Ethelcofie’s How To Articles

October 6, 2008

Ethelcofie’s how to articles has Moved

Ethelcofie’s how to articles has moved to

I thought it would be better to have all my  stuff in one place 



September 24, 2008

Ideas for Barcamp spill over Presentation

Filed under: Experiences,Research Articles — ethelcofie @ 11:14 am
Tags: ,

Ideas for Barcamp spill over Presentation

  • Talk on the Life Hack using flickr to host your images to retrieve on request
  • Lessons I learnt in my two month stint a Test Analyst
  • Forum: Moderate discussion on how porgramming is taught in our institutions , personal experiences and what could be done differently
  • Forum for Life Hacks :Moderate a Forum to bring to the forefront Life Hacks that others have picked up over the years/months/weeks

Please free to vote on which is a better option 🙂

Cover Letters the Speed Dating Version

Filed under: Experiences,Research Articles — ethelcofie @ 10:53 am

Reposting a blog entry from one my favourite blog posts its non IT Though.

I really really hate cover letters. They restrict my breathing and cause traffic jams in my usually uncongested neural pathways. No matter how hard I try to sound unique and interesting, something about the process makes doesn’t quite ring true. Maybe it’s the formulaic nature of it all. Or that every recruiter believes keeping it short and to the point is crucial since no one has the time to bother with more than one A4 page anymore.

So, this is my ode to the cover letter (I will abide by some basic rules but essentially do away with all the pomp and ceremony that generally gets me nowhere). I am writing it as a blog entry that I’m hoping will one day be a part of the Twice archive. And if not, it will find a home at


Bearing in mind that the reader may need to get back to work soon I will give the abridged version of it here. More detailed notes and insights are available on request. Born in Zimbabwe, raised in Swaziland, educated in Cape Town and Brighton I am a bit of a rolling stone. All four places complete my sense of home – which makes for interesting political debates and fights during cricket matches. I have always had a fascination with making things, from knitting to T-shirt design, papier mache piggy banks to cheesecake- still trying to master that one. I love the process of creating new things and the feeling of knowing that there is no other one like it in the world. When I’m not making stuff I dream of making stuff, which is probably why I’m a bit of an insomniac, really. So, I can speak English and Shona and passable basic Afrikaans, French and siSwati. What this means is most people need to be pretty creative to swear at me. I love to sing and dance (but try not to in the office as I’m not really an X Factor candidate). I’m fascinated by words: poetry, prose, hip hop. I collect remixes of my favourite songs. My favourite place in the world is the middle of the Namibian desert, and no, not because Angelina had a baby there. Visually I’m impressed by film making above all other forms of art.

My very first school report read: Vimbai is too talkative. Some might say I have the gift of the gab. I have since refined this skill into some impressive public speaking and presentation skills. I can chat about anything from Brian Lara’s batting average to why Sarah Palin will not be the next Vice President of the USA, and why Rex should not win Big Brother. I like to have opinions and share them occasionally. Despite the picture we’ve painted so far, I generally prefer to listen that to talk…you learn more that way. And I’d rather read or listen to the new Roots album than watch TV, unless there’s a good movie on.

So, that’s my attempt at unique and interesting. Did I mention I like chocolate?


Ideas, ideas, ideas. It is my favourite way to shock people to suggest that people get dumber every generation. A favourite author of mine wrote: Too many morons, not enough Michelangelos. I really don’t think this is true. It’s just easier in most cases to wait for someone to give you the answer. I think there is a lot of power in this. The Church did it, then politicians did it. Now its global brands that tell us how to behave and what choices we should be making on everything from baby food to where to go on holiday. Brand designers are at the top of the pile here. We are the ones who tell the brands what to tell the people to think. And the key to this is persuasion and self awareness. At Twice, this process is clearly and simply laid out. Idea, relationship, action. No fuss, no strings. The best kept secret is the one that’s left in the open. Twice is a company that constantly produces results for their clients so the real secret must be in the execution. This is what I wish to learn.


For me branding is the difference between a turkey and a peacock. Something that seems obvious, but that can be broken down on many levels and tweaked to achieve different results. Essentially they are the same bird, one just figured out a way not to be eaten. I’m still working on this thesis and would love some feedback on the premise. The facts and figures of what I’ve done so far that may be useful in a company like yours are basically that:
-I like to think and to do
-I know how to work with people and how to talk to them
-I think inside AND outside the box
-I love to muck in

I suppose that’s pretty much it. They say you shouldn’t give too much away on the first date and I hope that I’ve sparked you interest enough to discuss things further in person. I’m available at your convenience (though this is a bit of a text book ending to the cover letter, sometimes there’s no need to mess with a classic).

By Vimbai K

Barcamp spillover event

Filed under: Experiences — ethelcofie @ 9:46 am



BarcampLondon5 is full. Lots of people who wanted to go couldn’t get tickets. We figured: why not have our own, extra, mini-barcamp? The British Computer Society kindly volunteered to host, so it’s on: we’ll have a one-day barcamp on the Saturday (27th).

This will only be on the Saturday and there’ll be nowhere to sleep: apologies to those who can’t manage a trip to London just for the day.

The BCS are also providing tea and coffee throughout the day.

Saturday 27th September, 9am-9pm

We’re issuing tickets now through Eventwax. Go!

First Floor
The Davidson Building,
5 Southampton Street
London, WC2E 7HA


September 22, 2008

Life Hacks

Filed under: Experiences — ethelcofie @ 8:21 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


In need of quick design for a website, if you are like me and you probably developing the website as a favour to a friend or family member but don’t have enough time for drudging out designs your best bet is a free online CSS templates that you can download and personalize for use:

Else if you need to put together a simple a quick and easy website which you give over to user to take control of the content then your easiest bet is using word press as a Content Management System Mark Kirby has an excellent tutorial on his website

If you want to add an album to your website but don’t have the space or bandwidth I suggest use online photo social sites like and Flickr and use the API’s to retrieve images on demand Or just hotlink from your Facebook albums. A bit dodgy but it works!

I wrote a tutorial on how to use flickr API which I presented at Bar Camp Brighton 3

If you need to knock out your own custom social netwrok for your friends, family or people with similar interest( chocolate loving geeks perhaps !) then use It is great platform that allows you to create your own social network and even register a domain that points to your customized social network.

This section will be updated as often as i can with short cuts and life hacks… watch this space

September 8, 2008

A developer’s plunge into the world of Test Analysis

Filed under: Experiences — ethelcofie @ 4:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am a developer at work and at heart who had not done much formal testing except to verify that the system I was developing worked [J] .I however moved into a new job which dictated as part of my contract that I had to go through a two month period working as a full time test analyst for the experience .

My reaction: What! No building stuff, no development well at least not at work for the next two months *groan groan* I am going to die before I complete my time I just know [my melodramatic side showing]

So I started my stint praying time would go fast and I wouldn’t realize it. l also acknowledge above my melodramatics that it was probably a good learning experience which will make me a better developer in the long run .

I started out running manual scripts for an online financial system painful yes, by the end of the second week I was fast losing my will to live.

So to keep from going crazy I turned to reading materials on what testing was all about and what made a great tester. There had to be more to testing! Right?

Yes! Right, My perception of testing as developer changed dramatically when I moved to 2 relatively small size projects [less that 10 people ] working as the sole test analyst on the first and as an adjunct test analyst on the second .

So what changed for me?

Being the only test analyst on a project means I had to learn quickly what was required of me , what mentality I was to adopt to be effective in my role and of course how to work smart as opposed to laboriously , what tools would make my work better or not .

Fundamentally I believe I begun to thoroughly enjoy being a test analyst when I bought into the mentality and attitude of a tester.

No it’s not being sadistic it’s the fact that I am the last line of defense for the customer it’s my job to make sure that the customer gets the best product possible [or die trying J]

There will always be something wrong with the system and if it’s big enough to make the users experience or systems substandard then I will find it .oh yes I will ….

..And the love for breaking things especially software

Also automated testing appealed to the developer/programmer in me, I could write/program automated test s that could do a lot of the mundane repetitive tasks and User Acceptance Tests that needed to be done

What I learnt

I took away for my time as a test analyst:

Tact: saying to developer fix this! Fix this Now! Is hardly going to get you anywhere .When to push when to stop when to assert and to smile and let go.

A better eye for detail when I am developing :I have a sort of split personality now when I am working I look at the system through the eyes of a tester and a developer.[I still believe it not right for a developer to double as his/her own test analyst ]

…And a whole new respect for the testers I work with.

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