Over the past couple of years, I've been focusing on getting myself decentralized on the internet. I've largely pulled out of any one ecosystem, and I've moved towards more privacy-respecting services like ProtonMail and write.as.
As a part of this movement, I'm also trying to go back to being responsible for my own data. The “”““cloud”“”” has become ubiquitous and I'm pretty over it. I appreciate the convenience for sure, but I don't appreciate when services I depend on are sunset or unavailable, which even in 2019 is still a problem.
I used to not understand people who still want 256 gigs of internal storage on their phones. Now, I get it.
I'm currently trying to reclaim my music library. It is a difficult task. Beyond retrieving the files from Google Music, I now need to seek out all the albums and tracks that I “added to my library” rather than uploaded or purchased. Google said they'd be transferring their music service over to YouTube Music, which is not something I want to use, nor does it seem like it will support the same features I care about in Google Music.
Beyond music, I've dropped my dependency on Google Drive significantly, opting for an independent, encrypted solution. The biggest holdouts I have are calendaring, because the only real options I can find seem to be Google, Microsoft or Apple-based, and photo management, because Google Photos is really good. Though, I'd like to find something I can move to that has similar functionality without doing the creepy facial scans.
All in all, I just want to feel like I actually own my data again. I don't want to be subjected to the will of the service provider. I'm hoping as we move on with a new era of people living in the digital age, we see more people seeking this kind of ownership again, leading to a federated / individual focused renaissance.
Without fail, the second I sit down every morning to work on something, I have a sneezing fit. I'm writing this between sneezes right now. Usually its around 8 to 15 sneezes, though I've had it go on into the 20's and even 30's sometimes.
I have no idea why it happens, but it is always the moment I am inspired to do something and begin trying to do it. Today, it was sitting down to write. I was going to write something totally different, but started sneezing, and figured this would be fine to write about as well.
It can be
It can be when I sit down to code or write, or in the car when I go to do errands, or right as I plan to make a nice breakfast. Really, the second I decide “yes, I should do this thing” and take the first minor step towards doing it – boom.
It's been like this for as long as I can remember. Before I even met my wife, all throughout college, and I can even remember it back into high school, when on the weekends I'd boot up my computer to hack on some game development. I'm still sneezing from game development. Hell, it happened yesterday.
No clue if there's a way to approach fixing this. I'll need to find a way to keep inspiration after waiting out the 10 or so minutes to get back to normal.
I don't think I'm alone in wishing I had more time to pursue passions. Just today, I caught myself talking to my partner about how I'd like to be spending more time contributing to open source projects. I then caught myself lying by saying that between work and a personal project, I just don't have the time.
I immediately called myself on this lie. I knew instantly that time isn't the problem. I will come home from work, make dinner and play games, maybe scroll on some websites for a while to fill time. I have the time. I need to rework what I do with it. With the proper drive, that time can be found.
The real problem is that drive is a far more difficult thing to come by. Time is all around us. We have time. In 2018, it has become so easy to fill that time with mindless actions. I try to keep on a meditation schedule to combat this, but even that doesn't fix a lack of drive, or “will,” or whatever you want to call it. Boy do I wish I had an answer to finding the drive to keep working towards goals. For me, its just something that is either there, or not. It comes and goes in waves. Maybe the next high tide will last a little longer.
Until then, at least I can be honest with myself and push along.
We received a flash drive of our wedding photos. This is one of those rare occasions where I really care about the fate of computer files. I'm a programmer by trade and I've grown distant from “files” over time. I work with hundreds of tiny source files which get indexed and cloned and backed up on remote servers with histories and decentralization and so on. I don't think twice about losing anything.
Yet here I am holding 10 gigabytes of photos, and I am frightened about their future. Where can I put these that is safe? I don't particularly want to keep this flash drive around for the rest of my life. Any files on my hard drive that I care about are copied back up into the cloud, but that doesn't even seem like enough peace of mind for what these are.
I can back up the files to Google Photos, but I've been working to slowly reduce my footprint on their services. I could put them in the “deep storage” section of the cloud sync service I use, but even that seems too ephemeral for something like wedding pictures, which I'm likely going to want to look back on when I'm 70. Do I really think this cloud provider will be around 40, 50, 60 years from now?
Do I print them? Put them in a binder? That seems even more temporary. What is even “temporary” anymore? Is it better to go full digital? We haven't proven digital lifespan for common folk just yet, but on the other hand, printed photos can be lost, torn, burned, destroyed.
At least I have my memories. In the end, the photos just help bring those memories back with more accuracy. Hopefully, I can trust to hold on to those good times for quite a while yet to come.
Every morning, my day starts off with my dog leaping onto my bed and sniffing, pawing, licking and biting at me. Sometimes, he gets so excited that he just starts barking at me right in my face. My wife gets up about an hour before me, and after giving our dog his breakfast and morning outdoor time, she lets him into the bedroom.
Some mornings, I'll lay in bed – half awake – and listen for the sound of my dog's nails on the hardwood floor outside the bedroom. I'll hear the cracking of paint partially adhered to the door jam as my wife begins to open the way with just enough hesitation to keep my dog excited.
I'll pull the covers over my head so he has to look for me. I'll shift my position so he crawls over me instead of just next to me. Any small thing I can do to keep it interesting for him. This outpouring of affection – no matter how energetic it may be for how little light there is outside – is a reminder every morning that I am loved and is the inspiration I need to get up and embrace the world again today.
Being open minded is easy and healthy. I spent years of my life in high school and early college rejecting new ideas and closing off to progressive ideology. I would laugh at people who identified as non-binary, or refer to transgender people as “it” because I was a huge shit-spewing asshole. It was a sad time in my life, looking back, and I was absolutely on-track to have been one of Trump's biggest fans.
Thankfully, I did a complete 180 over the last decade. I was always told that I'd become more conservative as I grew up and had to be a member of society and pay taxes and whatnot. Well, I pay taxes now, and I want those taxes to fund socialized medicine and give everyone the physical and mental healthcare they need, while spreading the word of acceptance for everyone. (Not to mention that I'd happily pay more in taxes to fund said healthcare.)
When I'm met with something I don't understand, I have found how much easier it is to accept it than to reject it. “Oh, cool” is much nicer to say on a daily basis than “what is wrong with these people?”. You identify as something I'm unfamiliar with? Cool. If that is how you feel comfortable, I'd love to learn more and show you the respect you deserve. It takes hardly a modicum of effort on my part to accept something. You don't even have to read deep into it – just accept it, and let others feel validated. The flip side is to put in the energy – the negative energy – of rejecting it. It is taxing on your soul, and wages that same tax on others. Lose-lose.