It’s been over 10 months now since I went back to work after my maternity leave ended. 10 months! Longer than I was pregnant with Little H. Only 3 months short of how long I was off work. By the time Christmas Day arrives, it will have been over two years since I bid everyone farewell and hobbled off to prepare myself for becoming a mum. In January my baby will turn 2! I’ll be honest, I’m in a state of disbelief about the whole thing. I’m in denial that this amount of time has passed already. It feels to be racing by.
Welcome to my monthly feature in which I share some of my favourite online articles for the month. I read a lot of blog posts and articles online and whilst I share a lot of them through tweets, it’s easy to miss them and hard to come back to them at another time. This is a list of my top ten reads for the month, a mixture of formal news articles and blog posts. Enjoy!
Welcome to my monthly feature in which I share some of my favourite online articles for the month. I read a lot of blog posts and articles online and whilst I share a lot of them through tweets, it’s easy to miss them and hard to come back to them at another time. This is a list of my top ten reads for the month, a mixture of formal news articles and blog posts. (Like last month, there are actually 11 because I couldn’t choose which one to get rid of.) Enjoy!
So many bloggers I follow do monthly updates on what their kids are doing. When I read them, I always reflect back to what H was doing at that same age. It has made me regret not capturing her achievements here; Since my blog is first and foremost a place for me to record life, it would be nice to have something to re-read in the years to come. Embracing the motto “Better late than never.” I’ve decided to start capturing her monthly development / quirks / amusing tales as she turns 18 months old.
I bought a copy of November’s Marie Claire the other day for a bit of light reading. It happened to be the edition which included their bi-annual Marie Claire @ Work feature and it had a few articles on the topic of ‘tech’ at work. Working in that area I was obviously interested but the first article I found really rubbed me up the wrong way. It was a feature on Sophia Amoruso who founded Nasty Gal clothing; The headline was “How I made it in Tech.”. My problem: she founded a successful business which makes use of tech but she doesn’t actually work in tech!
I think it’s human nature to be competitive and to compare yourself against others. I know that I thrive on competition – sometimes with others, usually with myself; I continually need to have goals and targets to meet or to better. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve struggled not having the clear goals a working environment brings during my maternity leave year. As the year has progressed and H has developed and grown, it would be incredibly easy to latch on to her ‘development milestones’ and use those to fuel my need for continual progression. But I’m going against my natural inclinations and trying to not do this because I don’t want to become a goal-driven parent.
I’m sure people who know me will laugh when I say that I am generally quite a patient person. But in all seriousness when I have a plan / a schedule / an approach then I will happily wait until the appropriate time comes. However, when I don’t know what’s going on then I get a bit on-edge and my patience does dwindle a bit. I find myself in that position right now because Mini Watling could arrive at any time…but I have no idea when.
I have been trying to keep busy: having friends over, cooking meals for the freezer, baking tasty things for Sam and I to eat now, re-watching my ‘Friends‘ box set (including sending ‘Friends’ trivia questions to Carol over WhatsApp!). I’ve also managed to finish and deploy the code changes which I started last March! As someone who definitely doesn’t cope well with not being busy (as much as I complain when I am!), I think I’m managing it quite well. I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll look back at this amount of free time with longing. There is never a happy medium with these things!
…and then I had to figure out how to use jQuery mobile collapsable menus and it all became too much. It have been putting off finishing off my mobile website because I knew the blog aspect, integrating with WordPress, was going to be more effort than the rest of the site. I have been putting it off for so long, almost 4 months have passed since I first put some of my mobile code live.
Today I decided to spend some time on it and most of the mobile site theme is done, with the exception of the ‘sidebar’ menu. The plugin I currently have (which has ads, that motivated me to build a mobile site in the first place) has a nice dynamic menu which expands and collapses without re-loading – something I would like to replicate. It’s a jQuery function being used but I’m not quite sure which one. So I did a bit of searching and found a function which looks promising. However, I have never used jQuery before…ever…after all my years of having a website. After several hours of tweaking pages and style sheets today, the thought of trying to work out how to do this was just beyond me. So, the end result is getting close, but still needs some more work. Whilst I cannot be bothered to build a proof of concept, I think I might have to relent later in the week!
I have been an iPhone user for years. However, since Sam got an android phone last year and I got an android tablet earlier this year, I have been learning to enjoy android a lot more. I have no plans to jump ship to an android phone just yet (I don’t change phones until my contract ends, which is not for some time) but I have felt for sometime that iOS is lagging behind Android and, dare I say it, Windows 7 (in some ways).
Today, iOS7 was previewed and announced for the autumn. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting or hoping for – just that I, perhaps unfairly, wanted to be impressed. From what I have seen, I am looking forward to Apple’s release later this year. There is a typical Apple film explaining iOS7, along with some supporting ‘blurb‘ and videos on their website. The overall design looks fresh and clean. iOS has always had quite a dark look-and-feel; What Apple have done is almost reverse the colour pallet: where it was black, it’s not white and translucent; where it was shadowed and ‘3D-ed’, it is now flat and sharp. It has also completely re-visited how users interact with their phones. When iOS came out, it was leading edge. But people have grown accustomed to smart phones and their demands and expectations have evolved. Some of the features I am most anticipating though are:
Of course, I completely agree with some of the comments made in and on this TechCrunch article. There is very little that Apple are presenting which hasn’t been done somewhere else. A lot of the features they are singing about, including the look-and-feel, have been done across other devices. However, I suppose the key is that Apple has brought all of the best bits from other phones / operating systems and combined them. If they have done it well, as Apple typically do, then it should be a pretty nifty OS. So, yes, as much as you can be about a phone operating system, I am a excited!
This is a post I wrote a few weeks ago for the Little Miss Geek blog, as previously mentioned. Unfortunately, during their migration to a new website platform, a lot of the content (including my article) failed to migrate. It’s being worked on so hopefully my post should be back soon. But decided I would blog it here on my very own blog too.
“When I graduated I got a job on a IT graduate scheme in retail, with only a Maths degree and a bit of HTML scripting behind me. I was promptly taught to code but I had no idea where I sat in the grand scheme of things as a ‘Trainee Programmer’. Now a Solutions Architect, my role continues to show how IT roles confuse people. A graduate recruit I was assessing recently asked me if I was involved in the maintenance of our physical office building. Initially it made me smile, but then I thought, ‘Why would he know what a Solutions Architect does?’. It made me think about how to explain the roles that exist within IT to people new to the field. So here goes…
Where do you need to be?
Building up a set of systems to support a company is not dissimilar to building a brand new town. There are always ‘basics’ you need, the equivalent of the supermarket, the petrol station, a school and houses. In retailing, for example, these would include ways to manage customer information, capture orders and create a product catalogue of items the company sells. As you would for a town, you bring in an architect to work out what is needed and in what order; In the case of IT, this is an Enterprise Architect. They work out what systems the company needs and in what order they need to be created.
How do you get there?
The work is broken down in to manageable chunks to form projects; Going back to the town analogy, it would be like splitting out the town centre as one project, the school as another, the residential areas another…you get the idea! Exactly as in any other industry, these different phases of work need a Project Manager to oversee everything. They will then bring in a group of people to work out what the users of the various systems need them to do. This role is typically known as Business Analyst and they are doing the IT equivalent of understanding what different facilities the town centre needs to have, such as a shopping centre with cash points, a food court… (‘requirements’).
What do you actually want?
Working alongside the Business Analysts is where my role sits; Solutions Architects take the ‘requirements’ of the users and try and tie them up with the long-term view from the Enterprise Architects. They tackle more ‘technical issues’ such as making sure we build using the right materials, that none of the buildings will hinder work we want to do later and that there is the correct capacity for growth. Once this is done, it’s time to bring in the team to start building.
Making the ‘solution’ real
The ‘build’ team consists of some of the more well known members of the IT community: Coders. They make the various ‘buildings’ come to life, often from a design specifications produced by Designers (using the information from the Solutions Architects and Business Analysts). Both Designers and Coders are often (especially for anything public such as a website) supported by UX (User Experience) Designers who are the ‘Stylists’ of the IT world.
Ensuring everything works & people know how to use it
Once the building work is done, you’d expect everything is ready to go. But there are two more stages before we can let the ‘residents’ move in. One is to check everything is working as expected: that you can successfully get in to the car park, pay at the shops, get the right number of people in the lifts etc. The team that do this are the Testers – any ‘defects’ they find are sent back to the build team to fix and the Testers test again. The other role that appears here is that of the Trainers; They know how to use all of the equipment within the town and they skill-up the people who are going to use it in the future.
Keeping it running
As with a town though, a system isn’t done and dusted once it has passed testing and is in use. IT continually evolves: either enhancements need making to support a new way of life (a simple example of this is having to add all of the social media buttons on to websites) or problems are discovered and need fixing – the IT version of a boiler that needs replacing. In every IT division in any company, there is a team to keep everything ticking over all-day-every-day: Operations. For anything ‘big’, the same process used to build the town originally (using the Architects through to the Testers) kick-starts again and, since IT is every changing and evolving, everyone is always kept busy.
This is just a simple attempt to show the diverse roles within IT. But what I hope it shows is that IT is so much more than just coding. The skills used within IT are broad and vary from being very focussed on working with a wide group of people through to very technical and logical roles. Some even combine the whole lot. So, if you’re sitting there wondering if IT is for you, I hope this will encourage you to give it a try!”