2015 in photos


2015 in photos

Now that 2016 is into full-swing, I thought it would be a good time to do a review of 2015. I did a lot of travelling in 2015, which included England, France x 2, Ireland, USA x 6, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Hong Kong, Italy x 2, and Russia. I spoke at 11 conferences and attended an additional 3.



Punch Brothers @ Queen Elizabeth Hall

This was a pretty quiet month, it was my last month at Dennis so I was mostly focused on that. I saw the Punch Brothers not once, but twice in January. They were absolutely amazing as usual.



I definitely indulged in some all-day Netflix-fests in my pjs for quite a bit of February, it was my first time really being unemployed in a long time. In mid-February, I went to dotSwift in Paris. Beautiful venue and some really good talks. I found some Swift-bonnets at a shop and had some old fashioneds at a speak easy. I also got food poisoning and got to try out a bunch of fun sounding French tablets. Not pictured is the London Mobile Forum, which was a great and inspiring experience.



I started doing a lot of prototyping with MetaWear boards for my Cat Wearables project. I got sweet some new business cards. I spoke at NSConference and Swift Summit. Looking back, I probably shouldn't have done two conferences back to back where I was presenting on such different topics. Both conferences were great though 😊

At the end of March/beginning of April, I went to Ireland for Úll 👍 This is a conference I've wanted to go to, and it was one of the biggest purchases for me when I got my redundancy pay. I'm really glad I went, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.



Got an Apple Watch for my cat (ok, it was really for me). Worked on my scholarship app for WWDC, which was a SceneKit app, where I created a molecule type thing to represent things I've done. The whiteboard picture is from sketching out various parts of the app.



I flew to San Francisco for Signal. With a lack of slimline tonic water on the plane, I found out Diet Sierra Mist is pretty good with Gin. A few days after getting to San Francisco, I bought a Diet Coke, and when I returned to my hotel room, the person who cleaned my room had the same name as the name on my coke -- very weird. I spoke at Signal, which is a conference hosted by twillio. They Might Be Giants performed at the conference, it was a bit surreal. 



I made friends with a rock :)

WWDC 2015!

Post-WWDC, I hung out in San Jose with some friends. I went to the Computer History Museum. I got my cat a bow tie, which he is totally pulling off in that photo. Chris Lattner tweeted about one of my talks! My cat decided my computer was an optimal thing to nap on. I started a contract a few days after getting back to London. I thought it was going to be a few weeks, it ended up being almost 5 months. 😬



Most of July was contracting unfortunately. It was also pretty hot and I come from a country where air conditioners are everywhere, I still haven't acclimated to not having them. I can't just open the windows because the cat would totally escape and that would be sad. So, engineering at its finest - In order to keep the windows open, the top of two Ikea laundry baskets were duct-tapped in front of the open window. Also, my cat thinks he's Donald Trump.



Third time in 2015 of seeing the Punch Brothers

August was more contracting, some ridiculous stress from selling a flat and the ultimate road trip! Flew out to Denver for 360iDev - this was another conference I've wanted to go to, and definitely lived up to its reputation. Post-360iDev, there was an epic trip across Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. Also, lots of Waffle House and Chick-fil-A.



September was more contracting and a couple more conferences. Went to Wales for iOSDevUK, one of my favourite smaller conferences.

I spent about 24 hours on a plane to get to Melbourne for YOW! Connected. It was my first time in Australia, I definitely need to go back and see more of it. I went out to Morington Peninsula for a wine/cheese/chocolate tasting tour complete with kangaroos!!! During the 24 hours on a plane back to London, I had a 12 hour layover in Hong Kong. It was really incredible, I hired a guide to show me around and teach me about the history of Hong Kong. She did a fantastic job, she even managed to keep me awake and get me back to the airport in time to take a shower and get on my flight. Taking showers between long haul flights is high on my list of how to survive long haul flights.



October brought more contracting. I headed out to Florence for Pragma, but to get to Florence, for a bit of adventure, instead of just flying into an airport near Florence, we got a flight to Paris then an overnight train to Milan, then a train to Florence. I found out overnight trains aren't so compatible with me trying to sleep, I got about 2 hours of sleep in total. The safe in the hotel in Florence had all the fonts on it - I would have loved to been a fly on the wall for the meetings that led to those design decisions. Also 🌵👅😺



I finally got to send the final ipa to the clients client, so I got to finish the contract that I very much regretted taking. Went to Moscow for MbltDev, it was cold and snowing which made me very happy. I also now have a 3-year visa for Russia, so, who wants to go to Russia with me?

Went over to the US for Thanksgiving, came back to London for two days, then flew back out to the US. Went to the dedication of the McAlpine-Shepard Preserve (in memory of my Grandmother). At the party afterwards, I served vegan Leek and Potato soup from a dish shaped like a lamb. American Airlines were a bit lazy about their rebranding of US AIrways planes - really loved the giant sticker they used to cover up the US Airways logo.



A quick pre-Christmas trip to Venice. Beautiful as always.


A Christmas break in North Carolina, visiting my brother and his family :) I also ate all the food there, it was so good. 


I spent New Years on a plane 🎉✈️🎉 This was the third time I've done this -- travel tip: it's usually a lot cheaper to travel on New Years Eve.  


I've left out lots of bits about the Inclusive Toolkit, I'll be doing a separate post on that soon :) 


All photos shot on an iPhone




Welcome to the Boolshop


Welcome to the Boolshop

"I'd like to buy a NO." 

"We're out of those, but we've got FALSE, NIL and NSNULL"

The disappointment on my face when I realised it was a bookshop...

Photo taken in Venice, Italy - December 2015




Looking beyond a code of conduct


Looking beyond a code of conduct


A code of conduct isn't just something you can add and then say you’re done. A code of conduct is just one part of creating an inclusive environment for everyone.

As a potential attendee or speaker, it can be hard to know how inclusive a conference/event might be. I was thinking maybe we need something like a Joel test for conferences? (If you are unfamiliar with the Joel test, you can read about it here).

I’ve devised a set of qualities for conferences/events that I think make them awesome and inclusive. The qualities are purely my opinion, I would love to hear what qualities are important to other people. With the Joel test, each quality is simply a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, but the list of qualities I’ve come up with for conferences are probably best rated on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 being bad, 5 being super-awesome.

Here we go.


Inclusive qualities for conferences (in no particular order)



This is one that gets talked about a lot—speaker diversity. Diversity is not just about gender but also age, background, job type, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. If the speakers are all white men, then this would get rated a 1. If there’s loads of diversity, give it a 5.



I feel like this one isn’t worked on as much as speaker diversity. It’s incredibly difficult to be the only ______ in the room, especially when the room is ~200 people. This can be a difficult one to judge, but you could look on twitter/laynrd/meet-up/etc. who’s attending, you could look at who attended previous years. It’s also worth reaching out to the organisers about what kind of mix of people they’re expecting. Again, 1 if it looks like no diversity, 5 if it looks incredibly diverse.



Scholarships are very important, they help people who may be new to the community and anyone who wouldn’t be able to attend for financial reasons. This totally helps increase diversity. I would rate a conference a 1 if there were no scholarships offered, a 3 if the scholarships are only for students, and a 5 if there are scholarships for students and financial-hardship. Maybe they get a 6 if they help out with travel or expense too. On the subject of financialswhy don't conferences offer payment plans? If your ticket vendor doesn't offer it, then maybe ask for it.



This one is incredibly complicated but definitely needs to be talked about more. Some people have children and this can make it seriously difficult to attend events, especially events that last days and might be far from their homes. Offering childcare to attendees again helps increase diversity. Ultimately, this one can be tricky to judge, the need for childcare differs greatly depending on the family, duration, location and time of the year. To me, I think it’s essential that the organisers help out in some way. Whether that’s talking to and providing information about local nurseries, offering childcare for a cost, covering childcare completely, providing a separate room where attendees can watch the talks (link) or even planning events specifically for children. As a side note, I would love for conferences that have been successful in making sure people with families are included to write up what they’ve done to make it work.



There are all sorts of problems around having alcohol at events. It excludes younger attendees/speakers. It might be against someones religion. People might not feel comfortable around drunk people. It’s also just not healthy to think the only way people at the conference can enjoy themselves is if they have a drink. If it’s all drinking, especially at a bar/pub shared with the public—this gets a 1. If it’s in a private venue where drinks will be served but there’s non-alcoholic options and under 21’s can attend, then maybe rate it a 3. If they have events with no alcohol and have put some creativity behind it, give them a 5.



This one is pretty self-explanatory. Not everyone can eat everything. The conference should ask about any needs around this. If the conference/event doesn’t provide food, they should give attendees/speakers a list of local restaurants and what kind of food options they have. If there is only pizza served, give it a 1. Vegetarian options, maybe a 3. If all the drinks/snacks/meals cater for any sort of intolerance or dietary restriction, give them a 5. I heard UIKonf had vegan ice cream sandwiches—they totally get bonus points for that.



Things to factor into the score: Is the code of conduct on the website? Does it have strong visibility on the website? Do you have to agree to the code of conduct to purchase a ticket? Will it be posted at the conference/event? Will it be easy to contact someone if you feel like the code of conduct has violated?



Volunteer opportunities are great, some people might really want to attend a conference but maybe the conference doesn’t offer scholarships or maybe they feel like they’re a bit too new to the community to want to fully-attend the conference/event. 1 for no volunteers, 3 for some volunteers, 5 for an open call for volunteers. Bonus points if they compensate volunteers.



Can anyone with any sort of impairment access the venue? If an attendee is deaf, would the conference provide a sign-laungage interpreter? Is there a quiet room where people can go if they need some time alone? Do they add subtitles to the videos they release?



Interacting with other people is why people go to conferences. Talks are important, but if you don’t get a chance to engage with other attendees/speakers then why wouldn’t you just stay home and watch the videos? 1 for no breaks, 5 for lots of breaks and ample time to ask the speakers questions.



There are lots of great conferences where speakers are hand-picked and this is fine but they should also offer the opportunity for attendees to submit a lightning talk. If a conference/event offers no way for attendees to submit a talk, I would give them a 1. If they provide attendees the chance to submit proposals for lightning or full-length talks, then give them somewhere between a 3-5. I know for some conferences this isn’t viable, like WWDC, in these cases I’d give them a 3.


Add it up

So that’s 11 qualities:













If a conference scores between 11-30 then it sounds like the organisers have some work to do. Everyone has different thresholds for what they’re comfortable with, so I’m not going to say you should only go to a conference if it scores above a certain point, but I do think it’s something everyone should be aware of. I don't think I've attended a conference that would score "perfectly" against these qualities. That doesn't mean they were bad conferences or that they weren't inclusive, it just means there are some areas that can probably be improved. It's good to iterate.

As an exercise, think about the last conference/event you went to and rate it using the above qualities or qualities that matter to you. If you feel like a quality that’s important to you is lacking, then you should give the organisers some constructive feedback so they can improve. Equally, if the conference/event scored super-highly, then give them that feedback 😄


Speaking & inspiration


Speaking & inspiration

I love going to conferences and meet-ups. They inspire me, I get to learn new things and I get to meet more amazing community members. I also love to speak at conferences and meet-ups. One of the things that I love the most about speaking is you never know what your talk will inspire. This year alone, speaking and attending conferences has resulted in The Inclusive Toolkit and Side Project Sunday. And Cat Wearables, but that's for a much later post 😉 

New beginnings

On New Years day, I had no idea what I’d be doing after January. The job I had for three years was ending and I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something I found meaningful and something I would be more passionate about. My plan was to freelance and consult, and if that didn't work out then I’d get a “proper job”.

With all the stress of leaving my job and getting a new visa, I felt like I needed to decompress a bit and take a step back from everything. My first two weeks of being unemployed resulted in me watching all of 'Breaking Bad'. 

The Inclusive Toolkit

After my 'Breaking Bad' marathon, I spoke at and led a discussion group about accessibility at London Mobile Forum. What came out of the discussion group and the Q & A afterwards was very interesting and is what inspired me to come up with The Inclusive Toolkit.

I speak about accessibility and inclusiveness frequently, it’s something I’m passionate about and I feel like it’s not prioritised often enough in apps. I would usually spend a large chunk of my talk on material that was really just there to convince developers that the time needed to make their app inclusive was worth it. Developers want their apps to be inclusive, but the work involved can be discouraging. Implementing APIs isn’t where most of the problem lies—it’s in testing and verifying accessibility. If it takes a developer a week to make their app inclusive, more than half of that is spent on testing it. It’s much easier to digest 2 working days to make your app inclusive versus 1 week. One of the main goals of The Inclusive Toolkit is to make the testing phase of accessibility as trivial as possible so you can focus solely on implementing the accessibility APIs. 

I spent the rest of February and March working on solutions to cut down testing time. Everything started coming together, and I was super excited about making The Inclusive Toolkit. I wanted the tools to be free so every developer can use them. I also wanted to make sure I had time to work on the tools, I didn’t want client work to overshadow my ability to work on the tools. So I thought I’d turn to Kickstarter to get some funding. The response has been amazing so far. I ❤️ what this community is enabling me to do! The Kickstarter met it’s initial funding with two weeks to go. Now I’m working towards the stretch goals.

This project wouldn’t have been possible without me speaking at conferences and events. My favourite part of speaking at a conference isn’t being on stage but engaging with the community—answering questions, sharing advice, and offering support. This is what speaking is about to me.

Side Project Sunday

Another great part of speaking is inspiring others. At Swift Summit, Alex Akers did a great talk about side projects and the difficulty in finishing them. After his talk, I was speaking with some other people and the resulting conversation has led to starting Side Project Sunday. It’s an informal meet-up where we get together, work on our projects, help others out and hopefully finish our side projects 😄

This meet-up wouldn’t have happened if Alex hadn’t done that talk. Side Project Sunday is still new, but I’m so excited about what it will enable more people to achieve.


I encourage all of you to try to speak at meet-ups or conferences, you have no idea where it might lead. I subscribe to Technically Speaking—it’s a great newsletter filled with tips on speaking and always features a few call for papers (you should definitely subscribe too).

Regardless of how much experience you may or may not have, you offer a unique viewpoint and it’s always worth sharing.



Testing your app with a wireless keyboard and Switch Control


Testing your app with a wireless keyboard and Switch Control

The 21st of May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#gaad) so I thought I'd write a quick blog post about one of my favorite accessibility features on iOS—Switch Control. Switch Control was introduced in iOS 7 and enables users with physical/motor impairments to use iPhones and iPads though the use of switches. My mom had ALS and if this had been out when she was alive, it would have made an immense difference for her.

This truly amazing feature is still relatively unknown by most iOS developers. In the spirit of Global Accessibilty Awareness Day, I thought I'd provide a quick guide on how to test your app with Switch Control. 

Setting up switches

There are three options for switches: external bluetooth switches, the front-facing camera and the screen of the device. I was doing a demo of Switch Control for a talk, and I wanted to to use an external switch so the audience could see just how usable Switch Control makes an iOS device. I was chatting with an Apple engineer during the accessibility lab at WWDC last year, explaining how I wanted to use an external switch but I didn't know where I could get one on short notice. She told me about how you can use a wireless keyboard as a switch, which was perfect to demo with, and is something I'd highly recommend to other developers to build empathy with Switch Control users.  

The first step is to set up a switch. For this tutorial, I'll be using an Apple wireless keyboard.

To start, pair your keyboard with your iPhone or iPad.

  • Go into the Settings app, then choose Bluetooth.
  • Your keyboard should appear in the list of available devices, tap on it in the list.
  • Enter the four digit code that shows up.

Screenshots from pairing a keyboard

Now that your keyboard is paired, go back to the main Settings screen.

Switch Control settings

Next, we'll add a switch! 

To access the Switch Control settings choose General > Accessibility. Scroll down to the section titled 'Interaction' and tap on 'Switch Control'. 

Before turning on Switch Control, we'll need to add a switch.

  • Tap on the 'Switches' row, then select 'Add New Switch'.
  • From here you can choose between External, Screen and Camera. For those of you who have paired your wireless keyboard, select 'External'.
  • You should now see a screen that asks for you to activate your external switch. Press whichever key on the keyboard you want to use as a switch.
  • You'll then get a list of actions that switch can perform, go ahead and choose 'Tap' from this list.  

If you don't have a wireless keyboard, you can choose Screen from the list of sources, then choose 'Full Screen' and then 'Tap' from the list of actions.

Screenshots from adding an external switch

Congratulations, you've just set up a switch!

You can set up some more switches if you'd like, I personally like to set up a second switch that performs the 'Home Button' action so I can use the iPhone completely hands free.

You can adjust the speed of Switch Control, I recommend starting with a slower speed then increase it as you get more confident with it.

With your switch(es) set up, you can now turn on Switch Control.

Testing your app

When you turn Switch Control on, it will start cycling though the items on the screen. Items are grouped together to speed up navigation. When the group your item belongs to it highlighted, tap the key on the keyboard you set up as the 'Tap' action. If you make a mistake and go into a group of items you didn't want, don't worry. Wait until it cycles around and before it returns to the first element, it will show a highlight with a dotted line. Performing the 'Tap' action at this point will back you out of that group.

Using Switch Control, open your app and try to use it. Go through any test plans or user stories you might have and see how you get on.

I've made a short video showing what it looks like to compose a tweet in Tweetbot using Switch Control:


Thank you so much for reading this post, I hope you found it informative :)


I'm trying to make testing app accessibility easier - check out The Inclusive Toolkit on Kickstarter!



24 hours of @InclusiveTools on @Kickstarter

24 hours of @InclusiveTools on @Kickstarter


I am so blown away by how amazing everyone has been! 

In the first 24 hours of The Inclusive Toolkit being on Kickstarter, 46 backers have pledged £1,750!!! That's 31% funded in one day!!! I'm looking forward to what the next 29 days of the campaign will bring :)

This also totally made my day yesterday:

Launching this project on Kickstarter was very scary for me. It's a project that means an incredible amount to me and I'm so overjoyed by how quickly people have embraced it.

When I started speaking about accessibility, I thought I needed to convince people to want to make their apps accessible. But the more talks I've done and the more developers I've spoken to, I realised this is something everyone already wants to do. So why doesn't it get done? The reasons why are a lack of resource, knowledge and empathy. These are the areas I'm tackling with The Inclusive Toolkit. Check out the Kickstarter page if you want more information about it.

Keep spreading the word about The Inclusive Toolkit!

Coming soon to Kickstarter!

Coming soon to Kickstarter!

It’s been just over two and a half months since my last post, oops, but that means there’s just that much more for me to share!

If you're short on time, here's a TL;DR:

What I’ve been up to in the last two months: I spoke at London Mobile Forum, NSConf, Swift Summit and Úll - they were all fantastic and truly inspiring in completely unique ways.

What I'm working on now: I’m focusing on two main projects: The Inclusive Toolkit for iOS/Mac developers and the "Internet of Cats". The Inclusive Toolkit will be launching on Kickstarter on the 13th of May! The "Internet of Cats" project will be launching on Kickstarter in July. I’m also doing a bit of client work too, and am always on the lookout for interesting short-term projects - get in touch if you think you have one :)

I’ll be in San Francisco/Bay Area/Seattle/Portland during May and June: Mostly for Signal and AltConf, come hang out with me :)


Non-TL;DR version:

It’s been a busy two and a half months for me. I’ve started two incredible projects and spoken at four conference.

In February, I spoke at the London Mobile Forum about accessibility and ran a discussion group, and what came out of it has inspired me to start an awesome new project. The discussion group confirmed a lot of the challenges surrounding accessibility I was already of and it also helped me think of some possible solutions. This has cumulated in a project I'm calling the Inclusive Toolkit, tools for iOS and OS X developers, QAs and designers for making apps more inclusive. I'll be blogging in more detail about what this project specifically will be in the next week. It will be launching on Kickstarter on the 13th of May.

Why am I putting it on Kickstarter? A few reasons: 

  • I want to make sure the project can be continuously supported in addition to getting the time needed to develop the tools
  • I don't want to charge for the tools, I want everyone to be able to use them
  • Making it so public will provide a lot of motivation and responsibility/accountability for me to complete it

I'm really excited about the rewards I've come up with, they range from t-shirts to accessibility app reviews to workshops. If you're a conference organiser and would like to donate some tickets that I can use as rewards, please get in touch. I’m also looking into options where if you donate around £1,000 worth of tickets, I’ll come do a workshop at your conference for free, contact me so we can work something out.


"Internet of Cats" prototyping

"Internet of Cats" prototyping

Also at the London Mobile Forum, I made a joke about wearables for cats, and through a series of very funny conversations - my other project the "Internet of Cats" was born. I've been prototyping this since March, I've still got quite a bit more to do, but it will be launching on Kickstarter in July. I'll definitely blog more about this in the upcoming month. I did a lightning talk at Úll on the beginnings of this project: ‘User testing with cats’ - it was such an awesomely fun talk to give!


The week of NSConference and Swift Summit is a bit of a blur - it was a week filled with meeting some amazing new people, hearing loads of inspiring talks and hanging out with many great friends. I love being part of this community, it’s full of so many wonderful people doing such fantastic things :)


In addition to working on these projects, I have a few trips coming up during May and June. I’ll be in San Francisco/Bay Area from the 17th-24th of May for Signal - I'm super excited to be speaking there.

I'll be in Seattle from 29th-31st of May, Portland for the 31st of May to the 3rd of June, San Jose from the 4th to the 7th of June, then San Francisco from the 7th until the 13th for AltConf and WWDC shenanigans.


That’s all for now - thanks for reading!

Exciting things to come

After three years at Dennis Publishing, I've left. It's a very strange feeling for me, it's the first time in about four years I haven't had a job to go to. I've got a shiny new visa, which allows me to start my own company or work for anyone I'd like to.

So what will I be doing now? I'll be working on some exciting projects I've wanted to do for a while but never got around to due to having a full-time job. I'll be doing updates to my apps which haven't had updates in, well, too long.

For the next month I'll also be working on my talk for NSConference, which I'm extremely honoured and excited about. If you haven't already, go purchase a ticket to NSConference - it will be an incredible conference.

I'll be writing about my new projects on here, so stay tuned :)