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ilayk Posts

state of file syncing software in 2020

tl;dr:

  • Google Drive: Added a file on my phone two days ago, still not available on my Mac. Had to restart the app.
  • Microsoft OneDrive: It seems to sync but clicking the menu bar item brings up a beach ball all the time, not really reassuring.
  • iCloud Drive: Added 3 screen shots to a folder, one showed up on my iPhone. It’s been a few weeks, still missing two screen shots. Well.

13 years after Dropbox launched, Dropbox is still the only file syncing software which just works.

I excluded all self hosted syncing tools on purpose, I don’t want to do any maintenance work on servers. I just want my files to sync.

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git-backed hosting for your notes

Git is a distributed version-control system for tracking changes in source code during software development. It is designed for coordinating work among programmers, but it can be used to track changes in any set of files. Its goals include speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Git

Git is perfect to store plain text notes, you can easily go back in time, restore complete files, parts of it. It’s super efficient when we talk about text files and with things like Git Large File Storage (LFS) it’s even possible to store large binary files within git.

I use git to store all my notes and also sync them between devices. There are tons of solutions out there to host a Git repository, you can also host it yourself if you fancy.

git hosting

GitHub

Probably the Git hosting provider out there. You can create repositories, either public or private ones, just for you. The cool thing about GitHub is: it’s managed for you, free, and they provide a super slick web interface to edit your files and commit them back into the repository immediately. This makes it awesome for editing files from other computers.

GitHub

GitLab

They provide hosted git repositories, but you can also self-host a version of GitLab yourself. It’s a kinda large or rather huge thing to just store notes, it’s usually leveraged by larger teams. I think it’s way overblown. They just implement every feature someone requests and often it’s only half-baked (sorry, my opinion)

Otherwise, for note-taking they provide the same features as GitHub, there’s a web editor, public and private repositories for free.

GitLab

AWS CodeCommit

This is for more advanced users since it’s cumbersome to configure a git repository. You can clone via https and/or ssh but this requires extra users, permission to set up and so on, I won’t go too deep into this. Repositories are free for up to 5 users and 50GB of storage which is super nice, you’ll probably never reach this limit even with binaries in git.

Editing on the web is super annoying, you need to login to your AWS account, the sessions expire, so you have to login every day, then you have to navigate to CodeCommit and so on and so forth. They also rarely update this product, so it looks old.

AWS CodeCommit

Google Cloud Source Repositories

Basically the same as Amazon CodeCommit (yes, the interface is also super cumbersome, not a lot of updates etc., really the same), but way easier to set up if you’re used to these cloud providers.

At the moment this is the solution I’m using.

Google Cloud Source Repositories

Azure DevOps Wiki

Azure DevOps is one of the best things. It provides a lot of DevOp features, like kanban boards, issues (I think) and also wikis to store your notes. All git backed. I think the pricing and free tier are more or less the same as with Amazon and Google. The set up requires a bit of time, but then you really have a private wiki with web-editing capabilities.

Azure DevOps

self-hosted

For the crowd who wants to manage everything on their own, I think the general recommendation nowadays is either this super huge installation of GitLab or a rather small solution like Gitea. Gitea also provides a web interface, issues and wikis. It’s basically a full-blown GitHub and/or GitLab solution, just quite small in comparison.

Downside, of course: You need to manage it, you need to keep it up to date and secure and backed up. Pros and cons.

tl;dr

You probably want to go with GitHub or GitLab. These serves provide private repositories for free, are managed and super easy to sign-up for. They also provide a web interface so you can edit things on other devices.

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marienplatz

August 2015, suddenly a lot of different Oktoberfest versions popped up in Los Angeles. And, well, they had a Marienplatz over there instead of a Theresienwiese. Why not. It’s been a while since I had some exposure to Germany. Marienplatz and Beer, in combination with a hot dog and the best weather all year long. Cool!

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hanging in there

well, there’s not much to it. pretty much just hanging in there having the best time, a good job, an awesome bike ride to work every day along Venice and Santa Monica beach.

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looking around

We’re in June 2015 now, I don’t have a lot to say at the moment. Settled in, got to know the city and visited some places. Everything was kind of new-ish and cool to see. Especially living in Los Angeles and being a binge watcher on tv. I recognized a lot of things just on my daily commute. Quite cool!

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settling in

sometime in May 2015, arrived in los angeles, rented an insanely expensive apartment, time to get used to an unknown country and city. it wasn’t too bad actually, everything was new, exciting, the weather was always great. not too hot, not too cold, at least not in santa monica and marina del rey, it was close to the beach so we’ve got a breeze from the sea.

we’ve also shipped some stuff from germany to the U.S., I think it took about two months to arrive with deutsche post. of course, someone, at some point, messed everything up and most of the stuff arrived broken. after calling the support hotline like 10 times for 1 hour each they finally agreed to refund me EUR 300.

moved into the first office with a nice rooftop terrace and, as always, way too much food. I don’t even want to think about it. well, I guess that’s it, I just found a few pictures from may 2015.

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los angeles

Well, here we are. April 2015. We basically just arrived in San Francisco and were already on the way to Southern California. Los Angeles was the next destination. A permanent destination. Finding an apartment, renting an apartment, moving into an office space and so on and so on. Living the life, you know.

Los Angeles wasn’t really something for me in the beginning. A few years prior we did a road trip through California and Los Angeles was the last stop before heading back home. It was also the worst spot and the spot I didn’t like. At all. Traffic, traffic and traffic. Even more traffic, just traffic all the way. Super hot, and even more traffic and construction work. Millions on people floating around everywhere.

Yet, it was the place to move to and to start a new life. First off, get an apartment in a nice area. So why not take the beach? Yeah, right? Santa Monica, it’s not really a place one can afford, but then, there’s no place in California at all one can afford. So let’s take Marina Del Rey. Long story short, we’ve got a super awesome apartment. Super close to the beach, to the office, Venice Beach and also Santa Monica.

Next stop: Ikea. Obviously. But before we leave for Los Angeles, there was one other highlight still in San Francisco. Food trucks. All the food trucks!

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bay area

Going back to march 2015, definitely better than March 2020. That’s for sure.


After a few days of settling in in Sunnyvale and getting familiar with the surroundings, work was about to start. This meant moving and driving around within the bay area. Especially San Francisco, Sunnyvale and San Mateo.


The traffic was terrible and even on the carpool lane (you need at least two people in a car to drive there) it sometimes just took about 10 minutes to drive from place A to B but there were also some days when it took about an hour. The funny thing however was that I always hated traffic and congestion in Germany, and over there I just didn’t mind. I don’t know why. This is still true until this very day, for whatever weird reason.

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linux desktop

tl;dr: linux desktop is way too complicated.

Let’s say I have to use Linux as my desktop environment, here are just a few observations I made. Beware: I’m looking at this from an users perspective. Not a developer, not a … I don’t know.

installation

Ubuntu 19.10 live boot environment makes some clicking sounds, the installed version of ubuntu 19.10 just has a “dummy device” as my audio input/output. No sounds at all. Okay…

To get things working again, I just had to google for like an hour, filter out the right blog post or stack overflow comment out of 100 results. I ended up editing a few configuration files, some which required my admin password. If I remember correctly, I had to blacklist some drivers and add some drivers? But why on earth did the default boot installation work fine? I don’t get it.

hidpi

Well, I got my first retina MacBook when it was released in 2011? 2012? A long time ago, it’s 2020 now. I started up ubuntu 19.10 and was presented with a 200% scale on my display. Everything was just huge. I went to the display settings and I could only scale to 100%, 200%, 300% and so on. So I tried things with 100% and everything was just super tiny tiny and I couldn’t see a thing. So where’s the setting for 125% or 150% scaling? It doesn’t exist. In the GUI. Of course, since it’s Linux, go to the command line.

Again, after some research online I came across the term fractional scaling which is apparently what I want. To do this, I just had to copy and paste another command into my terminal to make things scale correctly. Suddenly, 125% and so on appears in the GUI. why not in the first place?

suspend / sleep / hibernation

Naturally, when installing ubuntu I enabled encryption, because: encrypt all the things, right? Well, turns out, if you enable encryption, you can’t hibernate your system. When using hibernation, the OS usually puts all the memory contents on disk (or swap space). Well, the default installation process just creates a tiny swap partition which doesn’t fit my notebooks memory contents. So no hibernate for me.

Closing the lid on my system? Everything keeps running. I couldn’t find the setting for what’s supposed to happen when I close the lid. Only what is supposed to happen when I push the power button. Who on earth with a notebook pushes the power button first instead of just closing the lid?

bluetooth

Disabled bluetooth in settings. Not sure why, but I just assumed turning it off once there would mean it’s off. Well, it turns back on every time you log out or restart. Solution? Edit some file and blacklist the bluetooth usb device you can find with some other command and grep around.

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firefox multi-account container

tl;dr: separate all personal data to individual containers in one firefox instance? install:

scroll down to the 1. 2. 3. and so on list, change the settings and have fun


the firefox multi-account containers extension is awesome to separate cookies, account and tracking related stuff into separate containers. one can use it to log in to multiple google accounts or to separate a facebook login and the facebook tracking from regular browsing. containers preserve privacy better since they limit all the personal data to this one container.

I have my containers set up like this:

  • shopping (for shopping related things, like amazon and.. amazon?)
  • social (reddit, tildes, lobste.rs, hacker news and so on)
  • finance (my banking)
  • chat (discord, slack, telegram, whatsapp)
  • misc (or just call it stuff, like github)

if you open up an url, let’s say google.com you can use the containers extension as well to always open up google.com in a particular container, this makes total sense and is awesome. and now we’re already at the point where the containers extension lacks features. if you do your google search, you usually end up on some other site, this site will stay in your google container forever. after a day of browsing around, or if you’re like me, a few minutes of googleing around you’ll notice that you’re still in the google container and the whole privacy gain from setting this up in the first place just feels out of place. I end up on stackoverflow, am still in the google container and now I’m getting google ads and yeah, full circle.

fortunately someone built another extension, called temporary containers and it does exactly what we want:

Open tabs, websites, and links in automatically managed disposable containers. Containers isolate data websites store (cookies, storage, and more) from each other, enhancing your privacy and security while you browse.

long story short, just change the following settings in temporary containers to get the best from both extensions:

  1. open up temporary containers settings
  2. go to isolation
  3. add all your existing containers to the list in: exclude permanent containers
  4. open up (still in the isolation tab) multi-account containers
  5. change setting to isolate

this will make sure that your google stuff stays in your google container, but if you click a link in gmail or google search result, it’ll be opened in a new tab. let’s say you open a link to amazon and you have configured amazon in your shopping container, it’ll be opened in the shopping container.

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