March 13, 2012 / 9:00AM

New Series: Beats Vs. Ear

Music is an integral part of anything I do. When I’m at home, the radio is never off. When I’m at work, headphones are always on. I have a song for every moment in my life.

It’s interesting to analyze one’s music progression through life, starting around age 14 when researchers believe that you begin to express yourself through music and identify more with songs.

As a kid, I listened to country, big band, 40’s, 50’s, 80’s, and pop - exactly what my parents were listening to. In high school, I found an immersive, real-time flash game called Banja that changed my musical life. One day, the game hosted a live beach party with a variety of Djs spinning mixes. It was in this game that I heard Wagon Christ (Plug & Luke Vibert) for the first time. Put simply, I fell in love.

I quickly hopped onto NinjaTune and Amon Tobin, Coldcut, DJ Food, Funki Porchini, Hexstatic, Kid Koala, Mr. Scruff, Plug, and Wagon Christ became my life. Who knew you could fit so many disparate sounds into a song and still have a semblance of cohesion?! Through Banja (made in France), I learned about French Acid and Nu Jazz. Through Wagon Christ, I learned about Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Glitch, Experimental Jungle, Ambient/Illbient, and D&B. Let’s just say my mind had been blown open and there was no going back to the radio’s popfest.

More often than not in my teenage days, my parents thought I was listening to random streams of sounds from alien warships - the more sounds and the less mainstream-sounding it was, the more I loved getting lost in it. You could listen to the same “song” on repeat for hours and find something new in each playthrough. 

In university, I went two ways. Death Cab and Postal Service became studying music and Tecktonik, a French movement of dance and music, became my coding tuneZ. For the first time in years, the music I listened to had VOICES - what the what what?! I transitioned into mainstream Trance, House, Dance, and Electro, as disappointing as this may be to the hardcore hipsters out there. The music is good and it pumps you up. Great to program to!

And the mainstream adventure continues. I fell in love with Tyler C’s VinylSlut mixes (check out Mixtape Pornos), A State of Trance, and Morgan Page’s In the Air podcasts. Hipsters, please don’t be disappoint. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Morgan Page and that’s it. I’m starting to miss my experimental days when Tom Jenkinson was less jazzy-jazz. Happy to hear he’s releasing a new album akin to his earlier work.

Anyways, I’ve fallen into a musical ‘rut’ and would like to get out! So, I’m starting this new blog series, Beats Vs. Ear, to introduce you to the best songs I’m listening to right now and the best tracks of yesteryear. I’m hoping that you’ll share your top favs back! 

Stay tuned for posts of great music in a variety of genres.

Bonus: BTW, looking to explore various subgenres of “techno”/”electronic” music? Check out this old, but fantastic Flash site.

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March 1, 2012 / 4:22PM 1 note

The Blackest of Sheep

See that sheep? Yeah, that’s me right now. Not the state the obvious (since I was already the black sheep - being a female tech lead) but now I’m an even blacker sheep! Two weeks ago, I left my position as CTO/VP Eng/Tech Lead/Whatever-you-want-to-call-it at Willet and now I’ve probably been blacklisted from stepping foot inside the Hub! Egads, eh?

I’d prefer to not go into details about my reasons for leaving. Willet simply wasn’t a good fit for me. I know there are rumours floating about stating I left due to external friend and family pressure - the heck!? Don’t know where this came from, but let’s assume I’m grown up enough to make my own decisions. </rage>

This past year has been insane. Let’s take a look at Willet’s journey since I joined: raised a seed round, failed a YC interview, failed to hit market with a major product launch, navigated a substantial pivot, rode a top HN post, lost a cofounder, participated in an intense accelerator program, spoke at an international conference, built 7+ major products in 1 year, and survived a crippling install rate that brought down our site. Throughout this process, I’ve learned a ton and have created a list of 20-odd blogposts to help disseminate my knowledge. Let the bloggin’ commence! Stay tuned, sportsfans!

As for right now, I am currently “self-unemployed” (credit to a Mr. D. Collens for this great term)! I am working on side projects (ie. the Internet’s next 1B$+ business), starting to read a massive list of business/startup books (most recommended by a Mr. T. Livingston), and non-intentionally interviewing with some stellar companies. Ha! It’s so interesting to see the variety of jobs that are available to a UW CS grad! I’m hoping to stay in Startupville and continue learning at this rapid rate. 

I appreciate all the support I’ve had while at Willet. Thanks muchly to our investors, mentors, advisors, co-workers, and friends. Who knows where the company would be without you! I’m excited to figure out what’s next.

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February 23, 2012 / 3:12PM

No, Your Screen Isn’t Dirty.

That’s just my blog’s background. If I haven’t pointed it out already, I’m a programmer. As my mother says, I deal in 1’s and 0’s. Making things look pretty is not my forte. However, it’s a skill I want to learn so I can prevent my projects from looking like this blog. 

But I wonder if it’s already too late. 6 years of my CS degree has finely honed my brain into dealing with nitty-gritty code specs. The UI/UX of a project has always been the least of my worries. I care much more about the eloquence of the code under the surface - how are the models structured? How efficient are the servlet handlers? Have we optimized the heck out of memcache?! 

Even when working on the business side of Willet, I found myself leaning towards the more technical aspects. Every email I send has had :wq entered into it at some point. 

I worry that I’ve lost my artsy side and am doomed to forever make ugly websites. Even the designs I copy from other websites end up wonky. So, any advice? Reading design books or taking photography courses? 

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August 8, 2011 / 10:00AM

Why I’m Leaving That ‘Test’ Post Up

As I embark on this “bloggin” endeavour, I really want to make sure that who I am comes across in these posts. Ideally, the posts will be a mixture of startup tips, development quirks/insights, and my struggles as I work through this crazy startup life. I’ve just started and I already have a gigantic list of things to post about, which is great in my mind.

But first, a bit about me. I’m calling myself a ‘female entreprenerd’. I found this term ‘entreprenerd' on another female coder's blog and I loved it! Really conveys the best of both worlds, eh? I can entrepreneur with the best of them, but also settle down and have a lively debate about the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe ALL NIGHT. It's happened way too many times and, clearly, the answer is Franklin Richards OR Scarlet Witch. Let the flame war commence as it always does!

Anyhow, I’m a Computer Science graduate from uWaterloo, I’ve worked at Google, and now I’m cofounding a stealth startup. I drink tea like it’s going out of style and can’t help but buy more every time I’m in a David’s Tea. I own more much makeup than a non-professional makeup artist should and rarely use it since I run out the door late for work every day! I’m incessant about running everyday, love colour, and am never without techno (electro, euro, trance, d&b, dance). 

Back to the title, my first blog post is simply “test”. That’s it and that’s all it will ever be on any site I use. I come from a Computer Science background. Whenever I try a new a product, the first thing I do is always called “test”, always uses a “foobar”, and I’m always trying to break it. I believe this is the behaviour that 5-6 long years at uWaterloo has given me. Test-driven development couldn’t be more important since users are more savvy and determined than ever to prove they are smarter than the average developer.

So, if you want to know the real me, this is it. I ‘test’ first and try later. Here’s to not simply ‘testing’ this bloggin thing out!

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