Happy New Years!

It’s the last day of 2017, and almost the start of the second term of the year at the University. I’ve decided to a roundup blogpost and outline some of things to look forward to in 2018.

This has been a pretty fun-filled year. I’ve attended a number of events including OGG Camp 2017, Freenode Live and Hack Essex. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on some exciting projects with Piers, Bruce, Dan and Elena. Working on and live streaming the development of Quest for Questions was a particular highlight.

The Plan for 2018

Coding Streams

Dropping LiveEDU

I’ve not streamed in quite a while now. This is mostly because of the changes made to LiveCoding: first the name change, then charging people for watching the streams and then badgering people about a kickstarter and finally the whole livedu-coin thing. I’m not adverse to premium content, but the approach they are taking is very draconian. Limiting people to watching three hours a month of streams, charging people per category, the official chat bot spam and their almost obsessive focus on eliminating any content they don’t consider ‘of value’ to them is a past what I’m willing to put up with.

Their focus on purely educational, tutorial-like, content is admirable. Unfortunately, it isn’t really compatible with our more informal ‘learning while hacking on a project’ streams we do. They’ve also started referring to videos that don’t fit their new tutorial heavy focus as, “junk content” on their homepage. Personally, I feel that referring to the work of the content creators on the site, many of whom interact with their audience while working on projects or trying to learn cool new things as, “junk” is disrespectful to say the least. Mainly because it wasn’t that long ago, they considered turning off stream archiving a premium feature.

Twitch Creative

While I can understand their motivations for their changes, I can’t continue to stream on a site that seems to be focusing more on profit than their community. As a result, I’ve made the decision to start streaming again but this time on Twitch under its creative category. I’ve updated some of my equipment, my machine is now a lot quieter. I’ve got hardware encoding working correctly so the streams should be a higher quality.

FOSS Galaxy

FOSS Galaxy, formally known as Unity Coders, continues to be a significant focus of my work. Our Gitlab server recently had a disk space upgrade, and we’ve now got dedicated runners. We’re working on trying to get a kubeneties cluster up and running to provide continuous delivery. Our IRC bot, written by our very own Bruce Cowan, continues to sit happily in IRC and tell people about Unicode characters and be our very pythony calculator.

SSL for static sites

Our static sites offering, though Gitlab has been running for a few months now. The hack we had in place before Gitlab open sourced its pages offering has now been decommissioned. With Letsencrypt planning to offer wildcard certificates in 2018, we’ll provide SSL for our pages domain the moment it goes live.

We’ve also made some improvements in the FOSS Galaxy infrastructure. We’ve got a dedicated server hosting most of our projects now making everything a lot more streamlined. The dedicated server has also given us the opportunity to create a single sign-in system across all of our projects, no more remembering a bunch of different username and password combinations!

Branding tidy-up

We’ve finally gotten around to dropping the last few places using the Unity Coders name. The old IRC channel redirects to the new one, and our subreddit has been operating under the new branding for a while now. In 2018, I’d like to tidy up some of the branding we currently have. Bruce’s logos are lovely, but the rest of our art assets (mostly created by myself) are a lacking in comparison. Besides our placeholder, “it’ll only be like that until I get a chance to fix it” website is still up.

For 2018, I’d like to get a set of artwork that matches for our Facebook, Google Plus and Reddit pages done and finally put up a working website again.

PhD

This accademic year is the last ‘proper’ year of my PhD programme. I’ve no idea what will come next but getting it finished has to be a top priority for 2018. There is some ancillary work around this, including running a Hanabi competition based on the framework that Piers and myself created. We’re planning to use our Comet server with some custom runners to make it happen. I’d like to get this in tip top shape before the end of January.

I’ve a few papers in the pipeline, one of which is due very, very soon (infact I should be working on it now but I forgot to push my changes on the office machine).

 

Here’s to a good 2018!

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