Geek Mental Help Week - About 'Social Pain'

This post was written 3 days ago.
Wed, 29 Oct 2014
This week's "Geek Mental Help Week" has had quite a strange, and profound, effect on me. I have to admit this, even though I had previously decided I would try and not pay much attention to it at all; because I somewhat agree with a post on that very site, stating that campaigns to raise awareness can be a double-edged sword and it can be a bit overwhelming. - But as I'd expected, I kept being drawn to the site, and I am now glad I read the articles on there. What made the biggest impression on me were the posts that people wrote about their experiences with mental illness. There is such an openness and honesty. And I feel I want to be there as a 'listener', a witness to the trauma people went through, which in some cases was very grave.

And then I'd also started to pen an article for it. For two weeks I collected a lot of thoughts, quotes, resources. Next, I ordered them and started to string the whole thing into a narrative. I sat the whole of Sunday in front of my computer. I had tried to write this 'witty' article about all I knew about depression. But I made a mistake. I thought I could take myself out of it, write about my experiences objectively, from a bird's eye's view. It didn't work, and I felt very disillusioned and frustrated.

Instead I am publishing the below for Geek Mental Help Week. I wrote it about a year ago, and while I put it on my blog, I never tweeted about it.

Perhaps this is my way of saying "Here I am, and this is what I've struggled with and sometimes still do. If it is similar for you, you are not the only one."

I think for me, and many others, the web has always been about connecting, too. You can reach out to others in a way that was not previously possible. For me, this week has been about exactly that in the end. The likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, can easily make us forget that we can communicate in 'long form', too, and how liberating and comforting that can be.

I also felt reminded of a post I had read during the summer holidays, Everyone I know is broken-hearted by Josh Ellis. I found the last three paragraphs quite moving. "I don't believe anymore that the answer lies in more or better tech, or even awareness. I think the only thing that can save us is us. I think we need to find ways to tribe up again, to find each other and put our arms around each other and make that charm against the dark." Perhaps initiatives like this can be a step towards that.

Here is my post from a year ago: Read more…
 
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This post was written 6 months ago.
Mon, 05 May 2014
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New habits, and experiments

This post was written 6 months ago.
Wed, 23 Apr 2014
So, the Easter holidays are over. No school for two weeks, but I did bits of work from home till last Wednesday (not always easy!). Then I took proper time off. That is I had really planned to do some 'learning and side projects', but in the end I didn't. I enjoyed the long weekend, seeing friends who came to visit, a whole day out in Stourhead, and Easter Sunday with a big breakfast and egg-hunting.

But on Monday I got a bit nervous. I had not progressed with things as planned, and I had not written any code for days. Moreover I realised that I had done that thing again, where I start something with great enthusiasm, then Thing 2 comes along and grabs all my attention, and I start learning this new thing at great pace it seems.. (in this case, working through a Yii tutorial, then starting to work through a Mapping/GIS course; then looking into SVG..) And then after a while I realise that it is difficult to keep up with all the plans I had, and bringing any one of those projects to fruition. But then that isn't so bad, as long as I don't start piling more and more on top! I can just pick these things up again and carry on, especially if it is side projects without a deadline. It is more about the way I (or my subconscious) interprets those things.

In any case, on Monday I got into quite a tailspin (not only because of the above). I was going to write more about that below, but it is becoming too much now for this post. At the same time though, I started to see quite clearly again what it is I would like to do. And I want to write about that, and how it could tie in with other activities, especially CodeHub and OpenTechSchool. Read more…
 
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Thoughts on CodeHub and Open Tech School in Bristol

This post was written 10 months ago.
Mon, 13 Jan 2014
This was really meant to be an email, but it got so long I am just posting it here. I set up CodeHub Bristol last year together with Gicela Morales. I mentioned it at Skillswap, and that got us a few - lovely - members, but we did not publicise it further so far. We felt quite comfortable in our little group. (This is a post about our first meeting) But we had really intended it to be a bigger platform. So these are some thoughts on how to expand it.

What

Really what I would like to do already exists elsewhere and isn't called CodeHub, but Open Tech School: http://opentechschool.org I think it would be great to have something like that in Bristol. So, basically, we would organise workshops. But still keep the current exisiting CodeHub as a 'learners group' associated with OTS.

As an initial focus, I would probably not so much want to organise workshops for beginners, but everything that helps people who already develop for the web become more professional, and better able to work in a team.

Workshops would probably be in the evenings (7pm to 10pm?) or Saturdays. CodeHub is during a work day; currently every second Tuesday of a month, from 10am to 2pm. Read more…
 
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SouthvilleJS JavaScript Workshop

This post was written 1 year ago.
Wed, 11 Sep 2013
Last weekend (7 and 8 September 2013) I attended a workshop run by a JavaScript user group in Bristol called SouthvilleJS - in fact, it was mainly organised by Andrew McGregor, who is one of the organisers of SouthvilleJS. It was the first workshop of its kind as well as being really well organised, and incredibly good value for money (£30 early bird, £40 regular). The ticket price basically just went towards the costs for running this event and I don't think anybody made any money out of it. This is especially amazing considering the line-up and the quality of the sessions. Read more…
 
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Uncomfortable comfort zones

This post was written 1 year ago.
Fri, 23 Aug 2013

A rant and two mini book reviews

This is going to be more of a diary entry than any thought-through blog post. But I feel a massive urge to write, about so many things. And yet seem to be suffering from some kind of mental congestion. Where I read so much, fiction, non-fiction, books about web dev, but seem very little able to then communicate any of it, or use it in a creative way. Anyway that is what it feels like. But while that doesn't feel great, it's more and more the reading itself that I find unsettling. Not the books I've been reading, but the papers.

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Tags: books / mind / surveillance /
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CodeHub Bristol

This post was written 1 year ago.
Wed, 03 Jul 2013

I cannot exactly remember when the idea to set up CodeHub was born, although it probably happened in several steps. It definitely came out of some conversations I had with my friend Gicela. We thought it would be great for people in a similar situation to us, working from home and just for themselves, to get together and learn from and with each other. When Gicela came across the Hackerschool website, that served as an inspiration, although it is very different from our project in terms of scale and scope. - And so, two days ago (on Tuesday 2 July 2013), a group of five independent web developers met up at The Big Chill in Bristol for a morning of coffee, tea and code. I think we all agreed that it worked very well. It was good to be in this small group to start with, and it was a good group. We almost felt we don't even want it to grow!

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Tags: codehub / bristol / learning /
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Skillswap about Responsive Web Design

This post was written 1 year ago.
Wed, 15 May 2013

So it's now two days since the Skillswap about Responsive Web Design in Bristol. I am happy to have been one of three speakers and, having just listend to the audio, I think it was kind of okay - which hadn't been my initial impression, so I'm glad there was a recording. I just thought I'd add some thoughts, some of them regarding what I talked about.

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Using a Ubuntu 12.04 laptop as monitor for Raspberry Pi

This post was written 2 years ago.
Fri, 19 Apr 2013

This is not really that difficult once you know it, but I had to combine instructions from several posts and fiddle around a bit, so I thought I'd write down the different steps. This is assuming you have an external screen attached to the Raspberry Pi to do the configuration.

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Responsiveness

This post was written 2 years ago.
Thu, 28 Mar 2013

There is this vortex of thoughts going through my head. I wonder if I can make some sense of it all by writing it down. If it just wasn't so coooold. I am shivering while I am typing this. One thing that will be especially difficult is separating the personal from some general observations. That is part of the problem I fear.

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Tags: skillswap /
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