How I use technology

Overview of useful tech

this is (hopefully very obviously) a work in progress. Blind links and unfinished explanations abound, but you still may find something useful here.


These are the things I do or have done, and you should try some of them too. In roughly decreasing importance:

Backup everything important to something you can hold in your hand.

Seriously, this is more important that anything. Go and buy an external hard drive and back everything up. If you're heavily clouded, this will be a pain.
I don't care. Do it anyway. To be extra careful, buy two. To be extra extra careful, put one of them at a close friends or family's house.

Get Linux


Either buy a Raspberry Pi or install on an old computer. Plug your backups from above and make sure your Linux install can read from them. This will future-proof your digital property and make you mostly immune to viruses, malware, and bad/unnecessary software updates.

PRO: Combine the above two and have a home server.

Tips on Installing Linux

Don't cloud if you don't have to:

If you value a digital thing, you should have it as a file on something you can hold in your hand. See above:
- Download your photos
- Prefer MP3s/OGGs in file form to streaming, especially for music you LOVE. Consider this for video as well.
- Ebooks. Use Calibre and get them into a format you can keep; otherwise the book company might reach into your device and erase them. This is not hyperbole; this has already happened.
- One you may not think about; when you post or read cool stuff on social media, also save a copy for yourself. In places like Facebook, this can get lost.

An added benefit to the above — it will be harder for the companies and others to track what you're reading, listening to, and generally - doing.


Cloud only when necessary. (i.e. when you're working extensively with other people)

The only good, established "cloud" technology is email, period. That being said: some of the below things are not terrible:

- Work and Collaboration: I've used a ton of CMS' and they're mostly all terrible. Basecamp is the least terrible; you can actually have geeks and non-geeks use this and it mostly works.
- Dropbox and Google Docs et al are solid enough — but I would only use them FOR SHARING generally "not sensitive" stuff. Not for personal storage.
- School: I've used both Blackboard and Canvas extensively — and they're no exception to the "CMS are terrible" rule. Biggest gripe is that they both mess with (boy, I want to use the f-word there) email. Canvas is a little faster, but also LESS flexible. Recently, I had a go at not using one at all, and I'll probably use it again — Here is how I leveraged email.


Prefer Text

- Yes, that thing when you open Leafpad or Notepad and there's no formatting. It's simple, but it's permanent and bulletproof. It's literally never going to go away or change much; it's what makes up all the other stuff anyway.
(but it's ugly)
Well yes, if you only use Notepad, But a lot of other programs use it too. Including the best program ever made.

Zim.

Literally the best program ever made.

Seriously. So, it's not really sexy or anything; you've seen all of the things it does elsewhere, but this program does them in the best/simplest/most interoperable ways possible. It's a file-and-folder wiki or notebook — or more simply, it's like a very simple website that you can edit on the fly.

I use it both for personal storage and to publish websites. As in, this one you're looking at now.
How I publish my website (Zim and Rsync)

But I need formatting:

Fair enough: To make them, here's what I do.
- Keep them in text until the last possible minute. That is, write in text, save it — then copy and paste into an Office program..
- Preferably LibreOffice, or anything else that supports open formats like ODT.
- For output, still try to prefer text. For example, many emails don't need attachments.
- If you need attachments, prefer PDF. It's open and will print the same everytime.


Get your own domain name and hosting

Multiple reasons to do this. One
- It's good to have your own piece of the web. Services like Facebook and Twitter limit access and censor what you say.
It's good to have your own email - with your own domain you can have an infinite number of email addresses, and it's easier to take control of your own email.

Learn Linux/Unix

Increasingly, ALL technology relies on Unix-Like services. Most everything that isn't Windows (and some things that are) sit on top of Unix-Like technology.


CURATE YOUR OWN DIGITAL LIBRARY

By which I mean, get a raspberry pi or similar and put all your books, photos, movies and music on it. Then, even better, figure out a way to push it to all your other devices.

Notes and Future Ideas

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One shots: I will organize these later:

Updating a NOOBS-Raspbian SD Card for the Raspberry Pi 2 if you're having mounting trouble
Xrandr script with adjustable scaling for mixing regular and 4k Retina type hidpi monitors
Vim - my personal cheatsheet and other cool things



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