Blog

This is the first of a blogging series I'm starting, Open Source Blogs, where I attempt to use only open source hardware and become as technologically independent as possible.

Over the years, I have become very dependent on Google and their products. I'm not alone, as their email and browser are #2 and #1 in their market share. The email numbers were for 2016, but the 2017 numbers will put Gmail even closer to Apple. I'd guess in volume Google has the lead from email addresses. This is about email clients, so Google hasn't taken control, yet.

More than anything, I'd become extremely reliant on the Google Inbox app for Android. It is a very good email app, I'd even say the best I've ever used. I did some research and came across an open source Android app for email, named K-9 Mail. You can view their Github project here. Now, I'd been using the best email app I'd ever used, so I didn't have extremely high expectations. K-9 isn't Inbox, but it's fully capable and it supports multiple email accounts. I don't want to just get away from the Gmail app, I want to get away from Gmail, but it takes time to migrate 13 years worth of email usage. I've been using K-9 for a week now, for both Gmail and my new email account. It gives me notifications for both accounts and I haven't had a single issue with it. If you have an issue connecting to Gmail, you may have to enable connections to "less secure" clients. It's not less secure, but they label it that way to keep you on their client.

The phone is settled, unless I find another option. Time to replace Gmail in my browser on my laptop. I run Linux Mint, plus I'm looking for an open source desktop client, so I'm not expecting MS Outlook. I used Thunderbird years ago, before I used Gmail, so I thought it would be ironic to use it as my first client away from Gmail. Thunderbird is made by Mozilla, just as the Firefox browser. Years ago, Mozilla had a suite that included a browser and email client. It was originally Netscape and I believe they had one named SeaMonkey after Netscape. Anyway, Firefox and Thunderbird were the standalone (and completely new) browser and email client introduced to replace their suite. Thunderbird came pre-installed on Mint, so I fired it up and added Gmail, along with my new account. For Gmail I'm using POP, so I can download all of my Gmail messages over the years. The last time I checked that is over 3gb of email, so it's going to take a while to get the all. No issues connecting to Gmail (Thunderbird already knows their server info), other than enabling POP access within my Gmail account.

For my new email account, I am using IMAP within Thunderbird, instead of POP like Gmail. IMAP lets you read the emails as they are on the server and whatever you do to the emails generally syncs to the server. POP lets you download the emails and, in most cases, removes the email from the server. Gmail gives you options for what happens when you use POP, including keeping a copy on the server in different forms. I wanted to remove my Gmail message from the server, so I selected to delete them when they are downloaded. We'll see if they are actually deleted. So I have Thunderbird running two email accounts on different connection types and haven't ran into any issues. I also changed the download folder for my Gmail messages, so I can archive them and to also add a bit of security. If someone gained access to my computer (remotely), they would possibly know to check the Thunderbird folder for my messages.

For OSB.1, I'm just listing the 2 clients I am using right now. For other things, I'll probably list more options. I'll also do a follow-up and introduce some other options for email, once I give them a test run. That's it for now, as always, if there's an open source option, use it.

Love it or hate it, they are in again. Clemson and Oklahoma are playing the best now, but no one can question #1-3. If Bama wins it all it will have to work for it.


My daughter broke the screen on her tablet a week or so ago, so I ordered a new screen on Amazon. It was advertised to fit and I called myself comparing before I replaced it. Once it was on, I noticed the bezel around the screen was reversed; the old one had an even bezel on the sides, while the new one had two different side bezels.

It's hardly noticeable, but it does cut off about 1/8 inch from one side of the viewable screen and you can see beneath the old bezel on the other side. I've replaced phone screens before without any issues, but those came from specialty online stores. Beware if you order a screen from Amazon and pay attention to the bezels.

2:17 am

Today I worked on integrating the markdown app via plugins, it turned it really well so far. It was the first time I used a plugin for an editor, so I was able to pick out a few places that could be improved in the plugins system as well. I still need to work on the previewer, which should test the plugin system a little more, but I made some progress at least.

Spending all that time in the blogging app today really showed me how much more responsive the new front end is than here on this site. It was a noticeable difference. I also prefer the new blog layout over the one on the site now. I'll have to check again, since I've added more to ClaySS since I last checked, but at one point I'd removed nearly half a megabyte of filesize from front-end dependencies.

I also added the pager (the page numbers at the bottom of the page) to ClaySS. It's more integrated into the theme and uses the background colors, where the one here has it's own stylesheet and required a theme override.

I've been using open source software for a long time, it got me into coding and it's now almost everywhere. Or is it everywhere?

My goal for 2018 is to get to the point I only use open source for my personal devices. My job requires I use closed source, so it's not possible there, but is it possible at home?  I'm going to find out and chronicle here in a blog series.

My first task should be an easy one. I've been wanting to get away from email run by corporations, specifically ones that use my email for marketing data, that includes my email clients. Some of the tasks may not be so easy, but I'll start there.

12:35 am

Once the next stable version of Clay is online, I'm going to split my blog between here and a new clay web site. I'll start blogging about other things here, clay stuff there. ClaySS and a few other projects will be released through the other site as well. I haven't had time the last couple of days to code, so I've been thinking about blogging more.

I upgraded to Linux Mint 18.3 last night. Smooth update, even on my older laptop. Mint continues to impress me, each incremental update makes it a little better. This update has several nice features, such as progress on the program icon on the task bar, more login settings, and an improved software manager. 

Give Linux Mint a try if you are tired of Windows 10 bogging down your PC or just want a full featured solid desktop.

2:04 am
Amazed myself a little today. I built 80% of the markdown app for Clay today and it didn't take long at all...I had to go back and do a code review, because it seemed like it was going too fast. Clay has reached a point where I can build for it really fast. I know it helps that I made it and know it so well, but the level of abstraction behind applications is really remarkable. I may make it a goal to add an app every week now...
1:09 am

I've decided I'm going to drop my current email provider and start using my own. I haven't had any problems, I just feel like a few companies are getting too big and I don't want to contribute to them any longer. The power of the internet is getting too consolidated. Who knows, maybe I'll build an email client into Clay. I've built one before...I wonder if I can dig up from the backup graveyard.

1:03 am

I started using Firefox again, after using Chrome for several years consistently. The new version of Firefox is a winner, they made a lot of good choices with it. I honestly forget I'm not using Chrome. I was testing with it and the next day I opened it again and now a few days later I'm still using it, it just happened.

Give the new Firefox a try, if you haven't.

2:41 am

I'm getting closer to the next stable version of Clay so I'm working on a redesign of the Blog app. It'll have a more modern style, along with some multiuser features that won't be enabled here. I'm really liking the markup I designed for it, now I just need to work in the changes to ClaySS so I can try it out within Clay. My goal for the next stable version is to have it live by Christmas, or at least a beta version of it. So far I'd say it's doable, but if I run into any issues they may push it into January. 

1:24 am

I smoked a Boston Butt for Thanksgiving for 12 hours today. It was falling apart in the pan when I put it in the fridge :) I really wanted to do a ham, but none of the butchers here sell them raw, so I went with the next best I could find. I'm frying my first turkey in the morning, don't worry, it isn't frozen. 

I also had a little time to work on Clay. I am proud to say nothing in ClaySS requires any JavaScript. Even the navbar degrades nicely on mobile, although it will use a JS toggle instead in my themes. I've added a few ClaySS components lately. It now has tabs and tooltips, with a special kind of tooltip that displays in a stationary box below (or beside) a menu. That one is used on the dashboard to explain what the menu items go to or do. I've moved most of the CSS to SASS variables; I haven't used any CSS variables yet, although I do plan to where they are convenient.

Earlier I talked about deprecating Summernote, which was a difficult choice. I've decided I'm going with Markdown for an editor, instead of HTML. HTML is difficult to manage in the database over time, because site styling changes and you could end up with several different HTML content structures. I've always hated storing formatted text anyway. Markdown allows me to store it unformatted and format it on the fly, which is nice. I can also store the formatted text AND the Markdown, so if my Markdown formatting changes it can just reprocess the text to be stored. Pretty handy I think. I can reformat HTML, which I'll have to do on my blog for the update, but working with DOM structures is far more complicated than Markdown, in my opinion. Luckily Markdown is gaining popularity and is easy to use once you get the hang of it. I find it even faster, because I don't have to stop typing to click a formatting button.

Anyway, that's what's been going on for me, Happy Thanksgiving!