A good friend and colleague has written a couple of books over the last number of years, and I had the enjoyable experience of doing the technical review on them. When his publisher asked if he wanted to write a book on developing apps for Apple Watch, Mo said he would—but he'd rather work with a co-author. When he asked if I would like to take it on, I took almost no time to think about it before I answered with a resounding, "Yes!"
We spent a large chunk of last year on this, with a bit of a hiatus around Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference while we anticipated and then digested the announcement of watchOS 2, and we're really quite pleased with the result. The book covers everything an iOS developer with a little bit of experience needs to get going with the watch and make the most of what it offers.
Perhaps like many programmers, I have a long list of half-finished side projects behind me, but—with the support and encouragement of my family, Mo, the team at Peachpit, and our employer—this is one that has shipped and shipped well. That feels good.
I've never done the end of year lists thing here, but there are a few books I've read in 2015 that I'd like to recommend. As has happened with my reading over the last few years, they're mostly genre. That shouldn't put you off. If you like some of the same sort of things as me, you should give these a go.
Somebody on Twitter recommended the Expanse books from James SA Corey a while ago, and a series based on the first one has just started on Syfy. These have grabbed me and dragged me along without stopping. If you liked Firefly, you'll enjoy these.
I'd heard a lot of good about Elizabeth Bear, and I wasn't disappointed by her Eternal Sky trilogy. Their world is intricate and beautiful. With horses.
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell is quick little novella mixing predatory business practices with demonic influences in rural England. It's probably my favourite thing I read all year.
I've had good luck with recommendation emails from Amazon, too. The first one that stuck was Linesman by the writing partnership of SK Dunstall. Interesting politics and an intriguing setting (including a space-travel mechanic that's totally different to anything else I've come across) more than make up for occasionally flat characters.
The other good Amazon rec I received was for the The Fold by Peter Clines, which took me to its preceding volume, 14. Creepy mystery and monsters, Tesla, Lovecraft, bright green cockroaches and a big daft grin on my face. Just the grin, that is. The cockroaches are in the book, not on my face.
Other things I enjoyed this year were the much-celebrated Station Eleven, the pulpy but fun Origin, and the Shadow Police books and the PC Peter Grant novels—both of which satisfy my love of modern wizards doing normal(-ish) police work.
I made a terrible mistake. I read a post on Boing Boing, all about dice. Which led to a trip to Amazon. Which led to the arrival here a few days ago of a handful of honest-to-goodness, perfectly formed, razor-edged casino standard dice.
It was a predictable chain of events, I suppose. Unlike the rolls from the dice ;)
Things have happened. Exciting and surprising things, you could say. Six weeks ago we upped sticks and left Northern Ireland for Toronto—just for a year, but still. My wife is working as a clinical research fellow in the cancer hospital here, so we've all come along for the ride!
There are worse things; so far this seems like a great place to live. There's loads to do, the boys are having a ball, and we're enjoying the big city way of life (I took the photograph at the top of this post while walking round to pick them up one evening last week). It's all made a bit easier by my employer being happy for me to work remotely for the year. Decent internet access and a laptop mean I can carry on doing my thing, so that was one less worry.
Things we've noticed north of the Wall:
The stereotype of politeness and helpfulness seems to be competely based in reality, whether on the subway, in the shops or on the phone to the revenue service.
We're told it'll get cold in the winter, but the summer is much more summery than any Belfast season.
Figuring out how to cross the street, or where to buy stamps, can take longer than you'd think.
Chocolate in the UK is much better than chocolate in North America.