Things to look at in 2010

Time permitting, here are some technologies I want to learn / evaluate / play with:

I’ve already started learning Clojure as it’s my new language for the year. And by “started”, I mean I have a copy of the Programming Clojure book, have installed Clojure and written a Hello World program. I realise I have some way to go, but from little acorns…

CouchDB is a late entrant. I’ve yet to be convinced by non-relational databases, with the possible exception of document storage. For my current work, they would be extremely inappropriate except maybe for logging. However, I really want to get experience of a non-relational database under my belt – so I can properly argue where they make sense and where they don’t. CouchDB sparked my interest for three reasons: it was the first of the new generation of non-relational databases I’d heard of, it uses Erlang and it has a RESTful interface.

NLTK would be an interesting additional to my technical tool belt and I can see potential applications in my current job, where we’re finding ourselves increasingly sifting through textual data to determine various facts.

I rarely play computer games, but one game that has had me hooked for the last five years is Hearts of Iron II. I’m an armchair military historian, particular WW2 and other 20th Century warfare, so HOI2 has great appeal to me. I’ve long wanted to develop wargames in a similar style (though perhaps a little more towards the board game format), and even went so far as to writing story cards for various aspects of one game idea I’ve had. I’ve decided this year that I will make a start at coding, eventually releasing the code under an open source licence. I’m contemplating writing the code in Python, and have decided that PyGame would offer me a rich library for support (based on an excellent presentation at a recent London Python Code Dojo).

Twisted has been an interest of mine since I attended a talk at one of the PyConUK events. I even bought the, outdated, O’Reilly book on Twisted, but have never actually had need to take a serious look at it. However, things are picking up and I can see some possible areas which might be appropriate and I want to take this motivational opportunity to investigate Twisted more.

After reading the O’Reilly XMPP book a while back, XMPP is something else I want to investigate further. I actually had a play with XMPP from Python a couple of years back, but the Python library I used (I can’t remember the name offhand) but it was buggy, lacked certain functionality I needed, and wasn’t being actively maintained. Thanks to the book, I’ve discovered there are other libraries out there for Python and they look a whole lot better, as well as still actively developed.

The XMPP and Twisted investigations are sort-of related, since I’m keen to work on web service and messaging systems to support the infrastructure at work. We’ve actually started introducing SQL Server Service Broker, for better or worse, and I’m keen to find ways to interface with Service Broker in more architecture and language neutral ways i.e. without locking in to .NET, SQL Server and Windows. Optimistic?

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