2015 in review

I don’t think I’ve done these in previous years, but they seem to be a thing this year and according to todoist I’m due a blog post (overdue by 3 days actually), so here we go.

So… 2015. That was a weird year, huh?

This year I have:

  1. Moved country (again)
  2. Upgraded my internet celebrity status from D-list to C minus-list if you’re in specific niches
  3. Earned precisely £0 (note: This is a slight technicality).

What happened?

Well, if you may recall, in 2014 I moved to Zurich to work for Google. Despite what people thought from the timing of the post, this was not an April fools joke but an actual thing.

It didn’t really work out and I lasted about 6 months. For a variety of reasons, Google was not a good environment for me, and between that and it hampering my ability to work on my own stuff in my spare time, I got a lovely inside view of what happens when the sub-clinical depression I’ve been mostly coping with all my life removes the ‘sub-‘ from its name (OK, I didn’t actually get diagnosed, because I figured out how to self-medicate through a judicious application of quitting my job instead).

So, starting the new year unemployed was pretty great, even if I was still in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

I’d intended to work on a variety of projects, and actually spent the initial part of the year brushing up on combinatorial optimisation and learning about integer programming. But I had this weird little project called Hypothesis that I’d written back in 2013 to learn Python, and for some weird reason people had started using it, so I thought I might fix a few bugs, maybe work on some features, etc.

So, um, yeah.

For me 2015 has basically been the year of Hypothesis. This was very much not intended from the outset. I originally intended to put in a couple months work on it. I even made a concerted decision to give it up. Now I’m building a business around it.

It’s been an interesting experience for a number of reasons. It involves research to solve practical problems, randomized algorithms, combinatorial optimization, API design, coming up with good abstractions, and software quality. All it needs is voting to become my ideal project.

…voting and financial viability that is. Which is why I’m trying to build a business around it.

The business side of things is going OK. I’ve had some work this year (which I have not yet paid myself for from the business’s bank account, which is why £0 earned in 2015), and a bunch more scheduled for the new year. If I can keep up my average income over the next three months for the rest of 2016, I’ve got something pretty sustainable. I don’t yet know if I can, but I’m a lot more hopeful about the possibility than I was 3 or 4 months ago.

This has also got me to go to a lot more conferences and give talks, which has been a rather great thing for me. Turns out getting up in front of a few hundred people and talking entertainingly is a thing I can do. I had no idea. I credit this blog with a lot of that.

Other things than Hypothesis have happened this year too…


Obviously I’ve written stuff this year. I always write stuff. Notable things I’ve written here on this blog include:

This was also the year I got into writing fan-fiction.

It started with Stargate Physics 101. While this is Stargate fan-fiction, it’s really a comedy about software testing and existential threats. “I send this to software developers to teach them about testing” is an actual thing I have been told about this piece. “My job is a lot like this, but with fewer genderqueer werewolves” is an actual thing I have said about this piece.

I’ve also since been writing The Rules of Wishing. This is fan-fiction for Disney’s Aladdin.

I’ve also started writing docs.drmaciver.com, which is facetiously described as a handover manual for being DRMacIver but is mostly a catalogue of stuff right now.

Living situation

For the first time (not counting holidays) in more than a decade, I’ve been living with my parents since May. It’s been an interesting experience.

The living with my parents part has been fine actually. We get along fairly well, even if I occasionally start arguments about shower lengths and ham sandwiches. The real problem with living with them is that they live in the country, and the country is bullshit.

One result of living in the country is that I’m doing much less walking (if this sounds backwards to you, I assure you it is not. Living in the city naturally integrates a lot of walking into your life. Living in the country mostly surrounds you with roads that are not safe to walk on and would take you an hour to get anywhere), which means that my overall fitness level is way down. I’ve been actively trying to combat that in the last month or so, which seems to be having some effect.

Another consequence of living here is that it really helps me grind my driving skill. I’ve probably driven about an order of magnitude more total hours in the last 6 months than in the rest of my life put together.

This has both been interesting and frustrating. I’m still politically quite against cars, and I don’t really like being so dependent on them. However, it’s taken my driving skill from “I don’t think you should trust me behind the wheel of a car” to being pretty OK.


I went from wildly enthusing about beeminder to just quietly using it. It petered out for a while, but now is picking back up again.

My two main things for beeminding are todoist and exercise. I’ve also got some tagtime goals for work and reading non-fiction.

What next?

My plans for 2016 are mostly “do what I’m doing now except more so”. I’m in the process of getting back in shape. I’d like to do that, but more so. I’m in the process of building a business. I’d like to do that, but more so.

I would definitely like to move back to civilization. I’m giving strong consideration to this being not London, but it will have to be somewhere London accessible.

Another thing that will happen in 2016 that I’m excited about is that 2016 will involve travel to at least two countries I’ve never been to before. I’m going to Namibia in January (and offering a great deal on Hypothesis training until I do!), and later in the year I’ll be going to Mexico for my brother’s wedding.

I tend not to travel much, so both should be interesting experiences.

Other than that, I have some interesting research directions I want to take Hypothesis/Conjecture in, and may be exploring some plans for how to focus on that. Watch this space.


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