Girl: Don’t be shy. Develop it.

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Corinne Warnshuis speaking at Red Hat Summit 2016

That’s the matter-of-fact tagline of a pioneering organization called Girl Develop It, headed up by Executive Director Corinne Warnshuis.

You’ve probably heard that the number of women in technology is low. But the number of women in open source development is even more abysmal—about 11%. The industry is notoriously hard for women to break into.

Breaking down barriers to women in open source

Girl Develop It is on a mission to change that. The group is working hard to “provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.” Founded in 2010, Girl Develop It embodies the idea of the power of participation and aims to make women feel comfortable learning technology.

And it’s truly changing lives.

Continue reading “Girl: Don’t be shy. Develop it.”

NASA’s JPL: Protecting the planet through open, advanced development

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First selfie on Mars, courtesy of the Mars rover

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has achieved a lot of firsts: First flyby of Mars. First interplanetary spacecraft. And first selfie on another planet, to name a few.

They got there by staying at the forefront of technology, said Tom Soderstrom, JPL’s chief technology and innovation officer—who also likes to call himself chief toy officer.

To keep innovating, change how you work

With this legacy of firsts, how will JPL get to the next firsts? In his session titled “Innovation is everywhere: Opportunities in a changing world,” Soderstrom said JPL has to change the way they work.

Once every IT decade (that’s 3 years for you and me) JPL looks at what key disruptors are coming and embraces them. What’s coming now? Innovation in the consumer space. There, innovation happens rapidly, unlike in the enterprise where innovation happens at a glacial speed.

The enterprise space could learn a thing or 2 from the consumer space. So JPL researched human behavior as it relates to IT. They discovered that if engineers and scientists can get tools quicker and see what IT disruptors are coming, they’ll be more productive. And that will help all of humanity.

Now JPL practices what Soderstrom calls E4: Engage and enable everyone and everything. It’s about the power of participation (which just happens to be this year’s Red Hat Summit theme).

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Ready or not, it’s time to rethink storage

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There are probably exabytes of just internet cat pictures.

It’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a data explosion. Digital assets have grown due to web-scale services like Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix.

50% of households use video on-demand services. And the medical industry has vast imaging needs. These are only some of the causes.

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Open source hardware sparks innovation

Nathan Seidle, founder and CEO of SparkFun Electronics, believes open source is not only good for humanity, but also good for business. SparkFun is a successful online retailer that sells the parts people need to build electronics projects.

He started his talk by describing some of the “crazy” (his word, not mine) things some of his customers have made with SparkFun products:

  • One customer used SparkFun cell phone modules and solar cells to track falcon migration across North America.
  • Another put a SparkFun sensor under a trampoline and connected it to the valve (and flame) on a propane tank. The idea was, the harder you jump, the bigger the flame.
  • And my favorite: A customer used a SparkFun motion sensor, a microcontroller, and a blender to create the “blender defender.” The purpose? To keep cats off kitchen counters.

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Here’s why we should welcome our robot overlords

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Richard Hulskes, co-founder of Wevolver, an online platform for collaborative hardware development

When Richard Hulskes (@Rieshuls), co-founder of Wevolver, was a kid, he spent endless hours building rockets and robots―often unsuccessfully. Today, he prints them.

Richard says hardware development is radically changing―in part because the open source mindset is moving to hardware. Wevolver users are building drones that explore the deep ocean, creating low-cost prosthetics, and even sending satellites into space.

But Richard’s favorite project on the Wevolver platform could benefit thousands of children.

Continue reading “Here’s why we should welcome our robot overlords”