Welcome 2015

So, 2015, here already?
Time to take stock. I haven’t been blogging as much as I should, but I’ve been pretty busy, so here’s the first of a couple of posts that give a quick run-down of the last year and thoughts on the next.
I started 2014 with a number of questions that I thought would guide my development work / play over the year. And then promptly went off and did something completely different. But it wasn’t an entirely wasted exercise. So let’s review those questions :
1) Given how satisfied I was with OWL, what was the future of Mind Traffic Control?
2) Given how satisfied I was with OWL, what was the future of Project ThoughtStorms?
3) How do I program on my tablet?
4) Can I learn visual design?
5) How do I support Mozilla and the new (open) web-stack?
So what happened?
1) Due to my other interests (see the next post) Mind Traffic Control got a stay of execution in 2014. I didn’t kill it and didn’t try to update it. What I did find myself doing (fairly recently) was throwing some new tasks into it. One reason MTC was a bit stale for me was that I wasn’t actually using it. But half-way through the year, my tablet broke, and when I got a new one, the rather convenient btsync connection between it and my laptop was impossible to get running again. This seriously degraded the value of OWL / OWLdroid for me, as btsyncing was my only way of keeping them automatically synced. (We’ll return to this theme in a minute, but just note here that MTC picked up some of the slack.)
2) I barely glanced at this question again after blogging it. I’ve been updating Thoughtstorms wiki sporadically this year. And it’s been perfectly viable without an OWL connection. Consider this a fairly non-urgent question as OWL and SFW seem pretty orthogonal in practice.
3) Right now, the best programming experiences I’ve had on the tablet are with Quoda and Clojure REPL. Both are pretty good as far as they go … which isn’t really far enough. I’ll come back to Clojure in a minute. But I’ll note that Quoda is the best code editor I’ve found so far (mainly for the very nice extra keys it provides). And Clojure REPL is, indeed, a REPL for Clojure. Which is good for trying out ideas. But far from a full blown Clojure dev. environment.
4) I’ve certainly been playing with visual designs this year (in Patterning), but I haven’t really touched on what I was getting at in this question at all. Maybe 2015?
5) I didn’t do much about this question in 2014, either. But that’s about to change.
I’ve just discovered the Unhosted movement and remoteStorage. And I believe this is going to very fundamentally shape what I’m thinking about and doing in 2015. I’m increasingly concerned with the risks to privacy and the concentration of power that comes from storing all our data in the clouds of a few large corporations. And remoteStorage seems a good solution to decouple the storage provision from app. provision and put control back in the hands of the user. More importantly, it seems to have both the right attitude and some momentum behind it.
So, in 2015, unlike 2014, I am going to make new year resolutions / commitments. In particular, I’m publicly committing, right now, that I’ll be adding remoteStorage to OWL and OWLdroid. This is not only good for you in the sense that it respects your right to privacy and control over your data, but it’s good for me, in that it should be a workaround for my Android file-system / btsync problems.
In fact, this year I’ve been playing with the javascript Dropbox API. And if I hadn’t discovered remoteStorage I’d have added Dropbox as an alternative file-system option, but it seems remoteStorage should nicely abstract away from that, allowing users to choose between Dropbox, Google Docs and any other storage provider.
OK. That’s the first big announcement for the year. In the next post I’ll come back to what I actually DID get obsessed with this year, and what I think that will mean for 2015.