a test of the stitching capabilities

We’ve got a new piece of kit in our university Makerspace! Thanks to Chris Price we’ve got a Brother Innovis NV880E embroidery machine https://www.brothermachines.com/sewing/2947/Innov-is_NV880E_Embroidery_Machine. This is a sewing machine with a robotic element – you put material in an embroidery frame, and the machine moves the embroidery frame around in order to sew in different directions with different stitches. This means that you can sew patterns! Combined with an online system called TurtleStitch you can program embroidery using a blocks-based language. The machine also has some inbuilt patterns and text but these are not as exciting as being able to program embroidery… My first testRead More →

Programmed Inequality by Mar Hicks is a history of early computing in the UK, starting right at the beginning. The book concentrates on the experiences and conditions for women in tech, and their changing status. Much like Recoding Gender by Janet Abbate (which I read recently but didn’t, for some reason, blog about) it looks at the way the computing profession is first invented and then changes over time, influenced by and influencing women’s position in tech. The simple tale is one that’s been told a few times… 1940s-50s – to begin with, computer was a word that referred to someone who computed, probably aRead More →

The 3d printed cog

One of the jobs I have at work is to “manage” the makerspace, a room with a 3d printer and laser cutter and a few other cool toys in it. This room is supposed to be a facility for students and staff to build small prototype objects for any projects they have, however work-related or wacky – it’s been used to print cases for kit, build replacement lab components, try out ideas for robots, and print any number of D&D figurines and small plastic dinosaurs. When the pandemic started, it was closed to humans and the printer got commandeered into a PPE printing effort (bravo).Read More →

BCSWomen Lovelace 2022 happened! It happened online, again, for the third time. Little did I realise that when we moved 2020 online due to threat of COVID and lockdown, I’d be chairing Lovelace 2022 online whilst actually suffering from COVID. I cannot recommend the experience of hosting a conference and being ill with COVID. From our core team of 4, one had been off with a virus in the run up and two of us had COVID so the whole event was a bit snotty. I’ve written a detailed account here: https://bcswomenlovelace.bcs.org/?page_id=398 so if you want to see who won and watch the talk videosRead More →

view from bristol city centre marriott

ACCU was my first conference for a long time and I threw myself into the conference experience, enjoying talks on all sorts of topics. The event was a bit more dynamic in planning than many conferences because people kept pulling out with COVID (and so other people kept stepping up and offering talks to fill the gaps). This meant there were more short talks than I think had originally been planned. There were also more general talks, which suited me fine. Here are the things I’m taking away from those sessions attended: Day 1 highlights Guy Davidson’s keynote on growing better programmers: Lots of goodRead More →

Me, about to deliver a keynote

In the first week of April I went to my first in-person conference since all this [gestures at world] kicked off. ACCU is out of my area (it’s a programming conference, and not an academic one), and the invitation to deliver a keynote arrived back in June last year. When making a decision about whether I could do this I looked back at their past list of keynote speakers and hoo boy there’s some big names there – it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ve had the inventor of C++ (Stroustrup) but they’ve also have the inventor of Haskell (Peyton Jones), and Python (van Rossum). Whoa. AnywayRead More →

Sometime before xmas I was working from home and there was a bang on the door (around school drop-off time). I opened it to find Clive, the curator of TEDxAberystwyth, wanting to discuss lineup, promotion and so on. I’d been heavily involved in the first one as an organiser, on the small team that pulled it together. So I am familiar with the rules of TEDx and have even negotiated the whole “building a TEDx-compatible website” and “booking a room and making it look a bit like a TEDx event” things. The knock on the door turned out to be my “Would you like toRead More →

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Brian Runciman of the BCS for the Gem of All Mechanisms podcast. We talk about gender, obviously, but also pinkification, tech, robots, male allies and more.

I’ve recently finished reading “What Works: Gender Equality by Design”, a book by Iris Bohnet out on Harvard University Press and it’s one of the best books on gender matters that I’ve read recently. I can seriously recommend it. She takes a clear topic for each chapter and looks at the literature on behaviour change and design around that topic, considering a broad range of evidence from psychology, anthropology, economics and business to craft a wide research base from which to recommend behaviour modification strategies to support equality. The general idea comes from behavioural design, which is the field of “nudge” units and subtle designRead More →

I’ve published lots of writing – articles in journals and conference proceedings, mainly. Also quite a few magazine articles and one poem (aged 14, in the Skateboarding magazine RAD, but that’s a different story). Last week our book came out so now I can say I am a published author. It’s taken a while – over a year in total, with 6 authors collaborating online – but today I got the paper copies and so it feels a bit more real. The book aims to be a handbook and a practical guide – so if you are interested in diversity and more importantly interested inRead More →