Saturday, May 16, 2015

stick it to THE MAN

Just found out that two of my US checking accounts have been charging me $12 a month, for years, because I don't have direct deposit or more than $5000 balance in them. Yuck.

Like many people I am a casual reader of Cracked, because every now and then they have really insightful articles disguised as humor.
This one stuck with me, because I know these things are 100% true.

My friend Astrid Sison gave a devmeet talk about what she took home from Craft conference in Buddhapest. She wanted to emphasize a panel she heard about Innovation - ie, solve a real problem.
There are so many really real problems in the world that have immediate needs immediate users.

I couldn't stop thinking about what she said, and that cracked article floated to the forefront of my mind. I tried to find a google entry about if there is any way to avoid these 'poverty taxes'; ie, the bullshit charges given to you because you don't have enough money.
so I googled 'poverty tax', and it showed me:
Then I googled 'app ghetto tax' and it shows an app alright, one for
"Avoiding the Ghetto".
Jeez, kinda insulting.
'avoiding the ghetto'

So this is an app that should happen, and it is kind of eating at me, making my heart pump loudly when I am thinking about it. I want to make an app, or something, to find a way to avoid the little 'f-yous' that come with poverty. I guess it would have to be by region... and right now I am in Japan, where I am hoping this is not so bad. A lot of things on the social front feel a lot more advanced here, like free medical insurance for children until they are FIFTEEN years old. never a bill for the doctor, or vaccines, or anything! it's AMAAAZING.... (anyway I digress). The problem I would like to help with is for people living in the US.

Any resources to avoid nickle and diming fees I should know about?
Cars that are cheap but aren't lemons?
gas stations?
ahhh so much to research ... and so dependant on area... and so subject to change...

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Gettin' Busy

Oh man. I am itching to write about work, but also, slightly terrified this blog will get in the wrong hands and be used against me somehow, as it often goes with the wiley ways of the ol' Internets.

I have been back to work for a year now (go me!) and, after shifting around in my department like some sort of ping pong ball, have settled into a non-demanding and technically noninteresting role.
Basically I am bored and feeling the lethargy of not learning any new technology. It is settling over me like a hot itchy blanket. A blanket I would like to kick off, poof, into the air, and scratch my legs and whatnot!

I know you're probably thinking, but Kyra, can't you learn new stuff at work?
Theoretically, yes. Practically, no.
Let me explain: I have not so much time at the office because I have to leave early to get to daycare on time, and so I have to get some shit DONE between x and y hours of the day, which leaves no time for prototyping or setting up development environments and so on. It doesn't help that we're not allowed to have training meetings not directly involved with projects that are making money for the company during business hours. (reasonable? yes. Annoying? you betcha!),
So, basically there is no opportunity to learn new technology at the office if you only work during the dedicated office hours.

Well... you're probably thinking.
Can't I dedicate some time at home to learning new stuff?
Theoretically? yes.
Practically speaking? Not so much.
I also have a tiny son who is very demanding, and adorably so, who makes me so exhausted that when I finally wrangle him to bed at around 10 o'clock (yes I know this is terribly late, please don't judge me), I fall asleep with him about 9 out of 10 times.
Apparently this is a pretty common problem with parents of young kids, so maybe Dr. Google can prescribe me some advice. Today Ray was sick so I stayed at home and started installing VM VirtualBox manager during his naptime, so I can run Ubuntu as a virtual machine on my windows desktop. I'm hoping to play around with FuelPHP and maybe work on some open source projects. Not like I have much time, but every now and then T will take Ray to have a daddy baby day on the weekends, so I guess I will settle for that for now.

After some cringing and wringing of the wrists I downloaded Lean In for the kindle, and am going to try to work on my career a little harder. For me, this means kicking off the itchy blanket and doing some projects, even when I don't really have time. I'd just better find some fun ones so I can stay motivated.
So my 18 month plan for now is.... contribute to open source projects and blog about them.
My goal: 1 new project, preferably in different programming languages, contributed to and blogged about every 2 months. I think that's a reasonable rate I can stick to.
My first project is working on creating some scripts for Hubot, an open source chat bot, that a coworker proposed for a company hackathon. The event itself will be held outside of working hours due to reasons mentioned above, but I'ma gonna work on something anyway just for kicks and giggles. I finally downloaded all the things you need to even start working on it, which is an extensive list!! and have learned a lot about new (ok, new to me) tech like... Yeoman, a generator... did you know about it?
You did?! ok, well, ... be that way, you smart person you.
So anyways! within the next two months, be prepared to see a blog about a chatbot! ;D and please let me know if you know of any other fun projects to get involved with.

Also, UPDATE! I got a lot of interest in my proposal for a tech study session, so we're going to bend the rules a teensy bit and have it during lunch time. I'm going to give a chat on CoffeeScript! And my friend John gave a really interesting talk about Reflexive site design.
Yay! Brainfood is delicious.