What a Year

So many societies have myths that basking in one's good fortune will result in some kind of evil (or sometimes good) force bringing down hell and damnation and boils and plagues upon you that it worries me to recount what a great year 2012 was.

But it was. And I can't resist.

This year Ben turned 8 and Rex turned 5. Ben is a math whiz and in 3rd grade, and Rex started kindergarten (well prepped by his preschool), and learned to read. Ben and Rex are learning to swim, and Rex mastered a bike without training wheels. They are amazing fellows, great companions, and exhaust us thoroughly (as they should). Their sweetness cannot be measured in any units I know.

Lynn and I had a really wonderful year, our 15th together and our 10th married. We continue to learn and grow together and explore new challenges as the kids get bigger and we need more outlets for our own distinct interests. She's become one of the best social dancers in Seattle, and helps organize regular dance events and support her dance friends in many ways.

Lynn's brother Michael and his wife Kathy have the most delightful child anyone could imagine, and then they went and had another! Jordan, the older, welcomed Maggie, his little sister, in October. Lynn went to spend a week to help with Jordan before and after Maggie's birth, and I had the privilege of a trip in November taking care of the easiest baby in the world and her nearly equally easy older bro. I love them all to pieces, and am glad they are so close by.

Susan glennI started the year off interviewing my friend Susan Orlean on stage at Macworld|iWorld, the current name of the venerable Mac conference. She's a hoot and a good sport and a real techie geek at heart. (Also a fabulous writer. Get her Rin Tin Tin. It's not just about the dog; it's about how we lived in America. It came out in 2011, and it's a lovely book with lots of resonance, humor, and surprise.)

I wrote some books this year. Take Control of BBEdit, about the program I live in most of the day for writing, editing, and programming. Take Control of Messages in Mountain Lion, the chat app that baffled everyone, and I tried to decipher. I also did a thorough revise of Take Control of Networking and Security (now covering iOS 6) and Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Network.

I wrote about 100 articles for the Economist's Babbage blog — not an exaggeration. I write twice weekly, and I think I'm above 250 since I started doing so in 2010. I also had a few in print in the Technology Quarterly section, notably a biographical sketch of Chris Soghoian.

In February, I traveled east for a few days with several dear old friends from my time working at the Center for Creative Imaging. One of our number was bit by her dog just before her trip, and couldn't join us in South Portland, Maine. I also had a quick visit to Camden, where the Center had been located to see some other old friends. It was great to catch up and reminisce, drink wine, and eat great food. It's a sign of age when you realize you've known people dearly now for longer than the age you were when you met them.

Lacquer Disc Cutting System In May, I went to D.C. to see my friend, Matt Bors, an editorial cartoonist, receive the Herblock Foundation Award, the first time an alt-cartoonist had won. Matt won the Sigma Chi Award and was one of two finalists for the Pulitzer. He also later did a successful Kickstarter campaign (with, ahem, some advice from yours truly) for his first collection of cartoons and essays. While in D.C., I did interviews at the Folger Shakespeare Library and Library of Congress's audio section. On a later trip to Montréal, I stopped over in D.C. to take a drive out into rural Virginia to where the Library of Congress keeps its audiovisual materials in carefully maintained vaults and handles conservation. (The story I wrote about Matt was one of about 18 stories for BoingBoing last year, too. They picked three among their best stories of 2012.)

Glenn Fleishman 6459I'm burying the lede, as it's said, because in August, I flew to Los Angeles to tape my appearances on Jeopardy! I had auditioned in August 2011, and was called in January to tape in February — right during my trip with my buddies. I asked if I could tape at a later date, and I was lucky enough that they called again in July. I went to L.A. for two days, won two programs, and earned $30,000. Not bad for about an hour's (on-air) work. I provide links to several articles I wrote in this other blog post. The shows aired in October, and I had a fun viewing party at a local sports bar place with dozens of friends and their kids.

During the summer, I launched a crowdfunding campaign for a book that would explain the ins and outs of…creating crowdfunding campaigns. Yes, I was serious. Within a week or so, I realized I'd made some mistakes in rewards and focus, and decided to pull it down and retool.

XOXO: Studio NeatThat led directly to a podcast I launched in December called The New Disruptors that was also sparked by attending XOXO, a remarkable event in Portland in September. Both XOXO and my podcast are about the new tools that connect creative artists and producers with audiences. The New Disruptors is a weekly interview program on the Mule Radio Syndicate, and it's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying the focus on creativity and inspiration. (The show may lead to revising my crowdfunding book campaign and relaunching it.)

After XOXO, I went to speak at Çingleton Deux in October in Montréal. A nasty cold kept me from exploring the city much, although the old town is rather gorgeous, but I hung out with many old and new friends from the Mac community. The event was for developers and interface designers, but about the things one can think about in making software rather than about writing programming code. (My presentation and a video of me giving it will be up on the site at some point.)

NewImageAt Çingleton, I met Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, who had just launched The Magazine, a fortnightly non-fiction publication available only in iOS 6 and only by paid subscription. It's a fascinating attempt to make a sustainable publication with fresh material. I pitched myself as editor shortly after Çingleton, and Marco took me on. It's a part-time gig, and an enormous amount of fun assigning out articles (with a good pay rate, even) and working with writers to bring their voices out in the stories they write.

This was a year of podcasts, too, in which I appeared on innumerable ones, many after winning Jeopardy, including John Gruber's The Talk Show. As in previous years, I appeared many times on the geeky podcast The Incomparable, including hosting an episode about Futurama and co-hosting one on dragons.

I continue to work hard on TidBITS, a Mac publication that now has the record of being the longest-continuously produced Internet-only publication after an Irish newsletter shut down. Going strong since 1990, we launched paid memberships in late 2011, and had a tremendous response that allowed us to fund more writing and development. I handle server operations and programming, and write regularly — about 70 articles of varying lengths in 2012. (TidBITS also publishes the Take Control books that I mention earlier.)

I'm sure I'm leaving plenty of things out, as impossibly packed as my schedule already sounds.

Life is quite wonderful on all fronts, and 2012 may be my vintage year. Subsequent years will have to work hard to live up to it, but I think I could take some quieter times ahead without complaint.