NASA is indexing the ‘Deep Web’ to show mankind what Google won’t

Understanding web technologies has become my latest obsession (which I think fits in neatly with my rediscovered enthusiasm for complexity studies and whatnot). One of the my favourite ranting topics is the segregated nature of the web UX – a term which for me is about more than the user interfaces, but the very processes used to enable discovery and information retrieval.

Hence why I found this article pretty well timed, in short.


STEMmette of the month: Natalie C

The greatest thing about being a geek is all the brilliant people you get to meet. One such person is Natalie C who I bumped into at the Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp. We’re both really passionate about encouraging diversity in STEM, but with a similar emphasis on empowering women of colour to be able to make their own stuff and challenge the status quo (but that’s a whole other blog post…).

So, we’re doing a co-blog where we ask each other some key questions about how we got into our fields and any words of encouragement for other young lady geeks out there.

Anyway, without further ado, Natalie C!

Branded  (3)Name: Natalie-Claire

Subject/Industry: Structural engineering

Job – what you do: Currently a STEM ambassador and aspiring graduate structural engineer. I go to schools, colleges and career events to promote civil and structural engineering as a worthwhile career.

As a structural engineer, I would be involved in designing structures like: buildings, stadiums, airports, bridges and even oil rigs. By working with architects and other engineers together we create safe, sustainable and spectacular structures around the world.

Picture of Civil Engineers waving at the camera

Something cool about your career & why you love it.

The best part about being a structural engineer is to see your work/design become a reality and on such a large scale: London Eye, Tower bridge, The Shard, The Gherkin, Sydney Opera house, just to name a few well known structures.

How you got to where you are today – school, subjects, inspirational people.

At school my favorite subject were maths and science. So I went on to study: maths, physics and computing at college. My physics teacher was a great inspiration to me, he saw potential in me and encouraged me to look into engineering as a career. So I then studied Civil engineering and then Structural engineering at university. The best decision of my life!

Word of encouragement to younger women who want to have a career in STEM. 

If you love maths, science or technology research the many careers available out there. And you can become someone who makes a difference in the world we live in today. I am passionate about engineering and I want to spread the word to all the young women out there that it is a great career path to take!

Natalie blogs at Engineer with Unique Style and can be followed on Twitter @NatCLiberty

Tomatoes in bloom!

A few weeks ago I was given two tomato plants courtesy of a fellow chorister at my local church. When I lived in Manchester, there was a whole community around self-sufficiency and vertical gardening and I always wanted to have a go, so when my fellow congregant mentioned he was growing tomatoes, well I couldn’t help mentioning I’ve always wanted to have a go at growing some, which I have.

I was duly given two juvenile plants – a cherry tomato and a… bigger tomato type plant (forgotten the name). For a while I was convinced I’d kill them dead within the week as I am the least green fingered person in existence but I managed not to. It turns out they really like mussel shells (three weeks prior I’d ordered a kilo of mussels so I have plenty of shells to spare) and only a bit of watering and good compost.

IMG_0613Just over a week ago I noticed an array of buds on the tallest plant and then on Thursday, I was greeted with a few lovely yellow flowers! I also realised I need taller sticks and larger pots to repot them, which I’m not looking forward to as they’re so tall now. Which also suggests I need to do some severe pruning too.

As I mentioned to a friend, this is probably why I have no fear of a calling to motherhood. True, children tend to make more noise than tomato plants if you don’t feed/wash/clothe them properly but I suspect I’d still keep it too late.

A day of Girl Geekness in Manchester

Around early May there was a certain something, a frisson disturbing the still waters of online girl geekdom. A new javascript framework? A working implementation of Quantum Computing infrastructure applied to knowledge mapping Big Data sets? Bless you, no – the Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp was back!

I’ve been attending the Manchester Girl Geeks barcamps since 2013 and they’ve pretty much become one of the highlights of my year. Each one gets better and better – I get to listen to a variety of fascinating topics, meet very clever and hardworking women from a wide range of backgrounds and get to eat amazing cake.


This year obviously I had to travel up from Warwick which meant getting up ludicrously early on a Saturday following a very tiring and stressful week. Still I arrived on time, even though it seemed not that many others did. Anyway, undeterred I checked out the speakers already signed up on the board and took a comfortable seat ready for the launch of what promised to be a day of girl geek amazingness. Not least because we were given adorable mini hemp goodie bags (obviously I took a purple one).

Continue reading A day of Girl Geekness in Manchester

In which a Hackathon is actually won

I’ve developed something of a craze for hackathons, probably not helped by signing up to the Hackathons and Jams meetup group. I used to enjoy the prospect of being part of a team and creating new projects but after a particularly painful experience, my attitude now is more about exploring the free technologies on offer and messing about with new APIs.

Such was my philosophy when I signed up for the NBCUniversal Comcast hackathon. Having attended a talk held by Ladies Who Code London during which Mairead Buchan @tiny_m gave a really nifty demo of using leapmotion as a means of interacting with the web, so I was quite keen to get my hands on one and have a go hacking about with javascript. As it was, I did indeed end up on a team (doing a hackathon can be a real boost to the self-esteem, for those of us unused to being in demand!) and by the end, I was actually very happy to do so.

Continue reading In which a Hackathon is actually won

Natural hairstyles!

I’ve just taken out my crochet weave and I’m happy to say that the shaved sides are growing back (I got myself a mohican cut a while back but the sides of my head have always been problem areas for hair growth). One of my goals – along with re-learning Spanish, Japanese and Igbo properly – is to get good enough at cainrow so I can do proper, fancy hairstyles as opposed to the vanilla left to right style I usually do.

Unfortunately the current do is still very rough so I’m also looking around for nice headscarves (where are the african fabric shops in Birmingham? WHERE??) as I work on my skills. Thank heaven for ebay. There are some gorgeous prints out there. Still a shame everything is in London, or at least, if you want to pay reasonable prices for it.

I’m basically putting a whole bunch of links I found for future inspiration:

Six Protective Styles for Short Kinky Hair

70 Braided Hair Styles – thinking of doing some twists for myself.

Space Game, the Prologue

I’m getting into HTML5 game development when I’m bored – which is fairly often these days (usually a bad sign but we’ll keep an eye out). The project I have in mind is kind of inspired by a little proof of concept I created during the NASA Space Apps Challenge (a fairly disasterous experience in many ways which will partly be the topic of a future blog post). Now that the Google Earth API is dead, I’ve been looking around for possible solar system mapping frameworks and came across Cesium. Also found a link to NASAs API bank which is pretty cool.

I haven’t gotten round to playing with either. Let me finish a couple of tutorials first and then we’ll get adventurous.

Related Links:

NASA Developer Resources


Packages of Joy

I love finding new frameworks to play around with. This just in is Polymer, a CSS framework I found out about courtesy of a fellow web developer at OpenCode. Might have a go for the website I’m currently rejigging using Angular.js and it will be interesting to compare with Bootstrap.

I wonder if there’s a meteor.js package for it?

Writings, Ramblings, Warblings and Scribblings