Celebrating Lady Ada Lovelace Day!

Through my travels in the Net today, I found out that March 24 is the day for celebrating and blogging about my heroine Lady Ada Lovelace!

It was quite a surprise for me to find out after more than 30 years in the Information Technology (IT) field that there was a day dedicated to honouring her memory by writing something about her and other notable women in technology. So, here I am rushing to write something before the end of the day. I cannot let the occasion pass me by.

For some people in IT, she is well known, as she is the reason the US Department of Defense named a programming language Ada. She is also well known for people interested in programming in general, as she is generally considered the first programmer ever, even though she died before digital computers, as we know them, were invented. However, she did write was is considered the first computer programme as she wrote an algorithm for the analytical engine that Charles Babbage invented.

Since today is a day to celebrate other women in technology, I consider it a "must" to remember and celebrate anoter woman who made a great contribution to the IT field: Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. She is another of my heroines as she is recognized as the author of a programming language that was the bread and butter of computer systems during the 1970's and 1980's. (As a matter of fact, there are still a good number of "legacy" systems written in it). I'm talking, of course, of COBOL, one of the first languages I learned in University, which is still in operations and is one of the oldest programming languages still used worldwide. Grace Hopper created the specification for COBOL in 1959 and it really was the workhorse language for most of the companies and governments that were developing application systems. Another interesting trivia fact about her is that she is the person who first used the term "bug" and "debugging" in programming. The funny part is that it was actually an insect she found that was causing problems with the system and the rest is history...

[As an aside, it made me very happy to learn today as well that the US Navy has named a destroyer in her honour, the USS Hopper (DDG-70). This is only the second US Navy warship to be named for a woman. The USS Hopper was launched on Jan. 6, 1996, by her sister.]

So, how come women have been so prominent in the field of programming languages? My guess is that the natural tendency that women have to excel at languages must have helped. And of course, it doesn't hurt that many women, and certainly women such as Lady Ada and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper must have had beautiful, logical minds.


PBS Experimenting with Facebook screening

I read that PBS will be screening the "Earth Days" documentary in Facebook, ahead of their broadcast on TV. This will happen on Apr. 11 (from 8 to 9:45 pm).

The idea seems to have good potential for more interaction with the audience as people will be able to ask questions and chat in real time with the producers. It sounds intriguing to me, although, I'd prefer to watch it on TV. In any case, it shows that PBS is trying to connect to younger audiences which is really good.

The documentary will be about the beginnings of the environmental movement. Can it be that this year is actually the 40th anniversary of Earth Day? (Apr. 22). I guess we have improved in some areas, but there is still so much left to do...

More information about the event is available in the Earth Days social screening in Facebook.


USA Political TV (C-Span) History on the Web

I never imagined that I would start this blog referring indirectly to some political news. But this was so important to my point of view that it just needed to be captured here.

I just read a fascinating article from the New York Times, "C-Span Puts Full Archives on the Web", written by Brian Stelter and published yesterday.

The 3 channels that comprise C-Span have put on the web all their video recordings starting from 1987! That is such great news, especially for American citizens, but also for people from other countries, like me, because it can start to compel other governments to follow suit (one can only hope). It makes me envious of their democratic system. And I really admire the fact that the USA shows this openness for their government proceedings. Well done for them! And indirectly for the rest of us as well, as the access is open to the Internet.

The article talks about some Romanian bloggers who discovered and published an address given by their president to the United Nations in 1990. I wonder if there is anyhing from either one of our Canadian prime ministers or Mexican presidents. Time to dig in or should I say, time to dive into this ocean of data.

To see what all the fuzz is about, just follow the link to the C-Span video library: