In Tech Independence, Derek Sivers shared how to host your own storage, website, email, calendar, and contacts.
I'd never before set up a server (in fact, I can't even tell you what a server is).
I'd never used the command line for anything other than finding a file (and again, I can't really tell you what the command line is).
Still, Sivers made it as easy as possible for a newbie like me with step-by-step instructions.
So I thought, 'what the heck? What's the worst that can happen?'
Well, it turns out that I had to follow and restart Derek's instructions about 20 times (no exaggeration).
I kept geting stuck - at different steps - and had to keep destroying the server, setting up a new one and experiementing with approaches.
This is by no means a reflection of the instructions, by the way, but entirely a reflection of my subject matter experience.
For example, at one point it appeared that the RSYNC command - to sync files on my computer to the server - wasn't working.
Because I was giving the RSYNC command to the server (is that the right way of saying it?) when it's a local command that I should have been giving to my computer.
Thankfully, Derek was exteremely generous with his time and advice - exchanging several emails to help me get over the finish line.
And what a satisfying result it is.
The website you are reading this on is hosted on the new server.
I no longer need to navigate the bloated formatting of website builders like Squarespace. Now, when I want to publish something, I just create a Text Edit file, type away, add some HTML tags, and enter an RSYNC command in Terminal. And WALLAH. It's on my World Wide Website.
Yeah, it's not very sexy - but I prefer my websites that way. There's no glitz and glam - just 100% focus on the message.
I also use the server to back up and share files. Like Dropbox, but without the subscription cost or dependence on the future success of the company (have you ever tried to move 100GB of photos from one platform to another?)
Finally, my email, contacts, and calendar are all hosted on the server. One advantage of this is that my data is not at the mercy of Google or another tech giant. But honestly, I wouldn't be too concerned if it was (perhaps naiively). I just like the fact that I now have more control over my contacts, calendar, and email.
In the future, I'd like to learn how to manage my emails from the command line using MUTT. Why? Heck, I don't know. It just sounds fun. I like learning these things. And the skills tend to translate well to other areas of my life.
And that was entirely the point of this project: fun and learning.
Thanks to Derek for making it possible - and I'd highly recommend reading Tech Independence. Even if you have no interest in running your own server, it's a thought provoking view of technology we all use on a daily basis.
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