It's Time to Put the Internet Back into a Box in the Basement

“Huh, someone else with my thoughts almost exactly!”

This is a good article rather more clearly laying out what I’ve been trying to do with technology over time - put it back into a box, though laptops do make it somewhat harder than it needs be some days.

  • I don’t need a phone on me constantly, and per my KaiOS post, I now carry a rather dumber phone than before.
  • I’ve been trying to use the desktop, though it being always-on lately doing some compute tasks isn’t helping use it less. The friction of having to turn things on is significant.
  • Of course, my job is computer-based. Fortunately, it’s largely in the un-Googleable spaces!

I saw a headline recently - here it is :

And yeah, they really are. I need to find some way to reduce usage and put the computer “back in the box”.

In the early 90s a computer was a wonderful machine capable of damn near anything; now when the internet goes down it’s a useless light box, which is amazingly sad.

Lent starts tomorrow. May I offer some suggestions?

  • Your cell phone is now for person to person communications only, and only limited group communications. Delete that which isn’t related to that. Accessing “toxic social dumpster fires” via the browser is better than the app anyway, they can’t shove notifications in your face and data mine all the behavioral surplus. Certain sites make this difficult, because of just how much profit they gain from the app hoovering up everything it can.
  • Your cell phone charges not-in-your-room at night.
  • Start shutting your computers down if they’re just casual use machines (work machines can sleep to hold state if needed). The friction required to cold boot them is more than waking from sleep, so you’ll find yourself using them less as a result.
  • Consider Self Control or something similar to make accessing a range of your common fiddle-sites far harder.
  • Find something else to do with the time freed up. Books, model building, etc.

I don’t mind computer time for projects, but… I spend all day surrounded by screens, I really need to be more aggressive at finding other things to do with my free time.

Also, that article is horrifying, though I entirely understand it, having been there. It’s far nicer having gone back to a flip phone that I often enough entirely forget at home.

My computers are still useful when the 'net goes down, fortunately. But then I just putter around with embedded devices most of the time!

I’ve started to realize that a computer that does not have:

  1. A complete, fully documented (locally) compiler and development headers and libraries for all of the systems it runs, itself,
  2. A complete, fully documented (locally) cross-compiler and development headers and libraries for all of your microcontrollers and common projects,
  3. Reference material for all of the chips and whatever else you use, and
  4. Any other tooling you use frequently (plus the code and dependencies for that, and documentation thereof)

Is not a particularly useful thing. And since this used to be what a basic operating system install (plus dev expansions) gave you, back in the day, I’m quite happy to go “back” to simpler operating systems, simpler tools, and a focus around smaller, lower power boxen as well. I’m currently doing what @Syonyk did and turning my Pi4 into a proper development station.

Some “rules” that I try pretty hard to enforce on myself help too:

  1. The laptop stays on the desk, and does not come into the living room or the kitchen. Treat it like a fixed machine. (I plan to make it Ethernet-only to help aid this.)
  2. The cellphone never leaves the nightstand unless I’m actively communicating with someone on it. The people I care about know that I’m laggy and don’t expect immediate response. I check it when I walk by to see if my landlord or other important unexpected messages are there but otherwise it’s basically an answering machine.
  3. I have removed email from my cellphone and text messaging (SMS/iMessage) from my desk machines. Most of my friends and I text only during last-minute arrangements anyway and otherwise email, visit in person, or have actual phone calls.
  4. When I notice myself “fidget browsing” I find a physical to-do whenever possible, and failing that, read a book (not on the computer) or take a walk or bake something tasty.

Those ideas @Syonyk just posted look pretty good too. I don’t even do lent, but I might do these just anyway, permanently. I’m already doing more than half of them.

One thing I do need is a separate alarm clock that isn’t my phone, and a timer, too. If I had those I’d probably cut out 80% of the other reasons I keep my phone handy.

Local Ubuntu mirror for the win! :smiley:

I need to get better at this. I’m a bit lazy about grabbing the PineBook Pro for [something] and then disappearing. It’s not a bad little system, but it needs to be for portable use only, not around the house. I suppose I could just have my router smack the MAC address on it down as a reminder…

I still use an alarm clock from when I was a child. It’s a Crayola crayon alarm clock, the lid comes up and the crayons start flashing. Runs 5-6 years on a pair of D batteries, and keeps rather alarmingly accurate time. I’ve thought about getting an old wind up mechanical alarm clock, but I don’t see a reason to replace the perfectly functional one I have right now.