How I learned computing Part I

These days it’s not too hot and humid and I’ve even felt like working several days in a week. It’s been a pretty amazing summer.

Today I wanted to tell you about how I got into computing. I’m a technical founder, even though my work is so enmeshed in design as well that the days and nights I spend awake figuring out the mobile-friendly code for minku.com don’t seem like they count. They do, as there would be a difference if I had to outsource the programming work. As someone who doesn’t even sketch designs before she starts sewing, imagine having to tell someone how to design something exactly as it’s in my head. Ok, partly kidding – when I worked in consulting, this was precisely my job, via something called wireframes, which I could generate at high speeds and with great efficacy. However, the architecturing of information and site interactions took a front seat to design in that scenario, whereas on minku.com, with its fewer pages and lesser focus on arranging tons of vital information for a varied set of users, I can really let the design aspect shine. For this type of task, I enjoy getting down and dirty with no maintenance mode and no prior sketches/wireframes. Craziness, you may call it. I call it living on the edge :)

When I was 7, my mum enrolled my sister and me in a computer programming course (sister was 9 or had just turned 10). I was below the minimum age for the class, but I was also at that tag-along stage where I just go with my sister where she goes so mum has some hours to not be driving us somewhere, and can focus on her work, or having a summer (this was Lagos, where December is almost as hot as June, but work with me). Well, so we learned a language called BASIC, Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. I loved counting in tens, which I had to do for each line of code, and I loved for statements and GO TO commands, and drawing flow diagrams, gosh did I love drawing flow diagrams! We had a class test and I remember scoring 7 or 7-and-a-half out of 10 and the teacher praising me to high heavens because everyone had assumed I had just come there to play Pacman and Prince of Persia and Space Invaders while I waited for my sister to learn stuff. Yet there I was, learning.

So that was my first experience with programming, well, besides playing around with some punch cards my dad had lying around the house for whatever reason. Fast forward to when I was 14 or 15, and my dad, who along with my mum likes to buy us all the best things, got us an iMac G3 for the house. The mini living room at the top of the stairs suddenly became the place to be in our house — whether to watch my sisters be Ryu and E. Honda at a very early version of Street Fighter, or to try my hands at yet another web site design using FrontPage. Our internet connection was still choppy at best, you’d literally read two pages of a novel while waiting for one light page to load. But it was the late 1990s and there was this beautiful new world of motion and interactivity, and beyond Solitaire and Microsoft Word’s Marching Ants text effect, we were a real part of it.

2001, I was spending a year at home to retake the SATs so I could get a good scholarship. Our good family friend asked what I would like him to bring me from the States. At that specific time in history, Manolo Blahnik X Timberland heeled boots were new and in, and every Nigerian high-school girl wanted a pair. As did I. Yet I said I wanted a programming book. Let’s pause here to absorb the painful asceticism inherent in this decision. I had it in mind to study computer science at university, and I had been learning JavaScript at Aptech, a local computing school, but still. Disciplina pura y sencilla.

First year of University, I moved countries, I was on scholarship for tuition, room, and board with an allowance for books added in. America is filled with selflessly kind and generous people, whose giving goal is the pure improvement of humanity; and for me, this was the beginning of that lesson in giving. I was also learning assembly language, which was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. When I was 7, I had read in my sister’s France Afrique textbook, a short story of a girl who goes to Paris, and I had decided to myself then that I wanted to learn French, possibly with dreams of going to Paris. Learning a core computing language was like preparing to go to the Paris of computers; I just didn’t know then how long and fulfilling a journey I was embarking on.

“The car was grippy” and other F1 comments

Formula 1 is amazing and I’m so happy the season has kicked off. I was watching the driver comments at the end of today’s Sochi GP Q3 (qualifying round 3) and it’s just so cool to see what relationship each has with their car, their team, their teammmate, and with winning/victory.

Oh, and I’ve watched Esteban Ocon of Force India race for all the seasons he’s been in F1, only to realise via watching this interview clip that he has a face beneath the helmet! Same thing McLaren’s Vandoorne, though this is only his first or his second season. We’ll probably see more of Force India’s drivers; besides having just an amazingly pink livery, their car also seems to be delivering its drivers into the points quite a few times this season.

Kvyat sounds like he should have auditioned for the role of Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot. So awesome is the roboticness or the roboticity or the sputnikified quality of his commentary on his performance. He is a strong driver and I wish he was still driving for Red Bull, not Toro Rosso; I think he could do interesting things with a stronger car (and his pre-F1 records point to this as well).

My fave commentary was Alonso’s. No one is hyping the McLaren-Honda collab as something that will prove magical a la Ayrton Senna days (of McLaren-Honda), and that is a relief because the whole heritage thing seemed kind of forced without a strong car to back up the hype. But it seems the guy who says things like “it was like driving a truck” seems to like his car’s performance this weekend. He said the car was “grippy” – an anglicization similar to “trippy” (hallucinative)? I’m at a loss for words. Ok, he meant it felt balanced and grounded including in corners, and that the tyres had good grip and the car didn’t vibrate more than is usual for an F1 car. But still, seeing him come up with his own vocab is pretty fun. Also, he said “my performance right now is quite ok and I feel very competitive.” I just really like the quite ok bit :)

Vandoorne said we’ll try to do our best from the back tomorrow, I think, you know, we can only do better from there…” You don’t say. I do wish McLaren Honda the best.

When Vettel is happy, he’s just bursting with it, can’t hide it. It’s exciting that Ferrari is challenging Mercedes, and look at all that visibility that Kaspersky is getting…

Valterri Bottas is still getting the hang of this whole interview and visibility shindig. Like, what, I have to stand and answer questions about my performance and the car and how easy/hard it was to qualify third? Ok, well. I guess. I’m not in Kansas (Williams, where you can go season-in-season-out without ever seeing an interviewer’s microphone) anymore.

Lewis gives the best interviews in my opinion. When he does well, he thanks and acknowledges the team publicly. When his performance isn’t great, he splits the blame between himself and the car. Today in the interview it was mostly blame for himself. I hope he’s in top tip shape tomorrow.

All in all, I’m pretty hyped for Sochi GP. I think despite the fewer chances for overtaking that the Sochi circuit presents, this could be a good race.

Minku is six this month; to celebrate, I’m taking the week off

Minku is six this month and to celebrate, I’m taking the week off. Last year, when this being that has brought so much joy to people’s lives turned five, I celebrated in a different way: a pop-up event in Lagos showing the new collection, flanked by friends, and stuffing myself with Minku-branded red-velvet cupcakes.

This year, in the weeks leading up to today, I’ve been working quite a bit — photoshoot in Lagos; planning Minku’s future direction (hint in picture below :)), and now, I just want to take a break.

So just as Spanish schools have this week off leading to Easter, I am going to take the week off, too. We will watch the Chinese GP on Sunday morning and go running along the beach. We will catch up on movies (Trainspotting, I haven’t seen, can you believe? :)) I will try to do nothing during the week while my <3 works towards his lurking deadline. Well, maybe I will write about music.

Thank you to everyone spurring Minku along on this journey. People are so proud to associate with it, to wear Minku; I keep getting happy emails; I’ve always wanted to do work where I could delight people, and not be too far-removed from sharing in their delight. Through Minku, I feel fortunate to do that. This blog is another unexpected hit, where knowledge I share on lean startups, judging leather quality, hot-stamping leather, etc, helps thousands of entrepreneurs, leather goods consumers, and hobbyists respectively make informed business and buying decisions.

I don’t know what ideas I’ll return with on the 17th of April when I get back to work. I know I’ll be excited and ready to keep going.

Love,

Minku

A different photo shoot than the ones I usually do.

This has been a pretty amazing week, with trips to get fabric for work, attendance of social media week lagos events, and a photo shoot that I had been conceiving in my mind’s eye for months.

It’s hard to know how everything would come together: this top, those pants, that hairstyle, those ad-hoc aso-oke earrings, that backdrop, this camera lens versus that one… until you’re there, on set, just click-click-clicking.


Akor, the model brought it. This was a different photo shoot than the ones I usually do, because it was as much about the clothes as the bags. A Minku bag and clothing collection. I can’t wait to present the full lookbook. These are some grainy shots of the camera viewer, because I couldn’t really wait to say, “here, dear Minku loyalist, is a sneak peek before everyone else gets to know, of what you can expect to see on the Minku social media pages, web site, and hopefully some press, in the time to come.” So I hope you’re liking it all as much as I am.

Model: Akor
Photographer: Kunmi

Listening to the Cut the Rope mobile game soundtrack.


Getting some much-deserved yoghurt (Akor) and vanilla ice-cream (me) on our return from the photo shoot site. When I was a kid, the best part of church was after-church when my parents would buy my siblings and I these ice-creams from the ice-cream bicycle man. It was always a bummer when our favorite flavor was sold out. Still is.

 

This is me wishing for snow.

Winter is here for real and like many in the Mediterranean, I’m in full-on denial about how cold it can get on a January afternoon in these parts. So for instance, today I ran work errands in a thin jacket over just two clothing layers. A thin down jacket it was, yes — albeit one of those featherweight ones made with ultralight backpackers in mind. I should reach back for the proper one I stashed away last week, thinking the worst of the cold was over. It isn’t.

48°F (9°C) is cold, no? This is me wishing for snow. I’d go to the park, lay facing the skies, make snow angels. Be competitive about it because I have the longest arms of my friends, designated human selfie-stick. Maybe we’ll have enough snow that we can make balls, snowballs, and throw them at one another before they sublimate in our gloved palms. It hasn’t  happened in all my winters in this city, but a girl can dream.

There’s a lot of activity in the now, including preparations for 080 Barcelona Fashion Week’s Fall/Winter 2017 edition that starts at month’s end. My favorite designer isn’t showing, again, but I’m determined to find new designers to root for, photograph ouevre of, write about. I’ll also be doing a press round of Barcelona Fashion Summit 2017. So, similar to my joint coverage of Lagos Fashion & Design Week’s Fashion Business Series and fashion shows in the February/March 2016 issue of Yonderland, you can look forward to a concise report of both events.

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Pictured: Barcelona Fashion Week coverage in past Yonderland issues. To read either report, tap on the image.

Things have been pretty amazing here, and work has been interspersed with not-work. I’ve been waiting for La-La Land to be released in Barcelona, and we’re (finally!) going to see it this weekend. This la-la-lady can’t wait.

MinkuAt080_2014-15b Pictured: An old poster (2014) announcing our participation in the Fashion Week pop-up section.

Out on a disorderly artistic limb

For my most recent birthday, some of my friends presciently gave me a sketchpad.

Although I thought nothing of it at the time, I recently took a break from bag making to return to my first love: art. In the new year, I hope to develop my own illustrative style, and I’m glad that stylistically, illustration seems to give me a broad space in which to explore. I hope to stay in this space and explore it a bit longer.

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There will still be bags, not to worry.

Happy new year!

Minku

Listening to Lead Belly’s Christmas is A-Coming.

MMXVI: The Year of Verstappen

2016 is the Year of Max Verstappen.

He’s the man whose headstrong defensive drives we grew to dislike, yet whose aggressive overtakes had us singing his praises… all in the span of five races.

He won’t let you overtake him; yet he won’t let you not let him overtake you.

Fearless at 300km/hr (not cool, bro) as he is on a dripping wet circuit (dude, he’s like Hamilton… or Senna!), he’s at his best when he’s aggressor trying to overtake, not so much as rookie karter vacillating on the track to ensure you don’t get past him.

The FIA rules on changing direction under braking were changed only last month thanks to Verstappen and his defensive maneuvering, and definitely to cheers from other drivers. Yet guess who got caught in the FIA’s net the very next race after the rule change? You’ll be forgiven for thinking it was Max if you can’t tell your Vettels from your Verstappens.

This guy’s drives, man. After yesterday’s race, you saw him smile. It was that full-faced smize, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Vettel took second place in Canada, you know, the race where he (Vettel) had swerved to avoid the suicidal seagulls and all. Not one to jump, faux-levitate, fist-pump, DAB, or do a Tebow like one of the other nimbler-limbed drivers, Verstappen wears his mood 95% in his face and 5% in his intonation. Often this season, his expression was smug, sullen, tightened, unwelcoming. After the Brazilian GP on the Interlagos Circuit yesterday, that is to say, after he out-strategized Perez, Sainz, an increasingly whiny Vettel… and even Rosberg in that brief moment before his team called over the radio to piss on his parade — often by overtaking around the outside of the track, a part F1 drivers would normally avoid for its wetness and low grip but which Verstappen was bold enough to exploit successfully thanks to negative wheel camber keeping it dryer and with better grip than other drivers dared to imagine — he had that full-faced, I-woke-up-like-this, daddy-Jos-can-you-see-how-I’m-making-you-proud? smile. And this time, the world was full-on smiling with him.

There’s an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper says, “If you don’t like what they’re saying about you, change the conversation.” Verstappen is the best manager of his own image, and the way he has made us go from hating his driving style to admiring his gut, sheer force of will, and gosh, amazing driving talent, all in the span of the 2016 Formula 1 Championship season, is something that should make it to the case study blurbs of business texts for years to come.

NOTES:

  • Apparently I need to watch more karting because Verstappen, the straight-from-karting-to-F1 kid, is pulling some hot karting overtaking moves that us who like F1 would do well to get schooled on.
  • Hamilton, man. I’m so used to his amazing drives that what he did in leading this utterly wet-track race from start to finish (at times up to 8 full seconds ahead of the driver behind him) might not be getting all the laudatory glory it truly deserves.
  • Still on Hamilton, his first win in Brazil, Si Señor! And his 52nd F1 win, now sandwiching him between Schumacher and Alain Prost as the driver with the second most F1 wins of all time :-D Proud gal shimmy.
  • RED BULL. Guys, time and again, your pit stop strategy sucks. Who are the strategists for Ricciardo and Verstappen? How does anyone really think that when a Red Bull successfully comes between the two Mercedes is a good time to pit for sissy things like a tyre switch from wets to intermediates? Especially on a wet track with a high likelihood that some aquaplaning car or the other would have the safety car rolling out sooner or later (and you can capitalize on a free pit stop)? Also, was a simple weather forecast for more rain not available to these guys? It’s becoming laughable how often they deprive their drivers of a good fighting chance for a higher podium finish; and in the process, deprive us viewers of what could be some seat-edge racing in a season monopolized by Mercedes 1-2’s.
  • A three-and-a-half hour race, God, I must love F1, and he that watched it with me without being much of an F1 fan must love me (or beer. Or the excitement of seeing me cuss so much. I don’t know).
  • Red Bull gives you wings.