Technically Pretty

The other day I had a good idea. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always waited (usually in vain) for the Good Idea Fairy to strike, so when it came I got very excited about it. My good idea was this: I would start a fashion blog for women in technology. This blog would be about how to use the skills of fashion to look better… but without all the cultural baggage that usually surrounds anything fashion.

I feel like I’ve gone through a transition that has been useful, and that other women might appreciate. Apprenticing myself to my mother-in-law, I’ve gone from a girl who wore ankle-length black skirts with white athletic socks (I have photographic proof) to a woman who consistently looks nice when she walks out the door in the morning. I’ve gotten and maintained a good haircut. I’ve developed a wardrobe that suits my lifestyle, my profession and my figure. I know how to use makeup to subtle good effect. In an interview recently, I was described as “polished”. That word stuck with me. Of all the compliments I’ve gotten in life, it might be one of the most unexpected, and hardest-won.

I have learned these skills of ‘the woman’.

But I haven’t bought the hype. I hate shopping for shoes. I could care less about this season’s hot colors, unless they happen to be my favorites. I don’t judge people differently based on how they look (at least I try not to). I’m playing the game, but my heart’s not in it. I still schlep in jeans and athletic socks and snarky geek t-shirts on weekends. And reading fashion magazines makes me either slightly ill or very sarcastic. So maybe, perhaps, I can teach the skills of looking good without the judgement and insults of so many other fashion venues.

The idea went from good to great when I thought of the domain name: Technically

So it has come to pass! I currently have a zillion ideas for things I want to write about. I’d love this to be far more interactive than this blogs. (After all, I’m no expert in fashion. If I’m a competent journeywoman, I’m happy.) I have thoughts for recurring posts (outfit of the day! this seasons hot fashions in bullet points! review of best and worst fashion magazines! product reviews on cosmetics you can buy at Target!). I’d love to have surveys, reader stories and in-depth discussions about what it means to be a professional woman, what it means to be a technical woman, and what it costs us to spend precious time and money on looks instead of books.

What I don’t have is a readership. So I’m asking you if you would bop on over and read my posts. Follow the blog. Add it to your syndication (if you like it and it seems relevant). If I earn your trust with good content… share my link. If you have questions, thoughts or discussions – hash them out with me there. If you know of other good blogs/tweets/sites I should be following, bring them to my attention.

Hello World!

A bit of background is probably in order, before I launch into my most recent adventure. Despite being a language-oriented person, I somehow stumbled into a career in web application development. No one was more surprised by this than I was, but the year was 2000. Even more to my surprise, I turned out to be a pretty good developer. My favorite part is database development (SQL/datastructures), but I’m also strong through the middle tier and display layer in a dissed programming language called Coldfusion. Javascript and I have an uneasy truce much relieved by the introduction of packages like jQuery and PrototypeJS. I spent 10 years as a full time developer.

But I always thought to myself, “I have a windy tongue! I am a people person! I therefore cannot really be a coder.” And so I got a job that used all my people skillz and none of my technology skillz. I thought with a pang at how hard I’d worked, but this seemed the way to go.

Now I’m leaving that job, and going to one where I will be much, much closer to the technology. My new boss already sent me the APIs, and I’m extremely and muchly excited to get back to technology – much to my surprise! I mean, who knew I really like code and technology and programming?

In the lull between jobs, in addition to reading novels, taking naps, and cleaning the attic… I thought I would crack open the ol’ development tools and remind myself of the problems and delights of code, if only for a few days.

So our heroine began here:

Here’s a secret: the very hardest part of starting to do development (if you are not already a developer) is getting your development environment up and running. I mean, I am a programmer and the computer I’m working on used to be my dev environment. But I needed a new version of Eclipse (free & not so hard), a JDK (very very hard – I have a 32 bit Windows computer and you have to KNOW which JDK will work for a 32 bit computer and everyone who writes stuff for programming assumes that you have this perfectly obvious to them piece of knowledge and Google was failing me and I even ordered a new computer because then I could get 64 bit Windows and plus I need a new computer anyway but its not here yet and my time is running out and my husband who is of the programming cognoscenti finally helped me identify a sufficiently up to date version of the JDK I could install – but it still took several days) and the Android SDK. And you have to pray that you configured them all correctly so they can talk.

What is the right JDK if I have 32 bit Windows?
The right JDK for 32 bit Windows users is Windows x86.
Windows x86 76.81 MB jdk-6u29-windows-i586.exe
Windows 32 bit JDK for JDK 6.0 is Windows x86

(I mean, isn’t it perfectly obvious that you need x86 if you have 32 bit Windows? No? Yeah, not for me either.)

Once you’ve done all that, three lines of code take a base application and turn it into “Hello World.” With no further ado, I give you:

Hello World!
Hello World!

Yay! I have an app in mind (A Christmas list manager, to help you figure out who you’re buying for, what your budget is and how you’re doing vs. budget. Also to help you so you have equal number of presents per child and do not find a bag of presents in your closet a month later… WHICH I JUST DID.) I do not believe this app will take the app world by storm, but at least it’s a quasi useful something to work on with a very simple first stage and a lot of opportunity for me to muck around. Actually, in all truth, I do not believe I will ever finish this app but I MIGHT! And if I did, I could actually use it.

Now all I have to do is figure out what mobile app developers use instead of databases. I’ve spent my entire professional life clinging tightly to databases, but I think it’s different out here in the wild wild west. I need to figure out a whole new paradigm for display – I’m REALLY hoping it’s easier to make an average looking app than it is an average looking website. I am not so good at making pretty stuff online. Also, DROID app development is based on JAVA, and I’m not really a JAVA programmer. I mean, some of my best friends are JAVA and all. Coldfusion is written in JAVA and some of the advanced development is more or less JAVA… and I took a class on JAVA 2 in college which introduced stuff like inheritance… but yeah. I’m not a JAVA developer.

But hey. I got my development environment working after five days of intermittent effort, so how hard can the rest be?

Now that the half of you who are my developer buddies are rolling your eyes at my naivete and the other half of you who read for cute kid anecdotes are completely lost, I will leave you there. Because the next stage is to use XML to handle my layout instead of doing it directly in the JAVA. Ooooooohhhhh…..

Yours in supreme geeky bliss,