2013 Year in Review
As it has done the past few years, Facebook tried to make a Year in Review for me. There are a couple of reasons this doesn't work: Facebook's algorithms are squiffy and I don't post enough important life events to it (either that or I supremely underestimated the importance of some events). In a retaliation of sorts, I decided to make my own Year in Review which actually makes sense.
In July, and after struggling mentally to complete fourth year, I graduated from Edinburgh University. Strangely, my degree title was a "Master of Arts in Mathematics", which is totally possible in Scotland. Months later I would discover that technically I didn't fulfil the requirements for that title, something I can hopefully prevent from happening in the future at my new job.
It's been a funny change, not spending every day with those same people. I still see plenty of them, and regularly, but it's not quite the same. Everyone says you make your best friends at University and so far it looks like that's pretty true.
A week after graduating, I started work at the University I'd just left. After eighteen years at the sharp end of education, I've moved behind the curtain to help make that experience happen for others. I'm working as part of Development Services, making and maintaining the various University web services. In particular, I've been continuing to work with Path, the course selection application I was previously involved in as a student.
It's been fun becoming part of the "real world", and I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by very warm, friendly and intelligent people who've helped with the transition.
On the subject of Path, me and Paul got to speak about it at the Enhancement Themes conference in Glasgow, which was a fascinating insight into the world of curriculum development in Higher Education. It also made us aware of how exciting Path was, not just for our institution but around the country as well. A lot of the conference went way over our heads, but to be allowed to take part was a great experience.
I released my playground this year, which I'm planning to use for one-shot websites and gags. On there already is the Upworthy Headline Generator which I knocked together in an afternoon and am quite proud of. There's also gHarmony, my very personal dating site which hasn't had particularly positive results yet.
Quizzard has had a really good year. I haven't been developing it too actively, but it's now been used for almost 40 quizzes and has over 1500 questions on it. I've pushed a few enhancements for editing, and introduced the ability to automatically generate slide shows. I haven't made any advances to making Quizzard more public, but it's still somewhere in my mind that I'd like to.
Now in its third year, Talk Like a Poirot Day went down well again, reaching thousands of people and doing very well on social networks. Whereas TLAPD used to be something only me and friends published about, this year I was amazed to see people from all over the world with no link to me posting on Facebook and tweeting about the event. We still haven't caught the eye of any low-stream media sites to my knowledge, which makes this all feel like an underground sect.
This very site was launched just before Christmas last year (first blog post 14th December 2012), but only really came into proper use over the past twelve months. I've published a real mix of content, from Shakespearian verse to reviewing TV shows, technical tips to safari in the Shetland islands. I've got some plans to redesign the site a bit, and should probably point out again the inspiration I've got from Polygon, who continue to show that editorial content can embrace beautiful design.
The Pleasance Quiz continues to go strong, pulling in students from all years and a few graduates too. We've rearranged the rounds a couple of times in the past year and will probably do so again at some point to keep things fresh. Writing questions was much easier as a student when I had so much free time in the days, but I still find time to write mindless trivia, normally while watching the F1. We lost quizmaster Innes from the quiz in the second half of the year as he had to go on placement as part of his studies, making way for quizmaster Angus – who hosts the other EUSA quizzes – to join our stage. He hasn't done anything too embarrassing yet.
This is probably the bit of my life that Facebook summed up best, unsurprisingly. As our final year drew a close, all the right effort was made to see everyone as much as possible.
Particular kudos go to the Maths Ball, and the many days of summer spent sitting on the Meadows with beer and slack lines. I was also lucky enough to see my friend's wedding, the first I'd been to. It was a lovely, special day that cemented the fact we'd all become grown-ups.
Of course there was also the Edinburgh Fringe which, as ever, brought a host of friends back to sleep on our sofas and enjoy some of the best (and, let's be honest, worst) comedy, theatre and music on offer. My fourth year in the Fringe, this is certainly the one I spent the most money on going to shows, bringing me to the realisation that paid shows are much preferable to the free ones I used to go to.
Throughout 2012 I didn't go home at all, even at Christmas. So it was great to revisit Bristol in November this year. I owe a lot to the city and people there, who really helped mould me into the man I am today. As well as seeing my parents and catching up with the locals (enjoying a few evenings in the pub down the road, of course), the trip centred around two events: a trip to Cardiff and a late Guy Fawkes night planned months in advance.
The Cardiff trip was mainly to visit The Doctor Who Experience (in stark contrast to all those going visiting for the international rugby that day) with a group of former Young Leaders from my old Scout group. We're spread all around the country now, so it's been a few years since we last got the five of us together in one place. It amazes me that, after we've all gone off to different Universities in different cities, gone on to different jobs and to lead different lives, we can still all just meet in a room and talk at each other for hours.
The Doctor Who Experience itself was really good, I highly recommend it. It's been very well put together and is just as slick as you would expect any BBC production spin-off to be. There is (or perhaps was) the option to look around the set of the TARDIS as well, which I recommend from the point-of-view of a fan of the show and of someone who loves intelligent TV filming.
The late Guy Fawkes night was spent with an old friend and their family and friends. Messing about with sparklers and "magic mushrooms" is totally under-rated.
2013 was a year of development. Moving away from learning and into working; moving away from many friends; starting to work on websites more formally and completely. I'm not sure what 2014 will involve, and am particularly aware that I may settle further into this city or move to a new one to face new challenges. But I hope I can continue to live the rich social life I've grown accustomed to, and go on developing interesting new websites that help and entertain people.