Simbly Me

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 “toot” 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 – the app name choice itself is an exercise in keeping things simple. I immediately fired a toot from “toot” 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 – abandoned
  • Olifant – Tootle clone. Memory hog.
  • Whalebird – Electron app. Meh.
  • Hyperspace – Not bad but could use space more effectively.
  • TheDesk – 🤮️
  • Cuckoo+ – It doesn't update my timeline.
  • Halcyon – Tries to look like twitter. 👎️
  • 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!

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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.

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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 – 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 – 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 – I used the second command to enable HSTORE extension with the root user. sudo -u postgres psql $MINIFLUX_DATABASE.

5) Download the Miniflux build – 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.

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Day 21

As the summer rages on, we have had unexpected visitors at home. Flies. The god damn flies that get into the house the minute I open the back door to let the boys into the yard. I don't have a mesh between the door and the outside to keep the door open and the myriad insects out but I do take extra care not to leave the door open. The flies don't care. They are faster and smarter. My research on fly paper brought me to this TrapStik [Amazon Product Link]. Took a week for this to arrive. I have already seen my neighbor use this same product in their patio and it is effective. The glue is really sticky and I learned this the hard way after my carelessness got some papers and a sippy cup stick to it 🤦‍♂️️. Few cusses later and a generous application of oil on the sippy cup, I still have some glue residue on it. Like I said. Sticky. For now, this contraption hangs above the patio and my watchful eyes are on it. Eager to see some dead insects.

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Day 20

I have been on a self-hosting adventure lately. I was successful in setting up Pi-hole, Gitea, Linkding and Komga to some extent on my Pi 3B but kept running into issues and app breakdowns resulting in reinstalling everything thrice in two weeks time. To cut a long story short, the original no name micro SD card died and I bought a new one from Sandisk.

After having read reports of how fake Sandisk SD cards were common, I thought of testing the card before writing anything to it. Mounted the card and checked the capacity. 30 Gig reported.

df -h /media/sajesh/3430-3462/

The next test was to ascertain the reported capacity by writing 30 Gig of data onto the card and reading the same. Installed the tool F3 to help me do that.

f3write /media/sajesh/3430-3462/

F3 filled the card without any fail with a set of 30 files. It took some time as the writing speed was just 14.31 MB/s. A higher capacity card or disk will take much longer time. Next step was to read all the files to verify whether the write was successful.

f3read /media/sajesh/3430-3462/

So far so good. So the card can write 30 Gig and read 30 Gig. It's an original card after all.

Although F3 shows the average read and write times, every helpful website kept saying dd is a more accurate way of calculating SD card speed. I did run it but see the result for yourself.

Anyway, I just have to use this card to enable USB boot in the Pi so that I can boot from an m.2 SATA SSD. More on this later.

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Day 19

After a week of reading up on VPNs and why I don't need one, I decided to set up Algo. I know right? Not a good time to go out and sit in coffee shops. Least of all to connect to a public WiFi. Being home most of the time and having unfettered access to content that I barely consume doesn't give any reason to go looking for a VPN but curiosity proved irresistible .

So last night before going to bed, I fired up the laptop, followed the instructions for Algo and... woke up an hour later with the laptop on standby. Did not bother to check how the set up went at night and shifted my arse from the couch to the bed and when I tried today morning, it wasn't connecting to anything. Felt quite dumb for a while for messing up simple instructions. You see, in my stupor last night, I spun up a droplet and ran the set up on the first droplet resulting in a second Algo droplet. Genius 🤦‍♂️️. The first instruction literally asked to run the setup locally. Of course, the realization came quite late. So this afternoon after scrapping up everything and doing the setup all over again, it thankfully worked. I have tried Mullvad and Nord VPN in the past but they were always sluggish. Pretty happy with how snappy Algo is.

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Day 18

Going in to this challenge of 100 days to offload, I knew I cannot keep up with a post everyday and it felt good to take a day or two off. I am glad the rules of the challenge has changed a bit that takes the pressure off from most of us. One should feel the want to write rather than being compelled to. On that note, I wanted to share a little nugget about my boys.

The other day I was making omelette late in the evening. The boys love the eggs and were constantly on my tail in the kitchen. I turn left. They turn left. I turn right. They turn right. I move towards the trashcan to throw the eggshells and they follow. And so on. Now, I do make them their plain omelettes once in a while but today they were well fed and had a chance to play a lot in the yard. By all means, they should be tired as fuck and sleeping but here they were following me around to get a piece of that omelette. I sat down on my couch with the plate and the younger one promptly climbs up, nestles himself against the couch and my shoulder, lets out this tiny little bark as if asking me for a bite and slightly pushes on my shoulder with his tiny little feet 🤣️. It's amazing how expressive these guys can be when they want to. Oh the older one is not as vocal or expressive as the younger one but he was saying a lot with his big pleading eyes. So I relented and made them their plain omelette. Only then did they decide to call it a day and sleep 😄️.

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Day 17

This Reddit post hits the nail on the head when it comes to privacy and the effort it takes to secure my privacy. I am in the same boat. Trying to reduce what the big corp want from me with multiple browser add-ons. Making a conscious choice of sticking with iPhone because the alternative is a nightmare. Doing all my work on Linux and keeping the Windows partition for that one rare occasion. Thinking for weeks on whether I should pay for this service because it adds up to a significant amount. The obvious answer is to self-host but I don't want to spend time managing stuff that involves too much effort like email for instance. I know it's trivial for most of the folks reading this but I would rather have Migadu handle it and allow myself to enjoy the convenience. There are certain things I can self-host though...when I am done debating what hardware I should settle on. Sigh.

In other news, I finally got rid of Instagram. I will miss the convenience of posting from an app but posting to Pixelfed via browser is not too bad either.

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Day 16

I had been a Zoho mail user since 2014. The free tier. Their free tier is convenient enough to use it for personal use. Although it doesn't provide IMAP access and forced me to use their mediocre app on Linux, I was fine as long as it was free. Plus, it was convenient enough to use my domain name with their free tier. One incident forced me to evaluate whether to keep on using Zoho's services.

Back in January, twitter erupted with a hashtag BoycottZoho and I woke up to the news about how the founder of Zoho, Sridhar Vembu was invited to an RSS event and to his subsequent response.

The event in question was being conducted by RSS, a violent outfit of the current ruling party BJP in India. BJP is known for its bigotry against muslims and RSS is deeply involved in state sponsored riots and systematic attacks against muslims and other minorities. As such, Sridhar Vembu's response is nothing but a thinly veiled support to a fascist organization.

I started looking out for alternatives and was initially looking into Tutanota and Protonmail but Migadu won me over quickly.

Migadu is refreshingly simple compared to other popular providers out there. And they are quite honest about their benefits and drawbacks. If you are heavily dependent on email, the daily limits might be a deterrent but for my personal use they are more than enough. Have a look at the “limits” I have on my account.

I am on their Mini plan ($48 a year). Even the free plan is decent enough if you are not sending out more than 10 emails a day and if you can live with “sent via migadu.com” in every email. Their free plan supports IMAP and there's no per user pricing!

The only issue I have with them is the calendar support which they said is weeks away from release but there has been no news about it till now after we exchanged emails back in January 2020. They do have regular updates to their infrastructure though and I am quite happy using Migadu for my emails.

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Day 15

Feeling a little better to open up the laptop and read stuff that happened this week. The blog posts that kept on coming. News items and articles kept popping all week and I kept starring them to catch up with them. Read some. Marked most as Read.

I woke up with weird dreams yesterday. There was a dream wherein I died because of COVID-19. I have been sick on and off and I can't go to test for COVID-19 because the symptoms are not that severe and the best advice every doctor is gonna give is to self-quarantine. Another dream was related to my former workplace. I had to (involuntarily) quit late in March because of work permit issue (thanks Coronavirus). We had our second PI planning back in January and if I were still with them and Coronavirus wasn't anywhere on the horizon, I would have attended the third one in April. That wasn't meant to be though. Anyway, the dream. I dreamed that I was attending the third PI planning and I am waiting for someone in the hotel lobby but they never arrive 🙄️. The wait went on forever and then I woke up.

Called my folks back in India in the morning. They were happy to hear their grandchild laugh and babble. They have seen her only in photos and we would have made the trip to India later this year with her but its risky now considering the pandemic.

I found these Rabbits on my timeline today. I am so taken in by their philosophy on building software and amazed at how they live their life on a sailboat. And they have detailed posts about Japan! Currently playing around with their text editor Left. So many great design ideas in their apps and games.

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