THE spam post

I’m amused that there appears to be 1 type of spam comment that is used over and over again to try to generate traffic to a website. I’ve gotten 6 of these “comments” on this blog already. The first one I wondered if it was a real comment but delayed on clicking on the link due to suspicion. After the second one I resolved to neither click on the link, nor approve any such comment.

They all have this text followed by a link:

Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing [link].

A quick google search shows that these comments appear to be everywhere, and not just on new blogs just starting out. I wonder if they work. I was tempted to click on the link and I’m super suspicious of links in general; I’m sure less suspicious people would click without thinking. I wonder thought what the benefit is of these comments? If the website it links to is junk it’s not like it will generate meaningful revenue unless you are tricking users into click on ads somehow…

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Internet


Really? You thought that was a good idea?

A lot of people are putting a lot of time and money into trying to figure out why women run away from computer science.  One of the results of that effort has been to realize that negative stereotypes about a girl’s ability to do math is one cause of girls at a young deciding that “I can’t do it” is the right answer instead of “I’m going to try to do it until I succeed.”  Sure, parents and teachers also play a role and are a prime factor in whether or not a girl thinks she can do things like math.

Now, apparently we need to worry about retailers as well.  Everyone at this point has heard about the JCPenney screw up related to a shirt that states “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.”  This isn’t even specific to math, but it does very succinctly state the idea that you are either pretty or smart, but not both.  I wonder which one most girls are going to choose given that option?

But have you heard about Forever 21’s very similar screw up in the wake of JCPenney’s shirt?  They decided that a shirt implying that the (female) wearer is “allergic to algebra” was OK.  This pulls directly from that stereotype that girls can’t do math, and perpetuates it!

It’s sad to see that no one in these companies tried or succeeded in stopping these shirts from being made.  Did no one think that it was inappropriate to encourage girls to be stupid?  It worries me that the outcry didn’t happen until they hit shelves.  But more importantly, who designs this type of shirt?  What parent would buy such a shirt for their daughter?  I perhaps worry more that the designer was so unaware as to design such a shirt.

If you are also outraged, or at least a bit annoyed, you should check out the Credo page about the shirts.  They have an excellent summary, as well as a way for you to sign a pledge to be sent to the CEOs stating that they need to fix their system so this doesn’t happen again!

What do you think? Are these shirts an example of an underlying problem in our US society?

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Women in Science


How to Get a Job

One of the things I want to use this blog for is a way to give my PhD job seeking friends advice based on what I learned while on the job market last year. Some of the tips and tricks are things I learned from going to job seminars and talking to other graduates, others are things I learned from experience.

I’m planning to touch on the following:

  • How to pack for an interview trip
  • How to find out about jobs
  • How to get that first interview
  • How to get the interview visit
  • How to manage the stress
  • How to make decisions at the end of the job hunt
  • How to deal with that two body issue

Since I’m a computer scientist, all of my advice is geared toward that crowd. One of the reasons I want to put it all together this way is that I had trouble figuring out what general advice I found applied to computer science, and what didn’t!

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Job Search


Code Monkey Very Diligent

So my coworker sent around a YouTube video that is a rap song done by some Stanford guys. It is related to computing, uses phrases only a computer person would understand, etc. It’s pretty neat, but primarily it reminded of the Jonathon Coulton Code Monkey song that a friend introduced me to a few years ago when he got us to go to a Jonathon Coulton concert.

I really like the tune he sings it to, but it perpetuates so many stereotypes! Like, the fact that the code monkey is some awkward guy with a crush on the receptionist. Or, that a job in software cannot be fulfilling (it’s true that it can be un-fulfilling, but that’s not a requirement). I find it amusing because of the stereotypes, but in the back of my mind I wonder if it is just one more of those things that perpetuates stereotypes in a way that harms the field? But of course if you already listen to Jonathon Coulton you may fall into the stereotype of who might consider a computing field anyway. So this may be a null problem.

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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Fun, Women in Science


Getting the Ball Rollin’

First week as a faculty member is going smoothly. I met with my co-teacher this afternoon to start putting together our syllabus and figure out how to meld our two styles. I’ve been given access to another professor’s materials for the second class I’m teaching, “Web Programming.” Now, I just need to look over everything that has been done before for both courses and figure out what changes I want!

I really love that I’m working with a senior-level faculty member for teaching one of my courses. I’m sure I will learn a lot from her, and it will be great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to help with decisions. Since I’m teaching this course again in the spring and possibly again later on, I hope that this semester will give me a great foundation to continue building on over time.

There is a lot to figure out and set up so that I’ll be ready for the beginning of the semester, but so far progress has been great. I already have a computer in my office, not to mention that I HAVE an office. Since we have some summer construction occurring I am lucky to already be able to “move in!” Unfortunately I am window-less, but in a few years I am promised that there will be enough desk reshuffling from retirements that I will see the sun again! Or clouds. I certainly don’t know what’s out there!

For now I am just going to relish the extraordinary amount of shelving space I have in my office, and wonder how I will ever fill it. I thought I had a lot of books, but compared to this space, I have nothing!

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Uncategorized