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commit b16b15725e239320d34f81467a1a16527562d690
parent f2ede58b4d91ff64645f7a5b4d7332063db82b13
Author: opal hart <>
Date:   Tue, 28 Jan 2020 05:07:19 +0000

new blog post: "RFC: which projects are you inte…"

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diff --git a/src/blog/ b/src/blog/ @@ -0,0 +1,183 @@ +# RFC: which projects are you interested in? +<!--[time 202001280505.55]--> + +it's a new year – a new decade – and I decided to start it right by +getting serious about some of my hobby activities. as a result, I +revamped [Volatile](altnet:// with a new site design +(mimicking [](/)'s design because it's pleasant and simple) and +information about the project going forward. you can see the full +details on the [information page](altnet://, +but the summary is: Volatile used to be a loose collection of services, +and going forward I figure this is not the best approach. it means I +cannot improve those services, and they remain mediocre. I want to +improve those services, make them attractive for others, and for that I +need a sustainable source of funding to drive the project forward. I'm +doing this with the help of Volatile's new [Open +Collective](, which allows people to +donate, be recognised for their donations, and seeing how funding is +used toward the collective. + +along with Volatile, I also have personal projects that I've been +putting off for far too long. I'm too ambitious for my own good, and +having these projects pile up just ends up causing me stress, because I +never think I have enough time to finish what I want. this combined with +the fact that it's difficult for me to find a job (not due to a lack of +trying), makes me concerned about where I should place my efforts in +order to help me in life. + +basically, all of this boils to one common thing: incentive. while I +would love to work on my hobbies full-time, the prospect of doing so is +complicated by the fact that I need money to live. + +so, I'll pose this article in the form of a question to my readers: what +would *you* be interested in seeing me bring into fruition? which +projects would benefit you specifically, if I were to set everything +aside and see a project to completion? + +I hate asking for handouts, and I don't believe this is what I'm doing +here; I've had people offer me small rewards in exchange for me +completing something, but I've rarely been able to see those rewards +through, either because of funding complications (I cannot accept fiat +currencies easily) or because the one-time rewards would never have +helped me to cover living expenses moving forward. + +what I'm really asking here, is if you wanted to pay for something, what +would you pay for? this input will help me put things into perspective a +bit. I'm still hunting for a job, but I feel like it's good to explore +other options in parallel, to have some sort of fallback and hopefully +gain something out of what I actually *enjoy* doing. + +below, I will enumerate what I have in mind to work on. it's a lot of +things, but I would greatly appreciate if you [reached out to +me](/contact.xht) if anything catches your eye, or if you have +suggestions for me going forward. + +## Volatile + +provided by the links in the introductory paragraph, you should have an +idea of what I currently offer via Volatile and what I plan to offer in +the future. just as a recap, I currently offer E-mail, XMPP, Matrix, +Git, and ZNC to *existing users only* as a hobby. I have not yet opened +up registration to any of them, because they are not in a state of +readiness for the general public. but, I plan to work on them, add +single sign-on for them, and offer them to those who donate to Volatile, +as well as those who express a good-enough reason to wish to use the +services. basically, pay what you want, which I believe is a fair enough +model to at least cover hosting/maintenance costs as well as have buffer +for expanding services. + +as explained on the website, I also want to see other services through, +such as Searx, Nextcloud, forums (mailing lists and/or NNTP), an issue +tracker that would best-complement git, and alternatives to ZNC. for now +I think [sourcehut]( is in better shape for git, mailing +lists, and bug trackers; so likely I will work on those at a later point +in time. I am not going in precisely the same direction as sourcehut, +but I do recognise them as a viable alternative to GitHub and GitLab. +and as far as Searx, I'm not aiming to start <q>just another Searx +instance</q>; I want to actively develop the project and add search +engines that both I and others would use. + +if there's anything that I didn't mention here but is still something +you would want to see, and it's in the general spirit of +decentralisation (think getting away from Google or working on +peer-to-peer solutions), and you think it has promise – please let me +know. chances are it's even crossed my mind but I just haven't listed +it. + +## personal projects + +aside from Volatile, there are also some things I wanted to work on in +my own time. + +### achlys + +possibly my most ambitious is achlys, a multiprotocol chat client for +power users. I do not currently have a proper introductory web page or +readme for achlys, but I can quote from the `doc/Introduction` file that +I wrote: + +> It's a chat program with powerful design goals: +> - Modularity. The core code only has enough to load modules, access +> configuration, run the event loop, call hooks, and parse commands. +> The I/O and chat protocols are handled in loadable modules, +> allowing users to use only the functionality they need. +> - Scriptability. Since the core handles command parsing and much of +> achlys' functionality is built off scripts, the language needs to +> be powerful, intuitive, and domain-specific. This is a chat +> program, not a general-purpose scripting environment, so it makes +> sense to incorporate IRC-style commands and extend them a bit to +> be more natural and powerful to use. +> - Power usage. Achlys is designed ground-up to accomodate my +> messaging needs. After years of using various IRC and IM clients, +> I have realised they are all mediocre for how much time I spend in +> these programs. I use them to talk to friends and keep up on +> software development. Why can't my chat client be as natural and +> as powerful as my text editor? Why do I need to use a different +> program for each account? Why do I need compatibility shims such +> as ZNC and bitlbee when it could be built-in to my client? + +I aim to solve issues with achlys that will hide some of the usability +issues in popular chat protocols, because I have begun to realise that +it doesn't matter what platforms I use anymore. they all suck, and it +only matters where the communities are. so, I figured my efforts were +best placed on the client-side of things. I want to support IRC, XMPP, +[Matrix](, and more – all with one coherent +interface. I want CLI, GUI, and a mobile app; and I want each interface +to maximise its respective strengths. I want to offset the need for +installing several mediocre clients just to talk to my friends and +communities; I want one to rule them all. + +others have expressed interest (along the lines of <q>I'll try it out +when it's finished</q>) but I want to know the answer to the question: +am I the only one who *needs* a client like this? am I the only one who +cares about having a high-performance, intuitive client? or are there +others out there who have been quietly waiting for the same thing? + +### web browsing (and native versus web apps) + +I have also expressed complaints with the state of the modern web, how +current desktop browsers all suck, how JavaScript is ruining everything. +I've had interest in developing or assisting with: + +- native alternatives to web apps (including the fediverse) +- alternative lightweight browsers (such as netsurf) +- alternative web-browsing paradigms entirely – basically, instead of + rendering HTML and CSS, you could have a domain-specific parsing + language to pick out content from websites that you're actually + interested in seeing. think <q>reader mode</q> in firefox but tailored + for the entire web. + +### online threat mitigation + +this probably should end up being described as one of Volatile's +proposed <q>services</q> but it's more than that, really. for a while +now, CloudFlare and other proprietary, centralised solutions have ruled +the (D)DoS mitigation market and claimed to be the forefront for web +security and performance. but, I want to prove that FOSS can conquer in +this market as well. I have wanted to provide people with the software, +information, and services to combat abuse of online infrastructure. as +someone who is steadfast against using CloudFlare, I would benefit from +this as well. + +I feel this is perhaps the most applicable project especially for those +who want to dogfood FOSS on their entire stack, but simply don't have +the methods to entirely do so. let me know if you wanted to ditch +CloudFlare but still need a plug-and-play solution to counteract abuse, +and tell me exactly what it is you look for in services like this. + +---- + +again, I'm placing my ambitions on the table for everyone to see what I +*want* to do. I want to see if I can make anything out of my ambitions, +my hobbies, in order to reap the rewards from something I *enjoy* doing. +something I can do to feel like I'm actively improving the world, rather +than wasting my time. + +this was also a good way to introduce what I'm doing with Volatile, and +I hope that with this article, you may have gained interest into what +I'm doing. if you have, you're free to [join our community +chat](altnet:// via IRC or +Matrix, and ask questions, give suggestions, or just idle and hear what +others are talking about. I really want Volatile itself to become +something more – a platform for projects and services that can +accomplish something toward online freedom and decentralisation.