Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Wednesday was Ada Lovelace Day! (UPDATE: Apologies for the late post.)

In a nutshell, March 24 is set aside to promote the achievements of women in IT and software engineering.  And we can start by looking toward the achievements of Ada Lovelace.  Ada Lovelace-the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron-was the first computer programmer and worked with Charles Babbage on the theoretical underpinnings of computing.  Without her contribution, modern computing probably won’t exist today.

Now I’m not into the whole feminist movement.  I don’t think the movement really represents what the majority women think or want. And the feminist equation of “woman == man” doesn’t make sense.  Neither does any equation that tries to equate one person with another.  All humans should have the right to own their own bodies and not being owned by others.  And I won’t get dragged into a libertarian versus non-libertarian political theoretical debate here.  However I was brought up thinking that women can think as well as men can.  Therefore women can do engineering, mathematics and computing as well as men can.  (<flamebait>Maybe even better.</flamebait>)  So I want to acknowledge in this post, women who I highly regard and who have achieved great things in IT.

@Home: Mom

OK so my mom doesn’t work in IT.  She in fact dislikes computing in general.  We still disagree over the fact that I chose software development as a career.  However I regard her highly and without her work I would of never been able to work as a software developer.  Mom not only brought me into existence, she also taught me.  She as someone with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering, she could of worked on engineering amazing structures. For various she gave that up, to teach and raise me and my brother.  When two public school boards gave up on me ever reading or writing, Mom taught me.  She taught me mathematics and gave me a solid base that carried me well into university level math.  And she always would point out how weird it was that Canada didn’t have as many female engineers as Poland did.  While there are many reasons why that was the case, it was Mom who taught me to believe that women can and should be engineers if that was their calling.  So while she doesn’t work in IT or software development, Mom brought up a pretty decent (IMO) software developer.

@Work: Jennifer Chung, Salina Behera , Safa Siddiqui & Monika Schigel

I am privileged to work with the above ladies at my current workplace, VisionMAX Solutions.  Jennifer and Safa works as developers.  Salina is one of our talented DBAs.  And Monika works in that dark, arcane magical realm known as data modelling.  Not only are they great people to interact with, they also possess a wide body of knowledge.  Jennifer is a whiz at Java and ExtJS, and I often find myself asking her for advice on how to solve various tricky problems.  Monika has a way to cheering people up and I’ve never seen her without a wide grin on her face.  Also she and Tom, our two intrepid data modeller have been initiating me into the dark art of data modelling and the business of retail and mobile telecos.

@University: Katarina Halan & Megan Foote

While studying Computer Science at the University of Toronto, I had the opportunity to study and work with these two incredibly talented ladies.  We helped each other out on assignments.  I can not stress how well they understood the various aspects of computer science.  Also they introduced me to some interesting parts of Japanese culture, namely anime and DDR.

In the Open Source Community

Finally, two ladies that inspire me to get more involved with the open source community as a whole are: Emma Jane Hogbin and Celeste Lyn Paul.  Emma works on creating and managing documentation at various open source projects.  Celeste is a HCI expert who helps make KDE applications have the best user experience of any desktop related project.   I’ve only had the opportunity to meet Emma in person at Ontario Linux Fest 2009.  But Emma, you sure inspired me to look at the various components of documentation.  And yes documentation can be sexy.  I don’t get the ponies though.  Celeste on the other hand inspires me to one day get back into university and work on getting a human-computer interface design.  Her work inspires me to improve the UIs and workflow of any piece of software I am involved with.

To all these ladies, I’d like to personally say thank you.  You made me a better software developer.  And you are an inspiration for all women in or thinking of working in IT and software development.  Thanks!

As the Year Wraps Up

Less than 37 days or so remain in this year, and so I almost want to look back at this year in nostalgia.  A lot of personal growth happened, even if my plans only now are starting to get realized.  I discovered the fullness of what it means to be human: love, life, hate, death, joy, sorrow.  A million different feelings and it has been quite a ride.  I feel  better equipped to handle whatever the future brings.   And I want to thank all those who I met, got to know and taught me many life lessons.  Some were joyful, others painful.  Still I can not say I am not thankful.  In retrospect, I would of done things differently.  But I would not trade those memories and lessons, for anything.

Life happens.  Life is messy.  Thats the beauty of it.

As for my projects, and my obsession with completing them…  Well I am at a stage that I wished I was at back in February.  So I feel a little anxious of how long things take.  But I’m hoping that I can wrap up this year in this month and in a bit, with some tangible achievements.

Anyways… back to work… there is so much yet to be done.

What I Am Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving, at least in Canada. You Americans, will have to wait for few more days. This year I want to thank a number of people for this and past years.

Thank you to my classmates and writing friends in my Professional writing classes, for helping edit and improve my writing pieces. Thank you, Prof. Guy Allen for guiding my editing and shaping my philosophy about communication. Thank you Prof. Arnold Rosenbloom, for inspiring me and widening my horizons in computer science. Thank you Prof. Charles Rackoff for putting up with my ignorance of formal computational theory, and showing me the formal world of cryptography. Thank you Prof. Sherril Hook for helping me discover the importance of libraries, and cataloguing and accessing information. Thank you Prof. Jeremy Sills, your classes have been always some of the most fun, enjoyable and intellectually provocative ones. And thank you, my classmates and fellow sufferers in Computer Science. You inspired me to continue through CS, even when I got lost hope in ever finishing my degree.

Thanks Danny for working with me on a number of university and volunteer projects, and putting up with my shenanigans while I matured as both a programmer and a person. Thanks Rudy & Albert for all the comedy. Thanks Amanda for teaching me how to use verbs. Thanks Rosie for being my Christian voice in university. Thanks Kat & Megan for all the anime and good times together. Thanks Mr. Nick Nolfi for all the trouble you gave me in high school. Thanks Domenic for all the guidance and friendship through the years. Thanks Dmitri for helping survive high school with endless talks about gaming, god and hacking. Thanks Laura for giving me hope and love.Thanks Mom and Dad, for your endless support and love. Thanks Martin for being my crazy bro.

Thanks to may more, who helped shape and influence my life. You are too numerous to list, but your ideas and acts have made my life a better one.

And thanks you God. Without You, none of this would of been possible.

In Reverse Chronology

Yesterday, I turned 24. Or 109 in dog years. I feel old when I think about it that way. But then again, reflecting back these past 24 years have been eventful. Thanks to everyone who helped, guided and positively influenced me over the course of those years. I just hope that the next 24 years will be just as fascinating, exciting and important as the past 24.

Monday, I officially received my diploma. Tired from lack of sleep, and a dentist appointment in the morning, I showed up just in time for my celebration. Now I have a real degree in my hands. I heard that someone cheered my name when my turn to shake the chancellor’s hand. That day I realized that I could achieve a dream. Further more, I was not just another name. I was a someone, at least for someone other than my own family. And again when I met up with my friends after the ceremony. Thanks Rob, Dan, Albert, Arnold, Konrad, Adwoa, Scott and Miranda for all the happy university memories, for making me feel special and for graduating together with me. Congratulations!

Today, I paid off my university loan. And the preparation for my adventure in Europe begins!