Cartoon: a girl playing with two dolls has Ken telling Barbie to get him some coffee, and Barbie telling him his code is sloppy and has gaping security holes.

That whole Barbie fooferaw

Instead of repeating what many others have said, and better than I could (holy crap, that book was sexist!) I have a few thoughts on BarbieBookGate that touch on Mattel’s response. I’ve posted them over at Medium; the gist of it is that “when Barbie does a better job of talking like a human being than her makers do, something’s gone wrong.” Continue reading

I believe crash reports should be worth reading (8)

So, like, I’m a Gemini too, right? Which is totally cosmic, because, you know, twins! And so I totally get when you say “Something went wrong” because something is, like, ALWAYS going wrong. But why don’t we have error boxes that say “Something went right”? Wouldn’t that just be AWESOME? Every time a function returned anything that wasn’t an error, up would pop the “Something went right” box, and it would ask you what you were doing at the time, and then say, “Okay, so do more of that, cuz it’s obvs working.”

So, like, I’m a Gemini too, right? Which is totally cosmic, because, you know, twins! And so I totally get when you say “Something went wrong” because something is, like, ALWAYS going wrong. But why don’t we have error boxes that say “Something went right”? Wouldn’t that just be AWESOME? Every time a function returned anything that wasn’t an error, up would pop the “Something went right” box, and it would ask you what you were doing at the time, and then say, “Okay, so do more of that, cuz it’s obvs working.”

I believe crash reports should be worth reading (7)

I must have been doing 120, 125 when I started to feel the wheel fight me. Snarling, I pulled too hard. The wheels bit into gravel and the rubber screamed its fury—and then the sky spun under the wheels, and I realized that if I died at this moment, my only real regret wasn't Binofsky escaping along with the last surviving evidence of the conspiracy; it was that Niles would never know I didn't hate him for his betrayal, that I understood what pushed him into it.  And then came the impact.“I must have been doing 120, 125 when I started to feel the wheel fight me. Snarling, I pulled too hard. The wheels bit into gravel and the rubber screamed its fury—and then the sky spun under the wheels, and I realized that if I died at this moment, my only real regret wasn’t Binofsky escaping along with the last surviving evidence of the conspiracy; it was that Niles would never know I didn’t hate him for his betrayal, that I understood what pushed him into it.

“And then came the impact.”

See also IBCRSBWR 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Morgan Brayton and other people

We all have to subscribe to OutTV. Right freakin’ now.

Let’s do this in an orderly fashion:

If… …then…
You’ve seen Morgan Brayton perform… … you know she’s one of the funniest women on the planet.
You read this blog… … you know I’ve seen her perform, and I think she’s one of the funniest women on the planet
You haven’t seen Morgan perform, and you’re new to this blog… … you’re in for a real treat.

See, Morgan’s not just funny: she’s smart as hell, warm, compassionate and avidly curious about people. And if you’re anything like me, that just screams “ideal panel show host” to you.

Well, guess what? Continue reading

Photo of arguing raccoons

Why hot-button issues can go so wrong in online conversation – and what you can do about it

What do you do when your social networks explode into polarizing debate? How do you participate without hurting others?—?or yourself? How can you engage in divisive conversations so that you actually learn from them, and maybe even change your views?

[….] This post is your survival guide to those days or weeks when social media feels too hot to handle. It offers some practical advice about how to turn down the temperature or insulate yourself.

But the most powerful tool, and the most fundamental protection, is simply to recognize what’s going on when we explode online. We explode because we come to each of these debates with different ideas about the social media spaces in which our conversations unfold, with different ideas about who is in our online community, and with different levels of investment in the issues at hand.

—”How to survive an online sex scandal” by Alexandra Samuel

Continue reading

Plaque: The Prominent Expert in Information Technology

Did you know I’m the prominent expert in the field of Information Technology?

I get a boilerplate invitation now and then from someone purporting to represent China-based “BIT Congress“. The latest one goes like this:

Dear Rob Cottingham,

This is [redacted], the program coordinator of BIT’s 4th Annual World Congress of Emerging InfoTech-2015. On behalf of the organizing committee, I sent you a formal Invitation Letter several weeks ago, which is regarding inviting you to participate our congress as the Speaker of Module 2: Cloud Computing. But we haven’t received any reply from you. In case of your missing this grant event, I am writing again to extend to you our sincere invitation. (More program details at http://www.bitcongress.com/infotech2015/ScientificProgram.asp)

BIT’s 4th Annual World Congress of Emerging InfoTech-2015 will be held at Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center, China during April 18-20, 2015. Since you are the prominent expert in the relevant field of Information Technology, your unique and inspirational message will highlight the congress.

I KNOW, right? Finally, my expertise in cloud computing and the very specific field of Information Technology has been recognized! For years, my credentials have been pooh-poohed by those who point out that I don’t have any. But now, vindication.

Sorry. Let’s continue.

[Two paras that boil down to “You’ll meet and talk with other people. Also, China!”]

For more information regarding InfoTech-2015, please view our congress website via http://www.bitcongress.com/infotech2015

I would be appreciated if you may reply to me regarding this issue at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Contacts:
[redacted]
The Organizing Committee of InfoTech-2015
East Wing, 11F, Dalian Ascendas IT Park,
No. 1 Hui Xian Yuan,
Dalian Hi-tech Industrial Zone,
LN 116025, P. R. China
Tel: 0086-411-84799609-804
Fax: 0086-411-84799629
Email: [redactinified]

Continue reading

Interesting Vancouver

Interesting Vancouver: November 7

I’m going to be one of several folks on stage on November 7 at Interesting Vancouver. Check out this lineup:

  • A seven foot tall drag queen obsessed with bingo
  • An indigenous multidisciplinary artist working to reverse the decline of Squamish language speakers
  • A soft-spoken senior with a passion for photographing punk rock shows
  • A 14 year old national champion YoYo-er
  • A speech writer and communications specialist who is a closet cartoonist
  • A composer who heals people through improvised music as they lay under his pian
  • A mechanical engineer turned clown who has the balls to live a professional life of PLAY!
  • A genderqueer youth who dabbles; from roller derby to making ukuleles to transforming t-shirts
  • Canada’s first Sikh commanding officer who passionately believes in the ripple effect
  • An engineer who went from making microscopic brain implants to two story tall racing robots
  • A popular film and TV actress who credits Vipassana meditation for saving her life
  • A paramedic/magician/artist who will change your life before you leave the room

Come on out! Tickets are just $25, and with folks like these, you can expect to surpass interesting and hit downright fascinating.

SFU Woodward’s
Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 W Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 1H4
Friday, November 7, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM (PST)