Feminist hacker lounge at PyCon

PyCon gave non-profit booth space to The Ada Initiative and Mozilla for our Feminist Hacker Lounge and it turned out just awesome. Though it was only a 10×10 booth space lined with beanbags we met and hung out with lots of fantastic people. Lukas, Val, Mary and I roamed the exhibit halls, went to talks, and handed out stickers. We were right next to the PyLadies booth, across from CodeChix, and diagonally across from Women Who Code. So that made for good synergy. We also sent emissaries across the exhibit hall to trade stickers with the Lady Coders.

ada init booth

In the afternoon on Friday we had some larger discussions but mostly people just wanted to talk with each other in small groups. One of the things people said most often was how welcoming various Python communities had been to them and how comfortable they felt. That was great to hear.

We talked about hackerspaces and projects like Planeteria and whatever we have going in github and our jobs. We talked about stuff we want to do at AdaCamp in June. And Lukas and I got into some weird installer problems in trying to deploy bz-tools with stackato on paas.allizom.org. We told some horror stories and a lot of jokes. I painted my nails “VT100” green with “Tux” black stripes. At one point I watched two math nerds realize they shared a “pure math” background and saw them both get ecstatic expressions on their faces, scream, and hug… And obviously we all spent a lot of time just staring at our laptops while lying there on the floor.

ada initiative

One thing I talked about to people…. brainstorming ideas for a project that I thought of when I read harthur’s post after some code of hers got harshly criticized. (She has a followup post: Open Source Rocks which is also very good.) As I was thinking about students looking for open source projects to contribute too, I wondered if we could offer github projects owned by women to women — in a similar way to how Code Triage works. You could add your repo to the tool and then other women might browse through by language or in some other way, find it, and pick it to contribute to (perhaps getting a periodic email invitation with a bug to fix.)

This would be easier and slicker than many “mentoring”, even peer mentoring, match-up tools I have seen over the years.

(The obvious problem, of course, is that adding your repo to this tool may just get you threats, rude propostions, and nasty hate mail. But so does everything else that identifies us as female — and that just can’t stop us.)

I also spent some time talking with a very nice guy about his teenage daughter’s ventures into hackerdom. She has been doing electronics and robotics projects since she was in preschool. He recommended this amazing looking camp for gifted math students to girls and young women looking for their peers. They are Epsilon Camp for age 8 – 11, Math Path for middle school students, and Math Camp for high school.

It was great to be at PyCon and meet so many amazing people! I really appreciated that the PyCon organizers gave us some free passes which we gave out to some Feminist HackerHive women who would not otherwise have been able to go. Yay PyCon! And much thanks to Mozilla for providing the beanbags and portable whiteboard.

feminist hacker lounge

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The Planet of Swears

I’m writing some RSS feed scraper programs and while playing around with that, set up an install of Planet feed reader. It was very funny to see on the one hand, lots of people blogging or writing things like “Oh, this doesn’t even need setup, just unzip it and you’re basically done” — and the Planet documentation itself saying that the config file’s comments explained everything — vs. actual step by step instructions of what to do, like burningbird‘s post, which I found very helpful. That’s a lot of “nothing to do” to explain and it still didn’t get far enough for what I’d like to figure out: how to set up one installation of Planet but also set up multiple feeds in different directories, each with their own template.

Meanwhile I’m very amused that for another project I get to write a spider with a curse word filter. I haven’t had that hilarious of results since writing porn filters for Excite’s web spider. My output files and screen output when swear-spider.py runs are very funny. “Asshole Detected!”

A quick search on lists of dirty words gets some very amusing Supreme Court hearing transcripts. Like so!

FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978), Decided July 3, 1978. The dissenting opinions are especially great!

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.”

I’ll try quoting that to my kid next time he frown at my liberal use of what he carefully calls “the f word”.

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