Beginning the Weekly Squeak — Wrapping Up 2015

What better way to start my new blog post and podcast of semi-random uttering and opinions than with a round of the year and thoughts that have led me to starting it in the first place.

Podcast

All of the Weekly Squeak posts are accompanied by a podcast, subscribe here or listen to the individual episode below.

It would be an understatement to say that 2015 has been an ‘interesting’ year. I’m not sure if I feel qualified or informed enough to form any in-depth analysis or opinions on a lot of the events this year, but they have affected me in many ways.

I love the European dream, even though it’s a crazy and sometimes challenging dream that has its problems, flaws and plenty of room for improvement. However, I believe it’s a crazy dream worth pursuing in some way, shape or form and seeing it violently shaken this year has been disheartening, especially as I currently live in one of the hearts of the European ideal.

Introducing my new Chinchilla character, more to come in 2016

When it comes to worldwide conflicts and their outcomes, as an amateur enthusiastic historian it saddens me to see us repeating so many potential lessons from History over and over again. More sad is the reactions to these situations that (as far as I can tell) are likely to lead to the constant cycle of conflicts against intangible enemies that we seem especially keen on in the past decades.

Whilst I am glad that 2015 is wrapping up, I doubt 2016 is going to lead to anything more positive on these fronts, but sometimes these artificial date constructs we’re so fond of can provide a little sense of closure.

Let’s move onto other more esoteric and cheerful topics that punctuated my 2015 and ones I feel more qualified to discuss.

In no particular order or sense of priority.

Apple Music

As a long-term digital nomad of sorts, I digitised my CDs and other music formats over ten years ago and have never looked back. Thus my musical eco-system has always been iTunes and whilst I recognise it has it’s flaws, I’ve never quite understood most tech enthusiasts deep loathing of the application. As I started to investigate various streaming services for discovering new music and ways of sharing a music collection with my Wife, merging my ‘physical-digital’ collection with a streaming service was always something of a compromise. Spotify did an OK job, but the mobile experience was never great. Google Music did a better job on mobile, but I am sometimes a bit old-fashioned and prefer actual applications to in-browser experiences.

When Apple announced the music service it was exactly what I had been waiting for and I waited with baited breath for the Android app to complete my experience. Again, many tech enthusiasts have been scathing of the whole Apple Music experience, but for me it has been a dream finally realised. Yes there are some flaws, and anyone who has been using Apple products for as long as me (since 1996) knows that Apple has never excelled at ‘cloud’ services. A lot of these issues were solved for me when the song limit was increased from 25,000 to 100,000 as my collection was 26,000, just nudging me over the limit. I experience some occasionally sync glitches between the Android and Mac applications, but as a fairly casual music consumer and not too fussy about carefully constructed playlists they are good enough for me. Here are my main two issues that I would love to find answers or solutions to.

  • The ability to dig deeper into the ‘Recently Added’ list in the Android app, only showing three is no where near enough.
  • I had some EQ presets set in the AudioFX app from my Google Music days and I’m still uncertain if the Android app respects these or not. I’m not fussy either way, but it would be nice to know.

Games

As I am creating a board game chipshopgame.com, of course an obvious activity has been to play many others (digital and analogue) to draw inspirations and ideas. Moving to Berlin vastly increased my access to these worlds and I have had a great year of playing and observing other games and creators. 2015 was a great year for games of all varieties and I very much enjoyed what I played and the people I met. Play testing sessions of Chip Shop are getting me closer and closer to a product I am increasingly happy with and I intend to spend a lot of 2016 promoting the hell out of it.

Which leads nicely to…

Travel

Thanks to my job with Crate I travelled a lot in 2015, maybe about a dozen countries. This included some places I loved such as the Balkans and Baltics and exposed me to ideas, people and cultures I knew very little about, but have grown to love and want to visit more in the future. Whilst I have changed roles with Crate, I don’t intend to stop traveling next year, in fact now that my work life is pretty stable, I intend to embrace the digital nomad life more and spend more time speaking at events, working and moving around, but still calling Berlin home.

Work

I have been a programmer or sorts since about 1998 and whilst I admit I likely suffer a little from ‘imposters syndrome’, I am also happy to admit that I’m not the best in the World. However, 2015 saw me realise and consolidate what I am good at and find enough work quite quickly to sustain a worthwhile and fruitful career. Writing, speaking and educating about technology and programming suits my personality and skill set well. It gives me the opportunity to try different things, experiment and constantly learn whilst educating others and getting paid for the privilege. I look forward to building on this in 2016.

Life

Wrapping all this up, 2015 has been a year of fluctuation, change and creating uncertain futures. However for me personally I am slowly learning better to embrace my own personality and after many years of feeling that I need to change it to become more ‘normal’, have finally come to a realisation and level of comfort with me and my personality. Instead of seeking ways to change what I am, I have a better knowledge of what I need and instead embrace that increasingly better. Still a lot of work to do, but 2015 was a good start.