Oh, Hello!

So I’ve been away for a little while. I know, and I feel a little guilty, but hey, that’s what holidays are for. I’m now officially getting back to some degree of work, and to that end have created myself a goal with the pretty cool Beeminder to work for at least 20 hours per week on Piemaster-related stuff. Currently no pledge, but it’ll start going up if I start failing. Wish me luck!

So what am I up to now?

The main coding focus at the moment is Buffex, which I still haven’t written much about, despite promising to do so multiple times. Maybe I should write about it first to hash out the scope of the MVP. In any case, it’s coming along rather well, and I’m currently working on wrangling all the data.

In non-programming news, I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past couple of months cleaning up the garden (it’s been a jungle for years) into a presentable state, and performing some dedicated research into the wonders of aquaponics (see this Practical Aquaponics video for 12 minutes of introduction). I want to write lots about it because I’m kind of obsessed at present, but I’m afraid no one much cares. Once constructions starts in earnest (have to order a few more parts) I’ll get onto it.

I’m also heading back to uni this year and applying for a couple of jobs. One is pretty standard tutoring of relatively simple computing subjects, and the other is a pretty exciting engineering faculty project called MUtopia, for which I may be responsible for developing some kind of stakeholder feedback management system, rather than the actual simulation stuff. Still a cool project to be involved with (if approved), and the role sounds like a great experience (from what little I currently know).

Finally, I’ve had a request pop up to write a few sheets of drum tablature, for which I’ve resurrected the old Taboo! Talk about a blast from the past. Ran into a whole bunch of exceptions since I wasn’t a fantastic programmer back then, but it got me thinking again about my old plans to take Taboo to the web as a JavaScript application. Now that I’m actually using some JS in anger, I may give it a go when/if things cool down for a while.

So that’s me. I’ve been very busy with all kinds of things, but am now getting back to being busy with the right things (from this site’s perspective, anyway).

Holiday Direction

The updates have been fairly sparse recently, but as Christmas (or equivalent) approaches everyone gets pretty busy. Fortunately, a few of the things I’ve been very busy with are Piemaster-related: I’m breaking some new ground with Forgbook and Buffex, and exploring a couple of other potential projects on the side.

Forgbook has received a lot of competition lately, as numerous development teams small and large have release highly polished task management applications, such as AsanaDo.com and Orchestra. Many of these have a strong emphasis placed on collaboration across tasks, but still none offer the ability to arbitrarily break down tasks into subtasks. This seems like a pretty fundamental thing to want to be able to do, and is of course the cornerstone of Forgbook.

However all of these applications do offer very slick user interfaces, and to at least be competitive, I’ve realised that Forgbook requires a modern makeover. As such, I’ve finally taken on learning some JavaScript properly, because against my wishes it has undoubtedly become the modern web’s lingua franca. I’ve been mocking up a few single-page AJAX applications with the very handy Backbone.js library, which drastically simplifies (or at least provides structure to) the MVC design of the user interface. It’s quite reminiscent of my time with Adobe Flex, minus the constant annoyances of Flash, and I’m hoping to write a bit about it once I’m a little more comfortable.

On that note, I’ve been approaching Buffex from a more modern perspective as well. I noticed I haven’t mentioned Buffex in a post before, and indeed the project page has been a rather misleading “Coming soon.” for the past year or so, but you’ll hear a lot more about it soon. Since the minimum viable product (MVP) incarnation of Buffex is relatively simple, I’ve decided to focus my efforts on that for the time being before pressing on with Forgbook (which is looking much slicker than it used to, but has a lot of work to go). I’ll be taking a Backbone approach to Buffex too, to try and have nice, snappy interface and keep everything nice and simple.

That’s more or less where my head is at the moment. Those couple of other ideas I mentioned will get some more attention next year, but I can say that one of them has been born out of my recent fascination with gardening. If there are any gardeners out there, let me know! I’m trying to bring a rather unorthodox approach to it, and would love to discuss it with others. Techies tend not to be very enthusiastic garderners however, which is both a good thing and a bad thing in some sense. Regardless, I know I’m looking forward to it.