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

2017-08-16 Donations

Collecting donations for 2017. I’ll start with the regular stuff: I regularly donate $10/month to the EFF, $120/year to the FSF, and €120/year to the FSFE.

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).

Today I was listening to another near 6h episode of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and liked it very much: $10.

I’ve been using Mastodon a lot: €10. Usually I don’t donate to Free Software because I also write Free Software and give it away so I feel it evens out.

The Internet Archive keeps our data alive, hopefully preventing the future from viewing our times a Dark Age. So much content on disks and easily lost in an upgrade, deleted when bills aren’t paid, taken offline when key people lose interest, encrypted because of DRM, it’s a sad state of affairs.

I’m not a good Wikipedia editor because whatever I know seems to already be on Wikipedia. It’s amazing. I decided to pay Wikimedia CH CHF 25. I think this is the only one that’s tax deductible, for me.

I want a free alternative to Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. Thus, even though I don’t agree with all their decisions, I decided to donate €25 to to Mozilla for Firefox. Saving screenshots to the cloud? Integrating Pocket? Noooo!

Most of the links I follow on social media seem to take me to the The Guardian and so I decided to pay them 25€.

Plenty of links I’m following will also lead me to the German news site and so I decided to pay their subscription of €30/year.

[Note: recent changes at Patreon result in a different fee structure so I’m not at all sure what this means anymore. As you can see in the comments below, I opened a Liberapay account.]

I understand why people might prefer a Patreon to donations via PayPal: easier to plan for. But $1/mo donations means about $5 out of $12 a year are for the middle men, right? 5% for Patreon, and 3.9% (4.7% to France, 4.9% to Germany) and a fixed fee of 0.30 USD (0.35 EUR, 0.55 CHF) for using PayPal from Switzerland to the US, and a currency conversion fee of 3%, resulting in 0.30 + 0.04 + 0.05 + 0.03 = 0.42, or 5.04 USD per year in fees. Well, if you are supporting multiple creators, I guess the fees get split. And you can prepay your PayPal account. From then on, your PayPal fees go down to 1%. All you need to do is make a domestic bank transfer where your name on the bank account matches exactly.


Comments on 2017-08-16 Donations

So much talk about the new fee structures of Patreon these days!

  • a summary of what happened
  • a comparison of recurring payment service providers
  • the problem Patreon might be trying to avoid: being a money services business
  • a positive article about Patreon growth including this statement: “We’d rather have our GMV be made up of fewer, but truly life-changed creators rather than a lot of creators making a few dollars.” – Tal Raviv
  • a long statement by Amanda Palmer: “i did not want to build my own island. i wanted to build a hut in an interconnected village, next to my friend’s huts, with tons of spce for anyone to set up shop. i wanted to be part of a larger community of DIY artists carving out their own paths, making art directly for the people.” I also loved her reference to, “where we can support art and smash the patriarchy all at the same time.” Right on!
  • and a long post by Cory Doctorow: “Yes, they did something stupid with their payment processing this week. Yes, that exposes how dangerous it is to rely on a company for your artistic living. But the measure of Patreon’s success isn’t creating an army of full-time creators with middle-class incomes where none existed before: it’s ensuring that the money generated by art goes primarily to artists.”

Anyway, I set up an an account on Liberapay and transferred 100€. I’ll support the Mastodon devs and my Mastodon instance’s admin, maybe more.

– Alex Schroeder 2017-12-11 14:57 UTC

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2017-07-16 Summer Break

Yay! This is the first Monday of my summer break and I ran 11.7km along the Jura Höhenweg, from Baden to Brugg.

And now I’m reading Slingshot by Tobias Klausmann, having recently finished Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger.

Part of what I want to do this summer break is read more books and less social media. Or at least, not more social media.

How does my summer break work? I only get 60% of my salary. I have no kids and no car, and my wife also works, so that’s cool. I get six weeks of paid holidays. Working 60% means that I get two days off every week, in theory. But I rearrange them: I don’t work on Fridays so that leaves me with 52 free days, minus the six weeks of holidays, so 46 extra days. I use them in summer, filling up the remaining four workdays per week. 46/4 is 11.5, so I have 6 weeks of paid summer holidays + 11.5 weeks of unpaid summer holidays. This year I took a week off in spring and I’m probably going to take off a few days in winter, which is why this summer break is going to be 15 weeks long.

This is week 1.


Comments on 2017-07-16 Summer Break

I envy you, Alex. I wish I can do that in the future (though I do want to have kids). Enjoy your summer!

– Enzo 2017-07-17 16:50 UTC

Thanks! :)

– Alex 2017-07-17 21:09 UTC

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2017-06-28 RSI

Recently I received an email by somebody who is developing pains in his fingers. Is it because of Emacs? The wrong keyboard? Bad posture? Carpal tunnel syndrom? Is it repetitive strain injury (RSI) imminent?

I know the feeling. Years ago, I had the same problem. And I was not alone. The Emacs Wiki RSI page has more stories. The short summary I wrote on my own page: I saw a doctor, started physiotherapy on 2002-02-05. I bought a Kinesis keyboard. I used little programs that forced me to take a lot of breaks. It didn’t help. I stopped therapy 2002-10-21 and decided to work less, get up more often, started practicing Aikido, and no longer work in long shifts. That helped.

There’s a certain sadness that comes with all that. Here’s what I wrote back:

Hello again
I don’t think I can help you. I basically decided that I’d rather change my life than get my neck x-rayed in order to look for possible nerve issues (with the obvious implication that if we did find something, we’d operate on it). So that’s what I did. I work a 60% job over the year with all Fridays off and a four month break in summer. I picked a sport to improve posture (I picked Aikido because I don’t like competitions). I felt encouraged to do this because I had noticed that the pain disappeared over long weekends and holidays. Obviously work was having a negative effect. These days it still comes back if I work for long hours or if I’m angry or both, when I’m angry about having to work long hours. I also noticed that the pain comes back quicker when I spend long hours at home at the laptop, and no fancy keyboard I tried actually helped. So I figured it must be something about the seating, the table height, or whatever. And so I cut back my coding at home, too. More running, more walking, more Aikido, more reading, playing an instrument, whatever it takes. A different hobby, to take my mind away from the only hobby I had for many years, code.
Wishing you the best of luck


Comments on 2017-06-28 RSI

I successfully healed myself, so here’s my advice:

  • Pay attention to everything you do on the keyboard. Are there any awkward moves that your hands have to do? Does anything feel especially painful? Are there any key strokes you can easily avoid? Listen to your body.
  • If your pain is one-sided (e.g. just the right hand, or the pain feels different), then it may help you identify the problem.
  • Once you have identified your causes, fix them. Or if you can’t, just do things differently. Vertical mouse? Higher mouse/trackpoint sensitivity? Better .emacs config? Maybe learn some shortcuts? Or remap some keys on your keyboard? Do something.
  • You will feel the improvement quickly… a little bit. But the pain will continue for a couple of months.

See Xah Lee's RSI experience. He is describing a similar thing. That is, pay attention to the problems that may be the cause of your RSI, fix them, the issue will start to go away.

– AlexDaniel 2017-06-30 12:39 UTC

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2017-06-26 Diary

I’ve taken to writing a few sentences every day into a little Moleskine notebook with my fountain pen, hoping that it will help me cope better. Some times I feel “stretched thin.” Is it social media? Reading? The ever growing list of projects I’d like to do, the books I’d like to read, the games I want to run, and work, and running, and Aikido... It’s all eating away at my time and when I’m tired I sometimes feel the urge to cancel all activities and shut myself in. Perhaps the introvert in me is growing stronger. Or perhaps it is the slow passage of years. Without realising it, I have grown older, slower. And how would I react if my life were to be filled to the brim but I have grown older and become slower? That’s right: stretched thin, overextended.

Thus the need to slow down. Writing things down, using a pen, reminding myself of how I learned to write, not writing anything for anybody, but using the process of writing for reflection and processing, that’s what I’m trying to do. And that’s why it can’t happen on this site, even though the main page is Diary. It’s too personal, too banal, to raw, and not intended to be read by anybody, not even me. It’s a write-only notebook.

It’s also not a bullet journal. Yes, we have todo lists, also in a notebook, and I try to liven it up every now and then, but it’s not intended to help me process my life, That’s why I need a real diary, with real sentences, and paragraphs, and at least the pretension of trying to find the right words.


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2017-06-24 Ardèche

We spent seven days in the Ardèche and the surrounding departments of France. It was very hot but we saw a lot of stuff.

fgallery comes with a tool to add captions to your images, fcaption. It is written in Python. Starting it, I got the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Users/alex/src/fgallery/utils/fcaption", line 11, in <module>
    from PyQt4 import QtCore, QtGui
ImportError: No module named PyQt4

Since I’m using OSX, I was led to the Stackoverflow answers for Python PyQt on macOS Sierra. This seems to do it. I’ve commented the lines I think I did not need to install.

brew tap cartr/qt4
brew tap-pin cartr/qt4
# brew install qt
# brew install pyside
brew install cartr/qt4/pyqt

I definitely need to fix the time on my camera or the pictures will appear out of sync with the picture from the phones.


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2017-05-29 Wallis, wieder einmal

Pictures of us hiking from Chandolin up to the Illpass and from Montana to Aminona.


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2017-05-28 Age

I don’t feel that life is speeding up but my wife feels that way. I guess I’m lucky. To me, the seasons seem to take forever and I can barely remember what I did last year.

Perhaps it’s the onset of dementia.

Before 40, a year is a fraction of the life you had. After 40, a year is a fraction of the life you expect.


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2017-05-19 Cold

Can I just say that I hate being sick? We just had the nicest three sunny days and I stayed indoors, nose dripping, throat aching, voice gone. Gaaaaah.


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2017-04-01 Hayfever

Ok, it’s definitely back. The last day or two I started noticing it but now my nose is running again. It started at about the same time that bees and wasps have made an appearance.

That correlates pretty much with birch bloom, sich started on March 28.


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2017-02-17 Leisure

+David McGrogan writes on his blog about creativity requiring time off to be creative because you need to balance both free roaming thoughts induced by boredom with focus and attention induced by discipline. If you’re constantly distracted at work by meetings, or at home by social media, it’s hard to get anything done.

Luckily, I only work 60% so I get to have Fridays off and a four month break every year. People sometimes ask me whether this isn’t boring to the extreme. To which I say that most people simply adapt to their current way of life and that’s great. It allows us to be happy under a wide range of circumstances. It also means that we’re never bored, as in spending idle hours contemplating life, the kind of leisure the rich Greek philosophers must have felt without the need to work, when all you had to do was hang out, drink, talk, and some calisthenics to defend your city’s interests on the battlefield every now and then. Anyway, leisure and occasional bouts of boredom are essential, I think. As we’re busy at work and stressed out by family, squeezing in a few hours of playing games with friends, I think it’s easy to forget that something atrophies at the same time. That very source of novelty.


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