I have a keen interest in computing and it has been a part of my life since an early age. The first computer I ever used was an Acorn machine at school, but I did also have some interactions with my Grandfather’s MS-DOS machine. My first extensive use of computers was with machines running early versions of Windows (95, 98, NT, ME ect).
Technology I Use
I am a user of and advocate for free/libre software. I am a GNU/Linux user, though I am not a loyal advocate for Linux specifically as other freedom respecting OSes exist (though I’m generally a fan of Unix-like systems). I am not an RMS-style stickler who never uses proprietary software under any circumstances, but I will always prefer free/libre options, at least if they’re reasonably adequate. I prefer to use minimal and configurable applications, often opting for terminal based and keyboard-driven options.
- OS: I use Debian GNU/Linux. I enjoy the freedom and extensive configurability that Linux allows, I am not a huge fan of Windows (at least not modern versions) and I am not a big fan of Apple generally. I was a Windows user until around 2015, I was also a Mac user for a brief period around 2011-2012.
- Desktop Environment: I like tiling window managers, I currently use i3-gaps.
- Terminal: I currently use xterm, I use bash shell with tmux.
- Browser: I use Firefox as my main browser as a compromise. I don’t like the current choices in browsers and Firefox is the only one that can feasibly be used with the modern web that doesn’t use Google’s rendering engine and is able to have a substantial ad blocker. I’ve written more about my reasons for using Firefox here. I use it with Tridactyl and custom userchrome to make it function similar (as possible) to browsers like Qutebrowser. Sometimes I also use the terminal based browser W3M for browsing simple sites and to save bandwidth sometimes. W3M is also how I browse Gopher and Gemini sites. It does have native support for Gopher, but sadly not Gemini. So to view Gemini sites in W3M I use a locally hosted Gemini to HTTP proxy (namely kineto).
- Bookmarks/Web Search: Rather than keeping all my bookmarks in a specific browser, I instead keep them in a local file and use Surfraw (a tool created by none other than Julian Asssange, make of that what you will), which I also use for search engines. This approach makes it easier to manage and open bookmarks and search engines with any browser I wish to use and keep all my Web, Gopher and Gemini bookmarks in the same place. I have scripted Surfraw to work in conjunction with FZF to make opening bookmarks and performing searches easy and quick.
- Editor: I use Vim as my editor, I’m using it right now to write this page! Vim is a powerful editor that is more compatible with the Unix philosophy than Emacs. I may also sometimes use ed for quick and simple edits.
- Music Player: I currently use cmus
- Media Player: I use mpv
- Image Viewer: sxiv
- PDF Viewer: Zathura
- RSS Reader: I use Newsboat as my RSS reader. I use RSS-Bridge, the built-in RSS of alternate front-ends like Nitter or generators like this to follow social media accounts if they don’t have native support for RSS (which many don’t). An RSS reader is a much more flexible, configurable and less distracting alternative to a social media feed. I talk more about my reasons for using RSS here.
These are computer languages that I have used and have varying degrees of familiarity with:
In terms of my computer itself, it’s a pretty modest spec machine I built in 2013 (when i was still a Windows user) that still suits me fine. I boot my OS from an SSD while I use HDD drives for file storage. I like many still tend to opt for x86/x86-64 machines for my main system but I’m open to potentially changing this in the future. I also have an old Toshiba Satellite laptop from 2010/2011 (ish) which I have installed an SSD and upgraded RAM into which also runs Debian.
- Keyboard: I use a Unicomp Model M keyboard, you can find out more in my review here. I use a USB Model M in beige with Windows keys (UK Layout).
I use a Microsoft Pro IntelliMouse, whilst nominally a “Gaming” mouse, it is based on the tried and true classic IntelliMouse, but has a laser sensor. This is a solid mouse for my non-gaming use case in my estimation. I have the white version.It broke, I am now using a generic Packard Bell optical mouse.
- Monitor: I use a Dell 23" monitor in portrait mode (1080 x 1920). I use my monitor in portrait because it I find that when gaming is not a priority, a portrait display makes far more sense for documents and text based applications such as terminals and editors.
- Home Server: I use a Raspberry Pi 3 B with external storage (a flash drive connected to a powered USB hub) as a local file server, print server and git server. I use git on the pi to syncronise my dot files between machines locally. It runs headless with a minimal Raspberry Pi OS Lite install.
Some additional thoughts:
- Corporate Social Media: Corporate-run social media is bad. It’s addictive (deliberately) and terrible for your mental health, it’s basically the mental equivalent of smoking. I do use the decentralised and community run “fediverse” via Mastodon.
- “Smart” anything: I generally reject “smart” devices such as smart-speakers, smart-watches or anything similar, I extremely skeptical of their benefits and think they come at a huge cost to privacy and cause development of habits that make people more dependent on technology in unhealthy ways. I don’t use a smart phone, I can see how having one may be beneficial in some ways but privacy is an issue for me, if I did use one it’s something I’d want to be very concious about and keep at arms length as it’s very easy to develop an unhealthy attachment as many people do these days.
- Crypto/Web3/NFTs: I consider crypto projects to be a largely right-wing libertarian endeavour and the space is full pyramid schemes and snake oil, I fully reject it. NFTs are a vile attempt at artificial scarcity, I’m not interested in fascist-dog-whistle-laden monkey jpegs.