Matt Gemmell

Raw Materials book cover image

My book Raw Materials is out now!

A collection of personal essays, with exclusive content and author's notes.

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Watch

Last month, Apple announced their entry into the wearable computing device market with the Apple Watch, which will be released early next year.

I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on the product, and its category of devices in general.

Sponsor: Cmd+R Conf

My sincere thanks to ⌘R Conf for sponsoring my writing this week. It’s always great to see iOS and OS X developer conferences in the UK.

⌘R Conf is a two-day, single track conference (plus a hack day) for serious iOS and OS X developers, looking to improve as developers, designers, creators and humans. There will be a focus on deep technical understanding, inclusive design and solving the harder problems we face as an industry.

You value deep technical knowledge and your ethical responsibilities in equal measures. Nothing is Someone Else’s Problem when it comes to the things you build.

If you want to hang out a bunch of people like you (and more importantly some that are totally different) in one of the Great Cities (it’s a thing, honest) and listen to some inspiring and challenging talks, ⌘R Conf is for you.

Portable

My active set of computing devices has changed a lot during the last year.

I started off with the usual arsenal of gadgets that you’d expect from an iOS developer: half a dozen old and new iPhones, several iPads, and a monster of an over-powered iMac to run Xcode, Photoshop, and the iOS Simulator - complete with dual screens.

It was a stressful setup, and that’s without even mentioning OS upgrades.

My current situation is very different. I’m no longer a developer, and I spend my days writing instead. My needs are modest. So, I’ve taken the opportunity to strip down my device inventory, and achieve a sort of zen simplicity of computing.

Page-specific assets with Jekyll

I recently redesigned this site, and it’s now built statically with the excellent Jekyll.

One of my goals was to reduce the number and size of assets in each page, and particularly to trim down the CSS and eliminate as much JavaScript as possible. This very brief article is about how I did that while preserving functionality where needed.

True

I’d like to talk to you about truth.

You already know what truth is, of course - but that’s not the kind I mean. There’s nothing new I can tell you about facts, or accuracy. Those things have their place, and they’re essential.

But there’s another sort of truth, and it’s important too. I’d argue that it might even be more important than the first kind.

Independence

I have two rules for my writing here: tell the truth, and don’t talk about politics. Today, I must break the second one to obey the first.

This week there was a referendum here in Scotland to decide whether we would declare independence from the United Kingdom. I’d like to talk about my own perspective on the issue.

Sultans

My family and friends often remark that my musical tastes don’t vary much. I’ve been told that my preferences fossilised during the eighties, which makes sense: I arrived on Earth a scant six months before that decade dawned.

One band, one artist, and one song in particular has accompanied me through most of my thirty-five years to date. On any given week, I listen to it dozens of times. In my lifetime (so far), I’ve certainly heard it more than fifty thousand times, and that’s a conservative estimate.

Fan Fiction

There are some strange things on the internet. No, not those things. But some strange things nonetheless.

We live in a society that laments a hypothetical impending crisis of literacy. Neologisms, memes and text-speak erode our language faster than ever before. It’s difficult to tell where the dictionary ends and the latest patois or argot begins. These kids can barely even spell anymore, we think, imagining that it was better in our day. What hope remains for the written word?

Reading, at least, doesn’t seem particularly endangered. We all read all the time, albeit in digital (and abbreviated) form. Even longer-form prose is still very popular - there’s no particular danger there.

But then there’s this thing I’m doing right now: writing. The reasonably creative use of written language to create something new, or even to communicate effectively. That’s the primary object of concern, as we see scattershot their/there/they’re, greengrocer’s quotes, and the slow, silent death of the comma. These damned kids can’t write to save their lives.

Except in one of those dark corners of the internet.

There, writing is very much alive - and takes surprising forms. Enter the world of fan fiction, or fanfic.