* I helped Ash Furrow run the Artsy [Peer Lab](https://artsy.github.io/blog/2015/08/10/peer-lab/), this aims to make life a bit better for beginners who still don’t know what they don’t know. Plus for informed programmers, they get an environment where others are working. We provide an environment for anyone to come work in the Artsy offices on a Saturday morning, and we’ve done it for almost a full year, missing only one date for a [conference](http://2015.funswiftconf.com) most of us attended.
* I’ve talked at the Flatiron (hacker \*) School, which is easy, but I’m also involved in their work with the NYC government verifying curriculum and trying to provide an impartial opinion for meetings.
* I try to help out with a project that’s really close to my heart, the Coalition for Queens’ Access Code. It’s a hacker-school for people who can’t afford a hacker school. Working in the most diverse borough in NYC they offer free scholarships in the evenings and weekends. People devote 9 months of their spare time, while working to the idea that they could join the tech world and make apps.
I believe in all of the students, they are all such an inspiration to me. All of the NYC Artsy mobile team helps out with C4Q.
_\* If you don’t know what a hacker school is, it’s a way to learn programming in a short time by being extremely focused on pragmatic skills._
My favourite book this year has been one on human \<-\> computer interactions, [Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots]. It help me put a lot of the design decision differences between CocoaPods and Carthage into perspective. It covers a wide range of topics, from self-driving cars to the battle to get Siri treated as an assistant-not just a text to speech engine.
A lot of the books discussion revolves around two types of design paradigms:
* [Intelligence Augmentation], coming from [Douglas Engelbart], which is mainly focused making it easier for humans to make better decisions.
* Artificial Intelligence, which is primarily concerned with replacing humans with machines.
There is a lot of space for collaboration between the camps, and often, the book argues that it is a combination of the two that tends to work out best for the people involved. Related: I’ve been reading [The Glass Cage], but haven’t got far enough to have an opinion yet.
Some other book highlights:
* [HPMOR], a Harry Potter Fan-fiction was finished this year. As a web-serial, I felt like it would never end. I was kind of ok with that too. The podcast version finishes up in 2 weeks too. So it will be good to finish it for a second time. I find the slow pace of audiobooks ensure means I miss less.
* [Worm], a web-serial that finished a few years back. As I couldn’t find motivation to do community projects, I opted to re-read some epics. The protagonist in Worm’s impact goes from barely affecting people at high-school to multi-universe mind-melting battles across dimensions. Glad I did a re-read, there’s a lot I understand better on the 2nd run through.
* [Stories of Your Life, and Others]. A series of short-stories with some of the best hooks I’ve ever read. _“What if there was technology to turn off the ability to be attracted to someone”_, _“What if the babylonians built a tower and hit the heavens, based on their belief systems at the time”_, _“What happens when something you took as a core axiom in your belief system was shattered.”_
I’ve lived with [Dave Grandinetti] for a year now, this has been amazing. We’ve both changed so much in the last year, in so many subtle ways. After spending so long living in AirBnBs and crashing at Danger’s house, its really satisfying to come back and hang out at a place I can call home. We've lived together off and on for ~6 years.
We have this really cool policy of regularly inviting people to crash at ours, so the place always feels fresh, and it’s nice to have people to interact with. Plus people are much more likely to come over and say hi.
One of the upsides of having a place, is that Danger can actually come over. She visited NYC three times this year. I’ll go into this later.
Over the course of the year, I completed a few games, I feel like the one I put the most time into was The Binding of Isaac. I put a few hundred hours in to Team Fortress 2 this year, don’t worry, I’ve got a [rare coin thing] for my time. Me and Danger completed a bunch of good ones too.
So, Danger lives in [Huddersfield] in the UK.
Now that I have an apartment, it’s actually feasible for Danger to come to New York City. It could have been possible via Airbnb, but it never really came up as an option. Last year, I came back to see her roughly every 2 months. This year we tried flipping that around, and have her come to me in the city.
In doing so; I didn’t need to book so many conference talks, and more interestingly I could show the rest of our team that having no vacation policy does not mean [never taking time off].
Danger came over in March, and we [staycated] in NYC, I wrote a pretty nice writeup of the in-and-outs for the advice we got. We did a lot of the things people recommended, and it had been the first time I’d really eaten meat in NYC. Turns out there’s a lot of great burgers to try.
The next time she came over was a complete surprise to me.
So I took an extra-extended weekend off. She had conspired with [Ash] + [Dave] to make sure everything was OK with this. We did [Bikram Yoga], it was hilarious, we had no idea coming in that it would be crazy-hot yoga. We mainly just hung out. It wasn’t supposed to be a big event, I loved it.
Towards end of the year we planned for Danger to come over for another week for my birthday! This helped with delaying this write-up, and giving me a break from OSS/work. It was awesome to hang out with danger in November.
I wrapped up my first US VISA this year, finishing up every page in my first passport and having to leave the U.S. One of the things that’s starting to come up now is figuring out what Danger & I should do with respect to living together.
There’s a lot of reasons for me to be in NYC, and a lot for Danger to stay in the UK. That coupled with [no simple] way for her to come over on my H1B means that we’re still not too sure about this. I’m currently on a H1B for the next 2 years, but also applying for an [O1 visa] which may mean if we marry she could come live in the US. Hard to see how this is going to turn out. Still a big question mark for us.
I spent all of last year listening to Rise Against, A Day to Remember and Billy Talent. I mellowed out this year, and seemed to listen to a lot of Fallout Boy and My Chemical Romance.
I wonder if I’m less angry about absolute surveillance. I bought a series of prints to remind me that I should be very angry. I still only make playlists called “Sprint [number]” on Spotify, which I play on repeat all day. I’ve been doing that for years.
I've devoted a lot of time towards trying to understand the state of cryptography on mobile. I think it's where I want to be devoting a lot of my time in 2016. I've made minor PRs to [Signal](https://github.com/WhisperSystems/Signal-iOS) but I want to change that and devote some time to both [Signal](https://github.com/WhisperSystems/Signal-iOS) and [ChatSecure](https://github.com/ChatSecure/ChatSecure-iOS). Might be worth looking at the Android stuff too, could be useful for my work at Artsy.