So as 2007 creaks to a close, I guess it's traditional to have an end-of-year post. A retrospective, if you will ;)
I've noticed that in any given year, I tend to get 2 out of 3 from work, my home-life and Aikido done to a decent standard. As I posted a year ago, 2006 saw home-life and pretending-to-be-japanese get the coveted top spots, whilst business came a respectable, but definite third. Things changed over the last 12 months, with FP taking big strides forward - more on that later - and Stuff That Matters pushing amateur ninja club into third position.
Future Platforms in most ways had its best year ever; we grew from 8 to a nebulous number somewhere around 14 (depending on whether you count freelancers, or consider part-timers to be whole people), and we didn't manage this by lowering standards. In particular I'll string up Mr Rieger, Mr Hoskins and Mr Revill in the gibbet of excellence, and let them sway gently in the wind as a lesson to others. Moving away from execution metaphors, I'll confess to a sad moment when Mr Ribot flew the nest to form his own flock - bonne chance to all things Ribotic!
Our web site belies the quantity of stuff we've launched this year: Trutap, the Ghost Detector (our first US project), Bluetooth wizardry for the BBC (who also got us in for a couple of pieces of consultancy and an Innovation Lab), Puzzler onto T-Mobile, LocoMatrix (which I find increasingly exciting), customised themes for a load of Nokia handsets, educational tools for a large publisher (more on that early next year), mobile web sites galore, and a heap of stuff I'd be killed for writing about. There's already some really neat projects coming along to keep us busy at the start of 2008 too :)
We've started spending a lot more effort thinking about what we do - not in the "coping with the onslaught of projects" way that young companies often do, but a little more long-term. We've Adopted A Process, which is worthy of another post or five in itself; and just like kittens, processes are for life, not Christmas. Scrum hasn't given us answers to all our problems, but it has managed to make sure we're seeing said problems, and that in itself is worthwhile. We're into a rhythm of self-inspection and adaption every fortnight, and at last we have a structure within which I feel we can try and improve ourselves.
We amicably turned down a merger offer in April; it wasn't the first such approach we'd had, but it was the one we'd given most credence to - and the mental (and emotional) processes you go through in this situation were interesting in their own right.
In May, Noel Edmonds kidnapped one of our project managers. No, really.
Like last year, I ended up travelling a fair bit. Conference highlights were LIFT, XP Day and Picnic - all mid-sized events with a strong community feel to them. I think I'll try more of these and leave the more large-scale corporate ones to one side in 2008. Closer to home, Hack Day, Barcamp and dConstruct were all excellent, though the last two are still slightly hazy thanks to post-Burning Man sleep deprivation.
Ah, Burning Man: my big summer holiday of the year, and worth every minute spent on it. Time's healed over the memories of environmental stress and I'm looking back on it very fondly indeed. Can't wait to go back, and maybe contribute a bit more than I did this year (which wouldn't be difficult) next time.
My other home-time fun seems more pedestrian (with one obvious exception, though I'm not sure that all the connotations of not-pedestrian are entirely compatible); looking back at the year, our bi-monthly (quarterly?) Mah Jong sessions get remembered fondly, although I'm still learning to play, again and again. This years lesson: complicated games involving unfamiliar alphabets and atonal languages are easier to learn *without* tequila. Beyond this, I had the dual pleasure of sharing Rosehill with one of my oldest friends for the first 8 months of the year, then getting it to myself for the final 4 - both of which I've rather enjoyed, and the odd bit of construction work I managed to fit in (with the help of my dad) is rendering my home a little more castle-like. I think I've had a healthy year too (with vices tending to be limited to well-controlled bursts), upping the 3km runs I was doing to 5km, and - with the able assistance of Le Nike+ - fitting in 3-4 a week (though it's fair to note that Aikido is down to 1-2 sesssions a week, something I'll rectify in the new year).
So, 2007: not bad. Not bad at all... now let's just see if I can get my life balanced onto those three spokes in 2008...