2013

The year in review

It’s the time of the year to write a recap about the things I’ve done this year. 2013 has been a really awesome year, maybe my best year so far. I learned tons, worked with really awesome people, made many new friends and travelled a lot.

Client work

This year, I worked for three big clients (and some smaller ones). The smallest of three was an old employer who wanted a prototype of a new idea (in Ruby on Rails). This prototype evolved into a bigger website, and things got a bit more serious. Because I am not a real Rails developer, and because there was a base level of trust missing, I decided to not continue working on this project. I had written behavior tests using Cucumber for the entire project: this was awesome once I decided to transfer it, because the other developer was able to quickly take it over.

My other two big clients were Aprendo and Zeta. For Aprendo, we built an in-house app for development of elite athletes. I worked together with Florian on this, and our collaboration was so nice we decided to make more things together (more on that later). For Zeta, I can’t yet tell what I built, but keep an eye on them. It’ll be awesome.

I really liked having few bigger clients (rather than a more smaller clients). I’m currently still wide open in 2014 for client projects, if you have a bigger project that needs a serious developer (or a team): get in touch.

Conferences and Events

This year was the year of the conferences for me. Almost exactly one year ago, I realized that there’s no English iOS conference in Berlin, and with all the awesome talent in the city we definitely needed one. So I teamed up with Peter, Matt and Max, and we decided to organize UIKonf. This was a lot of hard work, a lot of things learned, and went way better than expected. One of my first lessons in how working in a team can make you achieve that much more. In fact, it was so awesome we decided to do it again, tickets for 2014 are now on sale.

Because the awesome NSHipster was in town, we decided to put on an event together with Mattt, and put on an NSHipster night, which turned out to be a great succes.

Also, after UIKonf, Stijn Oomes approached me with the idea of doing a 3D programming workshop. This went well, we even had two days of workshops. We went over the basics of 3D programming, and took different approaches in getting 3D scenes on the screen, from high-level with SceneKit to low-level-everything-in-OpenGL.

Finally, a while ago Apple announced Tech Talks in Berlin. After learning that I didn’t get a ticket, I decided to put my frustration to good use and started organizing Alt Tech Talks, a free event for everyone who did or did not get a ticket. On Wednesday night I asked on Twitter, on Thursday I had the first 4 speakers confirmed and on Friday I rented a movie theater. The rest isn’t history yet, because they’ll happen in a few days from now.

Talks

Because of starting objc.io (more about this later), Florian, Daniel and me gained a bit of visibility in the iOS and Mac community. And that lead to conferences asking us if we’d be interested in speaking. I like speaking, so off we went.

First, there was NSSpain, which was an English-speaking conference in LogroƱo. We were quite impressed: it was well organized, great weather, and lots of nice food and wine. I spoke about Lighter View Controllers.

Then, the talk I was most afraid of this year: an hour-long presentation in German (!) at Macoun. Fortunately, my German is finally at a level where people don’t have problems understanding me, and with enough preparation, I think my talk came across well. The subject (Schlanke View Controller) was the the same as in Spain, and it seems to be very relevant for all iOS developers.

About a month later, I spoke at pragma mark, an iOS/OS X conference in Milan, Italy. Here, I spoke about async programming, which went okay. It is quite a hard topic to talk about, but luckily, writing the article for objc.io forced me to dive deep into the topic, and giving me plenty of raw material for the talk.

The hardest talk format this year was at Ignite Berlin; every presentation is 20 slides, and every slide auto-advances every 15 seconds. I prepared this the other way around: normally, I write an outline for a talk, expand that a couple of times and finally make slides. This time, however, I recorded myself telling the story I wanted to tell, and made some slides that loosely reinforced what I wanted to tell.

I also talked at CocoaHeads Dresden and twice at the Berlin Compiler Meetup.

Other

In the beginning of the year, I joined KANT, a studio full of great people. I spent a couple of months working there, but after being on-site with my client a lot, and having other commitments that didn’t allow me to be there a lot, I decided to cancel my desk there. Being among them, I learned to appreciate coffee even more.

I started lots of small new projects, some succesful, most failed. I often spend a day or two building something (sometimes more). It’s a lot of fun, and in doing so I learned a lot. I hope that I can use some of those ideas in future projects.

Continuing from last year, we try to meet regularly for our German course. With my fellow Dutchies Alper and IKSI we take lessons from @fraulea. I will probably spend the next 10 years improving my German while never getting close to being near-native. But that’s okay, it’s a lot of fun and a beautiful language to discover. For the German speakers that read this: if you ever hear me make mistakes, please correct me.

After having spent most of the year freelancing, I’ve been working on a product together with Florian and A Color Bright. We’re not quite ready to tell you what it is, but are getting close to release a private beta towards the end of this year. And hopefully can submit to the store early January. It’s going to be a native Mac app (our first) and it’s going to be very beautiful. Building your own products is lots of fun, I hope to do a lot more of that in 2014.

objc.io

The last work-related topic: objc.io. On the morning after UIKonf, on the hackday, I sat outside in the sun, together with Florian, Daniel and Peter. Instead of hacking, we were talking and drinking coffee, and I felt a bit guilty about that. Florian, Daniel and me decided that we should write a blog with the three of us. A few days later, I tried to convince them that we should instead make a magazine: one topic each month, and in-depth articles. We asked IKSI to make a beautiful design, and asked Natalye to do the copy-editing. We started writing and tried to put a lot of effort into the first issue. Ricki wrote an article too, as our first guest-writer. After a few weeks, Florian and me sat outside on my balcony, and pressed publish. We posted the link on Twitter, waited a bit, and saw a huge stream of compliments coming in.

Each month, each of us spends a few days researching and writing my article, as well as coordinating the other things. It’s a lot of work, especially because we really have to investigate each topic very deeply, as we don’t want to spread the wrong ideas. But it’s oh so rewarding. The writing and researching in itself make me a lot more knowledgeable. Before writing, I sometimes don’t know too much about a topic, and having the article and its deadline force me to learn. It’s just great. And of course, getting all the positive reactions from our readers is very flattering.

Leisure

This year, I visited Spain three times: once for running, once for a conference and the third time to spend some time by myself (I’m writing this article from Seville). I learned how to do exercises at the gym, which was so much fun: I never expected that lifting heavy stuff could be fun, but it’s great. I ran a new PB on the 10K: 37:03. I ran my first marathon: the Oslo Forest Marathon. It was way too hilly for me to run fast, and while the first 27K went great, the last 15 were very hard. I visited friends and family in The Netherlands, but not as much as I wanted. I ran up the Brocken a couple of times. Together with Frank, I walked Hadrian’s wall, and spend the week after that running up mountains in the Lake District. I went sailing and camping in Sweden.

One of my disappointments was not being able to run the Berlin Marathon. I trained for months, aiming to run a fast first road-marathon. However, during the last week of tapering, I got quite sick, and had to stay in bed for a few days. I might have caught a bug, or maybe I trained too hard. It took me a while to recover, and I still haven’t gotten back to running 5 times a week.

Recap

It was awesome. I had a blast. I did work too much, and want to change that next year.