All women team run NASA’s Mars rover (briefly)

Briefly is better than nothing…

The all-female team of scientists and engineers planned the event after noticing they were occasionally a supermajority on the rover operations team. They designed an action plan and transmitted all the computer codes for the day’s activities, including using the robotic arm to take microscopic images of dust while Spirit was stationed on a slope. Though men still outnumber women in space exploration, the gender mix is changing.

More from NASA.

Woman and men can have equal spatial abilities

Lots of possible questions about the study itself, but the introduction to the article is interesting:
Action Games Improve Women’s Spatial Abilities, Says New Study

While research has consistently shown that the male brain has advantages in spatial skills like geometry, interpreting technical drawings and reading maps, a new study says that playing action-oriented video games can equalize the sexes in that regard.

A small geek grump with Domain Registry of America and phpwebhosting

I got mail (actual physical mail) from the “Domain Registry of America” ( this week, telling me that some of my domains were due for renewal.
Which would be great, except I don’t actually use them for my domains and their ‘renewal’ form is actually a ‘switch to us’ form. The language is all carefully written so it’s legal, but to the casual reader it’s just a ‘domain name expiration notice’. I think it’s just this side of a scam that takes advantage of people’s general confusion about technical stuff.
Also on my grump list is, who haven’t responded to helpdesk calls for well over a week – so I haven’t had email in *ages*. I’m going to switch hosts this week, I’m just waiting on confirmation of ssh access.

Fascinating, and perhaps scary: When work becomes a game

Video games are big business and soon they could be big in business too.

All of a sudden, say academics and researchers, companies have realised that all the time employees spend gaming in virtual worlds is changing them.

Companies were adopting game mechanics for several reasons, said Dr Reeves.

The main reason was for the transparency it gave to the way workplaces were organised and for revealing who got things done.
“It exposes those that do and do not play well,” said Dr Reeves. “There is a leader board and you know the rules.”
It had the potential to turn workplaces into meritocracies where the most accomplished are easy to spot because they have racked up all rewards, achievements and levels required for a particular post.
While it may not sweep away systems of privilege or end nepotism it had the potential to make workplaces fairer and take some of the grind out of the day job, he said.

BBC, When work becomes a game
But what if you don’t play games? Will familiarity with gaming conventions give some people an advantage? Could you ‘game the system’?

IT recruiters are crap

The BCS website puts it more diplomatically: No skills shortage just poor recruitment practices

The only way employers will regain access the IT skills required to support key business initiatives is to reject current practices and take more direct control over their recruitment. Great IT skills are out there and they don’t cost the earth. The only thing standing in between IT and the right contract staff is commoditised recruitment practices.

The ethics of computing

This article from the BCS makes some good points about the ethics of computing.
It also says,

There is a view that the storage of personal data is only problematic for those with something to hide. But we cannot know for sure how data we supply today will be used tomorrow – goalposts shift, governments change – and not all are benign. When in 1933 the population of Germany provided their personal data for census purposes, they could have had no knowledge of ultimate consequences.