1st January 2019

It’s the end of 2018, and that means it’s time to review the year!

Personal Moments

Last year I had a few big personal moments – I graduated university, and started my first professional role as an iOS Developer. Well, this year I’m still working the same job, and I’m continuing to develop my skills in the role.

As for anything specifically in this year, I’m probably left until very late October, where myself and my partner had an offer accepted on a house. It’s not wholly completed yet, there’s still a few things left in the process. But it’s nearing completion, and we plan to be moving in very early next year! And we will both become homeowners at the ages of 26.

That will certainly give me a lot more to write about in the new year, as I try out new home automation devices, just general rambling, and I’m sure some stress from building Swedish furniture.

Projects

Not a massively active year for me in terms of raw numbers, but in 2018, I’ve been working on three projects. One of them I cancelled during its beta phase, one was cancelled when it was nearly ready for release and the other one, fortunately, made it!

Slate

Slate was my attempt at building an iOS client for the Micro.blog service. I got quite far into the development, and I had a very usable app, which was in public beta. However, my use of the platform slowly died down, and so did the amount of effort I put in the app. So I made the decision to stop working on it completely. I haven’t given up on Micro.blog as a user just yet though, and I may even attempt an app for it in the future, but there were too many obstacles for me to work on this.

Text Case

Text Case is quite possibly my best app. I think I’m revenue terms at least, but also the reception it had when it first launched, the code quality, and the simplicity of it. It’s certainly the one I’m happiest with.

It’s currently sitting at version 1.3.1, and I’m already in the middle of 1.4 which should be released sometime in January hopefully.

There are 15 different formats to use, and also 4 different styles of title case formatting. I also added support for Siri Shortcuts pretty much as soon as it was released, which definitely helped for the publicity.

It was covered by a ton of blogs, a screencast video tutorial, multiple mentions in the Club MacStories newsletter (where I also was interviewed about Text Case), a German podcast, and quite a few more! It’s something I can definitely take as a big highlight of my year, and there’s still a massive amount of improvement that can be made.

While writing this piece, Federico Viticci included Text Case in his “My Must-Have iOS Apps, 2018 Edition” article on MacStories. 😍

If you want to update yourself on the history of Text Case, here are the blog posts of each release:

Hydrate

This was an app started by a personal need. I wanted to start tracking water intake, and I wanted to work on a new app. So I joined the two together and started to work on Hydrate.

It actually went quite far, and at one point I thought I had a super minimal version. However, WaterMinder grew in popularity, and after a while, I just became less interested in tracking my water intake. So the project kind of died out.

Travelling

I went to five different countries last year (counting the Canary Islands as separate to Spain), and this year I’ve stepped it up to 6 different countries (not including England), and four of them were first-time visits!

  • Bournemouth, England.
  • Berlin, Germany.
  • Folkstone, England.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Sheerness, England.
  • Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Eastbourne, England.
  • Berwick, England.
  • Wells-next-the-sea, England. (About 4 times)
  • Banham, England.
  • Agadir, Morocco.
  • Barcelona, Spain.
  • Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain.
  • La Graciosa, Canary Islands, Spain.

For the last two trips, I shared a few photos only blog:

Blog

I’ve written 100 blog posts, not including the 60 linked posts, and 351 micro posts (This was imported from Micro.blog, and my Instagram), this year. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • A Relic of My Musical Past 🎮🎼 – I was searching for some old hard drives of mine, and I found a very old bit of music I made.
  • Ideas and Speculation on the Future of iPad Connectivity– This was my reaction to the original rumours of the now released iPads switching to a portrait Smart Connector. I took this a bit further and speculated on what other connectivity the iPad could have, and what it would mean for the platform as a whole.
  • Two Rediscovered Pieces of My Writing – This was another bit of my history, as I found two very old bits of my writing from a very old and lost blog. The first was my experience developing a game and then watching other people playing with it. The second was a very strange one, that I haven’t written anything similar to in a while, and that was me explaining what was at the heart of a black hole, what time dilation is, and how an event horizon works.
  • Refining My Device Usage to Maximise Value – Just before iOS 12 was announced, I decided to try and cut all the distractions from my devices, whether it was notifications or complete apps, and then I discussed what features I would like in iOS 12 to help this.

What I’ve Enjoyed

Movies

  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Infinity War
  • Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
  • Outlaw King
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Black Panther

TV Shows

  • Punisher
  • Dynasties
  • Stranger Things (Season 1 and 2)
  • Lost in Space

Books

My original target was to read 15 books this year, however, I only managed 11. The main reason behind that is mainly because I don’t finish many books, I’ve got at least 6 that I’m at least halfway through.

  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  • World of Warcraft: Traveler (Series) by Greg Weisman
  • The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben Unfinished
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking Unfinished

Podcasts

I listen to a ton of podcasts, including some new ones in 2018. However, I’m now getting to a point where I can’t physically listen to every episode of them.

However, here are the podcasts that I at least try to listen to all episodes, and enjoy the most:

Games

I don’t play a massive variety of games nowadays, so this list is basically the games I play regularly, but here’s what I’ve enjoyed:

  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth – Mac
  • Pokémon GO – iOS
  • True Skate – iOS
  • FIFA 19 – PS4
  • Flipflop Solitaire – iOS
  • No Man’s Sky: Next – PS4

Blogs

As an owner of a blog, I tend to read a lot of other peoples as well. I’m sure most people reading this will have a bunch of common reads, but here are a few of my favourite one-man blogs, that I recommend:

Expectations From Last Year

My plans for 2018 were to rebuild my website, start a newsletter, focus more on Swift, go on more small trips, and attempt a 365 whether it was a photo-a-day, or write something every day.

It starts well, as I did rebuild my two main websites – my main domain (chrishannah.me), and my blog (blog.chrishannah.me). I moved my blog to a more stable WordPress instance, where I also added a redesign, and I changed my base domain to a very simple website which just has a few links to find me on a few platforms.

I did attempt a newsletter, and it actually took two forms. I started off by sharing links every week of interesting things I found the internet, and then I expanded to that to include podcast episodes, news on what I was up to, and links to new posts on my blog. This lasted 13 weeks in total, and I don’t currently have any plans to bring it back.

One plus was the focus on Swift, in that I’ve been putting a bigger effort on the quality of my development, working on conventions, and expanding my knowledge at work in things like continuous integration, UI tests, etc.

The travelling was certainly something I also excelled at again, somehow I managed to fit in quite a lot of trips this year. I won’t set any expectations for next year, but I have to admit I’m already booked to go to Oslo in March!

The last plan for 2018 was to start some kind of 365 project. I started a photo challenge, and also a personal journal. Neither of them lasted the year, but the journal is something I want to try again.

Plans for 2019

For 2019 my plans are more refined than last year. I think this is representative of the stage of my life I’m going through, as everything has become a lot more stable. Especially as the time I have outside work isn’t as big as it would be as a student, and also as I’m moving out this year.

Most years I would desire to always do so many new projects in the new year, but my plan is to double down on what I’m currently offering, and then hopefully start one more project. I’ve spent the second half of 2018 working on Text Case, and that has been my most successful app so far. So I want to try and build on that success, however big or small that was, and see what I can do next.

Something I want to do more of is writing for this blog, and writing in general. I’ve grown a tendency to publish more linked posts on this blog than write my own content. I want the ratio to be flipped in 2019, and ideally at least one full piece every week, with a lot of smaller rambles, and opinions on various things.

The writing also leads me to another plan, and that’s to get back journalling. I’m still not sure what form that will take, whether it’s in the public on my blog, digitally on something like Day One, or full analogue inside a Leuchtturm notebook. I can’t see myself going full Bullet Journal, but maybe more in the form of a diary. The issue I will need to overcome in 2019, will be the periods of time where I don’t really have anything interesting to write down, as this was one of the main reasons why I stopped this year.

The last thing, of course, is to move out!

23rd December 2018

Yet again, I’m getting to a point where I think the number of projects that I have active, is getting too high. I had similar thoughts last year, when I wrote an article titled “My App Store Clear-out”. I explained how some projects weren’t getting any time, some we’re hard to maintain, and others were just stale.

Back then, I reduced my number of projects to 5:

  • Hydrate – A work in progress iOS app to track water intake.
  • Qwiki – A small Mac menu bar utility for searching and browsing Wikipedia.
  • Pretty Regular Expressions – An app to test regular expressions in a simple UI, for iOS and macOS.
  • Tap Gap – A very simple arcade game for iOS, that was made free, as no further work is going to be done on it. But there were still people downloading it.
  • Pixels Sticker Pack – An iMessage sticker pack that features a small amount of pixel art.

In the year since I wrote that, I’ve given up on Hydrate, and developed two new applications – Text Case, and SOLID. Text Case being the iOS utility to format text, and SOLID being another utility to create single colour wallpapers on iOS.

That leaves me with this:

  • Qwiki
  • Pretty Regular Expressions
  • Tap Gap
  • Pixels Sticker Pack
  • Text Case
  • SOLID

I’d very much like to get that down 4 or 5, with 5 being an ideal maximum. However, I would like to start a new project next year, so I should restrict myself to 4.

Of course, I will keep on the latest apps, which fills out one half. But there’s tough decisions to be made on the rest. Tap Gap is certain to be pulled, that’s already decided. But the future of Qwiki and Pretty Regular Expressions are currently unknown to me. I like both of them, and I think they’re good apps. But I just need to work out if they are realistically going to get any updates in the future.

So this is where I am right now:

  1. Text Case
  2. SOLID
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. 2019 Project

I don’t want to annoy users by making a product unavailable, or officially cancelling all future updates, but most of them have been growing stale anyway. And I think I’d rather sell a limited amount of products that get regular attention, rather than a whole bunch of them that are near-to-never updated.

14th December 2018

Apple have announced some changes to the Artists Pages in Apple Music for iOS:

Apple Music in iOS 12 makes it easier to browse an artist’s catalog and discover new music to play. You’ll find the following changes in the new Artist Pages:

  • Improved Organization: Artist Pages are now better organized to make it easier to find the music you’re looking for, including Essential Albums and a featured release at the top of each artist’s page.
  • Personalized Artist Radio: Every Apple Music artist now has their own radio station. Press ▶︎ at the top of any Artist Page to start listening to music from across an artist’s catalog.

Connect posts from artists are no longer supported.

So Apple Music Connect is no more. Not exactly a big loss in my opinion though.

My opinions are similar to Nick Heer of Pixel Envy:

Aside from Connect, I think Apple Music’s social features have been fairly successful. I check out what the users I follow have been listening to all the time in the For You section, and I like the new Friends Mix added a few months ago. I’ve even noticed a better selection of user-created playlists. I would love to see continued investment and promotion of these more passive social features, rather than another attempt to create a Twitter-but-for-music social network.

I can’t say I regularly check what my friends are listening to, but I too have been finding a lot more user-created playlists. And I’ve noticed that playlists that I have created have been getting more attention from others.

Receiving updates from artists in Apple Music always seemed a bit odd to me, as I never really thought any artists would spend much time creating content for a limited outlet such as Apple Music. Especially as they surely knew it wouldn’t be that popular.

What I do want to see more of though, are social features designed for the listeners. With things like user-curated playlists, and smarter recommendations that take into consideration your interests, your friends, what’s trending in a certain area, etc. I’ve always found Spotify to be much better at this, and discoverability in general. And I’d much prefer Apple to compete on that front, instead of trying to attract Artists to be social on a music platform.

12th December 2018
Permalink

James Iles:

Recently, Jamie Zoch (@Yofie) questioned whether search engine DuckDuckGo had acquired the Duck.com domain name from Google.

Search giant Google acquired the Duck.com domain name in 2010 with the acquisition of On2, a video codec company.

Today, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to me that the Duck.com domain name had been transferred to DuckDuckGo’s possession.

Maybe they paid them for the domain, or maybe this was Google doing something nice? Who knows.

Via Hacker News.

6th December 2018

I’m currently on holiday in Lanzarote, which is one of the Canary Islands. It’s technically part of Spain, but it’s closer to the western coast of Africa.

We spent all of today travelling around the south side of the island, and ended in a place called El Golfo, which has some very rocky beaches. It resulted in some interesting photos that I thought would look good as mobile wallpapers, so I spent some extra time seeing what else would look good, and I came up with 12 different options!

Continue Reading

28th November 2018
Permalink

Ellen Scott, writing for Metro:

Over in Australia lives a very large cow.

Or, if we’re being technically accurate, a very large steer, which is a neutered male.

His name is Knickers.

He is 6 ft 4in tall standing and weighs 1,400kg. That’s actually a tiny bit shorter than the steer that holds the world record for size, Bellino, who lives in Italy, but it is still very, very large.

So large, in fact, that he’s too big to be killed and sold as meat. Meat processors say they just can’t take him as he’s too large for them to deal with.

Holy Cow.

28th November 2018
Permalink

A very funny article on OneFootball:

An Irish football club has apologised after falsely reporting a player had died, which prompted the postponement of their own match and a minute’s silence to be held at others.

Ballybrack claimed Fernando Nuno La Fuente had been killed in a road traffic accident and their Leinster Senior League (LSL) clash with Arklow Town on Saturday was suspended as a result.

But it later transpired that the Spanish player was, in fact, still alive and had returned to his homeland.

What an absolute screw up.

18th November 2018

I’ve literally just finished watching the second film of the Fantastic Beasts series, and I thought I’d try and get out what I thought of it while it’s still fresh. Just for additional information, I watched it in IMAX 2D.

It was incredible in so many ways, but maybe the best part was seeing the wizarding world from a whole new perspective. Everyone remembers Newt Scamander from the original Harry Potter series, but he was only an author of a textbook then. And in the first Fantastic Beasts film we did start to get to know him as a person, but you learn quite a bit more in this film.

I can’t fault anything with the film, but I will have to now go and do some research on everything, because I need a few things cleared up!

The revelations in the film will truly shock you. However, I cannot reveal anything. I already can’t wait for the next instalment.

#ProtectTheSecrets

15th November 2018

Over a year ago, Niantic (the developers behind Pokémon GO) announced a game called Wizards Unite. In their announcement, they celebrated the state of their AR technology, including how successful Pokémon GO already was at that point (November 2017). It meant that they had the ability to expand on that and create an experience for the Harry Potter franchise:

We’re incredibly excited to announce this next step in the evolution of AR mobile entertainment. With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, players that have been dreaming of becoming real life Wizards will finally get the chance to experience J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Players will learn spells, explore their real world neighborhoods and cities to discover & fight legendary beasts and team up with others to take down powerful enemies. We’re thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring this magical and beloved series to life in a brand new way. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will leverage the full stack of the Niantic Platform while also providing an opportunity to pioneer all new technology and gameplay mechanics.

It sounded really impressive, but I didn’t expect it to take this long. Because we’ve only just been treated to a trailer, and it wont be released until 2019.

The story sounds reasonably interesting:

The Ministry is looking for witches and wizards willing to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to save the wizarding world from the Calamity. As a member of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force (a new task force formed in partnership between the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards) you will hone lightning fast wand reflexes, an ability to sniff out the faintest whiff of magical disorder from afar, and proficiency in advanced casting of multiple spells.

But it will all depend on the implementation of the real world scaling, the AR features, and just how it will be played. The idea of Pokémon works very well in this scenario, and Pokémon GO has only proved that. But I’m not sure how you could get a game based around the Harry Potter franchise, that is constantly pulling you in to do more, without it being a fixed storyline.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so I’m going to play it no matter what. But I hope it’s something long lasting.

You can find out more information, and also sign up for updates on the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website.

13th November 2018

It must be movie trailer season, because here’s another film that I already need to see! It’s a live-action version of the classic, Jungle Book. If it follows in the same vein that the most recent Tarzan film did, then I imagine it will be a huge success. At least, for me it will be.

Acclaimed actor and director Andy Serkis reinvents Rudyard Kipling’s beloved masterpiece, in which a boy torn between two worlds accepts his destiny and becomes a legend. Mowgli has never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilized world of man. Now he must navigate the inherent dangers of each on a journey to discover where he truly belongs. – Netflix

 Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle on Netflix.