This page collects images and trivial stuff that might be of interest to friends and relatives. ;-)

2020-07-28 What to do if I die?

I’m trying to write a document for my wife describing all the IT stuff I run so that she knows what to do or who to contact in case I can’t do it any more. My problem is that I don’t have any friends interested in these things. Nobody knows Perl around here. The two people that do live in Estonia and Canada and they don’t share my hobbies.

What is going to happen to a site like Sure, my wife can keep them up for a while. But she’s not going to turn into a system admin? All these wikis and apps. Somebody should be running this stuff. How does one find people willing to take over? Damn. I should organise better.

How does one archive these things for the future? The problem is that people can export their data but most of them will not, I’m sure. Upload to the Web Archive? Upload to Git Hub? Both? Other stuff? Are there other archives interested in this kind of thing? I mean, in a way I feel it is part of our collective history and how is that going to work, aren’t the national archives interested in keeping copies of all these things? They usually want copies of all the printed books… but websites? Apps? I think this necessarily must change – unless the apocalypse catches up, first.

Makes me think about resilience to capitalism and the apocalypse, both. I recently read the following by @yaaps, in an unrelated thread:

You’re an artisan. Occupying niches too small for economies of scale is how this precapitalist pattern survives and how it spawns new businesses under capitalism. It relies on a certain amount of privilege in that you need free time, skills, and personal/professional connections to succeed. in addition, the artisan is vulnerable to their own success. Replacing artisans with commodity labor is how capitalism grows

To scale up while maintaining autonomy, you need to establish a worker’s collective. That provides a model to distribute income for skilled labor, as needed, without selling equity.

Yeah. I reminded me of the fact that in order to get anything done, we need to organize. I should create an association according to Swiss law to run my sites and find people interested in keeping this stuff up. And then these people can continue after I’m gone? Let me know if you’re interested and we can write some bylaws together! It’s not hard, there are templates.


Comments on 2020-07-28 What to do if I die?

An interesting idea: some sort of Sysop Buddy System.

– Alex Schroeder

That’s a tricky one. So far, things I’ve done include making sure my sites are easy to crawl and/or re-host (mainly by making them static for the most part), and making sure trusted friends have admin rights on social media groups I manage. Not sure what to do about my domain names, since I don’t have anyone who’s both trusted enough and technical enough. Your solution is interesting.

Felix 2020-07-29 15:32 UTC

Reply by Cos.

I’ve also been part of an association offering hosting … many of our members have much less interest in helping to keep it going than they once did. A few faithful plug away, but each year things feel a little more grim.

Yes, that’s what I fear. In the past, I used Eggplant Farms. Super nice one-person operation. They used to be more than one but then it all shrank down to just one, sadly. We’d have to prepare for that, too.

I think bank accounts and passwords are ok. Gotta check those instructions again, though. And perhaps find a better way to access my passwords other than using Emacs...

– Alex Schroeder 2020-07-30 05:56 UTC

Add Comment

2020-07-18 The meaning of life

There has been an interesting discussion about the meaning of life in Geminispace. It all started with acdw’s post, two days ago: “I’m having a hard time finding meaning in my life of late. I want to make money but I really don’t want to do a job all day. Like, any job.” Yesterday, maleza wrote a reply and said, “Today I can only find meaning into feeding kefir, baking sour dough bread, taking care of crops, hugging my family…”

I talked it over with my wife over breakfast on our balcony, with some self-made bread, the sun shining, a cool breeze, bees and bumblebees visiting the flowers in our pots, drinking some white tea. Such a beautiful day.

An important of this is part time work. After two years of work, I was ready to quit. But then I got the opportunity to teach for two winter semesters for one day per week and during the summer semesters I took Fridays off. When I left the position, I decided to stay at 80%. A few years later, when the company said they wouldn’t give me a raise but was there anything else they could do for me, I said I wanted to work less. I try to take all this unpaid time and my holidays in a big block in summer. A seventeen week summer break, and a few days around the holiday season.

It costs thousands of dollars in lost opportunity costs, in the capitalist mindset, but fuck that shit. You can’t take money to the next life, and your kids aren’t going to love you more when you’re dead and left them more money. Then again, I have no kids, so what do I know.

One the whole, this arrangement has been very good for me. It also leads to a big yearly mood and activity cycle, though. We already have the cycle of seasons: eight hours of sunlight in winter vs. 16 hours of sunlight in summer, warm with temperatures between 20°C and 30°C in summer and temperatures around 0°C in winter, endless grey skies and rain in autumn, glaring sunlight in spring. And now my work cycle goes along with that.

In winter I feel down, stretched thin, trampled over by Moloch and Mammon. In spring I start to take notes, start making plans. In summer, holidays begin and I fall into a hole, what am I going to do? After one or two weeks, my soul starts to blossom, unfold its leaves, make contact with the sun, drink from the fountain of life, I want to make music, paint, code, do all the things. In autumn, the sky darkens and the shadow of work comes back. Time to shrink, to fit into that box, to live in those precious hours around dinner. And so it goes.

Sure, work can be fun. I laugh and joke, I work, drink coffee, have lunch, do meetings, write code, I like my coworkers, I usually like our clients. I want to help them all, I love it when plans come together. I also hate it when I feel that we’re being treated unfairly, I hate the open plan offices and the lousy excuses we’re being offered, the need for headphones. I hate all the unfairness about salaries, dividends, unpaid overtime, even if I feel I’m doing fine. I think the problem is that it doesn’t feel real. It’s an elaborate game I need to play. I wear my mask, I play that role, and it sucks my energy. I get home and I’m tired.

I try to walk to work and back. It takes me about forty minutes. That’s because I appreciate the opportunity to slowly change into and back out of my role. I used to joke that my soul travels about as fast as I can walk. If I take the train or the tram, I come home and need half an hour of quiet time on the sofa to change. Work is draining.

I love programming as a hobby but not my job. I do my job for the money and managed to find a niche where I can work part time, but we also live in a small flat, we have no house, we have no kids, we have no car. And yet, all time off also allows me to still pursue programming as a hobby. I hardly know anybody at the office programming in their time off. Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m the only one at work enthusiastic about programming to actually do it for the love of it. And yet, this is the game: the expectation is that we all tell each other how we love the job. It’s true, I’m not quitting. I like my coworkers and my clients. But I do it for the money. Without the money, I wouldn’t be doing it. Isn’t that proof enough? If we do it for the money, then it’s not love.

So, coming back to the question of meaning. I think it should be obvious by now that the meaning of life cannot be found in the work we do. I suspect that even if you’re working for doctors without borders, you think your life has meaning, and you do the thing, but you’re also haunted by the terror of life on earth, the injustice of it all, the randomness of fate, the never ending charnel house of the reality we’ve created for ourselves, humans all.

What is it, then? Does the question have an answer? I say it does not. But you’re a human, and humans are equipped with a body optimised for a monkey life, and therefore the things we enjoy are the things our monkey nature enjoys, and we can lose ourselves in life. When we do, the question has no meaning. Who cares if it has meaning if you’re in the flow? Yeah, this is where all the words turn out to say the same thing maleza said in the pithy words quoted in the first paragraph. To live your life making food, growing food, with friends and family, making and building things, talking and laughing, playing and looking, seeing other humans, seeing the world, the mountains and flowers, the forest, the ground, to simply focus on our senses, the smells, the sights. This is why I love to run in the forests and mountains.

In a way, it’s that endless texture of life that captivates me. The world of forests and branches and leaves and light falling through and dancing on the floor, needles, mushrooms, pebbles, grass, flowers, bushes, the wind in our face, the air we breathe, our partners, if you’re in the flow it is intoxicating and the question of meaning simply disappears. It has been answered by the life you live, not by the words you say.

Oh well, I guess I’ve been writing about this for a long time.


Comments on 2020-07-18 The meaning of life

I’m at a point where I’m considering going to my supervisors and asking for every other Friday off (via webmention)

@takeonrules 2020-07-24 00:05 UTC

Due to the webmention spam (which you can still see by visiting “View other revisions”, possibly followed by “View all changes” if you’re reading this many weeks later), I’ve banned all links.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-07-24 10:22 UTC

Add Comment

2020-07-06 Five Questions

@cosullivan is trying to bring some interactivity to Gemini-space and has asked “five questions” in her gem-space in June, and five more in July.

This post attempts to answer the earlier questions from June. I’m late! I’m late.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is drive with my window rolled down and the music turned up. What is on your summertime playlist?

I have an old iPod Classic hooked up to a loudspeaker in the kitchen. I loaded it with a few dozen GB of music and that’s it. I hardly listen to new music anymore. These last few days I’ve been listening to Evanescence. It’s some sort of soft metal: emotional and not raging. Most of the lyrics are about failed relationships, guilt, care, loss. I’m a melancholy person and I have to take care: must not approach the abyss. I hardly ever listen to The Sisters of Mercy, God Speed! You Black Emperor, or The Cure anymore. If I do I’ll wallow in misery for a day. And thus, Evanescence it is.

Other bands I’ve listened to in the recent past: The Gaslight Anthem. Bruce Springsteen.

I recently moved back to the area where I grew up. Tell me about where you grew up - has it changed? If you left, what would induce you to return? If you’ve always lived there, what would induce you to leave?

Many years I lived in Kleindöttingen – a small village across the river from Döttingen. “Klein” means small. It’s the smaller sibling of an uninteresting town. The newer parts of the village are big apartment blocks. We lived on the fifth floor of a seven floor building. Stepping out of the elevator, our entrance was to the right. That’s how I learned to tell left from right. My stepmother still lives in the flat. I don’t think I’d ever want to go back. Too provincial without being rural. There’s an old power plant in that river, resulting in a lake that’s famous among ornithologists. Who knows. I do like birds.

What tree is your favourite and why?

Larches make me think of hiking in the mountains. When I was younger I liked willows, maybe because the intro sequence for Ultimate IV involved a weeping willow. That extra “weeping” struck a chord in me. Later, when I lived closer to the sea and learned to love the smell of it, and the cries of seagulls, the roaring and crashing of waves on rocks, when I read about the elves

What were you afraid of as a child? Are you still afraid or did you “grow” out of it?

I have always been afraid of dark rooms, dark cellar passages (in Switzerland these used all to be bomb shelters with subdivisions for all the tenants made of a wooden grate), because I kept imagining shadows growing, vampires emerging – and I still have remnants of that. These days I know I have to control my imagination, talking to my inner child about the task at hand; but sometimes I sit on the toilet late at night, in the semi-dark such as not to wake myself up and suddenly I’m imagining cockroaches or spiders on the wall or under the toilet seat and that old sense of dread comes back. When I switch the light on, will I see a dead person hanging from the ceiling? I don’t know where these images come from and I can keep them at bay, but the seeds of panic are still there.

Who are some poets that you enjoy? What is it about them that speaks to you?

I like Georg Trakl’s wild melancholy sadness. I found some English translations in this PDF: Twenty Poems of Georg Trakl, translated and chosen by James Wright and Robert Bly.


Add Comment

2020-06-20 Glasses

I’ve been using reading glasses for a few years, now. I think I bought them in 2016. I used to read a lot. Then I started disliking it. It must have taken me a year or two before I realised what was happening. I was getting a headache! The glasses took some getting used to, but so far so good.

Sadly, the age-related deterioration of my eye sight kept picking up speed and when I started doing home office this year, began to sit in front of a small laptop screen for hours instead of hooking it up to a large monitor that is more than an arm’s length away from my eyes, I had to put on my reading glasses while sitting at the laptop, too.

Over the weeks, I started to get more headaches, though. Headaches when I got up and walked around. Headaches when I tried to do the dishes or cook. Sometimes the reading glasses just didn’t seem to help. I decided to see an ophthalmologist, an eye specialist. They suggested “working glasses”. Depending on the angle, a different distance is in focus. So if you look up, it’s up to 1½m, and if you look down, it’s closer, better for reading.

I agreed to that and went to an optician, ordered those glasses. They’re about as expensive as an iPhone, or a good laptop – a bit more than CHF 1000! My father in law tells me that his glasses are even more expensive. That was a surprise.

A week later I got my glasses. And I’m not sure I like them. I was told that physics prevents the glasses from working when I look sideways. No problem, I thought. The example offered was me reading notes and then looking to the left or right at a presentation. I get it. But what I didn’t expect was that I have to move my head from left to right and back as I read on the laptop screen. The screen is close; close enough for the line width to prevent the glasses from working.

So now my head moves a little left and right, a little up and down, as I try to get the letters in to focus. My head still hurts. I feel like my body is failing me.

I’m reminded of an article I wrote back in 2018, To the Young Ones. I feel like this is a continuation.

I did not understand. I was chuckling as older coworkers kept putting on their glasses and taking them off again. I smiled as older people couldn’t read the menu at the restaurant because they had left their reading glasses at home. I thought people looked silly as they looked over the rim of their glasses.

Old age, here I come. 🖕


Add Comment

2020-04-05 Covid-19 Pandemic

Where do I write about the global pandemic? What is there to write when everybody else is writing about it?

The things I find interesting:

Let's all wear a mask, and people making their own masks, posting patterns and pictures on Mastodon.

@fribbledom saying: “It’s like my entire life prepared me for this...” 🤔 – and posting this image from Hong Kong:

A poster from the Hong Kong Centre of Health Protection

Here’s what it says:

Together, We Fight the Virus!
To prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in the community, we need to work together
Reduce social contact to protect yourself and others
Avoid crowds
Work from home
Stay at home
Avoid social gatherings
Avoid shaking hads with others
Avoid meal gatherings

Also, changing my avatar:

But also this... warning: extreme eye contact ahead!

I’m at home, working on the company laptop; it has a small screen; I’m too lazy to go into the office and carry a monitor home (half of the way would be on foot since I don’t have a car). So... I make due. But unlike the private laptop where I use font size 16 and above everywhere, and Emacs, on the company laptop it’s Eclipse and Outlook and other stupid tiny shit, making me wear reading glasses. Such is life at 45 and older!

Image 2

But then again, I’m also enjoying home office coffee break!

Image 3

I think I’m getting used to this. The hashtag to use is #whfwork from home.

Image 5

My setup was not comfy. The bench looks nice but my ass was as flat as it can get and it started to hurt. I didn’t know my office was so ergonomic until I started to work from home.

Image 4

Got an old chair from the cellar...

Image 6


Comments on 2020-04-05 Covid-19 Pandemic

Apparently the numbers in Switzerland are going back up. At it’s peak in March we had about 1300 to 1400 new cases per day. In May it went down to between 0 and 10 new cases per day.

Here’s an image from the beginning end of May:

Image 7

Now we’re at the end of June, and the numbers are coming back up. Today: 69 new cases (that last number is missing in the Spreadsheet below).

Image 8


New coronavirus: Situation in Switzerland, Federal Office of Public Health.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-06-27 13:17 UTC

Add Comment

2020-02-23 Offline

ℹ Looks like my internet access might be spotty for the next few weeks...


Add Comment

2020-01-01 Donations

Collecting donations for 2020. I’ll start with the regular stuff: I regularly donate $120/year to the EFF, $120/year to the FSF, CHF 250/year to Digitale Gesellschaft, and €180/year to the FSFE.

It makes me sad that I have to support charities in the USA in order to help them prevent the USA from adversely affecting the legal situation in Switzerland. Grrr!

As for political associations in Switzerland: we are members of Mieterverband (for tenants) and VCS Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz (for sustainable mobility, unlike the Touring-Club, which is pro-cars).

I donated…

More to be added throughout the year, I hope.

And I pay double subscription for the local leftist weekly newspaper, WOZ, CHF 530 in total.


Comments on 2020-01-01 Donations

Happy new year, Alex!

– Enzo 2020-01-02 16:39 UTC

Thanks. 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-02 18:44 UTC

I applaud your charitable donations. But I have to warn you about WWF. The WWF was founded by trophy hunters. In the US, if you buy a WWF t-shirt they ship it exclusively using FedEx (the same company that ships hunting trophies, slave dolphins, and shark fins). FedEx also supports the NRA and US republicans, the party who is quite destructive to the environment. The shirts are also composed of unsustainable cotton.

That’s just off the top of my head. WWF often does things contrary to their own mission. So if the environment and wildlife conservation is your motivation, there are many other charitable organizations that are true to their cause. Extinction Rebellion is probably a good one.

– Gavin 2020-01-17 16:48 UTC

Yeah, I keep thinking about the WWF. Ugh.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-01-17 20:36 UTC

Add Comment

2019-12-09 The Common Cold

I’ve been suffering from a common cold for a few days now.

But remember “Thumper’s Rule.” In the movie Bambi, Thumper the rabbit remarks that Bambi is wobbly and Thumper’s parents tell him: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Ah! Something nice to say about the common cold?


Back to the basics: Alex, what is best in life!? To read Wikipedia, of course!

Here’s something for you. If only I had followed this advice:

There is no vaccine for the common cold. The primary methods of prevention are hand washing; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and staying away from sick people.

Common cold on wikipedia

Ah, and there’s more:

Rhinovirus-caused colds are most infectious during the first three days of symptoms; they are much less infectious afterwards.

That is to say, the hand washing must continue until the very end. There’s no way around it. They are less infectious, but not quite gone. And the cold lasts for a very long time, too!

Symptoms may begin within 16h of exposure and typically peak two to four days after onset. They usually resolve in seven to ten days, but some can last for up to three weeks. The average duration of cough is eighteen days and in some cases people develop a post-viral cough which can linger after the infection is gone. In children, the cough lasts for more than ten days in 35–40% of cases and continues for more than 25 days in 10%.

I’ve heard it say that the common cold comes for a week and goes for a week.


Comments on 2019-12-09 The Common Cold

We have a saying that cured cold lasts for 7 days and uncured for a week. There is something true about that.

Peter Kotrčka 2019-12-10 02:49 UTC

Haha! Apparently having a headache and a running nose makes for better blogging, somehow. Weird!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-12-10 09:41 UTC

Add Comment

2019-09-26 Melancholy

Feeling melancholy. Time to listen to the German Requiem by Brahms although I suspect it won’t help.

Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit;
aber ich will euch wiedersehen,
und euer Herz soll sich freuen,
und eure Freude soll niemand von euch nehmen.
Ich will euch trösten,
wie einen seine Mutter tröstet.
Sehet mich an: Ich habe eine kleine Zeit
Mühe und Arbeit gehabt
und habe großen Trost gefunden.

Maybe a seasonal thing.


Add Comment

2019-09-23 Phone etiquette

Sometimes we talk to other people about how we use our phones. Here’s what I think future historians need to know:

  1. people don’t us a land line anymore, it’s all mobile phones
  2. the phone is set to silent; having a loud ring is rude
  3. we don’t answer calls by unknown numbers
  4. we search for unknown numbers before calling back (in Switzerland:
  5. we never call back if a search indicates a call center

Personally, I have also disabled my voice mail: I don’t want unknown people to leave me messages which I then have to listen to and answer.

The phone world has been poisoned by robot calls and call centers. It’s ads and spam, now. That is, it’s worse than mail because the mail still gets us stuff we ordered online and bills, which we hate but which we still need to pay, or material to cast our votes without going to the polling booth.

The two or three people I know that still feel more comfortable using voice than writing text usually call via encrypted messenger apps. Sadly, that often includes Facebook-owned WhatsApp, but at least in my circle of friends and family we a lot of Threema. Threema isn’t free software, unfortunately, so that isn’t ideal, either. At least it works without me having to upload my address book to those damn servers.


Add Comment



Please make sure you contribute only your own work, or work licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Note: in order to facilitate peer review and fight vandalism, we will store your IP number for a number of days. See Privacy Policy for more information. See Info for text formatting rules. You can edit the comment page if you need to fix typos. You can subscribe to new comments by email without leaving a comment.

To save this page you must answer this question:

Just say HELLO