I can’t believe it’s been more than 1.5 months since I last blogged here! There has been so much stuff that has happened the past few months, that I still have to write about and I know I really should. Next to that I did a crazy Twitter story thing yesterday for Halloween (more about that later – but here’s the gist of it) and I realized: I miss writing.

nablopomo

I started this blog 8 years ago to highlight cool stuff that I came across – doing reviews of movies, books and games, featuring fun and interesting products like jewellery and posters, and sharing videos and other blog posts I like. Throughout those years though, I’ve noticed I love the art of telling a good story. Lately I’ve been mainly doing that through talks I’m giving at conferences and blog posts that I’m working on for the FutureLearn blog. I’ve rarely used this blog to tell those type of stories. Besides the sporadic longer thought pieces, my blog posts typically tend to be quick and easy posts that don’t require too much brain power to create (or read). And I think that might be the reason I’ve started drifting away from writing here.

So how can I change that? What should I do to get back into writing more here?

My “solution”? I’m going to see if I can my own take on the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) challenge. Rather than do the traditional write a post every day, I thought I’d stick closer to the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): write 20,000 words on this blog this month.

I don’t want to focus on just creating more posts again, I want to focus on telling good stories.

So: challenge accepted! Wish me luck.

And by the way? This post? It’s only 304 words long. 1.52% done, 98.48% to go!

Tags: Geeky

Two days ago I gave a talk at State of the Browser about having imposter syndrome and how to create a culture of learning. Here’s the video:

If you want to check out the full slides, here they are (without all the pretty animations though):

I was so nervous about it all, but I’m quite proud with how it all turned out. I think it’s the nicest bit of storytelling I’ve done and they’re the prettiest slides I’ve ever made! Plus it’s been awesome seeing the reactions and hearing the stories from people who have seen the talk.

Imposter syndrome is something that more and more people are talking about, but I think it tends to quite often be from the point of view of the individual: what are the things that we each should do to stop imposter syndrome happening in ourselves? Since there are so many people that have this though, I think it’s much more interesting to get people thinking about the things we call could do. I hope my talk has given some ideas of how we can help each other, but I’d love to hear what other people think!

Tags: Geeky

I can’t quite believe it’s September already! As usual, September means conference season is upon us and the next 2 months are going to be slightly insane for me. Want to see me talk? Here are the upcoming events I’ll be speaking at:

12th September 2015 – State of the Browser: We’re back for another year to talk about browsers and the web. Come and learn about the latest in browser developments and the web industry.​ My talk will be about imposter syndrome and how creating a culture of learning can help deal with it.

25th-26th September 2015 – Over The Air: A tech-agnostic event for and by the developer community, featuring technical workshops where attendees can roll up their sleeves and tinker with new mobile & web platforms, operating systems, APIs & open hardware. I’ll be talking about how and why we organize internal hackdays at FutureLearn.

2nd-4th October 2015 – Hackference 2015: Three days of talks and panels from the best in the world, with a full weekend hackathon to top it. Again I’ll be talking about how and why we run internal hackdays at FutureLearn.

8th-9th October 2015 – WebDevConf: We don’t need The Avengers or the Justice League, WDC2015 has assembled the best line up that is ready to take on the world. I’ll be doing a fun talk called the Marvel Guide to Agile, explaining agile principles through the means of Iron Man to the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Tags: Events, Geeky

Cool Stuff: Enigma Quest

August 19th, 2015

I know, I know, I might be slightly addicted to escape rooms at the moment. This is the second escape room Kickstarter project I’ve backed (the first being Enigma Escape a few months back), but I really love the sound of what Enigma Quest are doing!

school_of_witchcraft_and_wizardry

Here’s what they are focusing on:

We believe that there are three most important aspects to a great immersive experience, be it an escape game or a live quest: quality, immersion and innovation.

Without quality, nothing stays for long. We design every puzzle and every prop to be of high quality material, and where we can’t source what we want – we create it ourselves.

Without immersion, it would just be another puzzle hunt. We love puzzle hunts, don’t get us wrong, but to provide the highest possible value for money, we pay attention to every tiny detail to achieve deep level of immersion, until when the players lose themselves in the surroundings.

We design the puzzles with innovation in our minds, and aim to be very high-tech. There are no padlocks in our rooms, no hunt for numerical codes with tiring amount of numbers. Everything feels real and highly interactive.

I especially love the sound of no padlocks and no numerical codes. While I understand that padlocks and numerical codes are quite ‘easy’ to implement, my favourite moments from escape rooms have been discovering the more creative objects and triggers within rooms. Besides that, Enigma Quest’s first room will be the Harry Potter-esque ‘School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’.

They’re still looking for a couple more backers, so go back it if you think it sounds interesting!

Hairyyyyy Baby!

I loved Big Hero 6 and Baymax is one of the most adorable robots ever, so who wouldn’t want a cute necklace with him on it?

baymax

I’ve currently only been able to find it in this Japanese online store K.UNO for ¥ 8,800, which is about £45. I’m so tempted to get this! It’s adorable!

As I mentioned yesterday, I gave a talk at GORUCO, a one-day Ruby conference in New York. I did a 10 minute version of my Un-artificial Intelligence talk, trying to explain some basic concepts of human learning through machine learning:

Tags: Geeky

Oh wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged here! The last 2 months have been insanely busy, so before going back to my typical posts I thought I’d do a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to

Got married!

Back in May I got married to Cristiano! It was an awesome day, and I loved the little geeky touches we added. I’ll be blogging about the various things we did in separate posts.

#mrandmrsgeeky - 100

Speaking at events

I somehow ended up doing my Un-artificial Intelligence talk 4 times within 2 weeks. I love giving that talk though, and it’s great to see the conversations and discussions that come out of it!

  • 20th June 2015 – GORUCO: A one-day technical conference aimed at highly motivated programmers. Watch my talk.
  • 18th June 2015 – London Web: The meetup where people listen. We cut back the noise and focus on people who can teach us, interact with us, and help us learn from being around other like-minded people.
  • 13th June 2015 – OpenTech 2015: OpenTech 2015 is an informal, low cost, one-day conference on slightly different approaches to technology, experience and democracy.
  • 11th June 2015 – EmberLondon: a monthly meetup for anyone interested in Ember.js and building ambitious web applications.

Athens, Venice and New York

Cristiano had to be in Athens and Venice for BattleHack (an awesome global series of hackdays to find the Ultimate Hackers for Good), so I got to travel along and do some sightseeing. Next to that I got selected to give a talk at GORUCO in New York, and since it was cheaper to fly back a bit later, I got 2 extra days in the city! I’d never been to any of those cities before, and I love wandering around and exploring them.

Tags: Geeky

As you might have noticed from some of my recent tweets and blog posts, I’ve gotten slightly addicted to escape rooms… I love the idea and I’m working my way through the list of London rooms. Hopefully I’ll be able to add another to my list if this Kickstarter campaign is successful: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/enigmaescape/enigma-escape-the-live-escape-game-experience-in-l.

engima_escape

I really like the sound of what Enigma Escape have planned. Here’s a snippet from their Kickstarter page:

Have you researched into your competitors? Yes. Most of the games we played were actually rather fun. However upon reflection, none of the games we played actually made any sense. They were really just puzzles hunts…find all the keys to open all the padlocks and you’ve escaped. Some games tried to integrate a story, but the story quickly became irrelevant and we were left with the same ol’ puzzle hunt. Don’t get us wrong, hunting for puzzles can be fun, but we feel that a live escape game can be so much more than this.

How are you different? We wanted to create games that are both fun to play and make a lot of sense. That’s why our games will be entirely story-driven. We’ll tell you a story of how your team became locked in, then whatever happens next is your story. All the puzzles that prevent you from your escape are natural, meaning that if you think logically, you’ll reveal the solution. Designing the puzzles in this way allows us to create a sense of realism to your scenario. Even if you’ve played live escape games before, you’ll definitely find our take on the game a real challenge. And what makes us the most different, is that we’ve created games that are immersive – see below:

Why are your games ‘immersive’? We want to pay tribute to the origin of live escape games (the escape video game), so we’ve created an experience with video game like features to make you feel more ‘immersed’. These include watching cinematic videos before and after the game to round up the story; background music to set the atmosphere; sound effects at key moments during the game; and other things that you’ll just have to wait and see…

I’ve enjoyed the other rooms I’ve done so far, but I definitely agree that the story is just a backdrop and not really part of the experience. I love the sound of having appropriate background music and sound effects, plus having puzzles that feel part of the story just makes sense to me.

They’ve only got 48 hours left to go and have so far reached £4,628 of their £5,000 goal. They’re almost there! There’s a range of different rewards, most of them offering 2-5 player games when the room has opened. I backed the 5 player one, but I’m so tempted to do the [SPY] level: you get to watch how the staff room works while another team plays!

Tags: Geeky

This is going to be a short review, but I couldn’t resist writing up something about before it disappears from London. I finally managed to go last Saturday and it’s brilliant.

The title of this post says “theatre” review, but Grimm Tales is so much more than your typical theatre show. Their site describes it as “an immersive storytelling experience that will plunge adults and children alike into the subversive world of the Brothers Grimm“. And that’s pretty much spot-on.

grimmtales-banner

Five fairytales are told over several floors of an old, creepy converted warehouse, with the audience moving from room to room with each story. I loved the set decoration and the costumes: it’s the right balance of dark and twisty. Hallways filled with creepy portraits and paintings, stairwells filled with old wedding dresses, just walking through the venue gives you shivers.

I loved how the fairytales are told in actual fairy tale form. I ended up buying Philip Pullman’s adaptation on which it is based and the dialogue is lifted straight from it. Since the rooms are quite small, you also actually get to see all the actors up close and it’s awesome seeing their expressions from that distance.

grimmtales

I was familiar with three of the five fairytales, but I have a feeling most people won’t know most of them. I liked that they didn’t pick the obvious ones though, and it really highlights how weird some fairytales can be.

If you’re interested in going, hurry! Tickets are only available until April the 11th.

Tags: Geeky

It’s been more than a couple of months since this happened, but I really enjoyed this talk from Konnie Huq at the last Ada Lovelace Day Live at the Royal Institution. Konnie discusses the influences of science and art on her life and performs a poem/rap about the perils of technology (if you only want to see the rap skip ahead to 9:30):

Tags: Geeky