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in 2015

My year, more or less, as told by photos of Baby Mabel.

Previously: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

in 2015 I saw some movies

in 2015 I  read some books

in 2015 I wrote a lot of code

in 2015 I ate some  good food

in 2015 I spent time with family

in 2015 I grew up (a little)

2014 in 6 Minutes, 13 Seconds

2014 was a pretty big year for me. Here’s a video I made about 2014.

Here are a couple of different versions if that doesn’t work: YouTube, Dropbox.

I shot and edited this video entirely on my iPhone using 1 Second Everyday, iMovie for iOS, Hyperlapse and Movie Looks HD. The song is They Won’t See Me, by The Field. Buy the album, it’s fantastic.

Previous annual posts and things I made: 2013, 2012, 2011.


0:03 Travel to Vietnam.
0:59 3rd Anniversary.
1:05 Wisdom teeth extracted.
1:37 Color Splash breaks into App Store top 10.
2:00 7lbs, 7oz of pure fury.
2:04 Meeting Mimi & Poppa.
2:32 Meeting great-grandma.
2:57 Grandma & Grandad.
3:38 Stepping in the ocean on Vancouver Island with Uncle Tyson.
4:04 Frank & Tashia’s wedding.
4:06 Cousins!
4:11 Tyson & Gillian’s wedding.
4:40 First laugh.
4:57 A very long plane ride to Australia.
5:01 Cousins!
5:10 Back to Canada.
5:17 40 years old.
5:46 Bill Murray.
6:12 “Ah-bah”

vietnam, 2014









2013, in no particular order

  1. “TWO PINK LINES in the Result Window. One line may be lighter than the other. Appearance of the results may vary.”
  2. hawkguy200pxSaga. Locke & Key. Hawkeye.
  3. Chatting with the parents, Luc and the Lee Brochu fam on FaceTime, on a tiny magic robocomputer that I sometimes have to check my pocket to make sure I have it on me. The future has finally arrived and it fits so well into the present it’s easy to forget how new it is.
  4. iDev 360 Game Jam: Maybe I could make a stealth puzzle/RPG hybrid for iPhone? DungeonRaid with ninjas.
  5. I think Upstream Color is probably my favourite film of the decade so far.
  6. Listening to the Flop House while washing dishes, ’cause it’s the one podcast that could make me laugh out loud on the Skytrain.
  7. I had a novel-length dream about guilt, redemption and Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.
  8. Is our apartment okay for a baby? No matter, we’re not moving, so it’s just going to have to be. Our ancestors had babies in mud huts and sod huts and caves, right?
  9. Mount Pleasant -> Chinatown -> DTES -> Strathcona -> Railtown. 4000-4100m. 50-55 minute walk.
  10. juxt200pxJuxtaposer Version 3.0. “Juxtaposer 3.0 is the biggest update since we first released the app over 5 years ago! We’ve kept the fun and powerful editing you’ve come to expect, but added a great-looking new UI, a new icon, and many of the features you’ve requested. We hope you’ll love it.”
  11. Damn you, Spelunky. Damn you and your Goddamned tiki traps.
  12. Well, I just read the comments section of the Globe & Mail and now my whole day is ruined. This is the year I pretty much gave up reading non-tech/film news.
  13. What’s the appropriate age at which to show a child Jaws? Jaws 2?
  14. Al pastor and carnitas tacos from La Taqueria.
  15. Vieux Carré: 1/2 ounce rye, 1/2 ounce Cognac, 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth. Add Bénédictine, Peychaud’s Bitters, angostura bitters, pour over ice.
  16. And another generation leaves the prairie for the coast, as my 92-year-old grandmother moves from Winnipeg to Vancouver Island.
  17. Best meal: Six-course dinner with a table full of strangers at Beast, in Portland.
  18. Henry, the Home by Jan vacuum cleaner sidekick. Beloved of children, terror of dogs.
  19. Orson Atticus Dash ? Oliver Rocket Hugo Jasper
  20. pebbles200pxNever mind all that, we’re expecting a girl!
  21. I don’t think I’ve read a Machine Learning paper in months. I’m starting to feel like a rusty tool. I need to educate myself about Deep Learning.
  22. Developery-person meetups. “It’s been a while, but I think I’ve recovered from the last developer beer-‘n’-bitch session to put out the call again this week. Who wants to come out for a drink on Thursday to talk about the merits of Linkedin and speculate about WWDC dates?”
  23. Walking home late at night through Mount Pleasant from The Cascade Room with Janelle.
  24. Escorted away from the stage by overzealous security at Morrissey’s Portland concert.
  25. Eating dinner and watching teevee on the sofa with the wife.
  26. Visiting friends, some not seem in years, in Toronto and New York. Amy, Dave, David, Andy et al.
  27. See, Janelle? Vancouver is not all there is to Canada. Some part of it are Toronto.
  28. Bugaboo? UPPABaby Vista?
  29. Baby kicks my hand.
  30. aupetite200pxHam, paté and hot pepper bánh mì from Au Petit Café.
  31. Nine Inch Nails concert with a pregnant wife. Took a video so baby will know how rockin’ her folks were even before she came along.
  32. “Think I’ll finally give this Mad Men show another shot.”
  33. You know, we should just do it. At the end of the year let’s just pick up and go to Yunnan, China and Northern Vietnam. All of Vietnam! Oh, and back to Cambodia Bangkok, too. That place was awesome.
  34. Color Splash Version 2.1. “We redesigned and polished the user interface and added some new features we hope you will love.”
  35. Ultrasound technology is pretty amazing. I had no idea.
  36. I used to think Twitter was like Facebook in some way, but it’s not. It’s like an RSS reader without the stress of feeling like you have to catch up on the thousand unread articles waiting for you every time you look at it. Drink from the hose.
  37. The last third of this year is all caught up in anticipation of a momentous 2014.
  38. The ending episodes of Breaking Bad were powerful, appropriate and brilliant. Why don’t they linger in my mind as long as I thought they should?
  39. I just want our daughter to be healthy and happy.
  40. elemental200pxGenerating page after page of ideas I will surely never have time to implement for Elemental, my iOS Roguelike prototype. I can see the appeal of being a Tarn Adams with my own Dwarf Fortress as my life’s work.
  41. You know, Pacific Rim was actually pretty great. I should watch it again.
  42. I want my daughter to also be intelligent and beautiful and strong and tough and witty and creative. She can maybe be a comic book artist or a microbiologist.
  43. commit 86408b833ed66c3d32c1ce23597a “When using copy to clipboard, schedule the copy after the menu is dismissed. Old devices don’t like starting a copy in the middle of an animation, and new devices finish it so fast the HUD is disorienting.”
  44. 12 hours coding, then saw a Man or Astro-Man show complete w/theremin solo & then ate some Brie.
  45. Drunken Project Runway Night with Tyson & Gill.
  46. Color Splash for iPad Version 2.0. “This is our biggest update yet, adding some great new features and a new look.”
  47. From the v1.7.3 release notes of Brogue, my favourite Roguelike of 2013: “Submerging monsters cannot have the ‘explosive’ mutation. ” “Summoners can continue to summon while they are fleeing.” “Pit bloats are a lighter shade of blue.” “Bloodwort pods no longer appear in the side bar; only the stalk is listed.”
  48. 12 Years a Slave. Gravity. The World’s End.
  49. bkkFlight200pxTwo one-way tickets to Bangkok, please. Round-trip tickets are for cowards.
  50. Expecting Better. The Happiest Baby on the Block. Bringing Up Bebé.
  51. It’s too bad SpriteKit was released after I started working on Elemental, but the code base is already such a mess a rewrite might be in order if and when I pick it up again, anyway.
  52. iOS 7. No operating system update has had as much of an impact on my life.
  53. I don’t think spending eight hours on a Chinese bus barrelling through the mountains with our backpacks is going to be as much fun when preggers. How ’bout more of a budget resort and private car vacation?
  54. Tenth anniversary of the final (?) version of Nethack. Clunkiness and rough edges be damned, it still has a depth and charm I’ve yet to see in another game.
  55. Half a dozen trips to the dentist later, my teeth hurt more than ever and I’m significantly poorer.
  56. Still haven’t found a gaming or game development podcast I really like, though I’ve definitely enjoyed episodes and parts of Roguelike Radio and the late Gameological Podcast.
  57. Al Pacino night. Tracing one man’s increasingly bizarre acting choices, from The Godfather to Cruising to Donnie Brasco to Righteous Kill.
  58. homebyjan200pxSo long, Home By Jan. It was the perfect job for Janelle for a while!
  59. Boards of Canada. Four Tet. Moderat.
  60. Kommunist babies: Violet, Hazel and Penny.
  61. I know exactly what my next tattoo will be, but I guess this is not the year I get it.
  62. More ultrasound. Baby gots long limbs, not like dad.
  63. Papers, Please. Gone Home.
  64. Best neighbourhood eats: Shiro, Kirin, Beircraft, “the good 24-hour Vietnamese place”, Pronto Caffe, Benkei.
  65. Flights this year: Toronto, New York, Denver, Bangkok, Portland. Plus sea plane flights from Nanaimo to Vancouver.
  66. I assume I’m still growing. As a person.
  67. Listening to Apple tech podcasts on the way to work. Debug. Accidental Tech Podcast. The Talk Show. Developing Perspective.
  68. Janelle in Hawaii with her friends, little suspecting this would be her last big blowout before getting pregnant. (Well, somewhat suspecting.)
  69. Just a number.
  70. bitter200pxMidnight summer beers and Scotch eggs at Bitter Tasting Room.
  71. “‘This is a story about you,” said the man on the radio, and you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio.” Welcome to Night Vale.
  72. Deep Learning
  73. commit f11d7bbd5c41e64dc8d8285cc415 “[issue #148] If the user used CS 2.1 and did not enable the loupe, we should keep it disabled in 2.2.”
  74. A Separation
  75. Hope I can be a good dad. No, wait, a GREAT dad. The best. Or at least, competent.
  76. XCOM: Enemy Within. Finally got two level 3 MECs. Sectopods, you’re in for an asskicking.
  77. Hendrik’s, Tanqueray and Botanist.
  78. Grey Goose, Belvedere.
  79. Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve
  80. 868hack200pxFor a full fifteen minutes, getting a score of 54 in 868-Hack feels the biggest accomplishment of my life.
  81. I will be 40 next year. How odd that feels. I should think about some kind of party or something.
  82. Pregnancy worries. Are we doing everything right? What will affect the baby?
  83. But also, what are we going to do, put Janelle in a plastic bubble until the baby is born? And then live as terrified, overprotective parents?
  84. Getting to know the staff at my dental clinic pretty well.
  85. Chimay Bleue, Traquair Jacobite and Liefmans cuvée brut.
  86. Our daughter can take a gap year and get a tattoo and go backpack around the world when she’s 19, I guess, if she wants. Not 18, that’s too young.
  87. Girls has to be the biggest gap between how much I would have thought I’d like a show and how much I do.
  88. After nearly three years, eight new episodes of The Venture Bros. I want the show to keep being great, but God, I want more of it, too.
  89. A List of Things to See and Do in Vietnam While Pregnant
  90. bonetaClosed200pxGood bye, Boneta.
  91. Vancouver -> Guangzhou -> Bangkok in just 17 crushing hours.
  92. Reprints of Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing.
  93. Aeropress.
  94. Oh, man, I have a withering rejoinder to this random jackass’ anonymous interweb comment. Withering. You are so lucky I can’t be bothered to sign in, random jackass.
  95. French Manhattan (my version): 2 ounces bourbon, 1/2 ounce Chambord, angostura bitters. Stir with ice, pour into cocktail glass.
  96. Looks like I’ll be spending 2014 getting caught up on all the 2013 movies I’ve been meaning to see: Her. Inside Llewyn Davis. The Act of Killing. Frances Ha. Leviathan. The Conjuring. The Past. Blue is the Warmest Color. All is Lost. The Wolf of Wall Street. For starters.
  97. Guangzhou is a good antidote to the idea air travel used to be sophisticated and glamorous. Sharing a terminal with a couple of hundred people chain-smoking and coughing between flights.
  98. How very fortunate to be able to work helping create things I’m proud of, with people I like.
  99. Let’s, I dunno, let’s keep the pink princess shit to a minimum, is the depth of my parenting philosophy.
  100. Ending the year on the beach at Mui Ne, Vietnam. Seafood, Vietnamese coffee, cheap drinks and endless free entertainment watching the kitesurfers.

2012, A Year in My Pop-Culture Life

(In which I attempt to sum up my year via my favourite movie, book, podcast, game, TV series and album.)

django buy accutane usa Django Unchained

That means we visit every plantation until we find her. And once the final Brittle brother lies dead in the dust, I am going to give you your freedom. And I’ll take you to rescue your wife.

Despite the title of this post, 2012 was really not a big year of cultural consumption for me, and this isn’t a Best Of 2012. Not only was I settling into a new post-academic career and new life with my awesome newish wife (we were married in 2011, so it still seems kind of new), but I spent literally months working and travelling in New Zealand. NZ is home to my favourite theatre (the Embassy Theatre in Wellington), but out in the sticks where we mostly were, it’s not great for getting caught up on the latest art-house flicks. Plus, the internet is terrible there. Everywhere. Always.

So there is a lot to get caught up on, including some movies I well might end up liking even more than Django Unchained — I’m really looking forward to seeing The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Holy Motors, The Loneliest Planet and Wuthering Heights (yup!) — but I’m going to list this as my favourite movie of 2012 that I saw in 2012. How great is it to live in a world where Quentin Tarantino gets to make whatever movies he wants?

headgame Hiji Locke & Key

That’s it? ‘Damn, it smells like the fishsticks are burning and don’t do that with your head, Bode?’ What the fuck?

We moved into our current apartment, carved out of the main floor of an old inner-city Vancouver house, in late 2011, but it didn’t really feel like a home until we got back from New Zealand and made it our own this past summer. Now, I really dig it. One of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is to sit in our big armchair by the window with a coffee (or sweet, sweet bourbon) and take a volume from the growing stacks of comics in the living room. I’ve been gradually catching up with classics like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Brubaker and Rucka’s Gotham Central, but the ongoing series I’ve been following most closely is Joe Hill’s ingenious, gorgeous and chilling Locke & Key, which reached new heights in 2012 as it heads toward a 2013 conclusion.

hypercritical-itunes.jpg Hypercritical

A weekly talk show ruminating on exactly what is wrong in the world of Apple and related technologies and businesses. Nothing is so perfect that it can’t be complained about.

While I started doing iOS development in 2011, this year was the one I feel I actually became an iOS Developer. And one of the things about being a dev in 2012 doing anything remotely related to Apple is I get to plow through a gazillion dev and tech podcasts. Some of them are technical, some are inspirational, some are just interesting. But my favourite tech podcast, the one that I would always listen to as soon as it was posted, and the one that more than any other was the soundtrack to my new career, was Hypercritical. John Siracusa has an amazing ability to take pretty much any subject in his wide area of interest, flip it upside down and show you how it works. And, more importantly, why it doesn’t work the way it should. Even if I’m not interested in the subject — or maybe especially if I’m not interested — it’s worth hearing Siracusa dig into it. For example, one of my favourites was #96, in which Siracusa spent an hour detailing microchip fabrication and followed it up with a dissection of geek-culture misogyny.

Unfortunately, Hypercritical wrapped up at the end of 2012 (though as a relative latecomer, I have a whole year or more of old episodes to get caught up on, including the legendary toaster review). It was great while it lasted, though, and it’s really affected the way I think about tech. I now sometimes find myself thinking about things through a Hypercritical filter: not so much “What Would Siracusa Do?”, but “What Would Siracusa Hate About This?”

ss_052d698926073e8d407a864f0e63a486af24ec0d.1920x1080FTL: Faster than Light

You find a number of ships fleeing from a small space station. You hail them, asking what’s wrong: “Help! We’re being overrun by some sort of giant alien spiders!”

1. Send the crew to help immediately! Giant alien spiders are no joke.

2. You can’t risk fighting some unknown alien on every backwater station you come across. You prepare to jump.

You know how I knew when I became a real iOS app developer? When I started thinking obsessively about ideas for new apps even while I was still working on existing ones. I’ve long had a vague idea that I would like to make a game, specifically a Roguelike, and toward the end of the year some of these ideas started to take shape in the form of an iPad game I’ve started tinkering with. (My love of Roguelikes could probably be the topic of a whole other blog post. In fact, it is.)

Whether FTL should be considered a Roguelike, a “Roguelike-like” or something else altogether is an ongoing and tiresome debate, but it definitely has the things I like: very deep tactical gameplay, fairly straightforward strategy, a high level of challenge and the kind of throat-in-mouth decision-making only permadeath can deliver. It’s a masterpiece, but alternately brilliant and maddening, which is why it’s been so good in helping me to think through my own game ideas. I don’t want to emulate FTL, I want to make a game that does the opposite of every FTL design decision I disagree with.


Hello, everybody. Um, hello. I mean, by everybody, I mean you guys. I mean everybody who’s here. Really, I shouldn’t say everybody because most people are not here. By a pretty huge majority, most people are not here. Most people are in China, actually.

Actually, that’s not true. Most people are dead.

I admire the hell out of Louis CK’s passion and work ethic and fact that he’d rather use the time he has in his career to work on interesting projects. As I get older it becomes increasingly apparent to me that if you are lucky enough to be even a little bit smart, a little bit creative and a little bit hard-working, you essentially have a limited number of “project slots” you can do in your lifetime. You can spend those slots trying to make money, or trying to get respect, or trying to do something that satisfies some creative itch. But there is a limit to your life, buddy, and each time you spend one, it’s gone, so spend them wisely. ‘Cause really, you only have maybe fifteen.

Seeing CK’s live show in Seattle was a real high point of 2012 for us, but I think I like his TV series even more than his stand-up. I love his cinematic instincts, and Louie gives him more space to unpack his philosophy, probably best seen in the hilarious and heartbreaking season finale. I’m totally in sync with Louis’ wry humanism, just way less smart, funny and articulate.

Another great thing is that Louis CK/Louie is something Janelle and I are both very down with. There are lots of things we both like, but usually it’s the case that one of us is a superfan and one is okay with it. We are both Louis CK superfans (Tarantino superfans, too, for that matter).

Primordial, The Gathering Wildernesscover

I sing a song of the tomb
Of the cold and heathen earth
With virgin voice to poisoned womb
I call to the shadowed kind
To men of myth, etched in stone
Whose songs are heard no more
The women of the barren lands
This is your time

So yeah, this has not been a huge year for exhaustively plumbing the depths of the annual cultural offerings. And maybe it’s just a testament to my approaching middle-age, but of the few new albums I listened to in 2012, none really stood out (though looking through my iTunes, I see did like songs from Bob Mould, Cloud Nothings, Sun Kil Moon, Cat Power, Frightened Rabbit, Shakleton, Japandroids, Four Tet, Dan Deacon and others, so I’m not completely out of the loop). But you know what? Sometimes you stumble onto things in the back catalog worth catching up with, like the Irish Black Metal band Primordial, who I had never heard of until they were namechecked by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. I listened to the first track off The Gathering Wilderness and it blew my mind. Exactly the kind of pagan-wizard blood-and-mud music I never even knew I needed in my life and now can’t live without. So this 2005 album is gonna have to be my album of 2012.