I really enjoyed this talk at Playful a couple months back by George Rowe and Dan Efergan about easter eggs in games:
It’s taken me a while to finally write this post. I started it back in September after what turned out to be a rather introspective week for me. Yesterday I celebrated a somewhat belated Thanksgiving with friends and I realised it was the prefect moment to finish this piece.
The introspective week I was talking about? It was a combination of three things: firstly, I watched Emma Watson’s great UN speech about feminism and the He For She campaign, which started to make me think about what feminism means to me. That same week I organised a dinner with a group of awesome women, which led to some good discussions about being a woman in tech and how we got to where we are today. Finally, my colleague Tess held a great internal talk about youth unemployment and what we (as a company and as individuals) could do to help make it better.
And all of this made me realise: I’m extremely lucky and thankful to be where I am today.
I am thankful that I’ve always lived in countries where I can vote, where I can go to school, where I can choose who I want to marry and where I can determine what I do with my body.
I am thankful that I have parents who have always supported the decisions I made and who have always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. They never stopped me from playing with LEGO or video games or other supposedly “boy” toys, they never once told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. They instilled in me that knowledge and learning were things to strive for, that libraries and museums were places to treasure, that solving puzzles and playing games were good ways to spend my time.
I am thankful that as bad as the tech community sometimes can be, I’ve been lucky enough to always be surrounded by lovely people. There are so many fun and interesting events in London, and apart from the odd comment I’ve always had great experiences. I am lucky that in all my years of blogging and of going to events the worse that has happened to me is being told I don’t belong (yet I still find it a very disconcerting feeling that I count myself “lucky” about this).
I am thankful that I woke for a company (FutureLearn) that not only is doing something good, but is filled with some amazing people who have been supportive with helping me learn the things I needed and wanted to learn. I love that we have a culture where it’s okay to try to work on something that you might not necessarily be good at, as long as you know who and where to ask for help. I love that since working here my confidence in myself and my work has increased a lot, due in no small part to the atmosphere and people here.
I am thankful that in the past year I’ve had the opportunity to speak more at events and share what I know with others. I’m still learning what it means to give good presentations, but I do enjoy doing it and seeing that people appreciate my talks and ideas makes me want to get better at it.
Most of this might seem pretty obvious, but I thought it’s worth getting down on paper (well, the digital equivalent of paper) and reflecting on how and where I ended up doing what I’m doing.
So I want you to stop and think. What are the things you are thankful for?
The past two months have been insane! I’ve been speaking at and attending various conferences, going to more evening meetups and just generally being very busy. I’ll be trying to do several roundup post to cover the most interesting things I’ve been to the past few weeks!
Last October’s LRUG featured a great talk by Sam Aaron (@samaaron) and and Xavier Riley (@xavriley) about how to live code music with Sonic Pi. It looks like so much fun; I really need to try it out and see if I can actually make some music myself! The entire talk is up on the Skills Matter site, so check it out!
Pokemon TCG Launch Event
Last Tuesday I got invited to the launch of the new expansion of the Pokemon Card Game: XY — Phantom Forces. It’s been ages since I last played TCG, but we got to play two of the new theme decks (Burning Winds and Bolt Twister) with trainers on hand to help out explain some of the rules. It definitely was a fun evening with Gengar themed cocktails and even a Pokéball pizza!
Video Games Live
I love modern orchestral music, be it for movies, TV shows or video games, and I’ve been wanting to go for ages to Video Games Live. I weirdly enough first heard about it 7 years ago in 2007, while queuing outside the Apple store, by the guy in front of me who had just gone to see the concert the previous weekend. I then missed out on tickets the year after, and then had to wait 6 freaking years until they were back in London! I really enjoyed the concert, although I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a full orchestra. Still: hearing the Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid and Journey themes all live was so awesome!
I always find the London Educational Games meetup fascinating. Even though I’m not working on an educational game, FutureLearn is obviously very learning focused and I find it’s interesting to see what we things we might learn from the games industry. This month’s meetup featured Santeri Koivisto of Teacher Gaming, the team that created MinecraftEdu and KerbalEdu. Here are my sketchnotes from the event:
Ada Lovelace Day Live
I’m still hoping the videos of all the talks of Ada Lovelace Day Live will be available, cause it was such a fun and inspiring evening! The highlights for me were: learning all about bridges from Roma Agrawal, a civil engineer from the team that built the Shard, finding out about how the remains from Richard III were discovered from Dr Turi King and hearing Konnie Huq rap about social media.
It’s Halloween! I’m not really celebrating it this year, except for attempting a Hipster Belle outfit today (and not even a very good Hipster Belle), but that doesn’t really count, does it?
Anyway, to celebrate I’m sharing my favourite Halloween items. Enjoy!
What are you doing this year Halloween?
Miss Geeky Elsewhere
- Meet The Disrupt Europe London Hackathon Judges: Yep, I’m one of the judges at this weekend’s TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. I’m looking forward to see what hacks people will come up with!
- For Ada Lovelace Day: the women who inspire us at FutureLearn: It was Ada Lovelace Day yesterday! I coordinated this post on the FutureLearn blog and wrote my own section about Paula Clerkin, who’s organising the upcoming Women In Tech conference at the University of Nottingham.
- 6 reasons we love our home at the British Library: I wrote this post 2 months back for the FutureLearn blog, but realised I had never shared it here. I love working form the British Library.
- TweetTracks: I attended and spoke at Hackference a few weeks back: a Friday conference followed up by a hackday in the weekend. I built TweetTracks, a Spotify playlist generated from your tweets, and it won the Best Contextual Experience Using the DataTXT APIs prize! More about that in a future post.
- WeddingLy.st: I created this hack at BattleHack last weekend together with Lily,
Kevin and Ian. It was so much fun working with them and although we didn’t win anything, I really love our idea.
- My DDD: Disney Driven Development slides:
- The Bézier Game: I’ve never gotten the hang of the Bézier tool in Photoshop; this game attempts to help you master it.
- IamA underwater archaeologist: Awesome reddit Q&A thread with underwater archaeologist Peter Campbell. After reading that, I wish I had his job.
- As A Father Of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters: “It didn’t always used to be this way. I used to only have sons. Things sure were different then. How merrily I used to drive down country lanes in my old Ford, periodically dodging off-road to mow down female pedestrians (you must remember I had no daughters then). Was what I did wrong? How was I to know? I had no daughters to think of.”
- Toothless by alicexz: Adorable painting of my favourite dragon:
- Cast as thou wilt: A look at who to cast for a potential Kushiel’s Legacy TV Show. I love the books, and it’s interesting seeing how other people imagine the characters.
- Tiny PMS Match: Fun Tumblr matching small everyday objects to their Pantone colours.
- Tampon Club: I was planning on doing something like this when I worked in a proper office, but can’t really at the British Library since we share our toilets with the public.
- Junior Designers vs Senior Designers: Interesting set of visuals to show the difference between the two.
- It Took Two Years To Make Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar In Minecraft: Woah. I’ve never wanted to play Minecraft before this, but woah. Here’s one of the screenshots:
- 2014 Ig Noble Prize Winners: my favourite has to be the “Response Behaviors of Reindeer towards Humans Disguised as Polar Bears”.
- 11 Must-See Agents of SHIELD Episodes You Have To Watch Before Starting Season 2: Want to start watching Agents of SHIELD, but don’t want to go through the entire (somewhat) boring first season? Here’s a list of which eps to check out.
- Collaborative User Testing: Less Bias, Better Research: Awesome post by my colleague Alla about the biases in user testing and how we deal with them.
- What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security: “And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’ ‘The King of Sweden.’”
I’ve been looking for cool art for our “new” flat (I’m still saying “new”, but I’m realising it’s been 8 eights months since we moved… woah) and I came across this piece by artist Jenni Sparks:
She was asked to create a map of London that subverted the idea of the traditional tourist map, and instead showcased the culture and personality of each part of the city, as well as the best places to go. It’s a bit tricky to see in the image above, but the map is full of cool details. Here’s a closeup:
The map is available form Evermade with prices starting at £75.
This video gives us an awesome look behind the scenes at the British Library showing the journey of a single book from its arrival at the library to the reader’s desk:
Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios partnered to create this short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance. No CGI was used or needed in the entire thing.
This 6 minute clip showing the visualization and “audibilization” of sorting algorithms is so mesmerising (and a great way to grasp how sorting algorithms work):
The algorithms are: selection sort, insertion sort, quick sort, merge sort, heap sort, radix sort (LSD), radix sort (MSD), std::sort (intro sort), std::stable_sort (adaptive merge sort), shell sort, bubble sort, cocktail shaker sort, gnome sort, bitonic sort and 30 seconds of bogo sort.
Thanks to Matt for pointing this out to me!
I didn’t think another Le Chat Noir variation could beat my Kiki’s delivery Service one, but Toothless is so adorable:
Then there’s the My Neighbour Totoro inspired Toothless one as well (although this time I think my Bioshock version wins)
Like them? Both tees are only on TeeFury for the next 5 hours!