What can one say of the year of the pandemic. I semi wish I’d made more of a habit of reviewing things but what are regrets if not rational to start behaviour.
Let’s see the year in notes: (very ad-hoc, drinking may have started)
Not a very varied year for games for me, but I think that’s a bit of a theme with my content consumption. Between slow steady work and quarantine… I just wasn’t willing to invest in to much “risky” new stuff
- Warframe: my second year with the game, moved deep into what it has for end game, finished collecting all the frames, hit MR 26. And discovered a bit of what they say, Warframe doesn’t have a great end game. No regrets, it’s been a great ride so far, love the game, and I’ll keep popping back in for content drops
- Control (2019): Got it in spring and loved it. Great atmosphere and world building, fun lead character
- Echo (2017): Bought on sale a while ago (like the trailer when it came out) but only just played this month. Delightful very my thing deep future slightly fallen fragmented sci-fi narrative draped on top of some fun game mechanics. Not normally a stealth person, but this isn’t really a stealth game, as the mechanics allow you many choices but there’s a cost to them all, so it has a nice tension.
- Hades: Have enjoyed most of the about 37 runs I’ve done so far, like the story, love the look, and pretty enjoy the gameplay and combat, but I feel I’ve hit a bit of a wall, which is a little frustrating
- Sayonara Wild Hearts: A cure couple hour romp!
Bad year for reading for me. Mostly just re-reads. As said above, low energy for new things this year, wanting to avoid sinking energy into something that may disappoint, and I’m finding as I get older and find things I really love, all else has to measure up to increasingly high standards.
- A Memory Called Empire: The one new book I actually read this year (started a couple others and bailed). A cute, decent, fun, and queer yarn in a rich fractured far sci-fi future. Intrigue.
- Neuromancer: For some reason I decided I needed to revisit the origins of cyberpunk. It is what it is, a relic of its time. Definitely reads less great with (my) age.
- The Maddaddam trilogy: Year of pandemic, not a bad time to revisit this end time plague series. It’s still fine, good. An onion of a story, each volume peeling back some of the story.
- Luminous - Greg Egan is becoming one of my longer term stead fast reliable authors. He’s been doing this a long time and it’s always pleasant to visit his stories
TV and Movies
This was the area I prolly took a few more adventures than anywhere else, and they didn’t always pay off
- The Good Place (Season 4): Good continuation, nice endings, and I was glad to see new concepts being introduced even up to the last 2 episodes (great The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect notes there)
- She-Ra (Season 5): Delightful as always, amazing ending, and my fav, a rich galaxy spanning empire. Just wish we could have spent more time in that universe
- D.E.B.S. (2004): So late to this game but what a delight
- Bit (2019): Indie Vampire movie that takes us on a tour of the waves of feminism and intersectionality. Really appreciate it for that, and holding many other bigger hollywood movies up to it to find coming out wildly unfavourably and them being stalled in like stale second wave at best
- Nightflyers (2018): Ow my brain. Terrible. Had to hate watch to push through to the end. Brain damaging garbage
- Beastars: Surprise treat.
- Umbrella Academy (Season 2): Was worried going it but it was pretty good and fun
- Warrior Nun: Disappointing. Wanted Buffy energy and a bit more queerness. Got token queerness at most, and just… blah stretchy not enough story. Would have been better as an episodic imo.
- Teenage Bounty Hunters: Everything I was expecting and wanting from Warrior Nun and more! A surprise treat. So now I’m super pissed and disappointed with Netflix for cancelling this and renewing the prior…
- Bat Woman: First DC hero show I’ve been able to click with. Crammed what felt like could have been 2-3 seasons of plot into 1, character relations bounce like pinballs past breaking point and sanity, but despite that, Ruby Rose was fun as Bat Woman and her relation with Alice was mostly fun. Wish they’d made better and more use of the step sister, she felt forgotten often.
- The Great: Fun!
- Guns Akimbo: Cute and fun. Wished for a little more meat, and as often, left wishing for a bit more for the female characters but eh, was fun and fine.
- Task Master (season 1-7): Good laughs and time passing in pandemic
- Schitts Creek (Season 1&2): Didn’t get the hype. Few characters to go around, slow and repetitive
- Letterkenny (Season 1-8): Here’s the witty, sharp, word-play-ful, fast talking, and queer canadian small town show I wanted
- Cobra Kai (Season 1-2): The show we didn’t know we wanted, but was a pretty good laugh, and a pretty good example of how to retool and revive a 30 year old property
- The Alienist (Season 1): meh. A bit meandery.
- Raised by Wolves: Brain damage inducing garbage. Written by men whom appear terrified of women and who hold pregnancy up as dark witchcraft. Ridly Scott hasn’t moved an inch from the 70s with serpent aliens bursting from people and AI (cunningly to him?) called “Mother”. Had to engage extreme hate watch mode by episode 3. Astoundingly bad. Am shocked and dismayed it’s been renewed
- Great Pretender: Fun heist show with notes of Leverage and Cowboy Bebop
- Whose Line is it Anyways (9-10): Holy cow this staple of cable tv from my childhood got revived with the same improv actors and hosted by Aisha Tyler. Laughs in a pandemic
- The Queens Gambit: Pretty good and fun. Due to it’s general shape and tv now we were a little extra on edge in the first half always “waiting for the other shoe to drop” but it kinda never did, which wasn’t bad. A little bit fantasy about how not sexist everyone was in the 60s, but good times. Anya Taylor Joy was amazing
- New Mutants: I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t have much in the way of hopes for it after years of delays. Could have been the start of something that wasn’t bad, but as a one off, not really worth checking out.
I’m sure this list is non-exhaustive and I forgot and or missed stuff (especially reality tv and contest shows).
- Dark (Season 3): Just haven’t had the energy in pandemic to dive back into that dense heavy mess
- The Good Fight (Season 4): ditto, plus the general hellscape of american politics all year with their election looming, just seemed like it might be too much
- QT/QML: A year heavy with work with this. It was painful. Many should have been small or one day tasks ballooned into a weeks or more work desperately trying to deal with cascading alignment and other issues. Only to have the platform start giving us the finger by the end of 2020. So looks like so long, and I won’t miss you at all
- Go: some more module go version update annoyances at the beginning of the year, and the move to pkg.go.dev was a bit awkward and maybe a decade late if you were gonna do that. Kinda weird now. But overall what ever. Def the year you could say I “fell out of love” with Go, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or I don’t like it. Just not gonna fan over it. I don’t see a lot of compelling options dragging me away
- Rust: I tried. I did some advent of code in it. Tried to do Game of Life in it. It has been painful. I keep hearing Rust is amazing and wonderful, so I keep and probably will keep pushing, but that learning curve is steep, and worse, punishing and mean. Not a fun time at all so far, and I really wanted to note that, because it should be a consideration for me for future projects, if I wish others to join, Rust could pose a barrier other languages may not.
- Dart?: Wanted to also look at Dart this year but didn’t. Prolly something I’ll peak at in early 2021
Overall a pretty not exciting year for programming for me. Mostly just heads down on the near year long UI redesign for Cwtch for me. Between the exhaustion of doing so much front end work with QT/QML and the pandemic, didn’t leave a lot of room for side projects or experiments
Death of linux desktop ramblings
I feel like instead of “year of the linux desktop” this decade was to me even more “the decade linux desktop died” or at least a LOT of nails in the coffin of linux desktop. Canonical burned a lot of good faith switching from Gnome 2 to Unity a few years before unity was stable and ready, but what choice did they have as Gnome pushed out Gnome 3 which was… pretty anti-user. And then there was the cancer that was systemd on the entire Linux ecosystem. Then Unity got acceptable and not bad, and then Canonical bailed on it and just shipped a Gnome 3 / Gnome shell reskin, that was a bit more usable. Gnome spent a decade removing features from software. And now Ubuntu 20.04 it seems like the system is a mess split between apks/debs and “snaps”. Not super stoked about that direction, seems not well thought out, and more bloat and minimal benefit. QT is feeling like a sinking ship and KDE… I’ve been using it on my tv computer and I just find it a bit rough edged and clunky at times, where as Ubuntu’s Gnome usually just is inoffensive, gets out of my way, and does what I need.
2000s was full of excitement for where future desktops could go and the 2010s just felt like the death of all that. 0 innovation and just desktops carrying on and the best that could be said for them was “they didn’t get in your way”
Windows with it’s WSL continues to woo the Linux developer in me with an OS Shell that is also “ok and mostly inoffensive” while still offering me all the dev tools I love. And as a bonus it runs games. But WSL is held back and limited by the poor state of windows networking which hampers it as a full fledged dev env for all I might want to do a little. I feel no enthusiasm for any OS these days and am desperately waiting to be woo-ed by someone.
Android now outsells Windows, and that’s… something. Android won the Linux “desktop” game a decade ago but for mobile, but it’s not a great or full env, and it’s on the way out with Google continuing it’s nebulous project Fuscia so…
UI Frameworks OMG
The last decade seems like all UI toolkits are… very bad. I get it, for simplicity most stuff just went full HTML/JS and shipped on web, or in electron or react. But for a wide range of applications that has big security and privacy concerns that can’t easily be gotten around. And HTML/JS isn’t even that optimal.
But wow can it feel like it compared to some native stacks like QT/QML or straight Java/Android. So I get it.
But I’m left feeling like we’ve forgotten how to make UIs for software except as webapps with… real problems
I have a vague hope that maybe Flutter from Goggle will not suck and make making UIs easy and not painful while also not being an obvious security/privacy risk. With only the residual concern of it being tightly coupled to Google. But really these days what reliable tech isn’t coupled with a concerning megacorp. My first app building experience was with Borland Delphi in like 1998 and really pleasant, and pretty much everything since has been worse and more painful. If Flutter could do rapid app development, unlike other frameworks I’ve been using where each simple new element can devolve into weird week long struggles, than it might be worth it.
Tech of the 2010s
What should have been a decade ushering us into the future feels more like a low grade nightmare and regression. Not sure where the 2020s is gonna go but I hope some things change. This was a bad decade for tech and I’m pretty burned out on a lot of tech I was enthused for once upon a time
Overall, very lucky that Open Privacy was in a good position to keep us going all year. Next year may face a bit more challenge, but it also may be a year of recovery so we’ll see how that all balances out.
There was some hope around a Cwtch Beta getting out for 2020 and a lot of work went into the Cwtch ui all year but the goal was missed for reasons we’ll be talking about early in 2021 I’m sure. TLDR: toolchain failures and direction changes are sad making.
Regardless, we have a cool looking UI prototype that works well that I am really proud of:
We have a great technical base, and a good proof of concept ui. So we just have to get a little lucky and move forward and I’m ultimately still really excited for where we are going and what we can deliver!
Well the tech sections ended up a bit of a bummer, but I mean, I’m pretty tired of tech and the refrain “computers were a mistake” is definitely being uttered with increased frequency. Not sure what the take away is.
Out side of tech, it wasn’t a bad year for media, but I think it’s clear I need to take a few more “risks” next year on some new properties.
2020 was a shit year, but ultimately I was very lucky, Open Privacy weather the year, and I’m healthy and safe.
Here’s hoping that by mid 2021 some things have improved. And I guess it’s up to us to work on filling in some gaps.