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  1. Edge

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    When Edge was announced and I saw the names of some of the speakers that would be attending, I decided that I absolutely had to go.

    The ticket application process alone required detailing my capabilities in a CV-like manner, plus a small essay on why I should be invited in the hope it would persuade the reader that I should be allocated a ticket.


    At the time I had huge doubts that I was qualified to go and fully expected to get turned down. I hesitantly filled out the text box and crossed my fingers tightly as I clicked send, feeling completely out of my depth with the level of knowledge required to make it onto the invited list.

    Imagine my delight when I received an email confirming that I had been successful in applying and inviting me to attend.

    Periodical email arrived giving further details about what to expect and also setting homework in preparation for the day. One task was to add questions to the Google moderator board to pose to the panellists for each of the topics.

    I would visit the board and read through the questions and each time I would become a little bit more anxious – I didn't understand the vast majority, let alone feel able to add anything constructive to answer them. What hope did I have of fitting in?!


    The little niggle that I really wasn't qualified to attend kept getting stronger and stronger. And then 'last week' happened.

    Sarah Parmenter and several others spoke up. Edge had already come under huge scrutiny by the web community for the lack of female panellists, rightly or wrongly, I had managed to push this right to the back of my mind, I had been invited to attend and I would be in the company of people from the industry that I have a huge amount of respect for.

    As the week progressed and more females in the industry spoke out my niggle started to turn into something resembling paranoia. Having read Jenn Lukas' post the previous night, I was enjoying breakfast in the Facebook offices with Andy Davies, Adam Auckland and Ken Wallis observing the people around me and finally I put my finger on my anxiety: I couldn't see any other females. There were none!

    Thankfully a few more filtered in but looking around the room throughout the day the ratio was disappointing. I couldn't help wondering if I had been invited on merit or purely because I was a female that had applied for tickets and Edge were desperately trying to get their numbers up.

    On the day

    Approaching my seat with trepidation I sat to listen to the first topic: Offline.

    The day started off at a blistering pace which did not let up. Each topic lasted an hour but could easily fill a day in its own right. The low level detail forming the discussions became eye-watering.

    The format of the conference was unusual yet worked perfectly. A lightning talk (lasting no longer than 10 minutes), followed by a moderator asking questions raised and voted on by the audience.

    My brain physically ached by the end of the day but in a really good way. It hurt from being surrounded by the sheer talent and genius of the attendees and from being pushed far beyond its usual thinking capacity.


    After wracking my brains in the days and weeks leading up to Edge and fretting over not being able to think of a single question to ask, which had led to me worrying about what this meant, what kind of developer was I if I couldn't think of one-single-question to contribute. I am very proud that I managed to think of two questions to submit, one of which got asked during the Network topic.

    Network: "Is there an overhead to using media queries, especially bubbling media queries?"

    Responsive layout: "What can we do today to make responsive images as good as possible to try andavoid the inevitability that it is going to bite us in the bum in the near future?"

    As a result of what Edge delivered as a conference, all my thoughts of the female to male ratio vanished, what became evident was that the people who were there, were there because they deserved to be and because they had earned it-regardless of gender. Attending was an honour and a privilege and I am looking forward to the next Edge event and for some more brain pain.

    The future

    I hope that next time the male/female ratio is much more even, but I hope even more that Edge continue to invite people based on merit. I feel very fortunate to have been part of the first Edge and I hope that for future events they manage to hold onto the essence of what made the very first Edge so special.

    Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to make Edge happen.

  2. Why I’m terrified of decisions Royal Mail are making

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    Today, I have had a terrible experience with a recent decision the Royal Mail have made to stop leaving un-delivered mail at our local post office. The whole experience prompted me to write the following feedback that I have sent to the Royal Mail.

    Okay firstly, what is the purpose of SO many required fields on the Royal Mails Contact Us form. Are they all actually necessary? I don’t think so. Personally I feel they’re being used as a way of putting people off contacting you. Which is a shame, as you could learn a lot by listening to what people want and need from the Royal Mail.

    Screenshot of the form and all it’s required fields.


    Secondly onto my reason for contacting you, which is that I want to complain about the decision to no longer leave undelivered post at our local post office. I’ve no idea if this is a national decision or just happens to affect our local post office which doubles as the local shop.

    This is extremely unsupportive of local business as it means people will visit the shop less often as they no longer have the reason of popping into collect their parcels and as a result won’t make those small purchases that they otherwise would have done. The real danger here, is not one of inconvenience to myself, but ultimately to our local shop as this will only add to an already struggling business’ ability to sustain itself and will inevitably mean closure. Which should be a of huge concern to everyone. The local shop, doesn’t just sell things to people, they provide a lifeline for many. For some, visiting the local shop is the only reason they have for leaving their houses, the only time they see other people. If the shop is taken away, these people are left even more isolated and forgotten. We can NOT let this happen.

    Instead of being able to pop into the local post office on our daily commute to work, we now have to somehow get to Winchester which is a 40 minute drive from my house and in the opposite direction from where I work. So, I am forced to either go and collect the parcel myself or attempt re-collection.

    The card states “You can arrange for us to redeliver the item to your address or to an alternative local address”. Perfect. However, when negotiating the re-delivery form on the RoyalMail website at no point do I get an opportunity to give a different ‘local address’. I also have no idea what the definition of ‘local address’ is.

    Screenshot of the card with the false promise of ‘free’ re-delivery to an alternative local address.


    Or, I can pay £1.50 to have it delivered to my local post office. I don’t believe for one second that money is going to be paid to my local post office, I would love to be proved wrong about this. What is the reason for this charge? Why does it cost £1.50 to deliver it to the post office but it’s free to my house, which is technically further away from Winchester than the post office is. I’m not complaining that re-delivery is free. I’m complaining at the complete illogicalness of the reasoning. I, like most of the population, work every day. I’m not at home when the postman comes, so arranging re-delivery to my house is not realistic. My neighbour is home most of the time during the day, however as I am unable to ‘actually’ do anything with the arrange re-delivery to a local address option that is so tantalising promised on the card that was popped through the door, delivery to my neighbour is not an option.

    The re-delivery form on the website is both unhelpful and a usability nightmare. I do not understand why the reference number is requested on the second page. It’s taken me long enough to fill in all the useless information that is on the other parts of the form, to only be faced with filling in the reference number which is where the system is fatally flawed. It is entirely reliant on the person attempting the delivery to write with legible hand writing. Anyone in a hurry, and trying to write on a piece of card without having anything to lean on, is going to struggle with this. I understand that. Lot’s of people understand that. Apparently Royal Mail do NOT understand this major detail.

    Admittedly, the handwriting on the card that was left could have been much worse, and the website could be much more helpful. I was completely unable to read the last two letters, I couldn’t even tell that they were letters. To me they looked like numbers. But after some help on Twitter, we figured out that they said GB. Your ‘decision’ to stop leaving parcels at my local post office is infuriating, you have taken a step back and not forward with regards to progression. Photo of the reference number.

    Due to the time it took to decipher the hand writing, my session timed out on the website, brilliant. This meant I got to fill in all of the useless ‘required’ information all over again.

    Oh and I only have 18 days from the date of delivery to do something about arranging re-delivery. Ace. All this means is that instead of getting things delivered to my home, I will have to get them delivered to work. I am fortunate in that I have this option, many many MANY people do not have this luxury.

    People need to get outraged about these kinds of decisions, they are detrimental to our society and we need to voice our concerns about that.



  3. My 2012

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    New years day 2012; my husband and I had everything to look forward to. Our 20 week scan was booked for the 3rd of January and our baby was due in May. We were very excited about what the future held for us. Little did we know how differently things would turn out.

    The 20 week scan revealed problems with the pregnancy, there was very little fluid around the baby, which meant there wasn’t room for him to grow properly.

    January & February became a whirlwind of visits to Southampton hospital with endless scans monitoring the progress of the pregnancy.

    Jacob Ashley Auckland was born on the 26th of February at 27 weeks. My baby boy was too small to survive in this world. Instead of welcoming a new person into the world and experiencing sleepless nights, we organised a funeral.

    It was (and always will be) a very sad time for us. Some of the people around us that knew of the pregnancy didn’t know how to handle it, they didn’t know what to say or do (they still don’t). There are no guide books to tell people what the right thing to say is and at which time it is appropriate. By far, the worst reaction of all is silence. Many people were simply amazing, the Doctors, Midwifes, Colleagues and our immediate Friends & Family. To begin with we just wanted to hide and cut ourselves off from the world.

    Whilst all the hospital visits and scans were going on I was very overweight and one of the most painful things for me to endure, and has haunted me ever since, was lying on the bed with the Doctor scanning my stomach and the Doctor saying the words that the ‘mothers build’ was making an already difficult situation even worse. Scanning my baby was already very hard, due to the lack of fluid and the way the baby was lying.

    Those words have become burned into my brain and I repeat them to myself as an almost daily mantra. Part of the reason I’m writing this is that I need to remember that feeling, so that I can use it to motivate myself. A feeling of utter humiliation and a complete lack of control. As I lay there I promised myself and Jacob that I would never allow my ‘build’ to be an issue ever again.

    Almost immediately after the birth I set about making a difference. I learnt about Keto and have been following this lifestyle ever since. Since March of 2012 I have lost almost 4 1/2 stone. I still have 1 1/2 stone to go before I am satisfied, but I am very happy with my progress, my life has completely changed and this time I’m not going to yo-yo. I devour as much information about nutrition as I can and I’ve found that this is a lifestyle that truly works for me.

    Everything that happened in 2012 was very much a direct result of what happened in the first two months. I very quickly realised that I had two choices, I could either dwell on losing Jacob and beat myself up about it forever or I could do my best to pick myself up and look forward. I decided to take each day as it came and try to make each one a little better than the one before. I have days where I just cry, and I don’t expect that will change. They will become less frequent, but they will still happen.

    Before I got pregnant I took other people’s pregnancies for granted. I would be told that someone was pregnant and I would promptly forget about it and think no more about it, then a few months later a little person would appear. Now, looking back I remember vaguely being told of people having “difficult” pregnancies but I didn’t really comprehend what that meant. To me, we live in an age of superstar Doctors, Nurses and hospitals, things don’t go wrong. Now it’s happened to me, my eyes have been opened. The figures are mind-boggling, 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and these figures are probably low as these don’t take into account the pregnancies where the woman isn’t even aware she is pregnant as it’s happened within the first 4 week’s.

    Since losing Jacob, I have learned about the same thing happening to other people and it happens more often than you might think. We were lucky we had 7 weeks to prepare for the inevitable (although I didn’t realise that until afterwards), many others don’t get any warning.

    I planned to write about several things for my 2012 review, but now I’ve written this, for me, 2012 was all about Jacob. It changed me, it’s changed the way I look at things and I get very sad when other people take things for granted.

    I promised myself that I would try and take something positive out of what happened and one of those things was to learn and better myself. I really love what I do, and the role of a front end developer is an ever changing one and it does so at a blisteringly fast pace. Keeping up is a job in itself.

    Jacob is with me all the time in my head, it might sound silly but he’s there when I get nervous before starting an agility run, he was definitely there when I got up and spoke in front of the amazing people that attended the Insites Christmas party. Thinking about him gives me the strength and courage to face anything, as things can appear futile in comparison.

    Thank you

    To the lovely Laura KalbagRachel Shillcock and Chris Coyier for inspiring me to write a post about 2012, and also to Chris Murdoch. Most of all thank you to my best friend Adam Auckland.

    The future

    I don’t know what lies ahead in 2013, but I do know that life goes on and it’s much better to embrace that than to fight it.

    This is my first blog post, it wasn’t easy to write, my grammar is terrible, and I apologise for that, but I will learn and improve and I will write more.

    2013 is going to be about getting myself out of my comfort zone.

    Thank you for reading.