2006 in review

31 December 2006

I feel like I’ve been neglecting Infovore a bit in recent weeks, and so thought I’d begin my return to form (as it were) with a semi-obligatory year-end post.

2006 has been really quite a year, on many levels. Certainly one of the most eventful so far. The most obvious change it brought has been a change of job: after two years of working for the New Statesman, I left for a change of scenery. I haven’t mentioned where I am specifically, up until now, but given that most people who know me know, I’m happy to say that I’m working at the Nature Publishing Group, known best for their flagship title Nature. I’m a front-end developer there, writing markup and front-end code to build interfaces and sites. It’s been a great experience so far; after an inital unsettled period I’ve slowly managed to find my feet and am enjoying it a lot. It’s also given me a chance to work, full-time, in Ruby on Rails, which has proved most enjoyable – and at times eye-opening.

It’s also been a year of travel. Between leaving one job and starting another, I went to the USA for the first time – to speak at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. That turned out to be fascinating, exciting, and terrifying in equal measure; I poured perhaps a little too much of myself into the talk, but was very pleased with the results and had a great time at the conference – both in terms of what I learned and the relationships I made and solidified. A shame not to be going again this year, but I’m glad to have been once.

I also travelled to Denmark for Reboot 8 in the summer, again to talk. Less terrifying, this time around, and perhaps my favourite work of the past year – lots of lateral thinking and answering of what-ifs in that talk. Do check it out if you haven’t already. A very different environment to ETech – creative, artistic, and holistic in its approach to technology; really wonderfuly to attend something truly European. As long as it’s on this year, I’m definitely going again.

There was also travel that didn’t so much resemble work. Alex and I went to Barcelona in the autumn for a wonderful holiday – lots of food, sun, reading, and art. A really lovely city, and an excellent holiday. Just the rest I needed, really. Lots of photos of it are up in my Flickr profile.

Life is slowly becoming more settled, really. I’m feeling more confident daily in my work, in my play, and in the city I live in; London is really beginning to feel a little like home. It’ll never truly be home, but it’s great to live somewhere with so many good friends, and so much to do with them.

And what does 2007 hold? No idea, really, though I’m beginning to have some thoughts. I’m seriously considering a fortnight’s holiday – I usually stick to just a week. And I think it could well end up being spent in San Francisco – another trip to the US, to a city full of friends (and, seemingly, more of them every day), and a summer in the sun.

2007 should also be a year of making. I’ve got at least one project to launch very early in the year, and several more on the go. And I mean “making” of everything: making more words, more music, more photographs, far more cooking – more stuff. I’m always wrestling to create, but I plan next year to really make stuff happen. I hope to share more of it here.

I’ve really loved 2006 – ups and downs, for sure, but so many opportunities, so many new friends, so many magic moments – from watching the sea roll in at Barcelona to being mesmerised in the cinema, from late nights talking with friends in far-off hotels to many happy memories in the kitchen.

I hope your 2006 was good; I hope your 2007 is even better. Do keep reading.

New lick of paint

20 November 2006

You might notice a new design and layout for this site flickering on and off for the next few days. I’m just bringing some final tweaks to bear, you see, and ironing out some wretched IE bugs. It’s all part of a way to encourage me to write a bit more. Again.

So for now, please bear with me. The del.icio.us links are now on the righthand side; if you’re really, really interested in them, it’s probably easiest to be subscribed to my feed, where you’ll get everything.

Safari crashed again

26 March 2006

Safari crashed. Again. With lots of tabs open. And I can’t remember half of them.

I hate you, Safari.

Time to leave

12 March 2006

Well, that was America. Thanks to the very generous Dan Heaf, I’m sitting in the Virgin Atlantic Lounge at LAX, sipping free drinks and catching up the world online. The presentation went down well, it seems; I’ve had some interesting emails as a result and some kind words. The PDF isn’t up online yet, but the most indepthwrite-up – featuring pictures of yours truly + slides – is over at Near Near Future. Given Regine was in the front row, hammering away at her notes, there are obviously some gaps but the basic premise is there. I’d argue it’s less a “consumer” perspective and more just a perspective on the gaming industry (rather than academic/research perspectives), but it’s still great to see it out there, and to a huge audience. Thanks very much for the write-up, Regine!

And so I’m about to board a plane and hop back to the UK. I’ve had a great time at Etech – it all began sinking in late on Thursday¬†(and especially very late on Thursday, when I had a fantastic night, thanks to danah, Matt, Alex, and many others).

Many thanks must also go to the organisers of the conference, O’Reilly and especially to all those (friends and new acquaintances) in the British contingent who put up with me, nerves and all, and steered me through safely. It’s slowly sinking in just how wonderful an experience it was. My further thoughts from the conference – and there are, as ever, several, will follow in due course.

There’s been a long silence here, punctuated by del.icio.us links and the odd post (and the odd picture) but not much else.

There are various reasons for this. The first is the new job – and everything that’s entailed, namely, trying to tie up loose ends at my current job before I leave, today. It’s also been a busy month at work anyway, so that’s made things even more hectic.

And then for the past month or two, at night, and at those weekends, I’ve been working pretty hard on my talk for ETech. I’ve been nervous about that – still am – and it’s taken a fair amount of work to knock it into the shape it’s in. I’m pretty pleased with it now – just hoping it doesn’t bomb at the conference. So that’s the other reason I’ve been busy.

Now, though, it’s practically all done. I’m flying out to LA tomorrow, and then down to San Diego for a week, Saturday to Saturday. I’m really looking forward to ETech. Bar the fear of speaking, I’ve followed it for a fair few years and have always wanted to go; now I’ve got the chance. It’s my first visit to the US, too; the last transatlantic flight I did was Canada when I was 11. So it’s all rather exciting, all told.

If you’re interested in saying hello during ETech, do drop me a line (tom at this domain), or look out for the redhead with the sideburns. I’m going to try and update this blog a bit more frequently when I’m there (which won’t be hard), but it’s not going to approach live-blogging or anything – I’m going to be too busy taking notes, I hope. Keep an eye on my Flickr stream, too.

A bit of a holiday, then, mixed up with a frenetic burst of data that I can’t wait to see. In a few weeks, once I’ve settled into the new jobs, I can start pulling the chocks out of a few other little side-projects. (And, of course, giving myself and the girl some quality time).

New job

18 February 2006

All good things come to an end.

I’d been meaning to write this for a while, and then I saw Alex’s post on his leaving-bash, and decided now was as probably a good a time as ever.

So: I’m leaving the New Statesman after nearly two years there. It’s been a great two years, and a fantastic first job. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities, learned a vast amount, and been given the space to put that learning to use. I’ve also worked with some lovely people, who I’m not planning on losing contact with anytime soon. I’ve developed a great deal – as a designer, as a developer, as a writer, and most importantly as a person – in those two years, and enjoyed them hugely.

But, you know, first jobs come to an end, and we move on. And so I’m soon going to be starting work at the Nature Publishing Group, publishers of Nature and a whole host of other journals, to work as a CSS Developer. It’s a slightly bigger operation than the Statesman, which will be an interesting experience for me, and I’m looking forward to the new challenges it’ll bring.

I’ve got two weeks left at the Statesman; then it’s off to Etech, and when I return from there, I’ll be starting at Nature. Then, 2006 can really begin.

Web apps – the wrap-up

09 February 2006

Well, that was pretty great. Tom‘s talk was pretty staggering – lots of ideas I’ve been following over the past year or two all coalescing together into one big lump. Very excited by that; really need to sit down and think it over when I’ve got some space. Cal, Joshua, and Ryan were all also excellent; Ryan’s talk especially, given its real-world, raw-data approach. Lots to think about.

I pointed out on the (slightly sarcastic) IRC back channel that it’s not necessarily the individual facts coming out that mattered – many people knew them already (like “don’t forget to cache”, etc) – but the context, the stories, the examples that wrap around them. Context is so important, and the summit put masses into context in a really exciting way. Shame there wasn’t more networking, but I had a good night afterwards, and it was nice to see a few old familiar faces, like Meg and Cal again, as well as meeting Rod for the first time.

My photos from the event are now online. Pretty pleased with the way they came out, given how far I was away from the stage, and how (relatively) slow my lens was.

So I’m going to be at the Carson Systems “Future of Web Apps” summit tomorrow. Looking forward to it a lot, and looking forward to meeting a whole host of new people. If you see a six-foot redhead with a goatee and a quiff, do say hi!

Beautiful things

19 January 2006

The way the guitar part in The Rakes’ Binary Love sounds like a scratchy 56k modem.

Red wine.

Sleep.

Dancing monkeys in Timesplitters 3

New razorblades on thick facial fuzz.

It’s al been a bit crazy recently; busy at work, fear setting in regarding Etech (which I’m sure will be fine), pressures of sorting out travel to latter, plans for after March. del.icio.us keeps this place busy, and turns the lights out at night.

Free stuff!

06 January 2006

Wow! I just won a year’s subscription to Make in the O’Reilly ONLamp survey. I’ve every issue of the mook so far, and have been enjoying it hugely, so am looking forward to another year’s worth. Thanks, O’Reilly!