Sciences & Tech

There comes a point in your life where you need to contemplate the patchwork of experiences it is made of and find once and for all the common thread, the unifying pattern. I tried for years without much success until a question broke through: could it be that my interest for sciences had been underlying some of my choices?

I would for sure never have embraced a scientific career, too aware I was of how tedious the studies would have been – I picked mathematics as main subject in secondary school and believe me, it was no picnic. Scientific magazines, however, remained the main thing I’d read every time I was travelling, the best way I would find to truly clear my mind.

Naturally, I have no expertise whatsoever in any of these topics you may randomly find me absorbed in. To be quite honest, I actually get bored when it comes to study one of them in more depth – as it happens I am currently doing an online course on the molecular mechanisms of aging and while I am determined to complete the six weeks program, I feel that 80% of what I have learned so far have already left my brain.

Still, I like to keep myself informed. Learn a bit of this and a bit of that. Forget about it, and then discover it again. This is always such a source of wonder. The impossible becoming possible. Did you know that quantum mechanics could explain that an event happening today, if not determined by the past, could be determined by the future? And that neuroplasticity, provided we give it enough time, should allow us to develop entire areas of our brain all along our life, disregarding our age? This is all just fascinating.

Whether or not my interest for sciences has been behind my life choices in the past may in fact be of small importance. The real question is, should I make more room for it in the future and if so, what sort of contribution may I bring that could be of interest to  the world – or at least, to my fellows? Fighting software patents was perhaps a good start… Let’s see now: a more direct approach may be within reach.

Moving on with programming

As mentioned in a previous post my activities as a web developer have taken a new turn last year as I started learning how to code – see my latest achievements here.

While there is no need to master any programming languages to build websites, a variety of content management solutions being available on the market, it does make things slightly easier as you are not limited by systems built by others anymore.

The consequence is, I can now not only make websites look exactly the way I want rather than customising existing style sheets, but also produce web applications with fun features, like this very basic drawing app.

Am I trying to sell you something? Maybe… Programming is indeed not just another hobby so if you have any need in terms of web development, it’s the right time to drop me a line!

Life is so full of opportunities to start again. Overwhelmed by day to day activities and commitments we often miss them. But it’s all right, as new opportunities keep showing up every day until you eventually catch one – as indeed, you will.

Over the past years I got to know a growing number of people who got faced with the tricky question at least once in their life: “should I carry on with what was so far my main focus or leave it aside and move towards something completely different?”.

Living the life they could once only dream of is now their reward.

About Reda’s report

When I first read former MEP Amelia Andersdotter’s comments on the Legal Affairs Committee rapporteur Julia Reda and her evaluation of the EU Copyright Directive, I could not help but giggling:

“Even the European Commission has set a higher standard for themselves than this. It has acknowledged since 2009 that there is a problem with the substance of copyright. […] De facto, Julia Reda is more conservative than the European Commission, and this is a massive problem for representative democracy.”, Amelia says. “So we have a copyright-friendly, cyber-security inspired German trying to impose Brussels-made statist policy on 507 millions citizens of Europe which leaves stuff more or less the same. Angela Merkel could not have done it better had she tried.”, she adds.

Surely the Swedish politician was pissed not having been re-elected while Julia Reda had somehow taken her place as Pirate Parti representative in the European Parliament – well, that was my first thought. The thing is, such a statement dramatically weakens the European Pirate Party, which Amelia happens to be Chair of. However bitter she might be, she is way too smart for any petty behaviour that would endanger her own camp, so what on Earth could have inspired her such a violent critic – except maybe, an urge of saying the truth? Curiosity was too high. While I had pledged not getting into European politics anymore, there was only one thing I could do here: reading Reda’s report. To find out that sadly… Little Amelia, as usual, was right.

What a disappointment indeed while discovering the document. Or we can phrase it the other way round: it just confirms once again that there is nothing, absolutelly nothing to get out of the European Institutions anymore – as apparently even the best of us loose their guts once elected. What I am wondering though is how the text could have received the support of organisations such as La Quadrature Du Net. As if everybody had suddenly given up fighting the European Copyright Directive main flaw, ie. the stipulations making illegal the circumvention of technical measures (DRMs).

Despite the multiple perverse effects of the latter indeed, among which, the heavy threat on innovation, privacy and security, their existence as such does not seem to be challenged at all here in Reda’s report. In other words, software installed by companies to protect what they – according to their own subjective criteria – consider shall be subject to copyright remains not only blessed but also highly protected. So then, what is the report proposing to reform? Well, paragraph 24 at the very end does attempt to address abusive uses and I suppose, would still be better than nothing, as the European Parliament would recommend:

“making legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures conditional upon the publication of the source code or the interface specification, in order to secure the integrity of devices on which technological protections are employed and to ease interoperability; in particular, when the circumvention of technological measures is allowed, technological means to achieve such authorised circumvention must be available”.

Some may say, the European Union would never go backwards to suppress entire pieces of regulation, which is why Julia Reda did not even try, and rather suggested to amend it. This is after all a very reasonable position, and gives it more chances to be adopted. Except that if the European Pirate Party starts turning a blind eye on legal aberrations, betting that at least some of their ideas will go through, their very existence may have to be reconsidered. Other parties do that very well already, and with the best intentions.

My first app

I did it! After six months learning programming and working as part of Black Badger Labs I have created my very first app from scratch using JavaScript and jQuery. While it still needs some improvement, it is now available for free trial on Google Chrome. Who would have guessed: I may well have a proper profession to show on my CV soon.

How on Earth did I not realise earlier that becoming a programmer was actually an option – this is the real question. I was given my first computer by my father at the age of 9 and have been involved in the software industry since the completion of my studies twelve years ago. In 2007 I started building rather complex websites using wiki syntax. Still, I did not think I could actually *write software* myself until recently.

Why? Because I am a woman? I doubt it. Because I picked up law studies and thought programming was absolutely out of reach given what I considered to be a non technical background? More likely. Which seriously calls into question our educational system.

Not yet graduated from high school we are exhorted to decide on studies that will determine our future. Throughout five years, we then hardly see daylight, with very little time left to explore the actual work opportunities that may some day derive from it – we just assume we’re gonna be ok. I remember the job guide that eventually landed into my hands; the careers’ descriptions were appalling.

I tried to escape from Law. Took a year off at the age of 21, travelled, acquired work experience. To get a good job however it appeared that a Master’s degree of some sort was absolutely necessary – well, in fact not, but back then it was supposed to make a difference. I thus went for it. Got my LL.M. And since then whatever I did, I always ended up with the same hat: “legal minded”.

This time is luckily over now. Making long phrases out of nothing will not be requested from me anymore. I can now shut up in peace, and while others may be busy arguing about upcoming European regulations, I will be moving on in silence, heading towards the future using a text editor.