Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trip to China

Last week I was for picked for the university‘s trip to Zhengzhou University of Light Industry.  China, baby! *jumps up and down excitedly*

The trip consists of a mixed group of lecturers and Napier students, spending three weeks with the students in Zhengzhou to teach them the basics of SQL and web design.  In addition to gaining lots of teaching experience and working on our Mandarin, we will also have the opportunity to explore the city and surrounding province.  A trip to the Great Wall is planned for when we arrive in Beijing and we’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Terracotta Army.  We plan to document our trip and create a lasting legacy by combining our super awesome computing talents and putting together a kickass blog.  The group (three girls, three guys) already seems to have a nice dynamic and we’ve been bouncing ideas off each other like crazy in our Facebook group.

On a more personal note, I’m looking forward to learning more about one of the oldest civilisations in the world and immersing myself in Chinese culture.  I hear from friends that China is like nothing I have ever experienced before, so I’m already thinking about the difficulties I will face as an obvious foreigner in a country where English isn’t spoken widely and the written language is based on an entirely different alphabet from the one I know.  But hey, I love a challenge!

However, the trip isn’t free and so we are now in the process of fundraising.  It’s been suggested that I take orders for cheap goods and bring lots of fake handbags etc in a spare suitcase, but I’d much rather take a more traditional (and less dodgy) route to fund the trip.  My daughter has made me promise to bring her back lots of Hello Kitty stuff so there won’t be any room to bring stuff back for the Del Boys.  Sorry folks, you’ll have to find another supplier!

On a more serious note though, I am open to funding suggestions should the initial application fail. If you have any suggestions for me, please let me know!

Busy busy!

Wow, so much to write about and so little time!  You may be hit with several entries at once, dear reader, as I’ve been so busy this week that the non-uni work is starting to pile up.

I was going to post an entry today, but I’ve been too busy swearing at my PC trying to install the UEFI version of Mint Linux (although the non-UEFI laptop installation went fine *rolls eyes*) and I’ve now got to get ready to go out and attend the BCS Women Scotland Kickoff event.  And yes, I’ll be blogging about that too, I promise!

PS – Mint Linux is lovely 😉

Welcome to the blog! Part 2

Well, that was relatively painless.  Welcome to my new home!

One domain registration and a two minute import/export later and it’s all done.  It’s a shame that some tools and widgets mysteriously disappear when you import WordPress to your domain (thanks, WordPress), so I’ve had lots of fun wondering where everything’s gone.  However, the Twitter and RSS feeds are done and my blog feed should update on the usual sites, so I think I’ll have that wine now!

Preparing for the professional world

I might only be in my first year, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from people at the various events I’ve attended in the past few months alone it’s this:  don’t be shy to sing your own praises and promote yourself.  I’ve admittedly neglected this area as I’m actually kinda shy when it comes to this sort of thing – hard to believe, I know…

However, I’m determined to go places after graduation and I think it makes total sense to plan my route right at the very beginning of my journey.  Today I’d like to share with you some excellent tips that I’ve picked up so far:

1. Web Presence

The vast amount of social media sites that people recommend can be overwhelming, but once they’re set up they’re easy to maintain.  I recently set up an About.me page, which acts as a handy starting point for all the social media sites I’m signed up to and includes a link to direct folk to my biography.  If you’re on Twitter, it’s very easy to create and manage a separate, professional account if you want to keep your personal life away from your professional presence.

However, maintaining so many profiles can get messy so I decided to buy myself a domain and set up a website to showcase everything I’m involved in.  I like the idea of having a central point of contact and I can also have a section on my radio experience.  Luckily I’m married to a web developer so I can sit back and eat cake while he’s making the magic happen, but for those who aren’t so lucky, trust me when I say putting a website together is easier than you think (EDIT:  my husband says that he didn’t work like a dog for his degree in Web Technologies for me to say that web design is easy.  I’m now contractually obliged to tell you that web design is up there with rocket science).  WordPress itself has a lot of handy tools to help novices build a decent looking site and its modular design means you can cobble something decent together in minutes with a little bit of drag and drop.

2.  Business Cards

The first time I was asked for my business card (by the wonderful Dr Sue Black, no less) I was really flattered that someone would actually ask me for one!  When I mentioned that I didn’t have any, Dr Black strongly advised me to order some cards as they come in very useful at networking events and will help the people you meet to remember who you are.  I took her up on her advice and am now awaiting my first batch of 50 cards.

In addition to sticking a mugshot on the card to help with the whole names-to-faces thing, I’ve added my course and university details, my new website, email address, Twitter name, phone number and About.me page.  I’ve picked up a few business cards from people already and I’m find them very handy, usually when I’m talking to a friend about who I’ve met and I need to remind myself who it was I met!

3.  Events

My first big event was Target Jobs’s IT’s Not Just For The Boys! in London last November.  The event was primarily a careers event made up of around 120 STEM students and representatives from many different companies.  I was lucky enough to be offered a place for the event and thoroughly enjoyed myself, taking advantage of the opportunity to network like mad and make some good contacts.  I’m also off to the BCS Women Scotland Kickoff event next week and am looking forward to tomorrow’s Tech Talk, hosted by the university’s Institute for Informatics & Digital Innovation (IIDI).  I also attended the Connect Networking Lunch last Friday and had a great time mingling with STEM students and staff.

Before you nod off, my intention isn’t to bore you silly with the above, it’s to demonstrate the sheer amount of events and networking opportunities there are out there for female STEM students.  There are literally dozens of events every month where students are welcome and I would actively encourage you to attend as many as possible.

Don’t be scared if you’ve just started your degree – I’m only in first year myself, but I’ve never found that to be an issue.  From what I’ve experienced, people tend to be impressed with students taking the opportunity to attend events and network from the off and I truly believe that keeping up the momentum is beneficial to your future career.  The more you’re seen at events, the more likely people are to remember you and it’s a fantastic – and cheap! – way to build up a professional network.  Keep an eye out for any events your university is running, but don’t be shy to go along to any events held in your area.  I like to keep an eye on Eventbrite to see what’s coming up and they also offer a good smartphone app.

I hope you find the above advice as useful as I have and I hope you have as much fun as I do as you schmooze your way around the lectures and events.

Take your “pink it and shrink it” and stick it

I’m even grumpier than usual thanks to being in bed for most of the week with some stupid virus or somesuch, so I’ve decided to have a rant as part of the recovery process.  So ner.

As a lady geek, one thing that grinds my gears in particular is the “pink it and shrink it” policy of many tech companies.  Remember that Nintendo 3DS “I’m not a gamer” campaign at Christmas, where various women simpered over their coral pink consoles and told the world that they are actually chefs, coin collectors and dog trainers?

It’s a shame we have an LCD telly, because throwing my shoe at the screen when I see awful adverts like these isn’t the same as when we had our CRT telly.  That screen was tough!  I’m thinking of petitioning Samsung to provide Gorilla Glass protective screens with their new tellies for those of us who don’t want to break our equipment…

Anyway, I digress.  I got over it and carried on hacking things to death on my Xbox, as you do.

Now, I’ve admired Microsoft as a company for many years, especially as they seem to have had a good, proactive approach to women in tech from the very start.  I also had the pleasure of meeting and having a very insightful conversation with a lovely Microsoft rep called Linda (unfortunately I’ve lost her business card and despite some desperate Googling I can’t find her) at a seminar last year.  She had lots of positive anecdotes about her life at Microsoft and was really inspiring.  I subsequently joined the Women at Microsoft page on Facebook and have enjoyed a lot of the posts and articles – until this one caught my eye:

Microsoft’s Dara Ibrahim at a Dubai Women in Technology networking event with a *shudder* pink Surface

Really, Microsoft?  I am disappoint.  Truly.

The two examples above only do damage to those of us trying to make it in a man’s world and it really makes me despair.  I’m so tired of tech companies catering to women on the basis that they only live to play Cooking Mama or only use their devices to play Farmville and shop for dresses.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the colour pink and I’m not a total ice queen when I see a puppy, but not all women who pick up a laptop get upset if the cover isn’t the same shade as their fingernails.  Women are attracted to computing, science and technology for exactly the same reasons as men.

Have you ever considered that, guys?  It really is that simple.