Sunday, October 20, 2013


Ten Reasons Why It’s a Great Time for Women in STEM


Grace Hopper was one of the first computer scientists. Born in 1906, she developed the first compiler, the concept of machine independent programming language, was a US Navy Rear admiral, and left a legacy for women in STEM fields. In 1947, she found a moth in the tubes of a UNIVAC computer, and coined the term “bug.”


Last week was the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Minneapolis, where thousands gathered to advance the influence of women in technology. With renewed energy, I’d like to share some thoughts with Ten reasons why it’s great to be a woman in the tech industry:


1. I can help change the world

2. Great paying jobs

3. Extremely rewarding work that has an impact:

4. Improve diversity – increase the innovation and creative power of the team:

5. Break the cultural stereotypes:

6. Be a role model to other women who want to join the industry:

7. Excellent confidence booster:

8. Improve customer empathy:

9. Improve communication and collaboration between teams:

10. Contribute towards making the environment fun to work:


Disney Develops Algorithm for Rendering 3D Tactile Features on Touch Surfaces

TG Daily

Disney researchers have developed an algorithm for tactile rendering of three-dimensional (3D) features and textures. By altering the friction encountered as a user's fingertip glides across the surface, the Disney algorithm creates a perception of a 3D bump on a touch surface without having to physically move the surface. "If we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touchscreen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touchscreen even though the touch surface is completely smooth," says Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev. During testing, the researchers used electrovibration to modulate the friction between the sliding finger and the touch surface with electrostatic forces. In addition, the researchers created and validated a psychophysical model that closely simulates friction forces perceived by the human finger when it slides over a real bump. "With our algorithm we do not have one or two effects, but a set of controls that make it possible to tune tactile effects to a specific visual artifact on the fly," notes Disney's Ali Israr.x


BBC Plans to Help Get the Nation Coding

BBC News

The BBC plans to launch an initiative in 2015 that will promote software programming in the United Kingdom. Partnering with the government, educators, and technology companies, the BBC will work to stimulate a national conversation about digital creativity and encourage audiences to embrace technology. The program will provide a range of tools that will enable people to gain skills to solve problems, tell stories, and build new businesses in the digital world. The BBC wants to "bring coding into every home, business, and school in the UK," says BBC director general Tony Hall. "We want to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming, and digital technology." The initiative comes at a time when government and technology experts are fearful of a massive skills gap because schools are not teaching key computing skills and interest in the subject matter has fallen. The technology sector will need 1 million more workers over the next 10 years, says Go On UK's Martha Lane Fox. "We've got to help to encourage people to go into that sector."


What Is The Worst Thing About Working At Microsoft?


The worst thing about working at Microsoft is the number of people outside the company who doubt us. That’s right. The worst part of working at Microsoft has nothing to do with our internal culture (that’s not quite true; more on that in a bit). It isn’t stack ranking or ship cycles or trying to get things done.


It is working at a company that people don’t believe in, despite the immense importance it plays in their daily life.


Napoleon’s Fatal Mistake

Farnam Street Blog

He did not like to delegate, and therefore the men he promoted under his command tended to be those who carried out his orders with precision, rather than men with their own minds. The weakness was central to the failure of the empire, for Bonaparte used his marshals and generals not only to command distant armies, which he could not supervise in detail, but to govern provinces and kingdoms, run embassies, put down rebellions, and deal with all of the crises that, from time to time, swept across territories of nearly eighty million souls.


The Future Fabric of Data Analysis

Quanta Magazine

A new approach to computation is required for managing big data because of the shift to a decentralized, distributed computer architecture. "The challenge is not how to solve problems with a single, ultra-fast processor, but how to solve them with 100,000 slower processors," says Stanford University's Stephen Boyd. A new kind of computing fabric must accommodate growth in data sets' size and complexity that outpaces the expansion of computing resources, according to the California Institute of Technology's Harvey Newman. Boyd's consensus algorithms use a strategy in which a data set is split into bits and distributed across 1,000 agents that analyze their individual bit and generate a model based on the data they have processed, and all of the models must ultimately agree. The iterative process supports a feedback loop, in which initial consensus is shared with all agents, which update their models in view of the new information and reach a second consensus, and so on until all the agents are in agreement. Meanwhile, quantum computing might aid big data by searching large, unsorted data sets, and key to this advance is a quantum memory accessible in quantum superposition. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Seth Lloyd has conceived of a prototype system and accompanying app that he believes could uncover patterns within data while preserving superposition by not actually looking at any individual records.


Coders Go the Distance for Charity

SD Times

More than 2,000 independent developers in 21 cities around the world recently participated in #hack4good, a 48-hour coding marathon to create applications that solve technical problems for charities. Geeklist, a social networking site for developers, hosted the event, and the winning apps were chosen for each city based on the ability to address the issue for which it was developed. "But what was different about this event was that it was the first-ever, tandem, global hackathon where all the cities participated all at the same time--with the same start and end times in their respective time zones," says Geeklist CEO Reuben Katz. Several technology firms provided tools and other assistance to the participants, and the winning apps will benefit charities such as Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth. For example, one app enables pet rescue agencies to pinpoint where dogs and cats are found, record their characteristics, and develop a registry. Katz notes that people who participate in these events are not seeking financial rewards. "The reward that they get is that they've done something for social good that helps," he says. "And to maintain that sanctity of social good, we really try to focus in very heavily on running events that developers really get personal, long-term value out of."


125+ Unbelievable Futuristic Design Concepts That Inspire Creativity

Andy Sowards

So I’ve always had an interest in Products in general since I was a child. It helped drive my passion for design into my adult life and into my career. I especially love to see what happens when you combine a great Product Design and New Technology. It really gives you hope and inspiration (and constant ideas) for helping make a better future for everyone when you see truly amazing ideas at work. It is easy to get Inspired when you think about how today’s ever-accelerating technology will impact us in the future (heck, even look at how it impacts us today. Thanks everyone who made an effort in the past! haha). Today we have some really epic examples of Design Concepts at their best. These ideas range from INSANE to practical but they are all very clever and unique – I hope they inspire you to create something new to help out the world, or just think up something you think would be really cool to have :) . Ideas are golden, so go have lots of them! Enjoy!


Missing children messages go on 404 error pages


Missing children are to be sought via the error pages websites display when people reach deleted webpages.  A European initiative is putting pictures and biographical details of missing children on the well-known 404 Not Found pages.


Hosting firms, ISPs and media companies have signed up to put the information on what would otherwise be empty pages. Anyone who runs a website is being encouraged to join the initiative to raise the profile of missing children.