Weeknote 20 – Trails and Switches

A glimpse of the past week and the few things that captivated my attention:

With the kids at home, weather mostly good and the lock-down lifted we did venture out a bit and got a lot of hikes in this week. We obviously had all masks on and avoided crowded spaces. Also had this sudden realization that most of the hikes I was doing over the past few years in Baltimore were on the banks of the Patapsco river. Would be wonderful to plan a good long 15-20 miler one of these days. Should be a good recce for the half-marathon that I said I would organize for Meena, Nancy and Sharath next month!

Wonderful talk with Atchuth last night on servers and hosting content! On my end, I installed a small switch for my devices. Also ordered a 2TB external drive since the laptop that I backup my files on is slowly reaching full capacity.

Took appa out for a drive yesterday. His first outing in over three months now. I think it’s reasonably safe for him to head outdoors now. I do really want to take him to the Number nine trolley hike we did today.

I’m absolutely loving the share article feature on Wallabag (And also Selfoss). It helps me share articles with family and friends without the annoying ads while providing a link to the source. I totally understand that certain publishers need ads to produce quality journalism. What I am not comfortable with is, them using that to track me. In the links that I share below, most are linked to my wallabag instance‘s public share. If I refer to an individual’s blog post however, I’ll link directly to the source. The only downside to that is, people tend to move across CMS or blogging software and links get orphaned…

Interesting tools this week:

The /e/ Foundation: My next phone is most likely going to be running this OS.

Jpegoptim: Linux tools to compress images on a whim

Interesting podcasts this week:

Octomom: The octopus species that broods its eggs for close to five years!

Interesting reads this week:

What does your gaze reveal about you?: A ridiculous whole lot! Will have to get back to this later to explore more of the links. The amount of information that can be gleaned and analyzed is pretty intriguing. The age-old saying goes – ‘Eyes are the windows to a person’s soul’. Looks like we humans took a good note of that!

Go squat!: Something that’s so common-place in India (And several other countries)…It’s like coming back a full circle.

Would you want your tax dollars to be invested in Public-Private partnerships?: When it comes to a choice between investing in humans and investing in technology, I’d rather invest in humans. I understand why it’s a hard sell though…

Converting type A blood to type O: Applications for this are huge! Imagine not having to wait to find donors for a specific blood type.

Swiper, no swiping! relies on plaid, which was bought by Visa recently…The good old days of relying on cash ought to be back.

Weeknote 19 – feeds and sessions

A glimpse of the past week and the few things that captivated my attention:

Weather’s been pretty erratic this week. We also had a mild dusting yesterday out of the blue! Might consider heading out for a hike later today.

I nudged Meena to write more. We’ve had some interesting discussions on Yoga and other things over the past week and I do think she has a ton to share! She’s also planning to train for a 50miler which I am super excited about! Oh and beyond all that marketing ploy, Happy Mothers’ day.

Shasta’s talking a lot more now. Pretty sure her verbal diarrhea is soon going to start soon too!  The other day, while sitting with Appa she said something to the effect of ‘i-pae’ pointing to the ipad. Grandfather and daughter are totally connecting on these gadgets!

Git: I agree on many levels with what Kev posted recently about Github. I enjoy working on and deploying software tools. What I do not enjoy is the whole git pull, push, fork thing!

Sessions: I am running a session later this week for the Khat-pat folks on self hosting. Planning to keep it mostly hands-on and crisp. The idea is to get them started on taking better control of their presence on the interwebs! I’d also love to join the Indieweb folks one of these days. They have one coming up on the 20th!

Tools: Earlier this week, I came across e-mail cloaking services – Simplelogin and Anondaddy. Love the idea and I might give them a shot the next time I subscribe or sign-up for a service.

Feed Readers: Over the past few years, I’ve used multiple feed readers – Netvibes, TheOldReader, FreshRSS and Fever. They were all good in specific aspects but I didn’t really find them to be that one tool which I could use to consume the inter-webs my way. Earlier this week I decided to self-host one and narrowed down to FreshRSS, miniflux and selfoss. After a few iterations of deploying and testing, I stuck with selfoss. It’s super light-weight and has all the specific features I was looking for.  To deploy it on docker, I used the boiler-plate template that I created earlier when setting up my known instance.  The gist file for the docker-compose is here. The install should take you at most 10 minutes assuming you have the base framework setup. What I do love about selfoss is the ability to push articles over to my wallabag instance.

Trilium: I’ve moved most of my notes over to Trilium and I am absolutely loving it! While it’s hierarchical, it is also setup not to be one.

Interesting reads this week:

Time-restricted eating: Philip referenced this article recently and I think it’s brilliant! Also went ahead and signed up for Rhonda’s podcast.

Tracking using ultrasound frequencies: Whoa! This totally blew my mind! If google uses it to connect your devices with chrome cast, what’s really stopping them from using it to track what you are watching? And now how do you block that invasion?

Workplaces in the era: Firms will have additional pressure from (or will be incentivised by) their insurance companies to have monitoring in place. Over the span of few months, this will be the new normal. Looking back, haven’t we all got used to keying-in and out at our workplaces?

We kill people based on metadata: Quite a lot is changed since 2014. What hasn’t though is how fragmented and withdrawn several government and private entities are even in times of crisis.

The mystic veil of End-to-End encryption: Interesting read on the data sharing between these apps.  The other day I was wondering how Bark‘s able to access messages from these apps. Likely they have something on these lines drifting underneath? While I love the concept of the app and the benefits it provides, I did cringe and walk away because I just wasn’t sure how they’d be handling the data.

Weeknote 17 – Covid19, Webmentions and Migrations

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

This week I got a better handle at deploying and maintaining docker images. With that squared out, I decided to decommission the Digital Ocean servers that I had setup back in 2017 and migrate the applications over to my Hetzner server. I no longer have to rely on ServerPilot. All my applications are now deployed as docker containers fronted by #Traefik as a reverse proxy.

The jitsi server instance I deployed last week has been serving pretty well so far! I tweaked it further to enable local recording. Meena has been using it to run her online Yoga sessions and she can now also use it to record the podcast that she soon plans to start! Session recording and live-streaming is something I still need to configure in my current setup. The logs indicate it’s failing on the Jibri handshake and that’s something I’ll need to figure out once I have a bit more time in hand.

Other actionable tasks on the tech front include figuring out a swift way to deploy PHP based applications on Docker. I still need to port over my Known and PixelFed applications.

Last week, Philip nudged me to look into my webmentions. The theme I previously had wasn’t displaying them as comments. I needed a bit of a ‘creativity boost’ and decided to use a new theme. Really liked the McLuhan theme by Anders Noren and decided to give it a spin. Noticed a minor issue with the comments section and was easily able to fix it. I do however want to make a few tweaks to it, which I hopefully will get around attending to over the next few weeks. I also have my eye on Prateek‘s Zuari theme which is deeply indieweb compliant.

Last evening, Atchuth mentioned he’s now using his RPi4 as a full fledged desktop machine. He’s moved over from DietPi to the Raspbian OS. Makes sense given his current use-case. Sharath on the other hand is still using his RPi 4 predominantly as a Nextcloud server.

This week has been great in terms of re-connecting with some good old friends! We’re planning a re-union sometime next year. 20 year since we finished school! Phew!

The Khat-pat makers group that I am part of is now getting more traction and it’s awesome just hearing out the cool things that other folks are doing. This week’s session was on building drones from scratch!

I also got around connecting with the kids I taught 10 years ago! They’ve all moved on to college and are into various things now. One kid wanted to become a stellar teacher and this  is one of the best messages I’ve received so far!

Last night we played a few good rounds of Pictionary/Dumb-charades with the kids. Shasta had a terrific time just watching the ‘adults’ in their elements. You never get too old for this game!

Interesting podcasts this week

Picturing Data: Monocle


Interesting tools this week

The Termux app has been an amazing value-add to my phone for those quick server check-in’s!

Interesting reads this week

‘We can’t go back to normal’: How will coronavirus change the world?: 2020 will be etched in the memories of most people living today as one that drastically changed how we as humans functioned. As Covid19 spreads across various countries, it’s influencing and compelling dire actions. What was considered to be impossible at various level, is now just a quick decision point – Financial stimulus, vaccine production, remote work and schooling to name a prominent few. As we build resistance to the virus as a society and consequently as the adrenaline that’s currently rampant drains out, we’re going to see the fallout’s of our actions or several inaction’s thereof. Assuming another event of this magnitude does not occur over the next decade, the world is going to need a major overhaul to recover from the pandemic.

Beginner’s guide to PGP: A simple and easy read on PGP with actionable guidance for non-tech folks out there. It’s given that over the next few months most countries are going to erode into the privacy of its citizens. Policies that are brought into effect now for surveillance and tracing will overarchingly become the norm and will be almost impossible to retract. It’s critical that we act now to safeguard what little privacy we can. It’s never been about – ‘There’s nothing that I have to hide.’ Ignorance can and will heavily be mis-appropriated for someone else’s benefit.

Why one Neuroscientist started blasting his core: Neural pathways, stress control systems and of course the adrenal medula. Yet another fascinating read on how amazing the human body is!

How Saudi Arabia’s religious project transformed Indonesia: Religion, politics and power are so damned intertwined. If anything, its one of those defining necessities and vices of humanity.

It’s time to build: So beautifully phrased! It’s high time we dusted those tarp sheets and get to build from ground-up. Over time we’ve become complacent as a society and we need one strong re-boot!


Weeknote 09 – Ashland and Taxtime

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

The last few weeks have been pretty ‘choppy’. Some recent developments on the work front has gotten us back to Boston. Always wonderful being back here. Looks like New-England has had a pretty mild winter and we’re making sure we take Shasta out as much as possible!

Over the next couple weeks we’ll have to make a few interesting decisions. Between grad programs, fellowships and other exciting opportunities; 2020 is already off to a happening start!

It’s tax filing time! I was super pissed with TurboTax last year. This year I helped file taxes for my in-laws using the FreeFillableForms option. Found it to be super easy and straight forward. Will most likely use it for my personal taxes too.

Interesting podcasts this week

Darknet Diaries: Chanced upon this podcast early this week while sifting through AntennaPod and the premise sounded pretty interesting – Hacking and cyber-warfare. My podcast consumption has drastically come down over the last few months. This will hopefully get me back on the podtrack!

Interesting tools this week

MineTime : Think ‘smarter’ calendars.

Digikam : Self hosted photo management with facial recognition! I’d probably pair this with my Nextcloud photo library over the next few days.

Interesting reads this week

Lifesaving rescue on Mount Washington: Yet another terrific read from Ty Gagne! Note to self to get that HikeSafe card.

Talking to youth about privacy, security and digital spaces: Wonderful piece, Ian. Loved the concept of identifying an ‘approach point’. Most of what he mentioned also applies to adults and more so elderly parents who’ve jumped on the digital scene without much awareness on the privacy implications!

The medications that change who we are: Not quite surprising but pretty intriguing read on how dependent we’re on medication these days. Think twice before you pop that pill!

Why Astrology matters: My family (prior generation) was (is?) a strong believer in Astrology. From making birth charts/Horoscopes, wearing different rings on the fingers to influence the ‘stars’, matching horoscopes prior to weddings, and most significantly to pick an auspicious time to travel; The sentiment has definitely changed over the last decade or so, but hey, it’s still there!

Astrology has stood the test of several hundred generations now and there’s got to be an iota of truth somewhere out there. That said, I still have an excruciatingly hard time believing that the stars and planets have anything to do with one’s life developments.

Opinion | We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.: It all boils down to regulation. Or technology that’s able to shroud a person’s exteriors both physically, electrically and magnetically!

Weeknote 04 – Puzzled Pixels

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Finally got around installing PixelFed on a Hetzner server. Absolutely love it! It’s truly an Instagram clone sans the tracking. The lead developer has some interesting updates up his sleeve and I am very keen to see how this project shapes up as it evolves out of beta.

Meena suggested Nik and I work on the 3D puzzle Nik’s had for quite sometime now. Worked on it till about 0200 the next day morning and finished setting up this beautiful musical box puzzle. The engineering could have been a bit more nuanced. However, had a terrific time working on this.

Managed to fit in a short 4.5mile hike along the Thru trail in Patapsco State Park. With dusk setting in and absolutely nobody else on the trail, it did feel a bit spooky being out there. Spotted a few Deers and a fox on the way back. The old Woodstock bar and the huge empty parking lot for the trail right beside the railway line was probably something that added to the eeriness of the evening!

Watched Kon-Tiki and The Lighthouse of the Orcas. Both terrific movies leaving you with the urge to do more meaningful things in life.

Interesting podcasts this week

Quanta recently announced they’re launching a new podcast! Super excited to see how this shapes up.

Interesting tools this week

Roam Research : Note-taking tool for graphed thoughts

Interesting reads this week

Why you should introduce your child to dangerous sports: Free-diving in the Caribbean

America’s search and rescue is in a state of emergency: The curse of supply and demand, and the dearth of funding and volunteers

The secretive company that might end privacy as we know it: As London moves towards introducing Facial recognition in its already present street cameras and more and more companies coming up with technology to give out personal information at the click of a button; With lack of regulation and oversight, the future is going to be one hell of a mess.