Notes, links, etc

A personal scrapbook for things I find interesting and feel like sharing. Broadly speaking, covering design, tech and occasionally craft. My name's Denise. I'm the co-founder of b3ta and the ex-creative director of MOO and BERG. I'm currently freelancing. Thanks for visiting.

The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech

A piece about some of the pioneering women who worked with, or helped to develop, computers.

This is interesting, a quote as to why the number of women studying computers might have dropped off:

"Computer science degrees got more popular, and boys who had been tinkering with computer hardware at home looked like better candidates to computer science departments than girls who liked math, says Janet Abbate, a professor at Virginia Tech who has studied this topic.

Seems odd - where did the girls who liked math go?

things that make me mad about twitter

Work with people who give you energy, not with those who take it.”

People who write things like this and others that retweet it. What on earth is the outcome of that shared sentiment supposed to be?

Ok. I’ll quit my job. I’ll kill everyone I work with. I’ll change my career. I’ll stop doing this job that I worked hard to get because there’s an individual I don’t get along with. 

I dunno. It’s a fine sentiment of course. But it’s not something that bears retweeting.

On tech product names

I had a little rant before about the name of the Dyson 360 Eye - the robot vacuum cleaner. The fact is, Dyson aren’t stupid, they know what they’re doing with product names, or at least I imagine they do. They’re a successful company, they don’t pull this stuff out of the air.

At a guess, I think they probably called the vacuum cleaner the Eye so that the tech industry understand they’re a forward thinking company. They’re still relevant. They know about robots, about Roombas, about the needs of their future audience—about ‘IoT’.

It’s also a catchy name the press can throw about - and it makes a more interesting headline in a mainstream newspaper; ‘Dyson release the 360 Eye’. As a reader you think ‘what’s that?’ not ‘oh, another vacuum cleaner’.

I know that. You know that. We all know that. Good for us. It’s a conversation for everyone, geeks and non-geeks together.

Only reason I’m mentioning it again is because Apple have released a watch, of course. They’ve done the opposite of Dyson’s move. They’ve not said ‘we’ve made a thing of the future’, they’ve said ‘we’ve made a thing you’ll understand.’ They did it with the phone too. ‘We’ve made a new phone, the iPhone’. 

It’s an awesome trick. People are comparing the look of it to Swiss watches. How does it measure up - is the strap as nice? What’s the watch face like? Would you buy that over a precision made Swiss watch - should you? Will it look as stylish? Can you pass it on to your grandchildren?

You have to laugh really. They haven’t made a watch like they didn’t make a phone. They made a computer for your pocket and now they’ve made one for your wrist. They’ve called it a watch so that people have a way of talking about it. I rarely use my iPhone for making calls - to be frank, it’s a rubbish design for holding up to your ear. I guess the watch will be ok for telling the time, but that’s not its purpose. 

I’m only mentioning it as it’s worth thinking about if you’re making a product of your own. I see a lot of small tech companies focusing on the tech, and less on making that tech something that consumers can understand. People need a way of talking about ‘internet of things things’. They don’t care about Arduinos, or Raspberry Pi’s, I’m not even sure they care about ‘the cloud’ that much, unless it’s raining or hacked.

People have two minutes to chat at the water cooler, not two hours. What does your product *do*? What is there to talk about? “It’s a vacuum cleaner you don’t even need to push!” “It’s a whizzy watch that controls your music!”

Working out how to start the conversation - and what’s IN the conversation consumers have with each other is really important. 

“Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart.”At first, I was thinking this is the coolest genetics story, my own personal genetics story. I wasn’t particularly upset about it initially, until the rest of the family found out. Their reaction was different. Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart.My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We’re not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don’t know how long it will take to put the pieces back together.

After this discovery was made, I went back to 23andMe and talked to them. I said, “I’m not sure all your customers realize that when they participate in your family finder program, they’re participating in what are essentially really advanced paternity tests.” People find out that their parents aren’t who they think they are. They have nearly a million people in the database. If there happens to be anyone in there you’re related to, they’ll find your match. This is a solid science.

The person I spoke to didn’t really have a response. I don’t want to say she was aloof. She just said “that’s interesting.” I also wanted a response about the grandfather prediction for Thomas. We all know that genetically it’s hard to distinguish a son from a grandfather, but I don’t think she realized what a big deal that is to get it wrong.