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GirlGeek of the Week
October 2000

Lora Roa

Lora Roa

What kind of girl takes apart a lawn mower at the age of 12? Only a GirlGeek would do that. Lora Roa has always viewed machinery and technology as toys. Computers, she says, are just little toys, much more interesting than dolls or dollhouses.

Buoyed by the support of the adults in her life, who never told her that tech was something a girl should not be doing, Lora found out in college that "people would actually pay you well to play with heavy equipment and computers." So ushered her foray into chemical engineering, programming, and computer engineering. It was such a great deal that she almost felt guilty, playing with her toys and getting paid for it!

When did you first discover your love and/or obsession with computers and technology?

Technology has been a life-long interest, though computers were just becoming available when I was in middle school. At the time it was mainframes using punch cards and teletype terminals. However, intrepid middle-schooler that I was, I volunteered to "explore" the computer in the study hall.

That old teletype terminal had a bell button. When you pressed the button it would ding. Then I realized that this terminal was connected to the others! A fellow geeky middle-schooler showed me how to send keystrokes to another teletype terminal. I discovered I could make another terminal ring too. So now we waited for a third geek to start the fun: let the new geek sit, work out their first program and inevitably their first syntax error message. Then we would send the command for their bell to ring after the error.

First our victim jumps out of the chair in a panic, then notices us falling out of our chairs giggling hopelessly. I think then that the connection was made that a computer = a toy.

How do you earn a living?

Until a few weeks ago I worked with a private start-up company making web server engines and applications.

Do you consider yourself a Geek?

Always. As a petite green-eyed blonde in high school I got a few looks by announcing myself as a geek. But my friends got used to it. It took a while to convince people that geeks aren't always ugly boys.

What is your favorite Website?

I thought about this for a while. I've lived on the Internet since Usenet days and before web. There is no way for me to pick just one site. But the one I hit most often and the only one with a desktop shortcut of its own is

What do you do when you are not working?

I play on computers! I also raise my children as best I can (both geeks), and train animals. And when they all go to bed, I play on the computer some more.


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