Mary Dickson Diaz

Code, Life, Learning

Month: July 2015 (page 1 of 2)

‘programming was ours first’

I wanted to link to this series of tweets back when I first saw them on Twitter, but thought I’d wait for a compilation link. And thus delivered! This history lesson/rant/sermon by Alice Maz reframes what we know about computer programming, where it came from, and who it’s for; and expertly illustrates how science/technical work get genderized with corresponding decline of prestige and pay for female-dominated industry. Ouch. Witness:

men better recognize: programming was ours first, and we’re here to take it back

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Read it allllll the way down to where she flips the scenarios to show how arbitrary and ridiculous it is.


you might be using pingbacks wrong if…

You all know about pingbacks, right? It’s a tool for seeing when other websites are linking to your content. Used correctly, they help facilitate a dialogue between two pages/people, build friendships, end war, etc.

Except… here on my page, it’s exclusively a conversation with myself where I am regularly sent emails asking if I want to approve my own links on the site. And usually I’m like, sure, she seems trustworthy, she is the *sole admin and contributor* so that’s probably ok. There’s no way to “pre-approve all links from this site to this site” so I’m stuck doing it on a case by case basis, leaving these weird pingback links that I don’t want or need. All along I’ve thought “this can’t be right” but only recently figured out how to fix. It is *not* intuitive, as I will attempt to show you here as I rain down shame upon WordPress, but it is also an easy fix.

The WordPress user interface for linking to content on your own site is deliberately (?) deceptive.

So what happens is that anytime I link to content on this page, let’s say I want to send you to my page about bots, I click the word “bots” and the following screen pops up:

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See how it helpfully has a “link to existing content” section? So that’s what I’ve been using. Let’s look for bots and find my page (or post or whatever)…

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And…. done! So what happens now is that I get an email saying “A new pingback on the page “bots” is waiting for your approval from Website: Mary Dickson Diaz. Options: Approve it, Trash it, Spam It. Please visit moderation panel.” And I have to click “yes, approve it” because the site is treating it exactly the way it would handle a real pingback from an external site (if someone wants to give me a pingback to test this out, that would be rad) or a new commenter. And THEN once I hit approve, it adds a little comment-type remark on the bottom of the page with a note that the content’s been linked to elsewhere.

Obviously I don’t want to go through all that, right? That’s overkill when I just wanted to link you to my stupid page about bots.

INSTEAD… what you can do to get the page to make an internal, relative link instead of an absolute link (which sets the wheels in motion for a pingback) is to do exactly what I did in the steps above, but then remove the “”. Keep the backslash in front of your post link. Like so:

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I like to open links in a new tab because I am notorious for clicking down rabbit holes and forgetting how I got there and what I was trying to do in the first place.

So simple! Why isn’t this part of the standard user interface? Why did I have to google all that to figure it out? These are questions I have for you, WordPress, ruiner of inboxes.


I don’t know a lot about migrating website content. I do know that how you link to internal pages can make life easy or difficult if you later decide to change the structure of your page (let’s say I decide I want everything here to live in instead, or I change my domain name to I believe that relative vs. absolute linking is almost always the best way to go, but others can chime in if I’m wrong.

Better links, cleaner site, less email. What could go wrong?


lovelymoon, part 5 (istanbul)

(This is the fifth post in a five part series. Catch up with part 1: getting therepart 2: athens & delphipart 3: the islands, and part 4: into turkey)

DAY 16: Cappadocia => Istanbul (Four Seasons, 1 night, Josh’s birthday!)


  • For our last travel leg, we took a noon flight from Kayseri to Istanbul (booked ahead of time), after having gone hot air ballooning that morning. We arrived and took a taxi to check in to our “splurge night” at the Four Seasons at Bosphorus. I’m pretty thrifty, so even with a good deal and a room upgrade it was a little painful signing over the pre-authorization paperwork, but our experience more than made up for the dollars spent.
  • For Josh’s birthday dinner, we booked a “water taxi” with the concierge to a restaurant on the Bosphorus, and they upgraded us to a yacht! We returned to champagne & chocolate that night, and a luxurious breakfast buffet the next day.
  • Do not do any of this, especially the hot air balloons, unless you want to set a ridiculously high birthday bar for your spouse that you can never possibly live up to again.

Four Seasons Bosphorus

DAYS 17-20 Istanbul (3 days)


  • For the rest of our time in Istanbul, we used Chase Sapphire points to stay at the Vault Karakoy Hotel in Beyoğlu. This was a great hotel and location right by the Galata Bridge. I should know, since I spent a bunch of time in it (my first day and a half I was knocked out with what felt like the flu).
  • On the last day, I was feeling the urge to make up for lost time, so we hit up Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, the Grand Market, and took a boat over to Kadakoy on the Asian side. So yes you can do all those things in one day! Wear a long dress and bring something with sleeves and a scarf for the Mosque.
  • Best meal: the chicken soup that Josh and the hotel concierge hunted down for me when I was feeling sick. Besides that, we had a great meal at Ciya in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul, though we experienced a bit of a language barrier.
  • “What am I looking at?”: Throughout our trip, most museums and tourist attractions had signage in English (in varying degrees of usefulness). At Topkapi Palace, we hired a personal tour guide for an hour. He was delightful, but pricey. At Hagia Sofia we rented audio tours, and that seemed to be a good way to get more information on the cheap while moving at our own pace.
  • CHEATING: I don’t like haggling and I was afraid if waited to buy souvenirs from the Grand Market on the last day, we might come home with nothing. So the evening before, we picked up towels and some other souvenirs from the shopping district in Beyoğlu. Then, when we went to the market we were able to just wander and look without feeling obligated to buy anything (we got talked into buying scarves anyway, as will you probably).
  • Cats: everywhere.
  • Overheard: “Have you bought a carpet or not yet?” (Those are your only two options, we are in camp “not yet.”)
  • Oops: we missed out on hammam! A good reason to go back.

Vault Karakoy Hotel (via Chase points)


lovelymoon, part 4 (into turkey)

(This is the fourth post in a five part series. Catch up with part 1: getting therepart 2: athens & delphi, and part 3: the islands)

DAY 12-13: Rhodes => Fethiye => Pamukkale (2 days, 1 travel day)


  • Early morning boat ride took us into Turkey, and from there we went through customs (easy), caught a cab to the bus station, and bought two tickets on a (tumultuous) bus to Pamukkale. In Pamukkale we had a really nice stay and dinner at Aspawa Pension. The bus company sold us tickets for a 1 day Pamukkale tour, which gave a nice history of the ruins but otherwise was unnecessary. From the main town you can climb the hill and easily access the travertines, museum, pool, and Hierapolis, so do it on your own time: you’ll be happier and save $.

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py-ladies and finding my people

Tonight I attended my first py-ladies meetup (long loooonng overdue). I’ve been lurking this group for awhile and less so in recent months as I identified less as a py-lady and more as a rubyist, but they got me out with the lure of… can you guess? TWITTERBOTS. Oh yes. I will shower and take the #7 bus and show up for some juicy bot talk.

And so I arrived, freakishly on-time for cocktail hour (I meant to sort of slither in just in time for the talk because despite years of getting paid to successfully network I am painfully introverted and bad at intro-chat). And despite any awkwardness I met many lovely ladies and enjoyed a great talk by Elizabeth Uselton, a first cohort Ada Academy graduate. I’ll post a link to her presentation if it’s shared with me. My favorite was her description of a bot she created, “Cathy,” to gently troll her classmates through the persona of “your mom’s friend on facebook who likes the Seahawks, yoga, and everything you post, but not creepy-like.”

Some links (not-bot):

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lovelymoon, part 3 (the islands)

(This is the third post in a five part series. Catch up with part 1: getting there, and part 2: athens & delphi.)

DAYS 6-7: Athens => Naxos (2 days)


  • We took the Blue Star Ferry from Pireas (10 minute metro from Athens to Pireas) to Naxos, it departed at 7:30am and we arrived around 1:00pm (4-5 hour ferry ride). We paid a bit extra for assigned seats, but then spent half the trip in the economy section, so either is fine. Runs everyday during the summer.
  • I loved Naxos!! I could have easily enjoyed 3 or 4 days here. We stayed in the lovely Chateau Zevgoli in the old part of town, where they upgraded us to the honeymoon suite and welcomed us with a bottle of local rose wine. Our best meal was nearby at Apostoli’s (look for the bicycle). There’s lots to see, do, and eat even if you never leave the labyrinthine “old town,” though accessibility may be an issue.
  • If you can drive a stick shift, rent a car. If not, resign yourself to the bus, which is doable and cheap, but requires some advance planning. On our full day in Naxos we took a bus to Chalki (crafts, walks) and also Agi Anna (beach). We arrived at the beach too late b/c naps, but the water was glorious. Further away was rumored to be nude beaches. Damn you, naps. Why did I only plan two nights here. Whyyyyyy?

Blue Star Ferry

Chateau Zevgoli


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I was a mathlete, too.


middle school mary, doing my best teenager scowl

I’ve seen a few articles circulating about the recent US victory at the International Mathematical Olympiad.

A colleague’s admission that he, too, is a former mathlete brought back my own nostalgia for those days.  I competed in middle school with two of my best friends at the time, Brianna and Liz, and about 4-5 boys in our class. So ours was a gender-mixed team and if I recall, that was the norm for other schools with which we competed. The winning US high school team is, not surprisingly, all male, which mirrors my own experience — by that time in my life I had dropped mathletes for other interests (drama club, chorus, literary magazine, stage crew, working at the local library). Brianna went on to an IB school and later studied math and psychology at Carnegie Mellon (she now runs initiatives supporting women and girls in science), and Liz went to the local public high school with me and later became a rocket scientist, so why I decided I was a book person and “not a numbers person” is a quandary for another post.

My favorite “mathlete” challenge were the relay races. We worked in teams of 3-4 where one person’s result gets passed to their teammate as input for the next question. I remember both the sense of personal responsibility (I have to solve my question so my teammate can start on hers) and the negotiations that sometimes occurred when an answer was passed that simply didn’t make sense. I don’t remember how much we were allowed to talk, if at all, but there must have been some mechanism for “that doesn’t work, can you check it again?” back up the chain. But mostly it worked. And it was awesome when it did.

Coding is a lot like these relay races. No matter what the language, we define functions that accept parameters and return a result. And if you work on a team with more than one programer, you are probably going to be working on a single feature or piece of code that combined with others (dependent on, necessary for) will produce something magnificent.

We need to make that connection for our girls earlier, so fewer of them will decide (consciously or unconsciously) that they are “not numbers people,” and see opportunities instead to use the skills they enjoy as budding programers, engineers, bloggers, hackers, and systems architects.

lovelymoon, part 2 (athens & delphi)

(This is the second post in a five part series. Catch up with part 1: getting there.)

DAYS 3-6: Athens & Delphi (4 days)



  • We arrived in Athens on Friday at 1am. Our Air B&B host also drives a taxi, so he picked us up and drove us directly to the apartment (super convenient).
  • We stayed in an Air B&B in Petralona, a 10 minute walk to the Acropolis, but on the other side of town from the touristy part, and we really enjoyed it. We felt like we got to experience a quieter, more neighborhoody part of the city, but it was still easy enough to get around, with plenty of English menus and speakers. It was also super nice to have all the conveniences of home, including a washing machine and a stocked fridge. Josh made breakfast for us a few mornings.
  • You can find plenty of recommendations for what to do in Athens. I definitely recommend eating at the Acropolis Museum, on the terrace. Good food at a reasonable price, and a great view. Hold on to your Acropolis ticket, because it gets you in to a bunch of other stuff. (Unless Greece is forced to sell it, which, don’t even get me started.)
  • Eat: souvlaki, meze; Drink: frappe.
  • We got around Athens on foot and by bus. Four days is probably too many if you’re budgeting days, but I wasn’t sure if we’d be super jet-lagged and “lose” a day (we did not).  Instead, we did a day trip to Delphi (via bus) for one of the days. We had an adventure finding the right bus station but it was worth it!


Andreas’ cozy flat on Air B&B

Bus from Athens to Delphi

Next stop… to the Islands!

lovelymoon, part 1 (getting there)

For our honeymoon, Josh and I mapped out a three week trip based loosely off this one from Fodor’s:

Athens to Istanbul

Our route:

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Google maps does not believe me that you can take a boat from Rhodes to Fethiye, but I assure you that you can! It wound up being a great mix of history, urban adventure, beaches, walking, travel, and unique landscapes. We stayed in a combination of luxury hotels, air B&B, free “points” hotels, and budget pensions. We got around by bus, boat, ferry, plane, and cab. Some nights we even traveled overnight, eliminating the need for extra accommodations! Here’s how we did it, if you’re contemplating a trip of your own.

(Note: this started out as one post and got way too long, so I’m going to break it into 5 parts. Suspenseful!)

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now for a moment of zen

Current status: refreshing my inbox every 15 minutes waiting to see when my interview is scheduled.

Currently working on: ruby koans. It is also test-driven development, but at least they’re sneaky about it!

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That “X” has a long way to go… maybe I will go take a nap instead.

Oh! And this! How stacked modules accelerate learning. This definitely resonates for me. (Great charts.) Why jumping back into Javascript was so jarring, because I haven’t used it with anything else I’ve been learning in months.

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