What Caught My Eye - Week 3

This week has been extra busy, so this is a bit thinner than the last two!

Diversity in Tech

  • Female Founders: Paul Graham musing on technology entreprenurialism and women.

    So how would you cause there to be more female programmers? The meta-answer is: not just one thing. People's abilities and interests by the time they're old enough to start a startup are the product of their whole lives—indeed, of their ancestors' lives as well. Even if we limit ourselves to one lifetime we find a long list of factors that could influence the ratio of female programmers to male, from the first day of a girl's life when her parents treat her differently, right up to the point where a woman who has become a programmer leaves the field because it seems unwelcoming. And while the nature of this sort of funnel is that you can increase throughput by attacking bottlenecks at any point, if you want to eliminate the discrepancy between male and female programmers completely, you probably have to go back to the point where it starts to become significant.

    It seems to be well underway by the time kids reach their teens. Which to me suggests the place to focus the most effort initially is in getting more girls interested in programming.

  • 3 States had no girls take the AP CS Exam. Does support a little bit about Paul Graham's point above. More generally, I find this just teribly sad.

  • Just Because You’re Privileged Doesn’t Mean You Suck

    Having access to a computer is just one way I was privileged. There are countless others: I wasn’t raised in poverty, or in a country riddled with disease or corruption. I am a white man and have never faced racism or sexual discrimination.

    I don’t feel regret for who I am, I just recognize that not everyone has it so easy. Privilege is about being mindful of the fact that not all people have equal footing.

    It also an important first step towards correcting injustices, for if you truly believe that everyone has the same opportunities as you, there is no reason to advocate for change.


  • I sit on the skeptical side of the bitcoin bubble. One of my key problems with it has always been that it seems incredibly wasteful, in a way that never seemed socially justifiable. This article: What is Proof of Stake, and why it matters, points out that there exist alternatives to the current 'proof-of-work' regieme that exists in the crypto-currency world, with the possibility for societally beneficial currencies.

    This is a fascinating notion to me.

  • Embedded Security CTF: Experiment with working around security software in a safe environment:

    The Lockitall devices work by accepting Bluetooth connections from the Lockitall LockIT Pro app. We've done the hard work for you: we spent $15,000 on a development kit that includes remote controlled locks for you to practice on, and reverse engineered enough of it to build a primitive debugger.

    Using the debugger, you'll be able to single step the lock code, set breakpoints, and examine memory on your own test instance of the lock. You'll use the debugger to find an input that unlocks the test lock, and then replay it to a real lock.

    I got through the first non-tutorial lock. The second one, I'm still working on... Alas, my first idea of a buffer overflow got beaten by a locked page. Real vulnerability researchers are on level 18 or more by now, despite only having been released last night. They're good! The whole thing was put together by Matasano Security and Square, the commerce company.