Matt Gemmell

CHANGER is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Nintendo Switch

personal & briefly 1 min read

Growing up, we were primarily a Nintendo household — though we did have the occasional Sega or Sony machine too. My formative gaming experiences were with Link, Mario, Samus, et al. Fast forward three decades, and while I haven’t had as much time with it as I’d like, the new Nintendo Switch is a nigh-ideal machine for me at this point in my life.

I couldn’t care less about tech specs; I play games for a story, and/or distraction. What the Switch has is both portability and the option to use it with a TV, each as first-class experiences. A choice of control schemes that includes both the traditional supplicant-pose, wrist-kinking joypad, or the (much more comfortable) Wii-style split input — with even smaller and lighter controllers.

It has a touchscreen for fast menu navigation, but not as a compulsory, slippery, imprecise input mechanism. A trimmed-down UI that’s meant for gaming, not being a media centre. And lastly, it’s a handheld with a big screen, to suit my broken and rapidly ageing eyes.

It’s a synthesis of compromises that nevertheless feels like a cohesive and intentional design, and I find that damned compelling.

Damage

tech 3 min read

No company has done as much damage to the perceived value of software, and the sustainability of being an independent developer, as Apple.

Not that other companies wouldn’t have done the same thing — they would have. It’s just that Apple was the successful one.

A few more words

personal & briefly 1 min read

Ten years ago today, before nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, Lauren and I ascended Arthur’s Seat here in Edinburgh. Truthfully, I ascended it, and she struggled to keep up with me — not from any lack of fitness, but rather my own frenzied pace.

I was hurrying due to nervousness, and a desire to be up there, overlooking the city, before many others made the climb. Mercifully, we were mostly alone, I said some words which immediately vanished from my memory, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry me.

A decade later, I want to mark this anniversary with a few more words of appreciation for my wife. She’s my best friend, my hero, my inspiration, and the love of my life. She impresses me every day, and I don’t know who I’d be without her. She brings joy and comfort to me, and there’s no-one I’d rather share this journey with. I’m not entirely sure why she’s with me, but I’m not going to risk asking.

She’s a software development manager, programmer, chef and baker, reader, writer, gardener, gamer, tailor, runner, wonderful doggy-mummy, and my constant teammate. I’m so grateful for her presence throughout my life, and how she’s shaped who I am for the better.

KESTREL Book Two… and You

books & kestrel 2 min read

I’m thrilled at the success of CHANGER, the first book in the KESTREL series — thanks so much for the wonderful reviews and kind words. Book Two is underway and will be out later this year, and I’d love to email you as soon as it’s available. I’m also running a competition you may be interested in…

Update: the competition has now ended. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Using the iPad for: Taking notes and planning

tech & ipad-only 7 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


I’m going to be quite brief here, because I’m busy, but I wanted to share this with you. One of the most promising aspects of the iPad’s physical form-factor is that it can potentially replace much-loved paper notebooks, which I’ve long used for planning, note-taking, design sketches, and so on.

Previously, the problem with this idea was a lack of stylus input precision, and also the lag that plagues digital drawing tools. Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro solved that part, and so I started to consider whether I could finally go entirely paperless. As it turns out, I can — and I have.

Designing for iPad Power Users

tech & ipad-only 6 min read

An increasing number of people — myself included — use an iPad for work. There are plenty of apps designed with that in mind, but I often find rough edges, as if the developers haven’t quite considered that people are potentially spending their entire day using the software.

The needs of iPad power users aren’t conceptually different from those of desktop or laptop users, but the nature of the hardware and its capabilities tends to cause some things to be overlooked. Based on my own experience, here’s some stuff that you, as a developer, should think about implementing if your customers are working with their iPads.

Heart

health 3 min read

I’ve written previously about my workout routine, and also about my heart condition. My routine has naturally evolved over time, and I wanted to make a record of my current setup, since people ask me about it quite often.

Apple Watch for sale

tech & development 1 min read

Update: The Apple Watch has now been sold. Thanks for your interest!


I’m selling my original Apple Watch. It’s in pretty much mint condition, perfect screen, fully functional, latest watchOS, everything included. It’d be a brilliant Christmas gift (even for yourself), or a solid start to the New Year’s fitness resolutions, or a device for developing watchOS apps on.

Full details of the package are below.