This is just a quick update on my ongoing side projects.

I have been working on a series of social news web applications where users can submit content and decide, through commenting and voting, what's good (kiffs) and what's junk (zaps). Links that receive community approval raise towards the top, so the first pages are constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.

Nothing impressive, but it gives me a good basis for making a robust web platform, as in, the common features:
-Security (cryptography, membership, login, registration, password reminder, etc.)
-Database layer / caching (or how to manage an ever growing volume of "big" data)
-Back end services (email senders, pings, http requests, logging)
-A stable ASP.NET MVC application
-User actions/management : voting, commenting, publishing, moderation
-Assets management (images, javascript, css, minification/bundling)
-Bonus: I am learning a lot when it comes to deployment (IIS settings, virtual directories, ports, application pools, etc.)

In short, the kind of things that could be useful in a modern web application. Actually, this is my most advanced web application so far.

On Extreme Programming mode
I am still interested in building virtual worlds and online games, but I thought I would release something (anything) at regular intervals. That way, I can improve as I go, learning/shipping at every step, instead of working on one thing for many years and come up with something that's not really practical/useful.
So, that's the idea : getting stuff out there early, as soon as I've got something that covers the basics, and then build it up. If my experience with web projects has taught me anything, it's that people who use apps will suggest or ask for things that the developers wouldn't have thought of doing for themselves, and some of them turn out to be really good ideas even if we don't always quite see the potential at the time. Also it helps getting a better idea of priorities.

Anyway, that basic version might already be quite useful in some contexts, as news portal, one of the flavours being you can think of it as a small bilingual Reddit for African news. It's starting to have a decent audience (with 8000+ followers on Twitter and 2000+ fans on Facebook) and some of the followers may welcome an opportunity to browse more content and to interact around it (share, comment, vote and add their own content).

So that's what I have been up to recently, each site having its own topics and they are all available online (in English and French) : (Education, Science and Virtual Worlds) (an exploration of online content on Personal Development and Winning at life) (a repository for what's new, popular and relevant on the Internet with a focus on Africa) (essentially geeky entertainment) (an exploration of psychology, sexology and interpersonal relationships at the emotional level)

So I did a game the year before, shipping these web portals this year and the coming months sounds promising in terms of technical improvements and new features. Let's see.