Laser Cutting = Magic

Wellesley Magnets

This semester involved a lot of building and coding in the name of physical prototyping (like that time I built a game box!) The opportunity to work with my hands was a welcome departure from my usual hours in front of a monitor situation.

You know how they say that as soon as you get a tattoo (or eat a cookie) you can’t help but think about your next one. It’s an immediately addictive experience that opens a world of possibilities. Laser cutting in the same exact way. Once I learned to laser cut, I wondered what else could I make (answer: everything) and that would look cool (answer: everything).

I made a set of four Wellesley-inspired magnets based on the saying: “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss.” This language is problematically gendered and condescending, not truly expressing the full potential of what it would mean to look, act, think, and work like an amazing being. In my experience, when I think about what it means to be the best, I think about Wellesley…so I modified the quote.

Wellesley Magnets

SO MUCH FUN!

P.S. I’ll let you know if I make more. I’ve been approached about selling a small batch and would use the money to fund my research next semester. You know how much I love a good side project…

P.S.S. Before I laser cut another batch of magnets, I would definitely fix the typo. Oops!

#OurTimeToLead – Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Be Bold - Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Last month I flew to Houston, TX to attend my first Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I was accepted as a Grace Hopper Scholar, finding my travel, food, and lodging, and affording me an opportunity I may not have experienced otherwise. So, before we get too far into this recap, I would like to formally thank the scholar review committee and Qualcomm, my corporate sponsor, for their work and generosity.

This year represented the largest conference (12,000+ attendees) with the largest, most competitive scholar applicant pool (2,000+ applicants with a 21% acceptance rate). Then again, if you’re going to hold a conference in Texas, where everything is bigger, you’ve got to follow suit.

The numbers of GHC attendees has steadily increased over the years, then there was Satya Nadella’s blunder last year, but while GHC has grown substantially in the last few years, it is by no means new.

The first GHC brought 500 technical women to Washington DC in 1994. The Wellesley Computer Science department sent, and continues to send, students to GHC every year. I can only imagine that other colleges and organizations are encouraging their women in computing to attend the conference.

Grace Hopper Celebration felt like home. My Wellesley home, that is. Being in a room filled with brilliant, passionate women is a very comfortable space for me and I wish it wasn’t such an anomaly. I intentionally carried my Wellesley tote bag to attract the attention of other people connected to Wellesley.

Wellesley at GHC
Wellesley at GHC

(Eventually, I found my tribe.)

Yet, I was surprised at how many women I met at the conference that had only heard about GHC months prior to attending. I was happy to see them at the conference, but couldn’t help but wonder how many women should’ve been there that weren’t. Who didn’t know about Grace Hopper and was potentially missing a professional-life changing opportunity?

Lately, I’ve been feeling that I owe it to other Black girls and young women to show them what a coder looks like; that a coder looks like them.

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that having resources and support groups is enough, but we can’t forget that impact is directly correlated to access. Women can’t benefit from GHC if they don’t know about it.

More than anything, the conference was validating and proved that the work I’m passionate about is worth it and of value. I’m passionate about creating avenues for women and underrepresented minorities in the tech space; a charge that Grace Hopper is obviously in support of.

Lately, I’ve been feeling that I owe it to other Black girls and young women to show them what a coder looks like; that a coder looks like them. Once I left Wellesley with a CS degree, I fell in love with product and decided I wanted to be more on the product / business side. That’s fine and all, but I do love coding. This semester, I’ve been tinkering with circuits, and playing around with code – falling in love all over again. I’ve hesitated to expand my technical skills for fear of pigeonholing myself. If I learn more front-end development techniques, I’ll only be asked to do front end developer jobs. If I tinker with physical prototyping, I’ll only be asked to do physical prototyping jobs.

This may be true, but since when has expanding a skillset been a bad thing? Never. So, let’s do this.

Glyphicons Pro + WordPress Child Themes

I recently decided to upgrade to the Glyphicons Pro to take advantage of 500+ beautiful, web-friendly icons. Twitter Bootstrap (the framework my current WordPress theme is built upon) has limited access to a starter-portion of the Glyphicons. After several months of heavy use (and overall yearning for the full set), I decided to make an investment in an upgrade.

I am using a WordPress Child theme and ran into hours of inheritance issues. When I finally figured it out, I decided I’d be a fool not to write about it (…for the next time I run into this problem).

All of these changes were made to the childTheme files and folders. Without going into too much detail about parent-vs-child themes, I’m making the changes in the childTheme so that if the parentTheme is ever updated, it won’t overwrite my customizations.

FILES and FOLDERS

Within my childTheme, I created two new folders: css/ and fonts/. It’s very possible your child theme already has these folders, but I’ve never manipulated anything beyond the style.css file, so didn’t find a need for these folders.

I moved all of the Glyphicon Regular font files to the font/ folder:

glyphicons-regular.eot
glyphicons-regular.svg
glyphicons-regular.ttf
glyphicons-regular.woff
glyphicons-regular.woff2

I added the following stylesheets to the css/ folder:

bootstap.css — define @font-face
glyphicons-bootstrap.css — bootstrap helper
glyphicons.css — map glyphicon names to location within font file

CODE

style.css

The childTheme/style.css file wasn’t consistently referencing the correct style sheets within the childTheme. To overcome this, I imported the bootstrap.css file, which contains the @font-face class definition, with a mapping to each of the font files.

@import url("css/bootstrap.css"); // force import of bootstrap.css, within the child theme
...
.glyphicons { color: #1abc9c; font-size: 40px; } // pluralized glyphicon to match the pro nomenclature

bootstrap.css

This is the complete bootstrap.css file. The parentTheme bootstrap.css stylesheet is imported, so I am only overwriting the classes relevant to updating Glyphicons Haflings to Glyohicons Regular.

I explicitly imported the related stylesheets to solve inheritance issues. There are probably slicker ways to accomplish this, but this worked perfectly for me.


@import url("../parentTheme/css/bootstrap.css");
@import url("glyphicons.css");
@import url("glyphicons-bootstrap.css");

The parentTheme/fonts/bootstrap.css file contains a similar section of code with Glyphicon Halflings instead of Glyphicons Regular, mapping the @font-family to the correct font files. Here, we’re updating the files to map to the regular Glyphicons files.

@font-face {
font-family: 'Glyphicons Regular';
src: url('../fonts/glyphicons-regular.eot');
src:
url('../fonts/glyphicons-regular.eot?#iefix') format('embedded-opentype'),
url('../fonts/glyphicons-regular.woff') format('woff'),
url('../fonts/glyphicons-regular.ttf') format('truetype'),
url('../fonts/glyphicons-regular.svg#glyphicons-regular') format('svg');
}

Last but not least, these define the style and position of the Glyphicons. This code also lives in the parentTheme/fonts/boottrap.css folder, so I modified it to reference Glyphicons regular.

.glyphicons {
position: relative;
top: 1px;
display: inline-block;
font-family: 'Glyphicons Regular';
-webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: normal;
line-height: 1;
-moz-osx-font-smoothing: grayscale;
}

This started as a personal bookmark for the next time I try to add Glyphicons Pro to a WordPress Child Theme. However, as I was trying to troubleshoot my issues, I realized this is a surprisingly undocumented process. Hoping this helps someone else in the future!

Maker Faire Atlanta 2015

Laser Cut Wooden Robots

Maker Faire Atlanta, in Downtown Decatur, is the perfect opportunity to satisfy all of my craft and hobby-fantasy needs. At the Maker Faire, I want and am encouraged to see, touch, do, and create everything in sight. I found myself making paper from cotton fibers and shredded dollar bills, solving a community crossword puzzle, assembling wooden robots from laser-cut pieces, and building simple circuits. As fascinating as it is to be an adult at a Maker Faire, it’s far more entertaining to observe the children both attending and presenting at the faire.

I spoke to two nine-year-old boys with separate tables at the homeschooled tent. Their parents brought them to the Maker Faire as a chance to share their crafts, hobbies, and passions. Yes, passions.

One boy created and sold collectable clay monsters. He imagined a monster, crafted it with clay, baked it to harden the mold, and sold them – obviously – along with a collector’s coin detailing their name and favorite item. I collected Geeko, a lizard-like monster that likes mangos; Slosher, a blob with eyes that likes soft drinks; and Gunk, a three-eyed glow-in-the-dark fellow that likes skunk meat – the creator is nine, remember.

Collectable Clay Monsters

The other boy built finger skateboards; going into great detail about the competitive advantage his finger skateboards have over others on the market (spoiler: the foam on the top of the board increases rider comfort). He also described his journey to find the perfect wheel for a smooth, wobble-free ride (spoiler: wheel bearings do the trick). He also sold Harry Potter wands made of different materials, shapes, and sizes, because wands are diverse and very selective of their wizard.

I started asking each boy real questions to get them thinking about their craft and the world around them. Though, as it became apparent that they were experts in their craft, I felt my questions transition. Instead of pushing their learning, I was asking questions to learn. What’s the advantage of clay over other materials? Why do wheel bearings change the ride smoothness? What wand is just right for me?

Independent of their ages, these two boys represent the true potential of the Maker movement. They are young and passionate about sharing their creations with the world. They are experts in their craft and have spent a lot of time thinking about the authenticity of the product.

As I walked back to my car on a rainy but exciting Saturday, I thought about how much I love seeing people create things with their hands and be passionate. The Maker Faire was an opportunity to recharge my brain and get the creative juices flowing. It’s also a leveled playing field where a nine-year-old can teach a grad student the intricacies of authentic monster creation.

Final Stretch

Day 80 of #100inPDX

You’re out for a night on the town, making new friends, laughing until it hurts, enjoying a nice buzz that you won’t regret tomorrow. You keep meeting interesting people and yelling jokes over the music. Your favorite songs play, one after the other and you don’t even need to acknowledge them as your jam; the dance floor is yours. You look at the clock: midnight. Last call isn’t for another two hours but that doesn’t matter. You’ve had your fun and can go home knowing you had a wonderful night. You’ve reached the night’s peak and should go home with the memories of the best moments, before your feet start to ache, cabs become scarce, and you angrily crave your bed. Leave on a good note.

Day 80 in Portland is my midnight.

I can’t stress how fulfilling my time in the Rose City has been. Portland is packed with beautiful nature, mouth-watering food, hoppy beer, cool hipsters, and enough activities to keep yourself busy. The summer weather is perfect (Humidity? What humidity?), everyone is visibly please with the sun, and not having a car means frequent scenic walks around the city. My job has been an unparalleled learning experience. My network is full of Portland-transplants eager to hike, run, eat, drink, and explore together.

The best way I can describe this feeling is that Portland is a great city, but it’s not my city. It’s filled with dope people, they’re just not my dope people. My people are on the east coast and this summer really highlighted how important they are to me, my sanity, and how balanced I feel on a daily basis.

So, what am I going to do for the last 20 days of #100inPDX? I’m going to grab an energy drink and plow through until last call, of course. I said it was midnight, not that I was an insane Debbie Downer.

The last few items on my to do list include:

  • Ride the Intel shuttle plane. I AM RIDING THE SHUTTLE RIGHT NOW!
  • Santa Clara and San Francisco for the weekend.
  • Conduct a Teen User-Centered Design workshop at work. This is my brain-child and personal summer project.
  • Celebrate my 27th birthday with my best friend, Makkah!
  • Road trip to Vancouver, BC
  • Visit the Portland Zoo
  • Go wine tasting at an Oregon vineyard
  • As many brunches, day parties, dinners, and happy hours as possible…

That should keep me busy for the final stretch :)