Women In Tech

Many people find Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech company’s statements about the desire to hire more women disturbing, as if it’s discrimination against men. In a growing industry like tech with enough spots for the takers, hiring women first is still going to result in a ~70% male workforce. It’s not a solution, and it’s not exactly what diversity reports intend on conveying.

The main aspect of why more men go into computer science than women is early education and societal gender roles. The gender roles that previously prevented women from wanting to become doctors are still rampant in tech. It’s a boy’s club. Thankfully, there are some programs right now targeted at teen women to get them interested in tech for the next generation of the workforce. Historically, the industry was actually less male dominant. Today, 82% of CS degrees go to men. In 1985, that number was 63%. Computers became an industry without association with masculinity, so many of the influential early pioneers, such as as Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace, were women.

Brenda D. Frink of The Clayman Institute for Gender Research writes:

As late as the 1960s many people perceived computer programming as a natural career choice for savvy young women. Even the trend-spotters at Cosmopolitan Magazine urged their fashionable female readership to consider careers in programming. In an article titled “The Computer Girls,” the magazine described the field as offering better job opportunities for women than many other professional careers. As computer scientist Dr. Grace Hopper told a reporter, programming was “just like planning a dinner. You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it’s ready when you need it…. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.” James Adams, the director of education for the Association for Computing Machinery, agreed: “I don’t know of any other field, outside of teaching, where there’s as much opportunity for a woman.”

The shift happened once computers became more popularized. Computers were more often given to boys once they became a household item, seen the same way in parents eyes as telescopes and other typically “boy” items. CS students went from being entirely beginners, to professors assuming students already had experience. Of course, this gave an advantage to men. NPR delves deeper into this history.

Progress in Equality

You might ask why this matters. Assuming someone should or shouldn’t inherently like something or want to do or become something because of their gender and sex has a negative result for everyone. It prevents great minds from being expressed because it’s against the social norm for them to be one. Gender roles are improving, and this will create a more respectful and less assuming society. It means getting rid of the “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl!” idea that The Simpsons critiqued in the 1994 episode “Lisa vs Malibu Stacy”. The only reason more women aren’t in tech and politics is because of these antiquated cultural norms.

Capitalistic Representation

The vast majority of the richest self made people are white men. These people hold a lot of power with their money. The Koch brothers and their billion dollars in donations towards to the GOP for 2016 alone, for example. These billions find their way to restricting abortion access and reducing healthcare contraceptive coverage. Billionaires, the concept of saviors, and wealth inequality isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The best bet is to make the rich and powerful as diverse as possible in attempt to keep at least a some representation towards the less represented. How can we consider our system democracy when a 31% demographic holds 65% of the power. The billionaires that puppet those elected officials are even less representative, with 85% of them being white males.

Tim Cook, Larry Page, and many other executives are probably not at all sexist, but they don’t have the same personal experiences that would make them use their billions in ways that women would.

“2K”

After the term “4K” became common on UHD TV’s, many phone, tablet and laptop reviews have started to refer to 1440p, like on the Galaxy Note 4, as “2K”. 2K sounds a lot bigger than the 1080p term we’ve been using for ages, right?

Except not. Full HD (1920×1080) IS “2K”, and QHD (2560×1440, or four times the size of 1280×720 HD) is NOT. It’s 2.5K. But “K” is a rubbish term for electronics. It’s a film industry term where aspect ratio and resolutions aren’t standardized or exact, so it makes sense. Even if you include 1440p QHD with the 2K term because 2560 is less than 3K, it’s a statement meant to sound impressive that is factually indistinct from the unimpressive norm.

Digital Cinema Initiatives 2K (native resolution) 2048 × 1080 1.90:1 (256:135) ~17:9 2,211,840
DCI 2K (CinemaScope cropped) 2048 × 858 2.39:1 1,755,136
DCI 2K (flat cropped) 1998 × 1080 1.85:1 2,157,840
1080p HDTV 1920 × 1080 1.78:1 (16:9) 2,073,600

Professional video cameras record in 5K or 6K and the video editor crops from there. Consumer electronics are standardized, so it’s nonsense to use “about 4,000 pixels wide, give or take a couple hundred” term for a TV with a standardized resolution of 3,840×2160, and “about 5,000 pixels wide” for an iMac with a resolution of 5120×2880. Just say 2880p, 2160p/UHD, 1440p/QHD, 1080p/FHD, and 720p HD, like we always have in the past. No one is ever going to refer to FHD as 2K because the term 1080p is so ingrained in our minds, so we just need to give up 4K. It’s confusing to use a second term that’s nearly double the previously common term, thanks to the fact it refers to a different axis. It makes people think 4K is 4x 1080p in every direction, or 16x the size, when it’s really only 4x the size.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite Initial Observations

1. Tesla Motors is a default stock in the notification center (nerd-gasm)

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.58.53 PM

2. Holding down option on the green button restores the functionality of expanding it within the desktop, rather than using it as the fullscreen mode button

3. It’s a beta – fullscreen animations are all a little glitchy thanks to the translucency at the moment.

4. Dashboard still exists, despite the similar functionality of 3rd part widgets in the notification center.

5. The mail.app icon is gruesome to look at, like a higher contrast version of the last.. Glad I use Airmail.

ApplicationIcon

6. Launchpad is less glitchy

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.27.27 AM

7. Mission Control is more glitchy

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.25.12 AM

8. Graphite mode is back after being removed in 10.7. It allows you to make all the UI elements, including the traffic lights, grey.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.23.40 AM

9. Switching browsers no longer requires you to go into Safari (though the new Safari is pretty awesome).

10.  It’s not that much different. That’s a compliment. 10.9 was an awesome desktop OS.

 

Get 10.10 here: http://theintek.com/?page_id=114

What’s going on with OrbitFront?

OrbitFront-logo-300

We haven’t updated you on OrbitFront in quite some time. I’m sorry. The fact is, the current iteration of the site that has been built over years is utter shit. It’s incredibly resource intensive, prone to crashing our servers, and can take a full minute to load, even with no one but the admins using it.  But we haven’t given up.

We’ve got some refreshing new ideas, and someone with real power backing us. We need to start over. Our current ideas are a little more ambitious than the ones we have previously shared, but I think we can make them happen. The OrbitFront branding will not be present in the final release, as the concept of a revolutionary storefront no longer really applies to it. Vince Paddon is back in the team after leaving when we closed the site that once occupied this very domain name in 2011. Our concept is still a site about  opinions, but we can’t say much more than that. We’ll keep you posted.

-Tyler

Amazon’s Monopolistic Future

Note: this post was written nearly a year ago on the old theintek.com. Still pretty interesting.

Rumours having come up that Amazon will partner with HTC to make a smartphone in 2014. These are my thoughts of what will happen over the next couple years.

  • Amazon will buy HTC, consolidate it to Seattle and only hardware. The HTC brand will disappear. Currently, HTC is based in Taiwan and has their North American headquarters in Bellevue, the ultra-corporate satellite city of Seattle (the other satellite being Tacoma, which is known for its distinct pulp aroma). It would make sense to ditch all the failing executives and software developers and only bring the hardware people to Washington. That way Amazon and the former HTC can work side by side.
  • Amazon will create an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator – basically a company that resells a carriers service, like Net10). T-Mobile would be an obvious option, as another Bellevue based company. Monthly prices will be cheap, think $30 a month.
  • Amazon will integrate it’s device with the Amazon Prime membership. That gives them an extra $80 a year per user and makes the customer more likely to use Amazon services because they’re paying for them.
  • The device will be cheap or free with advertisements on the lock screen, and the MVNO won’t have a contract. Only Amazon or Google can do this because they get a percentage from every app, film, or book you buy on the device. That said, Amazon Prime puts it at a prepaid 1 year contract to start with.
  • It will be good hardware, but they won’t be selling the specs.

This puts Amazon as the single company that provides everything for your device. Something not even Apple has. You pay them for your service, and therefore they can see what you’re doing on the device and dish out advertising based on that, or even stop you from getting out of the Amazon eco-system. You pay them every time you buy any content. You pay them anytime you view the device with ads. The only thing that would end this limitless power on their customers would be anti-trust laws.

In Defense of Bitcoin and Cryto-currency: a response to a prediction

Note: this post is several months old.

In the past few weeks cryto-currency has had an amazing ride. Bitcoin, which traded for $12 one year ago, suddenly spiked to $1200 after several months of stagnating after a bubble popped this past summer. In a recent article by Edward Hadas of the New York Times’ Dealbook, it was declared that Bitcoin and cryto-currency was doomed to fail from the start due to being a “private currency” that is inherently right wing. I disagree.

 

Bitcoin has no central authority. The creator is unknown and despite what the article suggests, isn’t in charge of dishing out currency. Anyone that wants to be part of Bitcoin can (provided they’re well off enough to be riding on the internet, obviously). There are a total of 21 million Bitcoins, and thousands of computers are doing complex algorithms to mine them. Once the 21 million are mined, that’s it.  However, Bitcoin can be divided into infinite parts, so it can just deflate further.  They’re found in 25 Bitcoin blocks (currently worth $29,000), which can take a computer years to find.

 

Naturally, collectives called pools show up. Pools are networks of computers working together to find blocks and share the reward. Finding blocks gets more and more difficult as they’re discovered, decreasing supply while keeping up demand. While the average computer is no longer powerful enough to hash out (literally – that’s the term used for mine speed, such as gigahashes per second) coins, application specific USB and PCIe devices have been created to let anyone get started for a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars. Markets, such as Coinbase, buy Bitcoins from owners and sell them to buyers. Wallets store bitcoins. They can be either local, or in the cloud, like coinbase. Every wallet contains a record of every Bitcoin transaction ever, making counterfeiting all but impossible.

 

The nature of Bitcoin is very democratic. A year ago anyone could just run a program on their computer for a few weeks and they’d have thousands of dollars today. Anyone can create their own exchange. It’s the best example of organized anarchism ever. Anarchism is not a right wing view. It’s down, not right, on the political compass.

 

Hadas mentions says “The authorities, especially in the United States, first allowed banks to act almost as if they were in a right-money world, lending and speculating wildly. That led to a typical right-money disaster — a sudden loss of trust and the failure of leading institutions.”

 

Bitcoin doesn’t have this problem, as everything is peer-to-peer and final.

 

Hadas might be right. Bitcoin might be doomed. But it’s still the future.

 

Car of the Future

The auto industry has added features over the years, become more reliable and safer, but has remained in essence the same. But not for long. Tesla Motors seems to be leading the way to the future. The American electric car company lead by Elon Musk, real life Tony Stark, has created a sort of a revolution. It’s been a year now since the company started shipping their flagship vehicle, the Model S, and in that time it’s won basically every automotive award, was determined to be the best car ever tested by Consumer Reports, and has made Tesla the most popular luxury car maker in the world. They also paid back their US government recession loan, and became profitable. So Tesla is kicking ass. But they haven’t changed the world yet.

A Model S can get you up and down the coasts for free, but that still isn’t enough for many consumers. What will be is metal-air technology. Basically, you’ll have a regular lithium ion battery that goes around 300 miles a day. After you go through that, you have a metal air battery pack that weighs just 50 pounds and uses only metal plates and water. Every 200 miles you fill it up with some more water, and after 1000 you’ve depleted the metal. An Israeli startup has a working prototype car using this technology, and Tesla has a patent on it. The idea of battery swapping gets a little difficult when you don’t go back to get your original battery pack. You could get one with less or more life left. It also requires you to plan ahead in terms of routes to be along Tesla stations. Metal-air will give you more freedom than gas. You’ll probably only use it a couple times a year, but for the comfort it’s worth it. Right now the sensors in a Google self driving car cost more than many of the most expensive cars. But within 10 years, those costs should come down. Now you’ve got a safer, cleaner car.

 

 

Learn more about metal-air here: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1083111_phinergy-1000-mile-aluminum-air-battery-on-the-road-in-2017

Trance

Trance is a classic example of Danny Boyle fucking with your mind. It follows an art auctioneer cooperating with his drug dealer to steal a painting. Only he can’t remember where he put the painting after stealing it. So the team joins with a hypnotherapist to find it in his mind. By the end of the movie you know the film is about a lot more than that, with the last 5 minutes revealing the entire story.

The cinematography techniques remind me of Trainspotting, but the story is a mystery rather than a fictional biopic. The acting is superb, and the story is ever intriguing. It’s the kind of film that’s mind-blowing the first time you watch it, but you still want to watch it again. I never found it confusing but I did see how you could get lost if you took a bathroom break. It leaves you speechless, and unable to determine who the protagonist is. Watch the trailer. For me, this is a must see.

 

Watch:

http://www.movie4k.to/Trance-watch-movie-3734466.html

http://www.amazon.com/Trance-HD/dp/B00DGBR9OA/ref=sr_tr_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1373925033&sr=1-1&keywords=trance

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/trance/id650599063

Fame and Un-Fortune

It has come to my attention that one of the “Glee” cast members died recently from an OD. I never watched the show, but this is just one of many incidents of celebrity drug overdoses. Russell Brand once got himself fired by bringing his heroin dealer into work on bring your daughter to work day, while simultaneously dressed like Osama Bin Laden. Matthew Perry has always seemed together, but during the later years of “Friends” began using and abusing. Robert Downey Jr, one of the half a dozen or so actors that Reddit seems to love, has had quite a few problems, and ended up in rehab. So what is it that draws those with sudden fame to drugs? You could immediately point to escape from the lifestyle of being glorified and vilified. Or perhaps that there is the reason we think celebrities use more than regular people. Because when someone you see on TV goes to rehab, it shows up in tabloids. When your neighbor goes to rehab, nothing happens. If you look at the history of the celebrity culture (and cult of it), it really begins with films.

Rudolph Valentino, pictured to the left, caused mass hysteria when he died. It resembled Michael Jacksons death, but was in 1924. He starred in several silent films and became a sex symbol. He wasn’t loved because of his riches, words, or power, like previous famous people, but because of low quality media coverage and his body. Exactly the same as modern day celebrities. This culture is not natural. Why should the small percentage of actors that become big get paid so well, and all others remain impoverished? It’s capitalism at its finest. Inequality.