I have a few computers, usually there is a good reason for the name.
walrus.rhwyd.co.uk: A ThinkPad X220 which I use this as my main machine for pretty much everything. It is running CentOS 7.
escher.rhwyd.co.uk: The machine that is hosting this website. It's an Intel Atom 230 from a Dell Vostro A100. I bought it off eBay for £10. Low powered, but does everything I need.
awk.rhwyd.co.uk: Cheap desktop build used primarily for holding hard drives. It was the first AMD machine I had for a long time and it turned out to be an absolute disappointment. I have a DLT4000 tape drive connected, which is useful for working with older computers and taking backups of important files. I'm running CentOS 6 on this machine. Having a SCSI card working is pretty useful, you never know when you need to read/mirror an old SCSI disk.
I have a few other computers too. You can read about them on my old computers page.
Software & Hardware I use
- Email: For email I am using
mu4e, which is an extension for Emacs for efficiently handling large amounts of email. The email gets downloaded to a Maildir folder using
mu4ehandles all of the indexing to make retrieval fast. I don't have web mail for my personal email, and I don't have any email on my phone. If I want to check my mail quickly from my phone, I SSH into my mail server and use Heirloom mailx, since it has Maildir support.
- Everything: Aside from email, I use Emacs for pretty much everything else in my life.
- Music Listening: To listen to music I use
cmus. I keep a list of music that I listen to, and how I listen to that music here.
- Typesetting: If I need to write an actual document or letter, I use LaTeX. I am tempted to try and use
troffa bit more often.
- Printing: I have a nice Epson LQ-570+ which I got off eBay for about £30. I don't really print images, so for text a dot matrix is perfect. It's incredibly reliable and there is no ink to dry out when it doesn't get used for a while.
- Keyboard & Mouse at home I'm using a ThinkPad (
walrus, as mentioned above) so the keyboard in that, plus a Logitech M570 trackball mouse. I love these mice! If I use my desktop then I have a Cherry G6000 with MX Blue keys. At work, I have another M570 mouse and some Corsair nvidia branded MX Red keyboard.
The home page is built from plain HTML, since it is quite different to other pages. Other pages, such as this one, and built from a batch script which uses pandoc to convert an org file into HTML. For each org file, I compute a hash and store it in a file. To update all pages, I simply run "make pages". The blog is generated in a similar way, but has some added complexity which is introduced from tagging and the blog listing. The blog can be built with "make blog" or sub commands such as "make blog-index" or "make blog-posts".
This may seem a bit weird in the age of dynamic web pages. It isn't that I don't know PHP (in fact I worked as a PHP developer for several years), but more that I know this is portable. Even if pandoc is long gone, I will still have plain HTML files which I can work with. One common argument against static HTML files is that it is hard to update all page styles at once… Well, yes this is typically true, but not if you use scripts to generate them for you.
Incidentally, you can see the org source for any page (apart from the home page) by replacing the HTML extension with org. I enjoy working in org because of the native support in Emacs.
As I mentioned in the software section above, I primarily use Emacs for my email, at work and at home. Occasionally I will login to one of my machines via SSH and check my email using Heirloom
mailx. This fork of the original
mailx supports Maildir folders, which is how I store my email on any machine. Because of my choice in email client, I find HTML email to be quite frustrating. I know it is a lost cause, which is why I have a program
html2text which I can pipe emails into, but it's still disappointing to me.
I have been running my own email server since 2006 on the domain
aaronsplace.co.uk. The current setup is an OpenBSD system running opensmtpd and Dovecot, which acts as an LDA and provides me with IMAP access. opensmtpd passes each email through SpamAssassin with some fairly custom rules specific to the type of spam that typically targets me. This works very well, and I get less than one spam email in my inbox per day, and around 200 spam emails in my Junk folder. The LDA component of Dovecot passes my email through sieve, which decides which folder it should go into.
I follow and occasionally post on quite a large number of mailing lists, here are some of my favourites:
- classiccmp, discussion about classic computers
- sunHELP rescue, saving Sun and other computers from recycling
- The UNIX Heritage Society (TUHS), old unix stuff
- Nottingham Linux User Group
- North Wales Linux User Group
My home internet connection is provided by Zen Internet over a BT "fibre" line, which unfortunately is allowed to mean a regular phone line connected to a cabinet with in a few hundred metres of your house. This is not fibre, it is FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and it irritates me that Ofcom allows them to refer to it as such. I went with Zen because they have good ratings, allowed me to have an IPv4 29 CIDR subnet and don't cost too much (my housemate disagrees). I like this because it means that several of my computers are remotely addressable without NAT. We still have NAT for other machines, and a firewall, it is all piped through a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite. I also use a Cisco 2950 24-port 100Mbit Ethernet switch, mostly because it was cheap and allows me to monitor ports. I have a page dedicated to logging this sort of thing here. I can tell you that with the number of security flaws in the version of IOS that it is running, it does not have a public address.
On my laptop I installed a 3G modem (the wonders of ThinkPads), and in that modem I have a SIM card from AAISP. They charge £2/month + 2p/MB. It also has a static IP address. I use this very rarely, mainly for SSHing into machines and downloading email when I don't have WiFi. I have considered setting it up so I could SSH into my laptop if it was stolen, allowing me to wipe, brick or track the laptop.