Thursday, October 22, 2015

Meet artist Benjamin Burkard

My love for street art took me to Mannheim Jungbusch a place that I would not have bothered about too much otherwise. This is where I met the artist Benjamin Burkard. Actually it was such a pleasant accident to be able to brush shoulders with such a talented person. I am used to walking for kilometres trying to locate an interesting piece of street art, remember there is so much of vandalism around that you really need to look hard to be able to identify the good from the bad.

Benjamin was actually painting the largest mural in the Rhein Neckar area when I saw him for the first time. I could not believe my eyes that I was actually seeing an artist in action. But he was so far away in this cordoned off industrial area where he was at work that it was tough to get his attention. That was when I decided to walk all the way around the bridge to the other side of the Neckar hoping that there would be a path to get closer to him. But after walking for quite some time I realised that the whole area was literally not accessible.

Disappointed but not ready to give up I decided to go across the bridge on the opposite side and vigorously waived my hands hoping to distract him. For a split second Benjamin got up to walk back and observe his latest strokes that’s when his eyes caught me waving out.

I could not believe my stars when he waived back smiling. With a lot of frantic hand movements I told him that it was amazing what I was seeing and his work. I could see that he was smiling and showing me the thumbs up sign. I gestured asking if I could somehow come across and actually see it up close. After a bit of reluctance he actually put down his brushes and started walking towards the fenced barriers. My heart was beating fast and I quickly started walking towards the fence. We shook hands through the fence, I almost could not believe that this was happening feeling like a little girl all over again. My parents and my mother-in-law were part of the adventure and they followed suit.
Benjamin told me that he was not allowed to let us across the barrier as there was construction going on and it was dangerous for people like us. I think it was the sad disappointed face that made Benjamin change his mind. He told us that we need to be extremely careful. He pulled out a bunch of keys from his pocket and to our biggest surprise opened the lock of the fence and actually let us all in!!

I quickly explained to him that I was in love with street art and his work looked very unique to me from all what I have seen. He told me that he also liked Herakut very much. I showed him pictures of a recent Herakut I had discovered in Mannheim and also in Hamburg. He told me he studied art in Landau and this was one of his biggest projects. This is when I met Petra Stamm who appeared literally from nowhere and when she found out that I intended to write about Benjamin’s work she told me that I would have to mention that this was a project sponsored by the Gallery Stoffwechsel in Mannheim. Petra if you are reading this I am keeping my promise J

Benjamin exuded such humility. He let me take pictures of him in action and also take pictures with all of us. I told him I was in Amsterdam the previous weekend and also saw some amazing pieces of art. He told me about his upcoming exhibition in Amsterdam. He also showed me how he was taking a picture of every 13 cms of his work and this was transmitted live intohis website.  He intends to make a video of the finished work. Now I know why he turned back to look at what he did as every 13 cms was measured to precision on the floor and photographed. You can imagine the attention to detail this translates into. His project is titled 'Ecosystem' and the mural is close to 900 square meters!!

Benjamin told me like any other piece of street art his also faced the danger of vandalism.

We thanked him profusely for his kindness and also for letting us interrupt his work. I told him I am going to be back to see the completed work on the 24th of October when it will be opened up to the public. In case you are in Mannheim and you would like to check out Benjamin’s beautiful work make sure to go to Jungbusch and across the bridge from the river Neckar you can enjoy his beautiful art work.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Speaking at the Grace Hopper Conference 2015 in Houston

This time the Grace Hopper conference in Houston had more than 12,000 women participating. The George R Brown convention center seemed to be at times filled to its brim with women technologists from all over the world. A great experience just like last year in so many ways.

I spoke about security in the cloud especially when it comes to the topic of integration. I mainly focussed on how you secure information, secure interaction and secure identities in the cloud. It was good to have my session followed up by Katharine Krieger an analyst from Goldman Sachs talk about how Goldman’s journey to the cloud and their strategy when it comes to developing and deploying applications that operate in the cloud. A lot of aspects from my talk covered in real usage at Goldman.

Brian Chess SVP of Infrastructure and Security of NetSuite took an inside out view of cloud security and how the risks around cloud security can be compared to other aspects of business. Brian was the only male speaker in the cloud security track. I told him that this is usually the other way around in other conferences :-)

Yasmine Kandissounon from Rackspace concluded by talking about the impact of Distributed Denial of Service and its impact on performance in Cloud Environments.

It was overwhelming to see the number of mails that were sent asking in depth questions and also some of the bloggers already writing about their key takeaways from the session. Valerie who has more than 10 years of experience on cloud security shared her experiences here

I was so thankful to Miruna Stratan from Goldman who took some cool pictures of the session and also the audience.

On a side note I was thrilled to see a replica of  the colorful mural 'Houston is inspired' from acclaimed graffiti artist GONZO247. I had to take a picture and I am definitely going to look out for the original on Market Square Park.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Keeping The Cloud Safe

This week I will be joining thousands of talented and successful women in Houston at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the largest gathering of women technologists in the world.  This time I am absolutely thrilled to be invited to share my research and experience in a presentation titled “Security in Cloud Based Integration Solutions” in the Security/Privacy track.
In this presentation, attendees will understand how to build security and compliance aspects into a Cloud based integration solution. I am excited to share my knowledge while learning from all the brilliant #WomenInTech at #GHC15 this October. #GHCSpeaks #OurTimeToLead
Last year I had shared my learnings from the conference here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

10 things you can learn from Street Art

If I did manage to get your attention you must be wondering 'Really? Something to learn from street art...hmm...sounds interesting...' Yes actually there is so much to learn from street art. Lets start with 10 that come to my mind:

  1. Fall in Love  again– Yes I think I am seriously in love with street art, one of the purest forms of artistic expression that exists! I am looking for them EVERYWHERE while on vacation, travelling on work, go on a drive, go name it
  2.  How about a little bit of adventure – The thrill of discovery that I get when I discover a new piece of street art, the little rush of adrenaline, the pleasure and smile of of admiration that follows keeps me wanting for more
  3.  Identify the good from the bad – Like in all streams of your life I believe you can quickly sort out the good apples from the bad ones. There is a difference between street art and vandalism from my perspective. Actually there is quite some vandalism in many parts of the world which results in defacement of beautiful structures. So when you start looking for street art you will know what I mean. Focus on the good ones and ignore the rest.
  4. Attempt massive Reach – everybody has access to street art. You don’t need to be in a museum or pay a fee to see them. You don’t need to be an established art critic to appreciate a piece of art J
  5.  Cultivate a risk taking attitude – These artists have managed to produce some amazing pieces of art probably braving all odds. Some of the pieces are in such locations that you wonder how they even managed to get up there and how did they manage such intricacy in a very short span of time. I learnt that sometimes you have to finish up in less than 5 minutes!  And some even claim that if it takes more than 5 minutes, it does not qualify as street art. That’s why I guess there is a lot of tagging you can find in so many places.
  6.  Be curious - Explore the unexplored – Usually you end up in places in a city or town where nobody usually go. You realise that you are in some unexplored places but someone was also there making a statement or trying to convey a message
  7.  Don’t shy away from voicing your opinion – Yes street art is an open forum to get your views across. Like the famous artist Banksy once said ‘If graffiti changed anything, it would be illegal’ One of my favorite songs from Paul Simon and Garfunkel  ‘The Sounds of Silence’ talk about ‘the words of the prophets were written on the subway halls and the tenement halls’
  8.    Don’t let failure deter you – A street artist has to be open to the fact that if somebody else does not agree with his message there is a high chance that if you go back there tomorrow its already covered up. Like someone said: 'I was here but now I am gone, I left my name to carry on, Those who liked me, liked me well, Those who didn't can go to hell'
  9. Embrace technology – Like  I mentioned in point 6 some unique pieces of street art is found in places where many people don’t have access. That’s where technology comes to the rescue. Like the graffiti on the West Bank Wall in Palestine is used by artists to draw attention to their struggles and using the internet and social media channels to get a wider audience. I even learnt that you can get your own message put on the wall, see I caught your curiosity now.
  10.  Stop asking for permission – Street artists have legal walls for sure. But all those places  where you find street art are definitely not all open for artists.  I loved it when I read that the artist David Choe whopainted Facebook’s 1st office took stock instead of cash and now he is worth 200$ million!!

Some people think of dreams as a waste of time, we have  a different tradition
A beautiful mural by the artist duo Herakut at Sankt Pauli Millerntorgallery in Hamburg
Palestinian protest art on the separation barrier running througBethlehem