Yesterday I managed to get all my subscriptions into a single place to check how much I was spending on services. Boy, I was in for a shock. My subscription for media services has grown two-fold. Lockdown is, of course, a cause. So, I will let it float around till normalcy returns outside.
I always had my media and productivity services balanced, of course, it was never intentional. But I guess the addition of a HEY subscription might bring things again in balance. I still have 5 days to decide.
Speaking of tracking subscriptions, I used an app called Bobby while I was on iOS and I sorely missed it since I shifted to Android. However, I’ve found a brilliant app called (of course) Subscriptions. The app has one job and it does perfectly.
I have been working with David Merfield on a little side project. The idea started simple – what if there was a simple posting interface for Blot? In extension, something that one can use to write and publish a post to Dropbox. Blot is simple as-is for writing and posting (it’s all files). But there are times when I do want to quickly post from my web browser. And for such times, I still need a simple writing interface.
That thought was enough to interest both me and David. We got to work. The project got neglected in between. And then was picked up again. And I think, it is in a state now where it can really be useful to a few. I can attest to that because I, myself, have been using it for few days now.
Here’s Wall — a “web-accessible text-editor over Dropbox, works nicely with Blot”.
I believe this would be useful for many. It is clean. It is light, pure-client side application. It supports local drafts. It can export markdown. It can publish to Blot. Perfect for all those text posts.
I have my own fork of the project where I want to use the editor and support publishing to multiple places. To start with, I have extended it to post it anywhere in Dropbox.
I have hosted it here as Scribe. I plan to extend it next to be used as a micropub client. Still in works, though.
Of course, this is not perfect yet. For one, it does not work well on smaller screens. But it is a good enough. Do give it try.
When it is dark outside, lighten yourself from within. And there is no easier way to do so than to spend quality time with family. Make games together. Play games together.
I am toying with an idea to enable another option for the readers to comment on posts. I have always been very wary of enabling a commenting system of any form on my blog. So the only option I have kept till now was webmentions. Most of the responses I get on my posts are via micro.blog and I get webmentions for all these replies. However, I think there’s just no easy way to redirect people to write a response if that is the only option available.
To provide with such an option and at the same time not make it extremely easy for someone to spam the space, I am enabling GitHub issues based commenting system of utterances. It’s lightweight, needs a valid account and I believe sits well with the readers that are not already on micro.blog.
I will keep this on for some time. It sits well with my current setup, doesn’t look out of place. I may rethink again sometime in future. For now, this commenting system stays on.
I am having fun getting back into Indieweb stuff — working on adding support for updates to Blotpub. This has been in works for so long, I had to get to it. I also recently added support for syndicating longer posts to Twitter and Mastodon. Always makes me relaxed.
I have completed the consolidation exercise that I had planned to carry out this weekend. All the posts exist on the home page of the root domain now and is hosted by Blot. There are no sub-domains for separate posts. There is no landing page. It’s all words.
Of course, I had butterflies in my stomach before I began the whole exercise. I had posts spread across different categories. I had very specific styling done for some rarely used components of the blog posts. And I had pages.
Then I had some complex pages and posts. It was the thought of migrating this varied content that made me a bit edgy. Posts like this guide on moving to Hugo. Or this one about displaying webmentions along with posts. I had to manually migrate such posts along with the necessary styles.
I am happy overall with what I have achieved. Things are simpler now. If I have to post something, I know where it would be. Doesn’t matter what the nature of the post is. This space now supports all types. Along with the
/now page reseted to begin from now.
What this also means that I have to bear with few things. I have lost webmentions to the
blog sub-domain posts. I have to reset my indieweb presence, clear all caches with indieauth sites. Thankfully, not much was broken that couldn’t be fixed simple re-logins and re-configurations. I (and you) have to bear with the configured redirects to propagate through the Internet and reach all. So the old links will stay unreachable till that happens.
I have kept the Hugo site alive. It hosts the archive, something I did not want to carry along. I just restyled it to make it resemble a timeline leading back into the time. I do not wish to ever post to it again. Simplicity of maintaining and updating my website with Blot has won me over.
I finally set my data with Google to self-destruct after every 3 months – the lowest amount possible. So my web and app activity will be automatically purged. I have cleaned by YouTube history post my recent digital detox and have set the future data to be auto-purged every 3 months. I do not allow Google to collect my location history and I would not till they allow me to do that.
Does that ensure that I am protected from the data hoarding habits of Google? I am not sure about that. But I want to make it as much difficult as am allowed.
My recent switch to Android has already made this very difficult. Google signs itself up for too many permissions and starts collecting data from me, irrespective of whether I want it to or not. The least I can do is to remove that data as soon as possible. I am sure Google must already extract as much information about me as possible. After all, it is not about the raw data, but about the aggregations.
So then do I have a problem with Google owning data about me or Google knowing me? In an ideal world I would avoid both. However, I do not think I can do the later (given my current usage pattern). I want to at least use the privacy controls that Google has made available to the fullest.
I believe anyone who has a Google account should do this. It does not matter how often you use any of the myriad of Google services. Keep checking your Google activity every so often and tweak those controls.
It was exactly a year ago that I had posted an update on my then-recently undertaken no-news experiment. It primarily involved –
- consuming news only through the morning newspaper
- no news related apps on my phone
- no notifications from social apps (including messages, WhatsApp)
I am pleasantly surprised that the things begun then have more or less stayed the same. I still consume my news primarily from the morning newspaper. I still avoid visiting the news website. I still have the notifications from social apps disabled. For that matter, I have become more aggressive in disabling notification access to any app.
The only deviation has been that I have installed a few news apps on my phone. I always had that urge to open some editorial on the browser when my mind was momentarily free. This minor change has quenched that.
Of course, I am still extremely picky about which apps get installed. I have installed only a couple of news curating apps (also known for doing their job well). And The New York Times app.
Digital Detox – No YouTube
I have also recently undertaken a digital detox experiment. I want to check which additional service I can get off my routine. It should be something that I carelessly spend a lot of time on.
I had recently been consuming a lot of stupid content on YouTube. I used to open the app every time I had some free time at hand. Or for that matter even when I was busy doing something else. It garnered a subconscious tap. Such absent-minded behaviour is never healthy.
So I have planned to be off YouTube for at least a month to reset the terms of my relationship with this service. It has been 15 days now and I already feel better. I no longer have that urge to tap into YouTube any more. I have observed am following my routine a lot better.
However, YouTube has become too important a destination for all kinds of videos. That includes videos relevant to my work too. So it is difficult to completely get rid of the access to the service.
Of course, then, I plan to allow access to the app in a controlled manner. This time, however, I will set the terms again consciously. I am also planning to clear the YouTube view history before I do that. I believe this will help me reset the recommendations. I am, however, yet to decide the exact terms under which the service will be allowed back.
During this month of digital detox, I also plan to indulge myself with some analogue activities that I had never done before. I have started doodling more. Sure, am not good at it. But I hit the web for inspiration and try to simply emulate.
I am also spending dedicated time with my daughter without any digital devices around. It can be as less as 15 minutes. Involving simple talks. Or some silly games. But it has to be focused time.
It is too early to see the effects of all this. One thing is for sure, though. I feel a tad less burdened on the inside.