Centralizing Work Flow

Installing a dedicated server exposed some challenges with my work flow. None were surprises. I had been planning this migration for more than a year. I was expecting these challenges.

Yet the first full day of using my server I felt the nominal pain of not using my office desktop as a pseudo server. I was using my Thinkpad T400 laptop to read RSS feeds when I decided to check email. I need to power on my office desktop to check email. As well as check daily reminder events.

For years I was content with only my office desktop. While I had other computers on my network, none needed access to my data files. Several summers ago when I bought the T400 I started to appreciate the eventual need for centralizing that access. With the office desktop now being only a desktop and the server housing all of my data, providing centralized access is important.

Privacy is more important to me than convenience. Always has been and likely always will. I do not store any data anywhere outside of my network.

My list for centralizing is short:

  • RSS feeds.
  • Mail.
  • Reminder events.

Before installing the server I had found a way to access RSS feeds from any system on my network. I am using the Firefox NewsFox addon. I am hesitant about this solution long-term. I am growing more irritated with the Firefox developers with how they continually screw up Firefox. While I have used Firefox since the original Netscape-to-Phoenix days, my patience is growing thin. I need to consider the possibility of no longer using Firefox. Long term then, an RSS server such as Tiny Tiny RSS or an OwnCloud add-on might be a better solution.

Mail is a challenge because all of my email accounts are POP3. I have several accounts. I never used IMAP because privacy is important to me. I am not fond of leaving any kind of personal data in somebody else’s control.

IMAP is the preferred solution for centralizing email. My goal then is to install a system that fetches all of my POP3 accounts to my server. Then configure a local IMAP server. Long-term this also will be useful for when I configure a VPN into my network because then I can check my email remotely without using webmail.

I do not use a dedicated calendar app for my daily reminders. I always have found them to be overkill for my needs. For many years I have used KAlarm, first with KDE 3 and then TDE. KAlarm is one of those rare apps that does one thing and one thing very well. Like many desktop apps, KAlarm is not designed for centralized use. KAlarm does not support a remote calendar server although KOrganizer does.

I will not migrate to KDE 4 KAlarm. I have no patience for the Akonadi overhead. Or all of the KDE dependency support that must be installed just to run a single app such as KAlarm.

I have looked at Orage from Xfce. Orage supports a “foreign” storage location. I am hoping something like Radicale and Orage will provide a centralized event reminder service. Orage does not have a long dependency list and can be installed on any computer in my network.

A challenge with migrating KAlarm is the data file. Thus far I am unsuccessful at importing the KAlarm *.ics file into Orage.

While many mail clients support calendars or organizers of some sort, I do not like the approach of needing to keep the mail client running continuously to receive a few daily event reminders. I do not want to run a web browser to receive notifications. All I want are simple popup notification reminders on any computer I use.

That said, I realize that typically I have both the browser and mail client running continually. An add-on such as ReminderFox might render a solution because both Firefox and Thunderbird are supported. the add-on supports a non-profile storage location, which could be on my server.

I am not opposed to using a web browser to manage mail once I somehow convert to a local IMAP server, but I am not warm and fuzzy about the idea. Web browser interfaces for mail often means using JavaScript, which I find sluggish for such interfaces.

Overall I am not looking forward to these transitions.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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