Hicks

My 2007 in Blogs, Music, Events and Apps!

As has been my wont since the early 90’s, I like to write up the things that have tickled my fancy for the past year…

Blogs

This is should actually be in the singular, as there has been one particular blog that has lit my fire like no others.

Ace Jet 170 seems to have the ability to find objects that trigger the same emotional reactions, like these Routemaster and Underground Signs. A new AceJet post is often followed by a trawl on ebay…

AceJet 170

Music

As usual, not everything in this list was released in 2007, but I couldn’t leave out Midlake’s Trials of Van Occupanther – 2006 be damned! Along with Midlake, the other big discovery for me was Band of Horses, and in particular ‘Cease to Begin’.

So limiting myself to only one song from each of my favourite albums, here is the top 20, in playlist style order:

Song Artist Album
Is There a Ghost Band of Horses Cease to Begin
Blackout Amusement Parks on Fire Out of the Angeles
Time Bomb Goldspot Tally of The Yes Men
Melody Day Caribou Andorra
It Covers the Hillsides Midlake The Trials of Van Occupanther
Intervention Arcade Fire Neon Bible
Isn’t Life Strange The Clientele God Save the Clientele
The Pills Won’t Help You Now The Chemical Brothers (feat. Midlake) We are the night
23 Blonde Redhead 23
Rest My Chemistry Interpol Our Love to Admire
Girl Sailor The Shins
Black Magic Jarvis Cocker Jarvis
You Can Make Him Like You The Hold Steady Girls and Boys in America
The Strangest Secret in the World London Elektricity Power Ballads
Mistaken for Strangers The National Boxer
Mutiny I Promise You The New Pornographers Challengers
Clever girls like clever boys… Pelle Carlberg In a Nutshell
Up Against a Wall Peter Bjorn and John Writer’s Block
Jigsaw falling into place Radiohead In Rainbows
Don’t bother they’re here Stars of the Lid and their Refinement of the Decline

There are few that didn’t quite make the final list, such as Of Montreal and Hammock.

Apps that have changed the way I work

Two apps have changed the way I work in 2007 like no others.

Coda

Coda IconSince I first raved about Coda, I’ve met people who have either hated it, or see it as manna from heaven. As I suspected, it doesn’t really suit the hardcore TextMate users, but for me Coda has caused some big shifts in the way I work, and everything I do bar graphics is made in Coda these days.

The biggest change for me is that web development tools in browsers have become less of a necessity. The browser is regaining its position of being ‘pleasure’ while Coda is for everything that’s ‘work’ – like the distinction between home and office. I don’t even use Firefox & Firebug anymore, the revised Web Inspector in Leopard has been incorporated in Coda and that does everything I need and more.

My design process has also been changed by Coda. I’m working on visuals less and less in Fireworks and Illustrator, and starting on the HTML/CSS much much earlier. There are so many things that are hard to convey in a static mockup, and writing the CSS and HTML in Coda is so fast, there seems little point making one. I feel that I can iterate quickly and try out ideas. I still sketch and plan on paper, but a middle man has been cut out.

There’s more to love. The ‘Sites’ view has become more like a project folder or workspace. The saved tabs in a site can include not only the site files, but the remote and local previews, the Textpattern admin panels, phpMyAdmin and the project on Basecamp. I can’t do that in Textmate. The split views in Coda are another favourite feature. Apps like CSS Edit have useful tools, like the ability to override site styles, but the multiple windows for editing and previewing drive me mad.

I could go on, but in short, if I ever see someone from Panic, they’re in danger of getting a big kiss.

Billings

Billings IconI mentioned Billings fairly recently, but beyond being a very well thought out time tracking and invoicing application, it’s meant that I have for the first time been aware of just how long I spend doing various different tasks, and how much I spend in terms of expenses and meetings. Having a timer in the menubar wins over a dashboard widget or floating window anyday.

Its also been a great motivator, making me more aware of time I haven’t spent working, without being annoying about it. If I had one request of Marketcircle though, it would be a quicker way of seeing which invoices are unpaid (such as an link in the sidebar), something I need to refer to a lot!

Events

  • Moving into the Rissington offices with John, Jon and Simon, and recording The Rissington Podcast. Its the design studio I always wanted.
  • The iPhone. Crappy camera aside, its the convergent device of my dreams. I can’t wait to see what happens when proper 3rd party apps are written for it. In particular I’d like a cut down version of Coda and a way of playing music wirelessly through airtunes.
  • 2007 has been a good year for visitors – Luke Dorny, Scott Boms, Derek Featherstone and Ms Jen (thrice!) popping by to see family Hicks.
  • Oxford Geek Nights are really something special
  • First year of partnership with Leigh! Many people ask me how well we’re working together, but not only does she run her own projects, she’s also busy making stuff.
  • The National, Imogen Heap and The Hold Steady were gig highlights.

Thanks for letting me get that out of my system – I’m done till next year!