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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 [1], 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
second.
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
minutes total.
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
soon.
Tags: #oldcomputerchallenge #limitedinternet #library #batch #rss

[0] Text-only version

[1] gopher:///dataswamp.org/1/~solene/article-oldcomputerchallenge-v2-rtc

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