09 Mar

Women’s History Month: Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist, and often celebrated as “The Queen of Code”. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, back in 1944. She developed the first working compiler, as well as working to develop the programming language COBOL.

Grace Hopper by Ashley Nye

She is also often associated with the first use of the term “debugging”, after removing a moth from malfunctioning equipment. She has paved a way for more women in computing, and her name is used as a celebration for women in technology.

“The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the World’s Largest Gathering of Women Technologists”. – gracehopper.org

There is still a huge gender gap in this field – women account for just 18% of undergraduate degrees awarded for computer science. An interesting article by Selena Larson highlights a few possible reasons for this.

The best way to tackle this problem is education in schools. Getting girls interested in computing can change the way we see this male-dominated industry. There are also more women-orientated coding meet ups, such as She Codes in Brighton. A quick google search reveals more and more of these popping up, a great encouragement for a female in the digital industry!

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05 Mar

Web Dev: Style Tiles

I created the following style tile to give my client a clearer impression of the site than the mood board. (I downloaded the template from styletil.es).


I looked at quite a few different websites and blogs to get a feel for what I wanted. The following is a list of where I took my inspiration:

I also decided on a very minimalist style, with a 3-colour accent palette. I also begun to experiment with drawings and illustrations in this style using Adobe Illustrator. Figures like these can be possibly be used on the site to add interest:


The following shows some of my logo experiments alongside the dance school’s existing logo. My client was happy for me to redesign and rebrand, which gave me a lot of freedom to create something fresh and exciting.


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04 Mar

Web Dev: CMS vs Hand Coding

Choosing how to create a website demands a fair amount of research and reasoned decision-making. This will ensure that I don’t waste time, energy and money further down the line.

Initially, there are two different ‘paths’ that spring to mind; some sort of Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress or to hand code the website. There are lots of interesting ideas about how to go about choosing the technology/language/framework on various blogs, but ultimately it varies from project to project.

The best way to decide is to research into some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method, and see how this particular project fits into this. This post on 7Host’s blog highlights some of them, which I based the following table on. It shows the reasons why I have decided hand coding will be better for this project.

CMS Hand coding
Benefits Easy programming, easy user management, templates, great for blogs and larger-scale projects. Complete control, greater understanding, quick, clean and efficient.
Disadvantages Customisation/modifying can be tedious, loading times/bigger websites. More work initially, knowledge required, debugging time.
Project specific notes Only necessary if client wanted to blog. Project is small-scale, not enough to warrant database backing. Made-to-fit code, efficient and a better method for a mainly static site.

Even after deciding on hand coding instead of CMS, there are a few different options I could chose to progress. Either begin coding from scratch, using a simple text editor, or start from a CSS framework such as Bootstrap, Foundation or Skeleton. I created my portfolio site from scratch, so I know roughly what I am  currently capable of coding (obviously, there is always more to learn!).

In comparison, this article on Mashable shows a list of some popular frameworks that I can begin to research, but aside from looking at some examples and reading about them, the best way I can determine what will be most suitable is to try them. Experimenting in this way will only improve my skill set and allow me to build up my own personal web designer’s toolkit.


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04 Mar

Women’s History Month: Rosa Parks

March is Women’s History Month.

Rosa Parks by Ashley Nye

© 2015 Ashley Nye

This year will be 60 years since Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat to a white passenger while riding a bus in Alabama. She became an important symbol of the Civil Rights Movement.

Directly as a result of her arrest, a boycott was arranged, asking all black people to avoid using the buses in Montgomery.

“The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.” – Rosa Parks

One of the interesting parts of this is the way in which the boycott was arranged. Jo Ann Robinson knew that something had to be done urgently, and mimeographed over 35,000 handbills in one night announcing a bus boycott. The Women’s Political Council distributed these thousands of leaflets, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott went ahead successfully.

Today, we have it much easier; access to quick, creative tools and the most fantastic distribution method imaginable. It will always take courage to speak out against injustice. But if Parks can stay sitting on that bus, facing what she faced. And if Robinson can arrange to spread the word without all the benefit of technology we have now, just think what is possible.

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