Recently a friend had issues playing particular video files with his Plex media center. I told him to send me the files and I’ll have a look at them. I also have some experience with the command line utility and would like to share some things I learned along the way.
I wrote previously about ffmpeg's “-acodec copy -vcodec copy" option. Apparently there is a shorter version "codec copy”, which copies both streams without reencoding.
Copying the stream, either via -acodec copy -vcodec copy or codec copy does the job for nearly 90% of my video encodings. I recently updated all my videos to a format iTunes Mavericks in 64-bit mode (AVFoundation) would understand. Copying the streams worked in most cases. Also all downloads from YouTube or Vimeo convert wonderfully.
You can actually shorten the command to ffmpeg -i movie.avi movie.mp4 to convert straight from AVI to MPEG4.
Mine is sorted differently. First come the search engines I’m most likely to use, then come those to search for products and apps, then information search engines, followed by communities/public knowledge and lastly this blog.
"Why don’t you just start running everyday? Over time you will run more and more. If you do that for just 3 months or so, running will have grown into a habit and you will do it automatically.”
People don’t get it, do they? Change is not "just". You don’t just creep out of your bed one day and be like “I go running every day now”, and then you do it and it will stick and then you’re a runner. Change is never “just”. You can’t tell a smoker to quit smoking using the “just” method. Inside people’s heads, these things are more complicated than “just” quitting to smoke.
Every person has their own beliefs. This is what makes it hard to do “just”. Things don’t just pop into existence, things grow that way. A person has to hit rock bottom before they are able to turn things around.
A really simple example. Think of your last relationship. Normally people are together until there’s one day where they are like “I can’t take this shit anymore!”. That is known as hitting “rock bottom”, from this point on, someone realizes in what kind of situation they’ve gottem themselves into and now it is important to get out of there. This means removing all the obstacles until they are where they want to be.
This all sounds easy, but it’s really not. Getting out of a relationship is kinda-sorta easy, but getting out of marriage is an entirely different thing. You have to sign contracts, attend meetings, etc. When you are “just” in a relationship you might “just” have to move out, or you might have to do a little more than that. It’s all complicated and easy at the same time.
Ones’ surrounding often times recommends some easy step to take to get where someone wants to be. (or where they think the other person wants to be. differnt story.)
"Oh I wish I would weigh a little less."
“Why don’t you just start running? It will do wonders to your health as well!”
“Well, it is not so easy. I think I’m so overweight that my joints are going to hurt.”
In this small conversation alone there are so many hidden anxieties, beliefs, borders, limitations, that one person almost impossibly can overcome, and the other person doesn’t see the problem at all. For them it is more like “why don’t you just fucking start running?”, but for us it is more like “before I can go running, I want to accomplish this thing, and when I got that thing I want to do this thing, when I finally got there I think I can go for my first run.”
Running is easy for me. I do this for over ten years. I don’t see the point. But my experience as lecturer tells me that it’s “not so easy” for other people. I can see the smaller steps that eventually lead to ones first run. You start walking. Maybe walk one kilometer a day. Maybe just one kilometer three times a week. That’s the first step. Not “buy some fancy running shoes and go for a run, sweat, moan, and suffer in pain”.
But that’s easy for me to say, they say, but how can I be such a dick to recommend that first step when there has to be thing x first. Well, that’s you. If I’d have to start running today, I’d go for a walk. If you can’t see the point that walking will eventually become running, then that’s you. Everybody has to find their own way. I truly believe in that.
Let’s backpaddle for a second. Sharpening the axe. Most people want to do great things in their life. One year they’re all like “sexual liberation!”, the next year they’re all for “alternative living!”. Whatever floats your boat at the moment, I think, it all boils down to sharpening the axe. It’s personal development, is it not? For me sharpening the axe means to be able to cut down the bigger trees. I don’t have to sharpen the axe for trees I can chop down already. I need to improve the axe or get a better axe in order to chop down trees I couldn’t chop down before. And to sharpen the axe means: focus, saying no to stuff, effort, pain, energy, learning, improving, and ultimately, becoming dull. I’m going to write about dullness in a second. Let’s first take a look at energy and focus.
Focusing is one of the first things one needs to do to become a better version of themselves. Focus is “saying yes to one thing, while saying no to thousands of other things”. The “saying no”-part is actually what is going to cause your axe to become dull. Focusing means putting energy into one thing, while not putting energy into the other. Let’s take running again as an example. You can become a great runner, but at the same time not become a great hacker. Both are very different activities, and while one can become great at both, at the same time, it is unlikely because one activity involves a lot of movement, the other a lot of thinking. This is a radical example, I know, and it’s just here to demonstrate the point. Focusing means saying no. Do you want to become a great runner? Then you have to fucking run, Forrest!
Actually Forrest Gump is a rather nice analogy. Isn’t he? I mean Forrest seems so unintelligent not to see all the boundaries he exists in. And still he manages to become a great, wealthy person. Anyway…
Say you are a great hacker at the moment. Your axe is really sharp in those woods. But now you decide to become a great runner. So you walk in the “running” forest and start chopping. Not a single tree is going to fall at first. Maybe you get some small bushes, maybe some short trees, but the big trees are not for you yet. Someone has to start at the bottom and work their way up first, before they can take on the big trees.
Isn’t this correct? I have many nerdy readers. If someone would walk up to you and say “I want to get into computers, but I don’t know where to start”. What would be your answer? I know I could take 10 readers into a room and get 10 different approaches. Everyone would be able to tell from their own experience what things work, and what things don’t. The thing is that the other person doesn’t know yet. Their experiences differ, their intelligence is different, their everything is… just not you. Whatever you recommend as their beginning might just be 100% exactly what they need, or it might be a complete miss. But whatever they learned from your advice is valuable to them. If they hit a miss, they know “OK, so this doesn’t work.” If this doesn’t work, then they need to take a different approach. The one obstacle right in front of them might just have become so huge that they turn away and leave the forest or it might have woken up their inner warrior. “Wait? That tree I can’t chop down? I am going to cut that tree into bits, and if it’s the last thing that I’m doing!”
Your recommendation might go either way, after all, it is not you who walks their way - they have to. But remember, just because you chop down those trees easily, doesn’t mean they chop them down as easily.
Dullness. If you think about experiences, be them personal, work related, spiritual, whatever. Whatever we focus on, means we defocus on other things. When we defocus on our body and focus on the mind, the mind becomes stronger and the body weakens. You can’t have one cake and eat it too. If you put in a lot of energy and effort into improving one thing, over time, some other area where you built up a lot of momentum and know-how, will deteriorate. If I focus on meditation for an entire year, I become pretty good at it. If I then go ahead and focus on martial arts for a year, I get better at that, but I also miss out some of the things in the meditation area. You see again this is about balance. Of course you can focus on both, but then it will take you longer to become the best you can be at both. If you want to become the best at one thing, then you have to let go of the other.
Do you see how all of this is not so easy after all? You don’t just become a runner, you don’t just become a programmer, you don’t just eat healthy, you don’t just period.
Beliefs, boundaries, believed boundaries. What is so hard about change is that boundaries exist. You built them or other people built them for you. Experience tells us that there is a set border that is “normal”. Whatever normality may mean to you. You might think that you need to dress clean. If that’s your thing, then you dress neatly every day so that you are “normal”. See, other people wear rags, punk, and they still feel pretty confident about themselves. They don’t have that border, it is easy for them to go in rags, because that’s just what they do. That doesn’t mean that came easily. Beliefs had to be removed before. Maybe the belief that ones value can be judged by outer looks. Maybe the belief that one has to dress neatly to look neat for other people. Do you get my point? Maybe you were the same when you were younger. There were things you believed once were true, but then later realized that it’s just some rubbish society has taught you.
Let me take you for a spin. Soap. Do you use soap? What kinds of soap do you use? You use hand soap, I guess. But do you also use hair conditioner? Do you use shower gel? Why the fuck do you buy three different products for one and the same purpose?
That does something to you, doesn’t it? Did it ever occur to you that you could use “hand” soap to clean your hair? Why not? Who made you believe that soap is for hands only? Was it society? Was it some sort of nifty marketing? Do I need to be any more clear about this? We believe certain things are true, when in reality they’re not; or maybe they are, who knows. Reality is what you make of it. Where you see an inviolable insurmountable wall, I might not even see a line on the floor.
I might be like: “What’s your problem, dude? Why don’t you just do it?” Because it’s not just, it is never … just.
Changing your life is not easy. Giving a 7-step plan is, I think, nearly impossible because turning ones life around inflicts so many things. It’s about crossing borders, leaving the comfort zone, willingness to learn, having enough energy, focus, sharpening the axe, the realization that change is hard (and still going for it), etc. It is also highly personal. Change means so many things. Change is not easy, change takes time, and while “just doing it” sounds easy to your surroundings, in the end it is just not that easy. ↩
If you use Photo Steam and take lots of screenshots (waves at designers and developers) you find they soon pile up and get mixed up with your photos in iPhoto. Alberto has written about the problem of Dealing with iOS screenshots in the past.
Jono has put together a really nice post on how he handles Dropbox photo sorting with Hazel.
iTunes Match: Make Artwort Appear on All Your Devices
I’ve been suffering from this issue ever since I got iTunes Match. Songs that I didn’t buy from iTunes directly, sometimes don’t have their artwork showing up on some of my devices. This seemed to be unrelated to the operating system (OS X/iOS). After some research I found some steps to resolve the problem. Please stay calm and seated while reading these instructions.
I read somewhere that the first track of an album should have at the artwork. Sometimes the problem seems to be that an artwork didn’t get applied to the entire album. What you can do to resolve the problem:
In a playlist where a song doesn’t have the artwork. Click the circled arrow next to the song’s name and choose “Show Album” or “Show Artist”.
The Music list loads with the album selected.
Click one of the songs that you know has the artwork.
Click on Artwork and ⌘C it.
Click the album’s name next to the big artwork view. That is above the first song’s name, and right from the artwork placeholder. Choose “Get Info”. Yes, you want to edit information for multiple tracks.
If the entire album doesn’t have artwork, the artwork placeholder will be empty. Click it to highlight get keyboard focus, then press ⌘V.
In most cases this has solved the issue. Sometimes I needed to take further steps to get the artwork to show up. I either had to supply an album name or some other info. Even in some cases I had luck to download the album artwork when all the album information had been entered correctly, then using “Get Album Artwork from iTunes”.
Maybe a small side note: My Mac showed the artwork after a short while usually about 1-5 minutes. My iPhone didn’t show the artwork, but after a reboot the artwork showed up eventually.
Hope this helps to make your artwork woes disappear!
I thought I should share my “photo workflow” here, mainly because I don’t take that many pictures and consider myself a “non-photo-workflow person”. I was hoping this would add a new light on the “photo workflows” postings that you see around the web.
That said, I do like to take pictures, and I do like to add filters and edit them on a regular basis, but the moments that I actually find worth capturing are just not that often.
When I take a photo on my iPhone or iPad it gets saved in whatever app I’m using. Currently my favorites are the built-in Camera app, Camera+, KitCam, VSCOCam, and ProCamera. I use the built-in Camera and 8mm for videos.
I want to go into depth about the editing, because that’s something I have been unhappy with for quite some time and just recently got my joy back. Using one of the apps mentioned above I usually do a couple of editing steps:
Straighten: find right angles and make them align with the border. This requires an app that does fine angles. All photo apps mentioned above do this well.
Crop: not as often, but sometimes I need to cut off something I didn’t want to capture.
Aspect: usually I want to share on Instagram (@zettt). Instagram has 1:1 pictures only. It makes sense to crop out unnecessary parts, before putting on any filters and borders.
Correct: it also makes sense to correct some things like color balance and temperature when the lighting is a tad off. Also taking care of levels so that colors are better distributed. Contrast, exposure, saturation, and tint sometimes need correction as well.
Filters, borders, effects: after all this is done and I’m happy with my capture, I put on some filter that works well with the picture. If the picture works well without, then I don’t. In most cases I want to add a border as well. I think it makes the picture stand out a little more. It just underlines the fact that the picture is an emulated “old style” photo, rather than a shiny, clean, modern picture. That said, VSCO doesn’t have borders, nor does ProCamera.
Normally all the editing, or correcting, rather, I can do in any of these apps. Sometimes though, I need to edit things more carefully. These cases are:
Hide personal information
Move things around
Other edits that require more complicated editing
In the past I used PhotoForge for this. It wasn’t too fancy, but it got the job done. Blurring out personal information required putting a blurred layer on top of the original and some masking. Typically not too big of a deal for someone who knows his way around image editing apps. But just as KitCam isn’t available in the store anymore, so is PhotoForge. I tried Filterstorm again, but Filterstorm Neue just doesn’t cut it, to put it mildly. Don’t take me wrong, this app is awesome! But for blurring out parts of an image, you have to jump through so many hoops, and the app does so many weird things along the way, it causes more frustration than I can handle.
Just the other day I was checking out Photoshop Express and Photoshop touch. Both are solid apps. I tried them, and you know what? I love them. PS Express has quite a different audience than PS touch. Express is more an app for users who want to add effects and makes things look awesome, whereas PS touch has layers, edge detection, effects, editing, warp, etc. It’s absurd. Both apps have found a place in my iOS photo editing, and, right now, I don’t want to miss the two.
Other notables mentions:
Picfx: one of the first filter apps that I had on my phone and I still like it.
Moldiv: the collage maker I use. I like it because it also allows me to put captions and whatnot on a picture as well.
Facetune: corrects faces. Does more. Really cool.
Decim8 and PowerUp: well, if you want to destroy a picture, here you go. I personally am a bigger fan of Decim8, but PowerUp takes GameBoy pictures. I mean that’s cool, right?
iPhoto: if I had the space available on my phone, this would probably replace PS touch or Express, but because iPhoto also has photo management built in, this app does more than I want it to, therefore doesn’t add anything to my experience, and therefore isn’t worth so much precious space.
I have “My Photo Stream” turned off in iCloud settings, but have enabled “Photo Sharing”. The reason is that I don’t want to randomly share photos I take on my iPhone to be uploaded and be available on my iPad and Mac. I would rather pick the photos that get transferred. I set up a Photo Stream named “Photo Stream”. It is not public, and only I can post stuff to it. When I take a screenshot on my iPhone that I want to use on my Mac, I go into the Photos app and add it to this Photo Stream.
It will take some moments, but the photo will show up in iPhoto shortly. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t have to be immediate, it doesn’t have to have Push Notications, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just don’t be automatic, and don’t have all photos. That said, if iCloud refuses to work, then I just use Dropbox.
I’m testing out Dropbox photo management, but the way Dropbox does it is far from ideal. Dropbox’ Camera Uploads feature creates a separate “Camera Uploads” folder at root level and doesn’t allow to change this. No go. Sharing screen shots automatically? Why would I want to do that? Also: doesn’t allow to change the folder. Unbound, while being a nice app, still doesn’t allow subfolders to show up in the list view. What is up with that? PhotoSync transfers all pictures in the Photos app’ Camera Rool automatically, without realizing which photos it has transferred and ignoring those which exist already. Really?
Carousel is nice, but it’s a 1.0. It’s a nice start, but it’s far from being perfect. I really like the private chat in it. If I had a girlfriend, I’d probably recommend to her that we do most of our chatting through Carousel. Though, from experience, Facebook is so dominant that most people just use their chat and don’t care much about privacy issues, etc. Sad, but true fact.
So… my Dropbox photo experience hasn’t been so great. I stick with it for some time going forward though, but eventually if it is more complicated to sift through my photos than iPhoto (OS X) then it’s not worth my effort and time.
Outread, my current favorite speed reading app, has just been updated with some very cool new features. The changes are so big that I would like to write a short post about it.
Here are some citations from the update log:
Ebook support (DRM-free ePub), along with an optimized navigation – books are presented by chapters, similarly to iBooks
Built-in directory of public domain, mostly classic, books (see “+” > “Browse Classic Books”)
Statistics; see your overall and daily reading stats
New reading mode - vertical centering of the highlighter; it limits vertical movements of your eyes by keeping the highlighted text centered on the screen (enable it in “Preferences” > “Reading Mode” > “Keep Highlighter Centered”)
Pinboard integration (for bookmarks marked as “to read”)
You can now enhance your speed-reading training with audio cues, i.e. a ticking sound played on every change of the highlighter’s position (see “Preferences” > “Reading Mode” > “Audio Feedback”)
Improved chunking algorithm: 1) long compound words with hyphens can now be divided into parts, so it’s easier to read them; 2) the app now works correctly with character-based languages (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)
“Open in Safari” and “Delete” buttons added to Activity Menu
Ebooks is huge, statistics are neat, Pinboard integration, changes to the speed reading algorithms, as well as fixes to my original complaints that you can’t delete articles. I can’t recommend this app highly enough.
OK. So I’m 32 now. I used an electric razor pretty much exclusively for my entire life (as long as I can imagine having facial hair). I tried wet razors in the past, but I never really got used to them. Actually I hated shaving so much that I rarely shaved at all. I just let it grow until it was too long and then cut it all off, before the cycle started again. December last year I wanted to try a new 30-day-challenge. I was wondering about my shaving skills. Am I able to keep my face shaved for 30 days straight? That sounded like a rather pleasing 30DC, so I tried it.
I succeeded. For 30 days (almost) straight I was clean shaven. My surroundings reacted to it. They realized something was different. I got compliments how good I’m looking. When I started this particular 30DC I changed only one small thing in my daily routine, which made it so easy to be clean every day. The change: I simply shaved under the shower. That’s it. No other secrets. Instead of shaving after the shower, I simply shaved in the shower. Just a (wet) razor, pouring water, done. Boom! I went with a 5-blade Balea precision5, which you can buy in a German DM store. The razor is not too expensive, cartridges are cheap too.
I shaved with a wet razor for about two months until it hit me. How much is this going to cost? Is this really the best I can do for my face? Because, in the end, preferably, I wouldn’t just want to be clean, but also to look neat. This includes having the skin clean as well.
Some weeks before this event, I also made the decision that I wanted to wear a beard. It became pretty clear what type of beard I wanted early on, and I could tell from the picture I had in my head that it would be hell on earth to style this beard with a cartridge razor. Combine all of that and you easily enter the world of: double-edge safety razing.
I found communities of men discussing this topic. Whether the one blade is better than the other, what the best shave creams are, why, or if, “canned goo”1 is bad for a man, and how the “shaving industry” forces products onto the masses that are easily produced, marketed to millions, but are not tailored specifically to a person’s individual needs and skin.
One additional note: these mass products may also contain non-vegan or non-vegetarian ingredients and may also be animal-tested. Products are out of the question for some people.
I don’t want to go into detail on everything, but I want to touch on the most eye-opening things that I learned over these weeks. As always I’d like to share my knowledge in a meaningful way so that you, the reader, can make the most out of it.
The question was: Was it really true? Was old-school shaving, with a razor my grandpa would use, actually better than mass-marketed shaving with cartridge razors?
If you take nothing from this article, but only one thing, then please consider throwing away the canned foams. Maybe you are wet shaving already, then you probably know how all the hairs get stuck between the blades when using shaving gell. It’s a total pain to get the hairs out of between the blades.
Know what? Just switch out the foam with a shaving cream or soap and a shaving brush. You wouldn’t believe the difference! Stroke, hairs stuck between blade, rinse, hairs gone.
There are so many shaving creams out there. I can hardly recommend anything, mainly because I have such a broad readership that comes from across the world. Recommending a German product won’t help you anything. I recommend some below nonetheless.
If you change anything about your shaving, try shaving soap.
The Price Tag
Now that I recommended something, I also briefly want to talk about money. A lot of men, and women mind you(!), start getting into DE shaving because cartridge razors are so much more expensive than DE razors. The thing that costs so much money is actually not the razor itself, but the cartridges one needs to buy to keep the thing running. It works with printers, why shouldn’t it work with razors, right? Over time the cartridges cost a multifold of an old-school DE razor. Here is an article that I just quickly googled.
Initially the costs of a DE razor are actually higher than the ones for a cartridge razor, but over time the costs flip dramatically, favoring DE razors.
First Year Annual Double Edge Razor Cost: $52.68
First Year Annual Cartridge Razor Cost: $64.46
11 Years of a Double Edge Razor: $99.68
11 Years of a Cartridge Razor: $619.46
Now we’ve got that out of the way. When you go for traditional shaving, you can spend hundreds and hundreds, of whatever currency, on stuff. There are shaving brushes for $10, and there are ones for $300. As I wrote, if you change anything, then try a shaving cream and a cheap brush for 10 bucks. If anything, you lost $15, at most. Throw it away or give it to a DE-Razor-Aspirant®. They will be happy to take the brush!
Shaving soaps come in neat mahogany bowls. Brushes come from bores or badgers. Razors comes from all over the world, but, if you happen to live in Germany, take a look at Merkur’s razors.2 Steel, shine, weight. If that doesn’t cry “man”, I don’t know what else it does. (Let’s actually keep that thought for some paragraphs later.)
Double-Edge Safety Razors
I started with a DE razor, I still used to have at home, from about 5 years ago when I first tried out DE shaving. At that time I just thought the razor didn’t work very well. I bought the Wilkinson Classic, which comes with 5 Wilkinson blades. I know the packaging looks horrible, and the razor doesn’t have much appeal either, but if you take a look at traditional shaving, most things aren’t made to shine, they are made to work.
DE shaving is an entirely different beast than cartridge or even electric shaving. The reason I thought the razor didn’t work so well was because I didn’t know how to use the razor correctly. Cartridge razors are nice because they forgive your laziness. Cartridge razors are made so that you can wake up hung over and with a headache and just put the razor on your skin, move it up and down some times and the skin is clean3. Not so with a DE razor.
Remember the thought some moments ago? Yeah, being a man, a real man. Apparently being a real man means that you need to cut yourself, that you need to get nicks and the skin needs to bleed. Now, if that doesn’t cry men, I don’t know what else does. So if you are a real man, then bleeding is the way to go.
I’m just kidding.
I agree that you (probably) (most likely) (if you are not careful) may get cuts and nicks, but the truth is you might not. A face isn’t entirely straight. Therefore when you shave take a look at your face’s contours first and how the grain grows. Then it will be much much easier and less likely for you to get cut.
Don’t use pressure either. Bad habits have been formed with cartridge razors. Unlearn them. A DE razor is sharp. A cartridge razor, while being sharp, is produced so that you don’t hurt yourself. That’s why so many people push the razor into the skin when they are aiming for a BBS shave.4 A DE razor pushed into the skin will hurt you, resulting into bleeding and other nastiness you don’t want to have. Take your time. It took me about 3 weeks to get a half decent shaving routine going. It doesn’t come over night. Learn and practice.
Shoot for “a good shave” not a baby butt smooth face. Every shave is different. Some days you may get all the hairs, some days you may not. Overall it doesn’t matter that much, because there’s always going to be another day to shave again. And it’s more important to be shaved well, than to be shaved perfect. For the days where you need a perfect shave, you can put in the extra time to shave perfectly smooth. Heck, you might even enjoy shaving after a while.
Also an entirely new concept was “lather a second or third time”. I was like “wha?”, but it’s actually not a bad idea, if you think about it. Instead of using the razor to go over a just freshly-shaven area again and again and again, until all the hair is gone, just re-lather and shave, re-lather and shave. Results: less nicks, less cuts, happier looking skin.
Remember also that most cartridge razors have multiple blades. When you use a razor with 3 blades, you actually cut the skin 3 times in 1 stroke. A DE razor has one blade. To get a clean shave it makes sense to go over the same area again. Most people recommend to do three strokes total. One with, one across, and one against the grain. The one against the grain is the one that’s going to make your skin smooth like a baby’s butt, but it’s also the most painful one, when not careful.
Actually I don’t want to get into the technical stuff too much. I learned the basics on YouTube, but the main part of learning happened in the bath room. I can’t save you from the same experience. I can recommend the Sharpologist channel, he has an “Introduction to Traditional Wetshaving” series, which gets you up and running in about 50 minutes.
Just some brief words on skin care. Actually, maybe more words than I would like to write about this topic.
First, let’s talk about the good world. Taking care of your skin, when you basically cut the first layer of your skin off, with a razor that sharp, is a good thing. Moisturize after the save with a cream or some other skin care product. Maybe also put an extra layer of safety on your skin using a pre-shave oil.
Second, the bad side. The beauty industry has discovered men as target audience and they want to market products to us. While this market is still under-developed compared to the women’s market, this means the industry can make big profits from us because we’re such a small niche. Some of the products that we can buy are just over-marketed.
I would recommend not to buy anything that you see in the grocery store. Do some research and then buy a product. Typically useful products aren’t as shiny as quality products. That said, German’s DM market is not bad. They got some in-house brands that specialize on 100% natural products (Alverde) as well as their “cheap alternative” brand, Balea. Also German-based is Weleda.
I sent this article to a friend for proof-reading. He mentioned two more products. In Germany we also have Speick, who makes some very good and natural soaps. I personally haven’t tested or read much about Alaun blocks, but that’s another thing he mentioned.
You can look on Amazon for international products. Amazon is a good way to get American products in Germany. It works the other way around too.
That said, if you do get cuts in the beginning, do yourself a favor and don’t just shave for the sake of being shaved. Stop for a day or two, maybe go back to your old shaver. No matter what you do, let your skin heal first before you try again. After a shave, wait a couple of hours before the first red spots appear. If you see red spots, then you know where you did wrong. Again, wait for things to heal up, then try again. If, no matter how often you try, you still get red spots, then that’s an indication that some product you use may not be right for you. Switch to something for sensitive skin. Do you use an after shave with alcohol in it and you think “the burn” is helping? Then you will hopefully be happy to hear, that the burning doesn’t have to be part of your shaving routine at all. We have made lots of advancements since the early days of alcohol-based after shaves. After shave balms contain soothing, moisturizing, and cleaning ingredients for your skin. No burning necessary.
What about time, I hear you say? Doesn’t it take much longer to shave with a DE? Yes, it does. In my case, think of my scenario, I knew I was going for a beard and that I couldn’t continue to shave in the shower anymore. It made perfect sense to change things up a little. And so it doesn’t hurt me to put in that extra time.
Showing Skill, Getting Compliments, Being Awesome
Think of it this way: I find it satisfying to show myself that I got the skill to shave with a DE. See, I could go back to a cartridge at any time, but right now it just gives me a good feeling to take care of myself and to make me feel nice.
People will recognize that something has changed when you (start to) take care of yourself. I think it’s because you feel good inside yourself, that creates enough good energy to emanate through you to others. I don’t know. That may be the little buddhist in me talking.
I’ve been learning shaving for the last couple of months. That doesn’t go without any skill being built. I don’t know, but it felt like I owe it to myself to show that skill… just a little bit. I didn’t want a standard goatee or mutton chops. I wanted something a little bit more involved, just so that I can take the time to style my beard every day. Something people are going to notice. When I talk with other folks now, I can see it in their face when they start to examine “the beard”. Their faces tell stories: “Oh it has a straight line from here to there, and it connects to here, but it doesn’t go to there, but then there’s a straight line… wait, did he really put the extra time in to cut that part straight? He did. So what’s up with the … Oh I see…” That’s pretty much the experience I’m getting. Not many people are going to notice, but the few who do, massage the ego that much more.5
Oh, did I tell you about my other 30-day-challenge? I’m this close to being done6:
Suck it, laziness!
How does that help you? Maybe you want to take care of your face as well, show some skill, and show that you do care. Most other men I know simply don’t care much. Right now I see a lot of men wear a full beard, mainly because, I don’t know why, maybe because it’s just the beard that’s easiest to shave. You shave it once a week and otherwise just let it grow. Read this again: almost everyone else doesn’t take care, so if you do, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb!
Even with a full beard you can do better. Here are some tips to make people notice:
Trim: That’s right. Trim the thing. Maybe you have a clipper already7. Trim your beard to medium length, if you want to go for the scruffy look. Scruffy men are sexy. But going for scruffy doesn’t mean the hair has to be all over the place. Keep it trimmed and other people will recognize that you “don’t just let it grow”, that you intentionally look scruffy, and that you also put in the extra effort to make “scruffy” look “neat”. And that is what’s going to catch people’s attention!
Cut edges: When I let my beard grow, I knew that there were areas that I would shave off for 100% certainty. I don’t like mustaches, so I shaved my hair above the lip. I also noticed the hair on my cheek doesn’t run in a “geometrical” shape entirely across the cheek. I decided to fix that by shaving the few little extra hairs off, so that it looked like there was a perfect rounded line on my cheek. I thought no one is going to notice, but then the other day, I was attending an afterwork event. One of the folks in the audience looked at me briefly, then away. Then from the corner of my eyes I could see an act of amazement. His eyebrows went up, making his eyes really big, before he squinted. Usually a sign that a thought occurred that now needs some investigative research. I rotated my head slightly, so that my entire cheek points straight at his face, so that he can examine better. His eyes wandered from my ear, to the nose, to the edge of my chin, with one eyebrow down. Needless to say, he noticed. Another example: Here in Germany, we have a lot of Turkish barbers who shave you a really really neat beard with contours so sharp, everybody will notice. If you want to make people go “ooh”, just pay one of these guys, and you know what I want to tell you with this entire article.
Canned goo is a term used to describe that the usual shaving foam one can purchase from a drug store usually contains gases and many artificial ingredients to make the lather work, but all of that means these foams put more chemicals onto the skin as well. ↩
Yeah, I know, I’m such an unfortunate guy to live in this country. ↩
I am very pleased to announce the release of a new podcast. Sven, Patrick, and I decided to work on a new German podcast. This is really exciting for me. Because the podcast is German this post continues in German language, I hope you understand.
Der Übercast ist am Start! Das heisst jede Menge Lauschgift für euch in den kommenden Wochen und Monaten!
Unsere Pilotfolge könnt ihr jetzt anhören. Wir sind ebenfalls bereits in iTunes.
Bitte helft uns in den iTunes Chart Himmel mit einem Abo und Bewertungen! Ihr wisst gar nicht wie uns das hilft gefunden zu werden. Vielen vielen Dank bereits im Vorfeld!
I worked on the Genius Bar for almost two years, and the most difficult issue to solve was short battery life. It was extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why someone’s battery was draining.
I made it my mission to discover the specific reasons for iOS battery drainage. This article is a product of my years of research and anecdotal evidence I gathered in the hundreds of Genius Bar appointments I took during my time as a Genius and iOS technician, as well as testing on my personal devices and the devices of my friends.
Sometimes I amaze myself when I discover what a smart cookie I am! Sometimes the smart cookies come late…
Maybe you remember the app Later, which I covered recently. Later allows you to set up texts to send later via Twitter, Mail, etc. Launch Center Pro has an iOS Share Sheet, which allows for several ways of sharing: iMessage, mail, Twitter, Facebook, Copy to clipboard. Perfect for what I had in mind.
Since Due can launch URL, we can setup a URL that call the LCP iOS Share Sheet with prepared text so that it can be sent later. Voilà:
I am vegetarian. A lot of people I ate with, know that I am. A lot of these people also know that I’m not “religious” about it. I don’t like to tell you what you should be eating. I think everybody is free to choose to eat whatever they want. If I have friends here, I tell them they can buy and store meat in my fridge. If they want to cook meat, I’m not against it.
One thing annoys me though, and this is why I want to write this. More as a personal reference for myself, as opposed to a long ongoing ramble about vegetarianism, factory farming, and living a healthy lifestyle. One thing reappears in a vegetarians’ life repeatedly, and that is omnivores that want to know why you’re vegetarian. It gets to people. Not because they actually care why I am vegetarian, but because they feel guilt because they eat (supposedly) “unhealthy” food, and they know it. So I, as a vegetarian, suddenly appear in their lives, and all of a sudden their own eating habits are not good enough anymore, and they try to legitimize why they kill animals passively.
All I hear are excuses.
Come on, seriously, just get over it. I’m not judging you or your eating habits. I might even say: “That smells really good. What’s it made of?”.
This whole food discussion is annoying me. So many times I had to explain why I’m vegetarian, just to hear excuses over excuses over excuses why someone else can’t be vegetarian.
I’m a vegetarian for ten years now. Can you imagine just how often I had to explain why I’m vegetarian? What is so annoying about this is not because people want an intelligent, grown-up, exchange of thoughts, they only want to legitimize their own “unhealthy” way of living.
The conversation usually starts like this.
Hey, that looks healthy! All vegetables and stuff. Are you vegetarian?
Well, yes I am.
Why are you vegetarian? I couldn’t live that way. I couldn’t imagine a day without meat. I need it.
At this point you lost me already. I heard all these stories before. Yes, you can’t live a day without meat. No, no, really, you can’t. It’s really important. The protein and stuffs. Your body requires it. I get that.
Oh, and by the way, this:
You’re vegetarian? So you’re eating my food’s food?
Never heard that one before. Haha. So funny.
So rather than having a real conversation about healthy living and why I am actually vegetarian, I get to know how other people can’t be vegetarian. To top it off, I get to hear all of that during lunch time. And it is really not about me, it is all about them.
See I just want a break from work and eat my meal. I want to have some nice conversations, laugh, and then get back to work. That’s all I care about.
If you are reading this, it is probably because you just sat next to me and asked me that question, and I really really quickly got the feeling you were legitimizing your supposedly unhealthy eating habits, and at the end I was still not able to tell you why I’m vegetarian.
So if you are really interested in my point of view, you have to understand how I became vegetarian. To get to know that, we need to go back in time, right to the point when I chose to be one. If you are not interested, stop reading, please, but never ask me about food again, OK?
How I Got to Be a Vegetarian
It was in the year 2003. I just got to uni and moved into my first own flat. In that flat I had to do everything by myself. I had to clean, but I als had to cook. See, back then I was really really lazy about cooking. Plus I just hated it. Making meat, from its uncooked form, to the point where you can finally eat it, meant a lot of work. Work I didn’t want to do.
So, there was that. Also, at the same time, I wanted to live a little bit healthier. I wanted to choose what food I eat more carefully. Now that I didn’t have to live at home anymore, I could eat whatever I want. I could break the eating patterns my parents taught me and make up my own. I was overweight at that time and I decided to change my eating habits and to take care of myself.
Combine those two things and you get a really really lazy person, who doesn’t want to waste time cooking, when he can jump on a bike and just cycle hours on end through the city of Munich. Think about it. Meat has to be cooked, an apple falls from the tree and you can eat it right away. That’s what I call convenience food! Plus vegetables have a lot of fiber, and vitamins, and all that other healthy shit in them. If you take a look at your allowed food intake, and consider what experts recommend on ratios for carbohydrates/fat/protein, then it is just much easier to achieve those with a vegetarian diet. Or so, I thought.
I didn’t become a vegetarian from one day to the next. I just decided to eat more healthy foods. Over the course of about a year, the amounts of food in the food categories that I ate, shifted. I ate less and less meat, and more and more vegetables and fruits. To a point where I was wondering why I still ate it? In the end it was just something my parents taught me to eat. What would happen if I dropped meat entirely? And so I did.
At first I didn’t notice anything. I mean, after all, I continued to eat what I like, just no meat anymore. I was really not religious about it, I wasn’t. The first couple of months I dind’t notice much of a change at all. Some months after I ate my last piece of meat however, something happened. I walked through the aisles of my local supermarket and suddenly there was this smell of dead meat. Not just dead meat, it smelled like dead, decomposing, bodies. It trenched the entire area around two important counters. One where they sold dead animals, and right next to it they sold cheese.
That situation was new to me. Never before did I notice just how bad meat actually smells. It was disgusting. In fact, it still is disgusting. I was wondering how I could shove all of that decomposing stinking stuff into my mouth all the years. I mean I wasn’t really religious about vegetarianism, but there I was, a young man, 23 years of age, wanting to buy cheese. And there was this counter, with the dead animal meat, that prevented me from reaching the cheese counter.
At that point it was clear to me that I’m not going back to meat-eating anytime soon. I stood a vegetarian, not anymore because it was inconvenient to cook meat, but because imagining myself eating something so bad, was just out of the question.
Long time passed. I eventually graduated and moved to Stuttgart. Things didn’t change much. Actually nothing changed ever, but a couple of years ago, the documentary wave started. One of the first movies that became popular was An Inconvient Truth. That movie made me stick to green living. But another movie then made me stick to vegetarianism, and that movie was Food, Inc.. If you are an omnivore, don’t watch it. I think what it does to omnivores is by far worse, than what it does to vegetarians and vegans.
Food, Inc. takes you through the worst of factory farming. As an omnivore it increases your level of guilt for a couple of days because you just watched that movie, and you’re still eating meat. How can you be such a cruel monster when you are aware of all of that? As a vegetarian, you’re more like: “Oh yeah, that’s bad. That’s really bad! I didn’t know it was that bad. Glad I’m vegetarian and don’t support that industry with my money.” So for vegetarians it just solidifies a point that existed already, for omnivores it makes them feel bad about themselves. I don’t think you should feel bad about yourself just because of the food you choose to eat.
That movie plus books, articles, and just my own life experience changed my views. I’m still not religiously trying to “convert” people to vegetarianism. I don’t care what you eat. Really. Eat whatever makes you happy. I have my views. Of course I think you don’t eat right. Of course I do. Of course I think you kill animals. Because with your demand for meat, that’s what you do. But that’s what I do with my vegetarianism. I create a demand for moss. Of course I don’t think you are a bad person generally. Your eating habits are just part of who you are. You are not your eating habits. I like you way more than that. Of course I think that way. Why do you think I’m vegetarian for over 10 years? But all of that doesn’t mean that I can’t accept that other people don’t choose to live the way I do. And that is totally fine by me.
So, if you are an omnivore, and you read this. This is why I’m vegetarian. I’m not religious about it, so don’t try to be religious about your meat-eating habits and let’s have a nice chat instead. Maybe about the weather. Yeah, let’s talk about the weather during our lunch break. That sounds good.
Some time ago I expressed on my public Twitter profile that I also have a private profile. I use this profile as a sort-of “quick diary”. The essential idea is really simple. I’m using Day One for journaling. The only problem is that sometimes I don’t want to pull out the “big” Day One app, just to jot down a basic thought that I had.
I find Twitter to be a really good way to do this quick journaling, because Twitter is so abundantly available. You can send a Tweet from basically everywhere. This makes it perfect as a journal! The only downside is that it’s not that easily possible to import the tweets into Day One. I still like to use my private account for this, though I wanted to extend on my original idea just a little bit.
Hazel monitors the folder for a mail to come in. It scans for the filename. If it contains the word “#journal” it triggers an action. The action itself is really simple. I wanted to be able to also attach photos, in case I send one along. Photos sent from the iOS Photos app always get the name “photo.JPG”, if it’s a photo, and “photo.PNG”, if it’s a screen shot. Checks whether there is also a photo somewhere with the text and pipes it to Day One’s CLI tool.
journalentry=$(grep -v -e "Written with major efforts on an iPhone." -e "Written with major efforts on an iPad." "$theFile")
if [[ -e "$photo.JPG" ]]; then
elif [[ -e "$photo.PNG" ]]; then
if [[ -e "$photo" && -e "$theFile" ]]; then
echo "$journalentry" | /usr/local/bin/dayone -p="$photo" new
elif [[ ! -e "$photo" && -e "$theFile" ]]; then
echo "$journalentry" | /usr/local/bin/dayone new
Note the journalentry variable at the top of this script. The two grep commands filter out my email signature.
"jrnl is a simple journal application for your command line. Journals are stored as human readable plain text files - you can put them into a Dropbox folder for instant syncing and you can be assured that your journal will still be readable in 2050, when all your fancy iPad journal applications will long be forgotten.
jrnl also plays nice with the fabulous DayOne and can read and write directly from and to DayOne Journals.”
"Dev Lite for app.net gives you a personal access token that you can use to talk directly with the app.net API. You can use it to hand-craft custom queries or to try out a new client idea before committing to a full developer account."
Make Keyboard Maestro/Alfred/LaunchBar post an update to ADN with curl, anyone?
Keep Your Kids From Deleting Apps From Your iPhone
I’ve been out recently where some friends told me their kid is now playing with there iPhones/iPads. They said that the kid sometimes also deletes apps. A MindNode customer also just wrote in to MindNode support with this problem.
I thought technical-savvy parents know this, but apparently not.
To make uninstalling of apps a little bit harder for your kids:
Go into the Settings app
Under: General → Restrictions
Disable (disallow) “Deleting Apps”
Your kid can use your phone now more “safely”. To enable deletion, disable restrictions. There are other things that you can disallow too, like visiting certain websites, and so forth.
This topic is quite dear to my heart. I am asking this question myself for a couple of years now. Ideas that form my opinion come from the departments healthy living, minimalism, personal education and growth, and lifestyle.
When do I have enough?
This question is rather hard to answer. There are just so many factors that determine “enoughness”. Let’s talk about an example most of my readers should be familiar with: apps.
They way a lot of people in the community handle purchasing new apps is quite emotional. Buying an app is something people do very emotionally, shot from the hip. Apps are bought because of many reasons, one of which is pleasure. It is exciting to buy oneself something good. Look back at the days of The Heist. That was exciting, wasn’t it? It was a nerdfest extraordinare! My mother can’t find that pleasurable, but I did. I still do. I sometimes buy apps because I like that endorphin rush flowing through my blood when I finally decide I buy an app. On the other hand, an app is just five bucks anyway, so what’s to lose?
There are other reasons we buy luxury goods. We want to show yourself that we are worth something, therefore we buy yourself something of worth. We buy clothes that fit us. Clothes that show others how we see ourself, how we want others to perceive us. If you wear a suit, that shows others something about you. Do you wear a tie, a fly, or do you go without any accessories?
These are two reasons why having enough is a tough. With apps, they don’t take up any real space, only virtual. They take up even less space, considering the apps can all just be downloaded again from the cloud. Without taking up space, where do you draw the border where you have enough apps? Is there even a limit?
But it’s not just luxury goods that determine enoughness. Let’s talk about food. If you didn’t sleep in school you know that your body needs a certain amount of food, to create energy out of, to function normally. If you eat less than your normal caloric need, your weight decreases. If you eat more than your caloric need, you gain weight. How do you know when you had enough?
What’s so hard about “eating just enough food” is that we think that our brains are more important than our body. We look at a plate and eat it all up, no matter whether the food filled us up after two bites or not. We’ve conditioned our brains that the plate needs to be empty, or that we want that small piece of chocolate just do us some good. We’ve earned it, didn’t we?
Overeating, however, results in weight gain. Weight gain results in thinking you are not as good looking anymore1. So you think about limiting yourself. Suddenly you decide that the amount of food you eat is too much. You don’t have enough, you have more than you need.
Food is tricky because of the conditioning. Did you ever travel somewhere? Think about all the other people you see travel. How many do you know that pack an extra piece of food, just in case they get hungry? As if there is no food on the other side.
People fear they could starve. But starvation takes much much more time than an 8-hour drive somewhere. Your body can easily go 24 hours without food. Your scientific education should tell you that you don’t need the extra food. It’s not required, but for some reason our fear of not having enough is bigger than the knowledge that there is always going to be enough food wherever we go.
How much time did you ever spend figuring out how much of which food you really need to not starve and not gain weight? Most people don’t. I’m certainly not a master at this, but I spent time trying to listen in to my body trying to hear when it tells me that it just had enough.
Now let’s take a look back into our homes. We have stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Books in bookshelves, DVD’s, gadgets, tools… Our homes are full of stuff. Do we all need that many books? No, of course not, but some people like to keep many books because they feel they might need them at some point, or they are just nice to look at, they show other people how intelligent they are. There are many reasons why you would like to have more stuff than necessary.
The point here is that the level where something is enough comes so suddenly. Take books as example. One day we look at the shelf and are like “Why do I have so many books?”. The pain threshold has been reached at that point where we decide that we had enough, and now want to go back to having just enough.
Why we do all of this is clear. We want to keep balance. When we have more of something, it takes up more space in our life (quite literally). If something is so big that we can’t comprehend its space anymore, we get a desire to make it smaller.
Most of my shelves are empty. I don’t know how it all started, but at some point I wanted to get rid of everything. Screws, books, tools, gadgets. Stuff that I once bought but never really used. Stuff that I bought and used, but then kept because it could become handy in the future, but that future never became reality. Right now I try not to accumulate more stuff. Well, at least stuff that I don’t need.
My parents are a fantastic counter-example of myself. My dad looked at my shelves and said “you’ve got some space there, why don’t you buy more stuff?” Why would I want to, dad? Buying stuff not even because I really really need it, but just to make the shelves look fuller.
And that’s the point of “having enough”. It’s thriving for that point where enough is enough. The point at which you have eaten enough not to gain weight, but also enough not to starve. The point where you have enough books to show off your education, but also where they are not so many that you hate yourself every time you move.
Having enough stands for freedom and peace. Freedom of choice and peace of mind. When you made the conscious decision where enough is enough you feel free, in balance, and in peace. Makes sense?
The former catch-up app, Hojoki, has been relaunched as CatchApp. Not only is the name now more appropriate, but the new app also looks stunningly good.
I used Hojoki in the past to get all notifications “in one place”. With Hojoki I could connect to Trello, Dropbox, and GitHub to get updates of all of these services from Hojoki. Notice that Hojoki/CatchApp can connect to apps that don’t even have notifications built in!
The app is free and delivers 100 notifications, pro accounts have no limitation.
Building a Cloud-Enabled Dropbox-Powered Clipboard
Just yesterday I was, again, frustratingly sitting on my Mac waiting for CloudClipboard to sync new content I created on my iPhone. The changes just wouldn’t show up. It’s not the fault of CloudClipboard, it is iCloud that is the culprit here.
I thought Unclutter would be a good cloud clipboard, because I could just move its content folder to Dropbox. The problem with Unclutter is, however, that it only retains one image file and only has one text file. With Keyboard Maestro on my Mac and clipboard history enabled, only having one picture is not enough.
So I decided to make my own.
Hazel, Launch Center Pro, Keyboard Maestro, Dropbox
If you are into OS X and iOS automation you are going to love this. My approach is the following.
Basically there are two kinds of content that I want to transfer. One is text, the other are images. I can accept when the text is in plain text. Or, in other words, when the formatting gets lost in the process.
I don’t want it to be automatic, e.g. putting clipboard contents in Dropbox automatically. I think across platforms it is more desirable to share specific content only, not everything.
Basic setup: create a folder in Dropbox. Mine is /Apps/Clibpoard/.
On iOS I need a thing to put stuff from the clipboard in Dropbox, and something to put stuff from Dropbox on the clipboard. Just the basic Dropbox app is good enough to put stuff that is in Dropbox, on the clipboard. Getting new content into Dropbox is not that easy.
Luckily Launch Center Pro has Dropbox now built in. It is very easy to setup a couple of actions to help us here. You can use the Composer. System Actions → In-App Dropbox → Upload Photo/New File.
To get stuff from Dropbox onto the iOS clipboard, use the Copy File to Clipboard action.
My Mac has more amazing automation and is a little bit more powerful.
Hazel monitors the Clipboard folder for new files to arrive.
If new file added → has Extension → txt
Name → does not contain → mac
Execute Shell script
cat "$1" | pbcopy
If new file added → has Extension → png/jpg
Name → does not contain → mac
set the clipboard to (read (theFile as alias) as TIFF picture)
Getting new stuff into the Clipboard is almost as easy. Whatever automation tool you use, I’m pretty certain you can come up with something, e.g. an Alfred Workflow. I chose Keyboard Maestro, naturally.
I tried various approaches, but the fastest, workable solution to not having double entries on the clipboard was to add a suffix (Mac) to the files.
I’m using ⌃V as shortcut, and put the macro in my Available in: Finder group.
For those who want to auto-delete the clipboard history, you can add a Hazel action to remove items that are older than, say, a week or so. I personally don’t need that, but mentioning it here is possibly an inspiration for you.
Geeking Meditation Timers (Launch Center Pro, Due, Day One)
I’ve been asking on Twitter what other people use as their meditation timer to go, as I’m quite unsatisfied with the app I’m using, InsightTimer. Don’t get me wrong, InsightTimer is great, it has all the options, but the app is just so butt ugly.
So, a journey started. I actually really like to have a little ding after 15 minutes, so that I know that I can go into a different position. That’s just something I do as a practice. But I can live without it, I guess. What I don’t want to live without is the ability to add a little journal entry after the practice.
Being the geek I am, I wanted something more “elaborate”, let’s just call it that. I turned to Due, because it is able to execute a URL after a reminder has been completed. That’s pretty cool, right?
The URL I came up with is pretty simple.
Meditate in 30 minutes dayone://post?entry=%23%23%23%20Meditation%20Log%20%23%23%23%0A%0A30%20minutes%0A%0A
URL decoded this translates to:
Meditate in 30 minutes dayone://post?entry=### Meditation Log ###
Basically it creates a pre-filled entry for me with a Markdown header and a little indication as to how long I’ve been sitting there.