So, it seems spring may be here. Today and yesterday was a glorious sunny day here in the UK. It is amazing how nice it feels to just sit out in the sunshine. I am actually typing this now sat in the local park whilst my daughter plays on the swings and chats to a friend of hers in Texas on her phone.
During lockdown she has ended up making a bunch of friends from around the world, Scotland, Texas, Indonesia, Canada. The great thing being, due to the timezones, there is always one of them around when she wants a chat. She is 10 now and whilst we talked about millennials being “digital natives” I think that Gen Z takes this a step further to being “remote native”. Physical location just seems to be a side attribute as most of her friends are now online.
I can’t believe I’ve now been at Ripple a month. I’ve missed a weeknote from last week, as time has just flown past in the last couple of weeks. I’m starting to get a better handle on who does what. My role as Director of Developer Relations is a completely new role there, and so the various developer efforts have been shared out amongst the marketing and comms teams. So I’m starting to gather them up to try and get a more coherent and developer-led approach.
Friday was my first pay day, and was glad to see wages all went through fine. I mean, Ripple is a company that deals with payments so you think they would be good at this kind of thing, but still I am always slightly nervous when new banking instructions and payroll are setup. This has been slightly heightened due to my previous company IBM paying in advance at the start of the month. Ripple, like every other company, pay at the end of the month. So in switching over I've had nearly two months between pay. Luckily I've got an amount of cryptocurrency saved up and was actually able to use that as a collateral for a loan from Nexo to tide me over.
I've been working on a new project at Ripple, you will be no doubt hearing about it soon. But make sure you are near a computer on the 9th March at 11am PT ;)
Black History Month
February was “Black History Month” in the US (we actually have a similar thing in the UK in October). It is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognising their central role in U.S. history.
One of the things I was really proud of working for IBM was the Business Resource Groups they had there, and especially the work they did supporting, normalising and amplifying the voices of some of the marginalised communities in our field.
One of the “deal breakers” for me leaving was I wanted to work for another company that also did the same. Hence why I was so happy to join Ripple, as I'd already heard so much about their diverse workforce and sincere approach to inclusion.
[Black at Ripple co-lead Safiya Walker introducing ERGs and Black at Ripple]
One of the Employee Resource Groups at Ripple is “Black at Ripple”, and they ran a number of open talks for Black History Month, one of which was a fireside chat with Dr. Maisha Gray-Diggs from Twitter. Another was the kick-off event for the Black at Ripple ERG, in which we had some great small-group discussions talking about various topics from ally-ship to black culture.
One video I shared with the group was one that I was introduced to a while back and helped me to understand the concept of systemic racism:
One of the early memories I have around music and computing was as a kid, probably about 11 years old, was sat on the living room floor listening to some of my parents music. My dad had a great big reel to reel tape player that he had some stuff on, and also some new things called Compact Discs. One of the albums I always remember was Revolutions by Jean-Michel Jarre. I remember my dad telling me that it was entirely generated by computers. I was in awe of it.
One of the tracks on that album is called September, and has a choir of women (or kids, I couldn't tell back then) singing what sounds like “nyah nyah... nyah nyaaaaaah”. I remember reading in the sleeve notes that it was dedicated to a woman called Dulcie September, an anti-apartheid activist who was assassinated in Paris in 1988.
In a completely random Twitter conversation one night recently, someone mentioned Jean-Michel Jarre, and my memories of “September” came back. Having read a post encouraging people to learn beyond the “usual names” of black history, I went to read up what I could on Dulcie September, the name I encountered back then, sat on the living room floor, 32 years ago.
And in further synchronicity, there is actually a documentary called “Murder in Paris” debuting in March about her life and the events surrounding her murder:
The first part is on the 21st March 2021, Human Rights Day and being broadcast on SABC3, a South African channel. I'm hoping it will also be available online somewhere.
The documentary was started over two years ago, and a trailer existed from when they started:
When I joined Ripple, as part of an onboarding gift, I was given a pair of Apple AirPod Pro ear buds. I will admit, I've never been a big fan of earbuds generally for music, but the original Apple (wired) earbuds have always been great for conference calls. I have a really nice pair of Sony over-the-ear noise cancelling bluetooth headphones that I wear when I want to isolate away from surroundings, or on a train etc. But they are useless on conference calls, as due to the noise cancelling, I end up being unable to hear my own voice and just shouting.
So I was keen to try out the AirPods and was thinking the would be great for conference calls when travelling (at my desk as home I have speakers and a decent AKG mic). I have been testing the AirPods since I've got them, and have to say I'm still not a big fan of them for music, and they feel a bit weird in my ear. But...
As I said at the start, today was a beautiful sunny day, and earlier today the dog and I went for a walk in the park (header image) near where I live. As it was so warm, I decided to just lie on a grass bank and enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face. I remembered I had the AirPods in my pocket still... so I put them in, and listened again to “September”. And then the four parts of “Révolution industrielle”. Just lying there. Listening to the music. It was fantastic.