Let me preface this post by saying that 2019 was a trying year for me and my family. This past year has revealed a lot of what I'd like to do moving forward in work and in regards to how I live.
In 2019; I got married, got settled into a house, moved jobs, moved cities, learned new programming languages, and learning more about myself in the whole process.
Having to travel for work has caused me to re-evaluate what all I consider necessary and started living more minimal because of it. I started working primarily from a Libre-Booted Thinkpad x200 and from that learned the hardship of programming offline, but more importantly learned the importance of leaner software and offline capable applications.
Having previously been a MacOS "power-user" and taking for granted the fast processor and fast internet of my house at the time, I had realized that I've been designing and programming for the small percentage of the world with unlimited internet and expensive computers rather than the large portion of the world that doesn't have access to those things. The moral responsibility of creating is to create responsibly and to have purpose in what is created as our creations are an extension of ourselves.
At the time of writing this I've enrolled in a CS course focusing on C++/C development to; better understand OOP and it's purpose, better understand the computer and what it does, and learn how ot make applications that utilize resources more responsibly. The reason for taking the course isn't really for a career change, it's more that I gain a perspective on things understand how to better utilize computers to do tasks more efficiently. I currently work on Crystal Lang projects where I create safe/reliable applications for use with the terminal and elsewhere, but to better understand how that all works I feel I need to ground myself in general computer science and learn more. Creating tools and apps that mean something to people can be hard, but I really need to put the time and effort into working on more FLOSS projects and contributing to software whenever I can.
Moving forward I hope to update any designs I work on to be leaner and with greater purpose. Designs I had previously worked on were too reliant on the preconceived notion that they need to look like something, but if my time at the IDF taught me anything it's that we should understand what the users really want and what they need.
The User Experience outweighs the design because if something isn't enjoyable to use then why would anyone care if it looks good? Moving forward I will design with that purpose in mind and make an effort to use empathy and understanding in my designs, and with that hope to create something that looks good, feels good, and is something useful. Aside from just creating I'll be focusing more of my time to research better design patterns and more relatable interaction design for a variety of platforms and mediums.
Currently my environment is setup to work offline and reliably. I moved all my writing to Git and converted all that I work on into LaTeX, GROFF, or Markdown to store easier in version control. I moved my website to an offline capable environment that doesn't require any 3rd party scripts and can be developed entirely offline. My designs have mostly been transferred to Affinity format and stored in Git-LFS, but I will be finding some better method of storing them. All my books I carry on a flash drive as PDFs or as an ePub and are backed up on my NAS at home. Overall I think I've made a good effort to move all that I do to offline focused alternatives and be more conscious of my data consumption.
Using less internet of not only good for mental health but also uses less carbon. My phone is an old Samsung S5 with LineageOS with G-Apps disabled and runs only FLOSS apps, by making the switch to this phone it allowed me to reuse an older phone instead of buying a new one and use less electricity and internet by being in control of what my device runs. The same goes for my Thinkpad x200 as it runs Arch with only CLI applications, no GUI other than PDF readers and surf, this means it uses less electricity and can work offline. I do have a MacBook and desktop computer when I'm working on larger projects but I try and minimize the amount I use those as time goes on, as Prof. Oak once said "there's a time and place for everything".
Overall this past year alone I've tried to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible since I've had to travel a lot by car. In the past year of gone vegetarian (working on going vegan/freegan), making most of my meals at home, reducing food waste by composting, sorting though family members' and my own recycling to take to the appropriate places, reduced my time on the computer by reading books more (only second-hand), moved completely away from traditional social media for things like Mastodon, IRC, and RSS feeds, download all my podcasts and music for offline use, and more importantly switched my house and now my current residence over to sustainable sourced LED light bulbs. I've made a lot of strides in the past year and I want to keep the momentum going and start to inspire people to live the same way and get people away from the toxic consumer-focused mindset most people have today.
Goals for 2020
Below are the goals I hope to reach or at very least be on the way of completing come the end of the year.
As A Developer
I want to move all my applications to be accessible offline, work as a single binary, not rely on many or any 3rd party libraries, and be as lean as possible. Any web facing application should be WCAG/ADA Compliant to make sure that application can be accessed by people with disabilities. Look into more green hosting providers and leverage providers that are green focused.
As A Designer
Design for everyone in mind, including people with disabilities so the project not only reaches more people but can connect people together.
As a person And Overall
Start moving towards using and supporting applications that help others such as Ecosia Search who donate ad revenue to replanting trees and move even more of my work and personal things to offline locations.
Reduce the amount I buy and consume, recycle and up-cycle products whenever I possibly can, and buy products second-hand to reduce tech waste and give old objects a new home/purpose.
Focus on projects that connect people together and create things with a purpose. Trade my car in for something more affordable that relies on more sustainable energy and uses less fuel. Look into growing my own food when I find a place to settle down. Maybe sometime this year I can start working on that game I've been thinking of if time permits, who knows.
The future starts with you, so be the change you want to see in the world.