2016 in review

I had a good run of year in review posts, but fell off the bandwagon lately. It's time to change that. Before I dive into 2016, here's a recap of the intervening years:

2013: Around the world tickets in hand, Misch and I worked, volunteered, and played Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the USA, Finland, Germany, the UK, Spain, and Italy. An amazing time! Attended my first (and only) WWDC and had a blast. Started working on Decaf Sucks 2.0 (you'll hear more about that much later).

2014: Settling back in Canberra and realising we could live for a long time in our (large by world standards) apartment, we renovated a little: new floors, paint, curtains. Made it feel like a whole new place. Misch and I gave birth to Clover, our best and most satisfying team effort yet.

2015: Took our first with-kid overseas trip, and cruised through to Clover's first birthday and our first parenting anniversary (which we celebrated with a giant bánh mì party). Icelab gathered for FarmLab, and we discussed alternatives-to-Rails for the first time. Our grandmothers both passed away, and we spent time with the extended family. Jojo and I held Rails Camp in Canberra in December, where we got to eat cake for Rails' 10th birthday and watch Star Wars with 70 of our friends. Misch and I got pregnant again but sadly lost the little baby at 7 weeks.

Phew. That was some time. Now onto 2016.

2016.jpg

At home with the (expanded!) family

Losing a baby at the end of 2016 was a big thing, but thankfully it came at a time when work and other demands scale back, so Misch and I spent some good quality time together and could regroup.

We got a couple of big things done in the beginning of the year. First up, we bought a car! After two years of mostly car-free life, it was time for another way to get around the place. Our little Škoda Fabia does just that, and is fun to drive.

Next, we renovated our bathroom! Knowing we'll be living here for many years to come, this was a big and worthwhile upgrade to our home amenity. We splashed out and got a Toto washlet, too. I regret nothing.

And in the last big thing for 2016, we became pregnant again and gave birth to baby Iris Persephone in October. This time around, the room at the Birth Centre was brimming with family. We wanted Clover there, so along came Misch's parents too. Clover's excited cry of "Baby!" upon seeing Iris come into the world is something I'll always remember. Iris' arrival brought another 6 weeks of time at home, which I enjoyed even more now that we're a family of four.

Decaf Sucks 2.0

With Misch's encouragement, I returned to my long stalled effort to release our all-new 2.0 version of Decaf Sucks. Turned out it didn't need all that much; with just a couple of weeks of effort, Max and I got everything wrapped up and released it to the world. It was a weight from my shoulders and I'm happy to finally have it out there.

dry-rb

2016 brought a seismic shift in how I write Ruby applications. After some experimentations with rom-rb and Piotr Solnica's rodakase experiment late in 2015, I knew this was my future. So I dove in and contributed as much as I could to the fledgling set of libraries now known as dry-rb. And we got a lot done. We released a whole bunch of gems, made things "official" with the launch of a website and discussion forum, and expanded the core team of developers to 5.

Along with sharing code, I wanted to start sharing some of the thinking behind the dry-rb style of Ruby app development, so I set about blogging, and managed to publish once a week for a good few months. This culminated with an introductory talk I gave at RedDotRubyConf in Singapore. This was my first conference talk and I relished the opportunity to really polish a particular message. Luckily, I was able to build upon this a repeat performance at Rails Camp in Adelaide and at a Ruby community workshop over in Perth. No doubt, you can expect to hear plenty more from me about dry-rb in 2017 :)

Icelab

Icelab kicked off 2016 by celebrating our 10th birthday! I think we've built a remarkable little company and work-home to many good people, and I think the next 10 years will be even better.

For me, most of 2016 at Icelab was spent getting us settled onto dry-rb and rom-rb as our preferred stack for server-side applications. We shipped our first production app with these all the way back in February, launched our new website as an open source example app in June, and we have several more big sites that'll see the light of day early in 2017. It took a little while to get over the knowledge and productivity hump, but I feel we've hit a good rhythm with the stack now, and given we're the long-term maintainers of most of the things we ship, it'll be something that I expect will pay dividends for many years to come.

Open source was another big theme for the year. Along with our ongoing contributions to dry-rb, we took an "open source first" approach to any other standalone, reusable pieces of code we wrote. This small shift was a big help in making better design choices right from the beginning. You'll be able to see some of this bear fruit when we take our advanced form builder to 1.0 next year. It's already been an incredibly useful tool across our client projects.

I'm also proud that Icelab began contributing to the open source infrastructure that powers Ruby apps everywhere through our contributions to Ruby Together, which we joined in 2016 as Australia's first Emerald member.

And all the rest

And now I'll collect everything else I could think of into a few broadly categorised lists:

Computer life:

  • I've removed Twitter apps from all my platforms. It's helped me focus.
  • Said goodbye to gentlyremind.me, the little Rails app I've been running to email me my Twitter favourites. Now that IFTTT can do that same thing, I'm happy to have one less running thing I have to worry about.
  • Sometime in June I surpassed 250,000 all time Icelab chat messages.
  • Mulled many times with my co-workers on how we could run a better kind of tech meet-up in Canberra. Maybe this year!

Software development:

  • Continued my love/hate relationship with Docker, but I think now I've managed to find the right place for it in our development life: standardised production environments, and local dev only when we have to run something unusual.
  • After uncountable years, I'm finally looking away from Heroku as our production environment of choice.
  • Shipped a production iOS app built using Turbolinks for iOS, and it turned out rather nicely. I'd be happy to play with it some more.
  • We settled on Attache as a standard handler for all our file uploads. I feel it is a smart architectural choice (and I was happy to meet its affable creator Choon Keat in Singapore!)
  • We started to build Danger into our CI builds. It's already helpful, and I think we're just scratching the surface.
  • time_math2 is a great little Ruby library and a wonderful archetype for how "expressive" Ruby libraries can be made without Rails-style monkey patches.

Physical things:

  • The Mizudashi cold brew coffee pot I picked up to celebrate the launch of Decaf Sucks 2.0 makes amazing coffee and I've been putting it to good use ever since the weather warmed up. I'm aiming for 100% uptime of cold brew all summer long.
  • The Minaal daily shipped from their Kickstarter campaign and it immediately became my every day carry. A great companion to their larger carry-on bag.

Apps:

  • After trying innumerable things and never settling, I've finally found a home for all my writing (pieces long, short, random or otherwise): it's Ulysses. What a great app.
  • Castro 2 came out with an ingenious new mechanic and I'm very happy to continue using it. It's helped my jump onto a few new podcasts without the worry of managing them.
  • CarPlay is great. I'll readily admit this was a deciding factor in our new car choice and I wasn't disappointed.
  • Paw is now my one-stop shop for all my HTTP requestin’. Super polished.
  • I'm back on good old Mail.app and happy to ignore all the we'll-host-your-mail-and-your-passwords offerings that continue to swirl around.

Books, film, TV, etc.

  • Ripped through quite a bit of fiction as I waited for Clover to sleep (happily now she does this on her own). Highlights: Seveneves, Proxima & Ultima, The Prefect, Aurora and the Wool trilogy.
  • I look at my Letterboxd profile and once again resolve to watch more cinema. Anyway, 2016's highlights were The Big Short, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Easy A, Arrival, Crazy, Stupid Love and of course Rogue One.
  • Subscribing to Netflix has been great. And fits perfectly well with our no-TV household.

Random:

  • Cooked all the Filipino food I could think up. It was great to have this as a motivating theme behind all my cooking.
  • And I tried toast and yoghurt for breakfast for the first time. Guess there's always time for new firsts ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.