Simbly Me

Day 31

It sucks that the choice of internet providers fall to one or two major companies here. I had been on Spectrum for over 4 years and even opted for Spectrum when I moved to this city last year. With WFH, the internet speed just wasn't keeping up. Not to mention the router was also dying. I looked around for options (there are only two choices here: Spectrum or AT&T) and settled on AT&T Fiber. But it comes with a catch. The low pricing is a one year promo and I can't really use my own modem/router. Their gateway doesn't allow changing any DNS values and the WiFi doesn't even support the 1 Gbps speeds of the fiber. I use pi-hole to sink all the ads and without controlling the DNS values, all the internet of shit devices can phone home now. For now, I changed the DNS values on my personal devices manually but I am looking for a router that can handle Gigabit speeds over WiFi and allows me to set the DNS to get the pi-hole working for ALL the devices.

PS: I recently found Librespeed. A free, open and no bullshit alternative to Speedtest.net. It even has a CLI option too. On elementary, I used to check the speeds with a snap package โ€“ Speed. Speed didn't even allow testing upload speeds. Librespeed-cli works more or less like its web counterpart and shows the ping, jitter, download and upload speed. (only negative being no server selection but is that really a negative?). Do check it out if you happen to read this post ๐Ÿ˜๏ธ.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 30

Next week we 'fall back' 1 hour to return to standard time. Only to resume the madness of 'springing forward' an hour next year. I would feel glad to have one hour extra to sleep during the winter for couple of days, get adjusted to the routine and then next year in March.. BAM!.. we go through the charade of setting the clock one hour ahead, lose sleep, miss alarms, drink more coffee, and then fall into the routine as usual. Yeah sure, one can adjust to any routine given enough time but why does it have to be at the cost of fooling ourselves? We don't live in dark ages to fear a dark morning. Those who want to enjoy leisure time will find a way to enjoy the longer daylight in the evening. One who does like to get up early with the daybreak to utilize the sunlight can still do it. Set up your own god damn alarm instead of making the whole country change the clock.

A quick stroll through Wikipedia tells us the history of DST and how it came into being. The actual proponent of modern day DST, George Hudson, just wanted to spend his leisure time in the evening enjoying his love for entomology. A British guy, William Willet, who had a major role in making DST popular, wasn't happy that Londoners were wasting away summer mornings. He could have just minded his own business and played golf a little early but no, he wanted the whole country to change the clock. Perhaps the DST made sense when the world ran on coal and a World war was raging on. We don't live in that world anymore. We don't face the energy crisis of the 70s. Please feel free to knock anyone out cold if they start talking about the economy. The retailers can bear the 1 hour loss of daylight (oooo sooo scaaary in spite of all the artificial lighting ๐Ÿ™„๏ธ). Those who want to make money out of DST are already filthy rich. Surely Golf industry won't die if they don't make an extra $200 million? Sleep deprivation because of DST leads to all sorts of issues. Accidents on the road and work. Heart problems. Suicides. Stress. Problems that cascades problems. All because Mr. Willet wanted to enjoy his golf.

We now have robust software and hardware that takes care of this transition seamlessly. As if managing date and time wasn't hard enough already. All that time in managing DST to make sure our machines ran properly could have been spent fixing real issues. The benefits of abolishing DST and keeping a standard time outweighs the losses and yet we won't see this happening in near future. Sad really.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 29

I gravitated towards toot tui for its simplicity and have been on it mostly even on Elementary and Artix. Toot is great if your timeline is slow. There are times when the timeline gets flooded (I really wish people would use unlisted for replies but I am not sure if other toot clients respect mastodon settings either. toot tui does [1] ) and since there's no visual indicator for new toots and given how toots are organized on toot tui, its a chore going through the timeline. The last time I was checking out native apps for mastodon, Tootle seemed abandoned. Their stable build is still broken and crashes upon loading but the git build (alpha) doesn't have that issue. I have been on Tootle since yesterday and things have been pretty smooth so far. I tooted as soon as I jumped on it.

Since then, I have resolved the emoji issue by installing Noto Emoji fonts from the arch repository. The instance specific emoticons like the one in my name :artix: is not supported yet. Those don't show up on firefox tab headers too. I haven't checked if anybody else has found a solution for it yet but that's not worth losing sleep over. The preferences are sparse with dark theme toggle, default post visibility, streaming behavior for timelines, how many posts appear on the page and the text size. Multiple accounts are supported. One can check out their Favorites, Bookmarks and Lists and Refresh the timeline manually if required. It's a good idea to not let the public timeline stream and refresh it manually to save on resources and avoid tootle from freezing up occasionally.

Even though the git build is in Alpha, Tootle is a capable mastodon client and has no issues for daily use. I would love it if tootle added multiple columns for different timelines but it's fully functional otherwise as well. Here's an obligatory screenshot.


[1] update: I was under the impression that the default reply mode and toot mode was a mastodon setting but it's an exclusive setting in iOS app Toot!. Apologies.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 28

This will be a short post. I have to kill this earworm. When I have a song in my head, it typically runs for a week at least. I will sometimes hum it to death or play it couple of times till I am bored. This one refuses to leave. My current earworm is 'Baawra Mann' from the movie 'Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi'. The original song plays towards the end of this movie. The video starts with the first line of a famous poem by Ghalib.

Hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle Bohat niklay mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle (Thousands of desires, all worth dying for I have fulfilled many but so few were fulfilled)

Apart from the original sung by Swanand Kirkire, this cover by Darshana Rajendran is what I love the most.

Pretty song. Please leave.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 27

In the past I have always found that writing down my thoughts help me gain clarity. Writing about my turmoil usually helps me reduce it. I can't write about certain things publicly so I started writing them down in a private journal and that has given me a tremendous boost in morale. The dark thoughts no longer linger around in my mind and have found an anchor where I can tie them to and leave it unattended instead of letting it swirl endlessly in my head. Lately, I went a step ahead and in addition to recording the state of my mind, I started addressing myself to learn from my little notes. Harsh truths I don't want to think about but becomes easier to digest when its addressed to me and read at a later point in time. It could be a reality check. It could be some steps to practice. It could be words I really needed to hear at some point. It could be conversations I wish had went some other way. The important thing is that I teach myself to recover from being a mess. Identifying my problem and devising solutions to it. Kinda being my own therapist. Its not a foolproof method but it helps me being my own support.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 26

There's a healthy collection of Indian TV series / webseries and movies on Netflix and Amazon nowadays. Some Malayalam film makers even release their movie on Prime Video. Serious Men, a Hindi movie was released on Netflix recently and I caught up on it last night. Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a father who tries to climb the social ladder by making everybody believe that his son is a child prodigy. It's a commentary on our education system and the expectation of parents who could never make it big and try to fulfill their dreams through their children. Nawaz is brilliant throughout the movie and it's fun to watch him turn around the subtle interrogation of his caste that makes others squirm in their chair. Or when the school tries to suggest accepting Jesus for certain benefits. He knows exactly what to say or do to get people to do his bidding. That is until his scam unravels. Even then he is able to convince his former boss who helps him get an 'exit' and ends up living a simple life in Kerala. There's no redemption arc for Nawaz's character. The only thing he comes close to something like that is allowing his son to be a normal kid. The line which Nawaz utters, and which he had made his son memorize, at the end of the movie, โ€œI can't deal with primitive mindsโ€ seems to suggest that the weight of his lifelong dream and ambition has finally crushed him.

Overall a good watch. The more I read reviews about the book โ€“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_Men โ€“ on which the movie is based, the more I feel like the movie adaptation is a heavily watered down version. I know what my next book will be.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 25

Back after a 3 month hiatus. I don't know if I am really back but I do feel like writing tonight. Might as well file it under 100 days to offload.

For the last 3 months I was moping around, going with the flow, lurking around fosstodon, barely tooting, boosting a lot, riding the mood swings of despair, hope and disappointment, really trying to hold myself together by learning about Gemini, refreshing my knowledge on R, learning Spanish and Japanese and helping out more in the kitchen. Quit twitter because it was all just gloom and doom. The political situation back home in India keeps getting worse and everybody's idea of improving things is by cracking a joke or making a meme about it. It was time to pull the trigger and I don't miss it one bit.

Had to rush to the ER last week because of a weird pain in the lower left abdomen which kept increasing slowly for a week until it reached a point where I couldn't even get up from the bed on my own. The nurses drew blood, took urine sample, took x-rays and CAT scan of my abdomen and left me in the waiting room for an hour to worry about the outcome. When the doctor finally walked in with my report and furrowed brows, I was so sure that he wanted to remove my kidney that I asked him if it's the kidney, and he said No, sorry it's not the kidneys. So it's a serious hernia then? Not that either. Gall bladder? No. Pancreas? No. Ulcer? No. He let me exhaust my knowledge of human anatomy and then revealed that he doesn't know. There's nothing wrong with any of the organs, I am not diabetic, there's no abnormal growth, a 2 cm hernia at the navel but that's not serious, and I had a normal WBC count. He prescribed me some pain medication for the time being. He thinks I might have pulled a muscle but if the pain is back in the same area I will have to see a gastroenterologist. The CAT scan can't see what goes on inside the intestines. I have been feeling better thankfully after taking the medicine and do hope that it stays that way. I am already bracing myself for a gut punch from the medical bills for this little ER visit even with an insurance.

Converted to Arch from Elementary in the past three weeks. I really thought I would stick with Elementary till I die but my hard disk got corrupt and took with it lots of cherished photos. That triggered a backup frenzy of /home (thankfully it was on the SSD) and while I was at it, decided to give Arch a try. The Anarchy installer made it very easy to install Arch but kept running into weird issues and GTK apps looked sooo ugly. Installed Artix fresh with Sway window manager instead of i3, and I am quite happy with how it turned out [1]. Made a conscious decision of avoiding Snap and Flatpak. I have my silly reason for not liking Snap. The loop devices it creates. And Flatpak wellโ€ฆ [2]. Arch User Repository is simply the best when it comes to installing any application.

Currently, listening to KONPEITO [3]. It's located in the geminiverse and you will need a Gemini browser to download it. I joined the tildeverse at envs.net to carve my space in the geminiverse. I am so laid back in maintaining a proper blog on the WWW but Gemini is so refreshing and is full of good content without any crap!


1 โ€“ Screenshot posted on my fosstodon profile

2 โ€“ Flatpak is a security nightmare

3 โ€“ KONPEITO โ€“ gemini://konpeito.media

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 24

I currently have 56 tabs open in Firefox and Pinafore kept getting lost in between these tabs. As much as I like Pinafore, once in a while, the lack of a dedicated app on the desktop triggers my itch for a standalone mastodon client. And a while ago I scratched that itch. One duckduckgo search later, I was looking at the reddit page where the CLI app โ€œtootโ€ was mentioned. I couldn't find it in the ubuntu repository (toot is available from Ubuntu 19.04 onwards and elementary is still on 18.04) but elementary suggested it might be available as a snap package and so I grabbed it from the Snap repository. First impression: I like it. Sure, it takes few keystrokes which I don't mind. It's very minimal though โ€“ the app name choice itself is an exercise in keeping things simple. I immediately fired a toot from โ€œtootโ€ on how I felt about it.

But honestly, I can check and post toots faster on the terminal than the browser. Add multiple panels for notifications, private messages and different timelines and I would be a full time convert. So far all other mastodon apps on Linux sucks. Here's a short review of each one of them.

  • Tootle โ€“ abandoned
  • Olifant โ€“ Tootle clone. Memory hog.
  • Whalebird โ€“ Electron app. Meh.
  • Hyperspace โ€“ Not bad but could use space more effectively.
  • TheDesk โ€“ ๐Ÿคฎ๏ธ
  • Cuckoo+ โ€“ It doesn't update my timeline.
  • Halcyon โ€“ Tries to look like twitter. ๐Ÿ‘Ž๏ธ
  • Pinafore- Prettier than anything above. Clean and minimalistic.

In a sea of mediocrity, toot terminal app is refreshing. What I would like to see in future updates is the ability to change themes like tuir, automatic timeline refresh and multiple panels. That would be dope!

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 23

I am not in a good place mentally for the past couple of weeks. Slightest of things set me down a spiral and I have this self-loathing and anger which I can't get rid of. I keep trying to tell myself that these are just passing signs and tomorrow will be better but I am tired really. Pick any signs of depression and I find myself checking off every one of those. I am too much of a coward to go as far as taking my own life but I have thought about it. I am not looking for pity or words of comfort or anything. I just wanted to leave this here to remind myself how wretched I am feeling right now. Writing about my inner turmoil usually helps reduce it. So here's hoping.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Day 22

I chose to go with DietPi as the OS on my Pi 3B+ for two reasons. One for the software repo and second because it was lighter than Raspbian AND took care of excessive logging. Not that it mattered because I had already attached an m.2 SSD to the Pi. Suck it SD cards! The choice of softwares offered on DietPi is very comprehensive and makes self-hosting almost painless. I installed FreshRSS from its repo and its growing on me. Its no Inoreader but it resides on my Pi, doesn't badger me to upgrade to a paid subscription and the installation is a breeze.

I have heard so much about Miniflux by now that I had to try it. The last time I gave it a try I was clueless and the instructions weren't linear either. Searching for help with its instructions took me to some sites which talked about installing it on Ubuntu desktop. I found only one blog which describes the installation on an openWRT over Pi. Though these blogs and sites didn't help with the actual instructions, they helped me piece together what steps I do need to follow.

1) Install Postgres โ€“ Follow this guide until the creation of database. I chose to accept all devices on the network and accept all IP addresses. From security standpoint, this is not a good option but this setup is only for me.

2) Miniflux uses a default configuration file but if we chose to change some of the environment variables, we can do so by creating a miniflux.conf file in /etc and adding the required environment variables in it.

3) Configure the database โ€“ The commands shown on the installation page are an example and thus differ slightly in actual use. The database name here is miniflux but the configuration file in the previous step refers to the database miniflux2 and in the lack of a configuration file, the application defaults to miniflux2 as the database name. So try to keep the database name same as miniflux2 to avoid any confusion.

4) Enabling HSTORE extension for Postgresql โ€“ I used the second command to enable HSTORE extension with the root user. sudo -u postgres psql $MINIFLUX_DATABASE.

5) Download the Miniflux build โ€“ For the Raspberry Pi, we need the ARMV7 build. Download it with wget and move the binary to /usr/local/bin

6) Now we need to make the binary executable by issuing chmod +x miniflux. Refer this.

7) If we have a custom configuration file, pass the argument -c /etc/miniflux.conf when running the binary. So for the next step of running SQL migrations use this command miniflux -migrate -c /etc/miniflux.conf.

8) Create an admin user miniflux -create-admin -c /etc/miniflux.conf.

9) And finally run the application miniflux -c /etc/miniflux.conf.

If all went well, Miniflux should be available at http://x.x.x.x:8080 on the client machine and we can login with the admin user created in step 8.

Issues I faced:

a) For some reason, Miniflux wouldn't accept my custom config file and always tried to listen for incoming connections on 127.0.0.1:8080. I even had it updated to the static address of the Pi I was running Miniflux on. So I did the next best thing and set the env variable LISTEN_ADDR manually by using this export LISTEN_ADDR=x.x.x.x:8080. That did the trick and I was able to access Miniflux on my laptop by going to this address http://x.x.x.x:8080.

b) I tried to set it up a systemd service but Miniflux would once again ignore my custom config file. To overcome that, I did a systemctl edit miniflux.service and added the following lines in the auto-generated override configuration file -

[Service]

Environment="LISTEN_ADDR=x.x.x.x:8080"

I will be evaluating both FreshRSS and Miniflux over the next few days but I can already tell I prefer FreshRSS over Miniflux.

Join Me in #100DaysToOffload

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.