This is just to say that I'm still around, and that I'm working on polishing (i.e., making a new start with) my life online.
And now I'm off to have a cup of tea and keep on studying. Bye!
Yesterday was the last day of GUADEC 2013 in Brno.
These past four days have been... WOW. Interesting and exciting talks (including some inspiring keynotes), great conversations, amazing human beings (once more, special mention for the Women's Dinner). It was fantastic.
I felt so well that I even managed not to make too much of a mess during my talk: I went through it a bit too quickly in the first half, but I managed to slow down in the second one (that was the one that I cared the most about), and in the end it was great having more time than previously thought for the discussion, which brought some great ideas for my future plans.
And today... Documentation BoF! Where all these plans will begin to be planned in more detail. After Ekaterina Gerasimova and Sindhu Sundar talks, after a couple of conversations with Meg Ford and Federico Mena Quintero, I am really looking forward to it.
The slides for my talk are here (.pdf). Kitten included. Have fun.
The last post was a bit depressing. I guess it happens when writing about - well - depression.
But... now I am well! It really seems that I am well!
And what can be better than using all these newfound energies going somewhere? And what can be better than using this holiday also to do and make things? So: what better place than... GUADEC!
I will be here until the early afternoon of the 6th (so: one day and hopefully a half of Documentation hackfest); in the afternoon of the 4th I will be giving a talk on my beloved GTK+3 Tutorial for beginners.
See you around!
Long time, no see. No write, more precisely.
I guess I owe an explanation. It is not going to be a post on GNOME or coding or documentation or anything techincal, and it is going to be a bit long, so feel absolutely free to skip. But, nevertheless, I feel like I should write something about the reason why I disappeared for about four months.
Let us start from the beginning, more or less: six years ago I doctor told me I have bipolar disorder. That is: mood swings so intense that they condition your life, and not for the good. It was not exactly a shock: I had always been moody, but lately I had started to be a bit more than that, so much that I was spending one week doing all sort of stuff (cleaning the kitchen at 4am, check) and ten days in my bed being unable to do little more than sleeping and crying, unable even to read more than a couple of pages. So: bipolar disorder. As a side dish, attacks of depersonalisation and derealisation: nothing seemed real, I was so dizzy I could barely stand, I had no accurate perception of sizes and distances and sometimes even colours.
Bipolar disorder, so: medications. To make a long story short, I tried four combinations of molecules before finding one that did not give me too many side effects (although I gained 25% of my weight) and allowed me to do something with my life (although on occasions I had a couple of relapses into depression). Life was not that bad.
In november last year, the medications stopped working. By december I was a wreck. I went to my doctor and he referred me to a specialist (I am seeing a doctor for the depersonalisation, but he is not allowed to prescribe medication: I am very grateful for the NHS, the UK national health service, which provides quite a good service for free, but sometimes its bureaucracy is a bit intricate). In the meanwhile, I managed to do a couple of things, as I told in the last posts, but I was not doing well. My referral got lost, then found again.
Finally, in March, I saw the specialist: enthusiastic, nice and thorough. The first change of medication she tried did not work: although not so depressed anymore, I spent one month sleeping 14 hours a day and being tired all the time. She then decided to try another road; but this medication had to be introduced very, very, very (that is: very) slowly, due to a risk of allergic reaction that could have sent me to the emergency room or worse. And that is what I have been doing for the past months: living below the working dose of medication, waiting for the molecule to work. This means that I have gone back to mood swings again, mostly of the "depression" kind (I have been depressed ten days out of two weeks, on average). The first results of the therapy should be seen, finally, in about four weeks. Hopefully.
In the last week I have started feeling a bit better, anyway. I managed to read four books - graphic novels, to be honest, but given my reduced intellectual abilities for the past months it has been a real breakthrough. (By the way, "Hawkeye" by Fraction, Aja and Pulido is fantastic.) After an evening out, I haven't always had the need to spend the next day sleeping to recover my strength.
There are no words to thank all the people that have patiently stuck with me all this time, that has been kind to me, sometimes just sending me a message in a dark day. The greatest thank you goes to Emmanuele (my husband), of course; he has literally saved my life, and even more than that.
So, this is the story so far.
Wish me luck.
And see you soon.
And if you have any question or comments, feel free to leave them below, or write me an email. I will be away next week (mother/daughter bonding time, most of it at the opera in Milan) but I promise to answer as soon as possible, as far as I can.
I left the last post minutes before Jessica McKellar's keynote at PyCon 2013. Unfortunately the keynote was cancelled. Raymond Hettinger followed a series of lightning talk with a keynote the theme of which was "Python is amazing" (I don't rememeber the exact words, but that's the main idea). YAY!
Getting started with automated testing, by Carl Meyer, was a great introductory talk, a good way to remind me that not writing tests is not (just) being lazy, it's counterproductive (and therefore leads to more work later).
Then I moved on to a couple of much-needed talk on community building: Scaling community diversity outreach, by (take a breath) Asheesh Laroia, Jessica McKellar, Dana Bauer and Daniel Choi, and, after lunch, How (Not) To Build An OSS Community by Daniel Lindsley. So far my contacts in London for programming have been by mentor in the TechAbility programme (my gateway drug pusher, the way I really got into programming - thank you Ben!), a couple of friends and of course my husband (but I tend not to talk too much about computers with him). I probably never realized how much I miss a "real life" (as opposed to "just IRC/internet") community since I got here. There are the GNOME beer events, of course! But the only London Python User Group I see online is "professionals only", so it doesn't look very newcomers-friendly... and there is no chapter of the PyLadies in London. (I was told that I should set one up - but I cannot do it on my own. And yes, dear Londoners, this is another cry for help!) All of this probably just means that I need a job, I am tired of doing things on my own. End of the rant, sorry.
Later in the afternoon, yet another fantastic talk. Lynn Root presented Sink or swim: 5 life jackets to throw to New Coders. It was perfectly tailored for the stage I am in my programming education: I know the basics, now what? Well, there is her website, then there is... teaching others. I sense a pattern here...
And then I went to rest, because the day after I had to present my poster and I was already too nervous.
The day after - the last day - was basically "hey, here's my poster". I had presented a poster only once in my life, but it was a much smaller (although quite big!) conference, and it was in another field (game theory).
And you know what? I loved it! (Even if it meant missing the keynotes... and the other posters.)
I talked about what I did last summer, why it's a good idea to do something like that, how you do it (and what you shouldn't do); most important, I spread the word about the Outreach Program for Women - all the leaflets but one or two were gone by the end of the session, and many people went away with the link to the website scribbled on a piece of paper!
I wasn't able to stand on my feet, afterwards. So: nap! And then, introduction to sprints...
...so that yesterday I managed to find something for me at the OpenHatch sprint. I helped with a webpage that was incomplete (a webpage that was... teaching - how to contribute to an OpenSource project. Mmmmh, more of that pattern), and I cleaned up the wiki a bit. I had never heard of OpenHatch before this conference, but I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful frienship (to use the words of Claude Rains in Casablanca).
And now I should be packing (how will I stuff all the t-shirts I got into my suitcase?) and go on my way...
So: a big thank you to PyCon, to the PSF (who generously sponsored my travel and my hotel!), to all the wonderful people I met, too many to fit in a post here (also: I am terrible with names, I would probably forget someone). And... maybe see you in Florence later this year!
PS: I wrote the post this morning (PST). It's now almost night (also PST, I don't want to know what time it is in London), and I am at the airport - flight delayed by approximately 3 hours. I use the airport connection to give you... the poster! With a huge thank you to Marina Zhurakhinskaya and Meg Ford who sent me so many useful suggestions.
I should have probably written something in the last days, but I was, well... overwhelmed.
I arrived in Santa Clara (after about 12 hours on a plane, and that was just to San Francisco) on the 12th - in the afternoon, local time. A few hours to rest, to get used to the jet lag, and then...
A hands-on introduction to Python for beginning programmers, by Jessica McKellar, was the perfect start: a smooth (re)introduction to the basics - it made me feel well. Hands-on intermediate Python, by Matt Harrison, followed. Fantastic. I learned so much, in such a short time: the balance of theory and practice was the right one. And the handouts are going to provide a very interesting (re)read for the future.
And on Wednesday night, some of the OPW women of the area had a small outing... (A special thank you to Aleta Dunne for the organization!)
Then, Thursday. Scripting: from Hard-drive to Github to PyPI, also by Matt Harrison, was advertised as "Novice" - but unfortunately I found it a bit too fast-paced for me. More precisely: the Python in it was not too difficult, but the "software engineering practice" level was above me. I look forward to re-reading the handouts in a less hectic environment. In the afternoon, there was Jessica McKellar again with Contribute with me! Getting started with open source development. Some much needed git practice - I will just say that.
And then... PARTY! I met nice people, I browsed the booths of the job fair getting contacts (and merchandise)... great time.
The conference started on Friday. Moving remarks by Jesse Noller on "changing the future" were followed by a keynote by Eben Upton... and the announcement that all of us (all 2500, and yes, that is two-thousand-five-hundred!) were going to get a Raspberry Pi. I will let you imagine the enthusiasm in the room.
I had to pick a talk. I was undecided between Jessica McKellar's How the Internet works and Esther Nam's How to Except When You're Excepting: I went for the first, and it was a fantastic introductory talk. I have to find a good book on the subject... (yes, dear reader, that is a cry for help!)
Then I spent some time browsing around, and after lunch I crashed in the Ada Initiative booth. I have rarely seen such a welcoming crowd, so great at making you feel at ease... Talking about the Imposter Syndrome mixed with nail painting (don't ask), and I also got a lot of good advice for my career.
I was really looking forward to a couple of talks on documentation - but I was feeling terrible (one of my dizziness attacks, a particularly nasty one) and I moved back to the hotel for a quiet night. I hope that the recording will be put online soon.
Now I am here, completing this post... But wait! It's almost time for the first keynote of the day! I'd better hurry! Talk to you soon! Bye!
So, how did the Documentation sprint go? Not bad, not bad at all. I wish I would have been feeling better (I was quite under the weather, I don't know why) - and that I could have been a bit more productive (and that I could have gone for a few more beers with the others), that's all I can complain about.
The last point is the reason for the title of this post. The idea is to separate the tutorials for beginners (that may be either a 10 minutes tutorial on "how to do something" or a more extensive introduction to a library) and the documentation directed at more experienced programmers. The former would end in a separate area in the website, whereas the latter would be under "tutorials" in the main website. Allan Day has designed a wonderful mock-up:
So, what's next?
So: many plans for the future have come out of this Documentation sprint. Many pleasant meetings, a lot of new ideas, a better understanding of little (but not less relevant!) things (I never knew that there was a difference between the capitalization of the titles in UK and US English - now I know)...
So: a "see you soon" to everyone who was there, a GIGANTIC thank you to our hosts in Brno, especially Florian Nadge, who woke up at 4am to pick me up at the airport on the first day! and that accompanied us almost everywhere.
And, of course: thanks to the GNOME Foundation who sponsored my travel!
And... see you soon for GUADEC, Brno!