Matt Gemmell

Unprepared

My father recently turned sixty-five, which is the conventionally accepted retirement age here in the UK. He has no plans to actually stop working, but he has already quit his life-long career in the motor trade, in pursuit of a simpler, less stressful existence.

A few months ago, he called me, telling me of his plan to bring his career to a close and find something else to do. I listened with interest as he made the case for his decision. He seemed to have thought everything through quite thoroughly, and I assumed that he was going into detail just because he was nervous about the boldness of the move, and wanted to reassure himself.

Then he asked me if I thought it was a good idea.

Sponsor: PaintCode 2

My sincere thanks to PaintCode 2 for sponsoring my writing this week. PaintCode is an incredible tool, letting you visually design interfaces and interactivity, and get ready-to-use code for your app projects.

PaintCode 2 is a vector drawing app that generates Objective-C or Swift code in real time, acting as a bridge between developers and graphic designers. With PaintCode, you can create an app that is truly resolution-independent, using code (instead of a large number of image assets) to draw a user interface.

PaintCode has been successfully adopted by many developers, including industry giants such as Apple, Disney Pixar, Evernote, Google, Hewlett Packard, The New York Times and Twitter.

Unprofessional and CocoaConf podcasts

I’ve been a guest on two podcasts in the past week, and I thought you might be interested to check them out.

First up, I joined hosts Dave Wiskus and Jaimee Newberry for episode 98 of Unprofessional. We talked about writing, professionalism, pursuing your dreams, and the TV show Castle.

Next, host Daniel Steinberg was kind enough to invite me to join him for episode 5 of The CocoaConf Podcast. We talked about writing again, and also had a discussion clarifying some of the points I made in my Confessions of an ex-developer article recently.

Staedtler pigment liner and Moleskine notebook

I’ve been addicted to stationery for as long as I can remember. I have scores of pens, pencils, mechanical pencils, and assorted coloured markers. When I’m asked which are my favourite writing implements, my answer is a constantly-varying set of five or more.

I also have dozens of notebooks. Some are brand names, some are handmade in small batches, some are pocket-sized, and some take up most of my desk when they’re lying open. Few are ever finished before I move onto another.

I love stationery. I find it so much easier to think when I’m using pen or pencil on paper, away from the various glowing screens around me.

Handwriting

Dear reader,

When was the last time you wrote something? Not on your computer or mobile device; I mean by hand. Brief notes or shopping lists don’t count, either – I’m talking about something of non-trivial length.

It was probably quite a while ago. I’m in the same position, and I think that’s a sad thing. Handwriting used to be my daily companion, and now it’s becoming a rare art. I’m even writing about handwriting using electronic text. Come to think of it, I can at least fix that particular hypocrisy.

Sponsor: Paddle.com

My sincere thanks to Paddle.com for sponsoring my writing this week.

Paddle.com offers a suite of self-serve tools that make it incredibly easy for developers and creatives to sell their apps, games, eBooks and digital content.

Designed to create a seamless buying experience, Paddle’s two-click checkout offers a secure & simple way for customers to purchase products online, and using Paddle’s SDKs for Mac & Windows, developers can provide customers with a native purchasing experience from within the trial version of their game or application too.

With over 65% of customers purchasing the full product in-app, Paddle’s SDK has proved to be a truly powerful tool.

Keyboard Maestro macros

I’ve previously written about the Mac keyboard shortcuts I use most often, and also talked about being productive on a small screen. Productivity (and avoiding the mouse or trackpad) is very important to me, and to that end I use a macro utility on my Macs called Keyboard Maestro.

Keyboard Maestro can do just about anything, including complex, multi-step automations, scripting, interface control, periodic tasks and hundreds of other things. If you can do it yourself, you can probably get Keyboard Maestro to do it for you.

In this brief article, I’d like to share some of the macros I use most often.

Confessions of an ex-developer

Marco Arment’s response to a piece by Ed Finkler on Ed’s diminishing motivation to learn new technologies interested me.

I’m in an intriguing position on this subject, because I’m not a developer anymore. I haven’t launched Xcode since last December. Every time I’m out socially with software developers (which is often; I’ve made many good friends in that line of work, and I have no desire to lose them), at least one person asks me if I miss the job.

My answer is always the same: not really. The actual truth of the matter, as ever, is more nuanced.

Sponsor: Photo Book Flip

My sincere thanks to Photo Book Flip for sponsoring my writing this week.

What if you could flip through your own photos as if they were a beautiful photo magazine, right on your iPad? And even better, what if you didn’t have to organize and layout the photos?

Photo Book Flip instantly turns the photos on your iPad into a beautiful digital photo book with a single tap. Inspired by photo-centric magazines and beautiful cookbooks, the page layout features a minimalist design to spotlight your moments. And just like the iBooks app, as you flip each page, you’ll also see what’s behind the page as if it was a real book.

Meeting my wife

As I publish this piece, it’s around 11 AM here in Edinburgh, on the 9th of July, 2014.

Ten years ago, almost to the minute, I walked into room F091 in Lilybank Gardens, the home of the Computing Science department at the University of Glasgow.

I was beginning a couple of months of summer research work in the Department, between the third and fourth years of my degree, and had just attended the initial planning meeting. I went to F091 to get settled in and begin work.