Winding down, gearing up

I’ve never bothered putting together a year in review post before. Usually by year’s end my only aim is to watch cricket and do as little as possible to recover and prepare for the year ahead. I’m still watching the cricket, but this year has been one of many milestones (personal and professional) for me so I figure it’s time to start the tradition of recording the events and notable projects of the 12 months now gone.

Here goes:


January

  • After the Xmas break in Byron Bay I spent the entirety of January filling in forms and sourcing every piece of financial information about my life. Which was all in aid of what happened in February…

February

  • We bought a house! Well, we made the bank buy us a house! After a few months of scouring the (horrific) property websites, endless paperwork (seriously), and an inordinately large sum of money we became the owners of a Federation-era house in Melbourne’s north.

    Our house!

March

  • I started writing a book. Dobbed-in by Tim Lucas, I was put in touch with the team at Sitepoint who wanted a designer-type to help with a publication on designing and building websites for mobile devices. The deadlines were short, and I unprepared, but it was a great opportunity to try my hand at writing something of substance (instead of, you know, making pretty pictures). So I said “Yes” and began the two busiest months of my life. I was still working full time during the day – though my colleagues were very supportive of the book, we were too busy for me to take much time off – and so every evening, after work, I’d write. And write. And procrastinate. And then write some more. I’d write until 1 or 2am then get up at 6am for work. Rinse, repeat for 8 weeks. I’m not sure how Lexi managed to simultaneously keep me alive and not murder me, but I’m grateful for both.

    I am not a natural-born writer. Writing is hard. Writing something coherent (never mind interesting) takes me an enormous quantity of mental space. I have to fill my brain with all the bits until the words end up falling out. My process was simple: read everything I could find, write as much as possible, realise the night’s work was mostly rubbish (save for a paragraph or two), and then trash most of it. After a while those bits started to make sense together.

  • With the help of Jim Whimpey I launched TumblrThemr, a little tool for making Tumblr theme development less of a nightmare and more of a pleasure.

April

May

  • I slept.

    Actually that’s not true at all. May/June is the busiest time of year at Icelab so I worked. A lot.

June

  • My book was published! You can buy it and everything!

    My book!

  • Icelab launched a couple of big projects at the National Museum of Australia. In the past we’ve built touchscreen interactives for the NMA using Flash, but I hate working with Flash and so for these two projects – Flemington on Cup Day and Exploring the world at Port Macquarie – we built them using nothing but HTML, CSS and JavaScript. They were initially deployed in the NMA’s new Landmarks gallery running as full screen, kiosk-mode Chrome-only websites.

    We also put the finishing touches on a new site for the Museum of Australian Democracy.

July

  • I became a director and equal part-owner of Icelab (along with Tim and Mikey). I’d been a minority shareholder in Icelab for a while, but with Tim on board we all decided to make Icelab (legally) our thing, and so we did.

August

  • I had reconstructive surgery on a ligament in my wrist. Frisbee is a dangerous sport I tells ya.

  • Icelab launched Discovering Mildenhall’s Canberra, an exhibition of the Mildenhall photographs, a collection of photos from the birth of Canberra.

  • We moved to Melbourne. After living in Canberra for 12 years on the trot it was time for a change. And so, apropos of not very much, we left behind our families, friends and well established lives, and moved into our not-so-newly purchased house!

September

  • I spent all my money at Bunnings (a gigantic hardware store for you non-antipodeans). As soon as you own a house, you have a compulsion to go to hardware stores and literally throw money at them. We did this every weekend in September, and while it has slowed a touch since then I still have to resist the urge to buy various pieces of wood/metal whose function is still a mystery to me.

  • I spoke at What Do You Know, a Web Directions sideshow. A little five-minute preso on the Flemington on Cup Day interactive.

  • Icelab, thanks mostly to the hard work of Tim Riley, launched an iPhone app for Decaf Sucks! Making it easier than ever to find yourself a decent espresso vendor (or warn others of an impending disaster).

  • I spoke at Swipe Conference. The first of this (hopefully) annual event for iOS and Mac developers was held in Melbourne, conveniently timed just after my move south, and I gave an hour-long presentation on Designing for the mobile web.

    Me, onstage at Swipe

  • After much hair-tearing from Hugh Evans in making my code cross-browser, the two NMA interactives went live online. Filled with CSS transition-y goodness they’re accessible, beautiful and hopefully a little fun.

    1. Exploring the world at Port Macquarie
    2. Flemington on Cup Day

October

  • I was selected on the Australian Men’s team for next year’s World Ultimate Club Championships (also known at the Dingoes). It took nearly 12 months of selections and training.

November

  • Icelab launched the new ticketing system (and website) for The Corner Hotel. One of our largest and most complex projects to date.

  • Icelab completed our first year of Dispatch: the little coffee subscription service that could. Sending out little caffeinated packages to people around the country turned out to be immensely satisfying.

December

  • Icelab launched a little site for Behind the Lines, an exhibition of the year’s best political cartoons.

  • I collapsed in a heap. Possibly related to overwork, possibly due to an excess of Christmas ham (the increase in my waistline over the last 2 weeks would seem to suggest the latter).


2011 has been the most exhausting, busiest, and best year of my life. I’ve been lucky enough work with great people at Icelab (and other great people too); do some great, unexpected things; and I’ve spent another year with the wonderful girl (and our slightly “special” dog).

Lexi and Frank

Here’s to a 2012 that’s even better.