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Projects for 2022

Nick Thomas 4 months ago
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title: "Projects for 2022"
I'm not a fan of new years resolutions, but now is as good a time as any to
enumerate some existing projects I'd like to devote a bit more time to this
year, along with some green-field stuff and body projects. It's not all
## Existing projects
### Ordoor
=> Gitea project
This is my fun 2D game project. All the assets from a 1998 game are just sat
there, waiting for me to decode them and write a game engine that can use them
to replicate one of my favourite retro games. I've made considerable progress
with the assets, and had started piecing gameplay together:
=> /img/ordoor-main-menu.gif GIF showing current state
The project stalled because I ran into some issues with my (hand-written) UI
library - in particular, clicks weren't captured by the topmost widget, but
propagated through it to underlying layers as well. This convinced me that I
needed a more featureful game engine than Ebiten, which morphed into a desire to
use Amethyst, which morphed into waiting for the Legion ECS rewrite of that to
complete. That culminated in Amethyst being abandoned by its developers, so it's
back to the drawing board on a way forward.
=> Ebiten
=> Amethyst
=> Amethyst abandoned
Through an email from Brazil, I learned that the Chaos Gate game engine - with
many customisations - actually serves four different games, and I got somewhat
distracted by trying to get it to load the assets for those as well. Honestly,
decoding the assets is the most fun part for me. The gameplay bit is fiddly!
I rate my chances of making some progress on this project quite highly; I've
left it at a fun point and I've had long periods of inactivity on it before and
always found it in me to return. I might abandon the rewrite idea and just try
to fix the immediate problem by tweaking the horrendous UI library.
### Purple Plugin Delta
I use Delta Chat as my preferred messenger. It's IM over email, and although
that sounds ridiculous, it works really well. When both sender and recipient
have control over their own email servers, the security characteristics are also
really good.
The official desktop client is an Electron application, which I'm not a fan of,
so I've spent some time working on various alternatives to that. My settled
approach is a libpurple plugin, which allows Pidgin (and several other
messengers, including Chatty in Phosh) to send and receive messages. Support for
multiple clients on the same account is very well-advanced, so this leads to a
great experience where I don't need to use my phone keyboard to chat with
friends when I'm sat in front of my laptop.
This one is stalled on a Rust rewrite. You might think a trend is forming here,
but the rewrite in this case was more or less forced on me - my plugin is a very
thin wrapper around the deltachat core library, which was rewritten in Rust
recently. It stil has C bindings, but using them introduces all sorts of
impedence mismatches, and I'd really rather be writing Rust than C, any day of
the week.
For a long time, the OpenSSL license meant that distributing the plugin broke
the purple license. However, with the advent of OpenSSL 3, this is no longer
true; by default, the deltachat build embeds a version and the last bit of work
I did on this in the Rust branch was to get it to embed OpenSSL 3. Switching to
Rust means I can embed that, along with deltachat itself, into my purple plugin,
rather than pidgin needing to find both the deltachat .so and the plugin .so and
just hoping that a non-violating OpenSSL was used in the deltachat build.
Chances of progress here are also pretty good - I'm using the C version of this
plugin every day, and it has a lot of bugs and shortcomings that grate on me.
=> Delta Chat
### Relocate back to Yorkshire
This is already well-advanced, but is going to be something of a production - we
have a baby, two animals, our important possessions, and ourselves, to move. The
ferry is already booked - we're locked in for February - and the destination is
sorted. We do have help getting the animals and some possessions down, but it
still leaves a lot to work out in advance.
Once we're moved, the place we're going to needs no DIY at all. I expect to
enjoy that feeling for about a week before I get an urge to demolish something,
but fortunately, my sister's house needs a fair bit of work, so I'll be heading
pver there to sort that out. We do need to dispose of the Shetland house as part
of this, as well.
Absolutely a dead cert that this is happening. The only question is how painful
it will be.
### Parenting
It's fair to say I'm a rank amateur at this. Right now, his needs are simple,
but he's bound to get more complex as he ages. Language and mobility are key
early learning goals, and I have to keep him clothed, fed, clean, and happy
I get no choice in this one!
## New projects
### Stock ticker / Gemserv plugins
In general, anytime I find myself obsessively refreshing a website, I feel like
finding an alternative or frontend in Geminispace. This is something that I
couldn't find.
I've written a little about how I want to implement this one in a Gemserv issue;
I could whip it up as a dedicated binary in very little time, but waiting for
plugin support (or adding it myself) introduces a stall. Frankly, I'm just being
lazy about deployment, but I think I'll stick with this approach if I find any
time to work on this one.
=> Gemserv issue #9
I rate my chances of picking this up as low, though. Designing the plugin
architecture is a big chunk of work.
### Gemini traffic statistics
I'd quite like to know how much traffic my capsule gets. Gemserv is great and
outputs logs that are pretty close to commonlog format, but I expect it's not
*quite* close enough to use existing tools for the job.
Rather than being a Gemserv plugin and picking up a stall as a result, this can
simply be a daily cronjob that processes the log and writes the statistics
I'm a privacy-conscious person, but even I don't begrudge site admins the
ability to see what level of traffic they're getting. Chances of working on this
are reasonably high - it's a nice, low-effort project, and well-bounded.
### Masters degree
I got my undergraduate degree in 2008, and was accepted onto a masters course,
but was unable to actually take up the place due to impending homelessness -
and unlike previous times where this threatened, there wasn't a save available.
My only option was to decline the MSc and enter the world of work. I still
want a postgraduate qualification, though.
My degree was biology; I failed to enter that field in 2008, so fell back on my
hobby of linux administration and software development to get an entry-level job
at a local ISP. I've never wanted to do software or computers in an academic
sense, though. I'm also far too rusty in biological stuff to consider jumping on
an MSc in that field, with the possible exception of a computational biology
topic - but to me, that's just software.
Instead, I went off-piste last year, and signed up to an MSc in Green Building
with the Centre for Alternative Technology. I pushed back my entry by a year
when it transpired we were getting a child, so I'm now due to take up a place in
September 2022.
=> MSc Green Building
I'd love to build my own sustainable house sometime, in true Grand Designs / Ben
Fogle's New Lives In The Wild fashion, and I view this as a concrete (or straw
bale?) step in the right direction.
I already have the place reserved for this, so my chances of doing it are high,
but not guaranteed - if parenting is too difficult, I may have to give it a
CAT also do a range of short courses, and I'm hopeful I can take on at least one
practical one before the MSc begins; the academic side of it doesn't worry me
too much, but I'm definitely under-educated in construction generally!
### Trip to Cuba
I've been talking about this one with a couple of comrades since before the
pandemic. 2022 feels like it might be my best opportunity in the next decade.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign organises trips that could be described as touring
the revolution, handled through a company called Havanatour UK.
=> Cuba Solidarity Campaign tours
=> Havanatour UK
I've done a lot of reading about Cuba, and spent some time chatting and hanging
out with Cubans - both in favour of, and against, the revolution - and seeing
it for myself has been a priority for a few years now. It will also make for a
very nice holiday on its own terms! I love to dance salsa, hot beaches are a
huge win, and I'd love to go see the Escambray mountains where my coffee is
=> Cuba Directo
One can do all those things in less-controversial places, but a trip to Cuba
will help me to learn more about the reality there. I'm also very interested in
Cuban agriculture and the organopónico system - I've been involved in some
organic growing in the UK with Transition Turriefield, up here in Shetland, and
it would be very interesting to compare approaches and learn some lessons.
=> Organopónicos
=> Transition Turriefield
Of course, life in Cuba is hard, and it won't be a traditional tourist
experience, no matter how hard the operators try. I'm hopeful that I can
contribute more than I take away while I'm there, but if nothing else, people
will finally stop asking me, triumphantly, "if you love Cuba so much, why don't
you go?"
I'll rate this one medium. A lot depends on the continuing pandemic, after all.
### Español
He estado aprendiendo español hace dos años - principalmente en linea, aunque
unos clases antes del pandemico. Quiero continuar en 2022 y leer y escribir más en
español también. ¿Tal vez unos articulos en español aquí?
## Body projects
### Losing weight
This one's always at the back of my mind. I'm fat, and I'd rather not be. I've
had success addressing this in the past with running, dancing, cycling, and
roller skating; for one reason or another, I've not managed to get any of those
going while in Shetland. A diet-only approach doesn't work well for me; I grew
up in a starvation environment, and my input controls are not good.
This is another one for "once I'm back in Yorkshire". Chances of making progress
are probably in the medium-low range also.
### Laser eye surgery
This one's been on my radar for years. I'm short-sighted and astigmatic. Without
glasses or contact lenses, I just can't function at all right now, which is not
a state I enjoy being in.
Several needle-free techniques appear to be available these days - no need for
injected anaesthetic - and I now have the money to do this without feeling
guilty, so as soon as I'm relocated to Yorkshire I'll be looking into this. It's
pretty much a dead cert, as long as my prescription is amenable to the process -
I just have to decide between a bunch of ridiculously named variants of LASIK,
and find a surgery that isn't going to blind me.
Real shame it's not available on the NHS.


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