{May 20, 2017}   Not dead yet

I’ve taken down my server, but I still exist. :) I just don’t have the spoons to maintain it, and don’t want it turning into someone’s spambot. It may or may not return.

Same for irc; my client was on that server, but I wasn’t actually using it, and I still haven’t got around to installing an android irc client.

I forgot to blog about my attempts at waterproof pouches, too. I haven’t really felt like blogging in a while.

On the bright side, I’ve actually been able to reduce some of my migraine medications. Yay, progress :)

{July 15, 2015}   Pocket hacking 2.0

I’ve done a lot of sewing since my previous “pocket hacking” post. For one thing, I’m actually at a point where I can wear my creations out in public. :) At the end of the last post, I was hoping I’d summarize some of the problems and solutions this time. But, that’s no fun. I’m just going to discuss what I made again.

First off, I did finish that laundry pouch from last time, and it was useful. :) I also made a simple molle belt out of the first thing that was handy (an old jeans leg). For a while that was all I had, as I planned and procrastinated on the next set of pouches, and continued the quest to not have goddamn headaches all the time (which is actually making progress now, yay, but debugging humans is sloooowwww).


Eventually, though, I decided to bite the bullet and just make a wallet pouch, even though I still wasn’t sure what I wanted. I went for a very simple design – heck, I could have used a pencil case, if I had one in the right size and colour – added molle straps, and that was it. It fit the wallet that I was using in my purse, so I didn’t have to move individual cards and such when switching between them. Later I tried to add a bus ticket holder on the back, but it didn’t really work out.


With that done, I procrastinated a bit more on making a new phone pouch, and copmpletely changed plans several times. When I’d had enough of that and decided to try making something, I started with the exact same pattern as the wallet pouch. In fact, for a couple of days I had just that simple pouch, until I got tired of the mess and made a divider to keep my phone separate. I had intended to add some pouches onto the divider, but somehow it didn’t happen that day, and I ended up using an old coin pouch as a “temporary” organizer that turned out to be good enough to keep. :)


Once I had those pouches, I could put my entire purse contents onto my belt. But my outfit didn’t always include a suitable belt, and sometimes a purse is the easiest option, so I made a quick frame to combine the pouches into a purse. It’s just three nylon straps sewn together, with rings to attach a purse strap (the strap is borrowed from another purse, at least for now).


The next step was a proper utility belt, one pretty enough to wear outside. I made it out of green leather, with an adjustable quick-release buckle at the front. I was planning to cut the leather in a nice pattern, but haven’t quite got around to it yet. :)


So that’s what I’ve been wearing this summer. :) It works fairly well, and a friend even asked about me making one for her. :) It’s a good thing that it’s summer, though – absolutely none of this is waterproof. I have started on plans for waterproof covers, but for the moment I’ll have to hide the belt under a jacket if it rains.

I’ve glossed over a lot in this post – I could probably talk for an hour about each photo. Maybe I’ll write another post with details, maybe I won’t.

Imagine, if you will, a world where it is considered barbaric to bump into anyone in public. And you’re blind. Oh, and everyone is required to wear sunglasses all the time, so people can’t tell whether anyone is blind, and some people don’t believe blindness exists at all.

It is possible for you to learn alternate methods of sensing your surroundings, but it’s hard. No matter how hard you try, occasionally you’re going to bump into people anyways – maybe you were tired and distracted, maybe someone moved too quickly for you to sense, maybe some jerk tripped you on purpose.

Now, some people respond to this by loudly proclaiming “blind person coming through, watch out, watch out, not my fault if you get in the way,” and then blithely walk where they wish, bumping into lots of people and stepping on their toes. That’s not very nice, and anyways, many people suspect that they’re not blind at all, just jerks who wanted an excuse to hurt people.

Other people are so terrified of bumping into anyone that they curl up into a ball muttering “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t bump into me.” That’s no way to live, but they can’t think of any alternative besides option 1 above.

Eventually, groups of blind people find each other, and set up spaces where there are clear non-visual clues about where to walk, and nobody really minds if you bump into them now and then so long as you don’t seriously injure them. Some people are more careful than others, and there’s debate about how much care ought to be expected and whether it’s okay to punish someone who’s utterly careless, but mostly people get along and the ones that were curled up in corners start to come out of their shells (bumping into a lot of people in the process, but they’ll get better at that in time).

At the same time, however, there’s another group of people… well, sort of, because they have funny voices, and they haven’t quite been considered people in the past, and for a long time it was fine to walk into them, or even beat them up, and nobody cared. But they’ve been fighting that long and hard, and they’ve finally got the anti-bumping laws to apply to them too, even if a large minority still ignores those laws and acts like they’re crazy for being upset when someone bumps into them, or denies it ever happened. They’ve built their own funny-voice-only spaces, but regular people keep trying to break into them, so they have to work hard to defend them while also working hard to defend themselves whenever they’re not there.

Some of the funny-voice people are blind too, and fuck is that ever confusing. Should I expect other people to stop bumping into me now, even though I bump into them still because I’m blind? What if the person is blind? Should they have been more careful, or was this just one of those unavoidable times? And oh god, what if I bump into a funny-voice person, they’ll be so mad at me for not treating them like a person but really I just didn’t notice them, but maybe I should have been more careful, maybe I should just stay far far away from them so that I never accidentally bump into them… Maybe I should retreat to the safer blind-friendly spaces (even though less people will consider me a person there).

But now it turns out those blind-friendly spaces are sitting on top of a gold mine, and regular people keep coming in to mine for gold. And the funny-voice people don’t want to be left out of the gold-mining like they always were when they weren’t considered people, so more of them are coming in too. But the regular people don’t want to share their gold, so they keep bumping into them trying to hurt them, and the blind people are bumping into them too – either because they’re blind, or because they want to hog the gold too, or both – and some blind people are regressing to their pre-friendly-space behaviour, and the funny-voice people are getting injured and really pissed off about everyone bumping into them all the time and some sound ready to just fucking punch everyone…

And here I am, blind with a funny voice, wishing everyone could get along somehow, and wondering if I can ever get any gold myself without bumping into all these goddamned people (or getting injured myself). Some days, curling up into a ball seems like a much easier option all around, but I worry that if I do that, people will say “see, funny-voicers aren’t really people” or “see, blind people can stop bumping into anyone”…

So yeah, I have aspergers, and I’m going to say some stupid shit sometimes and cross boundaries unintentionally. And yeah, I’m female, and I deserve to have my boundaries respected. I’m doing the best I can to minimize the former, and be assertive about the latter without traumatizing other aspies. And once in a while I’ll be a jerk when I know better and could stop myself, but I’m doing my best to minimize that too.

But I still wish everyone could just get along…

{September 28, 2014}   Tech culture

I’m seeing a lot of comments on twitter lately about tech culture. People saying that it’s bro culture not nerd culture; comics implying nerds have become the bullies they used to suffer; a myriad of complaints about silicon valley assholes. I’ve had conflicting feelings about these comments, and I think I’ve just figured out why.

My first impression was to feel offended, and think not-all-nerds thoughts. I think of myself as a nerd/geek/whatever, and I can never quite remember the common definitions of the words or what the difference is supposed to be.
My second impression was to think of the geeky circles I hang out in, and how those people generally don’t fit these comments either. There are a few jerks in most groups, and how well they’re dealt with varies, but the general atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive.

What I had forgotten was that these were all groups I had chosen to be part of. There’s a selection bias there – if they hadn’t been welcoming groups, I wouldn’t have bothered to stick around. When I think about tech circles I didn’t get to choose, I see a very different picture. :(

At all the schools I attended, there was shitty tech culture. I couldn’t just quit school, so I turned to foss and the KDE community to escape it. At bcit, the classes were organized such that I was stuck with the same group of people full-time for a year. They turned out to be the sort of people that would put goatse wallpaper on the Linux users’ computers, then tell us it was our fault for not password-protecting the bootloader. Ugh. I’m just glad I wasn’t the only Linux user… But there was plenty of sexism too, and general macho bullshit.

At SFU, there were more Linux users, but that didn’t help much: instead I got picked on for using KDE instead of gnome/ratpoison/etc. Somehow I was always at the bottom of the totem pole. After a while I discovered there were lots of social circles there, and made friends with people who wouldn’t ridicule my choice of technology, but I couldn’t hang out in the CS common room without some of the jerks being there, and it actually seemed to get worse over the years. My last year before graduating, I don’t think I visited the common room more than twice.

Anyways, it occurred to me: maybe the people talking about tech culture are still stuck in shitty circles like that. Maybe silicon valley is dominated by that bullshit (I wouldn’t know, I’ve only visited briefly). Maybe the tech culture I know isn’t the tech culture they know.

Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s more than one culture in tech. How many projects, meta-projects, languages, corporations, foundations etc. are there? How many thousands and thousands of developers are there? Of course we don’t have the same experiences. Different programming communities are almost like different countries.

The sad thing is, though, I’m beginning to suspect that the nice-tech-culture I’ve surrounded myself with is a lot less common than the shitty tech-bro-culture I’m hearing about. It’d be neat to see some statistical information about culture over different meta-projects and geographical areas, though. Not that I have any idea how one would gather such information.

{May 29, 2014}   Spoons.

I was going to title this “burnout sucks” or something, but then a friend sent me to spoon theory. Go on, read it, I’ll still be here. :)

See, I’ve had a migraine/tension headache since february. It’s the end of may, now. Yes, that’s not normal. Yes, I’ve seen doctors, lots of them. Yes, they’ve tried whatever you’re about to suggest. (Except hypnotherapy and trigger point therapy, those are next week).

At first, I thought it was just another persistent headache. it was mid-march, iirc, when I finally stopped trying to work despite the pain. Stress was definitely a trigger – we had an awesome android contract, with more android to come, and I was the “lead” android developer (the other developers being more interested in iOS). I wanted to impress everyone and was pushing myself too far. Some internal matters were stressing me out too, but that’s none of your business. :)

The first 6 weeks or so were pretty awful. Pain, lots of pain. Not severe pain, just enough to distract me, to discourage me from thinking or doing anything, to make me thoroughly miserable. And I desperately wanted to do.. well, things in general. The idea of lying in bed and being unproductive was extremely discomforting. Does that make me a workaholic? It’s not like I was capable of much work, but it was very hard to accept that I needed to rest. every time I thought I was taking it easy, another layer unraveled and I learned that I was still being too hard on myself.

Then my neck went fucking crazy and I was stuck in bed for two days (except for some excruciatingly painful walks to the bathroom). You have no idea how much neck muscle is involved in just holding your head up on your shoulders. That neck pain’s been an issue ever since, although not bad enough to prevent me from standing up at all (thank god).

Since then… well, the pain (head and neck) died down, slowly. It flares up again, if I push too hard (like, two shopping trips in one day, or more than an hour talking to someone) or if it just fucking feels like it (aaaaargh!!). But the headache came with a side effect. Noise sensitivity. On a good day, I have to hide in the bedroom when Pete does the dishes. On a bad day, I can’t stand to have him in the house at all. :(

So that’s two (three?) problems that modern science doesn’t understand and can’t solve. There’s more, too, but nevermind that. Problem #4 is that I am burnt the fuck out. I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it or just refused to believe it… but I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, and eventually I had to acknowledge that I was more enthusiastic about cleaning the bathroom than writing code, even for my own personal app that would be really awesome to have working. :( All this lying about, attempting to rest, has helped a bit, though; I can at least see that I’m burnt out, now, and after resting enough I have the occasional burst of true enthusiasm (which I can’t actually act on, or I’d trigger the headaches again…)

The days have gone by fairly fast, and given the situation, I’m doing fairly well. I still have days where I’m so frustrated I just want to curl up and cry. I have days where I wish the migraine was a physical thing so I could beat the fucking shit out of it. I have days where I’m terrified I might never be well enough to work again. I miss parties so much, so very very much. But I also have days where I feel content to just enjoy the sunshine, or read, or days when I’m well enough to play video games. I seem to have switched back to the introverted personality I had as a kid, which makes it much easier to spend all day lost in a book. I’ve started to draw again, and on my worst days (when even reading hurts), I’ve rediscovered the joy of daydreaming.

To be honest, it’s very confusing and surreal. Here I am, supposedly grown up, and illness has forced me back into the habits of childhood. It took a long time to stop feeling guilty whenever I felt a flash of enjoyment. I still have days where I somehow forget that I’m not well, and feel confused and hurt when I’m not able to handle a full day of chores or errands. Some days I wish I could just be normal; others I’m actually scared of getting better, scared that I won’t be able to cope with “normal” life even when the physical pain is gone (I’m still burnt out, after all, and that’s not the only issue to deal with). Most days, though, I manage to forget about “normal” life, avoid thinking about fun things I can’t do, and enjoy the little things that I can do. :)

Hopefully one day I’ll be better, and I can hack again and make awesome things. Until then, well, I’ll just do what I can, and try to remember to take care of myself.

edit: I forgot to mention, I’m really grateful for the medical system and EI here in Canada. It’s not perfect, but EI is paying my (non-medical) bills for now, and none of the doctors have been skeptical of my mostly-invisible pain. It means a lot to know that the country I pay taxes to is willing to take care of me in return. :) And Steamclock has been very understanding, and is still taking care of my health insurance, too. :)

P.S. If you’re looking for canadian health insurance, don’t pick Sun Life, they’re very restrictive about what they cover. :P

{April 8, 2013}   Blogging Block

So… I was planning on blogging about my new job. That was 3 months ago. How the fuck did april sneak up so fast?

Every time I think about blogging, my mind blanks out or I overthink it, so I’m just going to start writing now and hopefully it won’t be too incoherent. :)

It’s been an interesting three months. I’ve been sick twice (or maybe three times), sprained my ribs, and I’m sure plenty of other things happened that I’ve completely forgotten about. Work has been good. I was expecting it to be nice to be around humans again, but wasn’t expecting just how much better it was. I was actually sad to go home the first few fridays. :) My co-workers are generally awesome people, and the company is small enough that there’s no real hierarchy, just smart geeks making awesome software… :)

The initial enthusiasm has worn off, of course, but I still get the occasional reminder of how lucky I am. Like when our boss was interviewed by a Vancouver Sun reporter, who was amazed that we never worked more than 40 hours a week and our boss didn’t call us at home. Yeah, the tech sector in vancouver has a bit of a bad reputation.

A funny thing, though: I spent the first month or so of my iOS job working on android. :) We did that little Map of the Internet thing you may have heard about. That was fun. I learnt to loathe eclipse, though, and was surprised at the android bugs I had to fight with – some in obscure classes, some not so obscure. Oh, and there are 2500 different bloody devices out there, so no matter how many you test on, there’s always another one out there with weird bugs. :P I did love the android documentation, though. They did a really good job of explaining how to do things the Android Way.

Since then I’ve been working on internal code, which is all objective C. I’ve mostly got the hang of the language (thank god everything uses ARC now) but I still don’t quite grok Cocoa. And of course it’s irritating that when I’m confused by something I can’t just go RTFS and find out what the hell the developers were doing. XCode is far less irritating than Eclipse (with the possible exception of interface builder), but it’s also far less helpful; objC is just C enough for you to shoot yourself in the foot, and just dynamic enough for you to have no idea which foot you’ve shot. :)

I think it’s time for bed now. maybe I’ll post another random blog post another day… if I remember… :)

{January 6, 2012}   Weddings and Work

I’m blogging from Utrecht today – for my first week of work. :) So far it’s pretty awesome; I wish I was here for more than just one week. [Edit: in case it’s not clear, I’m going back home at the end of the week, NOT immigrating to the netherlands. ] The guyspeople at the office are great, and I get to work on a cool project: making them an IDE (in qt, of course) for their web framework. :)

In an indirect way, I have KDE to thank for this job, actually. I met my boss at blauzahl and mek’s wedding. :) And the wedding was great, too. Lots of chaos, naturally, but somehow everything fell into place in the end. I still want the recipe for that pumpkin curry. ;) There are photos online, but I’m too lazy to link to them right now.

And now it seems like everyone’s getting married – friends, co-workers, even me. :) I’m engaged to pete now :) :) although we’ve not made any plans yet.

Lots has happened in the last few months. I’ve graduated too, of course. Over christmas I did a bit of work on ContextJournal, too; hopefully I’ll add some timetracking features to it soon (oh look, uncommitted code.. it seems I started already), but at the moment I’ve barely got time for anything but work. :) I have a language-related web project I ought to upload somewhere, too. maybe I’ll blog about that later – but not on planetkde, I suppose. If you want to hear more about what I’m up to, you’ll have to subscribe to my blog separately.

{October 4, 2010}   Activities fun [with screencast]

So… I wanted to spend this weekend offline. I did. I even logged out of irc.

But somehow I found myself hacking until 2 or 3am sunday night, instead. :)
I think it was worth it. ;)

The last few weekends I’ve been hacking on activity-related things, here and there. Fixing bugs, implementing things behind the scenes – last night I finally reached a point where the pieces began to come together. Today, I finally had something I could demo.

So without further ado, the demo:
(if the above doesn’t work, watch it on

I mentioned in there that it’s not done; we still need the activitymanager kded stuff to co-ordinate it (which ivan is working on :) and then plasma’s activity UI needs to use that API so that I can stop sending dbus commands. ;) It also needs a lot of code to handle edge cases, like properly restoring apps that are on >1 activity. The good news is, restoring the right activity associations for each window turns out to be way easier than expected. yay! :)

Oh, and there’s the taskbar integration to be done, too, and a million other little things… :) but we still have a month before feature freeze. 4.6 is gonna be awesome. :)

And now for something completely different: Berlin! it continues to be awesome too. :) I’ve got a book of Enid Blyton’s children’s stories in german, and I’ve been reading them with pete’s help; it’s a lot more fun to read ’cause the sentences are short and simple and the stories remind me of my childhood. :) I’ve also discovered that Dominion is a pretty cool game, and I can now speak german when I’m drunk. ;)

Living in another country has some funny effects. When we went to the mall today, I suddenly felt calm and happy to be there. I guess the atmosphere of blatant consumerism reminded me of Vancouver. ;) It’s weird how little things that aren’t really all that nice become happy reminders of your home country…

I still haven’t found HP sauce, though. :P Or black beans; they have every other kind of bean, but not my favourite! *sigh* On the other hand, I had no problems getting ripe avocados, and I’m still drooling over all the wonderful yoghurty things that I couldn’t get in Canada. :) And the cheese, and the cheap pizza, and the cheap beer, and, and…

{September 21, 2010}   First week in Berlin

My first week here has been… fairly uneventful, actually. I spent a few days trying to get errands done and resist jetlag, got sick for the weekend, then went back to getting stuff done (plus a little hacking). :)

Pete’s friends have an impressive games collection. I tried to capture *most* of the board games part:

and then this caught my eye:

yes, aaron’s got his very own game. ;) It turned out to be a japanese teaching game, which would be fun to play – but I came home that night with a chinese book, would’ve had a latin one if J didn’t need it for some class she’s teaching, and I’m still fending off their attempts to get me back into esperanto ;) so I think I have enough languages on my plate already. Hell, today was probably the first time I tried to speak more than one word of german…

On the weekend, ossi came to say hi, and we ended up discussing activities. I’ve got a patch on reviewboard now that exposes kwin’s stuff, which will be useful in several ways. :D

Oh, and it turns out Berlin’s cheap rent is deceptive: when they say an apartment is unfurnished, they really mean it’s an empty, gutted shell. :P There’s a lot of paperwork involved as well, and apparently they’re not keen on renting to foreigners. :/ Pete managed to find one that came with kitchen cupboards, a stove, and light fixtures… but that’s it. Other than that, there’s not so much as a curtain rod. I’m surprised they didn’t take the showerhead too…

Pete bought some furniture and dishes before I arrived, but we’re still waiting for the fridge to arrive. Today I found a dollar store and got lots of little things like teatowels and garbage bins and so on… There’s still lots more we need; it’s fun to go shopping. :) But it’s turning out to be a bit more than we’d budgeted for. They don’t use craigslist in germany, and the big secondhand shop we went to was mostly full of clothes. :P

Other than that (and this damn cold) things are nice, though. Berlin is a city of good food and cheap beer :) and the weather’s a lot like vancouver (either it rains, or it bounces between rain and sun every hour)… it’s a lot more windy, though, so it feels colder.

Next weekend I should be over the jetlag and the cold, so hopefully I can get out and see what this city is like at night. ;) I hear some extra KDE folks will be in town too – whee, it’s pretty cool to be so close to so many of you. :)

{September 14, 2010}   Nomadic again

Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will

Blue lake and rocky shore
I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, Boom de de boom boom, Boom boom.

In less than 12 hours I’ll be flying out of Canada. Once again, all my things are packed, either in suitcases or in boxes. I’ll only be gone four months – such a short time, yet such a long time too. I’ll miss Vancouver again, I’m sure. I’ll enjoy Berlin and the rest of Europe as well, though. :)

I was just beginning to get comfortable in this apartment, too… just starting to feel at home again. Well, that’s how things go. :) Time to start a new adventure.

Maybe tomorrow
I’ll wanna settle down.
Until tomorrow
The whole world is my home.

et cetera