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?

The Year of Rococoa is coming!

I’ve been taking a break from the novel to work on some smaller writing projects so it’s quite providential to hear about this brilliant writing opportunity.

Spread the word and show some love!

Chronicles of Harriet

Rococoa2016 will be the year of Rococoa with the release of the first anthology from ROARING LIONS PRODUCTIONS!

Where Sword and Soul ends and before Steamfunk begins, there is the Age of Spring Technology and Clockwork.

RococoaThink Three Finger’d Jack; the pirate, Black Caesar; and the Haitian Revolution. Think the Black Count, Nat Turner, and the Stono Rebellion…that is Rococoa!

Time for those stories to be told, y’all! What say you authors? Are you in?

If so, Roaring Lions Productions is seeking completed stories between 2,000 and 10,000 words.

Writers will be paid $25.00 upon release of the anthology.

Each story will have an attached illustration, in addition to the stunning cover!

The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2015.

Release will be in e-book and paperback formats.

Here are the Submission Guidelines:


  1. Submissions must be set between the latter part of the Renaissance Period (1600s)…

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22 Thrilling, Imaginative, and Twisted Genre Books By Women

It’s quite gratifying to realise how many I’ve read, but still plenty of writers that I need to check out.

I also really need to read some Tanith Lee. And that right soon.


Potboilers, fantasy lands, murders, noir triumphs, supernatural creatures, and the twisted, thrilling, and dark imaginations that devise them are hardly a male-only literary province. Since Mary Shelley imagined Frankenstein on a night in Switzerland, women have been creating genre fiction alongside men, playing with vampires, dragons, detectives, unreliable narrators, and denizens of outer space. So pack some of these classic genre novels by women in your canvas tote and enjoy reading them this summer at the beach, the pool, or just snuggled up to your air conditioning unit.

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How to kill the Imposter

A while back, Jay Smooth, one of my favourite anti-racist vloggers, posted this video on youtube. He called it ‘Beating the Inner Hater’ and it’s one of those I always come back to every now and then:

Like most people with social anxieties, I have a pretty bad case of Imposter Syndrome. One of my personal goals has always been to try to handle her appropriately – as I’m sure is pretty familiar to anyone in a similar boat reading this, there’s always this fear of killing her off in case you become one of those arrogant entitled jack asses you hate. On the other hand, you’ve come to realise that, well, she’s a bitch and needs to be ended.

To be frank.

My exciting journey to defeat my inner hater is what partially led me to giving a talk at Brum.js on Thursday. Brum.js is a great meetup for people who like or want to learn more about javascript. It’s led by the ludicrously talented Jack Wearden who I sort of informally knew from my days at MadLab and met there by sheer bizarre coincidence. I haven’t been there for many of them, though my attendance will improve now its summer and the venue will have moved from the creepy spot by the canal (sorry).

I’ve been working on an interactive history app using the meteor.js framework. It’s not yet on Git as there’s a few more features to add before I’m happy with poc and getting more users on board to test it out, but I thought it would be a useful milestone to present something and get some feedback.

Of course I was nervous – there’s a lot I don’t really understand still about web technologies, and I knew a lot of the attendees really know their stuff when it comes to javascript. Whilst all that turned out to be true, it also turned out that everyone there was really great, helping me answer tricky questions and giving me new ideas, including additional open source mapping frameworks like Leaflet (which I will try, I promise!).

Aguguala as the app is called, uses the meteor.js framework to provide the full stack. However, as the raison d’etre is about plotting history and data visualisations to maps, most of my time has been spent getting the Google Maps JavaScript API v3 to play nice with the meteor.js set up something which has turned out both incredibly difficult and surprisingly simple at times.

I had a great time, not least because I got to meet up with familiar faces and have interesting discussions about the world of african history, start ups, code and sociological impact of technology and access to it. As you do.

Nick Banford – another really chill dude – then gave a talk about his experiences using React to develop apps which I found really cool. It’s funny because I was inspired to use meteor.js by the first Brum.js meetup I ever attended and it struck me that every time I go, my mind is blown open by seeing just how far javascript has come. It’s why I love the world of mobile web technologies. Stuff that used be only good for making things dissolve in and out of the screen is now capable of enabling offline storage and reaching into hardware systems.

So I guess if there’s one good thing about the inner hater, it’s that she keeps me actively learning. Maybe I’m not going to end her after all if we can come to a warped ladies agreement in the end. We shall see. In the meantime, well, I’ll keep doing me.

Related Links:


Thinking in React

Writings, Ramblings, Warblings and Scribblings