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palm pdas and moving towards (mostly) offline computing — roogloch follow-up

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palm pdas and moving towards (mostly) offline computing — roogloch follow-up

september 25, 2021

This is a follow-up written on an real keyboard on my regular computer.

Here's the actual ROOGLOCH post.

I was going to make an actual Gopher ROOPHLOCH post that's mirrored on Gemini but my “extra semantic gemtext” project that would support exporting to Gophermaps and plaintext got pushed off in lieu of playing with my PDA so now I'm making a ROOGLOCH post ;)

Expect a Gopher mirror of my capsule imminently though…

See Also:

“extra semantic gemtext” originating idea: gracefully degrading markup

pdas and the tech of the 90s/2000s

I've grown very fond of older tech. Me and kelbot egged each other on to get a Palm m500 and it's been pretty great! I'm still working on getting a bunch of my stuff synced to it but luckily I use open and/or plaintext formats for most everything so it's been pretty easy to get my calendars, contacts, and notes synced over. My to-do list is harder because I don't even have a stable format for that on my computer, but in general I'm fine just manually writing stuff down on the Palm for that.

Syncing email shouldn't be hard but it appears that no one has bothered to write a mail “conduit” (the thing that syncs to the computer) for anything other than outlook 2003 and a thing called pilot-mailsync that doesn't support modern TLS and doesn't support maildirs (like all modern clients use), only mbox files. I'm in the planning stages of writing a thing that'll support more modern formats.

I was most looking forward to being able to write gemlog posts on it but unfortunately the USPS squashed and broke my Palm Portable Keyboard so I can't do that quite yet 😢. I picked up a Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard which is supposed to be better than the Portable Keyboard anyways so I'll probably be writing away on my Palm soon enough.

See Also:

kelbot's ROOGLOCH post about (and written on!) a PDA

Palm Portable Keyboard

Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard

offline-first computing

A while back solderpunk wrote a few manifestos of sorts about being primarily offline when computing:

Computing less, but with more focus

Progress towards "offline first"

While I don't really plan on taking it to the extreme that solderpunk has (since he's pretty much dropped off the face of the internet), I've discovered that a lot of what I do on my computer can be completely offline. I recently set up msmtp-queue so now I can do my email completely offline. mbsync gracefully fails without a connection, and everything is stored in a maildir on my local computer so I can completely browse and manipulate my emails offline and just pick up new ones whenever I do go online. For sending emails, when I reply msmtp-queue will store it and automagically send it when I come back online. So I can manipulate emails locally and then briefly connect and everything will sync on its own. This is presumably what email setups were like in dial-up days but that's before my time so it's novel to me.

My gemlog and general online presence can also be like that too. My capsule is entirely stored on my computer, and I can run a `sync-capsule` shell funtion that will copy it to my server, ping Antenna to check my gemlog, all that maintenance stuff.

For programming, pretty much everything is offline, and I hoard documentation so I rarely have to look stuff up. Unless I need to install a toolchain or library from my package manager I could really do everything offline; only rarely coming online to push updates to Sourcehut, same style as email. If I figured out a way to automatically push all my projects when I'm online in the same way that the Fossil SCM can then it'd be a simple single command to sync everything. If I went really extreme and just started using RCS/CVS then I could just publish tarballs on release, and really CVS would be more than sufficient for a one-man project with little or no collaboration (see CollapseOS for an example of CVS working just fine).

The main components that I can't really do without going online are a few daily games like Astrobotany and Pixpet, plus browsing my Gemini and web feed aggregators. I keep thinking about making an automatic gempub archiver of an aggregator page—either updating comitium or making a companion app—so I could download an archive of today and read it at my leisure. I could wrap my fun online games into that theoretical short online period and just play them while my “do-the-internet.sh” script syncs everything else. There's IM stuff like XMPP and IRC, I could probably curtail the expectation that I'm on those all the time, and with XMPP my server will store backlogs for me so I can respond to stuff semi-asynchronously, like email.

Finally there's the fediverse. I could probably do without (he says while being probably legitimately addicted to it). This would probably be the hardest unless I cut it out entirely.

If I could get email syncing and a few more things rigged up with pilot-link I could legitimately see my Palm m500 being a primary (although definitely not only) device of mine. I don't see myself going full-solderpunk and just abandoning the internet except for a few hours every week, but it's heartening to me that it'd be very possible for me to do so if necessary with minimal annoyances.

The great thing about my setup (whether I actually go offline or not) is it's also really amenable to syncing with stuff like my new Palm, which is also designed from an “offline-first, occasionally sync everything” attitude. Everything is local and in an open and/or text-based format so it's pretty trivial to write up a “conduit” to sync everything up.

See Also:

mbsync/isync — free IMAP and MailDir mailbox synchronizer

msmtp-queue — A simple set of scripts for queuing and sending messages with msmtp.

CollapseOS git repo message about switching to RCS

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