2012 Review

Inspired by a few other bloggers, I thought I'd take the time to write up a quick personal review of 2012.

It's been a pretty eventful year for me. Getting married took up most of the first part of the year, followed shortly after by moving house. I also managed to fit in two holidays in New York, as well as a short stag trip to Malaga and a visit to Edinburgh.

Work

I work as a UX developer at online craft marketplace Folksy. After the big design relaunch of 2011, this year was more about consolidation and incremental improvements - some of which were long overdue. I'm pretty pleased with my contribution to the progress, which has included some key usability improvements to the listing and buying processes.

With some colleagues, I also successfully launched a complementary side-project called GoGoMargo, which aims to highlight real-life craft markets, as well as other types of local markets and fairs. Building that from the ground up was a great lesson in design and architecting, and ruthlessly stripping desired features until you have something simple enough to ship. We didn't get everything right first time, but I've learned a lot along the way.

This blog

I've not exactly been the most prolific blogger this year, but after moving the site to a simpler self-built platform in 2011, I have at least managed to publish a few articles that I'm proud of. I also overcame my internal quandary over where and how to post different forms of content with a personal philosophy I called Platforms vs Publishing.

Lego proved to be a popular theme of mine to write about over the year, starting with 'A moral dilemma over Lego & Trademarks' and continuing with short posts on Lego's 'moments of truth' and and their upcoming movie plot

I also started to explore my growing obsession with toys, fuelled in part by a visit to the Toy Fair in January. This resulted in reviews of Wedgits, BRIO pull-alongs, Millhouse Toys, Tegu blocks and WOW Toys, as well as a later note about historic toystore FAO Schwartz.

Products were another recurring theme, with thoughts about 'heirloom electronics', subscriptions and BERG's Cloud Bridge.

Of all my posts this year, the one that I've most returned to is the short essay I wrote about The problem with numbers - which expresses the idea that interfaces should rely less on displaying numbers. I can't pretend to have solved the question of what to replace them with - but I have at least continue to think about this issue.

The post that got the most attention though was an experimental but also slightly ironic article on Responsive Text.

There's also my recent series on Hypothetical Infrastructures, starting with the Ladybower Scenic Railway, followed up by The Alternative 12V Grid. I have a few more ideas for this series, and hope to continue it in the coming months.

Film

I haven't watched many films at all this year, particularly not in cinema. Recently I've been to see The Hobbit and Skyfall, both of which are entertaining rides.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was the most affecting - a beautifully told whimsical tale.

TV Shows

There's been so many quality television dramas out this year, it's easy to see how these have taken more of my attention than films.

I've continued to enjoy the new series of Mad Men, Sherlock, The Hour, and Inspector George Gently, all of which continue to be excellent. This year's Doctor Who episodes were generally enjoyable too, albeit on a less dramatic level.

New for me this year was Breaking Bad, which I'm still catching up on (I have to watch this alone as it's not really Fiona's thing), and Luther, which I blitzed through both series of.

I fell out of love with Downton Abbey, which seemed to lose what little edge it had and descend into soapyness, but in its place have started watching Call the Midwife, the period drama depicting the other end of the class spectrum.

Still unexplored are the Danish dramas The Killing and Borgen, both of which are meant to be excellent, and Treme, about Hurricane Katrina, from the same producer as The Wire, which I've not managed to find released in the UK at all. Homeland is also on my must-watch list for 2013 too.

Food

I've definitely cooked a few more interesting meals this year, and have eaten some great meals out too.

Locally, the discovery of excellent sushi restaurant Yama Sushi was most welcome. Further afield we had some excellent meals in New York, which Fiona summarised earlier in the year.

Books

My book-reading this year has been mainly non-fiction, focused around the fairly narrow themes of transportation and infrastructure. Christian Wolmar's tome on the history of the American Railroad was pretty fascinating, and a good complement to his other books on British railway history.

I also really enjoyed Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt, which contains a thought-provoking examination of street traffic management (both for cars and pedestrians). Social history book Queuing For Beginners, which I'd hope would be similarly enlightening, was disappointing and seemed a lot less thorough.

I'm about halfway through The Box, about the history of the shipping container, and also Kate Ascher's The Works, which looks at the various different infrastructure systems of New York City. Both are excellent.

Music

Having made a conscious effort to seek out new music this year, I've bought a couple of dozen new tracks from bands I've not previously listened to - mostly inspired by 6Music. These include The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, The Macabees, Lana Del Ray, The Vaccines, Grimes, Mystery Jets, Django Django and Tame Impala. Nothing particularly left-field, but a welcome expansion in my listening habits.

Track of the year for me was Gotye's hit Somebody That I Used To Know, which I've played repeatedly.