To make it easier to limit my media consumption, I'd like to temporarily revoke my access to certain digital media files. One solution would be to leave a copy with a friend, and delete my own copy until I'm able to meet the friend to get it back. A solution I'd prefer is to encrypt it with a cypher which takes half an hour or so to decrypt, but I would need to write that algorithm myself unless someone knows of an off the shelf solution.*

What is not an option: installing software to limit the computer's actions. Because it would not properly install or run on my computer, and because I would not run untrusted software with administrative permissions.

*My possible solution based on encryption: a key will be chosen and written to disk. Each block of the file will be encrypted separately, using an "almost key". The "almost key" is the key file, with the last N bits of the file altered. When the block is decrypted, the system will need to guess the last bits. Decryption will be retried until it succeeds. The more bits are changed, the more retries will be needed. Thus smaller files would have more bits changed, so decryption time could be kept constant per file. For example, if the key is 0000, that decryption will be tried first with that key, then with 0001, then 0010, 0011, etc. Each block will use a different "almost key", so the guessing process will need to be redone. Average tries * number of blocks will be constant, for a constant decryption time.

  • Wouldn't that encryption software you describe have to be installed, i.e. not meet the condition in your second paragraph? – Glorfindel Mar 21 at 12:34
  • I would write a cross-platform script with fairly simple operation, assuming the necessary encryption libraries are installed. I meant "net nanny" or such programs are not designed for Linux computers like mine. – piojo Mar 21 at 12:50

Several options:

  1. Create a compressed archive of them - use a relatively slow algorithm or have high compression settings. Burn this to a DVD (or some other external media with a slow transfer rate) - delete your local copies. Then to play them again you'll need to copy them back, extract the archive etc. When you want to deny yourself access again just delete the local copies and rinse-repeat.

  2. Copy to an external drive/media and delete local copies - place external media in a timelock container set the timer for a suitable time in the future.

  3. Address the underlying problematic thought patterns rather than treating the symptoms (this is a mindhack rather than a lifehack so not appropriate to discuss here)


You could use the postal service.

  1. Copy the desired files onto removable media. (Delete the original.)
  2. Mail the copy to yourself. (Use appropriate class for delay - Parcel Post is slower than First Class, for example.
  3. Await the delivery of the copy.

Here in Canada, we laughingly refer to high postal rates as acceptable because half of the expense includes "storage."

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