Refine your mess and make a simple girl happy


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I’m challenged… not just vertically (154 cm if you insist!), but also technically. Almost a month ago I heard about Google Refine. Few days ago I started studying how to develop an extension to be able to retrieve triples (open data) from our database. Easy peasy… gutsy squeezy? :)

Being such a simple girl I don’t need much. A little laughter, ‘thank you’ now and then and… you cleaning the mess you left in the kitchen.  Simple, right? I’ll make you coffee and fruit salad and bring you cookies… but only if I’m happy. Wanna be happy? Make me happy.

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On Geckos, candles and human interfaces

A short story about a Geek and a Gecko

Almost ran over a gecko with my scooter. That would be so uncool. Geckos are small lizards and this was the first time I saw one in the middle of Ljubljana.

Image of a Mediterranean house gecko taking a ...

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Commuting with a train can be quite interesting. Older lady was observing my water bottle and after a few minutes finally said it: “Is this an oil candle?” Why on earth would I have an oil candle (people put on a grave) on a table on train? Dunno. People are strange.

Human interfaces

Lately we are paying much attention to human-computer interfaces, but somehow we started to neglect human-human ones. Half-listening to customers requests, not recognizing new onces or the less frequent ones. Let me give you an example. Two older women decided to make a trip to Ljubljana with the train. They bought return ticket or at least they thought they did. As it turned out, they had one way ticket only and had to purchase tickets on the train, which is much more expensive. You can guess they weren’t pleased with the situation, especially not because they could get discount for seniors if they bought the tickets at the train station. Now, who’s to blame? The woman behind the counter at the train station or these two seniors not verifying their purchase? Me? Don’t even try. :)

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Generation G and the Era of Praise and Whine

Generation G(oogle)

Can you remember the times when we didn’t use Google? When Altavista and Yahoo! or metacrawler were the only ones you could ask for the meaning of life and stuff? Boom and then it came Google.

Google Logo officially released on May 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Today I realized how deeply Google sneaked into our lives behind our backs. Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should make you at least think about it… It’s like an addiction. Here’s my story.
Every now and then we have to print a number of small tickets (we call them stories) for

planning purposes. Every story has a title, a description, a list of tasks and estimated value of this story. Ever heard of agile development or scrum? No? In few words: our work is organized in cycles (e.g. 14 days). At the end of current cycle we define what to do in next cycle in the form of stories (more abstract descriptions of what to do). Stories are written in a document (e.g. Google Docs) and later manually transferred into a template, created in Adobe Indesign. Because I’m a big fan of simplifying tedious tasks, I decided to surprise our project manager and help her automate at least part of the dull repetitive task of copying stories into template. Indesign already supports Data Merge, but it needs a comma or tab separated text file as an input. No problem if your data consist of single-line values, but as soon as you have to include multi-line text values, you have a ‘it’s complicated’ relationship – not an option in my case. Well, I figured out how to overcome this obstacle, but I still had to transform semi-structured text of Google Doc document into a structured text (spreadsheet) and export it as csv. Hmmm, how should I do it without additional tools?
People, let me introduce you Google App script. Have you noticed that Google offers Google app script for Google docs? Oh yes, it does. I used to write (not record!) a lot of macros in MS Office and I must admit Google app script kicks ass. You don’t believe me? Try it. It is based of Javascript or VB script and it can do magic… well almost. :) It solved my problem though! You can even create your own custom menus. Niiiceeee. :)

Lesson learned: Watch your back or next time you’ll find Google underneath your sheets instead of your partner. :)

Whine smart or drift apart

It’s been a month since I started working in Z-company. So far so awesome. :D  One of the things I learned here was to ‘whine smart’. It is actually a part of agile software development – a retrospective in which team members share their thoughts and opinions what went wrong or not so good and what to do about it in next (development) cycle. I’m a ninja with academic background, where whining is by default useless (mostly due to the complexity and rigidity of the system), therefore I was surprised to see that smart whining works, while not being whining at all!

If it doesn’t work any more, it is time to drift apart (before it is too late).

Praise a lot, sir Lancelot

Honesty didn’t kill the cat, neither did curiosity. If you tell people they’re good, when they deserve it, if you give credits where due and if you are true to yourself, you probably won’t take over the world, but you’ll be able to sleep at night. Guess what, praising is also a part of agile software development, just like whining. :) Ego-trippers you’re welcome to praise others… it won’t hurt you. :D

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