2018 Self Reflection

Its a couple months into 2019 already! I sat down and thought about all I've done in 2018 in regards to my digital landscape. On initial spark of this, I didn't think of much therefore, I didn't do much; but, I was wrong!

Software

Open Source

During last year I really hunkered down and focused on my open source projects.

A few silly ones like movie-barcode, CloudApp-Bash, or With and some more important ones, which have gained some popularity, such as Laravel Shopify and Basic Shopify API.

Focusing on my open source work has not only allowed me to refine my existing public code (which some of it has aged), keep self-improving, but also help others who've faced similar issues.

In regards to Laravel Shopify in particular, I hinged on learning the core of Laravel, and coming from a previous Symfony background, this was not hard - just different. Laravel feels more like Rails for PHP, which I do love Rails so I instantly fell in love. Laravel was missing a decent Shopify boilerplate package at the time so I created the package from the ground-up to follow similar practices to how Rails' version, shopify_app gem does.

It has since gained a lot of popularity with many helpful contributors both in pull requests and general questions people post in the issue section. This, in-conjunction with Basic Shopify API package, have allowed many companies (based on their personal thank you emails to me) to create Laravel-powered Shopify apps fairly quickly, letting them focus on their apps code and not the setup.

Open source ecosystems are always great to be involved with. I'm glad I've had the late nights this year to give back to it.

Operating

Its been a hectic year bouncing between operating systems. As a long time Linux user, I broke the streak in 2014 when I purchased my Macbook. However, last year my Macbook finally hit the grave and I purchased a Thinkpad T580 to replace it (with some great specs too!), leading me to use Windows for a few months, but now I'm back on Linux!

Thankfully for software like Vagrant, Docker, WSL, VSCode, and more, my productivity hasn't been impacted between these transitions since mostly everything I write these days is either fairly portable or easily setup on another system.

I've opted for PopOS on my T580 given its great support for dual graphics cards and customizations. I even have a recent post outlining some steps I took to optimize the T580 for daily-driver usage.

Code

Besides moving away from Ruby/Rails and focusing back to PHP/Laravel/Symfony, I've also taken a great focus on modern Javascript/Node and Typescript.

I've absolutely fallen in love with Typescript. Not only is it backed by Microsoft, but its integration with VSCode (through Intellisense and TSLint) has been great. It really allows you to write code you can trust by ensuring values in, out and across, are correct and properly formed.

From a pure web-perspective... a good Typescript setup with Babel/Browserify and some polyfills, can allow you to write modern Javascript that transpiles down to something that's able to work even on older browsers. Keeping a nice, clean, modern source code.

I currently have a large Typescript library assisting an enterprise company processing over 15 million hits a month successfully.

Blog

Not much to say here, but I moved away from Jekyll and moved to Ghost, simply to have a nice interface for writing posts and something I could further customize.

I also opted to develop a modified theme which had colors that were pleasing to the eyes, and easily readable. I based my colors on my favourite editor theme, from RainGlow called UserScape (High Contrast).

Its still powered by Github Pages through a custom script I have which uses Buster to turn my Ghost installation locally into a pure HTML website, which gets uploaded directly to Github.

Digital Fingerprint

Essentially this involved de-Googling as much as I could. Google used to be a great company to my eyes - creating leading-edge software with first-class Android integration.

But the last couple years, they've turned into a pile of shit. No other way to put it. Discontinuing many services and apps and creating a bunch of useless ones, not only showing instability or trust in investing into their ecosystem, but it shows lack of direction. This, on top of their constant privacy issues has driven me away.

It took quite a bit of time to move away from what I could move away from...

Email & Browsing

I've opted to go full-time with Firefox and Thunderbird on the desktop to manage my browsing and e-mail/calendar access. Both solutions are highly customizable, community-backed, and open source. Firefox also has great Android apps such as Firefox itself and Firefox Focus.

I've also moved away from Gmail and the whole Gsuite of products. Gmail itself plain sucks.... from its obscure standards (such as labels and own "IMAP" implementation), to its ever-changing feature-set, it became a disaster and forced you to stick with their product (Google's goal anyways...).

I have moved on to private services such as MailBox.org which gives you a full e-mail/calendar/contact setup for $15 a year.

Services like MailBox.org, PrivateEmail.com, FastMail.com, are all great because they're well... private! Also secure and are based on existing standards such as CalDav, CardDav, and IMAP, allowing you to easily use many popular software on the desktop and mobile to access your digital content (by the way, Android doesn't support *Dav out of the box... I guess another way for Google to keep you locked in).

Drive

This one was hard. It took me months to find a suitable service. I have a lot of documents which Google (creepily) scans via OCR allowing it to be very searchable. They also offered a nice chunk of free space, 15GB last I used it.

I researched and tried many... from Dropbox, which disappointed in price and syncing abilities to a strong second place runner-up of Sync.com, which I liked, but didn't provide Linux integration.

I settled on pCloud, which has a great set of security features, flawless syncing across all my devices, including Linux, and a great web interface. It also has a hard to beat pricing system, allowing you to pay a one-time life-time fee for their service, or a low monthly cost. It also comes with 10GB (unlockable) space for free to try out as long as you like.

The only feature I miss so far is the OCR that Drive provided, but I'll manage without it for now.

Document Suite

I've moved to use LibreOffice on the desktop, which has given me no issues editing any type of document so far, even Doc and Excel files.

For mobile, I've wen't with Polaris Office for Android. I have not used it much as I do not normally edit docs on-the-go, but the few times I did, it managed the job fine.

Other Services

I've yet to break off from anything else. Some people have had success moving away from Google Maps and Youtube, but its not my direct interest right now. Currently I am happy having my core information moved away!


In the end, I've been move productive than I thought originally. I've accomplished a lot, changed a lot, and hope to continue growing. Cheers!

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