Well, I suppose if everyone else is doing it, I’d better join the fray with a year-end introspective of my own. Here are 7 randomly-selected things that made me happy in 2005, in no particular order.
New to me this year: the command line. (Or at least, the Unix command line… we won’t mention that sordid episode with MS-DOS back in the 80’s and 90’s.) Without hands-on experience, it’s easy to look at keyboard interaction as primitive and outdated, but the simple elegance and power of text-only mode is really growing on me. With tools like
sshat my disposal, I can do insanely great things like back up my entire web server automatically. And of course, OS X offers the best off both worlds: Unix, with a top-notch GUI and all my design tools in one place.
No really. XHTML, with an intentional X. All debates aside, the fact that as many pages on this site as are humanly possible are stored as valid, well-formed XML meant I was able to use one of the many existing open source XML parsing libraries to extract a bunch of hard-coded information and do something I wasn’t entirely sure was possible.
It was the year of the script. Sites like Flickr and Google Maps kicked off a major renewed interest in the humble curly brackets, and folks like Jeremy Keith and the DOM Scripting Task Force have made sure to keep our code in check. If/when a redesign happens around these parts during 2006, it’s a safe bet to expect the odd bit of unobtrusive script.
- Google Maps
Hey, and speaking of Google Maps, I fell in love in an instant when it first launched earlier this year. I’ve been interested in maps and satellite imagery since forever, so Google bringing it to the web with such a simple, intuitive interface and an extensible API was a master-stroke. GMaps on a Treo? I’m so there.
And credit where it’s due: have you seen Microsoft’s answer? Bird’s-Eye View is enough to make me forget about Google Maps. If only they covered Canada too… (Goal for all mapping services in 2006: extra-US data, please.)
- Digital SLR
The difference between a digital SLR and a consumer point and shoot is the difference between Chef Boyardee and a four star Italian restaurant. Though I’m no pro, this camera makes me feel like I’m a way better photographer than I really am. Check out the image linked through the thumbnail — it’s straight off the camera. (Careful though, your browser might not like 3504x2336)
- CBC Radio 3 & Ricky Gervais Podcasts
This time last year, I’d barely heard of podcasting. This year, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year. The only two I’ve found to be must-listens are the CBC’s “best of” Canadian indie music podcast, and the relatively new, short-running Ricky Gervais Show. The former gets me hooked on tunes I can actually feel good about buying, the latter has me on the floor weekly.
- Katamari Damacy
I’m glad it’s still cool to like this game, because I love it. From the quirky humour to the zany music to the obsessive-compulsive gratification of the game-play to the take-no-crap attitude of the creator, it’s Great. End of story. Now get the T-Shirt.