Sunday, 30 March 2014

Why the front?

I recently got some business cards done up. Anything is better than scribbling my email address incorrectly on a scrap of hot pink paper then handing it to someone I'm trying to woo with my technical prowess. While being intimidating on paper, having two hyphenated names (Mei Weng Brough-Smyth) makes things like professional email addresses unnecessarily complicated.

Anyway here they are:

I just wanted to clarify that I had to refrain myself from getting the following design printed:

While I managed to control myself, I just wanted to say that I'm completely miffed at the state of business card designs. They typically are overly professional and do not reflect the card holder's personality - and in fact refrain from showing any sort of personality at all.

Trying to find a example feminine looking business cards in tech or finance was much too difficult. Through my hasty research, I felt that people abandon themselves and try to create a front that satisfies the stereotype that they're trying to present. :<

This all raises the question - do I want to be associated with anyone who would feel awkward holding my kitty business card?

No. No I do not.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Appify with Google!

The Brisbane Google Student Ambassadors put on an event called Appify with Google! The main point of the event was to get people to collaborate to create apps together and apply for the Admob Student Challenge.

The whole event went for 4 hours! We had over 70 people in attendance of whom we split up into 5 or so groups and we helped them to flesh out a single app idea that they could work towards.  They came up with some really fantastic ideas. Then we had a few presentations and questions.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Mind scramble: Introduction to Haskell workshop

This week I attended a 3 day intensive introductory workshop to Haskell! The workshop was done by NICTA (with Lambda Ladies) and was facilitated by Tony Morris and Mark Hibberd, held at Red-Hat in Brisbane.

Haskell is a functional programming language, which is quite different from our regular object orientated language like Java, C++.

A simple comparison

This was one of the first exercises that we did at the workshop in which we had to get the product of a list of numbers (1*2*3*4 = 24):

So we're immediately employing recursion as an alternate way to iterate through a list which is different to my instinctive OO logic.

While skimming over the syntax, we slowly assembled our own libraries: lists, parsing, apply and fileIO. While the majority flew of them flew over my head and in some cases, didn't even register, I felt that I had accomplished a lot at the end of the third day. The complexity was always increasing so when looking back, the concepts that we may not have fully understood come back and hit us in the face with blanket obviousness. I was so exhausted that at the end of the last day, I skipped (or deferred) a late night lecture and some extra curricular to go home, put food in face, roll over and become temporarily comatose.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but after all this, I do still feel that functional programming is a bit of a luxury - for me specifically. Perhaps it's because I'm still very slowly getting the hang of programming in general. That being said, the core concepts and the different way of thinking that we're forced to employ is really cool. But I think that to really establish a concrete opinion, I should at least get some credible experience with it. They did mention that it has a lot of potential in complex financial calculations and high frequency trading which is supposed to be right up my ally.

Interested in Haskell?

The Haskell Platform
Try Haskell
Lean You a Haskell for Great Good

I used my kawaii 2011 11" Mac Air running OS X (Mavericks). GHCi (Haskell's environment compiler thingy) was a bit of a challenge to get running but I managed to get it working through the combined power of Google Search and my Dad's terminal knowledge. I would strongly suggest using your favourite Linux distribution if you're using Windows and you care about what people think of you.

The library that we were working on can be forked from here:

Apparently these NICTA guys go all over Australia offering this 3 day workshop (3 * 7 hours = 21 hours of Haskell immersion) for free with a supplied lunch. Extreme altruism? I'm not complaining. While it's free, it does not mean that it's not valuable at all. In fact, I recommend that if you were going, ensure that you have nothing on at night to give yourself time to recuperate because after all, you're learning programming again but this time it is much more abstract.

We were given these lovely laser-cut Lambdas from Katie Miller, who was there from Red Hat and Lambda Ladies. Perhaps now we know what they are, we deserve them :3

Also Red Hat's soap smells really nice.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

My ear candies

I spend a lot of time on the bus listening to terrible music.

While my music taste might be a little off, I do care about the quality of music, and I make sure that I have a decent pair of In-Ear Moniters (IEMs) on me at all times. My most recent pair of earbuds died when I landed in Sydney for my Google experience - the biggest buzz kill. Since then I've been using the world's most popular and accessible portable listening medium: The iconic Apple ear-buds.

Mind you, the ones that I found deep in my cupboard had its rubber/plastic bits rotting, and the drivers were rattling around in the case, giving a new meaning to extra bass.
~*omg so pretty*~

I came out of the half baked Apple experience mildly surpised. They produced adequate bass, carried a tune, they didn't leak enough sound so people weren't offended by my music. I'm glad that they're sold with every Apple product out there because only silly people like me actually care about sound quality, and would prefer to be aware of their surroundings using more than one of their external senses, and what they're listening to.

Anyway, this all came to a halt when I received a parcel today.

They are VSONIC GR06s.

This is the second time I've ordered these. While I don't claim to be an audiophile, they are THE best IEMs I've ever experienced, and I've used my fair share of IEMs, some that I've paid over $150 for from the local JB Hi-Fi.

They're just amazing. They make chilling on the bus very enjoyable and it gives your music a pretty intense experience. It's very easy to tell if an audio file is FLAC or 320kb/s.

These cost ~$70 (including shipping).

Prepare to be ear raped, and enjoy it~

The cable is very robust. I lost my first pair, but I had them for a very almost a year and I didn't have experience any problems.

They come with 17 different sets of tips, depending on your ear size, and how you like your music (and favourite colour).

If you listen to music as much as I do, please get yourself a decent pair of IEMs. I'd recommend these GR06s but if your budget is a little lower, you could get others.

All of these put the Apple earbud to shame.

$30 - VSONIC R02
$70 - VSONIC GR06