About Me

I’m a biologist, an Apple/Unix geek, an audiophile, an avid reader and film buff, and an amateur (in both the inept and unpaid senses) photographer. I lived and worked in Oxford (the one in the UK, for any US readers) for 13 years, which was quite an experience. In 2004, I moved to the heart of England — Birmingham, Land of the Brummie — which is different in many ways.

I apparently do not have the gene for interest in make-up, clothes or celebrities. Believe me, I’ve tried to be interested. I’ve even bought so-called ‘Women’s magazines’, convinced that I can’t be so psychologically different from the rest of female-kind. But eventually I realized that I just do not have any interest in them, and now I just head straight for the computer/hi-fi magazines aisle. This makes time spent in the hairdressers very dull.

Don’t get me wrong - in respects other than my interests, I am resolutely female. I like the toilet seat left down (dammit), I worry about the cleanliness of my carpets, and I don’t find farting amusing. You might be thinking, “but surely we’ve got past this kind of gender stereotyping?” I thought so too, but the name of this blog comes from a particular look I get given at some point when I talk to someone (usually male) who knows (or thinks he knows) a great deal about a technical subject. For example, I’m in a hi-fi shop chatting to the assistant about speakers:

Me: Doesn’t the 601 have a tube-loaded tweeter derived from the Nautilus?
Him: [Thinks, confusion evident on face] But she’s a girl…

Now, I know that there must be other women out there like me — I even know a few. So part of my motivation for writing this blog is to say, “hi, you’re not alone” to them. Who knows, others who are not either female or geeks might also find it interesting, even if just from an anthropological perspective. My other reason for trying this weblog malarkey was because I had a piece of software (Tinderbox) that could do it easily, and I wanted to try it out — typical arse-backwards thinking.

In 2009, Volkan Unsal emailed me to compliment me on my unusual email handle, and mentioned that danah boyd had told an anecdote about a similar experience:

“During my sophomore year at Brown (1997), I attended SIGGRAPH. There was an Imagineering booth where Disney was doing recruiting. I approached and asked if there were internships available, but the recruiter told me that there were no internships available for artists. I responded by saying that I was a developer and that I wanted to code. The response I received was, ‘but you’re a girl.'”

Wow. At least the people I meet have the grace to only think it, not say it out loud. Thanks to Volkan for the link!


The image of the fruit bat in the headers of this site is adapted from an image in the public domain, which was originally published in the 1911 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (published by Merriam Webster, Springfield, MA). Why a fruit bat? Well, I’m fond of them, and the domain name (‘rousette’) is the New Caledonian French name for the fruit bat — the only endemic mammal in New Caledonia.

I am an inveterate tinkerer, so the site itself has been driven by a number of different bits of software over the years (Tinderbox, Movabletype, WordPress and ExpressionEngine, in that order). Through a combination of getting a bit fed up with the problems of trying to update database-driven sites and curiosity, I got interested in static publishing (again — Tinderbox was and still is something of a pioneer in many respects). Early on, the problems with static sites were that it was difficult to publish articles when you were away from your computer, and integrating dynamic comments was tricky. Both of those problems have been overcome (or partially overcome) through better syncing opportunities (through Git or Dropbox) and by using Commento to handle the comments.

I re-started my love of static publishing with nanoc, then moved to Octopress, which I still think is one of the best, easiest and most beautiful ways to start with static publishing. I also used Pelican for a while but for serveral years I have been using Hugo. Hugo is blazingly fast, even with thousands of posts, and I find the method of templating easy to understand and tweak.

I used to serve fonts using Typekit. However, Adobe bought them out and now charges double the original fee for a subscription. The higher cost did not seem worth it to me, so I have now moved to using local webfonts instead. I’m using IBM’s Open Source ‘Plex’ typeface family, with Plex Serif for the body, Plex Sans for the headings, sidebar and other metadata, and Plex Mono for all monospace fonts. I think it has resulted in a slightly more consistent look, though I might do a bit more tweaking as I go along. I really wanted to use Adobe Minion Pro for the body and Adobe Myriad Pro for the headings, but now that Adobe is handling webfonts through its subscription system, you can apparently not buy the webfonts separately as a one-off purchase, which is a great shame. That pairing is my favourite for calm, readable text in print and online.

The design of the site is my own, but I used the responsive grid boilerplate Skeleton to create the layout and do the heavy lifting of resizing elements on different sizes of screen.

I post photos on flickr, and do short-form blogging on my micro.blog. At the bottom of these pages you can also find links to other services on which I share my bookmarks, reading habits and so on.

[Updated 2019-04-21]

Contacting me

Contact me and tell me where I’m going wrong (or even where I might be going right). Note: if you are rude or abusive I will give you one of my Granny’s patented Hard Stares!