Moar Speed: Faster Internet

When we upgraded to cable internet, we had 30/5 service. At the time this was a nice upgrade from the fastest DSL we could get at our house.

In general, that was plenty. There were of course occasions when Netflix would load slowly, but this was almost always something you could attribute to the internet being poor as a whole vs. the lack of speed. Even web conferences with video were pretty good.

During COVID19 lockdown and many more people working from home, we’ve managed so far with 30/5 – but there have been some issues. Pulling bits down was always pretty ok, but pushing them up was sometimes a challenge. The different web meeting software is quite different in how it handles poor connections. Zoom is one of the better ones, Jitsi tends to really eat up the bits and WebEx is somewhere in the middle.

Teksavvy offers a no-cost upgrade (or downgrade) path for your cable plan. It was a very simple to switch my service speed via the self service portal, which created a change request ticket. They said 48hrs, but the work was done very quickly (within the hour).

I’m getting pretty solid speed tests. My old go-to dslreports has been pretty cranky lately, giving me plenty of time out errors when trying to test. I have started to look at as an alternative. Still dslreports is one of the few that gives you a bufferbloat rating, something that is important if you want VOIP or any sort of interactive activity to go smoothly.

If you haven’t read up about bufferbloat, it’s worth learning a little about. The short story is that you want to make sure that your home networking equipment (router, etc) has some form of QoS to help make sure that not only are you getting ‘fast’ internet, but responsive internet. It will make all the difference, at any speed. There are certainly people out there with 150Mbps internet who have terrible lag, that’s not a happy place and it’s something you can fix with a little bit of learning – and the right hardware.

In any case – the ~$10 price increase has doubled performance of our internet connection (75/10 plan). This still means we are lagging behind the average, but it’s pretty good. Before I go chasing more ISP speed, I’ll be looking more closely at network / wifi infrastructure I have set up.

Hello FreshRSS

Well, it was time for a new RSS feed reader – and FreshRSS was the best choice for me. The kind folk at maintain a container for it, and it fits nicely into my nginx setup.

Moving to a new tool for anything will have an adjustment period, it would be nice if the user experience was identical – but there is also something to be said about trying new things. Different isn’t always bad, change can be for the better.

Setting it up on a basic linux install looks simple, but I would suggest that adopting a container version is even easier. FreshRSS bootstraps and has a guided setup for first run (first connect on the web). You can even pick a sqlite database and avoid any database setup. It supports OPML import, which many other RSS feed readers support as well – so getting your feeds in or out of FreshRSS is easy.

My initial kick the tires install, I use the no-database required sqlite configuration. This worked well, but as I already run MySQL for my wordpress installs, why not use the same data store?

This is very easy – and the MySQL is also running in a container. The linux install covers how to setup your database, but as I’m using a container version I need to make one change to the setup – because ‘localhost’ isn’t the source of the network traffic to the container. (this is the use of ‘%’ instead of ‘localhost’ as shown below)

While allowing access from any host is a bit security scary, the container is already isolated to a private network so I’ve got layers of protection already.

During the web first run setup you have to then configure the database appropriately.

That’s probably the most complicated part of the setup. Now it’s just a matter of creating a user, and importing the OPML of my feeds and away I go.

Of course the new FreshRSS is going to ‘discover’ loads of new unread articles I’ve already read – and also for feeds I’ve been ignoring, not load enough unread articles. Oh well. So for a short while I run both – marking large chunks of articles as read in the new system, and burning down ones that were missed by the new system in the old one. It’s a one time hit and it gives me a chance to tweak some of the user setup configuration.

I’m only a day or so into using FreshRSS – but I’m adapting quickly to the differences. I will shout out to the Android app FeedMe which supports FreshRSS very nicely, once you enable the mobile API.

I will say that the themes are quite nice, I’m still getting use to the layout differences between it and the previous reader I was using. No regrets in making the switch to FreshRSS.

Bye Bye TT-RSS

It was way back in 2013 that Google decided to shut down Google Reader. I had a rich list of RSS feeds that I read regularly and didn’t want to lose that experience, so I decided to switch to something I could host myself. At the time TT-RSS fit the bill nicely.

In the process of moving to a docker container managed server, I switched to the tt-rss image. Then at one point I went to pull an updated version of the image and discovered it had been deprecated.

This resulted in my digging around a little to see what options I had to get a docker version of TT-RSS. I did find that there is a maintained version of a container build, but it seems to be only for development purposes. It didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to make use of.

As I dug deeper, I came across some dirty laundry. This didn’t really give me a good feeling about the TT-RSS project as a whole. Then I came across someone who was quite opinionated about TT-RSS. Well, this is the internet and there are lots of opinions out there. Still, I’d formed my own opinion along the way and decided that TT-RSS is no longer for me.

What next? Well, I decided to make that a completely different post which I’ll get up soon. The nice thing about many of the RSS feed readers, TT-RSS included – is that they support the export/import of your feeds. This makes it easy to switch.

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