Opinions

Women’s Circle DevC Nairobi….. are female-only developer meetups necessary?

I attended the Women’s Circle DevC event at ihub Nairobi on the 17th of this month, which was quite interesting to say the least.

 

 

iHub, Nairobi.

Topics of discussion included stories from women who have been in the software development industry for quite a while and I must say, I was inspired, and talks about some commonly used resources in the developer’s world; React, a javascript library for building user interfaces, React Native, a framework for building native apps (applications that have been developed for use on specific platforms or devices) and GitHub, a tool that allows you to keep track of all versions of your work and collaborate with others, or as one of the speakers called it, “Instagram for code”.

Devs at Women’s Circle DevC.

 

Towards the end, something sparked up a very involving discussion. Are female only developer meetups necessary? The best way to come up with an answer is by thinking about why they are held in the first place.

Developer meetups are held very often here in Nairobi and quite a number of people attend them, unfortunately, ladies are very few every time. Organizers of these meetups have always wondered why this is the case. Is word not spreading widely enough? Are ladies not interested in meeting other people in the same industry, or could it be due to the feeling of intimidation that comes from being in an industry whose majority occupants are male? My money is on the latter.

I’d be lying if I said I am not intimidated by being a girl in the software development world. Just like may female devs out there, I always wonder whether I am good enough, whether I should ask question and risk sounding “stupid”, whether I should go on, or just quit while I still have time… and the emotional and mental turmoil goes on… however, I think the biggest mistake is to let all this show. I mean why would anyone take us seriously if we do not believe in ourselves?

During the discussion that happened on the 17th, the argument that caught my attention was that female devs need a “safe space” or “safe haven” to express themselves. I think because we believe that, then it is a sign we do not fully believe in ourselves as developers, and we are stereotyping ourselves in a way in this world that is starting to warm up to female developers.

Women started programming as early as in the 19th century with the pioneer being Ada Lovelace, the first person (notice I said person and not woman) to write the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computing machine. Someone had to be the first, and it happened to be a woman. She worked alongside Charles Babbage in inventing the Analytical Engine.

Ada, Countess of Lovelace.

Another pioneer of computer programming is Grace Hooper, a computer scientist in the early 1900’s. She invented one of the first compiler related tools, popularized the idea of machine independent programming languages which led to the development of COBOL, a high level programming language that is still in use almost a century later.

Computer Scientist and Navy rear Admiral, Grace Hooper.

Some women have also risen to leadership roles of giant tech companies, like Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprises from November 2017 to February 2018 and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo from July 2012 to June 2017.

Between the 1800’s and now, very many women have left a mark in the computing world, and have faced the same challenges and worse than we have. But if they did not take and own their stand alongside their male counterparts, then no one would be talking or learning about them now. Maybe even programming would not be as we know it now.

Female programmers need to let intimidation be what drives them to leave their comfort zones and believe they are equal to male developers, and I don’t think that will ever happen as it should if we accept to be a stereotype that mostly exists in our heads.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained” -Marie Curie.

Cheerio 😛

iOS VS ANDROID

 

It’s been a while, but here I am again.

Change is something that scares many people, because no one is always willing to go for something with so much uncertainty or give up something that they have been used to for a long time. Sometimes it’s a willing decision while other times it’s because we don’t have a choice.  A different school, different neighborhood, a different job, moving to a new city, all these can get really scary, the idea is even unappealing sometimes, though there’s always a silver lining.

I recently switched from something that I have been used to for so long, to something completely different.  Though reluctant, I thought “Why not? I might end up liking or even loving it, who knows?”.

I have used an iPhone for quite some time and I just recently switched to an Android phone. I was so attached to apple devices that one of my friends even called me an “iSheep.” To be honest, there are moments I am tempted to switch back to iPhone. If you’ve ever been home-sick, then you can almost relate because the feeling is close to that.

Anyways, I have been asked by a few people what it has been like to switch, how I find the interaction with android, is iOS better, etc., so here goes. But before I continue, lemme say that this is not meant to be an exhaustive review and does not delve into the technical aspects. It is an opinion.

USER FRIENDLINESS.

I’ll start with the one thing that we do over a million times in a day. Picking up the phone and turning on an app. The iPhone is the easiest phone to use. Some people might complain about the lack of change in its User Interface (UI) over the years. It has remained the same since the original iPhone to the iPhone 7. I for one consider it amazing that it pretty much works the same as it did way back in 2007.

apps-2

A comparison between the UI of the iPhone 6S of September 2015 and the iPhone 4 of June 2010. The icons and the feel of the UI are exactly the same. So for those who are not very enthusiastic about change, I’d advice you stick to iPhone.

dialer

Even the dialer still looks exactly the same.

It’s always just a simple procedure, “pick it up, turn it on and open an app”. I feel like Android has too much going on with the app drawer and the annoying overlay.

 

APPLICATIONS. (APPS)

Both android and iOS have millions of apps in their stores, but from what I have discovered iPhone has always been favored by developers when it comes to the platform of choice of launching the hottest Apps.

appstore-vs-playstore

And speaking of apps, when I was on iPhone, I never got the annoying problem of ads like I do now on Android.

I am not being biased but yeah, I said it, iPhone will always be the best when it comes to apps.

 

 

AFFORDABILITY.

I must say though, the affordable price of Android phones with good designs and amazing specs is quite impressive, and to add to that, there’s sooo many to choose from. Phones, phones, phones,

img_20161007_151405_680

unlike the iPhone with its exclusive factor of going all out when it comes to pricing and a very shallow pool to choose. Actually, there’s no variety, just one phone, the iPhone. It only has different developed versions.

Almost anyone can afford an Android phone that would fit their needs. When it comes to affordability and variety, android takes this one home, no questions asked.

 

CUSTOMIZATION.

Being able to change the look of your phone according to your own preferences is really cool, I have to admit. A strong point of android is the level of customization it allows. While Apple prefers to keep control of literally everything to maintain a uniform software and hardware experience, Android allows you to customize your phone however you want, from live wallpapers, unique keyboards to custom ROM installation.

For the creative and artsy people out there, I bet you’d enjoy this customization freedom. Go crazy!!

creativity-wallpaper

 

It has been just a few weeks since I stopped using an iOS phone and added an Android phone in to my daily life. Yes, there are moments I am tempted to switch back, but then, like I said earlier, there is always a silver lining. Android has its advantages, so I can’t really say one is better than the other. They both have their yays and nays.

 

For anyone out there who wants a new phone but is going through the dilemma of having to decide between android or iOS, (which i went through by the way), so from experience ,

dilemma

I’d say list the pros and cons of either, and follow your heart, neither is a wrong choice 🙂

Cheerio, till next time:D

WORDPRESS ON HEROKU VS ON AMAZON (AWS)

Some say it is human nature to go for options that avoid incurrence of charges, or preferring to try out something first before being charged for it.

Blogging has sort of become a way of life in this world. It is how people all over the world share their thoughts, ideas and opinions on any topic they could think of.

New blogs come up every day and most likely a new blogger would not want to always incur monthly hosting charges (which is common for most hosting sites) for his/her site, and good thing is, they actually don’t have to, thanks to Heroku and Amazon (hosting sites popular for their reliable free tier of at least a year). Among the many advantages of word press, it can be deployed on both but either has its pros and cons.

 

Heroku pros

  • It has a free tier (probably the best pro 😛 )
  • Zerigo provides an excellent DNS service for custom domain via the Zerigo DNS add-on

 

Heroku Cons

  • Out of every 24 hours, the free tier has to sleep for 6 hours (So a site would be down for a continuous 6 hours)
  • Installation of themes and plugins is abit tedious because they have to be installed locally then manually pushed to the Heroku file system.
  • As much as its free though, it is not as powerful as the paid version and there are some features that the paid version has and the free one doesn’t.

 

 

Amazon pros

  • (As usual I’ll start with what we’d want to hear) It’s free for a year.
  • Installation of themes and plugins is not manual. It can be done via the admin panel. (another one of my all-time favorites)
  • The site is always online 😀

 

Amazon cons

  • Manual set-up of php, MySQL and WordPress (done only once though so it is not such major con).
  • Handling of software updates
  • Server maintenance (which is actually not as hard as it might sound because the server is virtual).
  • Amazon’s free tier is also limited in performance compared to the paid version.

 

Personally I’d go for AWS (amazon). Its pros outweigh its cons and it doesn’t require so much handiwork, so someone doesn’t really have to be an IT guru to use it. I’ve used it and so far so good, it has not disappointed.

So for any new/ upcoming bloggers out there, there’s a really cheap and reliable way to begin.