The Kittyfiend’s Last Post…?

As “The Kittyfiend”, anyway.

You may have noticed that I am no longer “The Kittyfiend”, and this is no longer “The Kittyfiend Talks Tech”.

It is time to say goodbye to my beloved Kittyfiend moniker and embrace a new persona, one based more on my goals and real public identity.

“The Kittyfiend” has had a good run, and I’m very glad to have had so many supporters. I hope you will all join me as CyborGenn recreates herself in a new blog at a new address.

Please accompany me to http://cyborgenn.wordpress.com/ where I will continue to grow personally and professionally.

Thank you so much to all of you who were kind enough to follow my blog, and I would appreciate it very much if you would follow me to my new one, as this blog will be deleted in one month.

~Jenn

The Kittyfiend Comes Out of the Litterbox

jenns-photo

That’s me, Jenn G.

Well, it’s official. I’ve come out of the litterbox. For the first time, I am going by my real name online. It was time for me to stop being the mysterious anonymous Kittyfiend and start being Jenn.

So, I’ve updated my A Few Facts and Not-So-Secret File pages with brand spankin’ new information that is totally juicy, I promise; just go ahead and check it out if you don’t believe me. My Twitter address is still the same, but my name shows up as Jenn Guillena, so if you want to have a peek, feel free.

Stay cool, my kittehs,

~Jenn

The Calm Before the Summer Semester

So it’s almost time for the summer semester to begin! I’ve got another week off, and what have I been doing? Work, of course.

Well, not *all* work, exactly. I’ve been up to no good, meeting people (networking? Can I call it that even though I’m a student?) in a few groups that I found online, along with learning PHP, SQL and jQuery. Why am I doing all this? Umm…I guess I’m just not happy until I’m crazy busy! I love a good challenge, and I’ve certainly given myself a few on my break so far. Thus, my comics, books and DVDs have all remained the way they have been since I bought them: unopened, sitting on a shelf or my desk.

It started as soon as I was finished school; after giving myself a day to chill out and relax, I headed straight for Code School. jQuery was something that really intrigued me, so I started (and completed!) their Try jQuery course, which, by the way, is an excellent primer if you already have some HTML5 under your belt. (Spoiler alert: to start at Code School, you need a subscription, but this course is free. Yes, I pay for a subscription, yes, I know I’m a keener.) Then I moved on to Codecademy, where I continued to get familiar with their newly completed PHP track. (That site is all free. Love.) Then I hit the books. Two “Head First” textbooks on PHP/MySQL and SQL got ransacked last week, and although I haven’t been able to hit up the exercises, they’re a pretty good intro. And after all that, you’d think I’d be content.

Judy Sims speaking at the social

Judy Sims speaking at the HackerNest/GITdot tech social. Credit: @HackerNest

Girls In Tech poster

Girls In Tech Toronto, the wonderful co-hosts to the event! Credit: @GITdot

Of course not. I need to be crazy busy, remember? Thus, I took to the interwebs. Somehow I came across Girls In Tech Toronto, who appeared to be co-hosting an event with HackerNest. Clearly this needed more attention. I joined Meetup.com and researched the event, which happened in nearby Toronto, and I said to myself, “What have I got to lose?”. HackerNest is a large Toronto-based tech group that has amazing socials, and Girls In Tech are, well, pretty self-explanatory, so I went. Alone. Which might have been a little gutsy, especially for a second semester student, but hey, I’m ambitious. So sue me. It was a massive event, with 647-ish RSVPs, and I met a ton of awesome people scattered in all different areas of the Toronto tech scene. All in all, 10/10, would recommend.

Silicon Simcoe logo

Silicon Simcoe’s Logo. Credit: Aaron Reynolds

But! I mentioned *several* groups on Meetup.com. After finding the HackerNest meeting, I had searched through the really local tech groups and found Silicon Simcoe, which is focused on fostering startup culture in the Barrie area. Even though it was a relatively small group at the meeting (which actually occurred sooner than the other meeting), there was a lot of diversity in the attendees. Many of them were entrepreneurs, and even one Georgian grad, of the CSTN program! There was an awesome blog post about the meeting, written by one of the attendees, Aaron Reynolds. He captures it really well, and I’m not mentioned, but there’s also no students mentioned as being there, so perhaps I’m lumped in under “programmers”? I’m just going to pretend that I am. I’m important! Yay! (Please nobody take this away from me.)

Yes, I suppose I’ve been a busy little nerd. And I’ve still got a week to go before class starts again! Here’s to hoping I don’t get into any trouble, I tend to stir it up sometimes. Curiousity kills this kitty daily.

~Jenn

Finals week, or, how to lose your mind in 5 days

What? The semester’s over, I can leave the Nerd Hall now? I don’t know…I think I’ve made a nice dent in the seat near the wall sockets…and they might have sold my bed, considering I barely sleep in it anymore…

Well, I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Tomorrow I present my final assignment for the semester, and somehow I forgot I had a  blog about it all. This week has been IN TENTS. Not literally of course, but you get my drift. Long story short, my hoodie project actually got off the ground (sort of), and I was able to (somewhat) present it to my class. Basically, some very frantic last-minute cobbling together of LEDs and Arduino and hoodieness didn’t end perfectly, as the hood and left sleeve did not quite function. At all. However, the right sleeve looked GREAT! Worked just fine. Kinda. Ok, there’s a few bugs, and a lot I will be doing over, and I wasn’t able to incorporate the wave shield I bought (and PAINSTAKINGLY soldered). But! That sleeve was relatively impressive, so hopefully I get *some* marks for it.

So here’s the code I used on it:

https://github.com/thekittyfiend/digital-wizard-hoodie

It’s all in Arduino, which is C based, if you care to take a peek. It all started with testing the accelerometer. Which was actually quite fun, just open up the serial monitor sometime and stare at all the values coming in as you move around. Fascinating. Seriously. The accelerometer has three axes (x, y and z) and was relatively easy to get going (I say “relatively” because I had a lot of help on that one).

[I wish I had been less crazy busy this semester and had blogged more often because there was a lot of comedy gold going on (think “counter” variable on an exam, without the “o”; and a Mike who is not quite as Perfect as his nickname implies; and the devil Furby from hell; and random drunken guests in our programming class….etc etc). Also, I am staring down a deadline right now regarding a project journal that I unfortunately probably won’t meet, but may, Bog willing, get partial marks for thanks to frequent tweets on random code-loving nerdiness and a few entries in this here blog. ]

Back to the project. I had to tweak some code I got from Adafruit’s Github page, screwing around with things until they played nice with the code my program co-ordinator was nice enough to find for me (which is great, because lezbehonest, I wouldn’t have found it on my own; I would have said “Yay! An accelerometer!….How long before it does something?” and poked it a few times). I had no problem with the code side of things, however. Nope, it was the hardware that scared the absolute crap out of me that I had a problem with. Soldering is not a skill I have picked up gracefully, in fact my own soldering iron looks like a dog with titanium teeth got ahold of it.

Take into consideration for a minute my previous posts. I am not a girl who was brought up around this sort of thing, so actually getting comfortable with it took time. A LOT of time. But, finally, I have come to a point where I am completely fine soldering on my own, testing Arduino code on the device, playing with LEDs, etc. Do I screw up? Constantly. Am I afraid of this stuff anymore? I have no idea why I was in the first place. It seemed so daunting when I first began the semester, me being a traditional girly-girl and all, not to mention one girl out of a very, very few in my program. I’ve grown to love my little Arduino though, and I’m going to miss that class. And I’m not going to lie, I’m probably still going to keep fooling around with microcontrollers and all their fun goodies, because face it, everyone wants a robot. Anyone who doesn’t is lying or has a serious chemical dependency (or doesn’t know what a robot is).

So the code I finally came up with works just fine. And it all came down to putting it together. On Monday. It was due Monday. At 2PM. You can imagine the weird looks I got using a soldering iron in the Nerd Hall (apparently, people don’t understand that nerds live there; I mean duh, who do you think are using up all the plugs every day? Opticianry students?). My logic was, well, one strand for one sleeve works, if I just hook ’em all up together with wire, they’ll all work! Right? Right? NO. WRONG. The LED strands were not happy with that method at alllll. And they made that very well known when I went to test everything out and the hood just …well, basically puked the color wheel all over the place. The left sleeve just said “I’m having none of that” and didn’t even bother with the digital puke. Too much effort, I guess.

In spite of all this, I actually got a good response from everyone during my presentation. I guess my co-ordinator thought it was alright too, I got invited to present it at Innovation Day next semester along with another couple of projects. Dammit, I thought I was off the hook with the wave shield, I won’t be happy with showing it all off without some sound!

Well, it’s approaching midnight, and I’m about to collapse. I figured not only was it high time for an update on here, but maybe, just possibly I could squeeze a few marks out of one last gasp of a post this semester. So pardon me while I effectively burn out for the night.

~TKF

Week 4: Getting a Grip

Holy kitties, everyone. We’re heading into week 5 of classes…and it’s Sunday…and I haven’t posted about it yet.

Well, number one, sorry about the late post, I’ve been busy catching up on sleep (the proper word here is “comatose”) and pretending to have a social life (Starbucks wi-fi is apparently an easy target for evil beings wanting to hog the bandwidth and redirect everyone else to “securelogin.arubanetworks.com”, whatever that is). Oh, and the baristas think you’re out of your mind if you bring your Arduino to the table and play with it next to your Java Chip Frappucino. My partner in crime and I did meet a guy from our college this weekend though, he was actually our waiter, and he couldn’t wrap his mind around two females in a computer programming program. Hilarity ensued, of course. (We’re not unicorns, by the way. We really do exist, and weren’t born on a rainbow.)

Last week was actually quite good school-wise. It seems like things are really starting to come together for me, and my understanding of everything has definitely increased now that we’re really rocking with the material, and connections are being made in my mind between each class. It’s like “Six Degrees of Separation” starring every teacher I have. What I like the most about this kind of inter-weaving of material is being able to use what I learn in one class, in another, and be able to build on that. It’s incredibly helpful, and leads to a deep kind of understanding.

Although I’m doing well in math, I have a unit test coming up, and I’m starting to panic. The only cure for panic is panicked studying, so I’m taking notes like mad and reviewing all the material, which is so far doing me a lot of good. Thus, the panic level is slowly coming down. My HTML class is going quite well, but I’ve gotten a little arrogant because I’m familiar with the material, and have slacked off a little bit on the required reading. Gotta fix that this week, for sure. Thank the feline gods for Google Calendar, because I even schedule my studying with color codes. *psycho much?*

The course I’ve got that deals extensively with Arduino has assigned a Traffic Lights project, which is going great. However, it’s the one class where I’m actually hesitant to just jump in and fool around with stuff. My aforementioned accomplice is a great chick, and she totally endeared herself to me this weekend by giving me crap for being, basically, an Arduino scaredy-cat. “Plug it in,” she told me. “How the hell are you going to know if it works if you don’t hook it up? DUH!” So I plugged it in, got it working properly, and she’s looking at me like, You’re in a program with three other females starting this semester, you’ve gotten this far, and you’re freaking SCARED of a teensy weensy Arduino? Get a grip, dollface. I am more than incredibly thankful to have her around to kick me in the butt, because otherwise I’d be staring at it and poking it with a stick right now. And as a bonus, I am really enjoying the project now, so kudos to her.

We finally slowed down in my programming class this week! My teacher had gotten a lot of feedback from everyone, and he really took it into consideration, which is super great, and I think it speaks to his character that he listens to us. Not a lot of people are willing to change their habits based on feedback like that, I have come across numerous teachers in academia who had a “like it or lump it” kind of attitude regarding their teaching styles. So, super awesome award goes to him.

And finally…the piece de resistance, networking. Is selective narcolepsy a disorder? Because if it is, I totally have it between 9 AM and 12 PM on Fridays. I need to mainline some coffee or something because the eye-drooping during class is becoming a thing, and my teacher continues to have multiple opportunities to LHAO at my braindead antics. I actually tried to save my files to the school’s G: drive. While on my laptop and not connected to the school’s G: drive. And I didn’t even realize it until a classmate saved me the embarrassment of putting up my hand.

So if anyone has any legal methods of staying awake for a few hours, let me know.

The adventure continues…

~TKF

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