Grace Hopper Celebration 2010 : Day 4 (1 October)

The last day of the conference!

I spent the morning filling out job applications and reading through the immense stacks of pamphlets I had collected over the past three days. Lunch was mostly spent with a friend who showed me a game called Minecraft, which looked like a lot of fun. Too bad my laptop was not fancy enough to run it very well!

After lunch was Cloud Computing – Architecting the Warehouse Behind the Cloud. It seemed mostly geared towards people who already were somewhat familiar with cloud computing (which I was not), but it sounds like cloud computing is essentially when one company or organization creates electronic storage space that multiple people can access and utilize for applications, or for whatever else they’d want a server for. Clouds are useful in that consumers can develop applications that rely on servers without having to shell out the money to buy their own server system; this, along with the time saved from being able to use someone else’s servers for one’s purpose, allow for faster development and faster innovation in various industries. For example, it is because of the cloud that Norton was able to win an award for technological innovation; Norton uses cloud computing to patch and update virus definitions on their users’ computers, so that the user’s computer neither has to save all that information physically on their machine (either in memory or on the hard-drive), and so that the software has a central location to check for definitions, rather than having to rely on local copies on the user’s machine.

But with all these benefits do come some drawbacks; some enterprises have been hesitant to fully shift to clouds because there are close to no standards about how a cloud may be used, and thus no guarantees about a number of different issues, such as how secure the information may be and how the cloud company is allowed to use the information. For example, whether or not a cloud provider would be forced to release data in their cloud in the event of a lawsuit, or whether the cloud provider holds the right to choose to present data in the cloud as evidence in a court of law, are both heavy concerns that are keeping some businesses from putting vast quantities of data into clouds. Other issues to consider are the fact that not all information even needs to be on a cloud, whether or not information should be put in public or private cloud (and how to make transitioning from either seamless and painless), and whether foreign enterprises that use a domestic cloud are privy to U.S. privacy or copyright laws (or vice-versa).

For more information on cloud computing and on how to choose a cloud for a particular project, we were advised to check out Amazon, who has a lot of information on their cloud and about cloud computing in general. While cloud computing is not something I’ve been particularly interested in, I think it was still a useful panel, that answered a lot of questions I had about the field and about where it’s headed.

Cloud Computing - Architecting the Warehouse Behind the Cloud

Cloud Computing - Architecting the Warehouse Behind the Cloud

Soon after was Imagine Cup Workshop, where we talked about some of the rules for Imagine Cup and got into groups to brainstorm. Imagine Cup was described as “The Olympics,” where the event has several sub-events of varying fame and glory. The game and software design events were the “swimming and gymnastics” of the event, and typically garnered the most interest and attention (though there are other subdivisions that have seen equally impressive contributions). The goal of all Imagine Cup events is to create something that works to solve some large global problem, such as hunger, gender inequality, and widespread disease. Participants only need to be over the age of 16 and students; one does not have to necessarily be a Computer Scientist in order to participate (in fact it would probably be in one’s best interest to have some variety, especially for the games division). Teams can have up to four people on them, and only one needs to be a citizen of the country that the team is entering in; all the team members can be from different schools, so even if no one else at one’s school wants to participate, one could still find a way to get involved. Teams that make it to the finals get free trips to the location of the final competition!

The first round ends in late October; by this time every team has to have submitted a proposal for what they plan on working on. No one is eliminated at this point, and no one is expected to have anything fully completed, so it is more of a commitment to participate and evidence that the team’s thinking about their submission. By November teams should have a prototype of their submission (but nothing has to be finished, per se, until the finals next year).

I’ve already jumped aboard a team; we hope to make some sort of game centered around promoting gender equality by detailing the lives of various female icons who faced adversity in their lives. Can’t release any more details yet!

Afterwards my friends and I hoped to check out World of Coca-Cola, but unfortunately the cut-off for getting into the museum was three minutes before we got directions to it. So instead we checked out the Activities That Attract 4th-12th Grade Girls and Women to Computing workshop, which had some open slots. The workshop was teaching participants about Alice and Scratch, along with Pleo robots and PicoCricket sets. Since education’s not really my thing, and since I already had experience with a lot of what was being taught, I did not find the workshop very interesting (though I’m sure it was helpful to those who actually planned on using some of these tools in classroom settings).

The night ended with Sponsor Night, which was held in the Aquarium. Google passed out flashing glasses and t-shirts, and Microsoft set up shop on the other side of the room with t-shirts of their own. I have to say, I think Microsoft won the t-shirt war…

My friends and I were somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t explore the entire aquarium, but there was a giant tank in the ballroom that offered us plenty of opportunities for pictures, so it wasn’t all bad. The marine biologist in me resurfaced once I got a picture of some sharks and manta rays, and I was giddy like a first-grader for a good half hour as I frantically snapped some pictures on my cell phone.

Manta Ray!

Manta Ray!

Mystery Shark (Can you tell me what species it is?)

Mystery Shark (Can you tell me what species it is?)

Whale Shark!

Whale Shark!

The food was great, and it was a very relaxed end to a life-changing conference. I met so many new and interesting people, and interacted with so many companies that I had never thought of working for, and I feel it was completely worth missing classes and work for a week, if only to have the chance to learn more about what my field offers me, and to join other women in celebration of our gender and our presence in a male-dominated field. It was an experience I will keep with me forever, and I will be sure to convince as many lower-classmen as possible to go next year.

Thank you Grace Hopper Celebration 2010; it’s been a blast!

P.S. I think I earned the title of Longest Ribbon Chain.

 

15 Total Ribbons

15 Total Ribbons

 

Even the ones that don't apply to me still apply to me.

Even the ones that don't apply to me still apply to me.

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    • Margaret A
    • October 11th, 2010

    Thanks for your post: was trying to remember one of the technologies used in the 4-12th grade workshop

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