My Current Computing & Info Setup by DataPacRat

In case anyone reading this might find something useful to add to their own approach...

  • Main Hardware: Thinkpad laptop from 2010, upgraded to max RAM and a 1 TB HD.
  • Laptop lid: Covered in a protective vinyl sticker, decorated with a starfield.
  • External HDs: A couple of 4 TB drives, mostly storing the stuff I look at less than monthly.
  • Cooling: A laptop pad with a built-in fan.
  • Parts: A bucket of bits and bobs to try to replace whatever breaks next. (I've got scotch tape holding a speaker grille on...)

  • OS: Red Hat Linux, XFCE spin ( ). Given how ancient and creaky the hardware is, I need to minimize my overhead. (I keep a few temperature gauges in my taskbar, and whenever the CPU gets pegged, they all rise into the red.)

  • Desktop background: The Pleiades, in shades of blue.
  • Desktop Widgets: Using gDesklets, on the right of the desktop, I have a stack that lets me see a few useful things at a glance: Analog clock, digital clock, uptime, CPU usage bar and graph, memory usage bar and graph, network usage, several HD partitions' free space. On the bottom, my taskbar auto-hides, but when popped up shows the Whisker start menu, workspace selector, programs in the current workspace, a button to start the terminal, an alerter to let me know if I have unread email, the system tray, my temperature gauges, a small weather display, date and time, and the lock/sleep/power buttons.
  • Desktop icons: A half-dozen often-used folders, a few folders to shortcuts I rarely-to-never use
  • Screensaver: XScreensaver, set to GLSlideshow, pointing to a folder where I downloaded most of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day images.

  • Browser: Firefox.
  • Theme: Dark. Browser usually maximized; top row contains tabs and min/max/close buttons; second row contains URL bar and addon buttons (uMatrix, NoScript, Stylus); rest of screen is main browser window.
  • Current browser addons: Anti-malware addons, usually also block ads (Adblock Plus, Decentraleyes, Facebook Container, FuckFuckAdBlock, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, Location Guard, Nano Defender, NoScript, Privacy Badger, Redirect Bypasser, Smart Referer, TrackMeNot, uBlock Origin, uMatrix), Google repair (Google search link fix, View Image), Reddit improvements (Reddit Enhancement Suite, Reddit Masstagger), Resurrect Pages, Rotate and Zoom Image, SingleFile, Stylus
  • Tabs: In my bookmarks, I have a few folders for various kinds of sites I visit daily; so with a few flicks of the keyboard, I can hit each folder's 'open all in tabs' to fire up each set all at once. I also usually leave a tab open to my webmail and local weather sites.
  • Preferences: default search engine set to DuckDuckGo, other search engines turned off.

  • RSS Reader: RSSOwlnix ( ), the fork of RSSOwl that's still being developed. There haven't been that many decent RSS readers since Google Reader was destroyed, but this one does the job more than well enough. Feeds can be sorted into folders and subfolders, and can be updated on a default schedule (such as every hour or two) or custom intervals for each (such as every 15 minutes for important feeds). I'll cover some of my feeds in a future journal.

  • Usually-open software: Workspace 1: Firefox, RSSOwlnix; 2: Task Manager; 3: Deluge (torrents); 4: Geany (text editor), calculator; 5: Pidgin (chat); 6: Thunar (file browser).
  • Background running software: Redshift (reddens my screen when it's dark out), KDE Connect (lets my laptop talk to my cellphone)
  • Occasional software: VLC (music & video player), GIMP (image editing), Google Earth, Okular (PDF & CBR viewer), Dolphin (file-browser that uses KDE Connect to browse both laptop and phone), Kokua (Second Life client)

  • Phone: Android, made my Motorola, built last year; upgraded to Android 10.
  • Headphones: Bluetooth earbuds connected by a wire. Backup 3.5mm wired.
  • Case: Two part protective case (like an Otterbox), plus screen protector; the latter's already got a webwork of cracks from a drop that kept the screen itself intact.
  • Background: A purplish starfield
  • General Apps: K-9 Mail (email reader), Firefox (browser), Signal (secure SMS), OsmAnd~ (maps), Slide (Reddit browser), Telegram (chat), FBReader (ebook reader and text-to-speech), AnkiDroid (study custom flashcards), Kiwix (keep an offline copy of Wikipedia & other Wiki projects on your phone), Planets (that bright dot is... Saturn!), Protonmail (secure email server), Google Translate (with downloaded dictionaries for offline use), Fast Notepad
  • A/V players: VLC (music and video files), AntennaPod (podcasts), White Noise (generates white noises of various kinds), RadioDroid (streams online radio stations), YouTube, Netflix, CBC Gem (CBC TV's streamer), Broadcastify (local police/fire/etc radio scanner)
  • Weather apps: WeatherCAN, Storm, Wunderground
  • Games: I Love Hue and I Love Hue Too (soothing colour-gradients), Simon Tatham's Puzzles, Simple Solitaire, Enjoy Sudoku
  • System Apps: F-Droid (alternative to Google Play store), KDE Connect (lets my cellphone talk to my laptop), Open VPN Connect (to keep my cell provider from tracking everything I do online), Authy (alternative to Google Authenticator, for sites that use 2-factor authentication), Hacker's Keyboard
  • Tricorder apps: RadioactivityCounter and Gamma Pix Lite (block the camera lens, and whatever the camera-chip still detects is radiation), Spectroid (audio analysis), InfraSound Detector, UltraSound Detector, and some ad-free altimeter, barometer, compass apps.
  • ... And a pile of other apps that I rarely-to-never use, aren't obnoxious, but I haven't bothered uninstalling, such as Vector Pinball, Space Trader, Morse code trainers, astronomy apps, and other oddities
  • ... And a conscious /lack/ of certain apps that I deliberately haven't installed: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their ilk.

  • Other:
  • Raspberry Pi, connected to local network as an ad-blocking DNS server (mostly for the family's devices that haven't had their own ad-blockers installed); see .
  • Mostly-unused laptop docking station on my desk, connected to extra USB ports, speakers, and a second monitor.
  • Corkboard behind desk, divvied into modified "kanban" system with post-it notes and push-pins: sections for 'to do', 'doing', 'done', 'daily', 'weekly', and 'waiting for something'.
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply. (Mostly to let my CPAP machine keep working if a power failure happens overnight. Asthma sucks.)
  • Backup phone battery, kept in coat pocket.
  • Previous android cellphone, kept around as a backup in case my current phone breaks or is lost.
  • An ancient iPhone, kept around as a backup since before I got my current phone
  • The Box-o-Cables everyone has, currently in a desk drawer.
  • Living Room TV, which my phone can cast to, can play YouTube and Netflix, and can play whatever movies or media I copy onto a memory stick
  • Radios, across the house.
  • An offline PM2.5 air-pollution sensor in my bedroom. (Asthma sucks.)
  • Weather gauge outside, weather display and predictor inside. (Plus a few older-style thermometers, barometers, and hygrometers.)

My Current Computing & Info Setup


6 April 2020 at 08:36:47 MDT

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