Archive for June, 2015

Swapping Apps for #ProjectReclaim

Last time, I outlined my feelings about self-hosting some free and/or open-source alternatives to popular web apps in the name of Project Reclaim (as in, your data).  Below are the apps I’ve started with.  Instructions for how to set up your own installations can be found at the provided links.

What I Gave Up: Delicious (social bookmarking; like a text-only version of Pinterest for us old-timers)

What I Installed: Shaarli

How I Use It: For broadcasting and warehousing interesting articles.  I don’t need the network component of Delicious; I only ever used it as a central “storage unit” for articles, and I use an IFTTT recipe to auto-Tweet articles I save to my Shaarli account (like Delicious, Shaarli generates an RSS feed you can pipe out anywhere onto the Web).  In addition to going out via Twitter, I also embed the RSS feed on the sidebar of my portfolio website under the heading “What I’m Sharing”.

Going Mobile: The Android app allows me to save articles to Shaarli directly from my phone via the Share menu.  I couldn’t find one for iOS that didn’t look sketchy.

What I Gave Up: Google Reader / Feedly (RSS Readers)

What I Installed: FreshRSS

How I Use It: Just like any other RSS reader, only I don’t have to worry about it being discontinued, being charged for it, or seeing ads.  Has many of the same features as Feedly/GReader (grouping feeds, favorites, etc.).  Requires a Cron job to auto-update feeds, which is beyond my scope of knowledge, but it’s easy enough to just refresh the feed manually whenever I want to read.

Going Mobile: No official iOS or Android apps, but FreshRSS is highly responsive and looks and acts very nice in my mobile browser.  This looks like an attempt at a client, but I don’t speak French so I’m not positive.

What I Gave Up: Instapaper / Pocket (offline article readers; removes most formatting)

What I Installed: Wallabag

How I Use It: This was pretty much a straight swap out for Instapaper as far as basic functionality is concerned (Wallabag makes it dead simple to import your data from your existing Instapaper, Pocket, or Readability accounts).  I can save articles to read offline, adjust fonts, colors, & layouts, generate RSS feeds of stories, share via Twitter or email, or print them out.  There’s even an option to export stories in ePub, Mobi, or PDF formats.

Going Mobile: Wallabag has apps available for Android, iOS, and Windows phones, as well as extensions for Chrome and Firefox.  See them all here.

Stumbling Blocks: I haven’t been able – nor will I be – to switch everything over to self-hosted.  The advertised alternatives to Evernote, for example, just don’t seem to hold a candle to the product I’ve used daily for the last six or so years.  I also don’t foresee moving away from the Google suite of apps anytime soon (although I do host them on my own domain); they’re both just too valuable to me in their present states to compromise.  I’ve also tried setting up self-hosted photo albums, to no avail, so I’ll be sticking with a locked-down Flickr account for the time being for sharing private photos with my extended family.

What’s Next?  No specific plans as yet, though I’ll continue to keep my eyes open for opportunities to reclaim bits and pieces of my digital identity where I can.  I tried a few different self-hosted to-do lists, but they’ve all been missing one or more of the key features I find so valuable in ToodleDo, so I’m staying there for now.

I am intrigued by Reclaim Hosting, and plan to investigate them as an alternative to my current webhosting service – which I must confess has been quite satisfactory as far as customer service is concerned, but I like Reclaim’s connection to and roots in the education community.  I am also drawn to supporting small businesses whenever possible (it also doesn’t hurt that Reclaim’s hosting package costs a fraction of what I currently pay), so this seems like a potential win-win.

Summer is a perfect time for me to tinker and explore this sort of thing, so I will gladly take any suggestions you have about alternative services.  Please feel free to share!