PGP Encryption and why should you care?

This is a quick overview of PGP Encryption and how to use it yourself! Bulk surveillance violates everyone’s fundamental human rights, it makes free speech risky. This guide will explain what email encryption is (using a commonly known standard called PGP) and will teach you how to use a free tool called mailvelope. Remember, even if you have nothing to hide, using encryption helps protect the privacy of the people you are communicating with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems.

This video includes closed captions, click on Youtube’s closed caption option if you are hearing impaired.


Pokémon Go and Reality

I am currently in the land of the Free. We’ve flown 14 hours to have a holiday in Washington DC and New York City with the family. It is amazing… I’ve never been in this part of the US before and it is everything popular media promised us it would be. Washington DC has amazing museums and beautiful rolling green grass. The national monuments are exactly as they appear on TV and it really is awe inspiring to be sitting in the shadow of the Washington memorial.

Or checking out Times Square.

Something has vaguely pulled at me however. It is this slight unease about the racial tension jn this country. I know that it is totally a thing everywhere, but here you can almost feel it.

For example this blog and the one it links to about the new popular game Pokemon Go. (no we have NOT been playing it… We have been actually sightseeing, also I have a Windows Phone. Go sign this if you do too)

It describes the very definition of a cultural hegemony , where the very colour of your skin precludes you from enjoying a game… One that takes you into the real world… With other people!

I have been struggling with this all week. On the one hand we have to be cautious travellers, we are visitors in a country not our own… We don’t want something horrible to happen to us, or our children. We have warned them of the bad people who may snatch them away. Of course we’ve been generic but you can see how parents in our situation might grip tighter when passing an African American instead of a white American. Which is ridiculous because statistically there is no proof. The inherent racism in that act makes me feel sick… And I feel powerless to do something more about it.

Unconscious Bias

There are just so many articles written about women and tech. We admit that there is a gender gap in hiring, a gender gap in pay and a gender gap in management. We look at the stats and lament at the numbers of girls choosing to start a STEM based degree, and then lament again at the numbers that complete those degrees.

In May 2014, Google released its diversity figures, and admitted in an official blog, that women make up only 30% of their entire workforce, and if you restricted the search to technical roles, women make up a mere 17%. This is from an organisation that has spent millions on initiatives aimed at young women. Closer to home, Absolute IT released a report showing that women held just 21% of tech jobs in New Zealand.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Actually, scratch that, there are far too many articles already out there bringing doom and gloom, i’m going to take a moment to celebrate some of the great initiatives i’ve been involved with here in NZ, initiatives that will turn this ship around.

She# is a networking event with a difference. Recognising there is a misconception about what it means to ‘be in tech’, She# brings together academics, women already working in the tech industry and most importantly, high school girls who aren’t quite sure about their career options yet. Each event has interesting speakers, and plenty of time to talk.

As a woman working in tech, I can’t help but notice the lack of other women in the room when it comes to conferences and tech events. Refactor aims to change this. With most of the tickets designated for women only, Refactor brings together engaging speakers and a room full of women already working in the tech industry. (There are tickets for men too, just not as many!)

And finally, if you are planning a panel or a conference, and you find that all your speakers are male, then Anna Guenther, CEO of Pledgeme, has something for you. Inspired by an all-male cover on Idealog magazine, Anna crowdsourced “Inspiring Women in New Zealand“, and at last count had managed to find over 500 women to add to the list.

These are just a few of the things out there. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote, I believe we can be the first country in the world to get rid of this pesky ICT gender gap.


[Originally posted on TechBlog]

#IStandWithAhmed and *that* clock

Certain parts of the internet has been buzzing today because someone called ProudGamer8 tweeted at Richard Dawkins about Ahmed Mohamed and Dawkins is resolutely standing his ground.

In case you’ve missed it all, Ahmed is a 14 year old kid who was arrested for possessing what looked like dodgy electronics. He took it to school, and people over-reacted and he was arrested for bringing a ‘bomb’ to school.

[Update: the other argument is that he was arrested for deliberately ‘faking’ a hoax. I.e. waste of police time etc which is an interesting point too, youtube link here thanks @soleeternaltat for the heads up]

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Thanks to my friend @discoknitter I found myself nodding emphatically as I read this article. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, @abioborne for writing down the exact thoughts I have had for a while.

Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that I speak from a position of privilege. I recognise that I am a middle class comfortable person who works and lives in a suburban area of a fairly free country. This is not to generalise across all possible situations, I am speaking only from my own perspective.

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