Tagrss

The More of Social Media

Social Media is all about more.

Tumblr adds posts to my Dashboard in trying to get me to follow more blogs.

Twitter adds paid advertisements in trying to sell me things.

Facebook is one giant ad.

All of these services constantly recommend people they feel I’d enjoy following.


What if there was a site that gave you less? What about instead of recommending new people to follow or ads to buy from offered you a quieter experience?

Have you been following a person for years and never liking or sharing anything they post. What if the site asked you why you still followed them?

What about an RSS feed that you skip or skimmed through everyday? What if your RSS reader tracked your reading time versus post length. Then asked if you still wanted to read it.

I don’t want my media to ask me about new things. The purpose is not to replace what I read now with other things. I don’t want a paid-for promotion system. I don’t want the network to guess who I’d also like to follow.

I use Tiny Tiny RSS for my RSS reading. I host it on my server. I like it for a number of reasons, but one of them is it shows me inactive and troublesome feeds.

Feeds with errors
Feeds not updated

I can see who has not written in weeks or even years and remove those feeds. I can see what feeds are showing errors. Then I can visit the site and see if the feed has changed. Or if the site is gone, remove it.

It’s a simple feature but it goes a little way towards removing the cruft of social media and helping me trim down my lists.

Remove not replace is my mantra.

On Self-Hosting

I predict 2014 is the year when we see more popular services go away. Either because they’re unsustainable businesses or they’re bought up and immediately integrated into larger companies. Either way, they go away and all we’ve left with is a message saying how much we, the customers, mean to them.

Because of this I’ve started to bring some services in-house and run them on my server. The following tools are what I’ve chosen to use.

Author’s Note: I am not saying they are the best thing out there. Nor am I saying they are perfect for you. They’re just what I use. I use them. I like them. You may not.

With the pile of services that will host your text and images, I still prefer to host my blog. Congratulations! You’re here.

Blogs

Tech in the Trenches is hosted on a WordPress installation I run off a Dreamhost shared server. I’m not fancy.

With the recent demise of Google Reader and Feedly’s questionable decisions, I’ve decided to host my own RSS reader. Sure, there are plenty of good ones out there. But it’s not something I care enough about to pay for.

If I didn’t have RSS, life would go on. I would go back to keeping folders of links just as I did before RSS. I would also use the various social media networks to let the good stuff bubble up from the muck of the Internet.

RSS

To that end, I found TinyTinyRSS and decided to install it.

It’s small, flexible and has a plugin community around it. But the reason I found it is Dreamhost blogged about installing it. What’s easier than that?

So a few minutes after reading the post, I had TT-RSS setup.

Once it’s running I would recommend finding a different theme as I don’t care for the default. I’m using the Feedly theme out of habit. There’s also a Google Reader-style theme if you want to relive the glory.

While there is a native Android client it didn’t help me out on iOS.

To get it working on my iPhone, I am using the Fever plugin. This allows TT-RSS to authenticate as if it were Shaun Inman’s Fever. It works with Reeder, which I use. It also supports Mr. Reader and ReadKit according to the developer.

To make this work you have to enable API access in your tt-rss account preferences (Preferences -> Enable external API) before using the client. I missed this step and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work.

Analytics

I don’t keep a close eye on my analytics. But I am curious every now and again when I get more than a few hits on a post where the traffic comes from.

Piwik works well for me. It gives me what Google Analytics provides without the threat of it going away.

Photos

This is almost constantly in flux. For years I used Gallery. It was stable and robust. But then it grew bloated. I prefer smaller tools and went looking for an alternative.

I decided on Piwigo. It feels lighter to me. I don’t a complex set of tools. I want a place to make albums and show them off. That’s it. It’s simple and it works for me. If you’re a Dreamhost user, both of these are available as one-click installs.

I’ve also been flirting with TroveBox (formerly OpenPhoto). They have a hosted option that will use your own storage but also charges a monthly fee.

They provide downloads and documentation to get the software setup on a variety of server setups.

GIFs

Yes, I keep some animated gifs at my disposal. To do this, I use Eat My GIF. It’s a ridiculously simple drop-in installation and now I have a place to throw GIFs to deploy as needed. Yes, I realize this is very silly. But I like it and it’s developed by a friend.

So don’t hate.
Hates Gonna Hate

What I’m not hosting

Email. I have no desire to run my own mail server. I use Gmail and am perfectly happy with it for now.

Social Media. I see the value of a distributed social media network. However, I am happy with Twitter/App.net/Facebook. I don’t need anything else.

I tried out Tent in the form of Tent.is, which now appears to be Cupcake.io, for a short time but I’m not enough of an ubernerd to hack it.

OwnCloud I had running for a while. But I found I didn’t really use it. Dropbox is still fine for me. It’s on my radar and I may use it again for something. But I just don’t have a need for it.

It’s easy to get carried away and start hosting things I don’t need to host. It makes more work for me to support and keep it updated and working. Sometimes the trade-offs are easier letting someone else do the heavy lifting.

Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should.

Are you all self-hosting anything interesting? Tell me about it over on Twitter or ADN.

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