3:45!

… is when I started writing my morning pages today. A little early, I know. My head was full of thoughts and refused to sleep any longer, so… what can you do. Last entry in my first journal! It is all filled up with personal ramblings. On I go to journal no. 2.

Peak Performance: The Highest Point of Vienna

On Monday, a friend and I went out for a little hike. Off we went, starting at Nussdorf (the end of the D-line), at times walking along ‘Stadtwanderweg 2‘. I hadn’t been to this corner of Vienna before, so I just followed and roamed. Without knowing it in advance, we made our way to Hermannskogel, the highest natural point in Vienna (542m). There we were greeted by the Habsburgwarte, a nice lookout point and radio station.

What did I have with me for a day on the road? Bringing watermelons isn’t practical, so I went with my default snack – dates with cucumber and red peppers – as well as a banana-apple green smoothie and an apple. In old Tetris fashion, it all fit in my little rucksack πŸ™‚

Oh, and I had a realization. I love hiking, preferably steep and uphill. It is what I grew up with, and it makes me super happy. The hike on Monday reminded me of a hike I did as part of the Woodstock Fruit Festival last year. I climbed the mountain with a bunch of super-fit people, and I did quite well I think. I walked up at a quick pace and ran down most of it. So on Monday I thought to myself:

One day, I will be a mountain runner.

And so I will.

How I Made YouTube Less Addictive

This is the second part of my series on how I deal with the addictiveness of online media. In the first part I talked about Facebook, now I’m going to cover YouTube. My usual distraction pattern here is: I watch a video that I do want to see, and then watch five others that are listed as ‘Up Next’. Or I am just really tired and exhausted, and I will go and fill my brain with easy-going video content (something like Ellen DeGeneres videos). But ‘Recommended’ and ‘Up Next’ are no more! Or… hardly ever. My strategy for YouTube is slightly more technical than what I do with Facebook, but again, it is totally worth it.

The Goal, The Solution

I still want to be able to watch videos I am really interested in, and I still want to be able to follow a few inspirational YouTube channels. What I don’t want is to be presented with any YouTube-suggested content. So: I need to be able to see videos without visiting the website. What I do is:

  • Block YouTube in the browser except for one hour a day
  • Watch subscription videos via a podcast player, and
  • Use a command-line downloader for single videos

Step 1: Block YouTube

leechblock

Blocking websites in your browser depends on what browser(s) you use. Depending on the browser, you will have to install a different extension, and each of them works a little different. I currently use Firefox, and only Firefox. Yes, I sometimes want to test (in) different browsers, but I have found that I am more easily distracted if I do. The differences in blocking mechanisms made it easier to find ways around the blocking. Which is not the point of the exercise. So down to one browser it is. Mostly.

Here are the extensions that I use(d):

Follow the instructions of the extension(s) to block YouTube and others. I have LeechBlock set up to block YouTube all day every day except 6-7pm. I’ve also blocked social media sites to be blocked at the beginning and at the end of the day. And I have the blocker set up in a way that I can’t change its settings while active. Important! πŸ™‚ (Though you might want to set up Step 2 first.)

Step 2: Subscribe via Podcast Player

gpodder

So the idea here is to watch your channel subscription through a program on your computer rather than via your browser. To do that, you need the feed URL of the channel and the program that will then handle the video download for you.

I use GPodder as a podcast/feed viewer. For alternatives, have a look at this LifeHacker post. To get the URL, go to the channel you want to subscribe, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/user/FruitLiving. Then right-click and select “View Source” (or try Ctrl+U). Now you want to find a line that looks like this:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCJduM32xK4QOb99e6_4F-3A">

To find it, search for “RSS” in the source file.

source

Then copy the link specified as ‘href’ (https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCJduM32xK4QOb99e6_4F-3A in my case). In GPodder, go to ‘Subscriptions –> Add podcast via URL’ and enter the URL (or, in fact, it is automatically pasted there). Done!

Step 3: Download Single Videos

youtube-dl

To watch any single video outside my one-hour YouTube window – and without distractions – I use the command-line utility ‘youtube-dl‘. So if I have the URL to a video I really want to see (e.g. sent by a friend or in a newsletter), I go to the console and type:

 youtube-dl URL

And then I’ll watch the video in my video player of choice (VLC). The utility should work on Windows, Linux and Mac.

Level 2 Completed

With a little help from a website, I have found my way back into a regular meditation practice. With 100% freedom and control I’m not able to do it, but someone (some thing) telling me exactly what to do each day works for me. And I get the extra pat on the back every now and then. And, well… I can unlock new levels! πŸ™‚ After 10 x 10 min and 10 x 15 min I am now heading on to 10 x 20 min.

I’m Getting Here! Slowly…

I’m so grateful that I have a job now that is so rewarding (and challenging), where I move around a lot and where I get to be outside for periods of time! What a blessing.

I’m also so happy that I see progress when it comes to exercise. It looks like I’m able to maintain a regular running practice (with a little help from my friends), and maybe I’ll be able to do the same with the gym.

Oh, and I had the best time at Contact Impro class today. I think I’m slowly getting it! I’m slowly able to let go of thoughts more and be, sink in, put all my weight onto others. Today was the first time I was looking forward to going there – enjoying it before and after. Yay me! πŸ™‚