Easter Eggs Galore!

It’s no secret that I love easter eggs, be it real and virtual. So, seeing that I can’t be at Brigham Towers beating the rest of my family in our annual East Egg hunt (which I totally won last year, I’m going to remind everyone – with a healthy margin of 15 eggs) I thought I’d write a quick post about easter eggs we can enjoy outside of Cornwall!

My favourite is perhaps the one on the main Vouge website. On the homepage, simply type in the komani code, and enjoy!

The keys for the konami code are as follows:


For extra fun – just keep pressing that ‘a’ key… see how many you can get up.
(n.b if you are viewing this down under it will redirect you to an oz one – it only works on the US one)

The koonami code works on buzzfeed as well – it used to be sloth based, but they have recently changed it, not sure why.

Next up, google image search. Hope over there and type in Atari Breakout.

On the subject of google, the dinosaur on the error loading page of course needs a mention. If you haven’t worked out this is a game yet – either your internet connection is super reliable or you are… well just silly. You should get on that, it’s great. (hint – press space bar)

Also, if you type ‘do a barrel roll’ into google search – things get acrobatic. A simpler one is to type recursion into the search bar, or I’m feeling curious for fun facts or Google in 1998 for the old school feels.

Facebook next – this is not really an easter egg but it’s WELL COOL. If you go to the general settings – you can select English (upside down) or, even better, English (Pirate). OOHH ARR ME MATEYS! The title of the page turns to ‘Ye Olde Facebook’. Whats not to love?!

Youtube of course is in on this as well. Try searching for ‘Do the Harlem Shake’…

Unsurprisingly, the guys over at Wool and the Gang have some cracking ones. (Now I wonder how that happened…) Try clicking the aeroplane up next to ‘we ship worldwide’. When that gets dull, maybe try typing ‘YARN BOMB!‘ into the search bar.

Still not enough? Well then, head over the the party page and type in that old konami code again… it’s all about the party spirit! (I wonder how that got there? Probably a good bye present from some awesome developer…)

East eggs are AWESOME and if you have a website you should definitely include one. Here look, I’ve done all the work for you to get a simple penguin pop up on the go (though you can use other pictures!)

Focusing on empowering women and girls: why it is acceptable and why it’s important

Yet again today I was faced with the comment that organisations such as Code First: Girls and Chayn were wrong and immoral. This is because they are focused only on women and girls (as well as other underrepresented genders)  which is in itself sexist. It is an interesting argument to say that in targeting one gender, you will alienate another, and thus programs such as CodeFirst:Girls, Ada’s List, Women Who Code (this list goes on…)  are a contradiction in terms and can only detriment gender equality.

It is an interesting argument, but it’s wrong. It is also something that I, along with many of my peers, often face, and so I asked around to see what their separate responses were. I was not disappointed.

So here is the argument for why female focused programs are positive for gender equality. (I warn you now – that this is my polite version)

So let us start off with this metaphor:

Imagine that you have a class, which the professor splits in two, group A and group B. For 75% of the year the professor favours group B far above that of group A. He helps them, supports them and gives them extra tuition. Suddenly, the professor has an epiphany, and they realise that they are completely wrong in favouring group B over A and that his discrimination was wrong. As a result he decides to give fair treatment and equal opportunities to all, does this lead to an immediately fair situation?

Hell no. Group A has been so discriminated against it is far behind it’s counterpart – as such the students have no way of achieving the same results in the end of year test. They will need extra tuition and opportunities to reach the same skill level as the favoured group.

And, it is the same with women and girls.

In an ideal world we would not need organisations like those mentioned above, but an internationally ingrained patriarchal system means that these organisations are sorely needed. Many women are not in a position to empower themselves because they simply do not know of the opportunities available to them, or they are unable to take those opportunities due to other factors (such as cultural based expectation).

In previous conversations with leaders of organisations there is apparently a noticeable difference in behaviours between genders. Often you’ll find men will ask for pay rises, negotiate more heavily and place a strong emphasis on skill whilst a similarly skilled women will undervalue their skills and not push for the same recognition. Why is that?

Beyond the career, children are treated completely differently according to gender. It has only been through watching my 6 nieces and nephews grow up that I have noticed how outstandingly gendered children’s toys are; Lego Friends make me feel physically nauseous. We teach our children from birth that they are to expect different things from life, pink and blue.

Organisations such as CodeFirst: Girls would only negatively affect gender equality it there was parity in the first place. Imagine it like a see-saw; if one side is heavier than the other, you don’t get balance by putting the same weight in both sides. We would all like nothing better than for there to be a time when there is no need for the charities and organisations in question. But sadly, today is not that day.

I suppose there is an argument that if you just give all genders equal opportunities, eventually it will event out. Eventually. Honey, if you expect me to sit on my laurels and wait for gender equality to just even out – you have another thing coming. Considering the centuries of disparity – it will take centuries again without direct action, and I am not going to live for centuries. I want the gender I identify with to be seen as equal now, why should I expect anything less?

Big thanks to Madeleine, Ruby, Amali , Hera, Eleonora, Chiara, Nida and Maryam for all your contributions. You fabulous inspiring women.

The Esteemed Guild of [Code]Crafters

A week into CodeCraft and my mind is starting to wonder in the most logical non-linear way it would; combing coding theory and practice with History of Art. We had an interesting talk recently which compared a method of software development with guild apprenticeships, a system in which budding craftsmen would be extensively trained before becoming accomplished craftspeople in their own right. I found this to be a highly interesting metaphor and I believe deserves proper consideration, so here we go:

Throughout the medieval period and up to the early modern (around 1100 – 1700) the City of London was home to and run by a Guild system, a form of governance based on various European counterparts. These were the official bodies of various different trades, crafts and practices, many of which can still be found hidden in the city today if you look closely enough. The guild system covered almost all parts of professional life, but I shall restrict this post to briefly look at the Worshipful Company of the Painter-Stainers. Not only is this an excellent example of an organised guild and apprenticeship system, but its inherent flaws bring up some interesting points when we turn our attention back to computer programming.

The Painter Stainers

Whilst our European counterparts often had dedicated painting guilds, the best London could offer throughout this period was the Painter Stainers guild. They derived from heraldic painters (painting arms on shields, saddles and stuff) and stainers, who quite literally stained cloth as a cheaper form of tapestry. The two were joined in the 1200, they acquired a hall in 1532 and 1581 were granted a royal charter.

The painter-stainer guild was a million miles from the later training academies that developed in Europe. They were a reactive group and jealously guarded their membership rights. This was because being part of the guild was similar to a badge of honour and the company were often in conflict with the Royal College of Arms which employed heralds.

Of course, in the grander scheme of things, English early modern painting is not one that comes to mind when one considers fine art, why is this? As the subtleties of chiaroscuro and tromp d’oeil (painting in a realistic three dimensional manner) was being explored and expanded throughout Italy, English portraiture by contrast is incredibly flat, focusing more on heraldic style and decoration than realism. (see images) What mistakes did the painter stainers make that means their foreign neighbours created a more memorable legacy?

Painted in in the early 1600 this painting, although interesting, is incredibly flat and show nothing of the realism of Michelangelo's Ignudo painted over 100 years previously
The Cholmondeley Ladies

There are of course many factors involved in this, country politics and religious practice being high among them, but there is also a lot to be said for the way in which new artists were trained. The guild was fairly backward in its approach to learning; it offered little training and did not help artists market or sell their work. Only members of the Painter Stainers guild were permitted to employ and train apprentices within the City of London, greatly limiting the trade. As a result, creativity was significantly stagnant in England. Whilst there is evidence of great workmanship dating from this period, there was little chance to build effectively on it through the traditional avenues.

This gap created by a lack efficient training and obscurity was of course, soon filled.

Members of the guilds were incredibly hostile to émigré artists (who were often more skilled) which caused great tension in the city. These artists would set up their workshops just outside the city limits, in Southwark and Greyfriars, allowing them to benefit from London patronage but avoid the laws of the Guild. England benefitted hugely from these émigré workshops, which injected new practices into the profession.

The  Painter Stainer guild is therefore a fantastic example of bad coding practice. Much like painting, coding is a craft. When those who code do it in secret, behind closed doors and allow only a privileged few to access an education in it, the result will be much like a typical English Early Modern portrait. Whilst the artist may have talent and potential, he is doomed to replicate the mistakes of his only tutor and the result is a flat piece of work which fails to compete with the wider market.

So what does a successful apprentice system look like?

Let us turn to one of the most famous of the Early Modern émigré artists, the workshop of Anthony Van Dyke. He was described by his tutor, the great Peter Paul Rubens (Google and go and visit the Banqueting House in Whitehall for more information on this guy) as one of his best pupils. Van Dyke did not only benefit from the workshop of Rubens, but toured all around Europe. He learned from many different painters and paid pilgrimage to the masters of the Renaissance and classical world in Greece and Italy. As such, Van Dyke was able to combine all his experience of the best practices of painting within his own and, without a regulatory body controlling him, was able to use this to expand rapidly within his own workshop.

 As an apprentice under Van Dyke your first role would be to prepare the painting materials; grind pigments, make brushes, prepare paper, stretch canvas. As you progressed you were slowly allowed more interaction with the painting. Apprentices would paint in certain colours, the background or the body. Often only the face and maybe the hands would actually be carried out the master himself. We know this by some of the contracts which survive, which outline the amount of work the master was required to do on the painting.

As a result his workshop was the most successful seen in England up to that point. His style was incredibly successful and his new composition of equestrian portraits dynamically changed English portrait propaganda. It is common in paintings by Van Dyke to be wary of who actually painted the image, as more often than not it would be constructed by his workshop in a manner like his own. (This is why Art Historians use the term ‘The Workshop of…’ or ‘In the Style of…’ when the true painter is in question).

Anthony Van Dyke, Charles I
Anthony Van Dyke, Charles I

So what can we draw back to the practice of learning to code?

Both the Painter Stainers and Van Dyke employed apprentices which gradually trained young people to be masters themselves. However, it is only with the freedom to learn from others and implement a wide number of different practices that you can adapt a model to be successful, which is especially important when the market is a stagnant and two dimensional as the standard Early Modern portraiture scene. Success in this system can be found in transparency and sharing knowledge; learn, but not limit; teach but don’t stifle, and of course, be open and welcoming to new practices.

And that is how a painter from the early Seventeenth can teach you how to be the next Mark Zuckerbuerg.