Call for Code Awards Ceremony
So tonight is the night! In about an hour and a half the 2020 Call for Code Awards ceremony and celebration starts. I know I bang on a lot about this, but it really is pretty awesome.
So I have about 2 hours to go... it starts at 00:30 my local time, but I'm staying up to watch it live :)
Call for Code is an initiative to get teams around the world to collaborate on trying to use tech to help solve some of the big problems that face our society. Previous years this has been about climate change, but this year there was also a COVID-19 track. I came up with the idea for Choirless, to help people sing and play music together remotely. We came 2nd place in the internal Call for Code competition for IBM employees.
Tonight we get to celebrate the participants of the external competition, and find out who won. You can read about the 5 finalists here. From an app that calculates the carbon footprint of purchases in your online shopping basket, to an app to help people queue safely during social distancing, to an app to help create lists of assignments for remote schooling.
There might be a clip of myself and Choirless in the event, but I've been told that the editors have been cutting down... so who knows!
Last week we (the UK and Ireland developer advocacy team) hosted an event called “Code@Think” which ran after the “Think UK and Ireland” conference that IBM were running. I'll be honest. It didn't go well :( I mean, the actual talks themselves were delivered fantastically. But the whole event was let down by the platform it was run on just making the experience pretty bad. And the number of attendees reflected this.
This has mainly come about by a bit of an internal tension between developer advocacy and marketing. Not helped by the changing environment we are working in with everything online.
A few examples of parts that were problematic:
- Multiple websites. We had our own website of the event which had a much more coherent feel to it and made the information much more accessible. The event platform itself (which we were require to use) had its own site, which everyone was directed to which made it much harder to see when each talk was happening.
Separate 'events' for each talk. Each individual talk was a separate WebEx Event. The main conference site system did not direct attendees to or let attendees in until literally the start of the talk. This is a bit like locking the door of the lecture hall and only opening it when the speaker starts talking. So the speaker was starting talking to an empty room. This was pretty demoralising to the speaker and not helpful to the attendees who miss the first few introductory minutes.
Then, when one talk finishes. Everyone is booted out. Then they have to actively go back in to the next talk. A very poor experience, and hence much much lower number of people in the talks that we'd hoped.
A much better experience would be like that we currently run on our IBM Developer Europe Crowdcast channel in which you can turn up before the talk starts and be presented with a holding screen and count down. The speakers can get themselves ready in a “green room” and then go live at the start and everyone is in place.
No “hallway track” or social aspect. How can you engage with the attendees if you can't chat to them? Yes there was a chat function in each talk, but it was totally isolated. So there was no way to stick your head out into the hallway and make an announcement, or to chat to others socially. I wrote a blog post on Linked-In about my experiences with doing this at a recent conference we ran where we had a “hallway track” on Twitch.
I mentioned last week about entering another PayID hackathon. Alas the gods were not shining on me and working my socks off at the last moment and Github went down for two hours :( So I couldn't actually test or create the video to my entry, so it never made it through to the actual event. But you can read about it. Or watch a quick demo video:
...speaking of videos. Cinnamon has had a big update to the site and how it works. I'm still getting used to it. Not sure I like it or not. Or just the usual “change sucks” thing. It used to be when I went to Cinnamon I instantly saw videos of people I follow, now it takes me to all videos. Also it seems to have some functionality about 'shorts' that I don't fully understand yet. But each video I uploaded I needed to highlight a 30 second parts as a 'short'. Time will tell.
I'm very interested in diversity and inclusion. IBM has historically been a leader in this area:
1899: IBM hired three women—Emma Manske, Nettie Moore, and Lilly Philp—20 years before women were given the right to vote
1899: IBM hired Richard MacGregor, their first black employee, 10 years before the founding of the NAACP and 36 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
1914: IBM hired its first employee with a disability, 76 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act.
1934: IBM hired its first professional woman, 29 years before the Equal Pay Act.
1953: IBM wrote its first Equal Opportunity Policy that called for equal opportunity in hiring regardless of race, color, or creed.
I am currently an LGBT+ ally, as I have personal experience of two of my (adult) kids who are transgender and very much aware of some of the issues they face in the workplace.
But I want to do more. So I am an initiative at work called Be Equal.
Be Equal is an invitation to engage IBMers, customers and society at large in promoting the advancement of fairness and equality in business and society.
I want to help promote the kind of workplace that anyone, regardless, would feel comfortable working in.
Future Trends of AI lecture
This week I'm about to start filming a lecture called “Future Trends in AI” as part of the IBM AI Academy. I've not done anything like this before. The materials have already been prepared, I am just going to be presenting them.
Talks / Streams
I've done two talks this week with my colleague Margriet. On Monday I hosted her weekly Lunch and Learn data science session, and then today she joined me on my Twitch stream to look through some crime data to see if we could spot signs of biases in the data. I really enjoyed co-presenting with Margriet as you get a much more natural dialog with a co-presented rather than presenting solo. So hopefully will be doing more in that format in the future.
I have decided I need to get an external keyboard. I currently just type on my Macbook's built-in keyboard. But I'm aware I'm getting some pains in my wrist. I've had them before, but they seem to be getting worse. Despite owning one of the original IBM Natural Keyboards like this one...
...I've always stuck to Apple low-travel keyboard on the view that less travel must be good right? But it has only really clicked with me this weekend why mechanical key-switch keyboards are better. They actuate before they actually 'bottom out' and so you don't get the 'shock' travelling back up your fingers you get with Apple keyboards.
I also really want to go back to the split/angled style keyboard as it is more comfortable keeping my wrists straight. I type at a weird oblique angle on my Macbook in a way to emulate this, but it just means my fingers have to move in odd ways to hit keys.
Doing a lot of reading around, I think what I want is something like the ErgoDox EZ, but it is 1) very expensive 2) only in the US, so would need to be shipped over, and hence incur customs fees. See point 1.
But I've seen a few on eBay here in the UK, so that might solve that problem. I was hoping for one I could buy at a major retailer as I still have more BluePoints to spend. I was awarded a “Developer Hero” award for work I had done on my Twitch stream. But I might just have to go for this on eBay regardless.
Blog Post Reader
So another idea for a side project. Have I mentioned this before? I don't think so.
It came about from someone on Twitter saying they were looking for an app to read out web pages, so they could keep up with Coil posts whilst on the road driving.
So my idea is this: A tool that monitors the Coil blogs you follow and automatically uses IBM Watson Text to Speech service to 'read' the blog posts out and create a podcast format instead. So you could point your podcast app towards a specific URL and it would create a custom podcast from the Coil posts you subscribe to. Even better would be if it could do the Coil payments end to end. I'm hoping to find a way (or work with) the Puma web browser to do this. It would be a great 'value add' for Coil posts, that Coil subscribers could listen to posts read out. There is just so much good content out there, just hard to keep up with it all.
Shame I didn't think of this before, as would have been a great project to submit for funding from Grant for the Web. Maybe they will open another round soon?
PayID and UBRI Conference and SWELL
This week has seen the joint PayID and Ripple UBRI conference going on. There has been so much good content in it. There is a playlist on Youtube with each day in. The first video is private for some reason, but you can scroll through to the others.
and starting tomorrow is SWELL, Ripple's annual conference. This is main aimed at the finance industry, but I've been invited along, so will be interested to see some of the talks.
Also, I created a brief video about roasting coffee at home:
And blog post about it: https://coil.com/p/hammertoe/Roasting-Coffee-at-Home/jjmCwQ1C5
Right... well I think that is it... the Call for Code awards starts in 15 minutes!