Reading the Sandstorm

I’m totally not compensating for failing to post in March.
Just thought I’d get that out of the way. Y’know, to ward off questions.

Many moons ago (like two damn years’; wowzor ‘n stuff), I pumped out text detailing how I keep up with the news-ey things that interest me. Well, the inexorable passage of time has seen that old post turn to a falsehood. Now I, in a narcissistic revisitation of old material, decided it was high time I let my valuable readers know that things just don’t work like that any more.

Apparently a clock. Of Persian origin.

Apparently a clock. Of Persian origin.

Now, in the (relative) future, I keep up to date with the interesting parts of the world in a flavour decidedly more my own. A time back, I banged an upgrade onto my hosting package (the very same one that, at the moment anyway, hosts this here blog) to allow me multiple MySQL databases and rocked an instance of Tiny Tiny RSS on there. I like the idea of hosting open-source things myself, the hosting upgrade was cheap, and I got to tell a proprietary third-party to shove off and take their paid-for mobile app with them.

For me, installing the TTRSS instance was a simple matter: open up my cPanel, hit up the Softaculous installer thingy, find TTRSS and tell Softaculous to do the things (providing, I think, a sub-domain for it and specifying a folder for it to install to). With my sub-domain pointed to the right folder (under public_html), I was A-for-self-hosted (try not to think too hard about it – this is entertainment, not a how-to guide).

That worked well for me – very well. Then, one day (this very week), I came across a self-hosting server OS/platform/thing by the name of Sandstorm. Sandstorm provides the dream of contained, “virtualised” applications, along with their full stack of dependencies. Where Docker or YunoHost and other such services and OS’ will typically have shared back-end services for the contained applications (their databases, network services, …), Sandstorm bundles the application and all the extra bits it needs into a contained instance, a “grain” in Sandstorm parlance. There is the unfortunate side effect that applications on these container services/OS’ need to be ported, their dependencies bundled up and all that, as application packages so they’ll work as contained apps, but for the most part I’m okay with that (better nerds than me can roll up their own apps as packages, too, and the selection grows as more of them do). Even better, (that’s the developing company/group) provide a free hosting service for a basic Sandstorm OS instance on their Oasis platform (limited to 5 grains with 200MB storage space, though those increase if you subscribe to marketing emails and refer people).

It's a sand storm. Obviously.

It’s a sand storm. Obviously.

This, dear reader, is where I get back to the point: I’m now hosting a Sandstorm’ed instance of Tiny Tiny RSS on the free Oasis platform, and have saved myself some bucks by stripping my regular hosting package back down to just what’s needed for this site. In fact, you can even check it out (although, umm, please don’t mark anything in the “Watch Alpha” category as read – that’s the one I keep up with for realsies – feel free to play with the other categories ’cause I mostly just skim those anyway).

I also used the free grains to check out a few of the other applications available. You can use the links below to take a look at them. Also, if you like this Sandstorm thing and decide to sign up yourself up on Oasis too (on a free package or paid-for), do me a favour and sign up by following one of my links, then sharing one of your own. It’ll net me a little more storage space and more grains, which would be quite lovely.

  • Groove Basin Music : this is a streaming music player – it allows one to upload audio files, organise them into playlists if one is so inclined, and play/stream them.
  • Rocket.Chat : chat away on a Slack-like chat-room, instant messaging sort of thing. I’ll try to be on there as much as I can. At least, for as long as I keep the grain going.
  • Davros File Storage : self-hosted cloud file storage! Do I need to say more? Well… Err, think Google Drive or DropBox and you’re approaching the right idea. Davros is a Sandstorm’ed file storage application that works much like ownCloud – one could host one’s own file storage cloud, and even take advantage of ownCloud’s existing desktop and mobile applications for access. It’s read-only right now because, well, I’m on a free package and my storage is limited. ;)
  • Wekan : this is, umm… It’s sorta like… Well… Okay I had never heard of this before. It’s a Kanban thing? What the hell is that? You google it. From what I can see, it’s a bit like a note-taking and to-do list-keeping utility. I’m tentatively comparing it to Google Keep, for now.
  • Tiny Tiny RSS : I already spoke about this one. If you weren’t paying attention, this is an RSS feed reader/aggregator. For keeping up with all those pesky updates that I want to know about from the websites I have interests in. Please don’t leave the articles you check out as read – mark them unread again (especially in the Watch Alpha category). An unfortunate aspect of sharing this particular link is that I can’t control things like that, and I’d rather not miss interesting posts.

Sandstorm can host a WordPress instance as well, but I need to figure out some niggles around the export and import of this site, and getting a domain name pointing to the Sandstorm WordPress instance, before I jump wholeheartedly into that.

Finally, continuing the trend of the last feed-related post, go read about a journey of a whole other sort.