My 2018 in Review

I figured enough has taken place this year, enough changes have taken place, and I’ve worked on enough projects that a post recapping things might be worthwhile.

To start, here’s a playlist of my favorite songs of the year that you can listen to while reading this post.

So what did I do with this year? It seems, looking back, I wrote a ton of code.  Professionally I contributed to a Roku app, two iOS apps, AppleTV and Amazon Fire/Android TV apps.  Outside of work I released #TheCabin for iOS, #TheCabin for Android, #TheCabin web app, an IRC Bot in Go and maintained Longtail Music and The Bat Player for AppleTV.  It was nice to spend time on Android this year, something I’ve been wanting to do in previous years.

If you’re following along at home, you might notice one application missing from the above list. Going into 2019 I no longer will be supporting or maintaining The Bat Player for Roku. This decision isn’t made lightly, as a lot of people use that app on the Roku and has enjoyed it for a handful of years.  But Roku, the company, as of 2019, will no longer allow applications written with the original Roku software development kit to be run on devices.  And while this sucks, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to re-write it, all it takes is time and energy. And to be honest, I got pretty far in that rewrite. But Roku, in general, has made life difficult for developers on their platform, and I’m no longer interested in developing for them. On top of that they break APIs in every OS version update, they don’t fix reported problems, and the development environment you have to work with is just horrible.  So on a personal level, I’m done with Roku.  I get to choose what platforms and environments to develop for in my free time, so I’m choosing to no longer support them with my work.

Even though I shipped a bunch of stuff this year, there’s one thing that didn’t make it out, my currently in-progress Mastodon client.  I’ve been hard at work on it, and I had hoped to have a beta out by the end of 2018, but it’s just not done yet.  I’m sure you’ll hear more about it in the coming months, but until then, learn a bit about Mastodon and check it out.

Speaking of social networks, 2018 is the year that broke the camel’s back when it came to leaving Twitter and Facebook.  But before I brief you on that, believe me, I don’t want a big dramatic announcement saying “OMG I’M LEAVING”, but I do want to explain myself.

Twitter this year deprecated a handful of important APIs for third party developers. That means fantastic applications such as Tweetbot, Twitterific and others were cut off at the knees by Twitter so people would start using the official Twitter apps instead of third party apps that many people, like me, preferred.  You can read more about this at http://apps-of-a-feather.com/.  After telling these apps they could no longer have full access to the Twitter feature set they had the nerve to email their users and say “Use the official Twitter app because it has all the features, unlike the others”. That’s like punching somebody in the face and then making fun of their black eye. This whole developer ordeal on top of the way the Twitter corporation handles their product, privacy, abuse, nazis, Trump, ads, etc… I just had enough.

As for Facebook, I shouldn’t need to explain myself much there.  Facebook is a horrible company for all the reasons you already know. The company needs to be burned to the ground.  I highly recommend watching the two part PBS Frontline documentary called The Facebook Dilemma if you’re not sufficiently angry about Facebook.  I stuck around on the service as long as I have because Facebook is the single thread that kept me connected to handfuls of people, and the local events that get surfaced to me through “the algorithm”.  But admittedly I actually talk to very, very few people on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to walk away from having those connections. But the hardest thing to replicate going forward will be the event calendars. I’m posting a link to this blog post on Facebook so people know where to find me, but other than that I’m done there.

So if you want to chat with me online going forward, there’s options.

For private communication there’s no reason not to use encrypted messaging products.  If you want to chat and you have my phone number, and use Apple devices, there’s iMessage.  If you don’t use iMessage you can look me up on Signal Messenger by number as well.  You can also chat with me on Keybase: https://keybase.io/gabek, a great security product with a wide range of features outside of just messaging.

As far as following me publicly, Mastodon is where it’s at.  Follow me at https://mastodon.social/@gabek and learn more about Mastodon at https://joinmastodon.org/.  While I still don’t feel “at home” on Mastodon, I do think it’s early days.  It keeps growing, and little by little I follow more and more people and feel out the different communities.  But I feel strongly enough about it to support it with my time, money and effort by donating to their Patreon and building a dedicated desktop client. I think Mastodon in 2019 has big things in store.

So what will change for me in 2019? Well, I should probably write on gabekangas.com more often. The (rare) things that used to go on Facebook, and the tiny things I would post to Twitter was usually enough, so only a couple large posts a year showed up here. I should write more, and about different and smaller things. But given that there’s not really a network to share those posts out to, I’m not sure if anybody would see them. I’ve thought about revamping this site, as well. Moving it from Squarespace to a Static Site generated by Hugo, but that’s a lot of work unless I really plan on using it.

And lastly, since I have your attention, take some time in 2019 to learn about the alternatives to the free online corporate services you regularly use.  A great resource is https://switching.social/ and https://nomoregoogle.com/.  The companies you trust your data to don’t have your best intentions in mind and I think we’ll see even more examples of that in 2019.


I have more stuff you can read if you like. You might like these:

Dec 28, 2018