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August 08 2018

On a boat
On a boat

July 11 2018

Eating fish in Atlantis

Eating fish in Atlantis

Vienna's Kutschkermarkt is an interesting place. Nestled into a steep side-road in the rather upscale 18th district, it has a few delicatessen places that sell good cheese and some Italian style sausages, but in general it's not unlike most other markets in Vienna, only far pricier. They do know their audience, after all.

One thing that sets it apart from many others, though, is a place called "Atlantis Fisch". Camouflaged as an ordinary fish-monger, it doubles as a restaurant and if the weather allows it, small tables are put up in front of it. They then serve you the fish you can see on display, prepared in the tiny kitchen of their market stall.

The owner is a nice fellow, and his staff is always equally forthcoming. And their seafood platter is to die for. Not just for the fish that are served, obviously. The image above is of one of those platters. As you can see, they include a whole fish, fish filets, langoustines and some delicately grilled squid.

I've been there a few times with my girlfriend, who is quite fond of their mussles in white wine, as well.

They're not terribly pricey, but you'll pay the price of fresh fish prepared well.

Here's their tiny website.

Eating fish in AtlantisEver so helpful, I've marked the approximate location of the seating area. (© Openstreetmap Contributors)

Eating fish in Atlantis

Eating fish in Atlantis

Vienna's Kutschkermarkt is an interesting place. Nestled into a steep side-road in the rather upscale 18th district, it has a few delicatessen places that sell good cheese and some Italian style sausages, but in general it's not unlike most other markets in Vienna, only far pricier. They do know their audience, after all.

One thing that sets it apart from many others, though, is a place called "Atlantis Fisch". Camouflaged as an ordinary fish-monger, it doubles as a restaurant and if the weather allows it, small tables are put up in front of it. They then serve you the fish you can see on display, prepared in the tiny kitchen of their market stall.

The owner is a nice fellow, and his staff is always equally forthcoming. And their seafood platter is to die for. Not just for the fish that are served, obviously. The image above is of one of those platters. As you can see, they include a whole fish, fish filets, langoustines and some delicately grilled squid.

I've been there a few times with my girlfriend, who is quite fond of their mussles in white wine, as well.

They're not terribly pricey, but you'll pay the price of fresh fish prepared well.

Here's their tiny website.

Eating fish in AtlantisEver so helpful, I've marked the approximate location of the seating area. (© Openstreetmap Contributors)

June 21 2018

My current feed-reader setup

My current feed-reader setup

I'm a man of simple pleasures. One of those pleasures is having a smoothly running feed-reader setup. What are the cornerstones of such a setup? Well, three things:

  1. A basic self-hosted reader I can use on the web
  2. An API for that reader so I can synchronize to a mobile app
  3. Some theming options that allow me to make it all not look like shit
  4. (optional) A piece of software for the desktop that allows me to read it all offline as well

Up until a few days ago I used FreshRSS, self-hosted via my Cloudron installation (read or hear more about Cloudron at Selfhosted Web, where I did a write-up and a podcast episode about it).

FreshRSS is a solid piece of software, but I've always had problems getting mobile apps to really work with. News+, a fairly nice and full-featured mobile feedreader worked well, until it didn't (it hasn't been updated in ages, which might be the cause). I then switched to the EasyRSS, which is in fact easy, but too bare-bones for my taste. In addition to these gripes, some thing or other with the actual URL to use to access the API was always the case, making it somewhat frustrating when I had to guess whether it was just the URL of my self-hosted instance or an additional "/p/api" or even /p/api/greader.php" the app was looking for.

So, I spun up an instance of Tiny Tiny RSS, also via Cloudron. It took me about two minutes to do that, and after importing the OPML of my FreshRSS installation, it was up and running. At which time I finally got a mobile feedreader I'd set my eyes on before to actually work: FeedMe, which is beautiful, simple-looking but still rather full-featured. The thing is, I never got it to work with FreshRSS, and even after digging through the logs of my FreshRSS instance, I never found out what the problem was.

So, finally, here I am, with a setup that seems to work rather well. Let's go through the cornerstones:

  1. and 3.: The web version, Tiny Tiny RSS, themed with a third-party Feedly-like theme, which you can get here.
My current feed-reader setup

2. FeedMe, plugging into the TTRSS API, synchronizes everything to my phone and is quite the eye-pleaser as well. Bonus: it allows you to use various different fonts, so of course I opted for the Ubuntu font.

My current feed-reader setup

4. Finally, the optional desktop app. I'm using Linux and there's a few options for Linux feedreaders, but not so many that can plug into a self-hosted or even hosted feedreader to synchronize. But, there's the aptly named "Feedreader", which does just that and in addition looks rather nice as well.

But, as it happens so often, things aren't as straight-forward here. Feedreader needs an additional plugin for TTRSS installed, which enhances the standard API and allows it to actually connect to TTRSS. It's a system plug-in that needs to be activated via the config.php, but as TTRSS is running via Cloudron, writing to systemfiles isn't possible (to avoid future upgrade-problems). I tried setting the plugin to a non-system one, but then Feedreader doesn't recognize it. I will have to keep investigating to find a way to satisfy this point.


Well, and that's it. My new feedreader setup.

One last note, just to explain why I'd go through the hassle of setting something likes this up in the first place.

RSS (or ATOM) feeds are themselves cornerstones of the open web. Back when Twitter or Facebook were a mere glint in the milkman's eyes, people got all their news every morning from firing up their feedreaders and doing their first (but usually not last) feedrun of the day. The openness of RSS allowed many different apps to use these little gems and display them in a readable manner. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, fewer and fewer people used their feedreaders, because suddenly they got all their news and interesting links directly through their own filter-bubble. But that filter-bubble is exactly that: a bubble which usually is rather impermeable, showing you the things you think you're interested in but not much more. Seeing how vast and diverse the web really is, that makes us disregard many different places and sources of news, entertainment or thought.

Going back to using feeds allows me to look beyond what my filter bubble shows me and it also paves the way for my exit from the big social media players, which, I am still hopeful, will happen someday.

My current feed-reader setup

My current feed-reader setup

I'm a man of simple pleasures. One of those pleasures is having a smoothly running feed-reader setup. What are the cornerstones of such a setup? Well, three things:

  1. A basic self-hosted reader I can use on the web
  2. An API for that reader so I can synchronize to a mobile app
  3. Some theming options that allow me to make it all not look like shit
  4. (optional) A piece of software for the desktop that allows me to read it all offline as well

Up until a few days ago I used FreshRSS, self-hosted via my Cloudron installation (read or hear more about Cloudron at Selfhosted Web, where I did a write-up and a podcast episode about it).

FreshRSS is a solid piece of software, but I've always had problems getting mobile apps to really work with. News+, a fairly nice and full-featured mobile feedreader worked well, until it didn't (it hasn't been updated in ages, which might be the cause). I then switched to the EasyRSS, which is in fact easy, but too bare-bones for my taste. In addition to these gripes, some thing or other with the actual URL to use to access the API was always the case, making it somewhat frustrating when I had to guess whether it was just the URL of my self-hosted instance or an additional "/p/api" or even /p/api/greader.php" the app was looking for.

So, I spun up an instance of Tiny Tiny RSS, also via Cloudron. It took me about two minutes to do that, and after importing the OPML of my FreshRSS installation, it was up and running. At which time I finally got a mobile feedreader I'd set my eyes on before to actually work: FeedMe, which is beautiful, simple-looking but still rather full-featured. The thing is, I never got it to work with FreshRSS, and even after digging through the logs of my FreshRSS instance, I never found out what the problem was.

So, finally, here I am, with a setup that seems to work rather well. Let's go through the cornerstones:

  1. and 3.: The web version, Tiny Tiny RSS, themed with a third-party Feedly-like theme, which you can get here.
My current feed-reader setup

2. FeedMe, plugging into the TTRSS API, synchronizes everything to my phone and is quite the eye-pleaser as well. Bonus: it allows you to use various different fonts, so of course I opted for the Ubuntu font.

My current feed-reader setup

4. Finally, the optional desktop app. I'm using Linux and there's a few options for Linux feedreaders, but not so many that can plug into a self-hosted or even hosted feedreader to synchronize. But, there's the aptly named "Feedreader", which does just that and in addition looks rather nice as well.

But, as it happens so often, things aren't as straight-forward here. Feedreader needs an additional plugin for TTRSS installed, which enhances the standard API and allows it to actually connect to TTRSS. It's a system plug-in that needs to be activated via the config.php, but as TTRSS is running via Cloudron, writing to systemfiles isn't possible (to avoid future upgrade-problems). I tried setting the plugin to a non-system one, but then Feedreader doesn't recognize it. I will have to keep investigating to find a way to satisfy this point.


Well, and that's it. My new feedreader setup.

One last note, just to explain why I'd go through the hassle of setting something likes this up in the first place.

RSS (or ATOM) feeds are themselves cornerstones of the open web. Back when Twitter or Facebook were a mere glint in the milkman's eyes, people got all their news every morning from firing up their feedreaders and doing their first (but usually not last) feedrun of the day. The openness of RSS allowed many different apps to use these little gems and display them in a readable manner. With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, fewer and fewer people used their feedreaders, because suddenly they got all their news and interesting links directly through their own filter-bubble. But that filter-bubble is exactly that: a bubble which usually is rather impermeable, showing you the things you think you're interested in but not much more. Seeing how vast and diverse the web really is, that makes us disregard many different places and sources of news, entertainment or thought.

Going back to using feeds allows me to look beyond what my filter bubble shows me and it also paves the way for my exit from the big social media players, which, I am still hopeful, will happen someday.

June 14 2018

How to make Cacio e Pepe

How to make Cacio e Pepe

There's a pasta dish which, up until a few years ago, was mostly known in Rome to Romans who enjoy simple Roman dishes. The name is Casio e Pepe, which simply means cheese and pepper, in certain Romain dialects.

I only recently learned of the dish when I saw pictures of it prepared by people remembering the late, great Anthony Bourdain. So I've decided to try my hand at it tonight, and in preparation found this rather comprehensive run-down of the ingredients and cooking methods. It's a delightful read in itself, even without planning to make the dish (even though you should). What especially resonated with me was this:

A cacio e pepe recipe stands or falls by its method, the alchemy that  turns dry cheese and water into creamy sauce. I have no problem  believing that all the recipes I try work well in the hands of an expert  – my job, I think, is to work out which one gives the rest of us the  best chance of success.

So, go ahead and read the whole thing.

PS: The dish pictured isn't Cacio e Pepe. It's a somewhat unorthodox Carbonara. Don't fight me.

Update: I made it. I used too much water, so the sauce didn't thicken the way I want it. Fortunately, some Pecorino is still left, so I'll try again next week.

How to make Cacio e PepeThe lumps are bigger pieces of Pecorino that were too soft to grate.

How to make Cacio e Pepe

How to make Cacio e Pepe

There's a pasta dish which, up until a few years ago, was mostly known in Rome to Romans who enjoy simple Roman dishes. The name is Casio e Pepe, which simply means cheese and pepper, in certain Romain dialects.

I only recently learned of the dish when I saw pictures of it prepared by people remembering the late, great Anthony Bourdain. So I've decided to try my hand at it tonight, and in preparation found this rather comprehensive run-down of the ingredients and cooking methods. It's a delightful read in itself, even without planning to make the dish (even though you should). What especially resonated with me was this:

A cacio e pepe recipe stands or falls by its method, the alchemy that  turns dry cheese and water into creamy sauce. I have no problem  believing that all the recipes I try work well in the hands of an expert  – my job, I think, is to work out which one gives the rest of us the  best chance of success.

So, go ahead and read the whole thing.

PS: The dish pictured isn't Cacio e Pepe. It's a somewhat unorthodox Carbonara. Don't fight me.

Update: I made it. I used too much water, so the sauce didn't thicken the way I want it. Fortunately, some Pecorino is still left, so I'll try again next week.

How to make Cacio e PepeThe lumps are bigger pieces of Pecorino that were too soft to grate.

June 06 2018

Ghost and Unsplash

Ghost and Unsplash

As I resume my exploration of what's new in Ghost, I've come across its Unsplash integration. Two things, though. First, it's not new. It's apparently been there for a while, but as I usually use my own images, I never had the need to use it. Second, in the new Koenig editor, it only works when using the Markdown box, not the actual image box. But, support for that is coming.

So what's Unsplash? Well, Unsplash lets you use royalty free images in whatever way you want. They even went so far as to invent their own license, which explicitly states that you can do with it whatever you want, without the need even to credit anyone. Quite a good deal, eh?

But how do they do it? They have a roster of photographers who simply donate their images and at the time of writing, they have about 50.000 images and counting.

Here's why they did it:

Unsplash started as a simple tool for creators. The concept was born  from the pain we had in finding great, usable imagery. Today, Unsplash  is a platform fueled by a community that has generously gifted hundreds  of thousands of their own photos.

(Not entirely sure why their catalog consists of 50.000 pictures when the community donated hundreds of thousands, but ok, that might be an accounting error).

Anyway, Unsplash is a great way to get free, mostly beautiful pictures for your blog, because we all know people love pictures and when people who love pictures see your posts adorned with beautiful pictures they'll love your writing too. Everybody wins!

The integration with Ghost is easy. There's an "Apps" section in the backend, where Unsplash integration can be activated by ticking a box. Next time you add a picture via the Markdown menu, clicking on the camera icon will open up a search bar and a few preselected pictures from Unsplash. Choosing one will add the image to your post, including the credit (which is optional, but the nice thing to do).

You can also, which is what I did, add an image as the posts featured image. Which works in exactly the same manner.

So, great thing, great integration and thanks Ghost and Unsplash!

Ghost and Unsplash

Ghost and Unsplash

As I resume my exploration of what's new in Ghost, I've come across its Unsplash integration. Two things, though. First, it's not new. It's apparently been there for a while, but as I usually use my own images, I never had the need to use it. Second, in the new Koenig editor, it only works when using the Markdown box, not the actual image box. But, support for that is coming.

So what's Unsplash? Well, Unsplash lets you use royalty free images in whatever way you want. They even went so far as to invent their own license, which explicitly states that you can do with it whatever you want, without the need even to credit anyone. Quite a good deal, eh?

But how do they do it? They have a roster of photographers who simply donate their images and at the time of writing, they have about 50.000 images and counting.

Here's why they did it:

Unsplash started as a simple tool for creators. The concept was born  from the pain we had in finding great, usable imagery. Today, Unsplash  is a platform fueled by a community that has generously gifted hundreds  of thousands of their own photos.

(Not entirely sure why their catalog consists of 50.000 pictures when the community donated hundreds of thousands, but ok, that might be an accounting error).

Anyway, Unsplash is a great way to get free, mostly beautiful pictures for your blog, because we all know people love pictures and when people who love pictures see your posts adorned with beautiful pictures they'll love your writing too. Everybody wins!

The integration with Ghost is easy. There's an "Apps" section in the backend, where Unsplash integration can be activated by ticking a box. Next time you add a picture via the Markdown menu, clicking on the camera icon will open up a search bar and a few preselected pictures from Unsplash. Choosing one will add the image to your post, including the credit (which is optional, but the nice thing to do).

You can also, which is what I did, add an image as the posts featured image. Which works in exactly the same manner.

So, great thing, great integration and thanks Ghost and Unsplash!

June 05 2018

Book of the month: "Voltaire Almighty"

Book of the month:

Over at Zeitsprung.fm, the podcast I produce together with partner in crime Daniel, I recently told the story of Voltaire, star of the French enlightenment, and how he won the lottery. It's an interesting story, not least because he didn't exactly win it, he actually hacked it (with the help of Mathematician wunderkind La Condamine). If you know German, do have a listen. If you don't, you can read all about it in this article by British Professor of French, Roger Pearson.

Which leads me to the book I've come here to recommend, as it's written by said Professor Pearson. "Voltaire Almighty - a Life in Pursuit of Freedom" is Pearson's biography of the man, and what a biography it is.

Book of the month:

Clocking in at roughly 400 pages, Pearson's style brings to life not only the bard and philosopher François-Marie Arouet, who would later change his name to Voltaire for reasons that aren't absolutely clear (Pearson touches upon the various theories in the book), but he also brings to life 18th century France. Starting, literally, in the gutter, the putrid streets of Paris at the time, them moving up to the lives of the bourgoise Arouet family to the courts of the rich, famous and most of all aristocratic, places which Voltaire would be a guest at until the end of his adventurous life.

If you've ever wondered whether there's the one, definite Voltaire biography you should read - as one does - then I'd say you won't go wrong with this one. Granted, I haven't read many others - in fact, I've read only this one - but I can't imagine a biography more enthralling, informative and eminently readable than this one. Do yourself a favour, buy it or get it from your local, well-stocked library.


In case you're wondering: this "Book of the month" thing is a new, regular feature in which I will - unsurprisingly - extol the virtues of a book, once a month (the time-frame is largely there to pressure myself into actually writing one each month).

Book of the month: "Voltaire Almighty"

Book of the month:

Over at Zeitsprung.fm, the podcast I produce together with partner in crime Daniel, I recently told the story of Voltaire, star of the French enlightenment, and how he won the lottery. It's an interesting story, not least because he didn't exactly win it, he actually hacked it (with the help of Mathematician wunderkind La Condamine). If you know German, do have a listen. If you don't, you can read all about it in this article by British Professor of French, Roger Pearson.

Which leads me to the book I've come here to recommend, as it's written by said Professor Pearson. "Voltaire Almighty - a Life in Pursuit of Freedom" is Pearson's biography of the man, and what a biography it is.

Book of the month:

Clocking in at roughly 400 pages, Pearson's style brings to life not only the bard and philosopher François-Marie Arouet, who would later change his name to Voltaire for reasons that aren't absolutely clear (Pearson touches upon the various theories in the book), but he also brings to life 18th century France. Starting, literally, in the gutter, the putrid streets of Paris at the time, them moving up to the lives of the bourgoise Arouet family to the courts of the rich, famous and most of all aristocratic, places which Voltaire would be a guest at until the end of his adventurous life.

If you've ever wondered whether there's the one, definite Voltaire biography you should read - as one does - then I'd say you won't go wrong with this one. Granted, I haven't read many others - in fact, I've read only this one - but I can't imagine a biography more enthralling, informative and eminently readable than this one. Do yourself a favour, buy it or get it from your local, well-stocked library.


In case you're wondering: this "Book of the month" thing is a new, regular feature in which I will - unsurprisingly - extol the virtues of a book, once a month (the time-frame is largely there to pressure myself into actually writing one each month).

Ghost for Android

Ghost for Android

Apparently there's an Android app for Ghost now. That's mighty fine!

Ghost for Android

One freedom afforded to me by a lack of readers is being able to post things like this and nobody cares.

Here's to that freedom! Cheers.

Ghost for Android

Ghost for Android

Apparently there's an Android app for Ghost now. That's mighty fine!

Ghost for Android

One freedom afforded to me by a lack of readers is being able to post things like this and nobody cares.

Here's to that freedom! Cheers.

June 04 2018

A new editor and a new story

A new editor and a new story

I've reached the point in my blogging career where only new features of the blogging software used will get me to actually jot down some notes. This here is one of those cases.

You see, Ghost, the blogging software I'm using, has introduced a beta version of their new editor, the Koenig editor, and if you think that sounds regal you're correct, but it's also the name of someone most influential in regards to the printing press. Go and read up about him here.

A new editor and a new story

The Koenig editor moves away from previously preferred Markdown and instead introduces so-called blocks, where text and images and code and html and even Markdown can be inserted as sections. The above image was inserted as one such block, and it has absolutely nothing to do with this text.


There's even a divider, I suppose for legibility and general pleasing of the eye. I think it works. Have another one.


I think this editor is nice, but I'd very much love the creators of Ghost if at some point they'd implement some way to automatically resize images to a saner size for the web. It's probably one of the simpler things I've always missed on Ghost after switching from Wordpress.

Anyway, I generally applaud the good people of Ghost for creating something that is rather elegant and might actually make me want to blog more.

Maybe.

A new editor and a new story

A new editor and a new story

I've reached the point in my blogging career where only new features of the blogging software used will get me to actually jot down some notes. This here is one of those cases.

You see, Ghost, the blogging software I'm using, has introduced a beta version of their new editor, the Koenig editor, and if you think that sounds regal you're correct, but it's also the name of someone most influential in regards to the printing press. Go and read up about him here.

A new editor and a new story

The Koenig editor moves away from previously preferred Markdown and instead introduces so-called blocks, where text and images and code and html and even Markdown can be inserted as sections. The above image was inserted as one such block, and it has absolutely nothing to do with this text.


There's even a divider, I suppose for legibility and general pleasing of the eye. I think it works. Have another one.


I think this editor is nice, but I'd very much love the creators of Ghost if at some point they'd implement some way to automatically resize images to a saner size for the web. It's probably one of the simpler things I've always missed on Ghost after switching from Wordpress.

Anyway, I generally applaud the good people of Ghost for creating something that is rather elegant and might actually make me want to blog more.

Maybe.

December 31 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

We're only a few hours away from the end of the year, so for brevity's sake, I will not write an all-encompassing retro- or introspective of this year and myself. Rather, I'll post mostly pictures with captions.

Going away

The time we spent away from Vienna.

Prague

We went to Prague, a first for both of us. We found a cozy little AirBnB very near to the old town and spent three days eating us through various restaurants.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017
A collection of dumplings and meats served in a small restaurant near the Prague Castle. An area, by the way, you can with no regrets choose to ignore. There's so many other places to see, there is no reason at all to wait in line for hours.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017
The view from one of the many bridges in Prague. There's so many tourists around, try not to cross the

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Also, loads of museums. The national museums are spectacular and apart from a very affordable 15€ to access all of them, they were more or less deserted. See the below picture of the museum of modern art as a symbolic representation of said deserted state.
A list of noteworthy things in 2017

It's unfathomable to me how so few people would visit these places, but my best guess is, that Prague is just so full of great things, it's hard to go everywhere.

Anyway, that was Prague. The train from Vienna to Prague, by the way, had a happy hour when we went, which made for the cheapest, best beer I've ever had on a train. I later found out that happy hour is all the time on those trains.

Corfu

Our first time on Corfu but most probably not our last. We spent a week in a small village with might as well have been created for tourists alone. At least it looked that way. It wasn't to our detriment, because it meant that on a stretch of roughly 800 meters, we'd find about 30 restaurants nestled against a sandy beach.

We ate, swam and drank. I also read YOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abott there, and was turned into an instant fan.

Have some pictures.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Munich

We also spent a few days in Munich for my birthday. It was a bit of an impromptu vacation, but turned out to be quite fantastic. I won't bother you with the details here, because I've already written two accounts of what we did there. You can find them here and here.

Scotland

Well, what can I say? Scotland is the best and we spent two weeks driving through the highlands and the Western isles. I'm still planning on writing a few more words about it, but whenever I try to, I realize that words and even pictures won't do the whole thing justice. Still, here's some pictures.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Podcasts

Podcasts have seen quite a surge in popularity in 2017. Which is fine by me, considering we're still going strong with Zeitsprung, a history podcast in German about, well, stories from history. We managed to keep up our schedule of posting an episode a week. You should check it out, if you speak German.

Also, there is this funny saying that once you start podcasting, you'll sooner or later not be content with making just one. Not sure if that's actually a saying, but it happened that way with me. So in 2017, I also created my very own podcast for my other project, the selfhostedweb.org.

It's about software you can install on your own server in order to not be dependent on hosted services as much. The release cycle is somewhat slower than Zeitsprung, but I did manage to release four episodes (the latest of which just yesterday). It's in English, in order to be able to reach more than just the German-speaking world. You can find it here or wherever you usually get your podcasts from.

What else?

When in Corfu, I read YOU WILL KNOW ME, by Megan Abbott. It turned out to be fantastic. At the end of the year, I read DARE ME, which was equally fantastic. You should buy her books.

And that's it. The shooting outside the window is showing me that time is running out. I'll have to go ahead and start preparing the New Year's Eve dinner.

Have a good 2018, whoever you are who's reading this.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

We're only a few hours away from the end of the year, so for brevity's sake, I will not write an all-encompassing retro- or introspective of this year and myself. Rather, I'll post mostly pictures with captions.

Going away

The time we spent away from Vienna.

Prague

We went to Prague, a first for both of us. We found a cozy little AirBnB very near to the old town and spent three days eating us through various restaurants.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017
A collection of dumplings and meats served in a small restaurant near the Prague Castle. An area, by the way, you can with no regrets choose to ignore. There's so many other places to see, there is no reason at all to wait in line for hours.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017
The view from one of the many bridges in Prague. There's so many tourists around, try not to cross the

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Also, loads of museums. The national museums are spectacular and apart from a very affordable 15€ to access all of them, they were more or less deserted. See the below picture of the museum of modern art as a symbolic representation of said deserted state.
A list of noteworthy things in 2017

It's unfathomable to me how so few people would visit these places, but my best guess is, that Prague is just so full of great things, it's hard to go everywhere.

Anyway, that was Prague. The train from Vienna to Prague, by the way, had a happy hour when we went, which made for the cheapest, best beer I've ever had on a train. I later found out that happy hour is all the time on those trains.

Corfu

Our first time on Corfu but most probably not our last. We spent a week in a small village with might as well have been created for tourists alone. At least it looked that way. It wasn't to our detriment, because it meant that on a stretch of roughly 800 meters, we'd find about 30 restaurants nestled against a sandy beach.

We ate, swam and drank. I also read YOU WILL KNOW ME by Megan Abott there, and was turned into an instant fan.

Have some pictures.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Munich

We also spent a few days in Munich for my birthday. It was a bit of an impromptu vacation, but turned out to be quite fantastic. I won't bother you with the details here, because I've already written two accounts of what we did there. You can find them here and here.

Scotland

Well, what can I say? Scotland is the best and we spent two weeks driving through the highlands and the Western isles. I'm still planning on writing a few more words about it, but whenever I try to, I realize that words and even pictures won't do the whole thing justice. Still, here's some pictures.

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

A list of noteworthy things in 2017

Podcasts

Podcasts have seen quite a surge in popularity in 2017. Which is fine by me, considering we're still going strong with Zeitsprung, a history podcast in German about, well, stories from history. We managed to keep up our schedule of posting an episode a week. You should check it out, if you speak German.

Also, there is this funny saying that once you start podcasting, you'll sooner or later not be content with making just one. Not sure if that's actually a saying, but it happened that way with me. So in 2017, I also created my very own podcast for my other project, the selfhostedweb.org.

It's about software you can install on your own server in order to not be dependent on hosted services as much. The release cycle is somewhat slower than Zeitsprung, but I did manage to release four episodes (the latest of which just yesterday). It's in English, in order to be able to reach more than just the German-speaking world. You can find it here or wherever you usually get your podcasts from.

What else?

When in Corfu, I read YOU WILL KNOW ME, by Megan Abbott. It turned out to be fantastic. At the end of the year, I read DARE ME, which was equally fantastic. You should buy her books.

And that's it. The shooting outside the window is showing me that time is running out. I'll have to go ahead and start preparing the New Year's Eve dinner.

Have a good 2018, whoever you are who's reading this.

November 16 2017

Twitter and 280 characters

Twitter and 280 characters

A few days ago Twitter upped the number of characters per tweet from 140 to 280 characters. It's an interesting development that sparked ire from many and praise from nobody (the silent majority just get on with their lives).

I wanted to leave a few thoughts about this here. Because, as you might have noticed, I've become quite critical of the way Twitter has turned what once was a thriving ecosphere of bloggers in return for a thriving company - at least when it comes to users, not so much when it comes to actual profits.

I think that the lowering of the character limit is a step in a direction which is quite directly linked to the fact that in the end, people do like to read and write more than just those few characters. Just take a look at this trend that emerged during the last few years: the "thread". Instead of trying to convey whatever they need to in 140 characters, people instead create twitter threads, and naturally, you can write as many tweets as you want to make up that thread. It's a direct result of people wanting the immediacy and interconnectedness of Twitter, while still writing blogpost-length pieces. Creating threads of snippets that then make up one big piece is one solution - a bloggerization of Twitter in a way. It's also a clumsy and cumbersome way to both write and read.

Upping the character limit to 280 characters is then not that stupid of a thing to do. People will write longer pieces anyway, only now those threads don't have to comprise twenty tweets, but ten. It's still clumsy though and I think we're moving towards a total nixing of the character limit. It's what Facebook did and it's something Twitter should have done from the start. By now, barely anyone but those who consider themselves the guardians of something like classic Twitter really cares about the character limit. What Twitter lives off of is the fact that it's now a social network with a focus on the written word, and that's its strength. Why create artificial limitations? Because some people bemoan the fact that they're not forced to keep their texts brief? That's akin to smokers who bemoan lax smoking laws that keep them from quitting smoking. It's a way to look at things, but it's a stupid one.

And if we're honest, by now a person's Twitter page is basically what a blog consists of, by definition:

  • tags
  • links
  • pictures
  • videos
  • comments

The only thing missing is a title to tweets and generally, finding a title to a blogpost, especially if you blog often, is usually the hardest part about the whole damn thing - just look at my rather uninspired title.

Now, do I think that development is a good thing? Well, I do and I don't. If it were up to me, we'd all use our own blogs, but have them linked in one way or another to facilitate discussion and interaction. The thing is, we were almost there back in around 2000 to 2005. With tools like Technorati, a good feed reader and a bit of commenting discipline, the network of blogs felt both connected and individual. It was the heyday of personal blogs, but I'm under no illusion that we'll ever be able to find our way back there. With companies like Twitter and Facebook and their stranglehold on networking and the ensuing communication, getting people to pack up their stuff and spend even a few hours a month on maintaining their individual place on the web is a thing of the past.

Still, I think people should take a good, hard look at the way they're using Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) and decide whether it wouldn't be worth a shot to move to a platform that affords them full creative freedom, both when it comes to format and content, instead of trying to cram their thoughts into the idiosyncracies of a service that wasn't ever meant to be used that way.

Twitter and 280 characters

Twitter and 280 characters

A few days ago Twitter upped the number of characters per tweet from 140 to 280 characters. It's an interesting development that sparked ire from many and praise from nobody (the silent majority just get on with their lives).

I wanted to leave a few thoughts about this here. Because, as you might have noticed, I've become quite critical of the way Twitter has turned what once was a thriving ecosphere of bloggers in return for a thriving company - at least when it comes to users, not so much when it comes to actual profits.

I think that the lowering of the character limit is a step in a direction which is quite directly linked to the fact that in the end, people do like to read and write more than just those few characters. Just take a look at this trend that emerged during the last few years: the "thread". Instead of trying to convey whatever they need to in 140 characters, people instead create twitter threads, and naturally, you can write as many tweets as you want to make up that thread. It's a direct result of people wanting the immediacy and interconnectedness of Twitter, while still writing blogpost-length pieces. Creating threads of snippets that then make up one big piece is one solution - a bloggerization of Twitter in a way. It's also a clumsy and cumbersome way to both write and read.

Upping the character limit to 280 characters is then not that stupid of a thing to do. People will write longer pieces anyway, only now those threads don't have to comprise twenty tweets, but ten. It's still clumsy though and I think we're moving towards a total nixing of the character limit. It's what Facebook did and it's something Twitter should have done from the start. By now, barely anyone but those who consider themselves the guardians of something like classic Twitter really cares about the character limit. What Twitter lives off of is the fact that it's now a social network with a focus on the written word, and that's its strength. Why create artificial limitations? Because some people bemoan the fact that they're not forced to keep their texts brief? That's akin to smokers who bemoan lax smoking laws that keep them from quitting smoking. It's a way to look at things, but it's a stupid one.

And if we're honest, by now a person's Twitter page is basically what a blog consists of, by definition:

  • tags
  • links
  • pictures
  • videos
  • comments

The only thing missing is a title to tweets and generally, finding a title to a blogpost, especially if you blog often, is usually the hardest part about the whole damn thing - just look at my rather uninspired title.

Now, do I think that development is a good thing? Well, I do and I don't. If it were up to me, we'd all use our own blogs, but have them linked in one way or another to facilitate discussion and interaction. The thing is, we were almost there back in around 2000 to 2005. With tools like Technorati, a good feed reader and a bit of commenting discipline, the network of blogs felt both connected and individual. It was the heyday of personal blogs, but I'm under no illusion that we'll ever be able to find our way back there. With companies like Twitter and Facebook and their stranglehold on networking and the ensuing communication, getting people to pack up their stuff and spend even a few hours a month on maintaining their individual place on the web is a thing of the past.

Still, I think people should take a good, hard look at the way they're using Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) and decide whether it wouldn't be worth a shot to move to a platform that affords them full creative freedom, both when it comes to format and content, instead of trying to cram their thoughts into the idiosyncracies of a service that wasn't ever meant to be used that way.

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