Boozey advent calendars

For the last couple of years (and no doubt, forever now!) I have bought my husband a whisky advent calendar from Masters Of Malt (£149.95 + delivery), and it’s *really* good. Good fun, good to get to taste lots of different whiskies and work out which you’d like in full size, and amusing to booze through the festive period in a not-too-crazy way.

They also do a gin one (£99.95 + delivery).

I have always felt a touch left out, as I don’t like whisky or gin particularly. Certainly not enough for the price tag. So I’ve invented the vodka advent calendar (~£100 inc delivery) as a Listmania which you can buy on Amazon.

Bottoms up! Here’s to grown up advent calendars!

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Donating your handhelds and games to children’s wards

If you’re a gamer who’s got any old handheld systems (any of the DS range, PSP.. etc) sitting around collecting dust, waiting for that one retro weekend of play you think may happen one day (that we all know never will) – can I beg a favour of you? Dust them down, give them a wipe over and then donate them to your local children’s ward.

I never knew until Max was in hospital last year most children’s wards rely entirely on donations and fundraising to buy some of the specialist equipment, and toys. Often, the toys come last on the list as you know, life saving equipment is obviously more important.

However, many studies have now shown what all us gamers have known for years – gaming helps take your mind of things: including pain, sickness and mental distress. Things that kids in hospitals have that your dusty old DS or PSP you never play anymore could really help lighten up.

Make sure your games are age appropriate to under 12s (language/nudity/violence etc) and then just call up your local hospital and ask for children’s ward. Let them know you’d like to donate and they’ll let you know if they’re able to accept. Then you just go drop them off and get the most amazing feeling of joy that I promise you £20-30 you would have made on eBay for them would never get you 🙂

Go on, what you waiting for – go make some poorly kids super happy 🙂

PS – they accept most other toys in good nick too, but not soft toys or toys that are hard to keep clean. But stuff like Duplo, Brio, dolls house things and shape sorters are all ace.

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#seatgifting – an update and a request for your thoughts, please

6 months ago, I wrote about an idea I had called #seatgifting (link goes to original post) and since then I’ve moved the idea on with the help of the amazing and kind Christian Trippe who’s supplied some ace designs for the badges. See pic! How cool!Image

Where we’re at now is a whole heap of work, and money to move to the next step. So, I want your advice please.

The project needs the following to proceed:

  • money for badges to be printed out in quantities big enough to make this fly
  • people to volunteer and give out these badges at train and transport stations across the country (or even in other countries, if there is a want for it)
  • someone to help and/or advise with press enquiries (not something I’ve ever done) to ensure people know what this is about, and get the meme quickly
  • someone to help get the website up and running (I’ve bought it just needs a bit of WordPress love of something?
  • website hosting (I’m happy to cover that for the first couple of years)
  • an army of initial supporters who will help get the message out

What we have got already:

  • a fairly thorough action plan by the smart new Team Prime hire, Charley Brinton
  • badge, logo & typeface designs plus overall branding and colours etc all ready to rock thanks to Christian Trippe
  • domain
  • a small time & money budget from Team Prime to get this going
  • a wonderful network of you lot who’ve been massively supportive so far 🙂 Thank you.
  • a strong desire not to give up on this idea, despite what appears to be a rapidly growing amount of time and money investment 😉

I’m thinking two course of action we could possibly take now:

  1. Kickstarter to fund badges & site? Having looked at T&Cs I think this could work under product…?
  2. Volunteers stepping in to help out.

This project has never been about me or Team Prime owning it, it’s just been something I wanted to exist in it’s own right, and ideally be moved forward and taken up by the community at large so it’s sustainable without any particular owner. If anyone has any thoughts on helping me move this to the next stage, I’m *really* keen to hear them in the comments below (not on Twitter please!). Whether it’s volunteering to help out with the project, ideas on who to contact, or if you’re a brand with some spare marketing spend who’d like to partner, we’re listening.

If you don’t have anything to add, then a retweet to get this call for help as far flung as possible would be greatly appreciated.

Nearly there. Nearly there.

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Trying to pick who joins the coding club is wrong

I’ll start with a personal controversial statement: I’ve never liked nor attended many “women’s events”. The very few I’ve been to I felt very uncomfortable hearing stories of being a victim. I’ve never seen myself as a victim in my industry, or for being my sex generally – it’s always made me feel very strong, empowered and special. I’ve also been more looked after and catered for sensitively than I have been harassed – both in technology, and the videogaming community. I know that’s not the same for everyone, and I realise “women” events are very useful for women who unlike me, may find their sex interferes with their career path, or life choices. I’ve always been in the “take it, and give it back in a disarmingly funny or smart way” club (or, you know, just ignore) when someone does something that I don’t like, regardless of their sex/colour/height/amountofbodyparts.

However, last month I saw a women’s only event I was interested in. Not because it was women’s only, but because it offered an opportunity for me to learn Ruby with other beginners, in what seemed a very friendly environment. It was this RailsGirlsLondon event. I was also keen to find out what women devs would be like – as a developer, I’ve never worked with one. As someone who helps companies build teams, I figured it’d be useful knowledge to ensure I could advise on how to set our teams up in a way that was more comfortable and engaging for women to see if that helps women join the companies I work with.

So, I applied, duly tweeted about it to promote it and sat to wait and hear about my application.

I found out last night I didn’t get in. And here’s why (from the organiser, when I asked directly):

We tried our best to select people based roughly on the following criteria:
– not much programming experience
– has perhaps attempted learning on their own, but were unsuccessful
To apply this, two of us (both girls), went through the application list individually and made selections. Then we went through the list together again comparing our thoughts. The ones that matched we accepted/rejected, the ones that mismatched we further discussed. Also, after making the final selection, a third person from the organising team, went through the selected attendees, to verify our decision. There was no clash of opinions at that point.

I have a big issue with this. An event to help women get into coding, that then excludes women based on organiser preference? So now I get to be made a double outsider – I’m a “woman in technology” who doesn’t qualify for some reason* to attend a “women in coding” event. * (I meet both those listed criteria they gave).

Why wasn’t this done as random selection? Or first 40 to sign up? Any way that would let everyone know they had equal chance?

So the community turns on itself, and gets to pick who’s in the club?  No, I don’t buy that. That’s exactly why this (or any) industry can be hard for any outsiders to feel included in.

I want to end on a positive note.

I went to my first LRUG last night and in the room there was me and at one point, two other women, but mostly just me and around 80 guys. I was a bit nervous, even for me those odds were on the scary side of being the outsider. Also I was there with my recruiting hat on, not my technologist one – eep, double outsider! But you know what? I was made to feel completely included, everyone was nice, kind and charming, and I felt completely at home.

I’m going to stick to inclusive events as I always have, and hope that those trying to help the industry become inclusive start by taking a look closer to home.

Hyper Linda’s nails it, really:


I’ve left comments on, but I will only be publishing comments that are relevant to this specific post, not about women in technology in general. Thanks.

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Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost

Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost.

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Brilliant, thanks Leigh

Lost Boy

So earlier today Thayerasked if I had any suggestions for things to do in Minecraft for younger kids. I thought I might as well write this up as a blog post rather than a long email, then everyone else can add their suggestions too.

Of course, the first thing I did was turn to the experts: my kids. Both my son and daughter have been addicted to Minecraft for some time now. We run our own home server and this gets visits from my son’s friends too. They also play on-line, but having a local server gives us a nice safe environment where we can play with the latest plugins and releases.

So most of the list below was suggested by the kids. I’ve just written it up and added in the links. We’ve assumed that Thayer and Nemi (and you) are playing on the “vanilla” (i.e. out of…

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My thoughts on speaker diversity

Another day with another (technology) conference being picked up on having all male (and in this case, white, same age etc) speakers.  The lack of diversity at events where people speak is a fairly commonplace thing.

I have a couple of brief thoughts about this before a longer post this weekend (am about to dash on site with a client).

  1. Greg Povey and Rachel Coldicutt have a list of 486 (FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SIX) female speakers who came forward after a call for female speakers to register themselves as keen on speaking – please email them if you’re running a conference.  Perhaps I can call on them to also turn this list of folks into a list that can be emailed directly by conferences?  Google Group or something?
  2. I’ve been asked to speak at events around once a month for the last ten years, I always (except once) say no, because I am phobic of public speaking. So sometimes it’s worth bearing in mind this could be a bit of a self sustaining problem: not enough women speakers = scared to go and be The Woman Speaker and not be Good Enough. Hard for the conf to find the women, hard for the women when found to Go For It.
  3. I’m hoping to run a course in March with Stephen Fulljames to help people start speaking, snappy title, “Speaking for non speakers”. If any other women feel like point 1, please email me and I’ll do what I can to make sure you get a spot.  sadly not now, due to time and costs. Ho hum.

More later, but hopefully some brief food for thought.

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