Skip to main content

Appreciation for public transport and old tech

I’m typing this sitting on an almost-empty train, typing on a ThinkPad laptop from 2011. In some way these older devices make me feel a bit more “analog.” It’s not as fast as new computers, it’s a bit fat and you have to pay some attention to battery life. But the keyboard is great and somehow it’s harder to get distracted. (I wonder if a device like the DevTerm which I talked about last week would have the same effect or if that’s just my Mr. Gadget speaking.)

Sometimes I think modern machinery is just too high-tech for our own good. Smartphones and laptops do more than what humans can grasp as a “tool”. Phones are actively pulling us in instead of just being in the right place like your trusty hammer would. So using something like this, where the hardware is limiting what you can do just a little bit, brings some calmness.

Empty train rides are the best.

Self-Hosting

If you’re anything like me, you use so many online services that it’s hard to keep track of it all. There’s a lot of little services you might want to use:

  • File storage & sharing
  • Web hosting
  • Task management
  • Note-taking
  • Invoice generation & online payments
  • Git code hosting
  • Email
  • Document editing
  • Password manager
  • Read-it-later list
  • Photo back-up & sharing
  • Social networking
  • Chat & video calling
  • Calendar & contacts
  • Media streaming

Most people have all of these entrusted to some company­a different company for each service. For me a lot of things were handled by my Google Workspace subscription and while it works well, ethically I’m not a huge fan of supporting a company that makes most of its money from tracking their users. And since I’m technically quite savvy, why not spin up my own server and do all of this myself?

Doing this is what we’d call self-hosting and there’s a pretty big community of people doing exactly this (for example on Reddit). It’s incredible that for so many things, someone build and open-sourced an application­you can just pull in the code and start using it.

Of course self-hosting is not for the faint of heart. Now you’re the one responsible for keeping all of this running smoothly, making backups etc. I’m starting to let some family members make use of these services which is sligtly scary as the amount of responsibility changes: having a service down for a few hours might be fine for yourself, but not for someone else.

All in all, I’m quite happy to be doing this. It’s great adventure, lets me stay in complete control of all my data and lets me eliminate some subscriptions.

Personal development practices

I’ve always believed happiness is a practice rather than a state of mind that overcomes you some way. The past months I’ve neglected my morning routine and I think it has an impact on my mood (and productivity). As I’m trying to rebuild these habits, let me explain you why they’re so great:

  • Meditating in the morning calms my mind and sets it up for that state for the rest of my day. When I meditate, I find I can better self-monitor my thoughts and can single-task better.
  • The morning journal directs my mind. It ensures I prepare to feel great about what’s happening that day, and makes me pick and choose what’s best to do. I add a few cues like “take a minute to visualize the presence you want to be in this world” and prompts like “what are you feeling gratitude for?” to achieve this.
  • The evening routine helps me close off the day. It reminds me I’ve done everything that has to be done, that there’s nothing more to do today and that I’ll try again tomorrow to be the best version of myself.

The evening journal is particularly impactful: I almost always let out a sign of relief, thinking it’s right, I can be kind for myself and can let everything go for the night. But that’s probably one of the reasons why I tend to forget it: when I choose to do it, the day is really over. Maybe that’s hard to admit.

Stay curious
Marcel