digital minimalist workflow revisited

In a post from late last year, pragmatic digital minimalism, I explain how I had adjusted to fonon as my cell phone. Many months later, I have acquired the digital camera I so longed for as well as refined my computing workflow. Here are notes on my personal digital lifestyle at the moment.


Lightpone II front view showing lockscreen

fonon has proved to be a very capable device. The Light team has kept up with regular software updates which gradually improve the stability and usability of the device. Since my previous post, they have added a note taking tool (text notes and audio recording) and improved various functions like the alarm clock, keyboard/messaging experience, telephony (call waiting and improved menu access while in a call, wifi calling), bluetooth (multiple remembered devices and improved pairing UX), etc.

On the hardware side, the e-ink screen is as lovely as ever; aside from a light scratch on the screen outside the pixel area (next to the earpiece) and some scuffs on the bezel, the device has held up very well after 11 months of constant use. Here's to another solid year!


Canon Powershot A1300 from the front with lens retracted and covered

I picked up a Canon Powershot A1300 at Goodwill for $8 a couple months ago. It boasts a small form factor, 16MP sensor, 5x optical zoom plus 3.2x digital zoom, and 720p video — although I have been recording video in 640x480 format since it uses the whole sensor for a taller field of view (better for rollerblading) and uses less storage space on the SD card. This has allowed me to fill the gap where fonon is lacking and retire muon until a special project can make use of it. The only negative of this camera is that it runs on AA batteries, but I plan to invest in a nice rechargeable set. For now we have a surplus of alkaline AAs in the kitchen drawer that have been waiting to be used, and I've only gone through one set so far.

With the advent of this convenient and powerful camera, I have taken to keeping a photojournal and resumed collecting some rollerblading footage.

mblaze, mblast, mail2mms

My email workflow has evolved from mutt + mbsync with the mail2mms service sending notifications to my phone, to mblaze + mbsync + msmtp with the same notification service. The full setup is described in the post unix style email with mblaze, but to summarize, it's wonderful. I can seamlessly check my email from my personal laptop or work machine by SSH (I keep the former running as a server in my current work setup to track time, manage passwords, play music/podcasts, and of course check my personal email), and the power of mblaze allows me to quickly sort or otherwise organize the mail without ceremony.

netsurf and vivaldi

Netsurf is a wonderful browser despite being incomplete in its standards implementations (or perhaps because of this and the charming simplicity resulting from it), and I recently decided to give it another solid try. My current browser workflow is to use Netsurf and W3M (depending on my mood) as primary browsers, and use Vivaldi as a fallback in case I'm doing a Jitsi call or otherwise utilizing some javascript or other modern web stuff that requires HTML5/CSS3 standards support. It's been a really pleasant experience thus far, and I'm surprised at how little I need to break out of the realm of Netsurf and W3M in day-to-day usage (generally just wikipedia, local business info, news, and code stuff, so I guess it actually isn't that surprising).

ryudo and acme

Screenshot of a typical ryudo session

My ryudo and acme9k setup has gotten very comfy. The easy balance between pointing and typing has become very natural, and I haven't changed the setup outside of the wallpaper in many months. Instead of a typical desktop panel, I have Xosview in the top-left corner, and a little Uxn-based clock at bottom-right, both stickied. Alacritty is my terminal, loksh my shell, Micro my terminal-based editor, and for everything else I use the above tools, acme9k, Audacious, Signal Desktop (the TUI signal clients don't work reliably — that's saying something considering I put up with Netsurf) and sometimes Pcmanfm-qt. My terminals and acme9k windows are rendered translucent by my ryudo config so I can see my sticky dashboard beneath them when maximized.


The things you want to do are going to limit your choices. The setup above pertains to my personal laptop and my phone. There are other computing devices in my everday experience, which complicate things.

yggdrasil is the multimedia machine in the household, and runs a bit more of a mainstream setup compared to ksatrya: Fluxbox desktop with a tint2 panel, Vivaldi as the web browser, VLC to play DVDs and Steam plus a host of emulators for gaming. Since its very purpose is frivoloty and it needs to be a bit more personable (interfacing with not only me but my parnter and eventually my son), the setup is deliberately less vegan.

In a perfect world, I would be 100% set with this setup. In reality, as hinted in the email section above, I currently work 9 to 5 for a large corporation and they provide me with (and require me to use) a Thinkpad T15 running Windows 10 managed by the IT department. Where I can, I use the terminal environment provided by git-bash (customized to behave as closely as possible to my Linux setups), and otherwise we have solarized-dark for Visual Studio/VSCode, dark mode, workspaces, etc. I do what I can to keep it comfy, despite the limitations on my software choices imposed by corporate policy.

Perhaps because I have to work under such a rigid computing environment, I cherish the wonderfully cultivated computing environments that I've built on my personal machines even more. With regard to such regulations and requirements, I do look forward to moving on from my current position, but for now I am putting professional experience and compensation before my principles in software implementation. I am supporting a family. It is what it is.