Violet Blue's new Kissing: A Field Guide is the ultimate non-fiction book dedicated the sensuous art of lips meeting lips. Packaged in a delightful vintage-esque cover, the all-encompasing guide describes everything a hopeful Romeo (or Juliette) needs to know about the magical art of making out.”

Alison Tyler


I love the cover Cleis Press picked! Even though it’s not black and gloomy! Weird, I know :)

Losers Gonna Lose

In February 2012, king of Apple fanboys John Gruber lied about a subject in my reporting for ZDNet. For reasons no one knows, Gruber’s lie was aimed at giving his misogynistic fans fuel to do something really horrible to me. I responded by publishing an investigative piece proving Mr. Gruber lied, yet he never corrected himself or apologized.

One segment of Gruber’s fans went disturbingly far in their harassment. With their podcast “Angry Mac Bastards,” they did multiple shows which used me as a repository for insult and abuse. Online, and especially on Twitter, the men harassed me day after day.

In sometimes hourly @ replies they called me a whore, told me and their followers that I was of no value and stupid, they rallied fans and friends to join them in abusively @ replying me, telling me I was so ugly that I ought to have an axe put through my face ‘to fix it.’ Their attacks were frequent, day and night, and often sickening. They also supported and participated in a charge to force me to lose my job.

The two main men who did this are “Angry Mac Bastards” Shawn King and John Welch.

My colleagues in journalism, from the New York Times to my home turf at CBS expressed their repulsion to me in observing this, at what they called the “vicious bloodsport” King and Welch made of me.

I wrote an article showing John Gruber a liar and documenting what “The Angry Mac Bastards” did, encouraged and participated in (published here at the request of my CBS Interactive supervisors). I blocked the men harassing me, and quickly. Alone, and having no one to stay with me, I had terrifying nosebleeds several nights in a row. After Welch went another round at me on his own blog, bringing in a woman to attack me and call me an ‘ungrateful hooker,’ I replied with a dignified blog post about women in tech (site NSFW).

John Gruber, Shawn King and John Welch’s campaign continues to reappear in attacks directed at me; people still believe - and act on - Gruber’s maliciously directed lie.

This weekend, I found out The Angry Mac Bastards have done (or said) something that has caused Welch’s wife to have her job threatened in some way. Mr. Welch wrote a spelling and grammar riddled post saying “I also have a family” and that “they do not deserve to catch the shade.”


The Angry Mac Bastards Blogspot blog has been closed and deleted, as has Welch’s blog and website.

I didn’t deserve any of what John Welch and Shawn King - or John Gruber - did.

May they each come to know what that’s like, terrified and alone.

User anger explodes in Yahoo Mail redesign disaster

The complaints are now nonstop, with hundreds by the hour. I’m seeing more reports of people simply not getting email now. 

This is a colossal mess.

Still no response from Yahoo - except for comment responses on the Uservoice page saying “We appreciate your feedback!” and “We’re sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you!”

Here’s the story, growing as you read it:

Anger explodes at Yahoo Mail redesign disaster: Key functions removed or broken

Thousands upon thousands of furious Yahoo Mail users are telling the company its new redesign is a failure and want Yahoo to revert the changes — while new reports of serious technical issues mount.

A BalCCon postscript: Armed and dangerous in the Balkans, and DEF CON Returns


In September, Serbia’s city of Novi Sad hosted the first-ever official hacker conference in the Balkans, BalCCon: First Congress (First Contact).

I attended the conference and quickly learned that to understand Balkan hacker culture is to know Balkan history.

Serbia, as it was explained to me one night over beers by the conference’s jovial keynote, “Is where everyone is armed and dangerous, you know?”

BalCCon opened its doors for two days of hacker community building not quite fifteen years after the city of Novi Sad survived ethnic cleansing, deadly nonstop NATO bombings, and before that, the terror of a war whose arms were partly funded by abduction and organ harvest of its citizens.

Novi Sad also welcomed hackers into a city starting up a vibrant nightlife, an emerging tech sector that European press is calling ‘a Silicon Valley in the Balkans’ and a country that is jump-starting the formation of its democracy. It is simultaneously poor, and wired.

As I learned one morning bouncing around in the back of a smuggler’s van, on a quick, mission-focused trip through some outlying villages, corruption is both a problem and fact of life in Serbia, and smuggling is a good business. (…)

A BalCCon postscript: Armed and dangerous in the Balkans, and DEF CON Returns

DOJ rejects Google, Facebook requests for transparency with unsettling arguments

On Monday the US Department of Justice rejected the formal request of Google, Facebook and other Internet giants to share government user data requests with the public with some unsettlingly non-ironic arguments against data transparency.

One argument actually is that if they give the companies transparency then everyone will want it.

And we can’t have that.


DOJ’s non-ironic arguments rejecting Google, Facebook user data transparency requests

New article: SF, US Craigslist awash in fallacious Scientology depression counseling ads

Just posted to Pulp Tech; one BI headline claims Anonymous is doing the pranks and warnings, but I can’t verify this. Still, it’s a pretty messed up thing that’s going on:

SF, US Craigslist awash in fallacious Scientology depression counseling ads

Hundreds of new Craigslist ads in San Francisco and other US cities target people seeking help and counseling for depression and panic attacks. The ads do not reveal they are actually for Scientology.

Uncensored, and post Ada Initiative: Sex +/- Drugs for hackers

Above is the video of me presenting my harm reduction talk "Sex +/- Drugs: Known Vulns and Exploits" to an audience of hackers at conference BSides Las Vegas, two weeks ago in between Black Hat 2013 and DEF CON 21.

Before the talk begins, I spend time explaining what happened when I tried to give this talk earlier this year for hacker conference BSides San Francisco, and was targeted and censored by feminist organization Ada Initiative (“supporting women in open technology and culture”) and its figurehead, Valerie Aurora.

You can read my short post about what happened here.

After Ada Initiative had my talk pulled, Aurora got Daily Dot to run a piece saying I was teaching hackers to rape.

What I also didn’t know when my talk was censored was that Ada’s Aurora had initiated an email campaign to all BSides US organizers to stop my talk before the San Francisco event.

When people expressed anger and confusion online about the incident of Ada Initiative’s involvement in getting my talk pulled from the conference lineup, Ada Initiative wrote a blog post. This post was changed many times without notifying readers as new information about Ada Initiative’s role in the incident came to light.

One of the things that came to light post-incident was that the email exchange prior to the San Francisco BSides conference between BSides and Ada Initiative was published anonymously to Pastebin

Prior to this, Ada Initiative had claimed BSides had asked Ada Initiative for help in dealing with my talk; the emails showed Ada Initiative initiating contact and pressuring BSides to remove the talk.

The emails also revealed that Ada Initiative - Valeria Auroroa speaking for the organization - refused to speak to me or have any contact with me.

The talk is a harm reduction talk about the effects of drugs and sex: it a a safety talk that defines informed consent and explains “blurred consent” in practical terms.

Ada Initiative’s email told BSides - from the BSides blog:

"Valerie had sent complaints to co-founders of Secuirty BSides and organizers of various BSides events saying "This is total bullshit even if it somehow ends up giving an anti-rape, pro-consent message.”

Many people also discovered after the fact that Ada’s Aurora had brought a reporter and photographer from Marie Claire to BSides San Francisco - as a publicity stunt to showcase the Ada Initiative as protecting women from hacker culture.

The Marie Claire article ran in print and online, and changed the name of my talk to sound like it was a pro-rape talk. Marie Claire has not corrected the error.

I was not approached for comment or fact checking by Daily Dot or Marie Claire. 

The photo-filled, five-page feature in Marie Claire painted hacker conferences as “Tailhook for geeks” and hackers exclusively as predatory males in a culture studded with sexual assault where every woman is a victim in need of saving. “When Geeks Attack” was a comic depiction of journalism, an attack on hacker culture, and an illustration of what happens when a feminist organization becomes moneyed, predatory, influential and corrupt.

It is my opinion that the Ada Initiative owes the global hacker culture an explanation. 

It is my opinion that the Ada Initiative owes the sex-positive feminist culture it claims to represent an explanation.

It is my opinion that the Ada Initiative owes me - a woman in technology who would otherwise share their mission - an explanation.

Ada Initiative has not come clean about this and appears intent to prevent the public from knowing about the incident now that the incident is no longer useful for publicity and appears to counter their mission.

Again: My talk is about the effects of drugs and sex when mixed together: it is a harm reduction talk that explains physical, mental and emotional safety and the concept of informed consent for partiers. Among other things, it explains informed consent, and how to navigate ‘blurred consent’ in real-life situations.

It seems like we should all be getting along.

But the Ada Initiative decided this would not be the case before I had even heard of them.

How to route around the damage

An eloquent reaction came from Belgian security conference BruCon (this September 26 and 27). BruCon made a public statement saying that BruCon had adopted the Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment policy but now were pulling it completely and writing a new one from scratch:

As our anti-harassment policy was based on a sample policy supported by the organisation that, in our opinion, has acted against those exact values we try to encourage, we do not feel that we can give the impression to support those actions.

It is therefore that we are currently working to rewrite our policy from scratch. This will be done with help and support from community members, of all genders, familiar with the matter and familiar with the BruCON values.

I don’t simply talk about what happened with Ada Initiative. In the video above I explain how we can route around the damage as a global community and give concrete suggestions as to how we can solve issues the Ada Initiative has been unable to solve - as well as the very real problems posed by the Ada Initiative itself (and extreme feminists - I directly address the damage done by the so-called “Creeper Cards” and how we can fix this).

These extremists have caused far more problems than they have solved.

None of what Ada Initiative, or “Creeper Cards” proponents have done makes a compelling case for having more women in tech, let alone encouraging women to hack.

None of this encourages free and open discussion of difficult and taboo topics, which for hackers, isn’t just a cute idea - but a way of life and something that is necessary.

There has to be a better way.

I can think of several.

Instead of calling people creeps, why don’t we identify creepy behavior so we have a standard and all can also apply it to ourselves, to see if we’re doing it?

Why don’t we publish a primer on how not to be creepy?

Why don’t we publish a primer on how to deal with people being creepy?

Why don’t we publish a primer on defusing conflict? (Don’t we really need this for all hacker spaces?)

Why don’t we publish a primer on bystander intervention?

And why don’t we talk about the effects of drugs and alcohol on sex, so we understand informed consent, and those ordinary, everyday situations when consent becomes blurred?

I discuss all of these things in my talk (above).

The name of this talk is an homage to the Silence = Death project, which became closely identified with Act Up.

The slogan protested both the taboos around discussion of safer sex, and the unwillingness of some to resist societal injustice and governmental indifference.

To be silent, to make topics off limits, must be opposed as a matter of survival.

Hackers: this is who we are.

Updated 9/1/13 in the first section to add information about Ada Initiative’s published emails to BSides, and my confusion as to why we’re not on the same side. Also fixed typos.