I'm a technology enthusiast in my twenties. I enjoy any and all things computery - building computers, writing code, playing PC games, the whole shebang
Privacy is a huge part about the way I conduct myself online. Facebook (sorry, Meta), Google, Amazon, and the like possess a very real threat to everyone's privacy, seemingly without anyone caring. As such, I have been trying to migrate away from these data giants, ditching Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, Twitch, WhatsApp, Instagram, and so on as I go
Compulsively, as a hardware enthusiast, I'm forced to provide you with details about my current computer, so you can check out the parts list here. The GPU was bought towards the tail-end of the graphics card shortage, hence the outrageous price. It is what it is
A little while back, I decided to make my data hoarding & self-hosting interest official by building a home server. I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to movies, TV, music, and game installers, so having a (relative to my current PC) huge NAS is very exciting. Setting it up hasn't been an easy process though, and BTRFS can often leave me dazed and confused when I have to go back for some sysadmin work. That having been said, everything just works for every day usage and it's a joy to have. Anyway, obligatory parts list. It was designed with future upgrades in mind (RAM, more storage)
My Codeberg is here, with all of my open source projects: @alpha-tango-kilo
I'm also on GitHub: @alpha-tango-kilo. This mirrors most of my Codeberg repositories, and is also where my forks tend to live (given that everything I contribute to is on GitHub)
Physically, I'm based in the south east of the UK.
You can contact me by email if you have good reason to (please offer me a job):
website [at] heyatk [dot] com
For any other details, please contact me via the means provided above, I don't like to leave too much of my info lying around publicly
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I browse on Firefox. If you don't, you're not doing it right. For the love of god people, get off Chrome please
Great addons I use:
YouTube specific extensions:
My monospace font of choice is Jetbrains Mono for its readability and ligature support. I am a huge ligature fan!
For serious coding, I love using the Jetbrains IDEs. I've mostly used IntelliJ and CLion, and I'd recommend the suite to anyone. Within the Jetbrains IDEs, I consider the Material Theme plugin essential to bring the UI into 2020. I use Material Darker of the themes it provides
For casual projects (scripting languages or ones otherwise unsupported by Jetbrains), VSCodium is my go-to, it's Visual Studio Code but actually compiled to be FOSS, which Visual Studio Code isn't unless you build it yourself. If I'm feeling hardcore or just making quick changes, Neovim does the trick nicely. I am by no means a Vim power user, but I can save & quit
This is the year of the Linux desktop, I can feel it
I love the concept of Linux: an all-open ecosystem that allows unlimited customisation and flexibility to its users. However, for me, it's not the year of the Linux desktop yet. I tried: when I built my new PC at the start of 2023 I installed Arch Linux, and only Arch Linux, no dual-booting. The end result boiled down to death by a thousand papercuts, and no solutions without compromises. It was genuinely consuming any enjoyment of my free time trying to fix 'just one more problem' and then diving down the rabbit hole of reading and learning and hoping and trying and reverting and sighing.
What's changed since I last tried desktop Linux was that the 'conventionally hard' things to get running on Linux worked nearly immediately: Windows-only games run great on Steam and/or Bottles. The out of the box experience actually did just work. The problems more arose from the things you can take for granted on Windows: sleep/hibernate, wireless controller support, network drivers, desktop notifications, clipboard consistency, and desktop widgets. Please trust that in each and every case I scoured the Arch Wiki and DuckDuckGo, trying their suggestions and still getting no further to solving any of these.
Long story short, I moved back to Windows. I'll try again in 5+ years
My current phone is the Pixel 4a, which I got for a little over £200 when the Pixel 5a was announced. I'm currently running GrapheneOS on it (unrooted) to reduce the control Google has and the harvesting they can do on hardware I own. Learning to flash ROMs and researching everything was definitely a rabbit hole to dive into, but I'm happy with the end result. The single feature I miss most from Google Android is card payments with your phone (like Google Pay). Such a shame Google have made it impossible on 3rd party ROMs
SimpleLogin is a free and open source email obfuscater that hides your true email address from recipients, similar to how Privacy.com hides your card details from merchants. It allows you to setup aliases (like the one I have for the contact email address above) which will forward on the email to your real inbox so you have everything in one place but to merchants and other third parties everything is compartmentalised. This will tell you who's leaked your email address if it gets out, you can with a click disable an alias to send all of the emails sent there to the void
The real kicker to all this is there is a full guide on SimpleLogin's GitHub page to self-host everything yourself so you can use your own domain and access all the premium features for free. This is what I've done, it's a fun project that should only take an afternoon if you already have a domain name and a VPS (I use Vultr for mine). The maintenance of their docker images is definitely lacking, however the outdated version I'm running as a result of this still works great. Would recommend to anyone
Currently I am using a keyboard that I built myself in June 2021! It's an Idobao ID80v2 with Gateron yellow keyswitches (lubed with Krytox 205g0) and these keycaps. I love the sound and feel of this keyboard so much more than the Cherry MX browns I had on the Ergodox, and having all the symbols back is an absolute blessing. I've been using VIA to configure the keyboard, and while it's simple and pretty looking, I do think it lacks somewhat in ease of use and being feature complete to everything QMK offers. For instance, I really wish I could change my RGB underglow colour depending on the layer, and while I'm 95% sure QMK would support that, VIA doesn't yet expose it. I would also like to see a FOSS competitor of course
In late summer 2020, I took the plunge into the ergonomic high end mechanical keyboard world and purchased myself an ErgoDox EZ. It was a trial by fire of learning how to use a split layout, ortholinear keyboard in conjunction with getting used to layers to access symbols and keys that otherwise just generally didn't fit on the layout. I did get used to typing on it in type, but I never really got comfortable with coding on it. I absolutely fell in love with how QMK firmware works with all of its special keys and layers and I daresay I shall be forever hooked on QMK. However I have now sold it on as I vastly prefer my new keyboard
While at the time of writing I don't have any short-term plans to upgrade or build another keyboard, I definitely think I might explore a 65 or 60% keyboard next time, perhaps going ortholinear again. A split spacebar or dedicated layer keys would be really good as with the ID80 there is no dedicated key to use to navigate layers. No idea what I'd do for switches honestly, I'm so happy with my Gateron yellows currently, having come from Cherry blues and browns these are awesome 🤩
I currently just listen to music off of my phone or computer directly, no fancy DACs or amps. Predominantly, I listen to EDM, though over the years my tastes are slowly becoming more 'mainstream'
I'm currently using Tidal for music streaming as they sucked me in with a six month free trial, and now I have too many playlists to want to leave. I've tried Spotify and my overall conclusion is that there is no single good music streaming service app, you just have to pick the one that bugs you the least. For me, that's Tidal. I used to use SoundCloud for all my playlists, given it's free, and could be adblocked on browser and mobile (not sure if it's still a thing, it's been a good few years at this point)
I typically grow a playlist until it's at one hundred songs then start a new one, it's a nice round number that strikes a decent balance between not getting bored of the first songs you've added and having a long total running time. There is no particular organisation to most of my playlists in terms of genre
For earphones, I actually carry around the super-budget VE Monk Plus (AliExpress link). Despite the $5 price tag, I love the sound quality (how you know I'm not a 'proper' audiophile yet lol), they're impressively bassy for earphones, and they're comfortable for me - I actually have yet to find IEMs I find comfortable, so I'm on team earbuds for better and for worse. I did actually splurge at one point to try the iBasso IT01, but I just couldn't get them both comfortable and properly sealed
For headphones, I currently have the entry level Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, the Grado SR60es, and the Drop + THX Pandas
These are the headphones I have wired up to my computer with a Modmic Uni stuck on. Since I also have a speaker hooked up to the PC, this means these headphones are now exclusively used for playing games with voice comms. I have used them for music listening previously before I got my hands on the Grados and Pandas, however now they're just the super comfy go-to for several hour long gaming sessions. The comfort I think is in no small part thanks to the Brainwavz memory foam pads I purchased based on a recommendation I saw online for these headphones, they fit wonderfully and feel great against the head, less sweaty than my Pandas
The Grados were moreorless an impulse purchase under the influence of DankPods when I noticed they were largely out of stock online but there was a pair on eBay in great condition for a steal of a price. They have a very different sound to what I typically prefer and aren't that well suited to my genre of choice, but certain songs (like Avicii's Hey Brother) absolutely made the headphones sing (no better way to describe it) and justified the purchase in an instant. I'd strongly recommend these to anyone wanting to try open backs for the first time that listens to a lot of music with vocals. I also enjoy using them for watching movies when I'm alone as they do far better justice to the movie score than my speaker ever could
Strongly considering modding the cable to be one-sided and detachable though as while I like and am always amused by how bulky and thick the cable is, it's inconvenient to the point where, when moving around with the headphones on, the swinging of the wire while walking can actually move where the headphones sit on my head. Definitely a sit-down-and-listen type of headphone
I want to start off by saying I would not recommend these headphones for purchase. I have had extensive issues (as have numerous other people) with these headphones, and the replacement pair I received, while largely functional, had cosmetic damage out of the box. For those who play video games, these headphones feel akin to a full price game that's half-baked released into Early Access. For more details, you can read my review of the headphones on Drop's website here
However, putting the issues I've head with them aside, the headphones sound and look great. The battery life is impressive, I've never had to stop listening to charge them, and on the rare occasion when it is time to top them up, they charge super quickly. The sound is lovely and full and compared to the Grados certainly brings back a lot of the bass and such that I enjoy with my tastes in EDM. Honestly the headphones being wireless was the biggest selling point for me. It allows for music listening in so many scenarios, without having to be considerate of a wire to be tugged if you turn your head too far. I enjoy wearing the headphones for things like cooking and washing up where a wire would be cumbersome but I appreciate the company of having music playing. Given the current COVID situation I've not worn them out of the house a lot to have missed active noise cancelling, but I certainly don't feel like I'm not getting value out of them being wireless as a result of being at home even more than I am usually