Links and Notes - March 30th 2021

A self hosted Heroku/Netlify/Pass: Coolify

Via HN

This product caught my eye immediately. I've mentioned previously that I want to invest more time into self hosting services I use; I currently self host my blog and its analytics. I would also like to write my own applications and host them on my own infrastructure.

That said, spinning up a new server or doing deployment pipelines can become tedious. This is where platforms like Heroku come in. Although I've seen claims that Heroku has not received much love since Salesforce acquired it, I've seen far more people professing their love for the platform. Up to today, it seems that Heroku still stands proudly as one of the most dead simple ways of getting an app up and running from just a code base. In this case, it seems like the slowdown of updates and the desire to hold on to simplicity favours Heroku.

That said, Heroku can become quickly expensive. It's definitely cheap enough for a company to start working with. But a self hoster? Yes they have free plans, but one look at them will tell you that it's intended to only be used as an experimental service. Their free plan AND hobby plan (7 USD per month minimum) both provide just 512 MB of ram. That's not enough to even install a ghost blog instance.

For a fraction of what it would cost you on Heroku, you can get a respectable set of specs from companies like Hetzner, Digital Ocean, Vultr, or Linode. And with Coolify, it seems like you can also have the kind of convenience that a platform like Heroku haves which is very cool!

Admittedly, a lot of people commenting on the HN thread seem to think that this product occupies a weird space; one where if you wanted Heroku, you are exactly the kind of person who doesn't want to deal with messing around with administering your self hosted PaaS. I can't disagree entirely with them. At the same time, I still think that there's space for this. Even if it's a niche.

I suppose my bigger worry is how sustainable a project like this would be. The company behind it, Coolabs seems new and this project seems new. Although the maker behind it — Andras Bacsai seems very eager to make this work, it's a really tough one to put a huge amount of trust into just yet.

That said, I do plan to try this out somewhere in the coming months and will write more when I do.


HOW AM I DISCOVERING THIS ONLY TODAY? (Discovered via this HN reply)

It's hard to describe this without seeing it. Essentially, it's a notepad which does maths dynamically. So if I type out 6 * 2 it shows 12 in a second column. Basically a notepad with a calculator built in, except it also allows for variable assignment and more. Which is all pretty darn cool.

Also, it's open source. I think I might find myself using this quite often. As much as I love Obsidian, there are some documents that I need to type in which require maths. I enjoy making notes and breaking down finance related documents for example and I often type in my own estimates and quick calculations. Sadly Obsidian doesn't have support for real time updating formula evaluations. With Notecalc, I can see myself creating an entire mathematical document, and saving it in Obsidian for future use.

This might very well be one of the few open source projects I feel super compelled to try and contribute to.

Extensions to save attention

Last month I experimented with the user script editor, Violentmonkey. What it does essentially is, it allows one to write some javascript, specify a site to run it on, and when you visit that site, Violentmonkey will inject it and make it run.

I wanted to use it for deleting or hiding "addictive" content on Twitter and Youtube and other social media sites. You know, the suggested boxes and the trending videos. That kind of stuff. Sadly, there are performance issues with Violentmonkey and I was forced to abandon the project.

That said, I haven't abandoned the idea. I think the next project I'm going to start working on in earnest is this. A browser extension designed to save your attention from the dopamine wheel tricks that social media sites play to get you to stay a little longer. My hunch, based on past experiments, is that the browser extension will perform better. I'll also be able to add features that a userscript cannot have, e.g., configuration options.

I'll update if I actually embark on it. And it's entirely likely that the place the updates will go will be to the much unloved section of my site: my projects. Lawds. That part of my site really needs some fixing up 🙈

This blog doesn't have a comment box. But I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have. Send them to [email protected]

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Posted on March 30 2021 by Adnan Issadeen