About

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Hi! I’m Chelsea Troy.

I work as a Staff Software Engineer at Mozilla on backend systems and machine learning patterns for a product called Pocket. Here’s how I explain what I do to my dad:

  1. Picture the internet as a giant library.
  2. If the internet is a library, then the search engine is its card catalog.
  3. But the internet library still doesn’t have a librarian. We’re building that—ideally, a personalized librarian to help you find things you’re looking for on the internet (ehhh, plus a few other cool features ;). But we’re also committed to your data privacy—so like, a librarian who has a confidentiality agreement with all the patrons she helps.
How big is the internet? Well, Twitter’s archives alone were about double the estimated size of print collection of the Libraries of Congress…back in 2011. You’d need a building about the size of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart for a physical library of the Twitter archives.

I also run RigorWorks.

RigorWorks is a small collective of senior-and-up technologists. We serve clients who are saving the planet, advancing basic scientific research, or providing resources to underserved communities. We have backgrounds in the hard sciences and in activism. We’re particularly sensitive to the challenges of being a grant-funded or nonprofit organization that might have inconsistent funding for development work, and we (well I, personally) have experience helping the org make the most of those resources and smooth over resource gaps.

Clients:

I was rather adamantly instructed to put client logos on this page. Ta da!

All of us at RigorWorks are from marginalized backgrounds. We’re working on figuring out whether we can bring on apprentices and mentor folks into tech. RigorWorks projects span the stack in mobile development, web development, and machine learning.

We don’t have a website. We probably won’t have a website :). Most of our clients either found us from my blog or came through referrals, which is helpful for a couple of business reasons. You can see me live streaming code for clients on the Zooniverse Citizen Science Mobile App, the NASA Landsat Image Processing Pipeline, and the Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook App. Here are some more posts about work I’ve done for clients. (By the way, one of the ways we smooth over the resource gaps is that we find companies to sponsor the live streams, blog posts, and tutorials that we make from client projects. If you work for a company that likes our mission or wants to sponsor one of our clients or teaching materials, please reach out!)

Teaching

I teach in the Master’s Program in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. I wrote this series on designing the Mobile Software Development course, which we have now run three times, remotely, during a pandemic. Apparently people liked because someone made a table of contents for it on their own blog (woo!). Student reviews of this course are more dear to me than any award I have ever received.

This winter I am teaching Python Programming; we’re working towards making that course available with some kind of open, distributed model (TBD) in late 2021 or sometime in 2022. In the meantime, the online textbook is a publicly available work in progress, designed to support all five learning styles (watching, listening, reading, trying, and experimenting). MASSIVE acknowledgments on this work go to the entire MPCS Python Programming instructor slate for their prior work on these topics and homework problems, and MORE acknowledgments to my inimitable course staff for their work writing descriptions, examples, and unit tests for the exercises.

I also mentor formerly incarcerated technologists through the Emergent Works program and Justice Through Code program at Columbia University’s Center for Justice. We’re always looking for more mentors and sponsors, so get ahold of me if you think you might like to get involved.

Writing

I write this blog, clearly. It’s closing in on 400 posts, 40ish of which are pretty good 😉. I’d vaguely like it to have 1,000 posts before I retire. I plucked that number out of thin air, so that might change.

I wrote a book called Remote Work Sucks (the title is kind of a trap—order here) and did an audio version of my Leveling Up blog post series (here). Patreon subscribers get audio recordings and videos as I complete them. You can become a patron here (yes, I like birds. Ask any of my students).

Conferences

I organize two conferences: PromptConf and ORD Camp, both in Chicago.

Organizing a Conference
ORD Camp 2020. Yes, the Totoro is mine.

I also speak at conferences with some regularity. You can catch me at one of the following conferences this year:

  • ORD Camp (Jan 23-25, Chicago)—Organizing
  • NASA CRS-20 Launch (Feb 29-March 7, Cape Canaveral)—Lessons from Space
  • GOTO Meetup (March 24, Chicago)—Panel on Developing Intercultural Vision
  • CWDevs (April 16, Chicago)—Workshop on Advanced Debugging (cancelled, COVID)
  • deliver:Agile 2020 (April 29-May 1, Columbus)—Advanced Debugging (cancelled, COVID)
  • RailsConf (May 3-5, Portland)—Debugging: Techniques for Uncertain Times
  • BlueTeamCon (Jun 20-21, Chicago)—Risk-Oriented Testing (cancelled, COVID)
  • PromptConf (Sometime in September or October, Chicago)—Organizing (cancelled, COVID)
  • Code Mesh V, Couch Edition (November 5-6, Remote)—What Counts as a Programming Language?
  • RubyConf, Couch Edition (November 17-19, Remote)—Workshop, Analyzing Risk in Software Systems

If you want me to come to your conference, you can reach out to me about giving one of the talks or talk proposals listed here.

Not Work Related

I fling barbells around for fun. I drive an electric cafe cruiser named Gigi who is also, apparently, a catcall lightning rod. I’m very gay.

Here’s Gigi. I don’t drink beer, but someone handed me this because they liked Gigi. The fact that the bike is in focus and the beer isn’t tells you a lot about my priorities 😂

I’m gonna switch to talking about my views on code for the rest of this page. If you still wanna hear about me as, like, a person, here’s the most recent AMA I’ve done.

I’m head over heels for software engineering.

That brings with it a couple of things:

  1. A commitment to rigor. You’ll see that reflected in how I write code and how I write about code. The data science, Android, and iOS posts exemplify this.
  2. A begrudging determination to make this industry a better place. You’ll see that reflected in posts about management and leadership in tech, as well as in this never-ending series designed to help folks level up as engineers on their own.

You can find me on Twitter and Github.

Clients from Focused Labs with the Honey Bear Mural
Clients from Focused Labs with the Honey Bear Mural

If you’re interested in working with me, you can reach me at chelsea at chelseatroy dot com. If you mention this blog, I’m about a hundred times more likely to respond :).

I also keep my instagram public. Major themes: gross post-workout photos, artwork progress pics, and gushing love letters to the city of Chicago.

Clients from The Zooniverse at The Adler Planetarium
Clients from The Zooniverse at The Adler Planetarium

All of my blog, and any code it references, carries a creative commons ShareAlike license (CC by-SA).

There are basically four terms you can mix and match in a license:

  • Attribution (credit the creator—almost all licenses automatically carry this term)
  • ShareAlike (anything using this must carry the same license as this does)
  • NonCommercial (don’t sell anything using this)
  • NoDerivs (don’t adapt, modify, or remix this)

You can quote my stuff and then sell it (multiple people do it), but when you do, please credit me, and your work automatically can also be remixed and sold.