Content tagged software

Syncthing: Syncing...

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SyncThing is a very interesting distributed file sharing option. It is a lot like (what I understand of) Dropbox and the file sharing capabilities of ownCloud, as well as SparkleShare, SeaFile and others. The biggest difference compared to all of these, though, is that SyncThing is distributed, or peer-to-peer, there is no central server used in the file sharing.

Setting it up is a breeze. Install it, run it and you're almost done. Once you have it installed on at least two computers (or know someone else who has installed it), you have to let them know eachother. You do this by exchanging their node ids. SyncThing know two things: Nodes and Repositories. Nodes are the different machines you want to share with and repositories are the different directories you want to share with certain nodes. Exchanging node ids requires an actual exchange. If you're managing both machines yourself it shouldn't be too hard to manage, if you're sharing with someone else you need another channel of communication to get this data across. Once you've exchanged node ids and your firewall is setup properly (it needs to let through a special TCP port for global discovery) your machines will connect. If you're both on a local network it should happen quickly, if you're across a large gap of land it should still happen fairly quickly.

After both your machines are connected, or even before, you should setup some repositories and share them with the node you just connected with, otherwise nothing will happen. Again there's some communication involved here, because both sides will have to share a repository with the same name. If either side doesn't share a repository with the other side, it won't sync. After you've communicated which names to use, though, all should go smoothly. It check once every 60 seconds whether or not anything's changed and if it has it'll try and sync with the other machine(s).

One downside to this program, at least on Linux, compared to ownCloud, at least using the ownCloud Client, is that there is no notification of newly arrived files. So again you'd have to send the person owning the node you're sharing with a message telling them that something new should be waiting for them.

A very nice thing on the other hand, is that everything is encrypted. And because there's no central server involved, only the people you choose to share with (and possibly they choose to share with) will have the files. There is no single server that can get hacked into where all your files can be found. It's also open source, which of course makes it possible for you, or anyone else, to look at, improve, audit or do anything with the code you want to or need to to ensure to yourself that it's not doing anything it shouldn't be doing.

I haven't been able to test it thoroughly in the real world. I'm currently just sharing between my desktop PC and my laptop, and I'm sharing with a good friend of mine. So I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.


rcm: Another dotfile manager

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A little while ago I saw a link pass by about rcm, a RC file (or dotfile) manager. It seems a lot like using GNU Stow for your dotfiles.

The basic idea seems to be that you create links to all your dotfiles and the actual files are all kept in a single directory structure, presumably for easy sharing with, for example, git.

The good...

It seems that rcm has a few interesting features.

Host-specific dotfiles

It gives you an option to have host-specific dotfiles, which is very handy when you're working on multiple (types of) system. My laptop doesn't always have the same needs as my PC and my server(s) definitely have different needs.

The bad...

In the short time I've spent with it, I've also found a few things I don't much like.

Everything in a single directory

I'm not so sure about the choice to put everything in a single directory structure, which top-level dotfiles in the top-level directory. This links all the files together in a repository-idea kind-of way. I can't have a zsh repository and an Emacs repository without also having different rcm source directories.

Actually, this isn't entirely true. I can still separate them, with the use of labels, but not in an ideal fashion.

Unfriendly to directories

It doesn't seem to like linking directories, though it can. Linking directories is essential for me as I can on occasion remove a file from one of my configuration directories and I don't want to have to keep track of dead links like that manually. If you do link a directory, instead of it showing up in lsrc as a single entry, all the files in the directory are shown separately.

Labels

The labels are a nice idea, but they aren't what I expected them to be when I read the description. Like host-specific dotfiles, labeled dotfiles are put in their own directory. This allows you to separate the dotfiles from others. What I didn't like about this implementation is that afterwards you always have to specify which label you want to use, which seems to make it impossible to still setup your dotfiles in a single command.

Conclusion

I personally won't be using rcm to manage my dotfiles. The solution I have right now with GNU Stow works better and is easier to setup, although that too has its drawbacks.

This is not a definitive description or review of the software, I have spent only a small amount of time with it and these are the findings I made when trying to set it up with a few config files. If you really want to know about it you should try it, it has quite a bit of documentation to get you going.


HabitRPG

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A quick post just to have written one, it's been awhile...

HabitRPG is a to-do application unlike many others. It gamifies your task list by adding Role Playing Game elements. You create a character, you have HP, XP, (eventually) MP and gold. There are three categories of tasks: habits, dailies and to-dos. They're colored from red (bad) to yellow (neutral) and blue (good). Not completing dailies will cost you HP and turn them red, leave them incomplete for too long and your character will die and lose a level. You gain XP and coins by completing tasks. You can use your MP for certain special abilities, for example strike hard at a task and shift its color more towards blue. You can use coins to buy rewards, either self-made or thought-up by the HabitRPG developers.

You can also start a party and go questing with friends, or join a guild. There are also challenges, which are sets of tasks specified by someone else, as a challenge.

I've tried many a to-do application. I've even tried writing my own a few times. I've never really been satisfied. For a long while now I've been using org-mode for Emacs, both because it is Emacs and because it flexible enough to change completely to your own needs. The only problems remaining are identifying your needs and keeping up with your task list. Both are tricky to me, but that last one gets worse the bigger my task list gets.

Unexpectedly, HabitRPG's rewards and random loot are stimulation enough for me to keep completing tasks. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and I'm still completing stuff, which is quite unusual for me. And I put lots of stuff in there, such as "Drink water", which is a habit I want to stimulate; or "Exercise" (three days a week as a daily), which is something I've been needing to do in a long time and so far I'm keeping it up well; or single tasks like "Clean up ~/projects", which I've yet to do.

I suppose it helps that I've always liked computer RPGs, and this wouldn't work if I didn't feel that the reward of being able to buy a new weapon for my character is any kind of motivation.

Anyway, if you have trouble motivating yourself to actually complete tasks on your to-do list and it sounds like fun to you, you might try it.


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