Day 70 – Final Demo Prep

Tonight I have spent another evening doing preparation work for the demo I am presenting tomorrow. Maybe I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist, but it just doesn’t feel right to give a presentation without planning out what is important to cover, and how I make it all into a cohesive whole.

And then fit it within the allotted 20 minutes of time.

There will be other sessions that other developers may present on the detailed intricacies of parts of the material I am just going to gloss over, but I still need to make sure this presentation paints a compelling picture why our common libraries add so much value to our software development.

I’ve decided on a mix of slides to paint the broader context, and hands-on demos for the pieces where “show, don’t tell” will bear more fruit.

And I’m hoping I can get through the material in closer to 15 minutes, so that there are also 15 minutes for questions not 10.

I have a suspicion that there will be questions about features I will not show. And any attempt to comprehensively cover them all would probably result in a full day presentation not just half an hour. I’d rather have questions drive a few more ad-hoc demo segments and be sure that I’ll cover whatever interests the people attending.

But now… I feel a little hazy, and I should stop thinking about this.

I went to another cycle class after work and before this prep-work. Three classes into cycle, it feels like it is getting easier but I still have a serious case of gym-brain.

Day 69 – Not As Fun As It Sounds

I am still a couple of months away from the first anniversary of my new management job. Over the past 10 months I have barely touched an IDE for anything more than a quick play.

Yesterday I installed Visual Studio 2013 RC, and today I am opening some libraries that have become only dim memories to have a poke around.

This Wednesday I am due to do a 20 minute presentation on the common code libraries that a lot of our applications were built on. I’m the expert on account of having written the bulk of the code in it. I am desperately trying to change that situation by encouraging them to replace anything that they consider broken or insufficient.

Although this angle hasn’t borne too much fruit yet, I’m now doubling down by adding some education to hopefully make the work ahead more visible and more in-demand.

In short, I’m kinda-sorta having a good evening with code that I haven’t seen in what feels like years. However, it *is* work, and I should be watching TV, reading a book, or shooting something.

I hope to find some time in the near future to do something substantive with the IDE though, and hopefully drop it into a public repository somewhere.

Day 43 – Jaymes Diaz

I forgot to take a snapshot myself; I didn’t think to until I was already in the car driving on to work from my morning coffee stop.

The thing is; at the same time Mr. Jaymes Diaz wasn’t showing up for his Greenway Election Forum this morning, there was a flesh-and-blood person outside my coffee haunt in Stanhope Gardens bearing more than a casual resemblance to Mr. Diaz (Hint: it was Jaymes Diaz).

I didn’t find out about his forum no-show until I was at work, but I guess after his worldwide-publicised gaffe earlier this month, he decided that chatting one-on-one with the occasional passer-by that was prepared to stop was actually a safer way to spend the morning than standing in front of a questioning audience in Blacktown.

Funny that.

Link Triage – On Sexism

Some links I had bookmarked are on the topic of sexism. I had planned to build a grand post linking it all together, but I think that is beyond my ability to pull off well enough.

My slightly less ambitious approach below is to just explain the links I collected (and some additions I found specifically for this post) and why I did.

Note that it has been a while I reviewed these links in detail. I will do my best to skim all of them and put warnings where needed before hitting “Publish”, and most of them will have been written by authors careful to put their own warnings on, but a blanket trigger warning might be appropriate here.

In Comics

It must have been a couple of years back that I first saw a post on Boing Boing on this topic. Everyone knows how female super-heroes … let’s say, do not have exactly the same kinds of outfits as the men. The standard counter-argument revolves around how unrealistic the male characters look as well… except they do not get put into over-sexualised poses at the same time.

An Equal Serving: Not so Comfortable
(via: Boing Boing)

It’s funny how images like this elicit “ow my eyes” and “make-it-go-away” style comments from guys that’d otherwise make the exact argument I reference above. Hypocrisy much?

In my efforts to try to re-find this image which I unfortunately hadn’t bookmarked, I came across another few good links on the same topic:

  • The Hawkeye Initiative (trigger warning) – which takes submissions of “fan” art that places Hawkeye in the poses of female characters; I haven’t checked the comments, and I recommend you don’t either
  • The Avengers Re-imagined – perhaps a little over-the-top (I think the artist has something for asses), but the point stands

On the flip-side of this particular coin, there is a Tumblr that specifically has images of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. It’s what it says on the packaging. Again, I’d recommend against reading the comments, but the images should be okay.

In Gaming

That last link above belongs in this section as much as the previous one. There is another Tumblr called Repair Her Armor that takes images of skimpily clad female characters and fixes them up. There is one specific post that digs into the dire state of female outfits in most MMORPGs though: Clothes I’m Forced to Wear in the Majority of MMORPGs.

Functional Armor

Now, let’s not get too stuck on clothing… it’s not the only problem surrounding women in gaming by a long shot, but it may well contribute to some of the other problems.

There is a series of very worthwhile videos by Feminist Frequency on YouTube that deal with the Damsel-In-Distress situation in games. It’s more dire and pervasive than you might think:

And let’s be clear, as Anita Sarkeesian herself suggests; there is nothing wrong with enjoying the games. But it’s important to acknowledge the problematic and pervasive dis-empowering stereotypes these games are commonly built upon. I hadn’t realised how common the Damsel-in-Distress is until she put loads of them back-to-back Daily-Show-style.

Then, early last year there was a story surrounding a Capcom fighting competition turned reality show (trigger warning). There is a video that shows how a female member of the team being shown gets harassed. And the story includes gems that equate the fighting game community with sexual harassment. By the coach of one of the teams. It’s stomach-curdling.

Unfortunately this isn’t unique to fighting games.

And it’s also not unique to the players alone. The story of Jennifer Hepler who got stalked and harassed on the Internet (trigger warning) for indicating in an interview that she doesn’t like playing games so much as experiencing the stories they contain. Her job? She’s one of the writers for Dragon Age. The same players that enjoyed her contributions to the story of the game ended up crucifying her over the admission that story matters more to her than play.

In Movies

Ever hear of the Bechdel Test?

It’s a very simple test that requires the following three things from a movie, and these three things alone:

  1. It must have at least two women in it
  2. They must talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

Surely that cannot be a very difficult bar to clear for a movie? You’d be surprised. Painfully and unpleasantly surprised.

Enjoyable Movie, but Fatally Flawed in One Way

Some recent movies that fail to clear this low bar:

  • The Lone Ranger
  • Monsters University
  • Pacific Rim
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • The Avengers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure
  • Looper
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • The Muppets
  • Rango
  • Kick-Ass

This is by no means comprehensive, I just picked a few of the most recognisable titles for the list. And all the ones I’ve seen were very entertaining and I would see again. But that doesn’t change how troubling the systemic nature of this fundamental story flaw is. Many more movies that technically pass would fail the test if it required a whopping 60 seconds of conversation fitting the aforementioned requirements, so let’s not even go there.

In Science and Technology

This one I feel least able to be objective about, so instead of doing my own writing I will summarise the links I had bookmarked on this topic. They are all worth a read for what it’s worth.

I haven’t checked every article below in detail, so a general trigger warning applies… and again, don’t read the comments. Never a good idea on these kinds of posts.

Generally Speaking

I’m not sure why this post.

Actually, I am. Going through life as a straight white male is the lowest difficulty setting possible, and sometimes it’s good to remind myself of what a very common higher difficulty setting can look like.

Link Triage – Serious Links

This is a few buckets mashed together for convenience.

Programming

Software Design

(Web) Design

Writing

Other Work-related

Link Triage – Interesting & Fun

I had a lot more links than I realised. Less so now, but still.

My general feed-reader workflow (I use feedly) is to first skim my feed quickly for the headlines, book-marking whatever looks worth reading further than the headline. Then I go through a second pass where I only read the bookmarked items.

And then they stay bookmarked forever.

I have to see if I can build a workflow that puts things that were actually interesting after I read them into a third bucket so that all uninteresting links can disappear forever as I go along. Mainly so I don’t have to do this exercise ever again.

In the mean time, here are some of the “Interesting & Fun” links I came across in my triage. I have a few more buckets that I’ll throw into separate posts.

Enjoy…

Day 39 – Not Always Welcome

Today was going to be about photography, and it still is in a way, but not quite how I originally intended. Abbey had suggested she needed to visit a nursery for some trees, and in exchange for doing the driving I could take some pictures while there…

I started off hand-held around the place, wandering around with the camera around my neck and doing a great job taking pictures where people were either out-of-frame or completely out-of-focus.

A Roof without a Roof
A Roof without a Roof

Then I decided to walk back to the car and get the tripod I had packed to get some sharper shots for comparison. I sat down on the grass and took a few pictures outside of general view where there were no people. Then I moved back to the entrance road to take a shot along the row of signs along the way.

And then one of the staff walked out informing me reasonably politely that they didn’t want photography on their premises.

I hadn’t even considered this perspective, and I felt a bit silly.

Of course I packed up at that point. Private property, so their word goes in my mind, but it did prompt me to have a look at legalities here in Australia so next time I am better ready for the situation.

Legal Roo Says NO!
Legal Roo Says NO!

Resources I consulted:

On the face of it, it’s simple enough:

  • Photography in public places for non-commercial purposes is fine
  • Photography on private property for non-commercial purposes is fine provided you follow the instructions of the property owner
  • Commercial purposes: make sure you get a release from any people who are clearly identifiable in the shots

I will not try to dig down into the full nuance (see the links above for more of that), but while simple on the face of it, reality has many caveats:

  • Many places that may seem or feel public really aren’t… shopping plazas for example, or some parks even.
  • Commercial purposes may include more than you realise… as soon as you upload a picture to online services like Flickr that can count as commercial purposes. They assert relevant rights in their license agreement you probably clicked through without reading.
  • Taking pictures of people for non-commercial purposes is not restricted… there is no right to privacy in Australia that protects your image alone.
  • Number plates are actually not illegal to photograph… even so, I try to crop or blur them when they end up in my shots.
  • Without a police officer involved you cannot be asked to delete your images… more over, jail terms can apply to: threatening to damage your camera equipment, threatening violence, trying to prevent you contacting the police.

Do not take any of this as legal advice, because despite watching many episodes of LA Law, CSI and Boston Legal, I Am Not A Lawyer.

In almost all cases my personal sensibilities are more restrictive than what I have outlined above. But it’s interesting to note how different reality is from what many people might think the law says. Partially this may be a result of US-centric culture, which is definitely much more repressive surrounding these topics.

Regardless though…

My opinion is that it seems foolhardy in this day and age to believe that you can limit photographs getting taken. Most if not all people walk around all day with a camera in their pocket. Most if not all people are not aware of the legal details surrounding photography.

But also: most if not all people will feel uneasy about taking pictures you’d object to in the first place without you needing to ask.

Presentation Screen Recording

I am doing some research and preparation for some presentations I want to do at work and then record for later (re-)use.

I believe the gold standard is still TechSmith Camtasia, but that’s not exactly the cheapest product to set up. It looks like their other product, SnagIt, does an equally good job if only recording is needed, but it is still not free.

I think I’ll give the freeware CamStudio a try; it looks very bare-bones, but the recording quality seems to be pretty good. If smaller files are needed later, post-processing in Camtasia is still an option.

I also thought I’d find a countdown timer, because I have a terrible sense of time once I am presenting. I have dual monitors, so I could easily hide the timer on the second screen and then share the main screen.

There are lots of free timers, but I lean a little sceptical with regards to countdown timers that need 2.5MB to install. I mean… really? Strictly speaking Orzeszek Timer at 109kb is probably also a bit large, but it gives me a little more confidence that it’s probably nothing more than just a simple timer.

Tomorrow I’ll set some time aside for a practice run with all my tools and my topics. I bet I will have to do some refining before Wednesday.