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  • My Wishes for the Tech World of 2014

    We’re almost a couple of weeks into 2014 now. With each passing year, technology advances and I do believe that the world in general gets better. I have hope for the future, and there are some ways I would like to see the tech side of this world improve over the coming year. So, without wasting any more time, allow me to state my wishes.

    The D Programming Language Gains in Popularity

    The D Programming Language is a great programming language which I believe has a ton of potential for a number of areas. Some work needs to be done improving the language in terms of support for libraries for various tasks, its garbage collection implementation, and better support for containers, but these all pale in comparison to a greater issue. The language needs more mind share. With more adoption of the language, the other parts the language needs help in will become realities faster.

    Having written a lot of D code myself, I must say that my experience with D has been a very pleasant one. D has shown me that writing low-level efficient code doesn’t have to be a painful and tedious experience requiring a massive amount of experience tied to the quirks of a programming language. (C++, I’m looking at you.) D shows us how modern innovation, decades of industry experience, and good sense in the mind of its designers can come together to form a language which makes writing efficient code a much more pleasant experience, and sometimes can even yield code more efficient than we have ever seen before.

    I hold hope for D’s growth in popularity over the coming year. Over the last year, Facebook researcher and D language co-author Andrei Alexandrescu posted to the D forums exclaiming about how Facebook had seen its first D language source code commit. I believe this to be of great importance for the language, as this represents the language being adopted by a major organisation, and used daily by that organisation.

    I predict that over the coming year, Facebook’s usage of D will increase, and around the time of the next D conference, I predict that we will see some news which shows how D has gained a small but still significant increase in popularity.

    Valve’s Steam OS Increases Number of Games on Linux

    “The year of Linux on the desktop” is a phrase people speak to each other as a joke. While Linux leads in offering users freedom, which in turn leads to ability to customise user experience, which I also believe ties into greater security, Linux is dead when it comes to popularity. A combination of Microsoft’s OEM dominance and public mind share makes Linux harder for every day consumers to approach. Because of this, the availability of games software for Linux suffers due to lack of popularity, and Linux lovers like myself are forced to run Windows if they wish to continue playing the latest video games.

    Over 2013, Valve Software brought about a turn of events which may lead to a solution to this problem once and for all. Due to Gabe Newell’s hatred of Windows 8 and the company’s worries about where Windows is headed, Valve did two things nobody really expected.

    First, they created a Steam client for Linux. While the number of Steam games which run on Linux is currently quite small, I am pleased to say that I played through all of Amnesia for the first time on Linux, and it was a very satisfying experience. Not only because I was able to play such a high quality game, but because I was able to do it on my operating system of choice.

    The other thing Valve did that year was start to create serious buzz about their Steam Machine. The Steam machine will be very significant for the games industry, as this represents the introduction of a gaming machine which pulls from a massive existing user base, will be highly compatible with existing and newer gaming machines, and will probably create much higher value than traditional video game consoles. The significance for me is that the Steam box will run a Linux operating system.

    Because of Steam’s success on Linux and the coming Steam machine, it is my wish that over this coming year, we’ll see lots of growth for gaming on Linux. Some day soon, maybe just maybe, I won’t have any reason to keep that Windows partition around anymore.

    Old Android Market Share Fades to Insignificance

    Android is currently my phone and tablet operating system of choice. The platform, while it could stand to be more open, is still a very open platform, especially when compared to iOS. iOS gives users a walled garden for applications, where Apple has the final say on which applications are permitted to be run on their device. Developing for iOS requires the use of Apple’s proprietary Mac OSX computers, for pretty much no reason other than because they can get away with it. Android is a much better alternative for developers and users, because there is much more freedom in terms of what can be run on the devices and also how they can be developed. Anything reasonable can be hosted on Google Play, pretty much any modern computer can be used for development.

    One of the areas Android is perhaps a little weaker in when compared to iOS is the amount of devices running older versions of the operating system. Having a greater number of devices running newer versions of the operating system is important for developers, as which each new version, features will appear which either make development easier or open up entirely new possibilities. When a large portion of the market still uses an old version lacking certain features, dropping new features to gain a much higher market share for your application becomes a real consideration.

    I believe that the Android version which presents the most significant changes in feature set is Ice Cream Sandwich. While later versions of Android offer more features, ICS is the definitive Android version I feel comfortable claiming as my minimum supported Android version. I have taken this stance with my 4chan application, Yotsuba Droid. (Watch this space for updates on this application, hopefully soon.)

    In the beginning of 2013, a much older version of Android codenamed Gingerbread was still sticking around and It looked like it wasn’t going to go away. By the end of 2013 this situation had changed somewhat. Gingerbread market share went all the way from nearly half to now nearly a quarter of Android devices.

    Over the coming year, I expect the market share for Android devices ICS and up to increase yet more. It is my wish that by the end of the year, anything lower than that will be reduced to an insignificant market share, as this will make the world a better place for everyone who’s interested in Android, developer or not.

    I should probably mention Windows Phone. Windows Phone.

    Those Are My Big Wishes, Anyway…

    Well, that’s it. Those are the tech things I’m most looking forward to this year. I have good hope for these wishes, and I think they are quite realistic. Even if things don’t quite turn out the way I hope, I’m sure 2014 is going to be a good year, and I look forward with great anticipation to all of the things the future will bring. It’s a good world to live in.