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It has been quite a year. For me it was overtaken by baby life, as I got pregnant in February and had our new baby in November. So most of the year I was just trying to roll with the physical experience, take care of myself (pregnancy is exhausting!), and make preparations for the little one. Since November I have been in the new baby haze, because newborns are relentless and don't leave much brain power for anything else.

Side note: Be sure to acknowledge anyone you know who goes through pregnancy, because pregnancy and childbirth is a seriously hardcore marathon of an intense experience. Any sweet looking mom wearing pink in the grocery store surrounded by kids is tough as nails, so you know.

My Thinkpad laptop with some silly stickers on it.

Anyway! Here's about my technology:


System 76 Gazelle 12 running Linux Mint Debian.

I bought this used off of EBay in 2017. The hinges to the screen are crapped out so I treat it as a desktop, but it's a good machine otherwise. I am reminded of how when I bought it it smelled like cologne and had a photo of its previous owner's drivers license in the downloads folder. Wipe your data people!

Lenovo Thinkpad X280 running Vanilla Ubuntu

I understand now why the Linux community loves Thinkpads. It was cheap on Ebay and it is a great machine. I had been using a refurbished, cheap 11 inch Macbook Air running Ubuntu. It was cute, but slow as molasses. I spilled hot water on it it and it was toast. Now I'm glad I did, because I got the Thinkpad to replace it and it's a great machine. Fast, portable, I love it.

Operating Systems

Nothing exciting here - Vanilla Ubuntu and Linux Mint Debian. These distros work, and things are just fine. My distro hopping days are over as far as I can tell, and I just want it to not be a big deal. Every time I deal with a non-Linux operating system though, I am reminded why I love Linux and plan to use it forever - like watching my husband struggle to start windows without making a Microsoft account - so invasive and annoying. I appreciate the unobtrusiveness of Linux and am quite content.

Linux Apps

  • Zim Wiki It's a classic and always at the top of my list, just for journaling (with the journal plug in) and notes. It's a solid piece of software for managing text files that has served me well for many years.

  • Firefox is just a good browser, and I like to support a browser that isn't a part of Google (through Chrome-based browsers) taking over every corner of the internet. I've been using Firefox for twenty years probably, since the old Mozilla suite days with the dinosaur logo. I've tried other browsers and keep coming back.

  • Zola is the static site generator that I use for this blog. It works well, doesn't struggle with software dependencies (not a problem for everyone, but a problem for me with other SSGs).

  • Publii I am not using Publii right now, but I want it listed as an honorable mention, for building static web sites. It's a local app that gives a nice visual interface for creating web sites and then you can publish to your server or Git repository.

  • Recoll is a good search tool, for searching documents for key words and such, for when the file manager search doesn't quite do the job.

  • Geany is fine as a code editor, and I use it for markdown and text files too. I don't know if it's the best, but it works fine. I still kind of miss Smultron on Mac and PSPad on Windows. But that is probably nostalgia, not functionality.

  • FileZilla for FTP transfers, which I use to update this web site. Yes, I know some folks would say to learn Git or whatever. But hey, this is a small project and FTP is just fine for me.

  • FreeFileSyc is a great little program for syncing to folders. I use it for web site updates too, because you can sync to a folder through FTP. Or on a flash drive or SD card. Very handy.

A Lame Google Pixel 3a Phone Bought Refurbished

It's boring, it's fine, there are newer ones out there, but I'll just use this one till it becomes a problem. I switched from an iPhone a few years ago, mainly to transfer data more easily between phone and computer, and to generally have more control of my device. I don't think Google is any better than Apple, probably worse in terms of privacy, but Apple products are hard to work with if you don't embrace the ecosystem and use Apple all products, and I switched from Macs to Linux computers back in 2016. Plus my iPhones always ran up against the updates that would make apps incompatible as the phone aged sooner than I wanted to replace it, which was just a pain.

I originally de-Googled my phone, but I'm sorry to report that I re-Googled it a while back. I wanted to connect to my orchestra and string ensembles' google calendars, and there were apps I wanted to use that were not on FDroid. It's kind of the core problem of computers these days - having to choose between useful functions and ease of use, and ethics and privacy. I hate it, but sometimes I have to choose my battles for the sake of my own sanity.

I like these apps on my phone:

  • Feeder for RSS, but I try to not follow too many things.

  • Netguard to limit wifi and/or cell data internet access for apps as you choose. You can cripple your phone if you disable too much stuff, but hey, it's great to have control. I especially use this if I see an app burning through data when I don't want it to.

  • Data Monitor. We use a low amount of data, (1 GB per month, shared between me and my husband) both to save money and avoid temptation to use my phone too much. He barely remembers his phone exists, so it's more of a problem for me than for him. Data Monitor gives a little applet showing data use for the day, which has helped me to be aware of what apps are hogging data.

  • Privacy Browser. I generally search for things using Privacy Browser with javascript and images turned off, and if I actually need those functions I'll pop over to Chrome or Firefox. Sites with big images and pop ups are just the work of twisted, evil forces and I try to avoid them.

  • Wikipedia app. Just handy to look up little facts.

  • Simplenote for lil notes to sync easily between devices.

  • K9 for email, but I try not to check it much, and only have one account on it, the one that actually gets emails I may need to refer to when awayfrom my computer. Any online shopping and mailing lists go to a different account, because that's just not something I'll need to look up. If there is an email from anoth account I may need to refer to, I just copy it into that primary email so I can get to it on my phone.

  • Tusky is a good Mastodon app, but I deleted it to avoid checking stuff on my phone too much.