As Far From Civilization As Possible

Hello internet friends,

after I’ve given you so much to read last week, this week it’s a whole different story. Or… well, three stories.

Turns out Your Drunk Self May Actually Be the Real You
Sleepy, slightly sad and just wanting to go home? Yeah, sounds about right.

E-scooters – even near me they suddenly creep up, those nasty little buggers. Because riding them is just slightly above vaping on the scale of obnoxious things to do in public, these things mostly stand around and are not being used. Which for me is a data point for the fact that there is still hope for humanity. But I guess if you had to use one of them for something, this is a pretty good idea: I Rode an E-Scooter as Far From Civilization as Its Batteries Could Take Me

The new Formula 1 season is upon us. And while I really don’t follow the sport really all that much anymore, I had a chuckle at this: Who has the fastest website in F1?
(And talking about F1 – the Netflix documentary series on the 2018 season is actually pretty compelling to watch, even if you’re not into the sport itself.)

That’s all for today,



Hello internet friends,

have you ever been so convinced of something so obviously wrong that you decided that the best way to show the world how right you are is shoot yourself into the sky with a steam-powered rocket?
No? Well… this guy would answer yes: That Flat Earther Finally Took Off in His DIY Rocket to Prove We’re All Idiots

I’ll not comment on this one, but enjoy: The difference between a snafu, a shitshow, and a clusterfuck
This is a very good article. Also very good: the Back to Work episode about that article.

These days most of us get our music from the big streaming services. As we’ve seen time and time again, this is problematic. But you know: convenience.
And we never really wonder how these things work for the musicians, except for some vague idea that they’re not getting a lot of money from it. But there is another angle and it is actually quite interesting: My Surprisingly Difficult Quest to Get My Song “Punch a Nazi in the Face” on the Internet

Yuja Wang: a personal portrait of the star pianist
This is a great documentary, I actually never really wondered how the life of these globetrotting musicians is and this is a bit of an eye-opener.


Like Nobody Is Watching

Hello internet friends!

It’s the first Monday after switching to daylight savings time here where I am and ugh that switch is not being gentle to me. Oh well.


Something tells me that a behind-the-scenes documentary would be a lot more interesting than the real show could ever be: TV show contestants spend year in wilderness – with no one watching. The decision to just keep the contestants doing their thing while the show went off the air, the fact that someone still paid the people involved, the slow unraveling where contestants sneaked out to buy alcohol and get haircuts in a nearby village. That would make one hell of a miniseries.


Cities are pretty neat – there’s a whole bunch of people and things tend to be a bit more interesting. But how exactly did these things start? Who decided that living close to strangers would be a good idea? Turns out nobody, really – but people arranged themselves around the idea because they all happened to hang out at the same place of worship.


Usually the voices in my head are from podcasters but who knows – at some point some voice without a body might tell me their opinion on the latest tech news without me putting on headphones. If that ever happens, I know now who to contact. The Hearing Voices Network.


I’m not sure how important it is that a dishwasher has a web server. Or that it is even connected to the internet. But if you’re a company that builds internet-connected dishwashers with a web server component you might want to make sure there are updates when someone finds a bug. Instead we now have a hackable Miele dishwasher.


So… what exactly is the difference between gambling and insurance? The line is very blurry indeed.

Well, let’s put a chip in it and call it smart.

Bot Reckons

Hello internet friends,

so many things we have learned about technology last week.
I personally had to learn that emoji might not work as email subject line. Oh well.

Mostly we had to learn that it takes about one day for the internet to ruin everything. At least we got this headline out of it: Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours

But of course we can learn so much from it! We can learn that Microsoft has been running a bot like this in China for quite some while which did somehow not become a nazi sex bot. (I saw Nazi Sex Bot in a small underground club before they broke into the mainstream and called themselves Tokio Hotel.)
Then there are the smart people who have been doing internet-facing bots for a while, they have some reckons, too. For a good primer on text bots and how Microsoft made the most basic mistake with their Tay, look no further than this introductory article by Ben Brown. And then there’s Motherboard’s Sarah Jeong with How to Make a Bot That Isn’t Racist.
Well, good to know. My bot – and you knew I had to had one at some point – is just twitter_ebooks running with my tweets. So its baseline for terribleness is me, which of course might already be a problem.

More automated bot things!
Watch an automated deer run around GTA. And yes, people will have to learn how to drive self-driving cars.

Other stuff!
Wired has a big feature on the comedians in Silicon Valley and how the comedy business works these days.
And The Guardian has the best argument in favour of cash.

Be safe out there, have a good week.


Hello internet friends!

A day early and a very short one, I’m on the road tomorrow, but the email must go on!

TED is… well, what it is. But what it also is is the place where Monica Lewinsky held her talk on The price of shame:

“Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop,” says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant — and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way.

It is worth reading how the comments to her talk turned exactly into the point she was making – and how the community management at TED worked to turn the mood around.

What is wrong with people?

On the other hand, if you think that this is cyberbullying, you’re pretty silly.

Take care.

Tiny People

Hello internet friends!

Beware the owls of March!
Well, March is over soon, so we should be relatively safe. Onwards!

Ever since I learned about them on MetaFilter I have been fascinated with K-HOLE and their reports. (And I am sure by now you have heard of and have gotten sick of “Normcore” – which might just be the group’s “Funkytown”.)
So I was pretty excited when I found a talk they gave at the Walker Art Center. It’s rather long for the kind of attention span we have these days, but it easily beats watching a bunch of TED talks.

This one is pretty delightful: The Secret Lives of the Tiny People In Architectural Renderings.
Look at all those tiny people!

I am still pretty sad that Terry Pratchett passed away – it is a bit of a ray of sunshine that he apparently managed to finish one last novel last year. It’s a Tiffany Aching novel, called “The Shepherd’s Crown” and will be published later this year.

Have a good week, everyone!


Some shameless self-promotion: I have mentioned my link blog in these emails before. If you’re into getting emails from me, you can now have them automated, too – once a day, my link blog will send out the links of the last 24 hours, so if you’d like to get those, here you go.


1.0 Coffee!
Still slightly fired up from being angry about being angry – good day to you all, wherever you may roam. This is the first picture of that silly challenge:

2.0 Second worlds
So, Facebook bought Oculus.
For those who didn’t follow the story so far: (I know I didn’t, because I’m not much of a gamer. So if I get anything wrong, please let me know – just reply to the email.) Oculus is a Kickstarter-funded Start-Up that works on a Virtual Reality headset called Oculus Rift. A lot of indie developers jumped on the idea of an independently financed VR headset and began creating (or porting) games over.
Now that Facebook bought Oculus for a bucketload of money, many people of course feel slighted, mostly for two reason:

  1. People don’t trust Facebook.
  2. Once again the evils of capitalism crushed an indie dream of collaborative creation and cooperation. This is very much the stronger point here. None of the people who gave money to Oculus through Kickstarter is getting any money back. (As far as I know.) And all of those smaller indie software companies, that thought they’d grow together with an indie hardware company to shape the future of gaming and virtual reality, do now have to deal with a huge, mostly anonymous entity. I guess if they want that, they can just go back to developing for Sony and Microsoft hardware. And as someone who had contact with Instagram developer relations people before the Facebook deal and after, let me tell you one thing: it does make a huge difference.

Just read the blog post by Markus Persson, the guy who gave the world Minecraft.

3.0 Green! Super green!
Have a good Wednesday, everybody.

Grumpy Old Man

1.0 Arnold

It might not be such a bad idea to listen to the Nerdist podcast episode with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It is pretty fascinating, I don’t think I have ever heard or read an interview with him that was more than the usual movie promo stuff.
Go ahead, listen to it. I’ll still be here later.

Now I know he is a rather controversial person and I wouldn’t agree with many things he said, but it is fascinating nonetheless how he managed to get to where he is now. For people who actually learn lessons from stories like that, his might not be the worst one. (Work hard, invest smartly, be at the right place at the right time, don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn English.) Needless to say, I prefer the last two.

2.0 Happy!

You probably don’t know me as the most upbeat, optimistic and cheerful person around. The word that might come to mind is “grumpy.” (Which might also be because I’ve used that extensively in the past to describe myself.) I have even extensively quoted Marc Maron on positivity and yes, I do maintain a certain distrust towards “glass half full” kind of people, because they seem to be in denial about reality, man.
But fuck that. I am currently surrounded mostly by people whose main conversational topic is being angry about stuff or that things are wrong and that people are not behaving the way they are supposed to. (Remember? It is pretty bloody toxic, to be honest and I have no idea how to be part of those conversations.) I mean, what the hell is going on when I think there is too much negativity around?
So I will actually do something that I made fun of just a couple of hours ago: I will actively do that stupid #100happydays thing. Yes, it is really silly. Yes, I have figured out that it is just a thinly veiled attempt to sell people their own pictures as photobook. I have no real interest in that – all my photobook attempts so far have ended in disaster. But still! I should be able to think of a thing or two a day that at least has the potential to make me happy. And while I am at it, I will try to research something positive that can start a conversation.
“These stupid people can’t park!” – “Have you heard? They renewed ‘Episodes’ for another season!”
Maybe something different than that. But it might be a start.

3.0 Happy Happy!

I still hate those “Happy” videos. I get it, people have access to a camera and to dancing and to the internet these days. Wow. Much viral. Such Pharrell.

Yours, still grumpy that he’s not the most grumpy anymore,

Mass Transit

1.0 Public Transport

Fun fact: I actually enjoy public transport. That is probably due to the fact that I was never really in a position where I had to rely on it for more than a couple of days. But nonetheless, I actually find it to be pretty interesting to take a train. (Or god forbid, a bus.)
I am pretty sure because it is the perfect way for an introvert to be amongst people. There are people around – something that the social animal called human seems to enjoy for whatever reason – but one is not required to interact with them. In fact, it is highly discouraged to interact with them and it’s usually the starrers and talkers that seem to be attract the ire of people.
In a way, taking public transport, especially during commuting times, feels a lot like lurking on the more open social parts of the internet. One gets to experience (for better or worse) a lot of different people and their life choices – something that opens the mind and the heart to the fact that, yes, people do take very different routes through life and that this is mostly a good thing.

2.0 Gadgets!

After I mentioned my Bluetooth speaker in my last email, I got a few questions about it.
I have the Logitech UE Mini Boom, which I bought after reading about it on The Wirecutter. It’s rather small but has a good sound quality for a speaker that size. It pairs well with my iPhone, I tried it once with my mother’s Lumia, which went well, too – so I guess it works with every device that supports audio over bluetooth. The battery life is pretty incredible – once it’s charged all the way I can listen to music and podcasts on it for the whole remaining day without having to think about it. It’s much more likely that my phone ends up yammering for a recharge.

That’s all, folks.
Thanks for reading, have a good start into the week.