Keynote at What Beginners Teach Us

I returned from Taiwan on Monday after a long weekend at

I gave a keynote called “What beginners teach us“. Audrey Tang graciously translated the slides for me.

The talk was a bit short – about 30 minutes, which left nearly 15 minutes for questions. So many people asked questions about resources for teaching their families and children Python. My first recommendation was Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science. The reason I suggested this was the clearly articulated learning objectives at the start of each chapter.

What we really need, though, is a short list of books oriented toward the different kinds of relationships programmers have (parents, grandparents, colleagues, lovers, children, etc.). Each relationship feels a bit different in terms of what will motivate the person, why the programmer is seeking to educate them and what ultimately will be useful about programming or computational thinking in their lives. I’d appreciate any books or resources you’ve used!

Anyway, the questions were wonderful, and I’m looking forward to the video being posted.

UPDATE: Video is now posted!


I met members of WoFOSS and chatted about starting a PyLadies Taiwan chapter! WoFOSS has been around at least since 2010, and they have monthly meetings in Taipei. About 70 Taiwanese women are involved, and they are hackers from all kinds of different FOSS communities.

Great hacker talks

I also saw some amazing talks, including one by first-time speaker Andrew Cole, who also publishes a zine in Seattle about pinball. His presentation was a tour of Rosetta Code, which translates bits of code between lots of different languages. He linked to the fabulous “chef” language (not the configuration management tool).

The conference was full of amazing hacks, like this Open Office piano-player (and many more audio/pictograph hacks) from imacat. This hack used OO Calc to create a playable piano, and another sheet plays a Christmas tune that reveals an image of Santa flying reindeer.

More fun hacks came from Yusuke Kawasaki. His talk was a very funny set of demos using iPhones and a very simple IR transmitter, made from extremely cheap parts and Sguru. He later demo’d a two-iPhone camera and remote control system for a remote control dump trunk at the hackathon.

On day two, Audrey Tang gave an amazing demo of making an open source dictionary using Postgres and Node out of documents available only in Excel from the government. I was inspired.

I highly recommend, which typically happens in April every year.

Tech literacy and learning to code for girls in middle and high school in Portland, OR

A friend asked about programs suitable for a 10 year old and a 14 year old girl in the Portland area.

Here’s what I came up with:

As far as things that are already underway: has the most stuff for the 14-year-old

Looks like it happened in January:

Next there’s FreeGeek:

Their “adoption” program is interesting because you learn how to put together your own computer. Highly recommended.

There’s online programming courses offered through ORVED:

What did I miss?

From twitter:

PostgreSQL security releases now available: versions 9.2.4, 9.1.9, 9.0.13 and 8.4.17

PostgreSQL Global Development Group has just released updates for all currently supported versions of PostgreSQL.

From the release announcement:

The PostgreSQL Global Development Group has released a security update to all current versions of the PostgreSQL database system, including versions 9.2.4, 9.1.9, 9.0.13, and 8.4.17. This update fixes a high-exposure security vulnerability in versions 9.0 and later. All users of the affected versions are strongly urged to apply the update immediately.

A major security issue fixed in this release, CVE-2013-1899, makes it possible for a connection request containing a database name that begins with “-” to be crafted that can damage or destroy files within a server’s data directory. Anyone with access to the port the PostgreSQL server listens on can initiate this request. This issue was discovered by Mitsumasa Kondo and Kyotaro Horiguchi of NTT Open Source Software Center.

I wanted to highlight a couple things from the FAQ we developed for this release.

  1. There are no known exploits for the major security issue fixed by this release. The vulnerability was discovered through security testing conducted by NTT.
  2. Only users of 9.0 PostgreSQL and higher are affected by the major vulnerability.
  3. Affected users are those who allow unrestricted access to the network port PostgreSQL listens on. If you allow anyone, without IP address whitelisting, firewalling or some other kind of network-based access control, to connect to your network port, you are especially vulnerable.

Upgrading from minor version (9.2.3 to 9.2.4, for example) only requires that you install the new binaries and then restart PostgreSQL.

Additionally, if you are using GiST indexes, read the detailed notes in the release announcement to see if you are using features that require you to REINDEX your GiST indexes.

Please update as soon as possible!

Many thanks to our volunteer packagers who worked hard for the past several weeks to make this release possible. All PostgreSQL software releases are managed by volunteers.