Potential redundancy and Brighton Ruby

I’ve found myself in the rather odd situation of having a lot of time to dedicate to coding. My company has decided that they might need to make me redundant but in the meantime, I’m on paid leave. A blessing in disguise perhaps.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Brighton Ruby courtesy of Black Girl Tech. It was a blast, although many things went over my head. During the talk on MondoDB I tried my best to avoid sporting this expression:

confused totoro

For most part however, I got what was being said and had a great time. My two favourite talks were by Sara Simon and Britni Alexander. Sara’s talk, titled ‘The Function of Bias’ highlighted how biases affect the software we create. This is something that comes up every so often; when Apple watches fail to work on dark skin and tattoos, when Google images identify black faces as gorillas, and in Sara’s example, software that predicts criminality being biased against black people.

As Sara’s said in her talk (speaking about the criminality software), “when we ship software like this, we fail our industry”. So very true. As someone who works for a news organisation, Sara highlighted impartiality and recognition of bias as being particularly important to her. But as the previous examples show, being aware of ones biases is essential for everyone.

“When I’m aware of my bias, I can be aware of how it influences my perspective” -Sara Simon

Britni Alexander’s talk was titled ‘Mary Richards and the Delicate Art of YOLO’. Who is Mary Richards you ask? She was the main character in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I have to admit all I knew about the show was that Oprah was a fan and once did a spoof of the opening.

The talk explored looking for a job as a junior developer through the lens of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. What I particularly liked about it (at same could be said of Sara’s talk) was that at the heart of it was a great story. It was great to hear how Britni made a career change, teaching herself and finding a job as a developer.

On the whole, a great time was had. I’d be happy to return, and pay for my ticket next time!

Written on July 23, 2016