Looking back on 2011

Last year I did a review for 2010. This year I want to do the same.
A lot has been going on in 2011 for me. I’ve attended hackathons, barcamps, writeathons, contests, hackcamps, seminars, workshops and stuff. This has proven to be a very good idea. I got to know about a hell lot of stuff out there I didn’t even know existed!

Most interesting website discovered:
Kickstarter. So far I have invested in 3 projects.
I find it a very interesting concept to just crowdsource the investment process of a project. I hope this enables more people to realize their ideas without having to take a huge debt from a bank.

Book I learned the most from:
Douglas Crockford — JavaScript: The Good Parts.
Taking JavaScript to the next level. Last year I wrote that one of the most interesting projects I’ve discovered was node.js: serverside JavaScript. In 2011 I did a lot of stuff with node.js and JavaScript.

Most interesting fictional books:
The books Daemon and its successor FreedomTM by Daniel Suarez have been a big inspiration for me. I really enjoyed reading them. I don’t know about the german translations though, I generally read and watch stuff in english.

I also liked Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I got interested in reading the book after I read an interview with Mark Zuckerberg where he talked about his favorite scifi book.

Video, movies, music
I still stream my music-use to last.fm. Since I am incredibly forgetful I use this as a way to determine what my favorite music has been. But I listen to far too much music to have one album I liked the most. Currently I am heavily listening to the LPs Casper – XOXO and The Jezabels – Dark Storm.

Looking at movies my favorite one was “Into the Wild”. A really amazing movie that deeply impressed me. Also an amazingly fitting soundtrack by Eddie Veeder. I also loved Tron. The story is not really surprising, but I loved how the digital world was presented and I have hacked through many nights by listening to the great Daft Punk soundtrack.

The video I liked the most was Carving the mountains. A video about pretty girls riding longboards.

Best decisions:
Writing a blog, saying yes, spending money, following interests and dropping everything else.
Just doing stuff. Not waiting for anybody.

The rough plan for 2012: (I am surely getting back to this next year!)
I have several things on the road, most of them can be summarized under the term “Free software“.
I want to replace my existing workflow to a majority of free software. I have started several efforts of migrating to Linux/*BSD, but I always failed because the Apple stuff is so incredibly comfortable. But: I don’t want to support a closed, proprietary platform anymore. I don’t want to have to pay for software anymore. But most of all: I want to build my own system, I want to write more software straightly suited for me and I want to improve existing free software.

Since all my past efforts to migrate miserably failed, due to not being radical enough, I always got back to the Mac as my main workstation. But now I have a new plan: I will leave my Mac at home and will only take my netbook (currently running OpenBSD) with me. I will still need the Mac for some advanced Multimedia stuff (Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom). But since I mostly work at the university, I presume this will drastically limit my use of the Mac.

Also I will go for a much more commandline-oriented workflow. Last year I wrote about my plans to look into zsh — which I did. Thing is: The software works great, but it is incredibly bloated. I use a 5k lines config file from the Grml project. You need 5k for it to work well?! C’mon! So for 2012 I plan to get into ksh. I also use vim *a lot*. Same problem. My config is too bloated since I copy-pasted most of it from various sources. So I am going for vi and a plain .exrc. I aim for a minimalistic setup where I understand why everything is in its place. I am sure I will gather a better understanding of e.g. vi, if I understand exactly why the config file looks the way it does.

Also I don’t want to speak of “Open Source” anymore, I will try to accomodate the term “Free software”. I had some discussions with meillo on this topic and he finally brought my attention to an article that briefly describes the difference.

Looking back on 2010

These are some of the things I found helpful for me or discovered in 2010.
It’s a very mixed up compilation and partly very techy :-).

The video I liked the most
Way back home (set to 1080p). Amazingly beautifully shot.

Most interesting websites I discovered
GitHub: For me social coding is a big thing, I like discovering new projects based on coders or projects I follow.
I like the concept of a whole community dedicated to develop open-source projects further and exploring ideas.
Having social interaction and a way to reputate yourself online fits perfectly with what Prof. Norbert Bolz calls “the age of recommendation and reputation” and “to brand yourself”.

Flattr: I think micropayment is a great concept and I hope it is going to change the way we see and think about content.

Twitter: I now use twitter on a daily basis, I found it very helpful in getting the information that I am interested in.
The best analogy I heard in 2010 was that twitter is like your personal radio station that plays information you are interested in. Of course you have to follow the right people.

Most interesting feed/newsletter
The cryptogram is a monthly newsletter by the legendary cryptography researcher Bruce Schneier. He writes mature thougts on current security topics and discussions. I found it really helpful in getting a reasonable opinion about topics and staying up-to-date.

Most interesting video lecture
JavaScript, the evil parts. Quite some interesting ideas.

Most surprising programming language
Haskell: Very clean design. I first got into contact with functional programming in 2010 and found it very intuitive and useful.
Since parallelization gets more and more important these days, languages that are inherently designed without side-effects have a great future.

Most helpful podcasts
Linux Reality: 100 episodes about linux related topics. Good for starters.
Chaosradio Express by Tim Pritlove: German podcast, I can recommand TeX, Coffee and Mobile Ad-hoc networks.

Most interesting projects I discovered
node.js: Server side javascript at it’s best.
Cinder: High performance creative coding framework for C++.
Ethersex: A project that enables network facilities like IPv6 or HTTP for microcontrollers.

Most used software
Bash: Maybe I will look into zsh in 2011, for now I am very happy.
Vim: Hands off, best text editor out there.
LaTeX: Just great.
Git: For me git made a big change in my coding workflow and the way I keep the development, staging and productive environment in sync.

Project I learned the most from
Setting up a company server from scratch (hardware, archlinux os, web-server, wiki, backup system, vpn, etc.).
Especially getting handy with Unix and Linux had some big insights for me.

Best article/paper/etc
Reading the famous RFC 2616 in it’s completeness was really helpful for understanding the concepts behind the world wide web.

Most interesting persons of 2010
Dr. Michael Schmidt-Salomon: German philosopher, if you are interested in faith, humanism, ethics and the “free will”-debate listen to this interview.

Daniel Domscheidt-Berg: I think this is pretty much ideally how one should present himself: Sophisticated and calm.

Robert Hodgin: Very inspiring. Co-founder of Cinder and the barbarian group. Big one in creative coding.

About Me

I am a 29 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


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