So, how was 2014 for me, in tech at least? Pretty good. It has been quite an interesting experience adapting to an all-proprietary tech stack (database, language, IDE, job scheduler) but I feel I am finally getting a grip on how all the moving parts hang together and how the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. So, professionally, I’m pretty happy and I find out early next year how happy they are with me :-)
systemd farce has prompted me, after nearly 20 years, to look at alternatives to Debian for my personal Unix(-like). Candidates for a replacement so far are DragonFly, Minix3 and Debian/HURD, tho’ I have to wonder how viable the latter is. The Debian project simply doesn’t have the manpower to maintain two parallel distros, once
systemd has fully infected Linux. Windows 95 called, it wants its registry back. I have these running in VMs to kick the tyres right now. But more and more of my scarce time for personal projects is taken up with BBC Micro and Atari ST stuff now anyway…
Speaking of the Beeb, Elite: Dangerous is available now. I have to admit I was skeptical that it would ever ship, and I’ll hold my hand up to say I was wrong about that, good work Braben. However I won’t be playing. The lack of a single player mode is the deal breaker for me – you can play single-player but you are forced to participate in the shared universe, which runs in real time. But in a game I want the universe to stop when I’m not there and resume where I left off whether that’s an hour later or a month. And consider this: I bought my copy of the original Elite, in 1984, with pocket money I’d saved. Acornsoft ceased to exist as a separate entity in 1986 as the bottom dropped out of the home computer market. But I still play it in 2014, on original hardware. Should something happen to the servers owned and operated by Frontier, what happens to online-only Elite?
Nothing to report on the OCaml front. I’m still into it, but just haven’t had time to do much on OCI*ML. As I said previously, I had gotten it to the point at which it was useful for the work I was doing at the time. Features such as handling BLOBs are still outstanding, maybe I will have a chance to add that (and find a way to do it without my company claiming the IP). I’d like to maintain my connection to the OCaml community, because you never know… And I need to get properly up to speed on C++14, again to keep options open. (RIP Dr Dobbs). Will I ever return to the world of Oracle? I won’t rule it out but what I am doing now is a radically different way of thinking about databases and the applications that run on them; a few years of this can only strengthen my database and development career long term.
My prediction in wider tech in 2015 is this is the make-or-break year, either something is done about impossible-to-secure HTTP, SMTP and TCP/IP networks, or the public massively disengages from online services in general, sticking only to those websites with a) a good track record of security and b) an even better track record of making things right financially and logistically when their customers are impacted by a breach.