Code: Debugging the Gender Gap

Robin Hauser Reynolds and Kimberly Bryant

Robin Hauser Reynolds, the Director/Producer of CODE interviews Kimberly Bryant, Founder & CEO Black Girls Code

A film many instructors may want to use in class or tell students to watch is now widely available. The film is the documentary Code: Debugging the Gender Gap. You can find it on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo, and TV on demand. It will be available to stream on Netflix in 2017.

The film explores how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles and sexism all play roles in keeping the number of women and minorities in software engineering jobs low. It has screened in 47 countries and at over 400 companies and organizations, including The White House.

“We are thrilled that CODE continues to have impact on audiences across all industries worldwide, and that we’ll have the chance to reach so many more when it begins streaming on Netflix next year,” said Director and Producer Robin Hauser. “Our hope is that it continues to open up conversations about what we would all gain from having more women and minorities code.”

Robin Hauser Reynolds & Megan Smith

Diretor Robin Hauser Reynolds, interviews Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States during the Obama Admistration

Code: Debugging the Gender Gap includes interviews with employees at Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Pinterest, among others, and explores how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles and sexism all play roles in keeping the number of women and minorities in software engineering jobs low – and what can be done to change this.

Review: Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine

Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine - Amazon affliate link

Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine  by Melissa Ford is from Que Publishing (2016). This book is part software manual, part writing workshop.

The software described in the book, Twine, is free to download. There are sites mentioned in the book where you can publish your completed interactive fiction. If you have your own web site, Twine stories can be published there.

If you loved the choose your own adventure books from a few years ago, this is the modern version of that type of storytelling.

Twine can be used to create more than stories. It can create games, puzzles, and role-playing games. It’s meant for game designers and game players who have lots of ideas of their own for exciting games. (I think it would also be a great way for people who love to write fan fiction to work their way into a more high tech approach to storytelling.)

In terms of writing advice, the book talks about story structure, character building, creating settings, balancing pacing and action, keeping players engaged, and the all important storytelling rule to “show, don’t tell.”

The approach to the software used in the book is step by step. You should read the book with Twine open on your computer so you can try out all the ideas and suggestions and learn how to write in the Twine languages.

The book instructs in the use of macros in a choice of Twine languages. It also explains how to create variables, conditional statements, and arrays. With the help of macros for history, either, random, click, mouseover, prompt, count, append, prepend, replace, remove and more, a user can create a complex and exciting interactive world. There are built-in Twine functions to control turns, display, actions and more.

A Twine writer can use HTML and some CSS to change fonts, backgrounds, sidebars, links and more. You can import Google fonts with the stylesheet. Twine lets you add images to your story.

If you are interested in creating interactive fiction or games that you can easily share with others, you should take a look at Twine as your software tool. This book will make you an expert user with an easy to follow, step-by-step approach.

Summary: Melissa Ford shows you how to create a game or puzzle using Twine software, and helps you be a better writer in the process.

A review by Virginia DeBolt of Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine (rating: 5 stars)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. Opinions are my own. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Here is my review policy.

Wordcamp Albuquerque 2016

The night before the event, there was a planning meeting for the volunteers.

Sheila and Alonso make plans at a planning meeting

Sheelah and Alonso at the planning meeting.

Marketing Your Business with WordPress

Marjorie R. Asturias

Marjorie R. Asturias presented this talk.

Marjorie emphasized the importance of the home page, the about page and the contact page. She explained when a blog could be useful to your business.

Getting into CSS

Eric Debelak

Eric talked about CSS

Eric Debelak gave this talk. He explained how to find selectors being used on a WordPress site using a web inspector so that they can be modified. He explained how to set up a child theme so that you could create new CSS for your theme.

He mentioned something that I didn’t know: Albuquerque residents with a library card get free access to lynda.com.

Break Time

Ingrid and Elaine

Great conversationalists

Ingrid and Elaine were great chat partners during break time. Ingrid showed me how to use the web inspector in Chrome, which was very helpful.

During lunch I chatted with a woman from Denver named Sue. She drove down specifically for Wordcamp and was happy with what she was seeing.

WordPress.com for Business Sites

Elizabeth Urello

Elizabeth Urello talks about business sites

Elizabeth Urello gave this presentation. I’ve been inspired by her at previous Wordcamps and was looking forward to this one.

She talked about how to set clients up on WordPress.com in a way that enables them to maintain and keep the site updated themselves. She mentioned how beginner friendly and secure it is. WordPress.com has many new capabilites as well.

Wohoo! You Have Your First Website Up and Running. Now what?

Mark Carrara

Mark Carrara talks about the in-between stages of website building

This talk was from Mark Carrera. He talked about what you do in the in-between states of website building. What you do between deciding to build the site and getting it running. He works for a school and emphasized the importance so far fresh content on a website.

Unlocking WordPress as a Framework

Danny Santoro

Danny Santoro talked about unlocking WordPress as a framework

Danny Santoro talked about the components of WordPress and how those components can be used to build any sort of website you want. He talked about themes as for styling and display, not for functionality. He described some of the components to pull from.

Project Management 3 … 2 … Launch!

 

Hilary Fosdal

Hilary Fosdal talks Project Management

Hilary Fosdal spoke about the business of building websites rather than the development of the website. She talked about process – client intake forms, payment schedules, and business matters like that. Her talk was brilliantly organized and delivered. She should write a book about business process for creative firms.

This was my experience and my day at this year’s Albuquerue Wordcamp. Everyone has their own experience at these events, but you always come away with new information and new contacts and acquaintances. If there’s a Wordcamp anywhere near you, you’ll find it worth attending..

Flash is Dead. Long Live Animate

Adobe Animate CC Logo

Flash has had a few hard years. HTML5 whupped its ass. So it’s going away.

Sort of.

In its place, Adobe will give us Animate CC, which loses the loser of a name but retains much of the function. There will be added functions, as well. Here’s Adobe’s announcement of the change.

To summarize the changes, here’s how Adobe describes what the new software will do:

  • Drawing, illustration and authoring
    • Vector art brushes – Modify the path of a stroke after it’s been drawn, and scale them to any resolution without losing quality. You can also make custom brushes and import brushes created with Adobe Capture CC.
    • 360° rotatable canvas – Rotate the canvas on any pivot point as you draw to get the perfect angle and strokes. You can even use this feature with a Wacom Cintiq!
    • Improved pencils and brushes – Draw smooth, precise vector outlines along a curve and get faster live previews.
    • Easier audio syncing – Control audio looping directly on the timeline, without having to code.
    • Faster color changing – Naming tagged colors lets you change one color and have it automatically update your entire project.
    • Colored onion skinning – Easily orchestrate complex animations now that adjacent frames can have different color and alpha values.
  • CreativeSync integration
    • Adobe Stock – Browse and license millions of high-quality photos, illustrations and vector graphics directly in Animate CC. You can even add life to static content by adding animations to them.
    • Creative Cloud Libraries – Access colors, vector graphics and brushes directly as you work.
  • Output capabilities
    • Multiplatform support: HTML5 Canvas, WebGL, Flash (SWF), AIR, video, and custom platforms (such as SVG) via extensions.
    • 4K+ video export – Export videos with custom resolutions for the latest Ultra HD and Hi-DPI displays.
    • Custom resolution export – Revitalize older content by resizing and optimizing them for any resolution, such as Ultra HD and Hi-DPI displays.
    • .OAM support – Export your project as an .OAM file for easy importing to Adobe Muse, InDesign, DPS and Dreamweaver.

The new Adobe Animate CC will be released in January 2016.

Amara Makes Video More Accessible

I just discovered a subtitling tool called Amara that is a global captioning and translation project for video. I’m a couple of years behind the times. In case you haven’t heard of it either, here’s an introduction to the tool.

Amara is now helping with translations and captioning in many places. They say their caption editor is easy to use. I didn’t try it out, but it’s free. Amara also provides you with a way to connect to others around the world who might be willing to help translate and caption a video into another language. Since translating and or captioning a video is a labor intensive process, it’s interesting that this web-based tool is using the idea of crowd sourcing the work.

  • There’s a good review of how using the tool works at PCWorld. The review is a couple of years old so there may be improvements since then.
  • The Global Voices Community Blog has a recently updated post of instructions for translators who use Amara.
  • Vimeo, TED, and many other organizations partnered with Amara. TED provides a set of tutorials for Amara users.

Their Twitter account is @AmaraSubs. Their Facebook page is Amara Community. Neither have frequent postings, but they are worth following if you are interested in accessibility or teach accessibility in your web education classes or at conferences.

Nat & Lo’s 20% Project

Nat and Lo in front of a Google sign

When you work at Google, you get to spend 20% of your time doing something you think of yourself. Googlers Natalie Hammel and Lorraine Yurshansky decided to spend their time creating a web series about projects at Google. They call it “Nat & Lo’s 20% Project.”

Their videos are on YouTube. Watch the first one and you can subscribe to their YouTube channel and/or select the next video you want to watch. I suggest watching them all. You’ll get an inside view of some of the things that make Google so ubiquitous in your life.

A Talk About Nothing

Lena Reinhard

Lena Reinhard

You may have watched this elsewhere, but I found it impressive enough to add here as well. Its a very fine talk about the tech industry by Lena Reinhard at the first ever .concat() web development conference on March 7th 2015.

Here’s the abstract of the talk.

And, yes, literally nothing. Together we’ll take a look behind the curtains of reality and explore some of the underlying rules that shape our existence. We will dig into ancient philosophy, the history and today’s status physics and maths, look into the origins of computing, programming and analyse the way we develop software today. We’ll see how nothing influences us, how it shapes our behaviour every day and how nothing can help us grow – in our professions and, even more, as humans.

“Nothing really matters,”, Freddie Mercury wrote in a song that was released 40 years ago. I want to show you how right he is.

The talk is nominated for the “Conference Talk of the Year” in the .net awards 2015. Listen to it carefully as she builds her message and listen all the way to the end.