Tableflip Quarterly


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1,376 words @pfctdayelise

Name v2 (Tableflip Quarterly)

I came up with this name ages ago and didn't have a particular project for it. I figured it would be vaguely satirical feminist goings-on. Since this won't be quarterly not purely focused on enraging things, it's a perfectly misleading name, why not.

Levels of feminism at a women in STEM event

Level 0. At least some of the speakers are women. Negative experiences are not acknowledged. Cheerleading efforts. 'Girl power'

Level 1. Speakers specifically discuss the experience of (some) women and suggest ways women can be more successful within the existing system. Negative experiences may be acknowledged briefly but not examined. 'Encourage and empower'

Level 2. Speakers acknowledge stereotypes and other 'passive' biases affect women. 'We all have unconscious bias'

Level 3. Speakers acknowledge 'active' bias such as sexism and harassment affect women. 'Change the system'

Level 4. Speakers acknowledge intersectional feminism and that there is no universal experience of women. 'Destroy the kyriarchy'

Meetup review - YOW! Night with Angie Jones

(I don't know if this is really a review. Maybe just a spotty recap. But it strikes me people rarely share their experience of meetups, when I think it would be super interesting and useful!)

I have been to a few YOW! events. Tbh I still don't know what their deal is. Are they a NFP? Or it's really a business based on running tech events? Or is there some other agenda? I'm used to the open source world where nearly everything is run by volunteers and on a shoestring budget. At any rate, I find their events vaguely corporate but well run and with a friendly vibe. I had a good chat with a few people before the event started. There was quite a decent gender mix. Not everyone was in QA/testing which is also cool! I think around 30-40 people came to this event.

Angie Jones is a developer advocate with Applitools, but it would be more appropriate to say she's a tester advocate. I've followed her on Twitter for a while now (@techgirl1908) and been really liking what she does, so I was rapt to see that she was doing this event so I could see her talk without attending a whole big conference!

She talked about visual testing, and demoed her company's product which uses AI to make smarter than pixel perfect image comparisons for regression testing a web or mobile application. It looks like it's very simple to integrate into a test suite. Screenshots get uploaded into their cloud platform, which has a very nice UI for comparing image changes, highlighting differences, marking a new image as the baseline (ie approving the change), and even annotating regions to ignore.

If I was working in a CD environment, with releases going to prod with no explicit human review, I would be drafting the email to my boss about how we need this tool instead of writing this post! It looks like a great way to pick up visual design bugs without the flakiness or overhead of managing your own pixel perfect image comparisons.

My hesitations would be around the price (lowest tier is $449/month and that's presumably US$, ouch), and divorcing the test contents from the test files and the repo for that matter. If there was a mass export of images that could be used to dump the current images back into the repo (say, in the event that Applitools stopped being used), that would make me feel more comfortable in adopting it. (That may exist, I haven't checked.)

Angie had such a refreshing style, chill yet confident and I would guess very true to herself. You love to see it!

Thanks to Angie and YOW! for a solid evening.

Thoughts on "Prognosis" by Sarah Vallance

Content notes: death, dementia, disability

(Spoilers ahead.) "Prognosis" is a memoir by Sarah Vallance, recounting her experience of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), her recovery and her life afterwards. It's a pretty incredible story of survival, but what stuck out to me was her attitude and almost preoccupation with euthanasia rather than living in a nursing home or similar care. It starts with her father, who died from cancer. In his final days he asks Sarah for help to die, which she doesn't give, and that haunts her as she sees his suffering. Later, a decade or more after her TBI when she has recovered to a pretty decent cognitive baseline, she starts experiencing "new" cognitive problems. She becomes "sick with fear" that she now has dementia: "I had already decided the only sensible thing would be to kill myself as soon as I learned I had a form of dementia." She then spends pretty much seven years in "anxiety and depression", waiting for the dementia/diagnosis which does not come. At least not to her; her mother is diagnosed with it. She eventually finds a new perspective on life with her psychiatrist and a new relationship (with a doctor who specialises in dementia, no less).

The view of "I would rather kill myself than be put in a nursing home" is not an uncommon one. It is little interrogated. It's not far from "I would rather be dead than disabled", which is often expressed even to the face of disabled people. Disabled lives are often not valued by non-disabled people, and it makes the relationship between disability and medically assisted death (MAD, a.k.a. euthanasia) very fraught. Too often decisions are made for disabled people, not by them, and it can be literally life threatening.

In the past year or two I have learned a fair bit about dementia, as a result of my own mother's diagnosis with FTD. The Wicking Centre's "Understanding Dementia" MOOC is an outstanding resource here. They do a great job at not objectifying patients but centring their experience.

I don't know if their course explicitly goes over this, but I think one thing I came away from it with was realising that the pain of caregivers (for example, seeing their parent or partner forget who they are) is not necessarily a reflection of the pain of the person with dementia.

Wendy Mitchell, in her book "Somebody I used to know" and her ongoing daily blog "Which me am I today?", talks about how with dementia she lives much more in the present. In "Prognosis", after Sarah's mother's diagnosis (her mother goes to live in a nursing home, which comes with no comment despite Sarah's feelings about that for herself), their relationship improves dramatically as her mother almost changes personality and becomes friendly rather than combative, as she has been Sarah's whole life. So I think the experience of having dementia is not necessarily one of constant pain.

At the same time, in the late stages of dementia, I know the person typically is in a lot of physical pain, unable to care for themselves or communicate, and not showing any signs of enjoying life. I guess there is no bright line about where MAD may be appropriate and that is what makes it so tricky. There was a recent Canadian case which is a major precedent, for MAD for a dementia patient.

I guess any time someone goes through a life-altering experience, there is a period of adjustment and perhaps mourning. It's notable to me that Sarah never seeks, for example, a support group for people with TBIs. (That's partly projection, because that's what I would do, and the memoir does reveal that Sarah has always been more of a loner.) People who go through these experiences are maybe often not keen to identify as people with disabilities. I think partly it throws up the assumptions and value-beliefs that people without disabilities have, and it's uncomfortable to recognise these.

Maybe the problem with the attitude "I would rather kill myself than be put in a nursing home" is that it underestimates the human capacity to adapt. It won't be life as you know it, but that doesn't mean it will be devoid of love and joy.

About the name (tritestuff)

When I've blogged in the past, I've tended to write myself into a corner by creating a self-expectation that my posts be novel, insightful, fully referenced and 'complete'.

So the name is not a self-deprecation, but a deliberate setting of low expectations to myself.

Names under consideration:

  • Hackneyed, Dull, Unreferenced & Incomplete (sounds like a cool gang)
  • Worn out, witless & wanting
  • Dull & trite