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30. The start of a new chapter. |

30. The start of a new chapter.

(The photo on the left is one of me from mid-2006. The other is mid-2016; 10 years apart. I’d like to think I haven’t been ravaged by the flow of time that much just yet. XD)

WELP. It finally happened. This time last year, I was lamenting that I’ll soon be unable to say “Yeah, I’m still in my twenties.”. Well that time finally came. 

I’m 30.

I spent some time last week reflecting on the last time I hit a new decade. When I turned 20, I was in my final year of studying Digital Media at ECU then. I was planning to head to Japan on a working holiday visa, but had no clue what I was going to do after that. So much has happened then. I spent a year in Japan, working at ski resorts and teaching English. I came home and very nearly ended up working at Interzone Games (That was a bullet dodged!) before settling on becoming a web designer/developer. After the iPhone 3G launched, I slowly gravitated towards mobile development before embracing it full-time at pixiv in 2013 and ultimately ending up at Realm.

So much water has passed under the bridge. I started the decade completely dazed and confused as to how the world worked, and now… well I’m only slightly less dazed and confused. XD

As is my little tradition, for my own future self’s benefit, I’m going to make note of some of the highlights of my time as a 29 year old. I feel like my bar has been set pretty high at this point. It’s getting pretty bloody hard to top it every year. XD


It’s really easy to track when I originally started interacting with Realm as it was literally my 28th birthday. Exactly 2 years ago. XD

My second year of working at Realm has been even more crazy than the first. After months of hard work, we finally launched the Realm Mobile Platform, our custom solution for synchronising data between devices and the web. We’d been working on this thing in secret for the better part of a year and a half, and it was fascinating to watch as all of the pieces came together.

The Realm Mobile Platform launch party! ^_^

A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

Product announcements are a very deceptive thing. The first time the world sees a product is when it’s already nearly completed; it never truly reflects the amount of work that went into them. A lot of brilliant engineers spend many months pouring their heart and souls into these sorts of products and it’s been fascinating to see the process behind the scenes.

Just like last year, I learned an abolute tonne from my work. From how tech companies operate when launching new products to simply jumping off the deep end in Swift, the whole year has been a fascinating experience.

At the end of year 2, remote work is… still hard. While I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride on working remotely, I still need to emphasise that that sort of work is not for the faint of heart. Communication and coordination, especially when you’re in a team of engineers contributing to the same project across time zones can get very challenging. I still love doing it, but at the same time, I think I’ve grown the appreciate the 9-5 desk jobs a litte more in the process.


I travelled a lot this year. Holy heck I travelled A LOT this year. I flew to Melbourne, Singapore, Copenhagen, Tokyo twice, and the US three times.

My first trip to Japan was in order to present at try! Swift. That one still takes the cake for my craziest trip; I’m not sure I’ll ever have the courage to present in Japanese ever again. XD


A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

The second trip to Japan was for a 10-year reunion party. I attended a scholarship tour in 2006 where a group of Australians jumped on a boat with several hundred Japanese students and sailed back to Australia. In a time before Facebook, I’m really happy I was able to remain in touch with the friends I made on that trip and it was great to see them again after so long.

Melbourne was awesome as usual! It’s become a bit of a tradition that I head there at least once a year to see old friends and catch up on the state of the Australian games industry. This time around, I came to attend my all-time favourite conference, /dev/world. 😀

Blimey. I think some of these Melbourne architects need to buy themselves a ruler. XD

A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

Another destination this year was Singapore. I hadn’t been to Singapore in 20 years, so I had no idea what to expect of the place. But it was absolutely beautiful!

Blimey. You can't get views like this in Perth! #singapore

A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

The place is so clean, and being a tech-hub in Asia, was very rich in both developers and famous tech companies. I could definitely see myself living there at some point. Maybe. XD

I also popped off to Copenhagen for a week for a Realm retreat. Just like Singapore, Copenhagen is an absolutely beautiful place, and I’d love to try living there some day. Although, apparently when Copenhagen gets cold, it doesn’t screw around. XD


A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

Finally, the US.

I came to the US again in June this year. to sit on the sidelines of WWDC again and watch from the outside. But even still, I had a fantastic time. It’s great that the week has grown to the point that even if you don’t get a WWDC ticket, it’s still absolutely worth coming out. That being said, I still really want to get a ticket next year. XD

Huh. I wonder what's happening here on Monday… XD

A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

And the last time I went to the US. I ended up not coming back. XD

Deciding to take a break from remote work, I’ve decided to move to SF for an extended while to help out at the Realm office. So far I’ve had an amazing experience; to the point where I haven’t really minded giving up all of my gaming equipment cold-turkey. XD

Living in SF is absolutely great. Being this close to the hub of tech startups means there’s a lot of like-minded engineers, and there’s a veritable fountain of meetups to attend.


I decided to limit the number of presentations I would do this year. I’ve found that even a presentation only lasts like 40 minutes, the preparation and mental energy for doing a good job takes a lot out of you. As such, I’ve decided I’m going to be really conservative for which presentations I’ll do in future.

At the start of this year, I presented at try! Swift in Tokyo. This one was still hands-down the hardest one I’ve ever done due to the fact that I delievered it in Japanese. The video of that talk is available on the Realm website.

While I presented in Japanese on the day, since the rest of the videos were going to be published in English, I volunteered to re-dub my talk in English in my home office.

Re-dubbing my try! Swift talk from Japanese back into English. This is a first. XD

A photo posted by Tim Oliver (@timoliver) on

After that experience, I have an all new respect for people who do dubbing for a living. Lining the time it takes to say something in English and its equivalent in Japanese is really tricky.

Thankfully, a whole new set of speakers was selected for try! Swift next year, so I won’t be doing that again.

Up next was the trip to Melbourne. This trip, I presented at /dev/world 2016 on a topic very dear to me: making apps work properly on the jumbo iPad. XD

I think it’s safe to say that of all the conferences I’ve ever attended, /dev/world/ is by far my favorite. It’s where I got my start in the iOS industry, and it’s become a very tight-nit family at this point; everyone knows each other, so it’s very easy to communicate and get help from everyone. On the same note we’re always happy to welcome newcomers as well and it’s fantastic to see /dev/world is still growing. 🙂

But on the topic of amazing conferences, another one I attended this year was iOS Conf SG, in Singapore. I was very kindly invited by the organisers to come out and speak about Realm:

I had a fantastic time at the conference. Everyone was so incredibly nice, and all the speakers were looked after to a degree I’ve not seen in another conference.

Open Source

This year was a really heavy year for some of my open source projects. I’ve been slowly building up all of the components I need for iComics and releasing them over this year.

Some of my notable libraries this year:

  • TOCropViewController has had even more features added, and became my number 1 bookmarked repo.
  • TOSMBClient has been picking up traction, with some companies even starting to contribute code to it. I’m really happy people are finding this one useful.
  • TODocumentPickerViewController had to be basically rewritten from scratch in order to fit into iComics’ architecture. I’m still working on that.
  • TOSearchBar is a brand new library I released a few weeks ago out of sheer frustration at the broken-ness of the native system control of the same name. XD
  • TOScrollBar is my absolute latest, released only last week. I built this one for some upcoming projects I have in mind. 🙂

Overall, the feedback from my libraries has continued to be really positive. I’m really happy that some of the code I’ve written for iComics is also filling niches elsewhere. Given how much open source code iComics has borrowed at this point, I hope my contributions back are helping to normalise how much I’ve taken. XD


iComics sadly had to take a backseat this year while I focussed the majority of my energies into helping out with the Realm Mobile Platform. Sadly, when you spend all day coding, you often lose the urge to do it at home as well. And given OverWatch launched this year, I’d rather spend my free time unwinding from work than continuing it in one long block. In any case, I’ve been slowly chipping away at all the components I need to add customised downloading, but it’s still a little while away. It’ll be amazing when it’s done though. I can see the puzzle pieces falling into place and it’s really exciting.

I’m going to try and get into the habit of more updates/livestreams on thw state of iComics. Stay tuned!

Moving Forward

I feel like my twenties were about finding my niche in life and then trying to line up my cards. Ultimately, barring a few missteps (Like finding a girlfriend XD), I think I actually got there in the end.

Going forward into my thirties, I plan to keep doing my best at everything. Not just work, but all the contributions I make out of work as well. More volunteering, more blogging, more open source contributing, and potentially, more singing.

In any case, I’d just like to say I’m really happy and thankful for my current position, and I hope the future will hold just as many exciting opportunities as my twenties did.

Thanks for reading. You’re awesome. Here’s to another 10 years! XD

  • Published November 20, 2016
  • Categories Personal