write about so might as well
Found at: zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/~dokuja/phlog/20220714
Hello again gophernauts. 'sbeen a while, but I've got a topic to
write about so might as well get to it.
This entry will cover my participation in the 2022 Old Computer
Challenge , for the first 4 days. This year's challenge is to
limit internet usage to 60 minutes a day, and has proved to be
quite a challenge indeed. Without getting too detailed, I'll try
to cover where I started, and where I'm at.
The first day was on 10 July, and I was under the impression that
the time limit was on top of the old computer challenge itself. I
had selected the G4 iBook running OpenBSD 7.1 as the workhorse for
this endeavor, as it seemed like it would be the most likely to
have the tools I needed to achieve this goal. More on that in a
It was pretty evident from the outset that the key for me to
achieve this goal would rely extensively on batch processing. Most
of my regular off-work functions already have been automated on
local machines, which further blurs the lines, but I also can't
just turn everything off as I do live with other people, and
that certainly wasn't going to fly.
Email is pretty straightforward. fetchmail to grab it and a
favorite client to view (mutt works for me). News feeds also was
mostly solved through Nextcloud News. I did run into a hurdle
getting a suitable client to run on the iBook. Newsboat can
connect and is a terminal program so I thought I had it figured
out, but once I tried to build in in ports, it errored out because
rust isn't available on macppc. Ok. Plan B.
I imported the opml file into snownews and taking Nextcloud out of
the picture, which seemed to be work. The big problem at
this point was snownews doesn't use the full text, just the
description, and that was going to burn up internet time doing the
slow part (reading). So I fetched them using wallabag-cli by
setting the browser in snownews, then I can read via the local
wallabag at my leisure. It was inefficient though, so instead I
echoed the wallabag command to fetch the article to a file, which
I can run as a batch fetch after going over the new items.
Similarly, the random youtube videos I wanted to watch could be
batched retrieved via yt-dlp. Using the lower quality options
saved time and space, and could be run in mpv or vlc on the iBook.
Finally, for some fun, I wanted to be able to batch newsgroups
from the tilde server. I thrashed around for a solution to that
one prior to the event but found that leafnode would work and I
can control (and time) the fetchnews operation. Unfortunately, at
this time, I haven't had much time to tweak it to make sure it
works the way I want, and I'll probably end up using UUCP or
maybe NNCP someday because I have other plans for that.
Glancing over at the #old-computer-challenge channel, I read that
an old computer isn't necessary, so for the following days, I
decided to transfer back to my primary machine for the remainder
of the week. It would've been fun of course, but I felt bad
hammering the poor box for a week.
I knew I was going to overrun on the 10th anyways, so while I
limited usage I didn't keep track of the time spent since I was
going to stream for an hour which would have blown the whole
budget and then some.
The 11th I went over too. I used Nextcloud News locally because
although I was able to use newsboat on this architecture, it would
segfault when trying to retrieve my feeds. Everything else was
basically the same. Thanks to the speed of modern computers and
connections, I'm going to estimate that refreshing my news feed
took a minute (when timed on the iBook it was 30-45 seconds). I
check it in the morning, at lunch, after work, and in the evening.
4 minutes total. Likewise, videos were blazingly fast and took
under a minute to download them all. For argument's sake, I'll add
another 4 minutes as an overestimate to be safe. A video took
roughly 5 seconds to download, and I don't think I ever watched
more than 12 in a day. Email was another 4 minutes, so we're at 12
Unfortunately it all went downhill when a sprinkler controller
failed so I needed to order a new one. I recently had a tree fall
over due to heat stress, but I was going to remove that one
anyways because it was leaning over pretty badly even before the
roots gave out. Emergency tree removal, yay. And then the
recycling wasn't picked up so I needed to submit a pickup request
from the waste management company.
I went over on the 12th too, with the same amount of time spent
batched and 30 muintes of browsing. Entertainment was mainly TV
over the air. Then as my friend had a bunch of questions about a
water heater and researching those took a too much online time.
Today though went well. Same 12 minutes as before, and 20 minutes
of internet time, 10 of which were questions from someone else.
And another 15 minutes to submit a grocery order. So I have a
little more than 10 minutes to log on and submit this entry.
Overall this has been very difficult. I've found myself mindlessly
trying to thumb around the phone for social media (which I
disabled for now). Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who can
query a search engine. But the schedule to read up on news quickly
instead of notifying me constantly and distracting me is working
rather well. I've taken to reading during my off time, which is
quite nice. Oh, yeah, there was an additional 10 minutes on the
11th checking out some e-books from the library.
Reading about subjects such as off-grid living, biointensive
gardening and working on some novels queued up is a habit I
definitely want to continue. As is not being as beholden to the
notification as I was before. So even if I might not have met the
goal each day, I am learning some habits and techniques that I
hope will have a positive impact on my well being going forward. I
still have some ideas I want to explore, but might not be able to
get to them before the week's end. If I do, I'll write about it
Tags: #oldcomputerchallenge #limitedinternet #library #batch #rss