2014 was a checklist of life events. New job, first conference talk, new house, learnt to drive. 2015 was the year where I was going to settle down and do nothing. Let’s examine how amazingly I failed.

Public Speaking

2015 was the year my public speaking really took off, and it’s mostly down to writing a single talk. Asking About Gender is a talk about non-binary gender, transgender people and how to stop making services and forms that shut them out. I first gave it as a lightning talk at Talk UX in March and since then it has kinda exploded. So far I’ve given it at:

  • Talk UX (lightning)
  • Python Sheffield (lightning)
  • Bath Ruby (lightning)
  • ScotlandJS (lightning)
  • Ladies that UX Manchester
  • Ladies that UX London
  • Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp
  • PyconUK
  • Manchester Barcamp
  • Sky Women in Technology
  • SheffieldJS (lightning)

Other talks I’ve given this year have been about my adventure in teaching code, starting with a learn Ruby workshop in February and talking about my experiences with Code Club and Festival of Code for Sheffield JS in the autumn. I’ve also done a little bit of work with Code Make Win! this year talking to children and young people about working in technology.

Next year I’m speaking at Render Conf and I’ve started pitching the talk as a workshop.


My Code Club is still going! Highlight of the year was one of my teams coming runner up in the Code Make Win! competition with their Kodu game. We’ve done Kodu, HTML/CSS, Hour of Code, Code Combat and Bitsbox this year and I think they’re still enjoying it.

My other big teaching gig this year was taking on centre lead responsibility for Yoomee for this year’s Young Rewired State Festival of Code. It’s a weeklong hack with a residential weekend in Birmingham for the finals weekend. I found it to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. There’s a lot of responsibility in being the adult in charge of a bunch of young people, even when most of them are old enough to look after themselves. I mother-hen a lot and doing it for a whole week is exhausting. Still, they enjoyed it and one of the teams got into the final which was ace.

The last couple of months have been taken up by DjangoGirls organising. I coached at their Coventry event and really enjoyed it so when a Sheffield event was suggested I jumped at it. It’s good that I’m not the only organiser and my co-organisers are fab. Will be a highlight of next year for sure.

Identity and Life Goals.

If I could sum up this year in a single phrase, it would be the Year Chad Came Out. I’ve identified as bigender since I was a teenager but this is the year I really started acknowledging it. It’s also the year that I’ve been much more public about my mental issues. In March I wrote a blogpost for Self Harm Awareness Day. In August I was represcribed anti-depressants after a couple of crisis moments and I’m starting therapy in the new year. My workplace has been so supercool with it and having that foundation of support is so useful.

In the last couple of months, I’ve really started thinking about what I want my career to be. I have realised that I don’t really enjoying coding that much. I can still do it of course and it is still a means to a desired end, but I think there are ways I can achieve that end that match my skill set better. Once again respect to my employer for letting me explore this by giving me time to get into service design and UX and I really want to keep working on those skills next year.

First Play Sheffield died this year. I want to bring it back in some form but am still undecided. We will do Gameblast again because it was loads of fun and we raised over £500 for charity. The idea of doing a gaming barcamp is still hovering around in my brain, and with all the skills I’ll learn working with DjangoGirls hopefully this year will see it realised.

Top of the Pops

So here is the generic ‘best things of 2015’ stuff. I saw Coheed and Cambria play In Keeping Secrets of Slient Earth:3 all the way through and it was the best evening of my life. Naturally, their album The Color Before The Sun is my album of the year (https://play.spotify.com/track/2og56jb9ZaAh1cVN7BENAq). It has been a fab year for game soundtracks with Crypt of the Necrodancer and Persona 4 Dancing All Night being my particular earworms. Best game has to also be Crypt of the Necrodancer with Witcher 3 coming a close second. My favourite gaming experience of the year though is probably replaying Grandia 2 on PC.

Next Time

2016 is going to be the year where I will still do everything, but only if I want to. I want to say no a bit more. I want to keep growing and I need to specialise. Mostly, I want to be happier. See you next year.