Have you ever experienced that feeling where you can't stop noticing something once it's been pointed out to you? Since reading Bad Science I can't help but really notice the wonky 'science' in cosmetic adverts, since learning the concept of heteronormativity I take mental note of how many adverts have a straight romantic couple for no reason.
There are lots of qualities that make someone a good software developer. We are often an entire company in ourselves; backend, frontend, DBA, sysadmin, designer, client relations. We are logical and precise problem solvers as much as we are creative and cautious. Creativity within boundaries, that's what we are and that's the kind of people this profession attracts.
So one of my goals for 2014 is complete; I have now spoken at a conference! I've done lots of public speaking before (see my page) but this has been mostly non-technical and for small groups of people.
This Wednesday (14th August) I'm doing a talk about pornography and the law for the Open Rights Group Sheffield meetup (http://orgshef-13-08.eventbrite.co.uk/). As part of writing this talk I've had to think about things like trigger warnings and setting my own position clearly. This is a massive topic and one which is difficult to judge the appropriateness of the content. As not many people have signed up so far, I have decided to write this blog post introducing the talk so people can better judge if this is a talk they would like to see.
This post has been a long time coming, mostly because it's a sensitive and difficult subject to talk about. First a little background.
So I'm no stranger to male-dominated activities and spaces. I did an electronics GCSE, a physics A-Level, a Software Engineering degree. I've worked in game retail and I'm currently one of three female programmers in my job making web applications. I've had to defend myself and my interests to the kind of sexist dicks currently the subject of all the Everyday Sexism stories.
I'm quite deeply saddened by Game and Gamestation going into administration today. My reasons are twofold; firstly that as an ex-Zavvi employee I've been through the unpleasant experience of being stuck on a sinking ship and secondly that as an ex-Gamestation employee I know that it didn't have to happen this way.
For my birthday Katie bought me 3D Dot Game Heroes, which is such a delightful rip off of A Link to the Past you can’t help but enjoy it anyway. I’m also playing Skyrim, because DRAGONS also DUNGEONS (wait a minute…). However, I am not playing Skyward Sword.
The excuse ‘it gets better later’ is stupid. Who has time to play boring shit for hours just for a ‘promise’ it gets better later. (Looking at you FF13). Twilight Princess though is the poster child for ‘it gets better later’ with some brillant crafted dungeons hidden away in the last third of the game while the start of the game is an exercise in tedium and frustration. Skyward Sword seems to have taken this to an extreme, not only is the bit on the starting island way too long, having to dick around looking for random things just so the guy who invented the dowsing tool can feel better is just irritating. It takes much too long to get into the first dungeon.
People often complain that all Zelda fans really want is a new “Ocarina” every generation. I don’t think this is true, I think a lot of Zelda fans would really like to get back to the future Link to the Past. In my opinion no other Zelda game has matched the overworld, story, design and opening sequence of LttP but then my top 3 Zeldas are Majora’s Mask, LttP and Minish Cap so take it how you will. Majora’s Mask in fairness was a Zelda title full of faffing about but it was easy to forgive because it was a shift in gameplay no Zelda before or since has taken. We will keep playing Skyward Sword because it’d be a shame to miss out on a Arbiters Grounds or Temple of Time quality dungeon but neither of us feels any great need to get there.
This year was the first Gamefest; a gaming expo in the NEC Birmingham that's basically the public offshoot of Game's annual managers conference. Three days of gaming with the biggest selling point being the UK exclusive play of Modern Warfare 3. I went just for the Saturday with my girlfriend and a friend.
I have written a post about creativity before but I wanted to rewrite it both as an update and with a little more focus.
The point remains that I love creative writing and yet I really struggle to stick with a creative project for very long. This is mainly because I lack the "chuck it out and edit later" attitude that is necessary and because while I love creating worlds and characters, outside of key scenes I find the actual act of writing to be a little tedious. In the last year I haven't had a lot of opportunity to do a lot of writing and I'd really like to rectify that now university has finished.
So the journey of my degree finally feels like it ends, I presented a rough guide to my dissertation at the Gist Magazine last night. It went really well despite the heat, and apart from the occasional slip into brain-dump mode and one swear word I think I'm fairly good at speaking. I tried to stick a little humour in there and made sure I looked at everyone in the room at one point or the other. My reasons for the talk are threefold really; people did ask for it when I was talking about my project at earlier events, a lot of the Gist regulars also were the ones that got begged to fill out my questionnaire and so I wanted to give the results back to them and also that I'm really very proud of it and the mark I got for it.
Not only did it feel like the end point of my degree, it also felt like the start point of my career. I still don't have a job although I have some interviews lined up. What I mean though is that this is the first time I've felt like I can really contribute to the community. Going to Overlap the night before did wonders for my confidence as well and really helped. I'm not perhaps the most technical person, coding is something I enjoy and am good at, but the things that really get me going is the creativity of development, the feeling of craft and sculpture of a project. My dissertation was an investigation rather than an application and I found it not only incredibly fun but incredibly interesting. I'm yet to really find my field of expertise but I know now that I do have ideas and philosophies that are of interest to other people and I hope that it is those things that guide me on my way.
The feedback I got was very positive, I had a wonderful chat with someone from the university about my project and Hallam's projects in general, he said he would take some of my suggestions and pass them on. I have stuff to work on, I shouldn't really swear and I should try and slow down. I will definitely present at a Gist event again, once I find something else suitable.
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