only recommend checking out Wikipedia’s handy List of pre-21st Century Women Scientists. If its size alone doesn’t surprise you, given how much we focus on the great men of science and technology, just check out what some of these people have managed to achieve despite the distinct disadvantage of being born female.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kickass feminist icon quizz! Belladonnalin rocks!

I am apparently Kathleen Hanna, punk feminist and riot grrl. I love you, belladonnalin!

You are Kathleen Hanna! Poster child of the riot grrls, you've grown up a little in the last few years. You've brought rape, feminism, sexuality, and wymyn surviving hard shit into the mainstream through art, music, and spokenword. You're PUNKROCK! But, like, for real.

Google Project 10^100 results?

Too many drafts and not enough blog love!

I was going to post our Google Project 10^100 applications in January (we put them in October 08) but the announcement of Google's shortlist was postponed from Australia Day to St Pats day, due to the overwhelming response.

It's a great idea. Google are going to pick 100 of the most interesting implementable ideas for changing the world and put them out for public vote and give the winning ideas $10 million.

So... any news yet?

Monday, March 9, 2009

DIY Washing Machine - Progress Report

On Sunday night, I came home to this. :( washing machine needs service code 43 :( The washing machine quit working. Stopped. Ceased all activities.

We do the washing on the weekend. All 5 or 6 or 7 baskets of it. We fold it on Sunday night, if things are going swimmingly. Monday or Tuesday if not. And some weeks we're still fishing through baskets for something to wear on Friday. It's a pretty good indicator of how the rest of life is going.

I'm just going to add the Twitter feed and Twitpics from here on. But all I can say is thank 'heavens' I have google superpowers and a sonic screwdriver.

1 # utterly fragged after kids ALLDAY trampoline competition! Will reward myself with WoW if I can fix washing machine! *ignoring real work* 4:53 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
2 # antithesis of computerised appliances with obscure ailments = googling forums for service code fixits! We have SYNTHESIS . Now for SPINCYCLE! 4:56 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
3 # 140 chars is a bit of a stretch for me. LoL. I meant keeping it down to 140 chars. 4:57 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
4 # I don't like it if my personal screwdriver is missing... or in with the common tools! *is my precious! is yellow. has engraving!* 5:02 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
5 # If I can't find my own screwdriver then it's autoFAIL everything else following! 5:03 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
6 # See. My first FAIL. Tweeting my 'just googled it!' has blown my facade of general awesome at anything ness! 5:10 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
7 # Second FAIL. What grey cover? I can find a white one. A very dirty white one but I wouldn't call it grey to my face! 5:12 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
8 # Oh. Perhaps it's the grey cover under the white cover that I just unscrewed! 5:12 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
9 # Choice of two grey covers. One with lots of wires. Atleast I unplugged machine from power before starting open heart! 5:18 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
10 # it's down to the "remove switch from below computer, check for corrosion and rewire the yellow to the white one" sort of directions. NOLOL 5:20 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
11 # Anyone good with the insides of Fisher & Paykel Intuitive Eco machines? Service Code 43 5:20 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
12 # Have found balance switch! Unscrewed the computer and balanced it on chopsticks (short wires) . Need more light. Or glasses. 5:25 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
13 # if i could get my phone tweeting again i could twitpic! Another FAIL. 5:33 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
14 # oops. where is my phone? 5:34 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
15 # found phone but lot's of smoke down south newtown way! Prolly just exhaust fumes... Or burning car event. Or other burning issue? 5:38 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
16 # bluetooth not so good on this computer. Fixit days are never ending farkups. 5:46 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
17 # » link to TwitPic - Share photos on twitter DIY is a great excuse for a drink. Here is inside of our washing machine computer. 5:51 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
18 # this is successful chopstick cantilevering operation leading to relatively painless switch extraction » link to TwitPic - Share photos on twitter 5:53 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
19 # this is memo to self... yellow wire goes on this side! » link to TwitPic - Share photos on twitter followed by bout of twitter. 5:58 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
20 # showing kids how to use multimeter and making martini - more procrastination » link to TwitPic - Share photos on twitter 6:32 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
21 # finally dropping closed switch in vinegar bath » link to TwitPic - Share photos on twitter Tomorrow it may work again. Or not. It was already lose/lose. 6:34 PM Mar 1st from TweetDeck
22 # RT @Glebe2037: I say good morning and give you a Hello Kitty Death cake = » link to kittyhell.com 10:41 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
23# Rinsed washing machine switch and put in dryer (still works) on shoe rack. Cat litter scoop quite handy. #diyawesome 10:44 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
24 # Now the switch is dry. The moment of truth is nigh. starcee on howtomendit.com will live or die by this result. 10:52 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
25 # hope i'm not wrong about the wires, cause i was wrong about which way was up. 10:53 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
26 # we have ignition sequence. houston we have lights. holy shit! it's working! 10:54 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
27 # oops, i seem to have misplaced one of the screws. but IT'S STILL WORKING! I have fixed the washing machine. I am god. 10:55 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck
28 # @michaelharries but will it enhance my reputation with Darnassus? 11:33 AM Mar 2nd from TweetDeck in reply to michaelharries
Now the Roomba battery is dying. Trials and tribulations of a Domestic Moddess.

Monday, March 2, 2009

K - The Kombi Trip playlist taking shape - TOM!

I'm Not An Addict - K's Choice. I want to do this one with a cardboard box with a cutout on my head giving lots of good webcam head.

Seven Nation Army. I think that Audioslave is more our style than The White Stripes.

This is the next logical step. Rage against the machine - Killing in the name. I can think of a few people who'll be in to this one!

I don't know why but I just love Moonland. All Tomorrow's Parties was a blast. There's a better version on the Plug Awards but this is like being there.

Then let's work our way up to the feminist interpretation of Rage Against the Machines' I Could Just Kill a Man.

Throw in Midnight Man or I Call Upon the Author to Explain? Cause I just love a thrashing song with lyrics like "Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!"

And maybe some Patti Smith after that - Rock n Roll Nigga. And maybe Gloria or Horses/Hey Joe. Though I've a long fondness for "Born To Run" if we chase down "Because the Night" and the Bruce Springsteen connection.