Saturday, March 23, 2013

Moving to a new blog

Blogger was a pretty cozy home for my main blog for almost seven years now. But the time to move out to my own flat has arrived. You can read more about the whys and hows at my new address:, where I've also made a copy of all my old blog posts. I'll probably keep this blog as an archive as long as Google allows me to.
If you're reading this post in your RSS feeder, please subscribe to the new feed address:

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How a Lego dragon helped me explain programming in 15 minutes

Another Rails Girls Ljubljana workshop also meant another lecture on how the internet works and the basics of programming. The goal was to ease in the participants, this time mostly high school girls, into the practical workshop that consisted of creating a web app for collecting ideas in Rails. I was pretty happy with the first version of the lecture I did for our very first workshop that used a cute story about GitHub's Octocat, who loves sushi, but doesn't eat fish.

However, there were two majors issues we discovered by using the first version of the lecture at the workshop:
  •, an otherwise super cute website, didn't behave well during our workshop. With about 75 laptops on the same network, the site was painfully slow at moments, making it difficult for girls to keep up. Also, the order in which concepts are introduced in the tutorial is difficult for beginners (arrays make a surprisingly early appearance, for instance).
  • Beginners were a bit confused during the practical part of the workshop about switching from Terminal and local files with code. The meaning of all those directories and files in their Rails project wasn't very clear.
All that meant I had to roll up my sleeves again and create version 2.0 that includes a giant dragon!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Lessons learned from Rails Girls and why we really do need more women in tech

It can be surprisingly easy to not notice things because "that's just the way it is". I have to admit I used to feel that way about the lack of women in tech. Just as a lot of women in the industry, I quickly started to think of myself as on of the guys and not even notice that I'm consistently a part of a minority at most tech events. In some ways, I was lucky that my mom was a geek even before that was a fashionable word and that I grew up without ever knowing computers were boys’ toys. But once you do start paying attention, it's impossible to turn the other way.

Self-driving cars will be on our roads soon, so why is it that seeing a large group of girls in front of a computer science faculty is still an exception reserved for Rails Girls events? 

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

How I found great chocolate in Brussels and glimpsed the flame of hope

I found myself in a bit of an awkward situation when I had to explain to my friends why I would be flying to Brussels this week. Sure, I knew the official answer. I have been selected as one of the 25 members of the "Young Advisors Expert Group on implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe" (yeah, I had to copy-paste that). I suppose it looks nice on my CV. And I will be visiting the capital of the European Union for the first time.

While I was looking forward to the trip, I didn't really have a clear idea on what to expect. There was some strange paperwork I had to fill in, some very formal documents sent around that say a lot and yet nothing at all at the same time. It started to look a bit better when they created a Twitter list of YAG members. I admit I also felt a bit intimidated by some pretty impressive CVs from my fellow group members. What do I possibly have to offer? I don't even pay as much attention to politics as I should, because I get frustrated about the endless talking and too little meaningful action. Discussing important issues is all well and good, but if you don't follow it up with concrete actions, it's just a nice hobby suitable for lazy Summer evening on a terrace, with a glass of fine wine in your hand. I know, I know, big political decisions are hard and should not be made lightly. But hard doesn't mean impossible.

My first YAG meeting

Most doubts I had quickly disappeared once I actually met the other members of the YAG group, some members of DG Connect and (my new hero) Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda. We kicked off the meeting by touching upon some common concerns, such as obstacles faced by startups, the inefficiency of our school to prepare kids for a digital future (and present), the lack of a single digital market and so on. But, also encouraged by Paul André Baran, the Romanian Digital Champion, we quickly agreed that we shouldn't spend too much time complaining about things we all know to be wrong, but rather switch to proposing solutions. Of course, there's not much actual power you have as an external advisor. But we can bring a fresh perspective to the table, one not yet spoiled by the bubble of big institutions.

Neelie Kroes
Photo by Jordan Hatch
Diversity is key to finding innovative solutions. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how open the whole DG Connect team was to listening to what we had to say. They asked us to be frank and we embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly. What do we have to lose by speaking our minds? Nothing, but a lot to gain. I also loved the fact that they kept encouraging us, as a group, to get together and come up with practical propositions for the EU related to the Digital Agenda. Sure, the road to action is a long one and maybe even covered with wild plants, but it's good to know it exists.

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.