[syndicated profile] epbot_feed

Posted by Jen

You know what helps with Dragon Con and/or holiday weekend recovery?

GEEKY JEWELRY SHOPPING, that's what.


First, because I KNOW how much you guys love Toothless:


Squee!

That seller has LOTS to choose from, too, and some are only $25!


The cute, it burns.


 Next, for you steampunk Whovians:


Really, steampunk & Doctor Who are a match made in wibbly wobbly heaven. 
(And from this season's new intro, I'd say the writers agree!)


I thought I'd seen everything with Harry Potter jewelry, but then, this:


BRILLIANT. I seriously (see what I did there?) want to wear this with a black & white striped shirt for a little Potter-iffic closet 'play.


I'm sure you've seen some of the Mario Piranha Plant earrings before - which are so cute - but check this out: now you can get a matching necklace!


Looks like they're sold out now, but watch her shop for re-stocks.


Hey, Haunted Mansion fans, would you believe each of these Hat Box Ghosts is hand-drawn and one-of-a-kind?


I know because Blake, the artist, is a fan and sent me one. :) That vivid purple & teal is so pretty IRL.

Blake also makes some drool-worthy vintage comic book jewelry. I'm especially loving this little DC Comics ring:


It's made from a damaged 1958 comic book, so you can wear a little scrap of history on your finger! Love that. (There's also a larger pendant version.)


Next, for anyone into Middle Earth, Game of Thrones, or medieval stabby things in general:


AAA!! SO COOL. I'm a sucker for jewelry with moving parts, so this sword had me at "removable scabbard." (You can get it with a safety chain connecting the two, if you're afraid of losing it.)


And to go with your sword, how about Cap's shield?



What I love about this one is how BIG it is; a good two inches across! Check the link for a reference pic; it's a great statement necklace.


Something clever for us Sherlock fans:

Who recognizes it??

Yep, that's Moriarty's apple from the Season 2 finale. Awe. SOME. Geekalicious makes two sizes; this is the larger one, which costs just under $15, and the smaller version is about $11.50.


And finally, these stoneware pendants are awesome for two reasons: First, don't they look like fossils?


And second: SEAHORSES!!

Ahem.

Ok, I think I've done enough damage to your bank accounts for today. ;)

'Til next time!


No Butts, No Cuts, NO BUTTS

Sep. 1st, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

(Warning: Mildly traumatizing cake ahead. Not safe for overly inquisitive children.)

 

For Labor Day I thought I'd continue one of my personal labors of love:

Convincing bakers to stop butting in on baby shower cakes.

 

 

Now, see, this next cake was fine. Why dump half a toddler on it?

 

'Cuz here's the thing, bakers: even when a butt cake is well executed, it still looks, well...

...executed.

 

But(t) no matter what I say, you guys just keep making them!

And if anything, the butts are getting MORE disturbing.

o.0

 

WHOOPS.

Not a butt. My bad.

[evil grin]

 

That said, some of these are getting SO ridiculous it's actually kind of awesome:

Heck, I want to see this turned into a sit-com. We'll call it Two And A Half Babies. Short Stack here will wear a cute little hat on her waist stump and be perpetually waddling into walls. The other two babies will take turns stealing her boyfriends. Eh?

Oh, you know you'd watch it.

***

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

 

Thanks to Andrea B., Renee W., Anony 1 & Anony 2, Kiri S., & Susanna F. for the rear view wreckage.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Exciting News

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

danbo nature

Credit: Flickr / ALFONSO1979 

Sometimes you have to do the scary thing. So here it is: I’m leaving Google at the end of the month.

Will post more about The Plan at a later date, but for now suffice it to say I’ll be working on some personal projects that I’d love to see if I could turn in to something, and exploring other options. And of course, travelling.

I feel really excited. About the freedom to do what I want, and live where I want for a while, about exploring what’s out there. Of course it’s been sad to say goodbye, but even if the plans are vague right now I do feel like I’m going towards something really compelling.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be speaking at iOSDevUK, GHC, and Oredev. If you’re there, let’s hang out!

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

[Trigger Warning: Transphobic slurs, deliberate mis-gendering] Anti-trans trolling spree forces Wikipedia to ban U.S. House staffers for third time | Raw Story “Wikipedia has once again blocked all computers from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to stop malicious, anti-trans edits to popular pages on the site.”

Admit It: Women Are Smarter Than Men | Inc.com “Hedge funds run by women make three times as much money as hedge funds run by men, and that companies with female CEOs outperform companies with male CEOs by nearly 50%. What’s fascinating about this story, though, isn’t the data, but the attempt to “mansplain” it away.”

Fuck you, Lego | Reel Girl “That’s right, after just two weeks on the market, the Lego female scientists set will no longer be sold by major retailers at a competitive price. The female scientists are banished to become collector’s items.”

Meteor Man: Will There Ever Be Another Black Superhero? | Black Girl Nerds “Robert Townsend created his own superhero, but in the end, he does not taut this superhero as the answer. In a way, I think he simply uses the superhero as inspiration. What would we do to make our communities better if we have the means? … It makes me wonder what Hollywood studios truly fear when they hesitate to make a superhero film with a person of color in the lead. “

Articles i would like to see by men in tech | @shanley Short list of alternative article titles for men considering writing about women in tech.

Hidden dangers of team building rituals | Semantici.st Some points to consider when you are promoting mandofun at work: “everyone else is having fun, except for one person who is forced to play-act at enjoying themselves because they’re terrified of losing their job for ‘not being a culture fit’.

About the recent attacks on Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn [Trigger warning: these incidents involve harassment and threats of rape and violence]:

The End of Gatekeeping: The Extinction Burst of Gaming Culture | Dr. NerdLove Covers the recent incidents, the myth that geek and gamer culture has always been ‘a boy thing’, the fall of the self-appointed gatekeepers of gamer culture, and high-profile support for both women.

Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian: on passing off anti-feminist nonsense as critique | New Statesman “Anita Sarkeesian makes videos looking at how poorly women are represented in games, and gamers hate her for it, insulting her work and accusing her of dishonesty. It’s almost like they’re trying to prove her premise.”

Announcement: Readers who feel threatened by equality no longer welcome | Games.on.net Great link roundup of the incidents, and a fantastically worded admonition for people who think that games in any way belong to them or are “under attack” from political correctness or “social justice warriors” to leave and never come back.

games presenting abusive behaviours as entertainment | @4xisblack “The appeal that games are ‘just harmless fun’ is even more ridiculous because harmless fun, by definition, musn’t harm people”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Fun With Funny Money

Sep. 1st, 2014 05:27 am
[syndicated profile] krebsonsecurity_feed

Posted by BrianKrebs

Readers or “fans” of this blog have sent some pretty crazy stuff to my front door over the past few years, including a gram of heroin, a giant bag of feces, an enormous cross-shaped funeral arrangement, and a heavily armed police force. Last week, someone sent me a far less menacing package: an envelope full of cash. Granted, all of the cash turned out to be counterfeit money, but hey it’s the thought that counts, right?

Counterfeit $100s and $50s

Counterfeit $100s and $50s

This latest “donation” to Krebs On Security arrived via USPS Priority Mail, just days after I’d written about counterfeit cash sold online by a shadowy figure known only as “MrMouse.” These counterfeits had previously been offered on “dark web” — sites only accessible using special software such as Tor — but I wrote about MrMouse’s funny money because he’d started selling it openly on Reddit, as well as on a half-dozen hacker forums that are quite reachable on the regular Internet.

Sure enough, the package contained the minimum order that MrMouse allows: $500, split up into four fake $100s and two phony $50 bills — all with different serial numbers. I have no idea who sent the bogus bills; perhaps it was MrMouse himself, hoping I’d write a review of his offering. After all, since my story about his service was picked up by multiple media outlets, he’s changed his sales thread on several crime forums to read, “As seen on KrebsOnSecurity, Business Insider and Ars Technica…”

Anyhow, it’s not every day that I get a firsthand look at counterfeit cash, so for better for worse, I decided it would be a shame not to write about it. Since I was preparing to turn the entire package over to the local cops, I was careful to handle the cash sparingly and only with gloves. At first glance, the cash does look and feel like the real thing. Closer inspection, however, reveals that these bills are fakes.

In the video below, I run the fake bills through two basic tests designed to determine the authenticity of U.S. currency: The counterfeit pen test, and ultraviolet light. As we’ll see in the video, the $50 bills shipped in this package sort of failed the pen test (the fake $100 more or less passed). However, both the $50s and $100s completely flopped on the ultraviolet test. It’s too bad more businesses don’t check bills with a cheapo ultraviolet light: the pen test apparently can be defeated easily (by using acid-free paper or by bleaching real bills and using them as a starting point).

Let’s check out the bogus Benjamins. In the image below, we can see a pretty big difference in the watermarks on both bills. The legitimate $100 bill — shown at the bottom of the picture — has a very defined image of Benjamin Franklin as a watermark. In contrast, the fake $100 up top has a much less detailed watermark. Still, without comparing the fake and the real $100 side by side, this deficiency probably would be difficult to spot for the untrained eye.

The fake $100 (above) has a much less defined Ben Franklin as a watermark.

The fake $100 (top) has a much less defined Ben Franklin for a watermark. The color difference between these two bills is negligible, but the legitimate $100 appears darker here because it was closer to  the light source behind the bills when this photo was taken.

Granted, hardly any merchants are going to put a customer’s cash under a microscope before deciding whether to accept it as legal tender, but I wanted to have a look because I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity to do so again. One security feature of the $20s, $50s and $100s is the use of “color shifting” ink, which makes the denomination noted in the lower right corner of the bill appear to shift in color from green to black when the bill is tilted at different angles. The fake cash pictured here does a so-so job mimicking that color-shifting feature, but upon closer inspection using a cheap $50 Celestron handheld digital microscope, we can see distinct differences.

Again, using a microscope to inspect cash for counterfeits is impractical for regular businesses in detecting bogus bills, but it nevertheless reveals interesting dissimilarities  between real and fake money. Most of those differences come down to the definition and clarity of markings and lettering. For instance, embedded in the bottom of the portraits of Grant and Franklin on the $50 and $100 bills, respectively, is the same message in super-fine print: “The United States of America.” As we can see in the video below, that message also is present in the counterfeits, but it’s quite a bit less clear in the funny money.

In some cases, entire areas of the real bills are completely absent in the counterfeits. Take a close look at the area of the $50 just to the left of Gen. Grant’s ear and you will see a blob of text that repeats the phrase “USA FIFTY” several times. The image on the left shows a closeup of the legitimate $50, while the snapshot on the right reveals how the phony bill completely lacks this feature.

fiftynifty

50missing

Similarly, the “100″ in the lower left hand corner of the $100 bill is filled in with the words “USA 100,” as we can see in the close-up of a real $100, pictured below left. Magnification of the same area on the phony $100 note (right) shows that this area is filled with nothing more than dots.

real100left

fake100left

Like most counterfeit currency, these bills look and feel fairly real on casual inspection, but they’d quickly be revealed as fakes to anyone with a $9 ultraviolet pen light or a simple magnifying glass.

If someone sticks you with a counterfeit bill, don’t try and pass it off on someone else; the penalties for passing counterfeit currency with intent to defraud are severe (steep fines and up to 15 years in prison). Instead, contact your local police department or the nearest U.S. Secret Service field office and hand it over to them.

This Week

Sep. 1st, 2014 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

Click to view slideshow.

Life

No culture this week which is a shame, although I spent a lot of time wondering around London which was nice! Hung out with friends, including one who was over from Sydney which was awesome.

Giving up my apartment is becoming a nightmare. Estate agents are stressful, they are around all the time and keep not giving me enough notice (as little as 30 minutes, assuming they can be let in rather than getting confirmation).

Media

Re-watching Drop Dead Diva (fave TV show!) Re-read Disengaged (okay) and Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (like Jill Mansell). Reading Raw Materials.

Places

Breakfast at Cafe du coin (meh) and Beany Green (great), dinner at Addie’s Thai, Da Mario, Dozo Sushi, Rocca di Papa, Bills, lunch at Baker and Spice and Wagamama.

Published

Also, You don’t have to have just one mentor. Here are 5 different types on Be Leaderly.

On The Internet

[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

It's your weekend, everybody!

That's right, whether you're a nurse:

(By High Five Cakes)

 

Or an orchestra conductor:

(By Sweetfix)

 

Or a photographer:

(By Truly Scrumptious Cakes)

 

Whether you build houses:

(By Confetti Cakes)

 

Or burritos:

(By Wuollet Bakery)

 

Or cakes!

(That sometimes *look* like burritos.)

 

Or if you spend your days in front of a computer:

(By Design Cakes by Daniela)

 

Your own children:

(By Debbie Brown)

 

Or a cash register:

(By Marina Danovska)

 

Thanks for doing what you do.

Now, go take a break, why don't you? You've earned it.

 

Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!
Enjoy the cake.

 

Be sure to check out our Sunday Sweets Directory to see which bakers in your area have been featured here on Sweets!

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

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Let’s talk about category structure and oppression | Etched with Soma’s Pen: Great analysis of category structure and oppression. (20 August)

Kimberly Bryant has levelled the digital playing field for black women | Marie Claire : “When Bryant, 47, signed Kai up for a summer program at Stanford University that teaches kids how to code, she discovered her daughter was the only African-American, and one of just a handful of girls, enrolled.” (26 August)

The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews | Fortune : “Does gender play a role in the type of feedback an employee receives at review time? We had a linguist crunch the numbers.” (26 August)

Trolls drive Anita Sarkeesian out of her house to prove misogyny doesn’t exist | The Verge : “Since the project launched on Kickstarter way back in 2012, the gaming community has been treated to an incessant, deeply paranoid campaign against Tropes vs. Women generally and Sarkeesian personally.” (27 August)

Girl coder takes a leap on the Rails | The Age: “Karthika attended a coding workshop at Rails Girls a year ago and found herself drawn in by an atmosphere of conviviality and collaboration at odds with the solitary stereotype.” (25 August)

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

[syndicated profile] valerie_fenwick_blog_feed

Posted by Valerie Fenwick

First and foremost: I will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing again this year! I missed last year, so I am excited to be coming back!

Second: I am co-chairing the Online Community Committee again with Gail Carmichal, and we need volunteer bloggers, note-takers (on the wiki), wiki managers, tweeters, LinkedIn group managers, video bloggers, etc - so we can capture all of the content for those who were unable to get a pass to the conference this year.

Also - we could you remote volunteers to help manage questions from other volunteers, manage the online groups and keep the wiki free of spam.  So, even if you can't attend, if you are available to help before and during the conference - we want you!

We are accepting applications through September 8, 2014 - please sign up sooner than later, so we can get you set up well ahead of the conference start!  Apply now!

Thanks!

Valerie Fenwick
Online Communities Committee Co-Chair

This post is syndicated from Security, Beer, Theater and Biking!

Fade to Wreck

Aug. 29th, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Just when you thought Fridays couldn't get any better, along comes...

WEDDING WRECKS!


Molly S. ordered this lovely ombré design for her wedding cake:


But instead, she got this:


Molly paid $500 for it.
It was still frozen solid in the middle.
And it left a giant puddle on the tablecloth.

NEXT!


Stephanie R. tells us the bride wanted a combo of these two cakes:


Oooh. Aaah.

So, a blue ombré fade on a smooth tiered cake with a monogram?

ROGER THAT.


o.0

***

ROGER, KILL THAT.


And finally, not a wedding cake, but Michelle tells me they wanted this for Madisyn's birthday:



I guess the baker didn't feel like making all those strands of fondant, though - which would probably be ok, provided the aforementioned baker can pipe even lines of oh who are we kidding.


Mmm. Finger-y.


Thanks to Molly, Stephanie, & Michelle for reminding us maybe it's time for a new trend. I'm thinking... chevrons. Eh? What could go wrong?

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

[syndicated profile] female_cs_feed

Posted by Gail Carmichael

I've been working on our non-majors computing course for a while now.  Last year was the first time I got to try it with a large group (440 students!), and also the first time I tried using Python.  I have since refined it to the following design.  I will report how it went at the end of the semester, but I have a great set of TAs and am optimistic about using turtle in assignments to make programming a bit less daunting.

 We're not using the robot turtle, but wouldn't it be fun? Image from Wikipedia

This course design lives on my portfolio site, and will be updated there as time goes on.

Introduction

This course is currently undergoing a transformation.  It has traditionally taught basic office software usage in a step-by-step workshop style.  The new version focuses on computational thinking skills by teaching basic programming concepts in Python and then applying them to understanding more advanced functions of the same software previously covered in detail.  Instead of learning a laundry list of programming concepts, however, the concepts are embedded in four relatable general contexts (see topic list below).

A new calendar course name and description, which I developed, is up for approval Fall 2014.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, students will:
  1. Develop an appreciation of computer science.
    1. Understand what computer science is.
    2. See how computer science can help solve problems in arts and social sciences
    3. Learn how computer science can help you by automating boring, repetitive, or error-prone tasks.    
  2. Develop computational thinking skills.
    1. Learn how information is stored on a computer.
    2. Learn basic programming concepts (variables, if statements, loops, and functions) and write simple programs using these concepts.
    3. Learn how to formulate searching and sorting problems in a way a computer can solve them, and understand the efficiency of the solutions.
  3. Develop an advanced understanding of useful software packages by applying computational thinking skills.
    1. Apply an understanding of variables to effective use of word processing software.
    2. Apply an understanding of variables, if statements, and functions to effective use of spreadsheet software.
    3. Apply an understanding of variables and references to database software.
Topics

Many topics have a context in which the concepts are placed.  For example, for conditionals and repetition, we discuss how the logic would look for a robot that can find its own way out of a maze.  We start with just the ideas, such as how to break the right-hand rule down into its constituent parts, then see how to implement if statements and while loops in snippets of Python later on.
  1. Introduction
    1. Course intro
    2. What is computer science?
    3. What is computational thinking?
  2. Binary Numbers and Data Representation: How Photography Went Digital
    1. Image representation
    2. Binary numbers
    3. Bits and bytes in memory
    4. Using the Python interactive shell
  3. Conditionals and Repetition: Helping a Robot Find Its Way
    1. Boolean expressions
    2. If, else, elif
    3. while loops
  4. Data Structures: Making Stories Interactive
    1. Data types and variables
    2. Lists
    3. Dictionaries
    4. References and simple graphs
  5. Searching and Sorting Algorithms: Managing a Bookstore More Efficiently
    1. Searching: linear, binary, hash
    2. Sorting: insertion, selection, quick
  6. Applying Computational Thinking to Word, Excel, and Access
  7. Miscellaneous applications of computational thinking / Python
    1. E.g. PyschoPy, RenPy, etc
Assignment Topics
  1. Computer science, computational thinking, binary numbers
  2. Image and text representation, first Python turtle program
  3. Python turtle programs with if statements, loops, and variables
  4. Searching and sorting (conceptual), Python turtle program with a user-defined function
  5. Word, Excel, Access

Review: Misfit Wearable

Aug. 29th, 2014 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

 

Click to view slideshow.

Let me tell you how much I wanted to love the Misfit Shine Wearable (Amazon). It’s so pretty! You don’t have to wear it on your wrist (something that sometimes irritates my skin on the Nike Fuelband, and slightly less so the Jawbone up).

The good:

  • It is very pretty.
  • I love the way it lights up.
  • There are a number of ways to wear it – necklace, leather watchstrap, and the attachment that comes free, which clips really nicely onto a bra strap.
  • Great support – after mine didn’t arrive from the US (stuck in customs,  mail not delivered at work)  they were really lovely about it, and when they accidentally sent me a second one they let me keep it.
  • You can swim in it!

The bad:

  • Data isn’t as detailed
  • Doesn’t sync automatically (have to open the app).
  • You interact with it by tapping it, but it doesn’t always respond to taps (I guess you don’t want it to be over-sensitive), I found I needed to hold the back of it whilst tapping the front to be most effective.
  • Shipping from the US took forever, got stopped in customs, taxed, and then I missed it (this is not their fault! And they handled it well!)

The reason why I’m not currently wearing a Misfit has nothing to do with the device itself and everything to do with the accessories. The first necklace broke within a week. Then I used the clip to attach it to my bra strap which worked well, until that broke too – luckily it was after I got out the swimming pool and I didn’t lose it. Then I used another necklace, which broke within a couple of days… and this time I lost the Misfit. I still have a spare, so I might return to it again, but for now I’m just living without it.

It’s such a shame, because I wanted to love it. And I do love the Misfit itself, just not the accessories. The reason why I didn’t buy more premium accessories was because I didn’t want to be stuck with them if the device itself broke. Oh, the irony.

My previous review of the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone UP is here

Supernatural Fun At CONjure Orlando

Aug. 28th, 2014 11:04 am
[syndicated profile] epbot_feed

Posted by Jen

With Dragon Con starting tomorrow, I guess I better wrap up our last convention: a little local event called CONjure.

This was CONjure's first year of existence, and if I had to guess, I'd say also its last. Because despite having some great celebrity guests, a pleasant staff, and a hefty $1000 prize for the costume contest, almost no one showed up.

In fact, attendance was so dismal on Saturday that the con let everyone in for free on Sunday, hoping to draw more crowds. Even then, the vendor room was a ghost town for the few hours we were there, and it looked like some sellers didn't even bother coming back after Saturday's disappointing turnout.




A look at the vendor room from the main entrance.


I can't say for sure WHY no one was there, but I'd mostly blame timing; both Leaky Con *and* Tampa Comic Con were going on that weekend. 

The main reason John and I were there, of course, was to see Mark Sheppard's panel and give him his custom figure, since we're big Supernatural fans. We wandered the vendor room twice working up the nerve to approach his table, and I stopped to take pics of this replica of Supernatural's own Impala:



The Impala's guardian invited me behind the caution tape for more pics, and I'm so glad she did. Check out the awesome details inside!

On the floor is a box of old classic rock cassettes, and on the seat, Dean's knife and their dad's notebook: 

Beside the car in the back was a cooler topped with the boys' favorite brew and rock salt shotgun cartridges:


And the trunk... Ohhh, the trunk:


Propped on the side is a cigar box filled with Sam & Dean's fake IDs, burner phones, and other miscellanea:

Looks like they even ended up with Charlie's driving license. Ha!

But the best detail of all? Let's see if you can spot it:

Yes, it's the green army man wedged in the ash tray, made famous by the emotional season 5 finale. [sniffle]

After we gave Sheppard his figure and took a few pics together - at his suggestion - it was off to his panel.

Now, keep in mind, Sheppard had just come from San Diego Comic Con the previous weekend, packing out massive convention halls with thousands upon thousands of screaming fans. So when he walked out onto the stage of a big ballroom and saw maybe 50 of us scattered among the first few rows of chairs, you can forgive him for saying, "Is this it? You're joking."

There was no heat to it, though, just surprise. And I've gotta hand it to Sheppard; he recovered like a champ. He gave a mild "what're ya gonna do?" shrug, hopped off the stage, and strolled down to us to take questions face-to-face.


And when I say "Take questions," I mean Sheppard would listen to a question, and then talk about whatever the heck he wanted, related or not. It was kind of hilarious. I'm not exaggerating when I say he spent the first 35+ minutes of his hour panel talking about Doctor Who - what a great show it is, where newbies should start watching and why (with #11, if you're curious), the motivation and intricacies behind certain characters - the works.

When someone tried to derail him by asking about Supernatural, Sheppard blinked twice... and then resumed his Who fanboying. Like I said: kind of hilarious.
 
 (Yes, that's a real bird in the background. It belonged to some of the attendees.)

Sheppard also had a way of reverse-heckling the audience. You want to know about on-set pranks? Do you KNOW how many times a day he's asked that question? Now, as he was saying about Doctor Who...

He personally greeted anyone who arrived late to the panel, inviting them in, asking how they were, where they'd been, that kind of thing. On the flip side, if you tried to leave early you got the same treatment. o.0

This lady asked the very first question, and as she was speaking Sheppard strolled over to her, getting closer and closer and kind of looming over her seat. She responded by standing up to face him, and guess who was taller then?

That got a good laugh out of the audience. :)

Sheppard is extremely soft-spoken, so everyone really had to lean in and hush up to hear him. I've never been in a panel quite like it: you could hear a pin drop when he paused for thought. I quickly had to stop taking pictures with my camera, too; the shutter click sounded like a gunshot in there.


I've had someone remark since this that Sheppard isn't very talkative in person, but I think - like most of us - you just have to get him started on something he's interested in. He's quick, extremely intelligent, and not terribly interested in faking enthusiasm. On the one hand that makes him a bit intimidating, but on the other, at least you know what you're getting is genuine.

For example, after the panel, when this group of Moulin Rouge/Supernatural inspired Can Can dancers lined up for Sheppard and lifted their skirts, he didn't so much as quirk an eyebrow:


Instead he looked them over, gave a grave nod, and said, "Very nice."

:D

Another celeb there - Chad Rook - was more enthusiastic, diving in for a picture:


I can't tell which characters all the dancers are supposed to be, but the last two on the right are dressed as Bobby and Crowley:

Check out "Bobby's" little trucker hat fascinator - complete with small angel wings! [sob] BOBBYYY!!!

Ahem.

And Crowley's dress has a beautiful Devil's Trap on top of the circle skirt in red sequins - plus note she's wearing a red flame tiara. Appropriate for the king/queen of hell, no?

They told me they worked on these dresses for months, and with all those ruffles, I can see why!


A few days after CONjure I watched the Supernatural Nerd HQ panel, and it was quite a difference, seeing Mark have so much fun with the fans. Give it a watch here, if you haven't already; it's always great seeing the four guys tease each other nonstop. Heh.




And now that I'm caught up on convention coverage: Off to Dragon Con! See some of you soon!

Evolution of the Anniversary Cake

Aug. 28th, 2014 01:00 pm
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Posted by Jen

Tomorrow is John's and my wedding anniversary, so I've been thinking: Remember how the first few years you always celebrate at some fancy-schmancy restaurant?

("Lhappy Ammversary" is totally how I'm saying it from now on.)

 

And you not only remember the day - you even remember how many days it's been.

 

After a while you dial down the festivities, though, and maybe just bring home some take-out and a cake:

(The urge to scratch in an "I" at the end there is overwhelming.)
(YOU'RE WELCOME, tech guys.)

 

Past the ten year mark you both might start to get a little fuzzy on when and what exactly you're celebrating:

"Here's a cake. Hope I got one of those days right."

"Who are you?"

 

But hey, at least it's happy.

"TMI, mom & dad. TMI!!"

 

John and I are still a long way off, but I hear making it to your 50th anniversary is a real education:

"Presenting the 2014 graduates of the Aniversity... of LUUURVE."

 

So, John, sweetie, Happy Arricorz.

(Changed my mind; THIS is how I'm saying it from now on.)

 

And here's to 50 more Arricorzes, as we learn to hold on to what's most important:

...like how this baker managed to misspell "I" before someone told him to fix it - and then still missed the "you."

YOW.

 

Thanks to Tina G., Sonia Y., Kari J., Natalie L., Jessi C., Ann G., Lisa M., & Johnell. Yow guys are the BEST.

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Merci!

Aug. 27th, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Have you heard of the Croquembouche [CROCK-you-EAM-butchy]? It's a French thing.

Well, if not, here's what it's supposed to look like:

So kinda like old, cobweb-wrapped monkey bread. But in a yummy way.

 

Well, a certain anonymous person - who shall remain unnamed to protect her anonymity - found this gem at a wedding which she may or may not have anonymously attended:

I believe her exact words were, "it looks like some kind of primitive jungle cake being attacked by a swarm of lactating spider-wasps."

Mmmm, lactating spider-wasps...

Well, uh, Jane D. [wink wink], thanks for putting a new spin on these things.

 

Note: I think it's important to ask yourself a couple of questions before commenting here on Cake Wrecks:
Question: Did Jen and john really intend to give us the pronunciation of a word?
Answer: No.
Question: Are Jen and john complete and total idiots?
Answer: No.
Question: Do they...
Answer: No.
Question: Would they...
Answer: No.
Question: What about...
Answer: No.
That is all.

 

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The Aristechracy

Aug. 27th, 2014 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

French aristocrats, c. 1774

Credit: Wikipedia

In the 1980s “a computer in every home” was a crazy dream. But the rapid rise of technology until that (in the West at least) became normal has created a lot of opportunity. And, a new aristocracy. The Aristechcracy.

Many Aristotechs think the Aritechracy is a meritocracy, This is because they are a) delusional and b) not aware what meritocracy means (it’s satire).

Three ways it’s like the Old World Order:

  1. It’s undeserved. While there are some genuinely impressive people in tech, most of us got lucky. At least by being middle class enough to afford a computer growing up.
  2. It relies on economic disparity and gatekeepers. This article about disrupting laundry really irritated me. The laundromats are the same. The customers are the same. Now there is a layer of tech between them that makes for a little more convenience – for the consumers. The laundromats are now in the same, or worse position because all business comes through an app… that they have no influence over. That app is somehow worth more than the laundromat.
  3. It’s self-perpetuating. Aristocrats used to marry each other. Aristotechs hire and invest in each other.

The thins is, for all Aristotechs talk about “disruption”, they don’t actually want to be disrupted.

They talk about the education of 5-15 year olds, but not the empowerment of people. They’d sooner profit off them instead.

The status quo isn’t supposed to change. It’s supposed to be perpetuated. The system is working as intended. Or at least until the Aristotechs leave the mortals for the purely Technocratic Island instead. Regrettably that isn’t satire.

First, Do No Harm

This is harmful in the same way that any elite class lacking empathy, high on the delusion of the godtalent-given right is.

If you despise humans, how do you create things for them?

If you don’t empathise with them, how do you begin to understand what they need?

Just because you are winning the “meritocracy” doesn’t make it real.

Profiting off a class system isn’t “disruption”, it’s the same old story with a new name. And yet somehow, it just so happened that the white dudes are still the ones in charge.

[syndicated profile] krebsonsecurity_feed

Posted by BrianKrebs

Sources in the financial industry say they’re seeing signs that Dairy Queen may be the latest retail chain to be victimized by cybercrooks bent on stealing credit and debit card data. Dairy Queen says it has no indication of a card breach at any of its thousands of locations, but the company also acknowledges that nearly all stores are franchises and that there is no established company process or requirement that franchisees communicate security issues or card breaches to Dairy Queen headquarters.

Update, Aug. 28, 12:08 p.m. ET: A spokesman for Dairy Queen has confirmed that the company recently heard from the U.S. Secret Service about “suspicious activity” related to a strain of card-stealing malware found in hundreds of other retail intrusions. Dairy Queen says it is still investigating and working with authorities, and does not yet know how many stores may be impacted.

Original story:

dqI first began hearing reports of a possible card breach at Dairy Queen at least two weeks ago, but could find no corroborating signs of it — either by lurking in shadowy online “card shops” or from talking with sources in the banking industry. Over the past few days, however, I’ve heard from multiple financial institutions that say they’re dealing with a pattern of fraud on cards that were all recently used at various Dairy Queen locations in several states. There are also indications that these same cards are being sold in the cybercrime underground.

The latest report in the trenches came from a credit union in the Midwestern United States. The person in charge of fraud prevention at this credit union reached out wanting to know if I’d heard of a breach at Dairy Queen, stating that the financial institution had detected fraud on cards that had all been recently used at a half-dozen Dairy Queen locations in and around its home state.

According to the credit union, more than 50 customers had been victimized by a blizzard of card fraud just in the past few days alone after using their credit and debit cards at Dairy Queen locations — some as far away as Florida — and the pattern of fraud suggests the DQ stores were compromised at least as far back as early June 2014.

“We’re getting slammed today,” the fraud manager said Tuesday morning of fraud activity tracing back to member cards used at various Dairy Queen locations in the past three weeks. “We’re just getting all kinds of fraud cases coming in from members having counterfeit copies of their cards being used at dollar stores and grocery stores.”

Other financial institutions contacted by this reporter have seen recent fraud on cards that were all used at Dairy Queen locations in Florida and several other states, including Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

On Friday, Aug. 22, KrebsOnSecurity spoke with Dean Peters, director of communications for the Minneapolis-based fast food chain. Peters said the company had heard no reports of card fraud at individual DQ locations, but he stressed that nearly all of Dairy Queen stores were independently owned and operated. When asked whether DQ had any sort of requirement that its franchisees notify the company in the event of a security breach or problem with their card processing systems, Peters said no.

“At this time, there is no such policy,” Peters said. “We would assist them if [any franchisees] reached out to us about a breach, but so far we have not heard from any of our franchisees that they have had any kind of breach.”

Julie Conroy, research director at the advisory firm Aite Group, said nationwide companies like Dairy Queen should absolutely have breach notification policies in place for franchisees, if for no other reason than to protect the integrity of the company’s brand and public image.

“Without question this is a brand protection issue,” Conroy said. “This goes back to the eternal challenge with all small merchants. Even with companies like Dairy Queen, where the mother ship is huge, each of the individual establishments are essentially mom-and-pop stores, and a lot of these stores still don’t think they’re a target for this type of fraud. By extension, the mother ship is focused on herding a bunch of cats in the form of thousands of franchisees, and they’re not thinking that all of these stores are targets for cybercriminals and that they should have some sort of company-wide policy about it. In fact, franchised brands that have that sort of policy in place are far more the exception than the rule.”

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?

The situation apparently developing with Dairy Queen is reminiscent of similar reports last month from multiple banks about card fraud traced back to dozens of locations of Jimmy John’s, a nationwide sandwich shop chain that also is almost entirely franchisee-owned. Jimmy John’s has said it is investigating the breach claims, but so far it has not confirmed reports of card breaches at any of its 1,900+ stores nationwide.

The DHS/Secret Service advisory.

The DHS/Secret Service advisory.

Rumblings of a card breach involving at least some fraction of Dairy Queen’s 4,500 domestic, independently-run stores come amid increasingly vocal warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, which last week said that more than 1,000 American businesses had been hit by malicious software designed to steal credit card data from cash register systems.

In that alert, the agencies warned that hackers have been scanning networks for point-of-sale systems with remote access capabilities (think LogMeIn and pcAnywhere), and then installing malware on POS devices protected by weak and easily guessed passwords.  The alert noted that at least seven point-of-sale vendors/providers confirmed they have had multiple clients affected.

Around the time that the Secret Service alert went out, UPS Stores, a subsidiary of the United Parcel Service, said that it scanned its systems for signs of the malware described in the alert and found security breaches that may have led to the theft of customer credit and debit data at 51 UPS franchises across the United States (about 1 percent of its 4,470 franchised center locations throughout the United States). Incidentally, the way UPS handled that breach disclosure — clearly calling out the individual stores affected — should stand as a model for other companies struggling with similar breaches.

In June, I wrote about a rash of card breaches involving car washes around the nation. The investigators I spoke with in reporting that story said all of the breached locations had one thing in common: They were all relying on point-of-sale systems that had remote access with weak passwords enabled.

My guess is that some Dairy Queen locations owned and operated by a particular franchisee group that runs multiple stores has experienced a breach, and that this incident is limited to a fraction of the total Dairy Queen locations nationwide. Unfortunately, without better and more timely reporting from individual franchises to the DQ HQ, it may be a while yet before we find out the whole story. In the meantime, DQ franchises that haven’t experienced a card breach may see their sales suffer as a result.

CARD BLIZZARD BREWING?

geodumpsLast week, this publication received a tip that a well-established fraud shop in the cybercrime underground had begun offering a new batch of stolen cards that was indexed for sale by U.S. state. The type of card data primarily sold by this shop — known as “dumps” — allows buyers to create counterfeit copies of the cards so that they can be used to buy goods (gift cards and other easily-resold merchandise) from big box retailers, dollar stores and grocers.

Increasingly, fraudsters who purchase stolen card data are demanding that cards for sale be “geolocated” or geographically indexed according to the U.S. state in which the compromised business is located. Many banks will block suspicious out-of-state card-present transactions (especially if this is unusual activity for the cardholder in question). As a result, fraudsters tend to prefer purchasing cards that were stolen from people who live near them.

This was an innovation made popular by the core group of cybercrooks responsible for selling cards stolen in the Dec. 2013 breach at Target Corp, which involved some 40 million compromised credit and debit cards. The same fraudsters would repeat and refine that innovation in selling tens of thousands of cards stolen in February 2014 from nationwide beauty products chain Sally Beauty.

This particular dumps shop pictured to the right appears to be run by a completely separate fraud group than the gang that hit Target and Sally Beauty. Nevertheless, just this month it added its first new batch of cards that is searchable by U.S. state. Two different financial institutions contacted by KrebsOnSecurity said the cards they acquired from this shop under this new “geo” batch name all had been used recently at different Dairy Queen locations.

The first batch of state-searchable cards at this particular card shop appears to have first gone on sale on Aug. 11, and included slightly more than 1,000 cards. The second batch debuted a week later and introduced more than twice as many stolen cards. A third bunch of more than 5,000 cards from this batch went up for sale early this morning.

An ad in the shop pimping a new batch of geo-located cards apparently stolen from Dairy Queen locations.

An ad in the shop pimping a new batch of geo-located cards apparently stolen from Dairy Queen locations.

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

Equity a distant prospect for women in CSIRO|Canberra Times: “CSIRO’s [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation] latest annual report released in 2013 indicates that women represent 40 per cent of employees, but only 12 per cent of technical services roles and 24 per cent of research scientists are female. In contrast, women are over-represented in more poorly-paid, traditionally female roles such as administrative support which is 76 per cent female. At higher levels of the hierarchy, the situation for women is even bleaker, with only 11 per cent of research management roles held by women.” (August 25)

We Need to Talk About Silicon Valley’s Racism|The Daily Beast: “an elite set of tech investors that Forbes labels “The Midas List,” 100 venture capitalists with staggeringly profitable portfolios in the tech industry. And if you scroll down the complete Midas List, some visible trends begin to emerge. The featured photo for the list, first of all, is as white as a loaf of Wonder Bread and as male as a football locker room. There are only four women on the list, none of whom rank in the Top 20. And of the 96 men on the Midas List, the overwhelming majority appear to be white, including every single member of the Top 10.” (August 22)

Lunch with Dads|Ellen’s Blog: “That’s what being different does. It makes you aware of your actions, and that you might be imposing. It’s so minor, but it adds up…..When you don’t have a diverse team, there will be that nagging sensation for the few people who are different. It’s more likely those people will leave, or continue to feel out of place.” (August 23)

I accept trans women in my tech feminism | 0xabad1dea: “Trying to enforce the separation of trans women from other women does not support any cause I believe in – especially if that enforcement is being proposed by a man, no matter how well-meaning or feminist.” (August 22)

Adding misogyny to Fark moderator guidelines | Fark: “as of today, the FArQ will be updated with new rules reminding you all that we don’t want to be the He Man Woman Hater’s Club.  This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary.” “I recommend that when encountering grey areas, instead of trying to figure out where the actual line is, the best strategy would be to stay out of the grey area entirely.” (August 22)

Late Night Thoughts on Boundaries & Consent | Julie Pagano: “Being nice is incredibly overrated. I have no desire to be nice, and I think a culture of “nice” is counter to a culture of consent and boundaries. I prefer to be kind and empathetic – these are things to aspire to.” (August 24)

People of Color-led Makerspace and Hackerspace! | Indiegogo: Liberating Ourselves Locally is one of the few (if not only) people of color-led makerspaces/hackerspaces in the Bay Area. If you do a search for “people of color makerspace” on Google, we’re not just the first result, we fill the first page. We lost one of our main funding sources recently, so we’re appealing to our community to keep the space running.

If White Characters Were Described Like People Of Color In Literature|Buzzfeed:
“2. She took off his shirt, his skin glistening in the sun like a glazed doughnut. The glaze part, not the doughnut part.” (August 22)

 

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

That's Internet for "I Love You"

Aug. 26th, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Courtesy PSA:
August is "Win With Civility Month."

Fortunately, Cake Wrecks has helped inspire a touching new cake trend for just such an occasion:

 

You're welcome, world.

 

Thanks to Autumn H., Christy M., Fribby, Haley O., Karen W., Kathleen S., Kayla P., Kristen P., Lexi, Maribeth, Anony M., Rob, Sarah F., & Wendy B. for being such a trendsetter way back in 2010.

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[syndicated profile] epbot_feed

Posted by Jen

You guys! After years and years of searching... I finally found a dining room light fixture.

Let the rejoicing... BEGIN.

See, I was forever drooling over stuff like this:

via Houzz


But I was also completely in love with banded globes, like these:



It had to be vintage enough for steampunk, elegant, but still casual, and with down lights for functionality, since I do most of my crafting at the table.

After a few years I decided the light didn't exist, so John - ever resourceful - drew up plans to build one:

But then we'd get to the point of discussing welding the iron frame (!!), and I'd tell him it was too much work; I'd just keep looking.

And finally - FINALLY - after scouring every light store in central Florida, and then every website I could think of, I found this:


At $336 it's the most expensive light we've ever purchased, but considering how long I've been looking? - totally worth it.

(It'd be nice with bare Edison bulbs instead of globes, too, but since those would cost another $60 this is great for now. Maybe I'll try removing the globes later.)

This is also a great excuse to photograph my dining room again, since I just realized you guys haven't seen it in a couple of years:


Looking back at my old dining room photos, WOW am I glad we found that antique radio cabinet. Really helps fill the space.


Funny; you see so many of these metal globe fixtures now, but this is the only one I've seen with lights pointing down, and also on the outside of the sphere. (You watch; now they'll be everywhere.)

We have it on a dimmer, so at extra low light the globes glow orange:


The ceiling medallion was a plain white one from Home Depot, so John threw a little brown glaze on it to age it down:
 
 The glaze helps the design stand out more, too.




And since I'm so proud of John, I've also gotta show off the frame he made last week:


I've had this art print rolled up for over a year now, since I'm too cheap for custom framing. Finally John took a giant clearance frame we bought for $25, cut it up, re-assembled it, & refinished it to an aged coppery gold to match the art. And it is SO PRETTY.

The print itself is perfectly matte, so it almost looks a velvet painting up close - only, you know, in a good way. (You can buy it directly from the artist here on DeviantArt - only $23!)


Aaaand that's a perfect segue into announcing this month's art winner! So congratulations to... AliceGracey!!
Please e-mail me your mailing address, Alice, plus your choice of prize from my Pinterest art give-away board.


Hope you guys liked the new mini-tour of our steampunk dining room!

Not That Commercial Again!!

Aug. 25th, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Sharyn

Every year, millions of cakes are wrecked.

*gulp*

But YOU can help!

 

♫ In the hands of a Wrecker

 

♫ Cakes all live in fear

 

♫ From the dark chocolate tear drops...

 

♫ To the endless messes we fear

 

If you buy just one wreck a month...

...that's just pennies a day...

 

♫ You are pulled toward the wreckage

 

♫ In its silent...

misery...

YOU could help these cakes feel wanted.

 

♫ If you buy wrecks from bakeries...

 

♫ They might fi- i- i- ind...

♫ Some comfort, dear.

 

(At least until you eat them.)

 

Let's give generous thanks to Lola L., Jodee R., Marla M., Anna F., Suzanne F., Andrea H., Stuart S., Sarah M., Karen P., and Geneva W. Now stop reading and go out and buy a wreck -- and maybe some ice cream.

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[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

Empty room

Credit: DeviantArt / MadameM-stock

Someone tweeted that this post reminded them of my post about leaving. And I read it, finding it oddly compelling (even though I’m not excited by comics, or superheros), and then I found this quote.

it seems to me to be the worst thing in the world to want to do something that badly and then to have your love for it slowly leeched out of you to the point where you don’t want to do it at all anymore

And then I felt like I understood, because yes, this is often how I feel.

Maybe I’m actually doing better than that, because whilst I might have come to hate the tech industry I still love making things.

Two things. One bad, one good.

First thing. I remembered a comment a guy must have made… oh, 6 months ago. I remember my reaction, the double take “oh, did you really?” I think he thought it was a joke. I think jokes should be funny. And I realised, I put this in a box for the last 6 months. I didn’t run into him again, I didn’t think of it again, until I was meditating on the words that get used about women, and only about women, and I remembered this.

Does it really matter? If one guy says something stupid? If he thinks he’s funny when he’s not? I have a relatively dark sense of humour so I probably do that too. One guy, doesn’t matter. One guy each [day|week|month|quarter|year] starts to matter as the [days|weeks|months|quarters|years] go by. They start to add up. And on dark day it’s not one guy making that comment, it’s one guy articulating what they all must think. And eventually the dark days become everyday. The fear of “what next?” becomes crippling and constant. Eventually, it’s time to leave. Maybe that mental departure took place a while ago, a disconnection as a way to cope, but now is finally official, and real.

My coping strategy has just been to push harder, move faster, accelerate. To say, OK, 10 years, tops, make the most of it. Want to push me down? I’ll run faster, diversify, find a way to bounce back up.

Frantic. Frantic. Frantic.

Second thing. Take a deep breath. I am 29 years old. That is not actually that old, really. This reaction, feeling like I am running out of time, is actually just… madness. I have time. It’s not actually an emergency. I don’t need to have all the answers today.

Or even when I do leave. I don’t need to know exactly what is next, or if my departure is real, or permanent. I just need a starting point.

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Posted by spam-spam

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

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Posted by Mary

Aside from having a memory that I twice successfully skied nearly half a lifetime ago, there were two things I’d been told about skiing that tempted me back. One is that it is somewhat easier to learn on carved skis, but the other bigger consideration is that being tall is apparently essentially a complete disadvantage in snowboarding, where holding your centre of gravity pretty much above the board at all times is the key skill. In skiing, this is not so. I asked a few people, and someone I know who is quite good at both agreed that with my snowboarding skill level, I really wouldn’t be losing a lot by switching to skiing.

Our trip didn’t begin promisingly. First there was the usual agony of planning a holiday. We had thought to return to New Zealand, but I decided I didn’t want to deal with pumping for A in a daycare and so we’d have to switch off caring for her. There’s essentially no on-snow accommodation in New Zealand; I imagined the experience for the person sitting with the baby in a crowded snow cafeteria all day with a shudder. And the difficulty getting V onto a bus up a mountain each day and entertaining him for an hour in each direction. Then we considered Perisher where we’d been before, but it was ludicrously expensive. So we settled on Thredbo, which is also far from cheap but has more beds and is also a genuine village in its own right. Important, I thought, if I once again got too injured to continue and wanted to do something else with my time. I was tired from planning long before we left.

Even less promisingly, the morning before we left, V woke up and was sick. To be precise: he was sick on the baby, setting a new record for contagious behaviour from my children even exceeding the time A stuck her snotty finger up Val’s nose in the US. We didn’t have the food we’d planned to take and we didn’t have snow clothes. So we waited a while and took a pale and tired V for clothes and generally considered the following day with fear.

V was bewildered and annoyed to get up before the sun, something I think we’ve never got him to do before, and especially since we then hustled him onto a city bus, and marched him across Central and onto a coach. (We can’t easily take a taxi with a baby under one year old, something that also caused a lot of problems on my US trip.) He was then annoyed that we had promised him the very interesting experience that the coach would have a toilet and it didn’t, which was nothing to our reaction to the prospect a seven hour coach trip on a coach without a toilet. Meanwhile, I contemplated the joy of seven hours on a coach where all but three of the seats didn’t have enough leg room for me. (About every two years I have the brilliant idea of taking buses places instead of driving, and each time I board only to remember that I don’t actually fit on them. Oh.)

It all worked out though; the bus made a few loo breaks, and V was well enough to not be miserable but sick enough to spend most of the trip asleep or staring dreamily out the window rather than, as we’d feared, spending the whole trip in perpetual whine-motion. A still isn’t crawling, so she spent the trip strapped to me or Andrew mostly happily except for occasional annoyed screeches. Towards the end of the trip, I was the one climbing the walls, squashed into the bus and nauseous from the bus’s heating level and A’s body heat.

The agony was not over: we were disgorged from the bus with two little kids and two giant and heavy suitcases, went briefly to see the tobogganing and then went to pick up all the gear — two sets of skis, a snowboard, three sets of boots, my stocks, three helmets — with a tired V who was very keen to ski and who believed that we were going to get off the bus and immediately all ski down a mountain together.

I have to hand it to Thredbo: their hire gear places are frighteningly efficient, with 8 separate “stations” each staffed by multiple people who sit you down, pop your feed on sizing guides, stand you up, eyeball you for ski length, strap everything together, tinker with it, and send you on your way.

Even so, it was tough. V had a small tantrum that we weren’t getting him stocks, believing it’s not possible to ski without them (only very advanced children are allowed to use them in the children’s ski school), and a very long epic tantrum as we painfully loaded all our luggage and gear onto a minibus packed with other skiers. Once we had fought all our stuff back out of the minibus, we had to slowly leapfrog it up a steep driveway and steps to the apartment we were staying in while V cried that his skis were so very very heavy, can’t you carry them Mama please? What, with a 20kg suitcase, my skis and stocks, and the baby strapped to my front? (Various adults who saw this trainwreck in action would make sad pitying noises before they saw the baby. After that, they’d just squeak and flap in alarm.) The owners of the accommodation were horrified and helpful once they’d discovered all this and helped us into the flat where we used the very last of our energy for sorting out the following morning’s piles of stuff.

Actually, no, I tell a lie, I used the very last of my energy walking several hundred metres down the hill and back up in the icy dark to buy additional groceries, but this was actually a blessed emotional getaway. (And Thredbo is actually quite warm, it was probably only roughly freezing.)

It’s not a destination designed to be reached on public transport, that much was clear.

We set our phone alarms for the distressing time of 7am, and in our last tragic act, failed to check how to set the thermostats properly before going to sleep, leaving them on MAX and sweltering all night. And so it began. Not entirely as it was to continue, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Sunday Sweets: Dragon Con Treats

Aug. 24th, 2014 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Next weekend John and I will be among Our People at the annual nerd mecca: Dragon Con in Atlanta. That's right, geeks, WE'RE COMIN' HOME!

Naturally, I feel we should celebrate the best way I know how: with amazing cakes themed to some of the various tracks at Dragon Con. (If you've never been, DC separates its panels into 37 different "fan tracks." It's like a geeky buffet of all-you-can-attend goodness.)

You might even be surprised by the variety. For example, there's a Young Adult Literature track:

(By Sweet Blossom Cakes)

... along with a Writer's track, Fantasy Literature, & Tolkien's Middle Earth.

 

Alt History is where my fellow steampunks hang out:

(By Swank Cake Design)

And if you keep your eyes peeled on Saturday night, you MIGHT even see Lady Vadore stalking the halls. ;)

 

My friend Stephen is heading up the Science track this year, so trust me, you're gonna love it.

(By Gimme Some Sugar)

Er, but it's not THAT kind of science, kids.

(Best use of rock candy ever, or what?)

 

There are also tracks on Podcasting:

(By That Cake Girl)

Any Welcome To The Night Vale listeners out there?

 

And Puppetry:

(By Peace of Cake)

Swedish Chef will always be my flurby durby caken-schmöösher favorite. ALWAYS.
(Love how the base looks like an upside-down stew pot. So clever!)

Last year at DC some of the real, honest-to-goodness Fraggles came to visit, along with their original performers. For reals, you guys. NOSTALGIA HIGH-FIVE.

 

Of course there are always the big sci-fi classics, too, like Trek Track:

(By Sugar Plum Cake Shoppe)

Resistance to this stellar cake is futile.

 

And everything Star Wars:

(By Fancy Cakes By Lauren)

"Judge me by my flavor, do you?
Because delicious, I am."

 

There are even tracks for Paranormal interests, Zombies, and Horror:

(By Gayle's Bakery)

Admit it: best. horror cake. EVER.

 

For those of you who like to tinker, there's a Robotics and Makers' track:

(By CW reader Jane M.)

 

And for those who love cartoons (GUILTY!), another for Animation:

(By Sweet Disposition Cakes)

Adventure Time!

 

And finally, if you're wondering where all the Whovians go, that's over on Brit Track - but careful!

(By Katawampous)

Blink and you'll miss it.

 

Sorry I couldn't cover all 37 tracks here, but I think you guys get the idea. If you'll be at Dragon Con next weekend, too, keep an eye out for me and John - I'll have pins! - and feel free to tweet at me to arrange a meetup, since we don't tend to stay in one place for very long. You can also watch my other blog, Epbot, for more DC details and tons of coverage after the fact.

Happy Sunday, everyone! 

Be sure to check out our Sunday Sweets Directory if you want to see which bakers in your area have been featured here on Sweets!

*****

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This Week

Aug. 24th, 2014 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] accidentallyincode_feed

Posted by Cate Huston

Click to view slideshow.

Life

Hung out with friends, made it to the gym again – not as much as “usual” but a start. Still feeling a bit worn out but I think that is stress as much as anything else.

Sent off a draft of my book chapter again. Exciting! Eventually it will be the final draft, which is scary and awesome.

Media

Saw The Commitments which was fun, although culturally appropriating (bunch of white people doing “Soul”) and somewhat sexist (what changes?). Went to the movies for the first time in ages and saw What If which I loved at least in part because it’s set in Canada. Read The Lies You Told Me which I really enjoyed, a little bit dark and gripping. Finished Gravitas, will post a review soon, and read It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single which I liked, short meditation on being single when the world tells you you should be part of a pair.

Product links Amazon.

Places

Brunch at Cafe du Coin (meh), dinner at Addie’s Thai (yum), Kopapa (not quite as great as brunch was but still tasty), Da Mario (amazing pasta), and Sushino EN (wonderful, especially the spinach with sesame sauce), BBQ pork buns at Dragon Palace, desert at The Troubador Cafe,

Published

On The Internet

[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by Tim Chevalier

Google is offering 5 grants for women in computer science (either working in or studying it) to attend EuroBSDcon 2014 — the main European conference about the open-source BSD family of operating systems — in Sofia, Bulgaria, to take place September 25-28. The grants cover conference registration as well as up to €1000 in travel costs.

Women who have a strong academic background and have demonstrated leadership (though if you don’t think you do, you should apply anyway) are encouraged to apply. Google’s form requires selecting either “male” or “female” as a gender; if you are not binary-identified but are marginalized in computer science and wish to apply, make use of the contact information for this Google program.

Also note that EuroBSDcon does not appear to have a code of conduct or anti-harassment policy. (If I’m wrong, add it to the wiki’s list of conferences that have anti-harassment policies!)

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