codepancake http://codepancake.com your daily code for breakfast Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:59:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://i2.wp.com/codepancake.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/square_logo_without_text_1024-54611bce_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32 codepancake http://codepancake.com 32 32 76769316 Spotlight 83: meet Senior Lead Designer Jess! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-83-meet-senior-lead-designer-jess/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-83-meet-senior-lead-designer-jess/#respond Fri, 03 Mar 2017 09:01:34 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2957 Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone had a fantastic week and I hope that you’re reading for another wonderful story :-) It’s time to switch from backend development to UX/UI Design and Front End! Please meet Senior Lead Designer Jess as she shares her experience, her advice on learning to

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Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone had a fantastic week and I hope that you’re reading for another wonderful story :-) It’s time to switch from backend development to UX/UI Design and Front End! Please meet Senior Lead Designer Jess as she shares her experience, her advice on learning to code and talks about her hero….(and I couldn’t agree with wit her more!). 

Name:  Jess Nolte-Cerchio
Job: Senior Lead Designer at Differential (UX/UI Design and Front End Development)
Favorite website, app or gadget: Agh, this is hard. Can I say more than one? I use AirBnB when I travel and love to create wish lists and just browse the site randomly. Venmo makes my friends and I’s lives much easier. Poncho (an adorable and fun cat themed weather app) is the first app I open every day. I was an early Spotify adopter and it is always open on my desktop, phone and Roku. And I love my Nest thermostat!
Favorite book: I’m currently reading “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” by Amy Morin, but my favorite genres are dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Hunger Games series… I love everything Tina Fey does and Bossypants is no exception. My list of books to read in the near future includes Bad Feminist, Hillbilly Elegy, Between the World and Me, and A Grief Observed. I’m trying to read more non-fiction.
Twitter:  @noltecerchio
Site:  http://www.jess-nc.com/

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I don’t remember my life without a computer – my family got a Macintosh Classic when I was a toddler in the early 90s, which I feel was fairly uncommon at the time so I was very lucky. Growing up and into high school, I was involved in fine arts but felt like something was a bit off. I disliked doing traditional projects like still lifes and
self portraits as I got bored and didn’t necessarily feel like I was solving a problem. I was also more drawn to working on projects where I could be very precise in my application of whatever medium I was using. My school didn’t offer any computer science or design options, so I would go home and mess around with HTML and CSS on the computer at night, as well as play games like SimCity, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon. When I started applying for college, I knew I wanted to keep art in my life but merge it with my love for computers, which is what led me to design school – where I decided I wanted to focus on digital product design and development upon graduation.

What does your working day look like?
Differential has a flexible work culture, so I go into the office 3 days a week and work from home the other 2 days. Generally, the days at home are days where I can be completely in head down mode. I have an office at home but will sometimes go to a coffee shop or brewery (some of the breweries in Cincinnati offer coffee and incredibly fast wifi during the day). I rarely have meetings on those days, though my coworkers and I are always connected via Slack.

The days in the office are when I collaborate (and socialize) with my coworkers the most. We try to have as few meetings as possible and to make the meetings we do have meaningful (so they’re normally pretty short – no more than an hour), but I like to be in person for them regardless. Our team also likes to do pair programming and group sketch sessions/whiteboarding, so those often take place in person. As a whole, though, the majority of my days and time are spent in Sketch, iTerm and Atom working on mock ups and code.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
After working for a couple of years in IT Consulting, I decided to foray into the startup world. I’m an entrepreneurial minded person, and I wanted to nurse that part of me while getting involved in Cincinnati’s ever-expanding tech scene. While the startup wasn’t necessarily a “project,” it was our own product – i.e. we weren’t working on someone else’s thing. It was the co-founders’ baby, so I saw myself as the product’s cool aunt (my actual title was UX/UI Design Lead). All that to say that the year I spent at the startup taught me a lot about ownership, collaboration, the art of wearing many hats, passion, and failure. And that’s pretty cool.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I hate to do this because I know people are probably tired of me talking about him but Lin Manuel Miranda. I’m obviously currently obsessed with Hamilton the Musical. My friend and I listened to it for the first time back in July while on a cross country road trip and neither of us have stopped. I’m even traveling to San Francisco to see it this summer (thankful for friends who have ticket hook ups!). The fact that he wrote the play, the music, the lyrics, and performed in it blows my mind. His dedication truly manifested into something amazing. I find that inspirational. Not to mention I’m a Disney freak and am also super into Moana. Thank you, Lin.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I love that there is always something else to learn. If I find myself becoming complacent, I can dive into something new and challenging. I enjoy solving tough problems, and in tech there’s never a shortage of things to sink your teeth into. Oh, and the ability to work from anywhere is a major plus!

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I have a BS in Digital Design. So… kind of? The course work was a pretty broad blend (coding, web and game design, animation, typography, digital photography, technical drawing…). The program I went through required 18 months of internships over the course of 5 years. Getting a year and a half of real world experience was definitely what taught me the most and prepared me to work in the professional world. It enabled me to clarify what I wanted (and didn’t want) to focus on post-graduation.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
That you can. I know that it can seem daunting (and to be honest, it kind of is sometimes), but I truly believe that you can do it! There are a lot of roles in the tech world – it’s not just coding (though I think that’s a great path to take). Business development, branding and more “traditional” design, UX/UI design, marketing, customer success, project management… many tech companies are in need of all of these things.

Extra question from LydiaDo you feel the Tech market in inclusive enough?
That’s a great question. In the US, there are currently slightly more women than men taking AP tests, getting bachelor’s degrees and working in the professional world. But when we look at the numbers for women in tech, that percentage gets more than halved (around 25% of the computing workforce). The percentage is even smaller for women of color (5% or less). So, the stats tell us that the market is not inclusive, yet there are varying opinions as to why. 

 

I think young girls are less encouraged than young boys to pursue computer-related or “tinkering” hobbies as kids. I struggled with math in high school and was told by multiple adults that anything math or science related was probably not for me. I realized later on that I simply learned differently than how I was being taught, and that I wasn’t actually bad at math. I’ve heard this story from many other women. We are generally more encouraged to go into nurturing or “people-person” professions. And while there is nothing wrong with those professions, I think the gender bias should be removed on both ends. For example, if a young woman is interested in computer science, don’t discourage her for any reason. If a young man is interested in nursing, don’t discourage him for any reason. Both are valid and needed and can be done well by women and men alike. 

 

When it comes to hiring, there are stereotypes and biases that prevent women from getting and/or keeping tech jobs – one of them being that women in tech are less competent than men in tech. I’ve seen these biases in my own professional life and I’ve heard about them from countless women. We hear a lot of “Wow, I’ve never met a woman who knows her stuff this well. You’re just like one of the guys!” or “Are you sure you want to pursue this career path? It’s hard and you probably want to start a family soon.” When it’s not commented, it’s being ignored in meetings even after saying that we have feedback we’d like to share or seeing someone else taking the credit for your work. This isn’t to say these are all biases perpetrated by men – there’s a lot of girl on girl crime in the tech world. It’s fairly common for one woman to rise to C level and then kick the ladder out from under her. It sucks, it can be exhausting, and it sometimes results in women leaving before they have the opportunity to advance. 

 

All that to say that no, it’s not inclusive enough – though I do think it’s slowly getting better. Things that will help it continue to get better:

  • computer science education opportunities need to be available to all children, whether that’s in their schools or in their community
  • girls should be encouraged to tinker, hack, and build with the same voracity as boys
  • girls should more often be asked what they’re learning opposed to what they’re wearing (this is a general comment that applies everywhere, not just tech – but I had to get it in)
  • colleges and work places should be welcoming places for women interested in tech or working in tech – put simply, don’t alienate women by making your place of learning or business a “boys’ club”
  • women should advocate for women – there’s room for all of us here
 

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Spotlight 82: meet software developer Jessica! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-82-meet-software-developer-jessica/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-82-meet-software-developer-jessica/#respond Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:01:39 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2947 Happy Friday everyone! It’s almost March and that means, Spotlight will be 2 years old! Thank you so much for all the love, for reading, for your support and for all the interviewees who took the time to answer my questions :-) Here’s to the next two years! This week

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Happy Friday everyone! It’s almost March and that means, Spotlight will be 2 years old! Thank you so much for all the love, for reading, for your support and for all the interviewees who took the time to answer my questions :-) Here’s to the next two years!

This week we’re going to meet software developer Jessica. Jessica has a background in Neuroscience, she started a Women in Tech meetup, and she has been working on some amazing things! Enjoy reading and thanks again!

Name: Jessica White
Job: Software Developer
Favorite website, app or gadget: Buffer – life saver of a meetup organiser
Favorite book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Twitter:  @JessPWhite
Site: http://www.jesswhite.co.uk/

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
My background was originally in Neuroscience. This involved some code (Python and Matlab) as I was conducting EEG and fMRI studies as a main part of my studies. Halfway through my PhD, life happened, and I was driven to reassess if I was really enjoying what I was doing and if it was heading to a career I was passionate about. Long story short – I loved the code, but academia wasn’t necessarily for me. Discussing this with my partner, who was already working as a developer, he got me to do some coding challenges to make sure it really was my passion, and I really enjoyed them. I guess I can give him quite a bit of the credit for what inspired me to pursue a career in IT.

Picture of Jessica

Jessica

What does your working day look like?
As a software developer for a loans firm, I work in a Scrum team of 7 people. Our development team predominantly work with the backend of the system, though we do work anywhere in our system that we are needed. A day in the life normally starts with a stand-up, where we discuss what we have done, what we are doing, what is left to do and how we can aid getting the work completed. I then either pair with one of my colleagues or pick up a task alone. This could be writing code or manually testing another developer’s work. Between these tasks, there may be meetings and peer reviews of other people’s code. At the moment I am also part of a piece of work outside of my scrum team relating to improving monitoring in our system.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
If I’m honest though the coolest project in my eyes is possibly the least technical. I have really enjoyed running Women In Tech. Through this event we have helped local charities recruit technical help, helped members do their first talk, as well as our main aim of increasing the amount of women involved in the social technical scene. Currently we are trying recruit two teams for our local hackathon, Hack24, and are trying to help local school visit tech companies so that they can see how great our industry is. It’s a lot of work to run a meetup, and it’s not technical or fancy – but it is exceptionally rewarding.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I don’t have a hero, but there are plenty of people who inspire me every day. Whether it’s due to the work they do, the way they make other people feel or how they cope outside of work. People inspire me on a daily basis

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
Tech is challenging, and if you allow it, it will stretch you. It can be overwhelming, but with so many languages, techniques, best practices applications… it is an industry where it should be impossible to be bored. I also love the people in our industry. Being surrounded by intelligent people with many different experiences is a privilege. I have been lucky and know a lot of experienced developers who are happy to knowledge share and want everyone around them to not only be excited by their work, but want to succeed in it as well.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I do, but not a typical one. As mentioned, I come from a Neuroscience background, having studied it in university for around 6 years. When I decided to pursue a career as a developer I completed a conversion course at The University of Birmingham. This roughly involved the third year of a BSc followed by a MSc standard dissertation from what I could tell.

I do think I missed out on some knowledge – but really it’s more the years of experience of coding that I felt more heavily to begin with. There are certain fundamentals and techniques I hadn’t learnt, but I gained enough knowledge to do my job well and have a basis to build off.

The biggest lesson I learnt from university is that it’s the extra learning you do that will help you most. Being able to self train is invaluable.

Could you tell us a bit more about the women in tech meetup you run in Nottingham?
Nottingham has an amazing tech community, which is ever growing. There are around 22 meetups and one hackathon in the city currently and there seems to be new events being announced every other week. I’ve attended these events for a couple of years and there aren’t many female attendees or speakers.

I started Women In Tech nearly a year ago, to try and encourage more of the women in our industry to get involved in the community. We are a gender inclusive event, but are different from the other meetups in that we only have female speakers and try to have a female majority in our attendees. Our aim is to provide a comfortable space to celebrate women in our industry, while encouraging members to take part in other events as attendees or presenters.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Do it! In all honesty I would say try some code first. When I first showed an interest in becoming a developer I use resources such as Code Academy to make sure I was going to enjoy it. Even then I came into the industry knowing code wasn’t for me there were plenty of other routes I could take.


Another thing I would do is get involved in your tech community early. You can find local, often free, meetups in your area using sites such as Meetup or Eventbrite. There are numerous benefits to these events. You get to meet people working at different tech businesses in your area, which helps you make the right choice for you when applying for jobs. You can learn about new technologies and methodologies in a social and friendly setting. You can get friendly advice about resources if you want to learn about something.

Extra question from Silvia: What do you do to relax after a quite stressful work day with a lot of mental work?
I cook. Most of my stress comes from a feeling of a lack of control. I know I can cook an edible meal that I find tasty without out too much concentration. It’s a way of regaining that feeling of autonomy.

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Spotlight 81: Introducing you to Tracy Osborn! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-81-introducing-tracy-osborn/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-81-introducing-tracy-osborn/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 09:01:43 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2938 Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and that you’ll have a great weekend. This weekend my & my friends will run the 3rd edition of Rails Girls Amsterdam. Well, to be honest, I’ve been so swamped that I didn’t do a lot of organizing this time

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Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and that you’ll have a great weekend. This weekend my & my friends will run the 3rd edition of Rails Girls Amsterdam. Well, to be honest, I’ve been so swamped that I didn’t do a lot of organizing this time (sorry Hester & Martina)..but..I’m looking forward to a weekend with the Ruby & Rails community and meeting a lot of new people :-) Back to today’s Spotlight: this week we’re going to meet Tracy Osborn, designer, developer, ‘entrepenerd’, author of HelloWebApp ánd creator of WeddingLovely. Yes, that’s quite an impressive list and I’m very excited that she wants to share her story with you today! Enjoy reading!

 

Name: Tracy Osborn
Job: Self-employed entreprenerd.
Favorite website, app or gadget: Google Docs
Favorite book: It’s dorky, but Princess Bride. If you have only seen the movie, then you’re in for a treat — the book is even better. My cat is even named Westley.
Twitter: @limedaring

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
 I grew up in a very rural area and was lucky to have several family members who worked in tech, so I had a computer very early on (era of the 8″ floppies!) When the internet started to be a thing, I started messing around with websites. I almost left tech after hating computer science in university (I ended up with an Art degree) but I kept building websites and eventually taught myself Python to launch a startup.

 

What does your working day look like?
 I work from home so thankfully every day is a little bit different! Generally, I get up around 7am before my husband, and I make myself a cup of coffee and do emails (with a cat on my lap) until he wakes up. We’ll either make breakfast or go out, and then I work either at home or at a coffee shop until the mid-afternoon, when I start getting a little tired of working. At this point I’ll usually go to yoga, or do some painting, or something else “non-techy” before dinner, and then either TV or more work after dinner.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
 Writing and self-publishing a book (http://hellowebapp.com) is the best thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s such a fun and fulfilling project — I made something that helps people out, and it makes me money so I can continue to work from home. The worst part about working for yourself is worrying about money constantly, and the success of Hello Web App has been great for my career and has allowed me to continue working for myself on things I enjoy.

 

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
 Elon Musk is a huge inspiration — he’s doing such great work in areas I’m interested in (space exploration *and* renewable energy *and* electric cars!)
My husband, Andrey Petrov,  has also been a huge influence in my life. He did a startup, so I wanted to do a startup, he helped teach me Python, he’s very smart and helps me out with everything techy. I’m glad to have him in my life — I probably wouldn’t be here without him!

 

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
 I love being able to work from anywhere! I can take my laptop and go on long trips — since my husband pretty much does the same as me, we can rent our place and then work remotely for months at a time. We’ve taken three 2-3 month trips in Europe so far.

 

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Nope, I quit CSC and got an Art & Design degree!
I hate the idea that every person has to have the same tech knowledge when working in tech. I certainly missed out on some essential computer science essentials by not finishing my degree, but I know more about startups and entrepreneurship and that’s truly what I’m interested in. I love programming but have no interest in theory, and I hope to help spread the gospel that there isn’t only one thing you can do if you’re interested in IT. :)

 

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code)
 Related to the above — don’t feel like you have to become an engineer! You can learn how to code and use that work in tech as a copywriter, or build a startup, or just a fun side project, or become a project manager, or become an engineer. I know a lot of people get intimidated by the amount of information they feel they need when they learn to code, but there are so many things you can do when you know how to code, not just go into a back-end engineering position. :)

 

Could you tell us a bit more about your book? :)
Haha, which one? :) Hello Web App (http://hellowebapp.com) is actually two books teaching web app development using Python and Django. My goal was to help folks who are interested in coding with no coding background get to that “success moment” quickly — so the books are a straightforward tutorial that glosses over theory and the “how” behind things… and my goal is to show how easy it is to build a basic web app and then folks can learn the theory and best-practices after.

 

I’m working on Hello Web Design (http://hellowebdesignbook.com) now. I loved teaching basic programming ideas, so I decided to work a bit on the other side of the equation and teach basic design skills. Same thing as Hello Web App — I’m going to gloss over a lot of theory and best-practices and teach more shortcuts and guidelines. After all, there are a *lot* of theory books already! I’m fundraising for it now on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1868398473/hello-web-design-design-basics-for-non-designers/

 

Extra question from Meri: What discovery (tech or process or tool) has made the biggest difference to you personally?
 I’ve started a Google Doc I call “Daily Goals” where, at the top, I have a list of all my major goals I want to accomplish (like “become a leader in tech” and “launch Hello Web Design”) and a place below where I can write what I want to accomplish that day. Reviewing that in the mornings keeps me more on track.

 

Tracy almost reached her fundraising goal at KickStarter for her new book ‘Hello Web Design: Design Basics for Non-Designers’! It would be great if you could give her project some love :-) 

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Spotlight 80: Virtual reality expert Jazmine! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-80/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-80/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 09:01:22 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2930 Hellooooo!! I’m not sure if it’s still ‘allowed’, but HAPPY NEWYEAR to every one of you! It’s been a while since my last post and I’m very sorry. Sometimes life happens while you’re busy making other plans :-) But, that aside, I’m happy to be back with a wonderful interview.

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Hellooooo!! I’m not sure if it’s still ‘allowed’, but HAPPY NEWYEAR to every one of you! It’s been a while since my last post and I’m very sorry. Sometimes life happens while you’re busy making other plans :-) But, that aside, I’m happy to be back with a wonderful interview. This week I’m introducing you to Jazmine and together with Jazmine, we’re diving into the amazing world of VR. Thank you so much for your time Jazmine :-) Enjoy reading!

Name: Jazmine Olinger
Job: Co-founder & COO at Ilium VR
Favorite website, app or gadget: Google Chromecast
Favorite book: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Site: My company site is iliumvr.com

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
When I started high school, I had to choose an elective class for the first time. I had this huge list of classes, and I had no idea what to take, so I asked my dad and he suggested I take Programming I. My dad is a programmer turned entrepreneur himself, so I was pretty computer savvy growing up, but I didn’t know much about programming. So, I took the class – I was the only girl in the class but my teacher was really great, he didn’t treat me any differently from my classmates and it turned out to be my favorite class. My high school actually cut all the programming curriculum the year after I took the class because not enough students enrolled, so I was lucky I wound up taking it when I did.

From there I just decided that’s what I would study in college. Later in high school, I took an AP Computer Science class online, and my last year of high school I took some programming classes at the local community college. Then I was off to college and it all just took off from there. All throughout high school and the start of college I actually wanted to get a PhD and do research in computer science but I wound up starting my company during college and went down that path instead.

What does your working day look like?
Well… It’s not very consistent. We’re a small company so I fill a lot of different roles here, so no day is exactly the same. But generally, it consists of coming in, coffee first thing, then we have a morning meeting where we go over what we’re all going to work on that day. I go through emails, respond to some things right away and decide when I’m going to work on longer responses. I pretty frequently have meetings scheduled sporadically throughout the day, sometimes in person, sometimes over the phone. I handle most of the financial and legal and logistical stuff for the company which is kind of just like a game of whack-a-mole where I just deal with situations as they arise.

I don’t work on as much coding anymore as I’d like to since there’s so much else going on in running the business, but I do always have a project that is my “tech work” that I put time into when everything else is taken care of. Right now, that is working on our logistics system for handling orders and shipping which is getting a revamp right now since we’re not actively taking any orders. This motivates me to get through all my other less fun work, then I get to work on actual cool programming stuff.

We also travel a lot which is awesome, on travel days we’re usually going to give a demo of the controller, so after the hassle of lugging our cumbersome setup across NYC or San Francisco or some other city. Once we actually get there and setup, the fun starts, we get to just share our experience with people – what we make is gun controllers for VR games, so they usually have a blast playing with it, shooting some zombies, and then we get to chat about VR and what we’re doing or what they’re doing. That’s the fun part of the job.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Well, I’m going to branch out from purely technical projects and say HackRPI, which is a 500+ student hackathon I founded in 2015 with three other students (two of them are also the Ilium VR co-founders) while we were juniors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We started out just attending other hackathons together and we decided that our school needed one. It was a huge undertaking; it really consumed my life for the first year we ran it. But it was a great hackathon and totally worth all the late nights put in, I was and am still very proud of it. The second year was much easier to run. For the third year, I actually got to return as a sponsor through Ilium VR and was super proud to see the team we established running it so well without us.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
Someone who inspires me in life, in general, is Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to get political here, so I’ll just say I think she’s a very admirable woman and I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time! Looking just at tech, I think Grace Hopper is very inspiring. She was amazingly smart, and it’s kinda crazy how much she did in her life and how long she kept working. I think if I can work even half as hard as either of those women I’ll accomplish a lot in life.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
It’s interesting, it’s fun, it changes a lot, the possibilities are as close to endless, and any industry can get I think. I think the tech industry is a lot more creative and open to change than other industries. I’ve never worked in anything but tech though so it’s really all I know. And it definitely is not without issues. I can sometimes get a little fatigued with the lack of interaction with other women, which started back in college, my school had a 70:30 male to female ratio overall, and an even worse ratio in computer science department. That can get a little discouraging, not that I don’t like working with men, but I sometimes crave a little variety. Otherwise, I think it’s a great industry and I hope it keeps growing in diversity.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Yeah, I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, which is where I met my co-founders and where our company is still located. I’d say my first year of classes in computer science really helped the most. I already knew a little bit of coding from high school but the first year of college really taught me the fundamentals behind everything, particularly classes on data structures and algorithms, and from there I felt like I could teach myself anything.

As far as my other major, I definitely am glad I got a formal education in mathematics, I think math is a lot harder to teach yourself than coding – although certainly, some people can do it. I found it hard to motivate myself just to sit down and learn any sort of math on my own, so I’m glad I learned it in school. Even though I don’t do it much in my current role I’m super interested in the intersection between computer science and math, in college I did a lot of work in computational mathematics and data analysis and I think it’s a really cool field.

After my first year of college I felt like I took off when it came to coding. My second year I started going to hackathons and also joined the open source club at my school where I was always working on some project. Once I had the mindset that I could figure out any library or any new language and put it to use to do anything it really made the possibilities limitless for what I could work on, it was only a matter of if I wanted to put in the time. After going to a few hackathons and making something in a weekend using some tool I had never used beforehand, I never looked at any new technology and thought that it was too hard or I couldn’t learn it.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Well to someone who knows nothing about coding and is trying to teach themselves, I’d advise them to ask someone else! I’m very impressed with people who have done this, a lot of people ask me this, and honestly, I’m not the person to ask because I didn’t teach myself, I was taught pretty formally. But I will say once you’ve got the basics down, whether you taught yourself or you were formally taught, you should just throw yourself into a project that interests you. Just come up with some “thing” you want to make or do and then do some planning to figure out what technologies you need to add to your arsenal to make it. If you are working on something, you care about you’ll fly through your project.

I would also advise them not to get bogged down in the “I don’t know how to do this” mindset because if you approach it piece by piece, you can figure out every step. Plus, you’d be surprised how many people have tried to use whatever exact library you’re using for almost the exact thing you’re trying to do, chances are someone has already asked about it on Stack Overflow or some other forum, and you can find a step by step guide on how to do it. And if not, ask yourself. Eventually you’re going to be the person writing oddly specific detailed responses on how to use some obscure technology that you know well, but for now don’t be afraid to take advantage of other people’s advice. If you get truly stuck on something, and you can’t figure it out or get help, just move on to another part of your project or another project entirely. When you come back to the problem you were stuck on you’d be surprised how quickly you may figure it out after some time away and some more experience.

Could you tell us something about VR and what you like about it?
Yeah so VR is pretty great, there’s a lot out there in the VR industry, but my company and my interest is in the gaming sector of VR, so I’ll talk about that. If you’ve never tried a VR game you really should – it’s a whole new world of immersion into a game. When you’re playing a good VR game, you forget it’s a game, which can be amazing or terrifying depending on the game.

One of the first VR games I ever played was called Dreadhalls, it’s this horror game where you have to navigate through a maze, and there’s lots of scary stuff that comes out at you, and you can’t fight anything, so it’s a matter of running away and surviving to get to the end of the maze. And it’s really very scary, and I’m not someone who plays horror games or watches horror movies, to begin with. So, my roommate offered me $20 to just play the game until the end of the maze, and I was in college at this time, so $20 was quite a prize for just sitting and playing a game for 10 minutes. But I honestly couldn’t do it; it got me so scared that I just whipped off the headset off after a few minutes. So, that aspect is really cool for people who enjoy being terrified. I’m not one of those people.

Other kinds of immersion are really promising, though, an immersion that is thrilling but not terrifying or immersion in beautiful and unique environments and great stories are more exciting to me. I was actually a pretty serious World of Warcraft player for about six years (and I very recently started playing again, please send help), so to me the coolest application of VR would be an MMO. First person shooter games, of course, are great for VR, and that’s what we do at Ilium VR currently is develop gun controllers. In the future, we’re looking towards developing all kinds of VR peripherals and that’s what is most exciting to me. I do play a few shooter games, recently I’ve gotten particularly hooked on Overwatch, but I’ve never been as dedicated to FPS as many gamers I know. I enjoy a wide variety of games so I’m looking forward to bringing even more interactions to VR games beyond gun controllers.

Extra question from Lee: Do you have any side projects?
Yeah actually, I’ve got a little idea for a VR application having to do with audiobooks, that’s my current side project. It’s been on the back-burner for a while now but I hope I have time to finish it eventually.

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Vedrana is building an app for Hashimoto’s http://codepancake.com/vedrana-building-app-hashimotos/ http://codepancake.com/vedrana-building-app-hashimotos/#respond Fri, 25 Nov 2016 09:01:49 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2918 This week, I’m doing things a little differently. I decided to highlight a wonderful project from Vedrana. If you followed along, you already know her from Spotlight ep 62!  This week, she wrote a beautiful piece about Hashimoto’s and the app she’s building. Thank you Vedrana! Published Nov 25th. Written by:

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This week, I’m doing things a little differently. I decided to highlight a wonderful project from Vedrana. If you followed along, you already know her from Spotlight ep 62!  This week, she wrote a beautiful piece about Hashimoto’s and the app she’s building. Thank you Vedrana!


Published Nov 25th. Written by: Vedrana Tabor

Why did I decide to build an app for Hashimoto’s?

The shortest answer would be: because I know the disease. I am a Hashimoto’s patient. I have been living with this condition for years. It has been running in my family for at least three generations and has profoundly affected all of our lives.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder where our immune system is attacking and destroying the body’s own thyroid gland.

As a consequence, our thyroid gland loses its functionality, becomes underactive, and can’t produce the thyroid hormone thyroxin. Thyroid hormones are the key to unlocking fuel storage within the cell. If we lack thyroxin, all of the cells in our body suffer from lack of energy and will fail to complete even the simplest metabolic processes.
As a cell’s machinery starts slowing down, we start feeling increasingly tired. Our hair starts thinning; our nails become softer and brittle; we gain weight, can’t focus, and have headaches. It’s only the tip of the iceberg.

These are some of the “simpler” consequences of having an underactive thyroid. However, having an autoimmune condition means that there is a lot more going on in the body. Most strikingly: our gut, where the majority of immune response is formed, is especially sensitive. There are frequent digestive issues and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) connected with Hashimoto’s.

Hashimoto’s is not a long recognized disorder, unlike cancer, which has been known since ancient Egypt (3000 BC). Hashimoto’s was first described and given its name in 1912, around the time my great grandmother was entering her teens. She is the most likely carrier through which I have inherited it. I do not know if she had it, but the rest of us following in the line did and do have it.

How far have we come since 1912? In the 1950s, one researcher wrote: “the disease described by Hashimoto’s in these terms nearly 40 years ago has ever since been attended by confusion and controversy.” Today it is not much different from most of the thyroid conditions; it seems that thyroid conditions as whole are mostly not recognized: 60% of people go undiagnosed! Cases of subclinical hypothyroidism (when there is an indication of a faulty thyroid, but not a fully presented disease) are projected to be present in about 10 to 13% of the western population. This is mostly when doctors (but it largely depends on doctors) do not prescribe any treatment, except waiting and observing. The fact is that a large majority of these cases will turn into a full-blown hypothyroidism within ten years. So, what can we do to prevent the full-blown disease? What if we track more diligently, eat better and exercise more? How to be more ready?

Vedrana and her younger sister, who was also recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's

Vedrana and her younger sister, who was also recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s

Why am I building tool for Hashimoto’s management?

Besides being a patient, I am a health entrepreneur and researcher with a Ph.D. in cancer research and am very much driven by enabling the empowerment of all the patients.

It takes a lot of energy and determination to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent the flare-ups and the progression of Hashimoto’s. With the increasing number of symptoms, their temporal and anatomic spread, changes in intensities as well as the individual differences, it becomes evident that Hashimoto’s is a complex disease. A disease where us patients can do much to manage it, and to contribute to slowing down the progression with keeping our health in check.

To do so, one needs to know and understand a lot of quite advanced biology, such as immunology, nutrition, genetics and endocrinology; and the connection between them. This year, there were around 500 scientific publications on the topic of Hashimoto’s; this is about 1.5% of all-time publications on this subject, and they cover everything: headaches as precursors of Hashimoto’s (help with the early diagnostics), potential of selenium or vitamin D in lowering the antibody titer (management), likelihood of developing thyroid and other cancers, etc. One big issue is the lack of good and trustable scientific data: in a recent literature review Danish scientists have gone through 3500 research studies published in the past decades, and only 16 studies were deemed trustable enough to reach a conclusion. That is a waste of time and money for the entire society. In 2016 this should not still be happening. We should have tools to enable faster, better and cleaner data collection. We should be able to collect the data from different geographies and different people. This is one of our aims with Boost Health.

Hashimoto’s re-programs our bodies long before it is diagnosed. It starts around the time of or even before our birth. It starts attacking our thyroid, but slowly the other tissues too. This is my primary learning: Hashimoto’s is not a single organ disease; this misery does like its company.

There is a lot of good content on Hashimoto’s out there: many blogs and support pages, with some great content, helping people to learn a lot about the condition. However, when it comes to tracking, quantifying and analyzing symptoms it becomes an empty space.

How many of us are out there?

The exact number of people with Hashimoto’s is still not known. What we know is that the number of people diagnosed with it is on the increase since 1950, this doesn’t necessarily mean there are more people suffering from it, but only that it is increasingly recognized and diagnosed.

Estimates vary; some average value estimates show there are about 2% of people diagnosed, while the people that have the disease and have subclinical hypothyroidism is close to 10%, or according to some reports even 13% of the total population. For comparison, the prevalence of diabetes type 2 is around 8%.

Hashimoto’s is still not getting its deserved place in the spotlight. With the numbers being similar to diabetes type 2, which in itself is considered a health crisis, it should be taken more seriously.

Similar to diabetes, Hashimoto’s can have quite a severe and long lasting effect on our bodies and our health. It predisposes people to some conditions and diseases: diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, thyroid and colon cancer. It also lowers the chances of successful pregnancies.

How to cope with the symptoms?

Symptoms are many, and they differ in the duration and intensity, and while some might be typical for many of us (feeling tired, having headache, brittle nails, cold hands and feet), the others will show a more individual pattern (inability to eat certain foods).

With every flare up, it means that our body is reacting to something we did or failed to do (food, medication, exercise). We can experiment and learn what behaviors do good to us. We can quantify and analyze.

Many of the patients we talked to share the same view: they feel a need to be taken care of, to have a collection of one’s symptoms, and to have actionable, relevant information at hand.

Screenshot Boost App                     ‘Early Prototype of the boost Health App.’

What are the plans for the app?

The app is now being finalized for beta testing on both iOS and Android, and we plan to test a few basic assumptions. This is our starting point. We have more ideas we are excited to test, always by combining science, good and trustable data and benefit for the users. Boost is a relatively small team of five, coming from different cultures, regions and educational backgrounds with a common goal: make life easier for patients suffering from chronic conditions.

For us, complexity is an attractive component of the problem. Taking on tough and meaningful problems makes us very motivated.

As a scientist and a researcher, I know how to clean data needs to be to use it for any valid research. Combining scientific rigor with the user delight is challenging, but not impossible, to achieve. I have enough knowledge and experience to attempt doing it properly and put a smile on people’s faces, but also have to mean for their health.

We need to work on recognizing early symptoms. For example, thyroid cancer prevalence has increased by almost 40% since 2010 in the US, and it is the most rapidly growing form of cancer. If detected early, the majority of thyroid cancer patients can be fully cured.

As a patient, I would like to know when and how to increase my health awareness and become more proactive in managing my thyroid condition.

As a researcher, I have several hypotheses I would love to see tested.

My dream is to build a product that would help people with a diagnosis lead a healthier life through providing them with top notch and up to date information and by converting new research results into tracking options, analytics, and insights.

At the same time, we would like to facilitate the doctor’s workflow. One of our wishes is for doctors to get live updates in the disease prediction charts and for research to have a better, more global, diverse and inclusive reach. I believe that this type of global research will give us at least an indication of how Hashimoto’s works at each and every stage, how to recognize it faster, how to successfully manage it with different treatment modalities and how to know when it starts progressing.

Currently, we are looking for beta testers of our app (we will be releasing beta very soon). We are also looking for talented and passionate people in areas of health, science, and technology.

Vedrana working

Vedrana working on the app

Interested to know more?

www.boosthealthapp.com

https://www.facebook.com/boosthealthapp/?fref=ts

About Verdana
Vedrana Högqvist Tabor has a Ph.D. in molecular biology, has spent 13 years researching different aspects of cancer and cardiovascular diseases in several European institutes, including Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She has traveled and lectured at Columbia University, the University of Oxford, as well as WIRED Health and TEDx. As a researcher, she has gotten grants and awards from Sweden, Germany, EU, and US. She has spent the last two years as a director of scientific research for Clue. She is a mentor for budding startups in biomedicine and is building her venture.

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Spotlight 79: self-taught software developer Chantal! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-79-self-taught-software-developer-chantal/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-79-self-taught-software-developer-chantal/#respond Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:00:17 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2901 It’s Spotlight Friday! And we’re going back to my country this time. I’m so happy to connect with more Dutch female developers! Please let me introduce you to Chantal! Chantal taught herself how to code when she was 17 and she’s working as a software developer now. Curious what got

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It’s Spotlight Friday! And we’re going back to my country this time. I’m so happy to connect with more Dutch female developers! Please let me introduce you to Chantal! Chantal taught herself how to code when she was 17 and she’s working as a software developer now. Curious what got her into programming?

Name: Chantal Broeren
Biography: I learned myself how to code, I love logic and math, and I’m a perfectionist. At the age of 17, I finished high school with not knowing what to do next. I started working and besides that I learned to code. What began as a hobby, became my next job, when I started university at the age of 23. University was peanuts, and I even got a job at the university, tutoring other students. While still completing the university program, I started working as a developer. Now I work as a lead developer for a small innovative company named Fabriquartz. I’m working with the EmberJS framework most of the times, but sometimes, I’m helping the back-end developers with Ruby on Rails. I’m a fan of test-driven-development and I want to keep improving my skills and just started learning to program in Elixir/Phoenix. I like to attend meetups and conferences to keep up-to-date with the newest stuff. Last but not least, I’m slightly working on getting more well-known in the community, and I already made and presented some add-ons, like the ember-context-menu. I would love to get to that point where I can help others to learn, structure, code, etc…
Job: Lead software developer @ Fabriquartz, Arnhem NL
Favorite website, app or gadget: Right now that would definitely be Slack. The best way to keep in touch with many different communities and get / provide help from / to other developers.
Favorite book: Honestly, I don’t read (a lot), so couldn’t tell at the moment.
Twitter: @cccbroeren
Site: Working on that…

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
Ever since I was little, I was interested in anything that had to do with logic and math. In high school, I was taking the technical classes, and I enjoyed it. Because I wasn’t sure about what study to choose next, I ended up working in a full-time job. In the meantime, I started learning to code by myself since I was 17. Can’t remember any reason for doing it, it just got my attention because of the logic and the technical aspect. After several years and five different jobs, I decided to quit my job and to change my hobby into my work. At the age of 23, I started at the university for computer science, and I began building my network to get a new job in IT as soon as possible.

What does your working day look like?
I arrive at work around 9 am and then I  take some time to get up-to-date with everything. Through the day, I’m programming on parts of our application most of the time. In general that will be varied with a daily standup at 10.07am ( strange time so that anyone will remember it), fix bugs, help/teach my co-workers, do a brainstorm/design/architecture session when needed, review code and deploy our app. We’re a small team of front- and back-end developers, and we work together really close. We all grab lunch in the restaurant that is located in the same building, and I leave work around 6 pm.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
That will be the main project of our organization. We make (and maintain) a 4D asset planning application. We’re running a current version in production, but are working on a new, more generic and extendable version. Besides the background information you need to know the data structure (it is really big), I love it because of the variety, the out-of-the-box innovative thinking and I’m putting all my effort in it.

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you?
Is it weird to say I haven’t? I’m inspired in general by people who are dedicated and getting all the best out of themselves by keep on learning, taking the lead on new stuff and speaking at conferences.

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
I love it because it all depends on logic and math. It satisfies me to think about and to solve complex issues and to put some of my perfectionist traits in it.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Besides my full-time job, I’m planning to graduate next February. Although, I feel I haven’t learned many new things because most of it I already knew. My point of view is that you have to explore yourself and dive into the details and new stuff to keep learning. If you have a good feeling for logic, you can develop anything. I would say, the university should pay more attention to just logic as a fundamental.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Do it! Don’t doubt or wait for it, because you wouldn’t get disappointed. Start with some basics, improve your logic view on the world, and join the communities (Slack, meetups, watch conference talks, and so on…) to get the best help. There is no failing, only learning.

Extra question from Lee: What are the advantages and challenges of being female and working in IT/Tech?
Everybody knows the general women/men ratio and the ongoing discussion about this. Even at high school (with the classes I’ve chosen) we had just two girls out of 24 students. I’m used to be that ‘one girl,’ and I don’t bother. Sometimes it feels like I have to convince others more of the fact that I am a great developer just because I’m female. Otherwise, I think women are way more structured in working, planning and programming, and are more dedicated to improving (themselves and the code they’re writing). My partner once said: every team of developers should have at least one woman because of this.

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Spotlight number 78: software engineer Franziska http://codepancake.com/spotlight-number-78-software-engineer-franziska/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-number-78-software-engineer-franziska/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 09:01:26 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2892 It’s been a while! I skipped a couple of weeks due to a lot of personal things and I finally got the time to publish spotlight number 78! This week we’re going to meet Franziska, engineer at Google. Franziska is working on Chrome V8 and she is a Node.js contributor.

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It’s been a while! I skipped a couple of weeks due to a lot of personal things and I finally got the time to publish spotlight number 78! This week we’re going to meet Franziska, engineer at Google. Franziska is working on Chrome V8 and she is a Node.js contributor. Learn more about Franziska below! 

Name: Franziska Hinkelmann, PhD
Job: Software Engineer at Google working on Chrome V8
Favorite website, app or gadget: Brain Focus, a timer for the pomodoro method.
Favorite book: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Twitter: @fhinkel

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
During my PostDoc, I worked on a project that involved a lot of programming. My mentor was at a different university, so we would usually meet for a week and focus on coding. After one of those visits, I realized that I enjoy a week of programming much more than a week of research. I decided to leave academia and work in software engineering. Luckily, I found a great job where they put huge emphasis on professional development and where I learned a lot about writing good code (shout-out to https://www.tngtech.com/en.html). After almost three years I decided I was ready for a new challenge and I now work on V8, Google’s open-source JavaScript engine.

What does your working day look like?
I spend most of my time reading code. Either for code reviews or because I need to add a feature or fix a bug. When needed, we have ad-hoc discussions about how to best approach a problem or tackle a bug, and of course, coffee breaks. Not on a daily basis, but somewhat frequently, a fair amount of my time goes into proposal writing. Either for conference talks or e.g., a summer internship.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
A web interface for a math research software. It’s a side project together with two friends, but we’re quite serious about it and it’s used in several schools. It’s the coolest, because we can use whichever technologies we want. It’s written in Node.js, which is a lot of fun to experiment with (especially in the early wild days before Express and socket.io), has a fancy-looking Material UI frontend, uses Travis CI, starts up a new linux container for every user, and we can deploy it to the cloud.

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you?
All the people who sacrifice their time and energy to teach others.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
The work itself is very interesting. It’s like puzzle solving and there’s always something to learn. Sometimes my head seems to be on fire from all the thinking and concentrating. But I know I can talk to my coworkers if I need help, so I never feel stuck for too long.

In academia, I felt like I don’t have any impact: it would take months for a paper to be published, and then it’s read by a handful of people. Now we release daily. To a billion people. Software is also more of a team effort. It’s more fun to accomplish something together and to be able to ask for help (very hard in academia where at some point you feel like you’re the only person in the world that knows the topic).

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I have a PhD in Math (Discrete models in cancer biology) and took a few CS courses as an undergrad. Working on compilers now, some of the very theoretical CS stuff from CS 101 finally makes some sense, like context-free grammar. They didn’t teach programming in my CS courses, so it’s self-taught by trial and error, pair programming, reading books and blog posts, and code reviews. But mostly trial and error.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)

Just do it! Don’t get discouraged, programming is hard.

If you can, do pair programming. It’s so much fun and you learn so much more than working by yourself. But mostly the fun part is important. If you have the chance, go to local Meetups (Software Craftsmanship, Code Retreats or anything with Kata in the title means hands on pair programming). They’re usually free and a great way to meet people and learn something new. Often a simple question asked in person is so much more helpful than searching the internet or books for hours by yourself.

Extra question from Sara: What is your favorite gif? Please give a link if you can find it :)


The one above and this one: http://www.hilariousgifs.com/bear-says-hi/

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Spotlight 77: Meet Alexandra Leisse! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-77/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-77/#respond Fri, 14 Oct 2016 08:01:46 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2881 Happy Friday everyone! I’m currently working from Vermont and it’s really beautiful!  So…I’ll never do this, but I feel like sharing a picture :-) I love autmn!  Anyway, time for Spotlight number 77! This week we’re going to meet Alexandra. Alexandra is head of User Experience and Design and she

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Happy Friday everyone! I’m currently working from Vermont and it’s really beautiful!  So…I’ll never do this, but I feel like sharing a picture :-) I love autmn!  Anyway, time for Spotlight number 77! This week we’re going to meet Alexandra. Alexandra is head of User Experience and Design and she organizes Rails Girls Oslo. I think she has some GREAT advice on learning to code and I love her story, so don’t let me keep you from reading :) Enjoy and thank you so much Alexandra!
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Name: Alexandra Leisse
Job: Head of User Experience and Design at Ardoq
Favorite website, app or gadget: That’s a tricky one, I’m such a gadget freak. I love my Pebble Time because it helps me keeping my phone out of my hands.
Favorite book: Not sure I have a favorite book, really. I read all sorts of different things. But I’m currently reading Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery, and it’s fantastic.
Twitter: @troubalex
Site: troubalex.de (the least outdated in my collection of sites)

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I had always been fascinated by computers. When I came out of school, I considered studying computer sciences. I wasn’t particularly good at anything that had to do with math, though, so I didn’t dare.

Instead, I put my efforts into coloratura. But I kept tinkering, and at some point, it was the most logical step to take. I love to make things, and I can spend countless hours on the general topic technology: reading, sketching, tinkering.

What does your working day look like?
First things first: coffee. Then I make my way through emails, Github issues, and the chat backlog. After that, it depends on the day.

Currently, I am working a lot in Sketch to mockup our new interface. Other days, I write sticky notes, sketch on paper, do customer support and user research, or I jump into my editor and code until I’m happy with how the app looks and feels.

We have a lot of discussions around features, existing and new, and how to solve problems we encountered when talking to customers and in product demos.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Hands down, Ardoq, the application I am currently employed to work on, is the coolest as far as projects go. We’re so few colleagues, and we all have to wear multiple hats, all the time. I am constantly pushed outside my comfort zone, have to get up to speed on new topics quickly, and have a lot of personal freedom. At the same time, we’re solving real problems for real people. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also very satisfying.

Enterprise software may not be the coolest thing ever but it’s challenging, and there is an opportunity to make a real impact on a lot of people’s workday.

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
There is so much to learn! It’s exciting. I never feel like I can get to the bottom of things, that there is so much more to explore. I love to learn, and I love that there are so many different aspects I can explore. It never gets boring.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I got my master’s degree in opera and stage performance, so everything I know about technology, I had to learn myself. I worked hard to close as many knowledge gaps as possible, but I still sometimes feel inferior to people who have degrees in more relevant fields. Designers seem so obsessed with their “official” process, which often makes me feel like I’m making stuff up as I go along.

Of course, this isn’t true. I try not to beat myself up about it anymore.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
I have a little story for you.
I did a research study on mobile developers, in which I charted out what their workflow and environment looked like. I did a number of observations where I sat in a corner and just watched what people did.

The first one was at an iOS developer’s office. I sat and took notes as he switched back and forth between XCode, the online documentation, and StackOverflow. When I asked him about it, why he would spend so much time googling and looking up solutions, didn’t he know this stuff?, he just laughed, and said: of course not, it’s different every time, and why would I remember all the API calls anyway if I can simply look them up? I was baffled. I thought developers came up with everything by themselves.

I have been much less intimidated ever since.

So, if you’re interested, do it! Just try it out. There is practically nothing you have to lose, and you’re probably over-estimating what everyone else knows.

Could you tell us something about Rails Girls Oslo?
I had been eyeing the Rails Girls movement for a while, and I really liked the “franchise concept”. I had been to a number of events related to women in tech in Oslo, but I missed something with a stronger focus on programming. I couldn’t find anything.

That’s when I decided I’d run with it myself.

It still took me almost two years from the decision to execution, but the sheer amount of sign ups we got proved that Oslo needs this kind of community. In the meantime, Django Girls have arrived as well, which is fantastic!

I only managed to get one single event off the ground so far, but I’d definitely like to do it again. So if you’re interested in helping out, and you’re in the area, hit me up.

Extra question from Besma: Do you ever look at your older code? How does that make you feel?
Most often, I first feel confused because I have no idea what I was thinking. And then it makes me laugh. What was I thinking!?! But it also makes me feel proud because I have made such immense progress since I wrote it. I am constantly improving.

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Spotlight 76: meet SheNomads founder LaToya! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-76-meet-shenomads-founder-latoya/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-76-meet-shenomads-founder-latoya/#respond Fri, 07 Oct 2016 08:02:23 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2873 Happy Friday everyone! Time for the first Spotlight of October, time passes by so quickly. This week we’re going to discuss a topic that’s of great interest to me: remote work! At GitHub,  I have the amazing opportunity to work remotely, and I’m really grateful for this. As some of you

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Happy Friday everyone! Time for the first Spotlight of October, time passes by so quickly. This week we’re going to discuss a topic that’s of great interest to me: remote work! At GitHub,  I have the amazing opportunity to work remotely, and I’m really grateful for this. As some of you may know, I have relatives living in South America, and it’s been such a great experience to be able to work from there and to be with my family at the same time. It makes me very happy :D

But enough about me :-) This week we’re going to meet LaToya Allen, she’s coding for Big Cartel and building SheNomads in the meantime. She’s also co-organizer of ChicagoRuby, and you may know here from her inspiring articles on diversity in tech.

Name: LaToya
Job: I’m building SheNomads while working for Big Cartel
Favorite App: Zombies, Run!
Favorite Book: Women who Run with the Wolves
Twitter: @HashtagLaToya and @SheNomads
Site: SheNomads.com

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
My yoga class got canceled, and I needed something to do.  I stumbled upon some free coding tutorials and started playing around with those. I was hooked! I’ve been writing code ever since.

What does your work day look like?
It’s always different depending on where I am.  If I’m working from Chicago, I’m up by 6 am for either weights, kickboxing, or a walk.  Then I’ll grab a coffee, and get online for Big Cartel anytime from 8 am to 11 am depending on who I pair with. I’ll do an hour of work for SheNomads before bed; editing the podcast, adding listings to the job board, interviewing companies that want to be on the job board to make sure that they are a fit for us. By that I mean, they have to be committed to diversity and inclusion.

If I’m working from EU, I wake up and explore whatever city I’m in, have a late lunch with friends, and then work.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
For SheNomads, I think the remote work retreat is the coolest thing at the moment.  It’s in Mexico City, and yoga will be lead twice a day by Jessica Jones, who is a traveling yogi. I was able to get Garage Cowork to sponsor the co-working space, and MealSharing.com to sponsor an authentic, home-cooked, Mexican meal for us.

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you?
Muhammad Ali, Prince, Michelle Obama, Solange

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
I love the work I do.  Other than that, I don’t think there is much to love about working in Tech.  But I’m excited that people are working on fixing it, and are being given more visibility than ever.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I dropped out of school three times!

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code ?)

Advice: Get started, find mentors, negotiate, and don’t take the equity.

Could you tell us a bit more about SheNomads?
SheNomads is a community of folks who work in tech.  Rather it’s writing code, creating digital content, or providing support, we all want to enjoy our lives in and outside of the workplace.  For some of us, this means landing a remote job.  For others, it means having the resources necessary to unplug at the end of a long day.

As the SheNomads community continues to grow, we will stay committed to:

1. Diversity & Inclusion

2. Wellness & Self-Care

3. Mentoring & Knowledge Share

Do you want to know more about SheNomads? Head over to SheNomads.com

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Spotlight 75: meet superhero Laura! http://codepancake.com/spotlight-75-meet-superhero-laura/ http://codepancake.com/spotlight-75-meet-superhero-laura/#respond Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:01:09 +0000 http://codepancake.com/?p=2865 It’s time for Spotlight 75! Number 100, here we come :-) This week I’m introducing you to Laura Sanders, and she is SUPER awesome. Laura runs two different companies together with her business partner. She co-organizes HybridConf, a wonderful conference that took place in Berlin last August (I should go

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It’s time for Spotlight 75! Number 100, here we come :-) This week I’m introducing you to Laura Sanders, and she is SUPER awesome. Laura runs two different companies together with her business partner. She co-organizes HybridConf, a wonderful conference that took place in Berlin last August (I should go next time!) and she’s working on design and web development at Superhero Studios.  I’m really happy to share her story this week!  Enjoy reading :-)

 

Name: Laura Sanders
Job: One-half of Superhero Studios & Co-Organiser of HybridConf
Favorite website, app or gadget: Instagram – it’s consistently positive, and I love seeing my friends sharing the fun and joyful parts of their day
Favorite book: I don’t have a single favourite, but my favourite author is Jeffrey Eugenides
Twitter: @teawithlemon
Site: I don’t have one right now, I am working on it!

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
Honestly, I hadn’t even really considered it until I was looking for something new and a couple of friends pointed out that I had some skills and qualities that would make me a good fit for UX. I started studying core UX principles and some basic front-end development in preparation for getting my first role and realised I really enjoyed the problem solving. I’ve always liked things that combine both creativity and logic, so as soon as I started it was a natural fit and I couldn’t wait to learn more.

 

What does your working day look like?

I run two different companies with my business partner and we’re the only employees, so the range of tasks I have to do is super broad and I really don’t have any typical day in terms of the work that I do. One day I might be sketching logo concepts or working on CSS animations, and the next I’m sorting out foreign VAT returns.

I’m fortunate to work from home, so I have a lot of flexibility with when and how I work. I’ve been trying out a few new things lately which have been great for my work day. I’ve just started keeping a bullet journal and I’m already obsessed with it, and I’ve started taking walks late morning or early afternoon to take a break and reset before diving into the next task.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My favourite recent project was working with an accelerator program with BMW MINI as a design mentor. We got to work closely with nine different early stage companies helping them with all kinds of things from branding to wireframes to front-end to infographics over a couple of months. Having so many mini projects with so much variety was really motivating, and it was awesome to help passionate companies that are just starting out but will hopefully go on to do really well.

 

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you?
Oh gosh, this question is the hardest because there are so many people who inspire me and I know I’ll be mad if I miss someone important out. But to mention just a few: The ladies at Ghostly Ferns for always creating work that is so joyous and positive; our HybridConf MC and ambassador Carl Smith for inspiring me to be kind, generous, and open-minded; Heather Rooney who has just the most incredible talent for drawing; Brit Morin for creating an amazing, successful business for women.

 

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I have two main reasons. Firstly, I love the creation process. By myself I can come up with the initial idea and take it all the way to a finished product. Gradually seeing it come together as I build it is really exciting and it’s so great to see your progress from one project to the next and to have this physical evidence of your growth that you can be proud of.
Secondly, the community. I have met so many fantastic people through this industry (especially through running HybridConf), some of whom are now really close friends, and it’s really inspiring to be part of this group of wonderful, talented individuals.

 

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
No, not at all, my degree is in media and journalism. There are definitely skills I learned and honed in my degree that are still useful for my job though, like writing, and deconstructing things to analyse why something has been done that way and whether it actually works for the purpose. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out by not having any technical qualifications as there are so many other great ways to learn new skills in this industry.

 

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code ?)
Get involved in the community even if you don’t feel like you ‘belong’ there yet – follow some people on Twitter, go to a local meetup or even a conference (there are plenty that are beginner-friendly). If you have a friend who is already in the tech industry, ask if you can take them out for a coffee/beer and grill them about all the things you want to know, or ask for recommendations of those people to follow on Twitter. If you want to learn to code, I always recommend Codecademy because it’s free and the courses are short and well-written and it’s a great introduction to see if you get on with it.

 

Could you tell us a bit more about HybridConf and your experience with organizing this conference?
:) Gladly! HybridConf is a two-day conference that we’ve been running for four years now, and which moves location every year. This year’s event was last month in Berlin, which was an awesome city.
It started out as a conference for designers and developers to come together and learn about how to better work together, but it has shifted over the years to be an event where anyone from the tech or creative industries can come along to hear stories from a really wide range of people, some of whom aren’t in the tech industry at all, and be inspired. Our aim is really for everyone to leave feeling positive and excited about their work and motivated to create things.
We’re taking a break next year because running a conference is HARD and we need to regroup. There is so much to do and so many things that can and do go wrong, and it’s not at all easy to make any money. However the feeling you get from seeing everyone’s reactions to the conference makes it so worthwhile, and having created this event and community with zero previous experience, it’s easily my proudest achievement.

 

Extra question from Laurence: Any tips on how to ace a technical interview—like the one you went through to get the position you have now?
Sorry Laurence, but I’ve never had a technical interview, I would probably suck at it. For my current position, I didn’t have any interview, just a brief discussion with my business partner.

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