Feb 212014
 

Rails Girls LogoA bit more of a year ago, I got to know about RailsGirls initiative, I joined one of their workshops and had a great time. So I joined other of their initiatives, like meeting on Sundays in a more informal way to have a coffee while talk about coding, and of course Rails Girls Summer of Code!!, where with my pair @juliaguar, we contributed to Diaspora free social network.

After one year of profiting of all the good work done by RailsGirls, I had the feeling to give back something, so once I knew the Hackday was coming up and also knowing that @phansch was taking part as a coach, made me take the decision to sign as a coach for beginners.

Honestly I must say I had no clue how to do it, nor did I have much time to think about it. Saturday morning arrived, I had a cold, I was tired and thought OMG! how am I going to be able to explain anything. Anyway, the fact was that I was going to the Hackday and let’s see.

After a first “hello” , a coffee (10 a.m. is a good moment to have a coffee on a Saturday), and realizing that I knew some people,  we did a round to introduce ourselves, our name, experience, expectations about the workshop. This time there were around 5 complete beginners and the rest were study groups that work on a week basis and the Hackday is a good excuse to impulse a bit more the project.

Hackday whiteboardSuddenly I forgot about the cold, the fatigue, it was fun being there! So three of us wanted to coach the beginners which was really cool, after setting up rails, discussion a bit how to proceed, where to start from, what was the background of everybody.

We started and decided to have the RailsGirls tutorial as a guide, but we would not use so much the gems, but explain how things worked from scratch, so that Rails “magic” could be better understood. We used the white board to explain the main MVC principles, then went into see how  routing works, how models, controllers, views look like.

We stopped for lunch, everybody brought something and then we shared it :-), and after lunch, for an  hour or so, we had lightning talks, and yes I also gave one, “Free/Libre software and Open Source, because social responsability matters”

After the talks, back to coding!!
At Rails Grils Hackday
So yes, that was how we spent the day, it was a really nice experience, that I would like to repeat 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 312014
 

transmediale09With the title of  “The revolution is over. Welcome to the afterglow.”  Transmediale opened its doors last Wednesday 29 January until 2 February 2014.

Transmediale 2014

proposes the post-digital moment of ‘afterglow’ as a diagnosis of the current status of the digital hovering between ‘trash and treasure’. afterglow conjures up the ambivalent state of digital culture, where what seems to remain from the digital revolution is a paradoxical nostalgia for the futuristic high-tech it once promised us but that is now crumbling in our hands. The challenge that this moment poses is how to use that state of post-digital culture between trash and treasure as a still not overdetermined space from which to invent new speculative thought and practice. Are there means of renewal in the excess, overflow and waste products of the digital afterglow?

Transmediale is a meeting point between art and technology, artists and hackers, a space to open a reflection of what is the impact of technology, how is it evolving and to think about the meaning of a post-digital area.

This year I went to the opening mainly because a friend from the #hackership had taken part of the 48h hackathon Art Hack Day Berlin, I was curious to see the out put of this hackathon that involved not only software hacking but also art.

The number of people in the Opening was quite amazing, and there must have been a high expectation on the Art Hack Day exhibition because this is how it looked, there was quite a queue before being able to come in.

transmediale01

Some samples of the output that came from the hackathon are the following, I took randomly pictures of things, not necessarily the more interesting ones, I just wanted to get an idea of different things, and the amount of people just allowed sometimes to take pictures.

Mining the arbitrary

This was called “Mining the arbitrary”, it presents and analyzes a sample of substances found in Berlin, as an example of the production of waste of  information and materials.

transmediale04

I liked this one very much, called “Honeypot”, and the description says: “In computing a honeypot is used by security researchers to attract attacks in the wild. It is deliberately left insecure. We like to think of our personal electronic devices as secure. But recent revelations have shown, that they might be just as open as a honeypot. All your devices are belong to whom?

transmediale05

This is called Circe’s New Equipment , the description says: Assemblage of paraphernalia. Presented as if it is an altar, although not to worship, but to contemplate the wreckage – the sacrificial destruction of utility, the drives , forms and structures , the exuberance and vertigo that embrace both the human and non-human  orders.

But while thinking  about post-digital era, and while being in an event that proposes reflection on ‘trash and treasure’, do the conditions of the workers in the Transmediale belong to the trash more then to the treasure?

In the hall there were several workers holding a banner that says “Wie ist die Korrelation zwischen dem transmediale Festival und prekärer Arbeit?”( What is the correlation between transmediale Festival and precarious work?)

transmediale07

Well, yes for sure, once again lots of things to think about, while walking under a dark and frozen night.

transmediale08

 

Dec 242013
 

Coderetreat logoLast 14th of December was the Global Day of Code Retreat 2013. I came to know about Code Retreat this summer, in one of the session done with our coach during the RGSoC, actually the last one. I had no idea about the format, and also though explained at first I did not completely get it, but there was something that made it very attractive, the basic rules sounded great.

How Coderetreat is explained in their webpage is:

Coderetreat is a day-long, intensive practice event, focusing on the fundamentals of software development and design. By providing developers the opportunity to take part in focused practice, away from the pressures of ‘getting things done’, the coderetreat format has proven itself to be a highly effective means of skill improvement. Practicing the basic principles of modular and object-oriented design, developers can improve their ability to write code that minimizes the cost of change over time

Once I got to know that a Global Day of Code Retreat was going to take place, I signed in. At first I was not too sure if I would fit, I mean I don’t consider myself to be “fluent” in any language, I did not know how the format worked, I was not really familiar with the Game of Life, so I signed in just because I had the intuition that I was going to enjoy it.

There are several characteristics of Code Retreat, one of them is that organizers want to make sure that you are committed to programming, for that the event started at 8:30am on a Saturday (yes, the kind of day that you don’t want to hear the alarm clock), you had to pay a ticket but if you attend you get the money back.

At 7:45 up!!  just to get ready and arrive on time. Before going, I shutdown the computer, put it on the bag and off.

When I arrived, there were already some people, with their laptops, first introductions, first chats. I looked for a seat, took my computer out, tried to start it and …..it did not boot!!!! oh great…there was I, in a coding event with a broken computer, it looked like it was not a good start. I told the organizer, he said, no worries you are pair programming, so you just need a pair with a computer, ok, then perfect!!! everybody in the room seemed to have a computer 🙂 … even if you don’t have one, you can use paper!!

Ok, first thing was to stand up in a circle and shortly introduce ourselves, name and language you use (mostly java but also ruby, haskell, scala, where present), we were around 25 people, I guess, in the event. Then we did a barometer, to know how many people knew or used TDD, there were people that used it for everything, others that had never used it. So after this couple of quick rounds, everybody had a general idea of the group skills. Time to start.

First thing was to explain the rules of coderetreat, the idea is to implement just Conway Game of  Life, so since many of us were not familiar with the Game of Life, if was explained, as well as drawn and hang on the walls, so that you had present the 4 cases of the GoL

Then there were going to be 6 sessions, for each session you had to choose a different pair, each session lasted 45 minutes, after each session you had to delete the code, the main idea behind deleting code is not to attach to certain code, to be free to code something else that can be better. The first three sessions were going to be similar, the last three would introduce restrictions. Also after every session, we stood up in a circle and people could share what had they learned (good or bad practice), suggestions.

So the day went on, more or less  the sessions were like this

  1. Warm up.I was pairing in Ruby
  2. We were both new to TDD, GoL so more than coding GoL, we shared different approaches and since she was more familiar with Java and me with Ruby, we also learned what differences where there due to the language
  3. The first two sessions started with the approach of defining a cell, we decided to start to model the infinitive board. We concluded that was not the best approach.

After the third session it was time for lunch, take a break, go for a walk. the atmosphere was nice, it was easy to talk with the participants, so there was time to relax. But before that, we had to write in post-its and  in groups of 2-3 people what had we learned  during the morning, the post-its  would be sticked to the wall.

One hour later, started the second part of the code retreat.

  1. A restriction was introduced, our methods could not have return values. We got very confused about this, not really knowing how to handle it, used a bit of pen and paper, then decided to do it without restrictions and then figure out how to introduce them. I paired with a Java person.
  2. More restrictions were added, there was a list of 10 and the idea was to try to use as many restrictions as possible. We chose, no return values, no if, else, and something else that I’ve forgotten. This was another ruby session.
  3. Apart from the restrictions, we could add, not to use the mouse, do it in dojo format, we were 4 with one computer, language chosen Java.

Global Day of Code retreat at BerlinSo by the end of the day I was exhausted, still we had to write in groups of 2-3 people, what had we learned, what could be improve, what would we try to implement on our next day of work. Also there was a place to rate from -X to 10 the experience of coderetreat, most of the people thought it was worth an 8.

So yes, it was an amazing experience, my fears having a broken computer, not knowing enough about TDD, about GoL, were gone, in a code retreat just one thing can happen that you learn a lot, in pairs, with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 312013
 

railsgirls-summer-of-code-20130429-161434

I should have written this post a month ago. Then I was really excited about the idea of starting the #RGSoC I was wondering how was it going to be, how would we manage. The team was of busy in the pre-RGSoC, so actually we did not have time to do a strict roadmap of how to organize the summer so we did it in the organic way, let it flow, for me is the best way to do things, specially when if it works, is the way a feel more comfortable, but this time was not sure what could happen. My first feeling was that everything was going to be great, first sight impressions.

Now, one month has passed and I must say that it’s awesome!!! I think it is not only covering the expectations but going beyond that. Really enjoying every day, despite some days we are more frustrated if things don’t work. I have the best pair @juliaguar, we are Team-D, since we are working on Diaspora free social network.

I would say that we have a lot of fun :-D, well I least I have it, but a big lot … our everyday adventures you can find them in the blog in n-1.cc or here.

But we also have the luck to count on @mkrogemann as coach, he is really amazing, every minute we spend with him is like a sip of concentrated-knowledge juice. He unblocks us really easily, which is really a nice feeling,so our meetings are really productive.

And last but not least, I must say I’m really happy to actually have online some the core contributors, to get their advise and help, to be encourage, to have the feeling of entering a community. I didn’t expect it so it has been a wonderful surprise.

Learning in the open source world is much more that learning to code, is learning to think about having good practices, so work is easier for everybody, is to see discussions going on till there is a decision made, is to realize that working in a decentralized way works, is to work with others, is thinking about communication, documentation, finances, is knowing people, is sharing a space, which might be virtual but very very real.

So maybe everything sounds too nice and a bit “plastic”, things cannot be sooo “ñoñas” (sorry don’t know the word in English and the dict- translation is not actually the Spanish meaning) but some time ago I decided to apply KISS principle also to life, things are simple, you can enjoy simple things, so why should we get complicated.

BTW forgot to say, that 1 month later, today we had two PR merged into Diaspora, so happy coding is a fact 🙂

Mar 052013
 

berlingeekettes logoLast weekend I had the pleasure to participate in Berlin Geekettes Hackathon , that as they say was “Germany’s first all-women hackathon” and the call was” a 24 hour hackathon to bring everything to a close on Sunday afternoon– sleep is optional 😉 ”

A really nice idea, and during the weekend I could enjoy the atmosphere created in this hackathon, though my first one, I must say I’ve been quite a while into hacker’s events, and the feeling has been quite different, you could see people coding but at the same time smiling, at any point you could interrupt and they would listen to you and answer questions or explain what were they doing. The challenge to get things done, the learning by doing and the passion was there but the friendly and possitive atmosphere never left.

An intense weekend, where we different kind of hacks were developed, from a visual schedule iOS app to help kids understand what’s going to happen, to an app helping you to plot the flats that you like so you can then compare the flats, or an app that wants to help you improve your reading experience. Also there were games developed to play when you take a rest or to help learning, like  Soundpairs, memory game or a Morse-copter that can receive flight commands from any supported computer as well as a message, which it then transmits, in clear blue light, in Morse code. There were a lot of project and I just wanted to give hints about some of them, but you can take a look to all of them in here.

I must say that the organization was really great and that everything went smooth, everything on time and well thought as the healthy food (really nice!), space for exercise and relax and a crafty area to stop looking all the time at the computer screen.

Although I was not in the perfect mood for the hackathon, I had been looking forward to it, and it covered the expections but (yes there is always a but 😉 ), I missed really something, to ask ourselves how do we use technology, what do we use technology for and what technology do we use. I come from a different country and somehow from a different world, so what I missed was the fact of focusing in free software, of using technology for social improvement, to develop to empower grassroots and people for the sake of building a better world not successful private oriented companies. I know money is important, I founded a tech-cooperative based on free software but the framework was p2p economy. It may sound drastic or a bit intolerant(many times I’ve heard that comment), I know and I’m for the right of people to choose freely and be able to do what they consider better but I think that to be able to choose freely you need to know different options and that is why I think  is important to make visible freesoftware, its goals and ways of doing.

In any case deep, deep thanks to the @berlingeekettes and all the people that made it possible 🙂 because  I was really happy to take part in the hackathon and looking forward to the next one … and when possible I’d like to  join or collaborate with @berlingeekettes 🙂