2018-02-08 Use Old Tech to Fight Information Overload

Here I am, using newsboat as my newsreader instead of visiting Feedly or using Reeder on my iOS devices. It’s an application that runs in the terminal. It doesn’t hide empty feeds. It doesn’t sort feeds. It doesn’t group feeds. I imported a gazillion feeds via OPML file and slowly I’m finding that this or that feed is dead, or that I don’t really enjoy reading a feed, and I simply edit my subscriptions and remove the feeds. It’s as if the slight discomfort of using the tool makes me realize that this or that isn’t actually worth the effort.

At the same time, I find that when I use VF-1 to visit Gopher sites, or when I use newsboat to read blog posts, and I do this from my laptop, then I with purpose, when I have some time. I don’t skim articles. I take the time to think about what I have just read. And I can’t just quickly comment or +1 or start what I have read and move on. Should I write a comment, an actual email, or a post on my blog? Again, an action that requires enough effort to give me pause, to evaluate whether what I was about to do is actually worth doing. And I am starting to find that in the past few years I might done things very efficiently that aren’t actually worth doing in the first place.

I think I’ll start reducing my toolset even further. Perhaps I’ll start browsing the web using w3m again.

I’d lover to view images in my terminal instead of opening new windows. I need to look at the solutions proposed in this thread about displaying pictures in a terminal. So many exciting ideas.

And really, most of the time I just use Emacs, a terminal emulator, and a browser. I think I’ll remain an Emacs user until the very end. But everything else is up for grabs.

Right now I am exploring what Gnome has to offer. That’s why I use Tilix as my terminal emulator. It does tiling and I love that.

alias right="tilix --action=session-add-right"
alias down="tilix --action=session-add-down"

Use Ctrl~Tab to switch between sessions. I think this is good enough for me right now.

And I’m using Tilingnome, an extension to the Gnome shell which does window tiling automatically, without me needing to switch to a tiling window manager. For now, this is very slick. I can open new windows without ever thinking about placement and really, I rarely have more than two or three windows open (specially since my terminal emulator and my editor do tiling). I guess the only key combos I might need eventually is sending a window to the other workspace. I’ll look for it when I have a need for it.

Screenshot showing Emacs and Tilix

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Perhaps this is also the reason I’m starting to prefer blogs, Mastodon and Gopherholes over visiting Google+. It’s just a bit less slick, takes a bit more effort, sometimes it requires my laptop at home, and in the end these little barriers move me away from some social media. I guess that’s very similar to how I moved away from Facebook. I simply uninstalled the app and changed the password. Sure, at home, on my laptop, the password is still around. But it isn’t available in the office. It isn’t available on my phone.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-08 18:10 UTC


Now that I’m using newsboat to read my news, I’m discovering a lot of dead blogs. As I’m discovering these, and dropping them (using a slightly convoluted keybome: E to edit, / to search, dd to delete, :wq to save), I’m feeling increasingly frustrated and rushed and I’m starting to think that maybe I should just delete most of them. Right now I still treat them like a treasure trove. But maybe I should treat them like the detritus of times gone by and just clean the house (or boat).

– Alex 2018-02-10 11:37 UTC


I defined a custom link for Tilix:

Regex Command
\bgopher://\S+ tilix -a session-add-down -e /home/alex/.local/bin/vf1 "$0"

– Alex 2018-02-11


Now that I can only read news from my laptop, I find that I no longer feel like I should be reading news on my phone. A relief?

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-13 14:21 UTC


Reading news using newsboat I find that it doesn’t refresh the feeds unless I tell it to. How refreshing! Those feeds don’t just keep on racking up numbers. Once you’ve read a feed it stays read until you decide to hit r and reload it. Just don’t ever hit R and reload all of the feeds if you’re like me. :)

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-15 09:17


I’m still going by my new motto: make computer use hard again. Specifically, I shall try to do everything I want to do without one of the big browsers. So, it’s either in Emacs, or newsboat, or w3m, or lynx, or VF-1, or IRC (and that means Emacs), or Mastodon (since that happens via IRC and thus within Emacs). Whenever I find myself starting Firefox or one if its friends, I stop myself. 1/2

Can I do the thing without a browser? If I can, do I still want to do it? If that’s too much trouble, I saved myself from wasting time. Good! If I definitely need a browser because of Javascript or whatever, and I realize that this is the reason, I’m feeling the anger rise and that is often enough for me to close the window again. Good! No time wasted. 😤 (← remember: this is the face of triumph according to Unicode)

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-18 18:00


I second the recommendation by @wrenpile to read The Tyranny of Convenience by Tim Wu about convenience and struggle and how we must realise that making everything convenient robs us of life experience. We run, not because it is easy but because it is hard. We went to the moon, not because it was easy but because it was hard. Let’s recognise that «hobbies» and «passions» are just inconvenient things we like doing anyway.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-18 23:04


I was looking at toot and madonctl trying to find a good command line client for Mastodon but now I think I found what I was looking for: tootstream.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-02-19 07:14 UTC


I bought a book about ed for $4.99 called Ed Mastery.

From the introduction:

After receiving rare but tediously ongoing complaints about my use of mixed male and female third-person pronouns in my technology books, I’ve prepared two editions of this book. Any third-person singular pronouns that appear in the standard edition, for normal people, are female.

Those who believe that women don’t belong in tech books are welcome to purchase the special “Manly McManface” edition, where all third-party singular pronouns are masculine. To compensate for this edition’s much smaller market, though, the Manly edition is pricier than the standard edition. That’s basic economics.

From the shop:

Ed Mastery
Suggested Price $4.99

Ed Mastery: Manly McManface Edition
Suggested Price $15.99

– Alex 2018-04-05 23:34 UTC


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