2014, Aspect B

While the year’s activities were dominated by Life Events, I did get some projects done. More than I did in 2013, I think. When I was looking at Darius’s list, I realized I couldn’t remember what I had done beyond the last three months. So, taking stock is a good idea.

Projects that were released in 2014. If a project has subprojects built to support it, they are listed under it.

  • Recovery. Writing this brought to my attention that this was the only song I wrote in 2014. I usually do two or three a year, except years in which I do albums. Maybe I’ll go for an album this year?
  • probable. A Node module that provides basic randomization utilities, as well as functions for making D&D-style random tables. I’ve used this in at least four projects.
  • Non-Stop Scroll Shop. It’s your one-stop non-stop scroll shop! Products forever!
  • A browser-based cellular automaton. I had big, yet vague plans for building off of this, but I just kinda drifted away into Twitter bots. I will come back, though.

    You may notice that a lot of modules go into most of my projects. This is because I’ve drifted into practicing a small module philosophy, and it has worked out really well for my projects. If you have to start and stop projects a lot, as I do, it really helps to be able to build in small, tangible units, rather than huge all-or-nothing colossuses. Also, this is the lowest-friction reusability situation I’ve ever been in.
  • An interactive explanation of quadtrees. When I was building my cellular automaton, I wanted to try storing my cells in quadtrees to save space. It was then that I realized I wasn’t that clear on how quadtrees work, so I built this explanation.

    It was pretty well-received. Non-programmer-, non-mathematics-types understood quadtrees by trying it. The power of moving shapes!

  • Smidgeo.com. Finally our cat’s corporation has a base on the web! GET! I still enjoy that CSS animation.

  • @godtributes. This is a merciless generalization of the “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!” meme. I wasn’t really into it until my friend Matt said “GROWTH FOR THE GROWTH GOD!” in reference to House Republicans. Then, it clicked. In turn, this bot has clicked with far more people than I had expected. I think it might my most popular project.

    Through @godtributes, I learned quite a lot about pluralization inconsistencies in the English language, Twitter REST API rate limits, and just how easy it is for a bot to unintentionally say horrific things.

  • Phoneme-based Node modules: homophonizer, phonemenon. Some of my future projects hinge on knowing what sounds like what what. So, I’ve done a lot of playing around with phonemes. Like the cellular automata stuff, I need to harvest the fruits of these projects in 2015.
  • Translation bots: @a_chance_bot, @translatedbible, and @new_aeneid. These are bots (working off of the same app) that take some source quotation, then translate it to several non-English languages and back to English. The results have been largely disappointing. I am amused by about one post from each of these bots a day.

    I started this project after watching a Leslie Lamport video and then wrote a rigorous specification, which I’ve never done before. That took a while. I also scratched bikeshedding itch by making my own dependency injector.

    In a sense, I made the classic mistake of investing too much engineering effort without first proving that doing so is worthwhile. However, I can also write this off as a chance to scratch some itches. On the whole, I still think I paid too much to do that, though.

  • conform-async. There’s not much to this module, but I end up using it a lot to keep peace between async-expecting code and sync code.
  • Rap bots: @rapgamemetaphor and @autocompleterap. These bots amuse me on the regular. I have some further plans for them.
    • autocompl - A module that gives you Google’s autocomplete suggestions for given strings.
  • Lone Wolf and Parenting. I’ve been rereading Lone Wolf and Cub, a great but flawed comic from the ‘70s. This time, the parent stuff jumps out at me a little more, and I’ve been highlighting amusing stuff on this Tumblr. It’s nice having a non-technology-driven project.

Projects that didn’t make it:

  • Massachusetts Childcare Search. While we were searching for daycare, I wanted a site that served the EEC data in a less painful way than the EEC web site. So, I scraped the site for data and was planning to build an app that would use that data. Never got beyond the scraping.
  • NaNoGenMo. I started building an engine for generating a novel, but I got stuck on trying define what an “event” in a novel is and how it could be represented simply. Might keep at this one.

I feel good about 2014 (the personal stuff, not the world events). As I do every year, in 2015, I want to be more careful about what I start and clearer on what I expect to get out of each project. And I want to do more with music and visualization again. And maybe write a game, too?

There’s some utility apps I want to write, but that’s at odds with the fact that generative projects are always far more satisfying than ones that just do what you tell them to do. So, yeah, I got stuff to work out for 2015.