70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park in 2009 #Bpark

8 years ago today was the 70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park.
The the wonderful Maggie Philbin and many other awesome people Christian Payne, Kate Arkless Gray, Benjamin Ellis, Hannah Nicklin, Matt Rawlinson and Steve Lawson, came up to Bletchley Park with me to interview as many veterans as possible to capture their memories of their time working on cracking the codes during WW2.
Here with Maggie is the phenomenal codebreaker Captain Jerry Roberts RIP, wonderful man and great family friend.
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We had an absolutely wonderful day with the hundreds of veterans that came along spending the whole day capturing as much as possible for posterity.
I had started a campaign to save Bletchley Park the previous year in July 2008 and met quite a few veterans, but this was the first time that I really got to meet hundreds of veterans and hear at first hand so many of their amazing stories.
Here are some photos from the day taken by Benjamin Ellis and Steve Lawson. There are many more, check out all the #bpark70 pics from the day on Flickr.
Here are a few of the interviews conducted that day in 2009.

I chatted to Hannah, giving an overview the day and speaking about the amazing discussions we had all had with the veterans.

Christian Payne interviewed many veterans on the day. Here are just some of his interviews. Enjoy 🙂

Interview by Christian with Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Warner of the WAAF:

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Kathleen Saunders

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Captain Jerry Roberts

Christian interviews Bletchley Park radio security intercept officer Alan Gordon Jackson

For more stories about Bletchley Park and the campaign we ran to save it check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

US Amazon link here: Saving Bletchley Park 

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Interviews with Bletchley Park veterans at Bletchley Park Enigma Reunion in 2010 #bpark2010

In September 2010 I was campaigning hard for Bletchley Park to be saved. I had started the campaign in 2008 after finding out that Bletchley Park were having financial difficulties and may have to close.

The whole story of the campaign along with the history of Bletchley Park, the women of Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, Enigma and much more are in my book Saving Bletchley Park. Saving Bletchley Park currently has 63 five star reviews on Amazon UK.

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Some awesome people came with me on Enigma Reunion day 2010 to interview veterans that came along on the day including former head of GCHQ Sir Arthur Bonsall. Below are a few of those interviews conducted by @radiokate and @ALRanson. Which is your favourite?

 

If you would like to know more about Bletchley Park and the campaign to save it do check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

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Turning pain into joy, 8 years on from the day our brother left us

Awesome trip to Hampshire for our brother Stephen's memorial day yesterday. Can't believe it's 8 years already since my little bro went. Glad that we can now celebrate his life and our own lives now ❤️ Thanks to my awesome sister Sarah, Daisy, Leah and Lesley and family for making it such a special day. Special mention for amazing great aunt Molly now 97 years old ❤️

Loved visiting our gorgeous Nan Elsie Leah Reynold's grave, gravestone finally now in place and leaving some flowers 🌺 Also loved visiting the church where Sarah, Stephen and I were christened inthe 1960s and having a good chat with the vicar who kindly took a pic of us 🙏🏼 #turningpainintojoy ❤️

Me on @BBCWorld news talking about the #Googlememo, #womenintech and #whitemaleprivilege

I was interviewed by Aaron Heslehurst for his Talking Business show on BBC World News channel yesterday about the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” written and shared internally by a Google engineer.

“The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.”

My main points:

  1. He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s not a woman in tech and is displaying a classic case of #whitemaleprivilege
  2. “For those used to privilege, equality looks like oppression”
  3. It’s wonderful that we can now discuss these issues openly, it’s the first big step towards an equal society that cares about everyone not just the privileged few
  4. It’s great that the media now think of this as an issue, just a few years ago that wouldn’t have been the case, I’ve been in the #womenintech space for 25+ years and even though the change happening is ridiculously slow I’m delighted to see it finally start speeding up
  5. Mainstream media are becoming supportive of equality and feminism
  6. Many people in our society are backward looking and change averse like this engineer (and his country’s president), for us on this planet to have a successful future we need to work together to ensure that EVERYONE has equal opportunity
  7. Our society is misogynist, which is bad for women and men
  8. Engineering and software engineering are about cooperation and people skills as much if not more so than coding. It’s been shown time and again that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is because of the lack of communication in one way or another.
  9. Ada Lovelace invented the very idea of software (did her brain have “biological differences”?) and we have many amazing women in tech pioneers e.g. the incredible Dame Stephanie Shirley who set up F International 300+ women coding from home in the 1960s. They wrote the Concorde black box flight recorder software for example.
  10. We need quotas short term to redress the balance, to create a level playing field.
  11. It’s not about men vs women but about being enlightened and forward thinking rather than change averse and backward thinking white male privilege.
  12. It’s social conditioning, we know that behaviours that are seen as assertive in men can be seen as bossy in women
  13. It not about men vs women its about those that want to create the best products and services and see that change needs to happen for that to be the outcome and those that are change averse and have the privilege of being in the majority.
  14. I’ve been hearing this shit since I got into tech in 1989, it’s time for CHANGE!

Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017? #tech #disruption

CALLING US BASED FRIENDS!! Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017 or know someone who does?

I’m going to be in Orlando Florida for the annual Grace Hopper Conference from 3-6th October. If you are in the US and would like me to speak (paid, but without travel costs from the UK) in the week before or after those dates please do get in touch. I need to book my flight to Orlando next week, so a quick heads up would be great. More details about me on my speaker page:

Dr Sue Black OBE 

Dr Sue Black is always a riveting speaker, with informative content and a personal warmth which makes her a pleasure to listen to. She has a clarity and an ability to get to the heart of something and in simple language which makes her a rare
person.

Baroness Rennie Fritchie, House of Lords

I highly recommend Sue as a speaker. When she spoke at our Leadership Academy for young women in Tech she received brilliant feedback. The audience loved her honesty and advice on how to get on in business whilst remaining your authentic self.

Karen Gill, Owner, Everywoman Ltd.

Sue is a delight to work with, full of enthusiasm, extremely knowledgeable … one of the most inspiring people I’ve met in along time.

Lynette Webb, Senior Manager, Google

#tech #technology #womenintech #digital #disruption #digitalskills#socialinclusion #socialmedia #digitalinclusion #tech4good#IfIcandoitsocanyou #disruptyourself #frompovertytoOBE

Please vote for @techmumsHQ in the #tech4good awards #T4Gtechmums :)

techmums bishop challoner

Please vote for #techmums in the #tech4good awards:

https://www.tech4goodawards.com/vote-now/

You can also tweet your vote using #T4Gtechmums

Thanks very much 🙂

Sue xxxx

Computation of Ripple Effect Measures For Software #softwareengineering #softwaremeasurement #rippleeffect @LSBU #PhD #2001

How exciting!! I just received a digital version of my 2001 PhD thesis “Computation of Ripple Effect Measures for Software” from the British Library. If you would like to read it, here you go:

Sue Black – PhD thesis 2001

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If you would like to read something a bit shorter here’s the Abstract:

There are many measures of structural complexity of source code, of which ripple effect is just one. Ripple effect measures the amount which a module or program may affect other modules within a program, or programs within a system, if changes are made. Measurement of ripple effect has been incorporated into several software maintenance models because it shows maintainers the ramifications of any change that they may make before that change is actually implemented. As such, computation of ripple effect provides a potentially valuable source of information. The aim of this thesis is to show that an approximation to Yau and Collofello’s ripple effect algorithm can satisfactorily replace their original algorithm as a measure of structural complexity.

The basis of our approach has been to completely reformulate the ripple effect calculation using matrix arithmetic. As well as making the calculation more explicit the reformulation reveals how the algorithm’s structure can be broken down into separate parts. By focusing on the derivation of one particular matrix we find that an approximation may be made, greatly simplifying the calculation.

A Ripple Effect and Stability Tool (REST) was created and used to validate our work. Firstly, a comparison of the original and reformulated ripple effect measures from several programs shows them to be highly correlated. Secondly, a case study is used to explore the link between ripple effect and maintainer’s intuition of the impact of code changes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this link appears to be less than clear-cut.

Citation:

S. Black, Computation of ripple effect measures for software, Ph.D. thesis, SCISM, South Bank University, London, UK, September 2001, 123 pp.

DRIVING A BUS AROUND BLETCHLEY PARK #BUCKETLIST @SAVINGBLETCHLEY

There are so many interesting people on Twitter, and once you have your own network up and growing usually people will let you know if there is anything or anyone around that you might be interested in. For example one evening in January 2010 I was looking through tweets and chatting to friends on Twitter when a Twitter friend @HD41117 put me in touch with @beckie_williams. It turned out that Beckie’s great-grandfather recruited Kim Philby. How amazing is that?

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It is also a great place for things like book recommendations

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@SteveHills who I didn’t really know at the time of tweeting, but is now a great friend, recommended Agent Zigzag by Ben McIntyre to me. I ready it when I was away on holiday and it became my favourite book ever. It is the amazing story of Eddie Chapman, an English double agent who is an absolute character. Another great connection on Twitter was connecting to @herokate a year or so later. Kate’s boyfriend is a great guy called Michael who runs a famous Soho bar, a bar that Eddie Chapman use to frequent. I had a great chat with Michael one evening at my friend @Daren140’s birthday drinks. Daren introduced me to Kate who introduced me to Michael, and Michael told me stories from when he sued to hang out with Eddie Chapman. I love my Twitter friends 🙂

Something else very cool that happened because of Twitter at around the same time was that I got to achieve an ambition that I had had since I was five years old. I had really wanted to drive a big red London bus. I had tweeted this in to @davegorman in response to a request from him to everyone listening to his Absolute Radio show on a Saturday in January 2010. Dave had asked everyone to tweet in their childhood ambitions, so I duly tweeted saying that when I was five I wanted to drive a London bus. Dave was choosing some of the ambitions and trying to connect people up to help make them happen. Luckily for me I didn’t need Dave to help my ambition come true as Kelsey at Bletchley Park had seen my tweet, contacted the local gay nightclub Pink Punters in Fenny Stratford and asked them if I could drive their bus around Bletchley Park. How exciting 🙂

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Kelsey arranged for the bus driving to coincide with the next Station X social media cafe.

To make sure that I was a fit driver we needed to have a practice, so we all turned up for Station X and then got on the bus together to be driven to the Milton Keynes stadium car park. It reminded me a bit of the film “Summer Holiday” with Cliff  Richard. I was really excited and the bus was buzzing with everyone chatting about what they had been up to since the last Station X and whatever the latest was in our Twittersphere. It didn’t take long to drive to the stadium. Once there I was given a quick overview of what I needed to do, and then we were away. It wasn’t actually as different to driving a car as I had expected. The steering wheel on the bus was massive though and that took a bit of getting used to. I drove around the car park a few times, then had a go at a few different manoeuvres like driving backwards between two traffic cones. After 20 minutes or so the lovely guys from Pink Punters were satisfied that I was able to drive. I got back into the back of the bus and they drove us all back to Bletchley Park.

Once back, the driver parked the bus in front of the mansion house and got out of the driver’s cab. I went around the front and got in to drive. I was slightly nervous. What if I crashed into one of the huts? Just imagine how dreadful that would be.

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Photos by @9600 Andrew Back

I got in the cab, started the engine and off we went to cheers from the Station X crew on the bus. The roads at Bletchley Park are pretty narrow so it wasn’t as easy as driving around a massive car park. I did a couple of circuits around without any major problems, and then started around for the third time. I was getting a bit cocky, so I drove a bit faster the third time. Half way around I managed to hit a traffic cone when taking a corner, but that was fine, what’s a traffic cone between friends? We were almost around and it was all going well, I slowed down gradually to park in front of the mansion, and as we slowed pulled over to the kerb slightly so that the bus wouldn’t block any other vehicles that wanted to go past. I slowed right down almost to a stop, and then managed somehow to take the bus up the kerb and stop on the kerb. Awww. I had driven really well until the very last few seconds and then mucked it up. Ah well. I’d not injured anyone or anything, I’d managed not to crash into a hut, we had all had a bit of a laugh and I had achieved an ambition I’d had since I was five years old.

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Here’s a video of my efforts shot by @mikistrange on the day.

I got in touch with @davegorman afterwards to let him know that because of him I had remembered and now succeeded in fulfilling a childhood ambition. I got to meet Dave in person some time after that when he did his “Powerpoint Presentation” gig at the Royal Festival Hall, and then again when we both appeared on the Infinite Monkey Cage with Robin Ince, Brian Cox and Simon Singh in 2012. He’s a lovely guy. He helped calm me down just before we were about to go on stage when Brian Cox had jokingly said something like

“Is it alright if I ask you complicated technical questions during the show?” to me.

I almost had heart failure, though of course I tried not to show it. Dave did a great job after that backstage of making me laugh and keeping me calm. What a great guy 🙂

***

This is an excerpt from the pre edit version of Saving Bletchley Park by Dr Sue Black which is now available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

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The day my brother died

I just found this piece of writing in a book of notes that I was looking through for something else entirely. I think I wrote it a few months after my brother died in 2009, I just edited it a bit and posted below.

Once my current book Coding: a user guide is submitted to Penguin, deadline 1st January 2018, I’m going to write my autobiography. Suicide is a really hard subject to write about, this piece of writing is what happened and my immediate thoughts after my brother died. I’ve written a few other pieces related to this one:

Falling into the abyss: what depression feels like to me

Young Rewired State and my brother Stephen

Raymondos

Happy Mother’s Day

If I can do it, so can you

I hope you enjoy them. I’d love your feedback on anything I’ve written about. Going on an Arvon writing course a couple of weeks ago has really made me realise how much I love writing and want to do more of it. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my work and I look forward to hearing from you ❤ 

 

The day my brother died

My phone rang. Well actually it didn’t ring, it barked. I’d spent some time recently changing some of the ringtones on my phone so that I would know who was ringing before I looked at my phone. I’d chosen a barking dog ringtone for my sister because she loves dogs.

It was 11.30pm. My sister Sarah never rang late in the evening, so I knew something was seriously wrong.

 “It’s only me.” Sarah said.

“Have you got someone with you?

I felt a terrible tightness in my chest. My existence suddenly came into sharp focus with an acute hyperawareness of everything around me. The room seemed to buzz with silence.

“Yes, Paul’s here.” I managed to whisper.

Dread filled my heart. I somehow knew what she was about to say. I fell onto the sofa, moaning.

“It’s Stephen.” She said and started crying, a dreadful animal cry.

“Oh God.”

My head started spinning. I knew what was going to come next. There was a pause which seemed to last for ever, but was probably just a second or two.

“He’s dead.” She said finally.

“What happened?” I said. Inside my head my brain was screeching.

“He hung himself…in the garage.”

“Oh God.”

“Where’s Rachel?”

“She’s at the hospital with him, she had to cut him down.”

“Oh no, and the boys?”

“They’re with Rachel’s parents.”

“Oh God.”

I started wailing and couldn’t stop. My whole world started collapsing in my head. My little brother Stephen was dead. By his own hand. My little baby brother. Dead.

Paul put his arm around me. I sobbed and sobbed.

“My brother’s dead” I cried.

“He’s hung himself.”

***

I thought we had all escaped. I thought we had all put that pain and abuse behind us, and moved on with our lives. But now that Stephen was dead, I knew that wasn’t true. We had not escaped. The dreadful experiences we had gone through as children had caught up with us.

I thought we had beaten them into submission and walked away the victors. But Stephen’s suicide now meant that I’d been kidding myself. We hadn’t escaped at all.

We had tried to escape, but some of that rotten, maggoty existence had stayed in our minds. It had stayed in our minds for thirty long years slowly and almost imperceptibly gnawing its way through, rarely lifting its head.

Now, the game was up. I’d spent thirty years congratulating myself on escaping, on my brother and sister escaping and feeling ridiculously proud of what we had all achieved in our lives. But now?

What now?

Now that Stephen was dead, now that he had killed himself, my life, our lives were exposed as a sham. Suicide is the opposite of success.

I had thought that we had escaped and gone on to lead normal, even exemplary lives. But no. The maggoty rot had returned.

Our lives had been a sham. We were dragged back, like it or not, into our past lives where we had no control, no self-esteem, no life.

We had lost.