Kiki (K): Hi everyone, welcome back to Kartini Teknologi. This is our eleventh episode I think, it’s been a long time since we record a new episode, we’re very sorry! I think the tenth episode was even recorded in November or October, right Galuh?
Galuh (G): Yup.
K: Yeah. It’s been very hectic, and in January we focused on Global Diversity CFP Day, which we organized together. So we got kind of distracted, that’s why we’re just getting back to Kartini Teknologi. Anyway, still in the spirit of Global Diversity CFP Day, our guest today is actually one of the mentors at the event. So maybe you’ve probably guessed by now, we have Adrianti Rusli or Adrin as people usually call her, right?
Adrin (A): Yes.
K: Hello, Adrin.
A: Hello, how are you?
K: Good, Alhamdulillah. So I actually first met Adrin on Global Diversity CFP Day. Turned out she’s a very nice person and so we approached her as well to have a chat with us at Kartini Teknologi. We haven’t had a new episode in a long time anyway. And thankfully she said yes. Thank you!
A: You’re welcome.
K: Can you tell us about where you’re from and what do you do day-to-day?
A: My full name is Adrianti Rusli, people usually call me Adrin. I’m currently working as a front-end developer at JYSK Group, it’s a company within the field of R&D manufacture, it’s a skin care clinic based in Singapore but they have an office in Jakarta for its engineers. I’m… definitely not from Jakarta, I’m kind of confused either, I was born in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi. Right now since I’m a front-end developer I’m focused on learning front-end technologies but I’m also currently learning backend stuff as well.
K: I used to think that JYSK is the furniture retail stores in the malls.
G: Me too.
A: Yeah, so I usually carry the name IDS Skincare, not JYSK, but when I was invited to its annual dinner in Singapore they told me to use the JYSK name instead. But yeah, people are more familiar with the retail one, so…
K: No relation at all with the retail store?
A: No retail, no relation at all.
K: I was thinking, oh maybe Adrin created its e-commerce website or something. So good to know. Okay, you mentioned that you come from Kendari.
K: Where did you go to school?
A: I went to schools there, then moved to Bali for college. After college, I moved to Jakarta.
K: So you majored in IT?
A: Yeah, computer science.
K: Any reason why you were interested in IT? Is it something you’ve wanted since you were a child or…?
A: In junior high school I thought I wanted to take informatics. During that time the government was hyping up its RSBI (International Standard Schools) program, and they had these tests. One of these tests was to type a paragraph using Microsoft Word, I think it was still the 2003 version, but in that one paragraph you have to bold the text, italicize, underline it… I couldn’t just stop at writing the paragraph. At 6th grade I went to the internet cafe a lot, yes, but I was just there to browse, looking for pictures in Google, and I wasn’t thinking of learning software and stuff. Alhamdulilah, I got into the program, and at that moment I had this mindset: I have to be super good at this. From the 7th to 9th grade I can claim that yes, I’m the smartest girl in the subject, when I was in the 8th grade I built my friends’ final projects using Macromedia Flash, so with my own project in total I did 5 projects by myself.
G: I like your confidence!
A: And in junior high school I thought, “okay, I want to major in informatics in college.” But in high school I was interested in other things, and I also learned a lot of biology, so I had a change of heart, I wanted to be a doctor. When I applied to universities, I signed up for every kind of doctor—dentist, vet, general. I didn’t get anything. I wanted to take a year off, I was already in Bali then, and suddenly my friend told me that Udayana’s registration is open again. I saw the list of majors, they also have their own med school, but since it’s pretty close to the start of the academic year the tuition fee is the most expensive as well. I looked through other majors, had the thought of wanting to major in physics, but what would I do then after I graduate? Most likely I’ll become a lecturer. They still have a slot for informatics, so I tried the test and I got it. And so I was trapped…
K: Are you still trapped now?
A: Not now, Alhamdulillah.
K: Still related to your studies, can you tell us more about your thesis?
A: So I actually took the software engineering concentration, but midway they scraped off the concentration, so we could take any class from any field. I thought, oh, I want to take web semantic. My thesis supervisor also suggested it as well… I actually have 0 knowledge, like I would just say yes to what my supervisor told me, and it turns out the main focus of my thesis was more about NLP. NLP but using web semantic data. The project is about questioning-answering, but not general. More specific, my topic back then was about various kinds of Balinese dance. So it was like an encyclopedia, but a person can ask the encyclopedia. The challenge was more about parsing the question, turning the question into a query… this query is called semantic query, there’s a query for ontology, so this query is going to do the mapping… to the ontology to get the answer. From this answer, it will be returned, processed using NLP algorithm so that it will become a whole answer to be returned to the user.
G: For semantic web, do you already have the dataset or do you have to build it yourself first?
A: I made it myself, because in semantic web you need to set the relations right. The relations are defined in the ontology. There are datasets out there, but there was none that is specific to my case. So I built the dataset for the ontology myself. There are datasets for the ontology as well as for the questions.
K: Where did you get the data from?
A: I visited ISI Denpasar, went to its library and tried to find things like… histories of dances, something like that. I also gathered the questions as well. I arranged the questions and got them validated. I validated them in the Udayana’s literature department. But for the ontology I got them from books and interviews, I interviewed lecturers in ISI Denpasar.
G: So you still need input from experts regarding the specific domain… how did you do the validation in the literature department?
A: It was more about… the arrangement of the questions. The thing is, in my final project yesterday you can’t really just receive formal questions. So questions that don’t have the question identifier in sentence still can’t be detected. So I was trying to see how you can do that, what should I do, the validation is more to the question, is it correct or not?
K: Okay. What is the technology that you used, do you still remember?
A: Yes For the data, because the semantics use ontology, I made it using an application called Protégé, it is specifically for making ontology, then the output will be XML, so the input is XML. Then for the app itself I made it using Android, then for the algorithm using … because the language that I knew was PHP, so for the algorithm itself was really pure using PHP for its API. That’s all.
G: Oh, this means it’s really end-to-end, does that mean that the output is also an application?
A: Yes, in the form of an application.
G: Wow, I didn’t think you’d have to get that far, because I think my friends made theses that are about chatbot or something like that usually doesn’t make applications, so wow, until end-to-end. Even from making a dataset to creating an application … cool, cool.
A: Yes, the problem is because I said that … what was it, at that time it was still vague whether the concentration was there or not, while my concentration was indeed a software engineer, so it really had to be highlighted that it was to be an end-to-end application.
K: How long did you make it?
A: 8 months.
K: Wow, is that only for the application?
A: No, for everything. But it was stressful, because I was at the time while working.
K: Oh my god. But that means you were still in college, and you were already working, writing code too or…?
A: Yes, for the internship, I was interested in this software house. I continued to do the internship, and eventually because it was too much… the problem was I was offered fulltime right, but because it was too much for me I worked there for about 5 months, after that I was looking for something part-time. Well, in the next company this can be part-time but I was directed to become a WordPress developer.
K: So you have been able to do coding since you learned from college or did you study by yourself? The thing is, from my experience, most people majoring in IT are not able to code if they don’t study outside of the classrooms. So how did you learn?
A: Yes, that’s right, I can also code it because of the internship. So from the 7th semester of a internship, well, from semester 1 - 6, I was busy with organizations, band, then when I was in the 7th semester too … so I’m quite a proud person, right? Like, oh I want to be in Java for the internship. It turns out that taking care of the files is already near Eid al-Fitr, and I have to go home right. So, yes, I was kind of reckless, even though usually one institution could host two people, but because I already ran out of friends, I was alone. Then I searched, and I got an internship at this a software house, and I don’t want to look stupid, right, so I continued to learn.
K: That means a lot of practice like that comes from the internship.
K: That means it’s confirmed that lectures alone aren’t enough for learning coding. OK, we are shifting a little bit to technology, we already talked about Adrin’s background… I have one question that might be somewhat controversial, but it seems fun to discuss. So according to Adrin, do you choose React, Vue, or Angular?
A: React for now.
K: React for now? Why is that?
K: Okay. Galuh, what about you?
G: I’ve never tried Angular. In the past, I tried React, but I only made one project. Now… not right now anyway, at least recently I was playing with Vue, and so I’m leaning towards Vue, but honestly I don’t really dig into it because I don’t use it at work right. So I can only use it outside of work. When I used to do web development a lot frameworks like React, Vue, Angular didn’t exist yet, and today suddenly today we have React, Vue, Angular, there are a lot of them right now. Before, it was only vanilla JS, and now it’s like, wow so many. I also have a hard time giving opinionated thoughts, I mostly can only say, oh Vue because well, it’s the only one I’m using.
K: Anyway. Talking about work, what tech stack do you use?
A: Actually for projects that are live now we are still using Laravel. But the front-end is slowly being moved to React, but there hasn’t been a live project yet. So, now the front-end is still using Laravel, some have been moved to React, and for the backend, the API is using Laravel, AWS, and the database is using MySQL.
G: Were you involved in converting the code base to React?
G: Are there difficulties or experiences you can share, because it’s certainly not an easy thing right, especially if, for example, the code base itself is already rather large.
A: So now the ones moved to React are the small ones first, the biggest one is actually the e-commerce one, and I’m like, oh, what should I do. But it’s slowly being moved, but if you want to say it’s hard, it’s really hard, because in the Laravel project, everything is still per page. Meanwhile, in React, everything must be converted into components. That’s the challenge.
G: Are there lessons learned that might be shared with friends?
M: Outside of work, are there any other projects that you’re working on right now like side projects?
A: It’s more like a project for myself. I do have a side job, but I’m only working on pretty light projects, like WordPress. Now I’m trying to learn Golang right, like I mentioned at the beginning, seems like fun if I can do backend too.
G: For backend… why Golang compared to other programming languages?
G: I want to ask too, I rarely follow the news about front-end development anymore, but looking at it from the outside, the development of front-end technologies is fast, and we only have 24 hours a day right—to work, rest. From your own experience, does a front-end developer need to follow all the trends, or should they be smart at picking one or a few of them? Do you have any tips on keeping up with the development of front-end technologies that is really fast?
A: For every new framework that emerges, I’m more about learning it hands-on, like with a small project, and after that, I’d compare it to the ones I already know. In my opinion, it’s better to have in-depth knowledge in one framework than trying everything, but all of them are pretty shallow. I prefer to try it with small projects first, then I will compare. Usually there are also people who like to do comparison like that, like from the side of speed and others, usually there are many articles that compare. For example there is now Svelte, they say Svelte is light, but I have never tried it either.
G: Yeah, and I’m like, “what is this again?”
A: Yes, that’s why.
K: I’m curious, you said you are in the process of converting your codebase to React. Was it you who proposed the idea or were there other people who proposed it on your team, or was it from the team leader who was like, “let’s convert to React!”. What’s the story?
A: Actually, I proposed it. If you want to ask why, it’s also because I’m already uncomfortable having to do it with Laravel. Whereas in the office, the goal really is to separate it, the front-end and the backend. The projects are now separate. And I’m like … the two of them are still using Laravel, what’s the use of separating them like that but the front-end can’t be optimized. So I proposed to use React. Incidentally, at that time I was learning React, so I just proposed it. By the end of the day I’m the one converting it as well. There are only two front-end developers, and my partner doesn’t really follow the trends.
K: Talking about the team, you said earlier that there are two of you in the front-end team, if you talk about the whole team, the development team that works together with you everyday, is there another woman besides you?
A: Just me.
K: Yes because I suspect from your Instagram story, it seems like Adrin is the only girl.
A: All guys.
K: How does it feel to be a minority at the office? Is there a difference?
A: For now not really, the first time I worked I might really feel the difference, but the first time I worked there actually was another woman, but she wasn’t really mingling with others, so we got really separated between the girls and the boys. Finally, we got closer when she wanted to resign. But for now, since it’s my third company, I’m used to it. I did feel inferior at first but now, it feels pretty natural just like when when you’re getting to know someone for the first time.
K: Do you think diversity is important?
A: It’s important. Because with diversity we get more perspective, right, and diversity isn’t just gender, in my office there are two people who are deaf, so there’s another aspect of diversity there too. And so we have a lot of perspectives when working on a project.
K: Talking about diversity, let’s discuss this, Global Diversity CFP Day. Our event yesterday. So, for your information, for friends who don’t really understand Global Diversity CFP Day, it’s an event that we held last month, January, actually last year we also did it, and in the second year we held it in Microsoft’s office. It’s like a workshop that focuses on public speaking for friends who are interested in becoming speakers at technology conferences. So we talked about, what is CFP? How to send a proposal to the conference like that, how to deliver a good talk. That’s the story. Well, Adrin was one of the mentors, she talked about accessibility, right? Can you tell us your experience on becoming a mentor at Global Diversity CFP Day?
A: At first I didn’t think it was important, right? It turns out that after attending the event, I saw there was a lot of interest and those who were involved were really confused too, they wanted to be speakers but they didn’t know how to do it. I’m happy to be part of Global Diversity. I’m also glad because I can see material from other mentors, some of which I haven’t done, so I was also learning.
K: So Adrin’s material was about accessibility in talk. Why do you choose the material? So actually when we were looking for mentors, we actually have prepared a number of topics that we offered to the mentors and they could choose their own. Well Adrin picked accessibility. Now I’m just curious, is it something important for you, why do you think it’s something important for people to learn about?
A: So why did I choose accessibility… it comes from my experience in the office, because I have two friends who have disabilities, both are deaf, one of them uses a device that can help them hear. My other friend even when they use the device, they can only hear small vibrations. And the latter is my partner is at the front-end development team, and I saw that it’s difficult for him to keep up. Looking for articles to learn is also difficult, right, because mostly they are in English. Then if he comes to meetups, he also can’t do it because he can’t hear too. Because of that, I thought, why not talk about this so that people are also aware that there are also our friends with disabilities working in this field.
K: Yeah, yeah.
A: And how everyone can keep up, not just people with certain advantages.
K: So it’s from personal experience. But do you implement it in your work, if you make a website like that do you have to make it accessible?
A: In my office, there isn’t such rules, and no one is too aware of that, but I personally do it as much as possible if I’m working on my parts. I fix it little by little, but if it’s not me working on it I can’t do anything because I already have too much on my plate. But at my office now there is no standard yet.
K: Okay. Can you tell our listeners about what we should pay attention to if we want to make an accessible website?
A: Okay, from me, the most important thing is to pay attention to semantic HTML, like making a button, for example. Do not use the div to make it, the problem is when we try to use a screen reader, it reads it as a div, not a button, they don’t tell you if it’s a button. People who are using a screen reader should be told that this is a button, what is this. If the button is a div, people won’t know that it’s clickable. It’s more about paying attention to the semantic HTML to begin with. Actually though web accessibility is also so much more, like paying attention to contrast, page contrast, and actually browsers already give us the convenience to be able to audit the web that we have made. In Chrome, in Mozilla their tool seems to have handled contrast. So just inspect it, direct the cursor to the element you want to inspect and it will tell you whether this contrast is already accessible or not. If there is already an existing project, it’s better to just audit it first, after that you already know what the problem is, and from there it can be fixed little by little. But for the whole web accessibility, there really is a lot, not just about the semantics of HTML and contrast, it’s also about giving captions for images, then using alt text, using ARIA, and so on.
K: Yes, yes. Let’s shift to your community activities. You’re also active in the Perempuan WP community, yes, if I’m not mistaken. Tell me what are the activities there?
A: Actually, if it is fairly new right now, it hasn’t been a year, so now the routine activity is kuliah telegram (lectures/sharing sessions in Telegram). Meetups are arranged as one WordPress meetup. So the Perempuan WP’s activities are more about kuliah telegram. The presenters of these kuliah telegram sessions are also women, but for the audience themselves, it’s open to anyone, so male can also participate in the kulgram. It’s just that we prioritize women to become presenters. That’s for the current activities.
K: Okay. Do you have a specific schedule for the kulgram?
A: Once every two weeks, if I remember correctly.
K: If my friends want to join the kulgram, how can they do so?
A: Join Telegram. Maybe you can check the Twitter account of @PerempuanWP, we have all the links there, from Slack to Telegram links.
K: Okay. And then Adrin often speakts at meetups, right? How do you start being a speaker at a meetup?
A: Actually, at first I wasn’t really aware that there was such a community. I’m aware there are communities but I thought the ones in community are people who are already super good at it. The first time I was convinced by Bli Prabu Rangki in DevFest 2018 to speak at a panel session. It turned out to be fun, like I knew a lot of new people, then I got a lot of insights from companies A, B, C until Z. Then finally I braved myself to submit a proposal at the 2019 WordCamp Jakarta. And thank God, it was accepted. So that’s how I started, from WordCamp. And then people started to invite me, and if I feel that there’s a good material that I can speak about in meetups, I would propose that.
G: So far what topics have you talked about?
A: Mostly around WordPress, the last one was at ChromeDev Summit Extended, it was about the Portal, the Portal was the new API … not new, updated news from Google’s API … Tte web platform API, sorry.
G: Where do you get the idea to be a talk from or what is the inspiration? Is it from work, like you’re learning something at work and you turn that into a talk, or is it after reading an article or what?
A: As for the material itself, I get more inspiration from reading articles, and sometimes when I search I realize, it seems like no one has talked about the topic here, and like the source, they’re mostly in English. So once I get an idea, I combine the source, make the material, and propose to speak about it at a meetup like that. So I’m looking to speak about unpopular topics in Indonesia, like topics that no one has really discussed about. These unpopular materials can can also be immediately accepted if we propose.
G: Hmm … because there’s rarely been a discussion about those right. I see. Well, can you share your process on writing a talk, for example, from looking for ideas until finally it becomes a talk that you speak about on the day of the event, what is the process? And how long does it usually take?
A: OK. How long does it take … because I’m rather a perfectionist so at least it takes me two weeks to get one talk ready. Initially, there were actually two choices, whether I got the topic from the organizer or l’m the one proposing the theme. If the theme is given from the organizer, that’s good, all I have to do is browse materials about the theme. If it’s me who proposes my own topic, I still browse articles, search for unpopular ones, and then… try to see, how come the ones that seem like the combination of A and B haven’t been made yet. I continue to search, propose, and if accepted, I will continue to search for more sources. After that I usually write the transcript first, well after it becomes an article, it’s ready, I’ll make the presentation. Now, after making the presentation, I just need to practice, talk in front of the mirror. Until the D-Day. On D-Day I prepare a short link so that the presentation will be easy to access like, for example if I’m using another laptop. When preparing I prefer to write the transcript that I’m going to talk about. I’m still nervous on D-day, but I become less nervous because I already have my own transcript, and I’ve practiced using my own transcript.
K: Really cool, you have a very complete preparation process. In fact, sometimes I have even heard of some people who prepare a number of questions that are likely to be asked on D-day. So I’m impressed with speakers who do such a thorough preparation.
G: And it seems like 2 weeks doesn’t last too long, because sometimes we can only refine the talk, for example, after just two hours working on it, then we go to sleep, and the next day we will work again with new inspiration. I think I never have written a talk in 7 hours straight. Because sometimes when we sleep, we wake up and we get new inspiration, and then we can continue. I think two weeks actually isn’t too long either.
K: It’s just right.
K: Okay, well, I have an additional question which actually was discussed on Twitter. Sometime ago Adrin tweeted about being hometown-less, so Adrin didn’t feel like… she has any hometown. Because she’s used to living in many places, right?
K: What I want to ask is, is there any lesson you get so far from living in many places? In your opinion what is the most important lesson from moving around?
A: I get a lot of insight, the thing is that every time I move, I learn about local people, right? I mean not only those who come, stay, and behave like I’m in a place where I’m from, no. I am happy to learn how they are, how to survive as local people like that. I’d study things whether it’s the culture, or maybe this is the case in Bali, but I can now finally understand what people say to me in Balinese even though I don’t dare to say it back. I get lots of insights from different places. And from one place to another it is completely different.
K: The way I’ve been using language is based on the place that I’m living in.
A: Yes, same, same.
K: Right? Like I used to live in Purwokerto when I was in vocational high school, I had this strong Banyumasan accent. Then when I was in Semarang for college I had this storng Semarangan accent.
A: When I started living in Bali, I had troubles switching to Kendari accent at all. I was laughed at by people at home, “has she now become a Balinese?” Until finally, I’m used to switching it, right. If I’m at home, I’d switch to Kendari accent again.
K: Okay. Any last message is not for Kartini Teknologi listeners?
A: Message from me, especially my friends who are women, don’t be afraid to show yourself, be more courageous in show ourselves as “oh, I’m an engineer, but I’m a girl”. Don’t think about how there are few of us. The more and more people who are confident with their role as a software engineer, there will be more people who are interested in showing themselves. The goal is the same so that women are equal to men. Just be brave, don’t be shy, even though inside you might feel shy but just be confident. There’s nothing to lose if you are confident.