Since Christmas I’ve read two books by Eugenia Cheng and have hugely enjoyed them both. Cheng is a mathematician, author, concert pianist and writer (and, it would appear, all-round awesome human). The first book was called “How to Bake Pi“, and combined a general introduction to category theory with a bunch of cookery tips and recipes. It was a lot more entertaining than that one-sentence description implies, honest. Upon finishing it I immediately ordered a copy for my brother-in-law, who also likes maths a lot (and cake, but who doesn’t). x+y is billed as “A mathematician’s manifesto for rethinking gender”. I have read a lotRead More →

My last blog post was about a few CS-Women socials we’d held in Minecraft. These were pretty good fun, and after 3 events organised by the women students we decided to go large and organise one for the wider student body. Our first was held just before xmas: we had 8 teams of 3-4 + a team of 5 organisers; around 30 people in total. We held the second last night with 6 teams of 3-4 and 3 organisers. The general idea is inspired by the TV Show Taskmaster: set the players (in teams) a series of silly challenges, which they have to complete inRead More →

Usually we organise a couple of socials each term for the women students in our department. These involve meeting up for a coffee or some drinks, and provide an informal way to support women students as it can be a little odd being in a minority. As Wales went into a “firebreak” lockdown, a friend suggested we do some kind of online social to entertain the students. This is a difficult year for everyone in education but I think students must find it particularly hard – it is frustrating being locked down in a house, I can’t imagine being locked down in a student accommodation.Read More →

I’ve just finished the book “A Computer Called LEO“, by Georgina Ferry, and it was a great read. I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s not new either so if you like secondhand books you can probably pick a copy up cheap. It’s a book about the early days of business computing, but don’t let that put you off. Lyons teashops, which I don’t really remember (the last closed in 1981, when I was 8) were apparently MASSIVE before the second world war. The parent company Lyons were innovative, in their business practices and the way they approached problem solving. In 1946, two managers persuaded theirRead More →

The BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium was supposed to be in Stirling this year. As ever, we’d put a lot into it (visits, campus tours, looking around poster spaces and theatres, booking rooms, choosing lunches, block booking hotels, etc. etc.) but as the event grew nearer and the pandemic grew stronger we had to decide: cancel, or move online. Which is how we found ourselves organising the first virtual BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium with just 4 weeks’ notice. This was a big job and pulling it together took a lot of people. There are a few blog posts out there which deal with the conference as a wholeRead More →

At my work we use the VLE BlackBoard for supporting our teaching. Some of the things it does are pretty good, but hidden away: this blog is about one of those dusty BlackBoard corners. In the first year module I’m teaching on there are a lot of students and so managing practical sessions and sign-off became a bit of a worry for me. How can we ensure that all of the students have done the work, without having to mark the work, and without giving all the students the same assessment questions? (If we have the same questions for all students, the answers will percolateRead More →

For Ada Lovelace Day (8th Oct this year) I was invited to talk at Glasgow University, and so I arranged myself a little Scottish tour taking in a visit to an auntie in Dundee, a day in Stirling catching up with Carron and delivering my Ada Lovelace talk there too. It was a busy couple of days, with meetings to discuss the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium (in both Stirling and Glasgow), a fascinating seminar on scientific culture from Katerina Pia G√ľnter (Uppsala Uni) in Stirling, and talks from Sharon Moore (IBM/BCSWomen) and Sofiat Olaosebikan (Glasgow) in Glasgow. My talk The talk I gave was “Why AdaRead More →

Everyone I speak to who has hayfever confirms that 2019 has been a challenging year of sneezing, running eyes, and itchy faces. This means that there’s a lot of pollen about. In over 10 years of beekeeping, Rog has only once collected enough honey to warrant borrowing the extractor from the beekeepers association. Usually, we get 5 or 6 jars, if we’re lucky. This year, the payoff for my runny nose was a Saturday spent extracting honey. How do you extract honey? Well let me show you. To begin with you have a bunch of frames. These sit in a super which is a boxRead More →

In Aberystwyth Robotics Club we have a series of special events – pumpkin hack in late October, Christmas Card Circuits in December, Beach lab (robots on the prom) in June/July … These are outreach events designed to get people who don’t come to the regular weekly after-school clubs to have a go at building stuff. Some time back, due to workload and other stuff, I stepped back from the weekly after school club and now I concentrate on running these “specials”. As a new one this year, for Easter, we decided to do something egg-citing and run a robot egg race. This blog post summarisesRead More →

On April 17th, we held the 12th BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium (The Lovelace) at the University of Salford. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is a conference for women undergraduate and taught MSc students studying computing and related subjects, and that I started the conference in 2008 handing it over to The Awesome Doctor Helen Miles in year 10; now she’s the conference chair and I’m the deputy. What this means in practice is that Helen and I have a very busy couple of weeks in the run up to the event – students don’t have funds to travel to conferences, generally, andRead More →