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Visual Fluff

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This article takes approximately 4 minutes to read.

I have been thinking about moving to a Raspberry Pi as my primary computer for a while. Raspberry Pis are just powerful enough to let me get my work done but they are not so powerful that I can use them beyond reasonable means. I can develop a good Python program on a Pi. I cannot develop a bloated program that requires access to a powerful computer.

Creativity thrives within constraints. That’s why I am so interested in reducing the fluff around how I use technology. I’ve done this by introducing more plain text into my routines. I write my notes in a markdown document. I have just created a document to keep track of my appointments. I will likely create more documents as my needs change.

I was thinking earlier about what I need my computer to do. I need it to let me work. Every day, I should wake up and be able to use my computer for writing. That requires internet access. Working means that I need to be connected to my coworkers. Outside of work, my usage of technology does not need to be as connected. I can detach and work on my own things.

Reducing Visual Distractions

I already have a minimal setup on my Mac. I’ve removed most of the applications that are installed. I have purged the caches of many old applications. I’m in awe about how much storage I have. There are over 64GB available on my Mac. I got the model with the lowest amount of storage so this is impressive to me. What took up all that space? Old docker images, application caches, tools I didn’t use. I’m glad I got rid of them.

I noticed that applications are not the only source of distraction. The visual effects that are built-in to my computer are distracting. I’ve tried to keep my menu bar clean but every icon is a distraction. I like to know the time. That’s all I really need from my menu bar. That’s why I have decided to prune it down. My menu bar no longer shows icons from some applications. It no longer shows the number of seconds that have passed.

I have decided to hide the dock on my Mac by default. The dock only appears when I mouse over the bottom edge of my screen. I am adjusting to this change. I think I will be for a while. Hiding my dock means that I have more room to work on my computer. Previously, there was an entire bar at the bottom of my screen devoted to apps. The sides showed part of my desktop background. Now I can see more of my text editor or web browser. I am writing this blog post while using full screen mode in Typora, my markdown editor of choice.

Daylight

I have had Flux installed for a while. Flux is an application that controls my exposure to blue light. I have taken it further and enabled Night Shift mode on my Mac by default. This mode is on every hour of the day. I hope this change will help me preserve my sight and sleep better. I already get a good sleep on most nights but I cannot help but think it could be improved by reducing the amount of time I spend in front of blue light.

Technology Should Serve Me

My philosophy with technology is that it should serve me. Tech should not make me act in ways that I otherwise would not. That’s why I only have two applications that have permissions to send me notifications. Those applications are the terminal notifier I wrote about in my last blog post and iMessage which I use for family communication. I do not like the version of technology where I’m pushed by apps to carry out particular tasks. I feel the same way about the internet. I much prefer text-based articles to those that use multimedia in ways that do not add value to the article.

I am unsure how many of these changes will stick. I am willing to keep at it. I have not yet transitioned to the Raspberry Pi because I have a good workflow going on my Mac (not to mention the fact I accidentally threw out all my HDMI cables in last week’s clean up). I feel a bit better using my Mac now because there are not as many visual distractions. The dock is gone. My menu bar is clearer. I feel more in control.

Permalink: https://jamesg.blog/2020/08/05/visual-fluff.html.

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