pwr (paced web reader) is a script and terminal-centric workflow I use for keeping up to date with various sources online, shared on the off chance it's useful to you too.


The internet is (mostly) a wonderful thing, but it's kind of a lot. It can be distracting and I thnk we all know the unhealthy loops of scrolling and refreshing the same sites. pwr provides a structured workflow for keeping up to date with a preferred set of sites in an incremental fashion (willpower required). It takes some inspiration from a widely reported workflow that involved sending a URL to a server and having it returned via email to be read in a batch later. pwr adopts the delayed gratification aspect of this but doesn't involve downloading for offline reading.

The pwr flow

One-time setup:

Regular workflow (just run pwr with no arguments to initiate this sequence in one invocation):

In my preferred usage, the above is run once a day as a replacement for unstructured web browsing. This flow means you're always reading items that were identified the previous day. Although comments on sites such as Hacker News or Reddit are much maligned, I do find they can be a source of additional insight, and this flow means that by the time you're reading a post ~24 hours after initially found, discussion has died down so there's little reason to keep refreshing.

pwr filter is the main part requiring active input, and involves the editor in a way that is somewhat inspired by git rebase -i. For instance, at the time of writing it produces the following output (and you would simply replace the d prefix with r for any you want to queue to read:

Filter file generated at 2024-07-01 08:51:54 UTC
To mark an item for reading, replace the 'd' prefix with 'r'
Exit editor with non-zero return code (:cq in vim) to abort

# Rust Internals
d [Discussion] Hybrid borrow (0 replies)

# Swift Evolution
d [Pitch #2] Safe Access to Contiguous Storage (27 replies)
d [Re-Proposal] Type only Unions (69 replies)

# HN
d Programmers Should Never Trust Anyone, Not Even Themselves
d Unification in Elixir
d Quaternions in Signal and Image Processing

d Code Reviews Do Find Bugs
d Integrated assembler improvements in LLVM 19
d Cubernetes
d Grafana security update: Grafana Loki and unintended data write attempts to Amazon S3 buckets
d regreSSHion: RCE in OpenSSH's server, on glibc-based Linux systems (CVE-2024-6387)
d Elaboration of the PostgreSQL sort cost model

# /r/programminglanguages
d Rate my syntax (Array Access)

Making it your own

Ultimately pwr is a tool that happens to scratch an itch for me. It's out there in case any aspect of it is useful to you. It's very explicitly written a script, where the expected usage is that you take a copy and make what modifications you need for yourself (changing sources, new fetchers, or other improvements).

Article changelog