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Tech Life Overview

The apps, technology and systems I use. I try to use things that protect my privacy and are security conscious. This usually means open-source software, or self-hosted solutions. I may update this as things change.

Instant Messengers:

  • Signal: I use this to talk to my wife. I convinced her to switch. I set the messages to auto-delete after 1 week. We use Wire as a backup.
  • LINE: Unfortunately 99.9% of people in Taiwan use this. I need to keep this active for work and to not be seen as a complete social pariah.
  • Viber: Used to communicate with my mom in Greece, and sister in Canada. This is a very popular app in Europe it seems. We used to use iMessages but I got rid of my iPhone.

Social Media:

  • Mastodon: I like the that it is free of ads, has a chronological timeline, content warnings, and has better privacy features than Twitter. It’s also open-source.
  • GoodReads: It has the best reviews on there. I have started writing reviews on my blog here in an effort to not support Amazon as much as I can.
  • Google Photos: In a compromise with family, I share photos of my children with family through a Google Photos shared folder. I haven’t found an easy to use replacement for this yet.
  • I deleted my Facebook, & Twitter.

Blogging:

WriteFreely (self-hosted): It’s a very minimalist blogging tool. I found WordPress has way too many options, and buttons to fiddle with which distracts from actually blogging. This blog is hosted on this.

Apps

  • Music: Spotify. Too much hassle to download music, tag it correctly and then sync to my phone.
  • Movies: NETFLIX. I need it for Chinese subtitles to watch shows with my wife. Good value between the kids shows, and my shows. I don’t watch more than about 2 hours of TV a week.
  • Bittorrent: Transmission (self-hosted). Wherever I am, I can paste a magnet link into this and my home server will download it for me.
  • File Storage: NextCloud (self-hosted). A very slick open-source, self-hosted replacement for Dropbox/Google Drive. I use a client to sync files between my NextCloud and all the laptops I use.

Ad Blocking

  • In Firefox, I use the plugins Ublock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere.
  • Pi-Hole (self-hosted): On my own home network, I use the DNS level ad blocker Pi-hole. It stops ads and other trackers from connecting to the internet. It can be customized to block whatever you want. Lots of people share their own custom blacklists you can load into this.

Computers

  • Home Laptop: Linux/Manjaro with KDE Plasma DE.
  • Work Laptop: Linux/Ubuntu with GNOME DE.
  • ** Computer School Gave Me:** Linux/Debian 9 Stretch with Mate DE. I don’t really care what laptop I use really, as long as it’s running Linux. I am not comfortable using Windows anymore.

Phone

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5: I thought I could install LineageOS on this cheap Chinese phone but unfortunately I failed. Xiaomi makes it really difficult to install custom things on their phones and hardware. Avoid! In the future I will find another cheap phone that can have LineageOS on it, or will buy a good phone like a Librem5.

Home Server: Yunohost

All self-hosted things are running on my YunoHost server. I will make more detailed posts about this in the future. Self-hosting is not so difficult anymore. Installed apps:

  • Pi-hole - DNS ad/spyware blocking
  • Nextcloud - file storage/sharing, built-in CalDAV server
  • Transmission - bittorrent client
  • WriteFreely - blog
  • Searx - meta search client
  • Tiny Tiny RSS - RSS client
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