Autism App Jam 2014 – DanceCraft

Dance

I am participating in this year’s Autism App Jam on team DanceCraft. Find out more on my team’s website: dancecraftforautism.wordpress.com.


Minecraft Study

Screen shot of sunset and a volcano in Minecraft
Sunset and a volcano in Minecraft

RecruitmentFlyer

My name is KateRingland and I am a PhD student in Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. I will be conducting observations of players in Minecraft. For the most part, this will just look like I’m playing the game like everyone else. However, I will be taking notes of my experiences and possibly screen shots. I will not be recording any identifiable information. I will not record any real names or real screen names. If I take a screen shot, I will blur out anything that would identify an individual player.

What are you looking for during your observations? I am mostly just watching to see how players on Minecraft interact. I would also like to explore the various ways in which players communicate during game play. I am hoping this research leads to helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a supportive, fun environment to play in.

I am now conducting interviews! Find out more information HERE.

Please email me at kringlan [at] uci [dot] edu if you have any questions.

CLICK HERE FOR ADDITIONAL STUDY INFORMATION.

Our first paper from this project is published at Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW) 2015, titled ‘Making “Safe”: Community Centered Practices in a Virtual World Dedicated to Children with Autism’.

Last Updated: June 1, 2015.

Three Big Distractions

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I could say it is because it is the weekend before final exams. The university has a random final exam time algorithm that assures no one will have to take two final exams at the exact same time. Well, for this semester, this algorithm has decreed that I will be taking my engineering physics final at 8:00 am Monday morning. But wait! It gets better! I then have to take my multivariate calculus final at 10:30 am Monday morning. Back to back the two worst exams I can imagine I’ll ever have to take. This weekend should be full of cramming for physics and calculus at the same time (while these two classes DO have a lot in common, it turns out the exam material is NOT going to overlap as much as one would hope). I’m aiming to graduate with some sort of “cum laude” attached to my degree, so I’m not taking these classes just to pass. I need to do well in them.

I could also say this post is short because something almost more important than acing those finals has come up. I’m set to have a phone interview with Microsoft for their summer internship Tuesday afternoon. The prospect of interviewing with Microsoft is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I mean, come on, it’s Microsoft. How awesome would working there for a summer be?? I will be asked to code. Over the phone. In real time. I know I will be asked about data structures and algorithms. I was informed that I should also be prepared to answer behavioral questions. All in all, I feel like I should be doing a lot of cramming for that this weekend.

However, all of these things don’t seem nearly as important as the fact that my new HTC Thunderbolt came in the mail Thursday. After waiting impatiently for the battery to charge, I turned it on just after midnight and started setting it up. Having come from Blackberry, there is a huge learning curve. I am learning how to use the touch screen for the first time. The virtual keyboard is not nearly as efficient as my old Blackberry’s physical QWERTY. I still haven’t figured out all the features and I still only have one email set up (who needs school email on their phone, anyway?). I love it all though. I immediately downloaded: Pocket Frogs- had never heard of this one, but it’s like Tamagotchi frogs, oooh so cute!-, Words with Friends- this is mostly so I can continue to lose games to my mom, now from ANYwhere!-, and Angry Birds- being a Blackberry user, this game was never free before so I have to give it a try. Once I spend a little more time with it, I’ll probably have a lot more intelligent things to say, good and bad. As far as smart-phones go, I’m definitely glad I’ve made the switch to Android. Maybe someday I’ll even find time to start programming some apps for it!

Next week, I’ll let you know how the Microsoft interview and finals went, but more importantly, how I’m coming along learning my new phone.

You mean there are women in the tech industry?

As I sat down to write this blog, I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety and self-doubt. Chances are that everyone reading this will understand the feeling of not feeling good enough. However, I was very excited to begin the process of writing and writing about a subject I am very passionate about and then I froze.

I didn’t just freeze in the sense that I had a bad case of writer’s block and couldn’t get my blog written. My whole life froze. I spent an entire three day weekend doing absolutely nothing but watching streaming on Netflix and playing the Sims 3 Pets expansion, with a little WoW thrown in just to show you how completely I managed to waste my time. Something must be written if I ever expect my blog to become something more than a mere idea. Where to start?

I am an undergraduate computer science student. I am in my “third” year of the program and plan to graduate in 2013. What I will do after that is still a bit of a mystery to me, but I’m hoping it will become evident in the near future. I just started taking my computer classes at my university this summer after having transferred from another institution. Several weeks into the fall term I had a woman in my calculus class (we are actually in almost every class together) come up to me, curious as to who I was and where I had come from. She asked me what my major was (this being a small campus, the only students in calculus class are engineers and computer scientists). When I told her computer science, she was delighted. “That brings are numbers up to…” she paused to count in her head. “Ten women!”

Yes, in the computer science department on my campus there are only 10 women declared as either undergraduates or graduates (we have one woman in the graduate program.) I did say that we are a small school, but the computer science department still has about 100 students in it. That’s only 10% women, for those not inclined to do the math. The sad truth is, however, that this isn’t a particularly low ratio for a university computer science program. The current average is about 14%. This is the only profession in which the ratio of women to men is getting smaller instead of larger. To me this is a wholly depressing.

There are people out there that have dedicated their careers to figuring out why this ratio of women to men has become so skewed. Books have been written about it. For me, though, it is a very personal and a real everyday experience. When I started my studies in computer science, I had no idea that women were so underrepresented. Yet, I came into the program with the same stereotypes and misconceptions that I am sure dissuade many of the women that had the slightest inclination to study computer science. It has taken a long time (years) for me to convince myself that I am just as good as the men in my classes and that I’m not inherently “bad” with computers simply because I am a woman. Even at home, when I’m working on my own computer system, I still catch myself deferring to my brother or my husband for their knowledge when I have it all inside my own head. I spent more classes that I care to admit aiming to “just pass” thinking I would never have the ability to be a top student.

The bottom line is confidence. Just like in writing beginning this blog, I have found something I am passionate about. I love computers and being a nerd. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences as one of the few, the proud women in computer science. I want to share my stories from the front and have some fun while I’m doing it.

Just remember: don’t panic.