#weeklyreview 51/23

Sunday – Double advent

Last weekend we had the double advent pleasure in our part of the village. Saturday was our turn of the living advent calendar and Sunday ours neighbours 50m down the street. Lovely afternoon with good food, open fire and music.

In the morning the usual suspect had a swim in the lake – as every Sunday 🙂

Monday

Starting the week with a workout session seems to become a habit. I usually do 30min of rowing, ~ 30 min cycling and another 20min strength training. The gym machines usually show a much higher calorie burn than my watch. 16 min of cycling for the watch at indoor training session was 177 Cal while the bike computer showed 500 Cal.

30min on the rowing machine at max resistance got me 242 Cal on the Apple Watch but 403 Cal on the rowing machine computer.

But there seems to be a clear trend in the right direct at the weight scale. Coming 96,4kg at the begin of November I’m down to 92kg at the mid of December.

In the evening Kiddo and me went to the Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei again. She hadn’t been at one of the larger Christmas markets in Berlin so far as in the last years the pandemic and also the illness of my wife didn’t leave much time for such events. Fortunately she picked one of the smaller and quieter markets and not the one with all the Ferris wheel and other fancy stuff that are even more overcrowded and loud.

And of course we even met a few people there by chance. Even some from our small village in the countryside. What a coincidence.

Thursday

On Thursday I had the pleasure to host a friend from the Fediverse. He was looking for a bed to stay for one night in Berlin. He managed to make his way by train despite all the disruptions due to mismanagement and weather.

The last formal work week had some last minute challenges. Again due to mismanagement and especially lack of communication several teams had to improvise and rush to the occasion. My job was to get these teams together and coordinate across teams and especially time zones. But eventually we delivered thanks to people on the ground taking ownership and commitment.

Friday

Finally we took off for the countryside. Ready for the holidays and Christmas. In the evening I attended another event of the living advent calendar in the nearby village. Fortunately the storm and rain had subsided enough that a partial outdoor event was possible.

Saturday

The last event of the living advent calendar. It was meant to have a fire show. But unfortunately the hosts were sick. So we improvised and printed out some traditional Christmas songs to sing together around the fire at the central place by the church. Some people brought food and beverages and so the it was a lovely evening again.

Especially after some Glühwein the elderly people start to tell stories from the past village live. That’s always funny.

#weeklyreview 50/23

Monday – Workout

good start into the week with an 90 min gym session. Winter is gone in Berlin, so was able to ride the bike into the office.

Tuesday – Enpal Solar

Had to drive to the countryside to meet an engineer from Enpal Solar for onsite inspection of our house. They are supposed to make an offer for a PV with storage and Wallbox. The good thing about their offer seems to be it’s really all inklusive. one doesn’t have to worry about permissions, craftsmen etc.

On the backside … their offer sounds really expensive compared to the mere bill of materials. We’ll see.

Later in the day iOS 17.2 was released with the new Journal app. A direct competition to apps like “Day One” I’d say. But after playing around for a bit I’m rather underwhelmed. The automatic suggestions are nice, but the UI over all seems uninspired. Also the app is only available on iOS. Not on the desktop or web (yet). Makes it less useful for me really. But I guess Apple will evolve it over time and eventually push other journaling apps out of business. Bad monopoly move.

Wednesday – Weihnachtsmarkt Kulturbrauerei

A small group of colleagues met at the Christmas market at Kulturbrauerei. Since our teams are now mostly scattered all over the world, the team spirit is a bit trickier to maintain than in the good old days. The remainder of the Berlin systems engineering force got together to enjoy a few Glühwein and Bratwurst at the Christmas market. Kulturbrauerei was only food and crafts stuff. No loud music and other fancy stuff. Still too many people for my taste.

Thursday – Corporate Christmas Party

Our Berlin office Christmas party took place in the office this year. OK with me. What I liked was the fact that the company offered voluntary company sponsored COVID tests upfront for all participants. I hope that many people took the chance and tested themselves. As usual, I came out negative. Which is positive I guess.

Metas microblogging/fediverse network Threads.net is now available in EU. People in Europe can now download the app and turn their Instagram Account into a mastodon-like account with Threads.net.

And of course, no day on the internet without drama. So immediately some instances where shouting out that they will block threads.net on their instances because Meta is evil.

I’ll not (yet) block threads.net on the instance level. I’ll let the individual users decide. I had myself a look at the app. One can read without creating an account. Thats good. But for me it also made it clear at the first glimpse that it’s not even remotely interesting. It seems the same capitalistic shitshow that Twitter was and Instagram is to some extend.

In more exciting new the new Hipstamatic V10 was released. Thats one of my earlier iOS apps at all. I like their visual design and the idea of just combining lenses and films to get digital image effects instead of working with filters. Effectively it’s the same, but I like the skeuomorphism of the app.

Saturday – Living Advents Calendar

The second year in a row our little village community organised what we call a living advent calendar. The idea is to bring the people together for some cosy winter evening. Every day in advent a different household hosts a session and treats the guests with warm beverages, food and all sorts of entertainment. This way you get to know the neighbours better and hopefully make new friends as well.

This Saturday was our turn again and we performed some house music with the accordion and piano. Of course there was Glühwein, Schmalzstullen and fire pits.

#weeklyreview 49/23

Fixing the 3D Printer

My 3D printer was doing poorly lately. The prints came out with rather brittle layer adhesion and it looked like there was something wrong with the extrusion. I had already swapped out the nozzle and the Bowden pipe as I thought they were worn out. But that didn’t fix the problem. I recalibrated my E-steps but that only very slightly improved the situation. Almost accepting the fact that I might have to get a new extruder I took the old one apart to check whats going on.

And the problem was rather obvious after disassembling. The arm that presses a while against the threaded axle of the extruder was partially cracked. So it didn’t apply enough pressure to push the filament against the threaded wheel that pushes the filament into the hot end.

Fortunately I still had an all metal extruder laying around that I could fit in place. Just took a little bit of machining with a drill to sink a screw head that was peeking out too high to mount the extruder in my gantry.

Now the printer is working properly again and I can waste more filament on silly prints 😉

Document Archive

Last week I was writing about my adventure of finding alternatives for Evernote for mainly document archival and search. I tried Obsidian, but found it not suitable for storing large amounts of documents with my chosen sync method.

So I had another look at Paperless NGX. Thats and actual open source document management system that can be self hosted.

It can read documents either from an input folder or check email boxes periodically for new input. Alternatively documents can be uploaded via the web interface or the API (which allows dedicated clients for the likes of mobile phones and such)

The documents will be converted into PDF/A (a long term archive format of PDF) and OCR performed. This will help automatically tagging and classifying the documents. Paperless learns over time which documents belong to which correspondent (think sender of the document) and which tags you usually assign to them. At first you have to do this work manually via the web interfaces. But Paperless has a learning function build in that will (hopefully) get smarter over time to automatically find all these meta information for documents.

You can also define various storage path schemes and apply to documents. These documents will then be moved into the respective folder structure etc.

My first practical use case was my 2022 taxes. I just scanned all the documents and send them to Paperless. In the web interface I applied tags for each document and set the respective sender as correspondent. In most cases Paperless already detected the correct sent date and change the meta data of the paperless document to the original sent date. This way you get your documents in chronological order even if they were entered into Paperless on the same date.

Once all documents were properly tagged I created a new storage path and: “Tax 2022/{correspondent}/{title}”

Then I searched Paperless for all documents that have the tag “steuern2022” and bulk applied this new storage path to them. As a result I now had a folder named “Tax 2022” in my Paperless installation where all the tax relevant documents were stored in folders per correspondent.

I had tried Paperless before in an earlier version but didn’t fully grasp the use case. Admittedly it was also quite a while ago and the interface wasn’t as nice back then and also the automatic tagging etc. didn’t work.

But now it looks pretty usable to me and seems to be a hot candidate as my main document archive. It stores documents in a standard format and also makes their content searchable with OCR (only does OCR if there is not already an OCR layer in the incoming document). It can read from mailboxes and I also got a mobile clients for iOS to share documents via the iOS Share function into Paperless.

Now that I’ve found a solution for my documents, I kept them out of Obsidian and thus decreased the size of my Obsidian vault dramatically. Thy syncing via the community plugin and my own couchDB now works pretty flawless.

For me this could be a viable replacement for Evernotes: Obsidian for mere text notes, Paperless NGX for documents.

Nikolaus day

Heart melting scenes this morning. The excitement of the kids for upcoming Nikolaus day was unevenly distributed yesterday evening. The little girl cleaned her shoes in preparation and was rather excited. The boy thought he figured the Nikolaus game out already and doesn’t have to do anything as he’d anyway get something. Just out of habit I guess.

This morning only shoes of the little girl were filled with sweets and gifts. Although the two of them used to fight all the time she immediately felt sorry for her brother and started to share her sweets with him. Thats my girl 🥰

Of course the boy later also got something smuggled into his shoes …

Winter tires

We had quite a bit of snow since last week. Not as disturbing as in the south of Germany but enough to make the roads dangerous. Especially if your car still has the summer tires on. For reasons I don’t want to discuss here I was also one of them and had a few situations off the road where I feared I got stuck with the car.

Today I finally got the winter tires put on and can drive a little more safely for the rest of the winter.

School concert

The school of our daughter has a whole bunch of musical offerings. Her class gets extra lessons on instruments and there are afternoon courses for a choir and other music stuff as well. Today was the annual school concert where the music classes and courses show their performances.

It was quite amazing to see how quickly the kids picked up playing the new instruments. The class of my daughter only started playing instruments (strings and wind instruments) about 4 months ago and they already performed a couple of songs on stage.

The highlight was the big band playing “Don’t stop me now!” from Queen and the pupils band playing Kraftklub. They really enjoyed themselves and got the crowd moving.

Amongst all the bad news about the German school system and all its problems this was heartwarming to see that there are still teachers caring and inspiring the kids. They encourage them to step outside their comfort zones and achieve something great. The audience was appreciative and I think the kids were also quite proud of themselves. And rightfully so.

Ribs

On Thursday evening two friends (also colleagues) and me finally went to Chicago Williams BBQ again. To my taste they have the best ribs in Berlin. Don’t waste your time and capacity on other dishes there. Go straight for the pork ribs and maybe allow some mash and gravy as a side. The pictures shows our starter selection of beef ribs and pork ribs. But I had to order 2 times more 😉

#weeklyreview 48/23

Sheeessh, the year is almost over… time flies.

This week I looked into possible alternatives for Evernote. I pump all my documents into Evernote since decades. It’s a trusty store for all my admin stuff and some notes and has saved my bacon several times when traveling. Whenever I needed some official documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.), I was able to pull them out of Evernote and unlock the things like immigration into South Africa or getting temporary passports at the embassy.

But it’s always good to have alternatives in case the enshittification of services spreads to further tools I use. I also like (and dislike) being in complete control of my own data. So looking at services that would keep notes in a durable format, sync across devices via my own facilities and can possibly import Evernote data.

This time I took a deeper look at Obsidian. A free for personal use note editor that stores in MarkDown files. Sync can be done via file sync services like iCloud Drive, DropBox etc.

Obsidian also offers their own paid sync service.

Using iCloud Sync isn’t optimal as iCloud now has this on-demand sync. If files are not needed for a while, they’ll be deleted from the device and downloaded on demand once needed again. This however will mess with Obsidian as it expects files to be there.

I found a community plugin for Obsidian which offers a live sync capability via a CouchDB. That I can host myself and thus have all the data location and syncing under my control.

But it turned out that plugin is still under heavy development and changes features rapidly. At least the E2E encryption was replaced while I was testing. That requires a re-sync of the whole database.

I had exported all my Evernote notebooks into the ENEX format. Obsidian is able to read this and import the notes including their attachments and some metadata. So far so good. But turns out that almost 6GB of data seems a bit too chunky for my CouchDB setup. Syncing one device took several days. Given that the plugin changed and I had to re-do the syncing several times … too much hassle for the moment.

I eventually decided to not put the heavy Evernote archive into Obsidian. The app is more for note taking, not so much for storing Documents (as in PDFs and other attachments). Notes are much smaller and sync almost instantly via the CouchDB backend.

Spotify Wrapped

This week the famous Spotify year review came out. Not much surprise in there. I also believe that the stats are wrong. I do like Queens of the Stone Age. But now way I was listening to “Feed don’t fail me now” more often than songs from one of the other top artists in the list. Anyway..

And I know that people keep complaining how Spotify is not paying the artists fairly. For me Spotify is almost the exclusive way to consume music nowadays. They run the infrastructure and pay for the network bandwidth to deliver the music as well as providing clients and integration into a lot of appliances. A hear nobody complain about the major records labels anymore. What value do they provide these days in getting the music to the fans?

Winter

Winter finally arrived and brought a whole bunch of snow. In Berlin especially black ice. Monday I still managed to bike into work. But it was dangerously slippery. Of course the pedestrian and bike paths were mostly not cleared or gritted.

Keto diet

I’ve finally started to seriously try and loose some weight. My approach is a mix of special diet and more exercise.

On the diet side I’m trying a no-carb diet. Simply means avoid any carbohydrates in my diet. No other restrictions. No carbs is almost impossible as almost any food contains some of them. But I’m trying to stay well below 50g/day. Idea is that the body metabolism is adapting from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy.

The effect is already visible on the scale 😉

#weeklyreview 47/23

Admittedly last weeks review was a little late. Too late… To make up for that, I’m publishing this one on Sunday 😉

Last Sunday our weekly swimming was really just a small group as most of the people were busy otherwise. Water was at around 6ºC. Didn’t try to cross the lake as there wasn’t enough time.

Started Monday with one hour of rowing in the office gym. Tuesday I made due with just half an hour of indoor cycling. That was the last day of the week I could properly exercise as on Tuesday morning I received my yearly flu vaccination from the company doctor and was advised to keep it low for the next few days to let the body build the antibodies against the flu.

Nevertheless couldn’t resist to have a long walk Wednesday evening to get at least some exercise and fresh air.

On this day the colleague brought his coffee equipment to the office. So we got to enjoy proper coffee and a show 😉

On Thursday I was tinkering around with the Flipper Zero and its new App Store. Found an App than can read and display the values of the most popular temperature sensors.

Unfortunately the App broke a little later when Flipper pushed out an updated firmware. I checked the repository of the app and tried to build the app myself fixing the things the build process was complaining about.

And after half a night of trial and error I got it running eventually and was able to build me the smallest weather station. I still had a DHT22 sensor which I consider quite bulky for my other projects. But it’s pin-out fits directly into the Flipper Zeros GPIO ports:

The thingy even had a cameo in one of my BeReals 😉

Friday it finally got more seriously cold. During the week we already had a low of -6ºC on the countryside and even Berlin had around -2ºC.

Friday Evening it even started to snow. Enough to cover the lawn with a thin blanket of snow.

Saturday evening we had our annual party of the “Leben in Groß Dölln e.V.”. It was a lovely get-together again in a great venue. Everyone brought their favourite food to share and good wine. Lot’s of fun and inspiring conversations. Really good to see the village community still thriving and growing.

#weeklyreview 46/23

After the successful mushroom foraging session on Saturday it was now my duty to risk my life and eat them.

If you’re reading this … I survived 😉 Turned into one delicious meal 😉

Was playing around with ownTracks as a self-hosted location tracking app. The idea is to have the ability to track various mobile devices but keep the data under my control. While the built-in iOS (“Find my”) and Android (Google Maps) are convenient, the also leave the data on Apples/Google server to fuck around with.

ownTracks is a simple app that can send the position data to an arbitrary MQTT backend. I’m hosting my own Mosquitto instance and use the ownTracks Recorder app to visualise the data on OpenStreetMaps.

The connection to the MQTT broker is of course using TLS encryption. To add security and hide the data from the MQTT broker one can define an encryption passphrase. Now the MQTT broker sees only encrypted data. Via this secret you can also share your position with friends. All devices with the same encryption key can see the location of the other members.

It gets interesting when you add POIs and geofences. The clients can send a special message when leaving or entering a certain location. This way one can automate geo location based events (e.q. the classical “turn the lights on when I’m coming home” example etc.). The ownTracks Recorder app also records “tracks” means it doesn’t only collect the individual points but draws line/routes where one moved. So you can display your own moving profile over time.

Wednesday

I felt fancy and took my coffee gear to the office. Thats the Wacaco Picopresso and the HARIO Travel Grinder. I pre-weighed the coffee beans at home and stored them in the little metal containers I’ve kept from my coffee bean advent calendar last year.

Saturday – mushrooms again

On Saturday we’ve been invited over to our friends place in the next village for a little walk in the forest and maybe some mushroom picking again.

And it was crazy. On just a 30m strip right outside the village we filled 3 baskets of mushrooms and had to stop as our storage capacity was exceeded. Those will be cut into small pieces and dried up for later use. Mostly in sauces to stews and the like.

#weeklyreview 45/23

Sheeesh, already late again with my weekly review.

Tried to up my gym game again this week. Starting with rowing machine on Monday. Resting a bit on Tuesday and then doing some long walks on Wednesday. Our bunch of weirdoes considers a hiking trip in Greenland next year. In preparation I need to stark doing longer hikes with weight in the backpack. So I took my large rucksack to carry my work backpack and my gym backpack and walked all the way to the office. Also had session on the “Elliptical Strider” and Sam forced me into a core workout 😀

This week the sun came out the time I was traveling to the office and gave a nice glow to some building tops. Although the days were mostly cloudy and rainy, that was still a nice sight.

In the evening our little travel group met for beers and I might have slightly had too much of the Lemke’s IPA.

they didn’t come for me though

Thursday another meeting of our infamous Beer & Burger group took place at Hirsch & Eber. Delicious burger with game meet. Can definitely recommend.

Another jogging session in the morning on Friday since my running partner from our house was out sick again this week I had go alone.

Saturday @sirki & @moellus finally came over to reinstantiate our yearly mushroom foraging session. That was paused for some years due to my wife’s health conditions.

That was a lovely reunion although almost all our kids opted out. Back in the days our two families were a force of nature as we tend to show up with 10 people from just two families 😀

We made Pizza and even found some mushrooms on our stroll through the forest.

I’ve got a super lovely new coffee cup from @moellus. This is my new favourite cup in the house now 🙂

all my jobs are better with coffee

Tried to stay away from carbohydrates in my diet this week. Of course had a few cheat meals, but slowly getting there.

Some bookmarks from this week:

#weeklyreview 44/23

Sunday we had lunch at my parents side and enjoyed the kids favourite German dumplings menu 🙂

Swam the lake and figured that the Apple Watch can record the heart rate while swimming. In contrast to my Garmin Fenix which refused to do so. The GPS tracking during swimming seems to be a tad bit better with the Fenix though. But I was out of training and had to do a couple of breast strokes. The water finally has temperature around 10ºC. Unfortunately the Apple Watch that I have doesn’t have a temperature sensor.

On Monday I had to get back to work. Working remotely though as the kids were still on vacation. So we spent the time in the countryside.

Tuesday

This was our 16th wedding anniversary. But we live together for much longer already. And hopefully for many more years to come <3

Formally I had to work, but in the afternoon the stormy weather caused a power outage in our village and also took away mobile data reception. Good excuse to have a trip to the Werbellinsee and Szczecin, Poland

Wednesday

Saw a large pike at the lake

Thursday

Spontaneous trip to a “nearby” cinema to watch “Killers Of The Flower Moon” by Martin Scorsese. Very good (and rather long) movie. Awesome performance by Lily Gladstone.

Saturday

Finally cleaning up the property of all the half-dead plants and fallen off leaves. It’s finally getting a bit of autumn vibes. Apparently we had a whole lot of pots in use for this years tomato growing.

#weeklyreview 43/23

The alarm clock went off at 5am on Sunday. Plan was to leave at 6am for #Leuven, Belgium to visit the oldest kid at the University over there for a few days.

We eventually took off at 6:30am which I consider a success. A long drive ahead of us and me as the only driver this time. But since it was a Sunday, the Autobahn was OK. Apart of course from the Ruhrgebiet …

Eventually we arrived in Leuven at around 3pm

We booked the cheapest hotel we could get and the rooms don’t disappoint the low expectations 😉 But the beds are OK and we really don’t use it for more than 3 nights to sleep. So why spend more? Leuven is a rather beautiful city with lots of places to kill time.

On Monday we were visiting various places in Leuven. First the university library which was burned down two times by German soldiers in world war 1 and 2. We had a good view over the city from the top of the library tower. There was an ongoing exhibition about censorship.

Then we went on to the botanical gardens where the city were just about to store all the palm trees for winter that were decorating the city.

Tuesday we took the train to Brussels and payed The Atomium the mandatory visit. Quite impressive from the outside. Inside the usual exhibits about how the place was build and renovated over the years.

After that we drove into the city center by tram to visit the chocolate story museum. That was informative and delicious.

Just around the corner was the famous Mannekin Pis which we only noticed due to a huge crowd of Asian tourists being photographed by their tour guide in front the Mannekin. While writing this review I learned that they apparently dress up the figure on a regular basis with suits. Check the link above for pictures of that.

Wednesday was rather rainy. We had our famous yellow rain jackets and no fear. But the draw back with those jackets is that all the water goes straight down to your legs. If you don’t have watertight trousers as well, you still get rather wet. I also figured out that my trusty Blundstone shoes finally got severely cracked soles and giving me wet feets in the conditions as well.

We had plans to visit the St. Peters church in the old city center. But eventually had to learn that just this month it’s closed on Wednesdays for the public 🙁
So we ended up visiting the old town hall across the street from the church. There was an exhibition about Dieric Bouts – the cities famous painter and sculpture artist.

This was quite impressive as just on this day additional rooms of the town hall were open. There was a very kind old guide in the exhibition which gave us additional explanations in German as the electronic tour guide was only available in English.

In the evening my daughter an me went to the “Grand Cafe Industrie” (I don’t link to their page as that is apparently malware infected at the moment). One of two old but beautifully kept cafes at the place near the train station. Belgium is famous for their beers and of course I had to try one at least once during the drip.

Thursday morning we hit the road again to go back to Berlin. This time during the week, with heavy traffic expected on the Autobahn. Overall I think we were lucky that there was no real standstill for more than 2-3 Minutes. But it was quite full and basically a long chain of Trucks from the German border all the way to Berlin. It just shows that Germany completely messed up its goods transport system. Only relying on Autobahn and trucks is a rather stupid idea. Most of these trucks do long distance transports and could have easily gone on trains.

Over all this trip was quite depressing for “a German”. The Netherlands and Belgium seem to work much better than Germany. People seem more calm, friendlier and overall happier I’d say.

Friday we went off to the countryside after breakfast. Autumn has finally arrived and although rather late. Only now, at the end of October, the trees turn colourful and still got most of their leaves. Sky is grey with heavy clouds and misty rain. If you know me… than you know I like every season 😉

#weeklyreview 42/23

Uuh… week number #42 … a geek number.

Last week I asked regarding the option to publish the weekly review already at the beginning of the week and just add to it as the week progresses. There was one feedback on this from @Sascha. He hinted that this would rather be something for

Monday

The rowing machine has a new display with a power graph. So I got challenged and finished the 30min with 7171m and 177W average output. That was about 1km more than usual 😱

Tuesday

Can you believe it was finally freezing in the morning in Berlin?

And because one day in the gym wasn’t enough, I hit it Tuesday again. But this time only a bit of spinning and strength training as my friend Sam was occupying the rowing machine.

Wednesday

Got an appointment for another COVID vaccination at a local pharmacy. They at first wondered a bit as I’m “well” below my 60s and the last vaccination was only in February this year. But eventually they agreed it makes sense as I’m the first degree care taking person of a high risk patient.

As usual, no symptoms from the vaccination for me. Knocking on wood that I keep my streak of not being sick since a decade. Ditched Corona so far. Might as well be immune or just don’t get symptoms. But I’m also careful and wearing masks again in public and during shopping etc.

In the evening I met with Michael and Sam over beers (alcohol free for me to not disturb the vaccine). We had too much fun and I guess the guests around us were slightly annoyed about us 🤷

Thursday

Lots of rain. Finally. Big storm on the Baltic Sea approaching.

Kid sick and staying home. Hope she’ll be alright by Sunday as we want to go on a short trip to Belgium.

Saturday

Quick trip to the countryside to deliver laundry and supplies for my wife. Spontaneous visit to the Asian restaurant in Prenzlau.

Early to bed as Sunday morning we want to hit the road to Leuven, Belgium.