Weeknote 2020-41

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:

PayID Hackathon

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.

BeEqual Badge

I'm very interested in diversity and inclusion. IBM has historically been a leader in this area:

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.

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.

Mechanical Keyboard

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.

Roasting Coffee

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!