Technology changes in 2010

Technology that has come and gone from my life in 2010, and new stuff I've learnt. More than I expected!

These notes are really for me to look back at over the years, but you might find them interesting.


Things gone from my life. Gone but not forgotten :-

  • Mutt - finally replaced with Thunderbird. Mutt is a terminal based email client, just in case you haven't heard of it. It works really well for power users, is really configurable, but in these days of HTML emails and attachments it was no longer keeping up. I loved him - he was a faithful mutt, but he had to go. (Actually he is still there at the command line ready to go if needed - but keep it under your hat!)
  • Courier V34 modem - years overdue, I finally disconnected it and consigned it to the pit of oblivion. It used to receive faxes, but I don't think anyone has sent one for several years. It also used to run a BBS and an Internet node, which was useful at times, but now GPRS/3G/Wifi is everywhere I want to go it is no longer needed.
  • ISDN - 128k of digital goodness just wasn't good enough any more and became too expensive. Great in its hey-day with 2 channels, 10 numbers and a whopping 64k digitial Internet connection. Obsoleted by ADSL and VOIP.
  • Nokia E90 & Symbian - sorry... we've had good times, but I've found someone else
  • KDE - you worked really well until version 4 where the bugs and the slowness really kicked in.
  • Usenet - This was my first hint of online communities on the Internet in 1994. Unfortunately the cool kids have moved on, and so, reluctantly, have I!


New technology :-

  • Thunderbird - for people with complicated email lives the plugin system makes life bearable! Here are my top plugins
    • Nostalgy - adds keyboard shortcuts to save, copy, goto folders
    • Quickfolders - Put your favourite folders along the top
    • Copy Sent to Current - copy sent mail to the current folder not the Sent folder - makes a new and better way of doing email
    • Display Mail User Agent - snoop on what other people use for their mail client
    • Enigmail - Use PGP to sign/encrypt your emails seamlessly
    • External Editor - edit emails in your favourite editor (eg emacs)
    • Identity Chooser - If you use multiple identities you need this!
    • Mail Redirect - proper bounce of email (not forward)
  • IMAP - makes it easy to migrate your email setup. You can still use it with procmail so some things haven't changed ;-) I can use it with my Android phone and the excellent K9Mail.
  • Blogofile - which makes this (fully static) website. It replaces a pile of crufty hand built python scripts which did the same thing, just not nearly as well!
  • Ubuntu on the desktop - I finally gave in and replaced Debian testing with Ubuntu on my main laptop so I can spend less time fixing stuff and more time doing real work! Debian still rules on the server though.
  • VOIP - I've signed up with a 100% Voip provider and migrated my 10 telephone numbers to them. It went reasonably smoothly! I took the ISDN card out of my Asterisk PBX. We've been doing this at work for ages - it seemed like time to migrate at home too.
  • Android - is Google's new phone operating system. It runs on Linux and is mostly open source which are big positives in my view. I've been enjoying my Android phone greatly and have written a number of applications - Oxo3d is one.
  • Gnome - well not new actually, I last gave Gnome up in about 2005 when I got irritated at no longer being able to edit my menus. Unfortunately KDE 4 isn't shaping up for me, so it is hello again!


Tech books I've read this year. No python books this year - I think I've read them all now!

  • Java in a Nutshell (again) programming to write Android programs. I learnt original Java ages ago, but is is quite a different experience with generic types. Still not my favourite language - reminds me too much of C++, but bearable.
  • Programming In Scala - just for fun - maybe I'll use it with Android one day. Scala is one of the new breed of languages which runs on the Java VM. Scala is a (mostly) functional language created by one of the creators of Java itself.
  • Version Control with Git - distributed revision control system. Very clever idea with lots and lots of command lines to explore. If it scales to the Linux kernel then surely it is good enough for my projects?
  • BGP: Building Reliable Networks with the Border Gateway Protocol - how the Internet really works!
  • Unlocking Android: A Developer's Guide - how to make Android applications
  • Running IPv6 - yes it is coming - IPv4 addresses are running out very soon.

These are affiliate links, so if you click then buy I'll earn a few pence towards my next tech book!