To say this year has been strange is an understatement, and it's terrifying to realise that October is already upon us! To me October is a couple of things, for example October means it's Frocktober, and for the entire month I'll be only wearing dresses to raise money for ovarian cancer, but October also means it's time for Hacktoberfest!
Blog | Amy's Kapers
In the past, Windows has developed a reputation for being a difficult OS to use as a developer. Things were difficult to install and run, involved complex workarounds and you could forget doing anything involving Ruby. Thankfully in recent years that's improved, even more so with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) so it's now possible to do pretty much everything you can on a unix system.
Last week I got the chance to speak at Microsoft Build, and do a first-look demo on their newly announced featured - Azure Static Web Apps. And as I didn't get access to Static Web Apps until they same time everyone else did (the day before my demo), I got to showcase how easy it was the first time you used it (ok, so maybe it was the second time that I'd used it).
We all know that testing is important, but this is often limited to unit testing and integration testing, focusing on the back-end of our application, and we tend to forget about testing the front-end. There are so many different types of tests that we need to run on the front-end, it’s hard to know where to start. There’s accessibility testing, performance testing, user testing, HTML validation, visual regression testing and UI testing — not to mention the countless tools available for each type, and the different ways to set them up.
Last year, for a demo at Twilio Superclass in Sydney, I built a bot that sent pictures of Quokkas when requested - Quokka on Demand (covered in Part 1 of this blog series, Building Quokka on Demand). After that was done, chatting with Phil and Devin from Twilio, they came up with a new idea - a Quokka recognising bot, something people can send pictures to, and it identifies if there's a Quokka in the photo.
I remember a few years back when I first started using SSL certificates on my websites, I spent several hours trying to get stuff working on the command line, eventually finding an online generator and working out what they needed me to do to verify the site and generate the certificate. And once that was done, I still needed to install it on my hosting, the whole process was complicated and confusing, and even once I'd written it down it still took some concentration to get it done (and needed to be repeated every 90 days to renew the certificate).
Last month I started getting overwhelmed at what I had coming up this year (that's right, it was only January). I wanted something where I could see the whole year at a glance, I didn't need many details but wanted to see what trips/conferences I had happening and even where I was applying to (so I could keep in mind how busy I was). But as I'm a developer, rather than just ducking down to Officeworks and buying a year-in-view calendar, I decided to build one instead.
Last year I got the chance to give a live demo at the Superclass at Twilio Engage in Sydney. It was just a quick demo so I didn't have the chance to do much, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to show how easy the APIs are to use, and maybe I could put a little Perth in it. Then I came up with the idea of Quokkabot 🎉.
As if spam wasn't already infiltrating enough areas of our lives - in our letter boxes, on our phones in our emails - it's now in our website contact forms. But as much as I would like to earn millions of dollars through a cryptocurrency, I'd also like to keep my contact form to legitimate submissions, thankfully WordPress has a few options for this.
For the past three years, I've been involved with Global Diversity CFP Days, first as an attendee, then as a mentor and most recently as a facilitator. And these workshops have been incredible, as they've given me the opportunity to go from someone who didn't think they had anything to talk about, to someone who's spoken at numerous conferences and can help people do the same.
Well Global Diversity CFP Day has wrapped up again for another year, and my head is still spinning with things I wish I'd remembered to share. So while it's all still fresh (and while I can continue to postpone my other work 😂), I thought I'd take the chance to write them down.
It's now been a couple of years since I first started doing these (and I still have a half written one for 2018). But last time I took the time to sit down and reflect on the past 12 months, it was really interesting to remind myself of all the things I've forgotten, and the past 12 months have felt like a lifetime for me.
We all know that testing is important, your project can't be run unless all your unit and integration tests are written (and pass), but we often forget about testing the front end. There are so many different tests we need to be running on the front end - accessibility testing, performance testing, user testing, HTML validation, visual regression testing - it's hard to work out what you need to test for and where to start.
Anyone who’s spoken to me at some point in November may get the impression that I’m a bit of a grinch. But don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, I love decorating my tree, singing carols, and doing Christmas cooking - in December. So for me to willingly be humming the 12 days of Christmas in October, it’s probably for something that I think is even more important than banning premature Christmas decorations, like front end testing.
So recently I shared a HTML and CSS only testimonial carousel, and was accused of witchcraft 🤣
This week I had the chance to not only attend, but speak at NDC Minnesota 2019 (their second year running in Minnesota). This was my second NDC conference (having spoken at London earlier this year) and once again I got the chance to meet a wide range of amazing people from different areas in tech and this time even made it to a few talks! This was my second time at an NDC conference (having spoken at NDC London earlier this year) and despite the fact that it was a much smaller conference both the attendees and other speakers were just as friendly and inclusive.
During the past year, I've started using Notion to organise both my personal and professional life. I discovered it accidentally while looking for a tool to manage my side projects and now I use it as my wiki, social media calendar, to draft documents, store random bits of information and manage both my blog posts (even this post is written in Notion first) and conference talk submissions.
Five years ago I decided to rebuild my parents' business' website for their Christmas present. It was very out of date, the instructions the developer had given them were incredibly complicated and they were quoting a minimum of $400 to make any content changes. While rebuilding the site I realised how much I loved doing it, and I had an epiphany
When I started working for myself fulltime, I was so excited for the freedom and flexibility I could have. No rules, no restrictions, no routines. I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted and no one could tell me otherwise. But it didn't take me long before I realised I was a little lost and not getting anything done. I'd spend several days vegging out on the couch and then have to stay up until 3am to meet a deadline. Then I'd sleep until midday the next day and the whole cycle would start all over again. So I decided to implement a routine. It took me a couple of goes and over 6 months but I eventually made progress with this, and I found that instead of feeling restricted because of it, I felt better than when I'd just been doing whatever I felt like.
During the past couple of years, I started focusing more on myself and when I burnt out last year I decided to put myself first. Since then I've taken on so many new responsibilities, adventures and stressors, but since making the decision to put myself first I've been in a much better place mentally and emotionally. By making conscious decisions about what I devote my energy to and by not letting myself feel bad for spending time on myself, I'm not only in a better place mentally, but I'm happier than I've been in a long time and truly enjoying my life.
This weekend I got the chance to go to my second DDD conference in Perth, and experience a little of the behind-the-scenes action working on one of the sponsor booths. Having been to my first DDD last year, they'd set the bar pretty high and still managed to not only do better, but smash it out of the park. The team outdid themselves again with more than 50% more attendees than last year (where they'd doubled the year before) and put together an even bigger line-up of talent after receiving over 200 proposal submissions (pretty sure that's an international record 🎉).
In the past year, it's no longer unusual to see a virtual assistant in someone's house, whether it be a Google Home, Amazon Alexa or Apple Homepod, but when someone hears that I have 4 I'm always met with shock and surprise. "But what do you actually do with them?". I have an insanely busy life, and my Google Home(s) help to take care of the things that I shouldn't really have to worry about (or really don't want to). Whether it be while cooking in the kitchen, running around getting ready, working or just chilling on the couch, Google is usually able to take care of something for me (even if it can't do my washing for me yet 😔).
I'd like to thank Microsoft for inspiring this tale, and Shakespeare for inspiring the style. Although names have been changed, all events actually happened. Conversations have been simplified but subject matter and time periods remain the same.
Last month I got the awesome opportunity to go to the final CSSConf AU in Melbourne and see a range of amazing speakers from all over the world (including one of my good friends from Perth). This was the first time I'd been to a CSSConf and I'm so glad I was able to make it before they finished up. The entire experience from start to finish was amazing, inclusive, inspiring, encouraging and came close to being the best conference I've been to (Mixin still ranks as my favourite conference. Although I didn't make it to JSConf (I did get to Decompress though), my week was packed with inspiring talks, meeting amazing people and thoroughly enjoying the time I spent in Melbourne (probably about as much as I enjoyed collapsing into bed when I made it home 😂😴).
The other week I went to my first WiTWA TECHXchange and got to listen to four amazing women and their experiences of working as women in tech, as well as stories from people in the audience. It was great to hear such amazing stories (especially as I knew two of the women), and it really got me thinking about how I got into tech and the journey I’ve had along the way.
So this year I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend YOW Conference in Brisbane. As my first full two-day and first inter-state conference, as well as knowing the standard of speakers they have attending, my expectations were high but they’ve been unbelievably blown away.
So the last month or so I’ve been reflecting a little on how this past year has gone and I’ve come to one conclusion. 2017 sucked. This past year I’ve been through some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face. But I’ve also had some of the most amazing times this year, discovered the most amazing people and have had the best year of my life.
That’s the dream isn’t it? To be able to work from home, with no pants on.
Lately there’s a big rise in people running PageSpeed Insights reports on their sites. But what does this number actually mean to developers, to clients and to site visitors? Like their search engine algorithm, Google is a little fuzzy about exactly how they classify sites using this tool but they insist that it’s important for SEO. Can you really expect to get the perfect 100/100 score, or should you take it with a grain of salt?
There’s an app for that. I’m not kidding, there’s even an app to find out if there’s an app for that. While we’re a little spoilt for choice, that can often make things harder so I’ve ventured into the world of Project Management software to hopefully make the choice easier for you.
So for anyone who knows me, or who follows me on Instagram, I’ve been wearing a lot of dresses lately (and oversharing about it).
Over the weekend I got to attend the DDD conference in Perth for the first time. Despite the small price tag and the fact that I had to get up early on a Saturday, not only did it not disappoint but I was blown away by the number of supporters, the calibre of the speakers and the overall experience. I’ve never really lost my excitement for the web (and even when it gets hard there are still cat gifs 😁), but conferences seem to reignite the spark I have for web and give me another rush of excitement for the industry I work in.
These days, there are more and places offering their website through encrypted protocols, or HTTPS. But what does this actually mean for you? Is this something you should be worried about? And should you be concerned if a site isn’t encrypted?
Since I discovered git, everything I do gets recorded on GitHub (it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve learnt in web). I’ve also started using XAMPP so that I can develop on my local machine. But while copying files from my local development onto my server I thought surely there must be an easier way to do this. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be a lot of information about simply setting this up with FTP so I’m documenting it to make it easier for the next person.
We all do it, see an event coming up, use the phrase "_I’m going to go to that, I’ll see who wants to come with me" _and inevitably find that we don’t go at all. This year I decided that was going to change, so sat down and purchased 2 tickets to a bunch of shows I’d like to see. With a fairly wide range including comedy, Shakespeare, classical and contemporary music and of course the ballet, I’ve already had the chance to see a few different and entertaining things and haven’t had any issues finding a date.
Never gonna run around and desert you…
Last week I was lucky enough to get a free last minute ticket to YOW West in Perth (big shout out to Mandy who made it happen 🤗). Unfortunately I couldn’t take the full 2 days off work, but I did get to see a few awesome talks and meet (or catch up with) some amazing and inspiring people.
These days your’re expected to manage several different aspects of life and at the same time keep on top of it all. Now the first thing you need to remember is to know your limits, it’s all too easy to take on too much and before too long you end up crashing and burning. I’m not going to cover that now because that’s an entirely different topic, but make sure you know where the line is, because that’s not something you want to cross.
A discussion was raised at dinner last week, about why women have much bigger purses than men. Do we really have needs so different that I need to carry around a massive wallet and my friends get to carry a few cards in their phone case? So I decided to do an experiment, can I go a week without my wallet?
Remember when you were little and you couldn’t wait until it was your birthday? You’d be so excited, counting down the days, waiting for the day to finally come, insisting that you were now almost 7 which was so much older and more mature than 6. Then the day would finally come and it would be wonderful, there would be presents, special breakfasts, parties, friends, pass the parcel, party bags (I’m going to bring them back, they were awesome), favourite meals, and everything else you could dream of (oh and cake, how did I forget cake?).
During the past couple of months I’ve had to endure 2 things that no one enjoys doing; online dating and finding a new rental house. This has led me to realise that there are many similarities between the two, besides the fact that I don’t really enjoy either of them.
I remember back when everyone had a blog. And then no one really blogged for a while (it wasn’t a thing). But all of a sudden everyone I know has their own blog (or multiple blogs) and is busy sharing their stories and what they’re up to.