5.10.2013

My Review of A Storm of Swords


It's difficult to know how best to review an 1100+ page novel that is just one part of many (seven? is it seven now?), and that took me months and months and months to read. I kept putting A Storm of Swords down to read other books, and then returning to it. I think that's a comment on its length, but not on its quality. It might be my favorite ASOIAF novel yet.

As this is a series that's very much in the zeitgeist right now, and one that a lot of people are progressing through at different speeds (and across different media) I'll stay away from spoilers, but believe me when I say that there are a LOT of twists and turns and surprises in this book.

To restate a thousand other reviews, though:
Martin's world-building is second to none. It's not the least bit difficult to believe that this is a civilization with thousands of years of history, some of it laid out explicitly, much more of it only hinted at.

To put into words just how great this series is:
It took me months and months to read this book, I have two more to go in the series as it stands, and I'm already aching about the fact that I'm going to have to wait for (surely) years for its completion.

Look, this is the GAME OF THRONES series, people. I don't have to spell it out for you. It's great, and you'll love it.
Unless that kind of thing isn't your cup of tea, but even then you still might.

5.09.2013

A Panel Discussion on she++ at Hathaway Brown



On Thursday, May 9th, Hathaway Brown School hosted the Ohio premiere of She++ The Documentary, and computer teacher James Allen emceed a panel discussion on women in computer science.

The documentary, directed by Stanford University computer science students Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni, is one tool being utilized by a new organization of the same name to encourage young women to seek education and careers in computer science. While women make up 52% of math and science degrees, they only make up 18% of computer science graduates; the she++ organization seeks to change this by providing role models in the field of computer science.

Judy Auping, Sue Kenney, Liz Novak & Melissa Heffelfinger
Thursday's panelists at Hathaway Brown were Liz Novak, VP of Information, Technology & Solutions at University Hospitals (HB Class of 1977); Dr. Judith V. Auping, a software engineer for over thirty years at the NASA Glenn Research Center; Melissa Heffelfinger, a Networking &; Telecom Operations Analyst at Progressive Insurance; Susan Kenney, a VP in IT at the Federal Reserve, and Laney Kuenzel (HB Class of 2008), an engineer at Facebook; and Caroline Aronoff, a student at MIT (HB Class of 2011) via Google Hangout.

The lively discussion focused on what can be done to encourage women to find an interest in computer science and then stay in the field. The panelists shared their own stories of getting into CS, and how they each became comfortable and successful in male dominated classes and workplaces. A recurring theme in the conversation was the need for confidence in the face of cocky or overachieving male peers, and strong belief in one's own ability to catch up to those who have been coding since childhood. Both recent HB grads pointed to their preparatory foundation from Hathaway Brown as a source of such confidence.
James Allen, CS teacher at HB

The need for women in the field was stressed repeatedly, as male audience members shared difficulty finding female candidates for open job opportunities  These audience members also shared relief at working with female engineers who were often better at communicating and seeing "bigger picture" problems than their male peers.

The discussion also touched on the family-friendly nature of flexible scheduling in many computer-related fields, and dismissed the idea that time away from the field spent with children would disqualify women from returning to it later--especially in a field growing faster rate than graduates are entering the workforce.

More info at sheplusplus.stanford.edu
Mr. Allen stressed that Hathaway Brown was doing everything possible to promote computer science, touching on growing computer science and programming classes and HB's robotics team, FIRST Team 2399, The Fighting Unicorns. The evening concluded with Mr. Allen reasserting that the keys to getting women involved in computer sciences came down to exposure and opportunity, and then maintaining confidence, to which he was able to point back to Hathaway Brown and the she++ e-mentorship program at sheplusplus.stanford.edu.