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Learning Swift Development for macOS by Building a Website Blocker

I loved Focus App. It blocked websites and apps on a schedule. But, years ago it started glitching out: sucking up tons of ram and freezing my computer. They didn’t fix the bug and I abandoned using it and instead switched to a host-based blocking system which has served me well. However, there are some issues with the host-based approach: I can’t block specific URLs, only hosts (focus app couldn’t do this either) I can’t set a schedule I can’t block apps If I remove a host it will not automatically get blocked unless I sleep and wake the computer Sleepwatcher (cli tool) is dead and requires some manual set up to get working…

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Blocking Websites on a Schedule With Pi-Hole

I’ve written about blocking adds and distracting websites before as part of my digital minimalism crusade. I’m a big fan of thinking through your lifestyle design and automating decisions as much as possible. For instance, after 9pm at night and before 7am there’s a set of distracting websites that I do not want myself, or anyone in my family, to be able to access. This introduces just enough friction to bad behavior (like scrolling Twitter at 9pm) that it prevents me from doing the wrong thing. Below I’ve described how I block (and then subsequently allow) websites on a schedule, and some other misc related trick with the Raspberry Pi & Pi-Hole. Block Sites on a Schedule I wanted to block my Roku TV based on my cron schedule…

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Blocking Ads & Monitoring External Drives with Raspberry Pi

I’ve written about how I setup my raspberry pi to host time machine backups. I took my pi a bit further and set it up as a local DNS server to block ad tracking systems and, as part of my digital minimalism kick/obsession, to block distracting websites network-wide on a schedule. Pi-hole: block ads and trackers on your network Pi-hole is a neat project: it hosts a local DNS server on your Pi which automatically pulls in a blacklist of domains used by advertisers. The interesting side effect is you can control the blacklist programmatically, enabling you to block distracting websites on a schedule. This is perfect for my digital minimalism toolkit. Pi-hole has an active Discourse forum…

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How to Block Distracting Websites on Your Laptop

"What exactly did I do the last 30 minutes?" I’m sure you’ve been there, asking that same question, staring blankly into your computer screen. I’ve written about how I’m working to minimized distraction. For me, a big component of that is blocking distraction on the device I spend the most time: my laptop. Here’s what I’m looking to do: Automatically block distracting websites, but allow an easy way to temporarily unblock them. Example: I want to block Amazon by default, but sometimes I want to jump on and buy something quickly. I don’t want to have to manage a schedule. Creating exceptions to schedules and then remembering to re-enable the schedule never works well…

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How I Broke My Phone Addiction

The launch of Neuralink┬ástarted a conversation across the web about the “merge”. The day when you can plug your brain into a computer and communicate with it through your thoughts. No keyboard, mouse, or touch screen. Something out of a sci-fi film. I think Sam Altman has an interesting take: I believe the merge has already started, and we are a few years in. Our phones control us and tell us what to do when; social media feeds determine how we feel; search engines decide what we think. This resonated┬ávery┬ástrongly with me. My phone does control me to a certain extent and I feel uncomfortable if I hop in the car without it. I’ve been on a kick this year of being intentional about how I use technology…

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Learning Clojure by Automating an RSS Reader

I’ve been working on revamping how I consume information. Most of my information consumption has been moved to RSS feeds, but I can’t keep up with the number of articles in my feeds. When I take a look at my reader I tend to get overwhelmed and spend more time than I’d like to trying to "catch up" on information I generally was consuming out of curiosity. Not good. I want articles to be automatically marked as read after they are a month old to eliminate the feeling of being "behind". This is a perfect little project to learn a programming language that’s looked interesting for a while! Building a small project in a new language or technology is the best way to learn…

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Reclaiming Your Mind: Creating an Information Diet

There’s been a lot of areas of my life that I’ve been ‘auditing’ and attempting to tweak the habits that have intentionally or accidentally fallen into place. One of these is my information diet: how I find, consume, and process information.I’ve been tracking my time spent on reading/time on the internet and I’m not liking the trend. I’ve felt more addicted to information this year and I want to eliminate that feeling. Revamping my information intake is one way I’m going to do that. It’s worth thinking about why it’s worth spending time consuming information, how I consume information, and how I want to change my information consumption. Categories Stories…

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