WW2

From Bletchley to Brexit – an utter disgrace

From 2008-2011 I ran the successful campaign to save Bletchley Park. As part of that campaign I met and got to know several of the codebreakers including Captain Jerry Roberts and Mavis Batey who was only 18 when she made major codebreaking breakthroughs. The work that was done by 10 thousand people at BP, 8000 of them young women shortened WW2 by 2 years saving 22 million lives. 10000 people working around the clock for years making sure that we can enjoy the freedom we have had all of our lives.

Bletchley Park to me epitomises what is best about Britain and the British. People from all different backgrounds coming together around a common cause, working for years, in secret, with no real personal reward or recognition for what they have done. Incredible people in incredible times. 

To me Brexit is the opposite of this. Brexit epitomises the worst of Britain and the British. People from privileged backgrounds seeking to manipulate others, to pit people against each other for their own personal gain. Selfish people creating a selfish atmosphere in selfish times.

At a time when other countries, like China for example are building infrastructure across the world with the Belt and Road programme, buying up land, building roads across Africa and Asia, lending large amounts of money to countries that possibly won’t be able to pay it back, we in the UK are showing the world quite clearly that we are unfit to be incredible pioneers as we once were, working en masse, working in collaboration with other countries, building the alliances that we have enjoyed up until now.

We are now operating in a global marketplace. There has never been so much opportunity in the world for us to create products and services that we can sell around the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with each other, the way we trade, the way we live our lives. It is creating social change through connecting us together with others that care about making change happen. #blacklivesmatter #metoo it’s incredible that through one word, one hashtag we can create global movements that are changing the world for the better, empowering people who previously had no voice.

Technology brings amazing opportunities for jobs, education, connections with people around the world to solve global challenges, but in the UK we  just look backwards and complain about how it’s taking away jobs.

In less than 100 years we’ve gone from seeing the best of British to the worst of British. I’m utterly ashamed of what’s happening here now with Brexit, to me it feels like the UK at a pivotal time in history with all the amazing opportunities that are out there, is committing suicide in front of the world. At a time when we should be joining together and collaborating with other countries to make the world a better place to live in for us all, we are throwing away opportunity under the lie of making Britain great again. What an utter disgrace.

Captain Jerry Roberts – Bletchley Park codebreaker

Here I am 9 years ago with the wonderful Captain Jerry Roberts, Bletchley Park codebreaker, at my birthday party. What an amazing man ❤️

One of the hardest things about running the campaign to save Bletchley Park is making friends with incredible people and then losing them 😭

Check out Jerry’s book Lorenz

#bletchleypark #codebreakers #testery #savingbletchley

Computing is too important to be left to men…

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Ada Lovelace invented the idea of software in 1843 at the age of 28 when working with Charles Babbage on his Analytical engine. The first pioneer in computing was a woman and we have had many more female computing pioneers since then: the women at Bletchley Park; Dina St Johnston who set up the UK’s first software house in 1959; Dame Stephanie Shirley who’s company employed women, mainly working from home in the 1960s, training them to write software including the Concorde black box flight recorder; and Karen Spark Jones, a pioneer in search algorithms who’s quote “Computing is too important to be left to men” is the title of this piece. And that’s just in the UK, there are many women tech pioneers across the globe.

I first realised that I needed to get involved in supporting and raising the profile of women in tech during my PhD in software engineering in the 1990s. I found out that talking to men at conferences about my research could be misconstrued which led to me not finding tech conferences an enjoyable experience. Attending a women in science conference some months later I was amazed to find that I could enjoy conferences, meet some great people and have interesting conversations. Being in the majority makes life so much easier. Being in a minority can make something that seems simple difficult.

I set up BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in computing in 1998 as a result of my experiences. The idea being to provide a space for women to discuss the topics we cared about in technology with other women. I’m very proud of the fact that BCSWomen still provides a women only space where anything and everything related to technology is discussed. BCSWomen has supported hundreds of women over the last 19 years.

I’m so delighted BCS continues to take a lead in investigating, researching and publishing data around the situation not just for gender but diversity in general in our industry. We need a more diverse industry so that we can create better products and services for everyone. Take the example of the automated point of sale machines in supermarkets. I’m sure we have all experienced the “unexpected item in the bagging area” moment of frustration. Do you think the team that developed those automated POS machines was diverse? Do you think there were people on the team that shopped regularly in a supermarket? I’m guessing not.

Diversity is important for everyone. Only when we have diverse teams, diverse workforces, diverse experiences contributing to creating diverse products and services will we be creating products and services that are fit for all of us. Diversity brings strength.

Technology is such an exciting area to be in. Working in the tech industry we understand the world and the opportunities around us in a way that many others are as yet able to see without our help. We owe it to everyone else to take a lead in this area, so that they can follow.

You could say that this report paints a dismal picture in terms of diversity and women in tech, we are nowhere near 50/50 male to female in the industry. But I believe that we are at a tipping point of a revolution in technology and also in awareness of the importance of diversity. I’ve seen massive change over the last few years in attitudes towards diversity in tech, from being asked when setting up BCSWomen in 1997: “Why are you ghettoising yourself?”

I now regularly get asked: “How can we encourage more women to work in our tech department?”

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Things are changing and this report gives us the data we need to measure and evaluate progress highlighting areas of concern and areas of success that we can celebrate along the way.

Let’s take our lead from this report and use it to create a a more diverse, more successful tech industry in the UK. We owe it to Ada, Dina, Dame Stephanie, Karen and everyone who has worked hard to make the UK tech industry what it is today.

Dr. Sue Black OBE FBCS

 

BCS report: Diversity in IT 2017

 

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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From 2003 to 2017 – Saving Bletchley Park, the Women of Station X, Stephen Fry, the Imitation Game and the Duchess of Cambridge #Bpark

I often get asked about Bletchley Park and my connection with it. Here are a few links that give an overview of my 14 year fascination and involvement.

 

Finding out about the women who worked there is how I first got interested in Bletchley Park in 2003, I got funding for an oral history project “The Women of Station X” to record the memories of the women who worked there:

 

 

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then I found out that Bletchley Park might have to close so I started a campaign to save it. The whole story is captured in my book:

 

US Amazon – Saving Bletchley Park

 

UK Amazon – Saving Bletchley Park

 

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and some of the highlights on my blog from 2008, read from the bottom up to get an overview of how my campaign started and what we did including getting Stephen Fry involved:
 
Here’s my old school 2008 blog: http://savingbletchleypark.org/

 

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I spoke about my life and the campaign last December at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA

 

 

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It’s been so wonderful to see the recognition of Bletchley Park growing over the years since the campaign started with books like Andrew Hodges – Alan Turing: The Enigma getting recognition and films being made like The Imitation Game starring great Hollywood actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

 

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Also who could forget the visit of the Duchess of Cambridge to Bletchley Park whose grandmother and great aunt worked at Bletchley Park.

 

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Have a look at these links and then comment below if you have any questions, or @ me on Twitter @Dr_Black, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

 

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I won the Digital Agenda Editor’s award for outstanding contribution to technology for good #tech4good #digitalimpact 

I was deeply honoured and absolutely delighted to win the special Editor’s Impact award at the Digital Agenda  Impact awards last week for my ” outstanding contribution to technology for good”. 

It was an amazing afternoon full of great catchups with friends in the tech for good space and interesting and exciting conversations with so many incredible social entrepreneurs 😍👍🎉 

XMAS PRESENT IDEA!! A personally dedicated copy of Saving Bletchley Park

Live in or near London and want a personally dedicated copy of Saving Bletchley Park for a loved one for Christmas?
Order Saving Bletchley Park here now for delivery tomorrow:
You should receive it tomorrow – Thursday
Bring it along on Friday lunchtime at 1pm to the Royal Festival Hall Cafe, on London/s South Bank and I’ll dedicate it for you 🙂
Please let me know here that you are coming here:
See you on Friday!!!
Merry Christmas!!!

Fabulous Saving Bletchley Park WCIT IT Livery business lunch 

I had a really wonderful time yesterday delivering a speech to the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists at their monthly business lunch on board HMS Wellington on the Thames 😀👍


I was so well looked after my the Beadle, the Master, the clerk and everyone else, it was an absolutely superb lunch. 


We all retired to a local pub afterwards and the conversations about the IT industry, technology, Bletchley Park and our incredible UK tech history continued until the evening. 


I had a fabulous time and can’t wait to go to more WCIT events 😀😍👍🎉 

Sydney Ambury – Royal Northumberland Fusilliers – WW1 and WW2 military service 

I’ve found this letter about my great grandfather Sydney Ambury’s (1885-1944) army service record and his obituary. 

 I’d love to understand more about what he did and what it meant. If you can help at all please comment below. 

  

I only discovered a few years ago that Sydney was born Solomon Benjamin Hamburg in Spitalfields the 8th child of Dutch Jewish parents Benjamin Hamburg and Flora Salomon Rina. Previous to then I and the rest of my family had no idea that he was Jewish or that he came from London. 

At 17 Sydney enlisted in the army in Hounslow and at 18 started serving in the British Army in Newcastle. 

I would love to know anything that anyone can shed light on in terms of my family history and his military service. 

Thanks for any information you can share 😀👍