Looking back on 2017

Like in the last years here comes my yearly recap. Older flashbacks can be found for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

When looking back on 2017 I realized that one of the main themes was that I finally had time to dive into some things. This was not a conscious decision, but rather something which just happened. In the previous years there was always too much work for university etc. to really get into some topics. But now I have e.g. mastered coffee, which is a huge enrichment for my quality of life. For the past year I got very much into brewed coffee, read a lot about it, visited barista courses, tried a lot of different coffee beans and ways to prepare the coffee. This happened basically each morning for the entire year and even whilst travelling I carried the Aeropress and a ceramic mill. At some point we ended up with the Chemex and a coffee bean from a little roastery in Porto which we discovered when travelling in Portugal and some other equipment (such as a very good coffee grinder). I’d say that I now have the best fitting coffee for my taste. It’s really nice to finally have time to put a lot of energy and passion into mastering something.

Cooking is another ongoing (probably life-long) project. For the last couple of months I have cooked for usually five evenings of the week. This has resulted in a constant optimization of some dishes and I am very happy with some things that I cook now. One of the side dishes that I usually do is a green salad in order to balance the main dish and I am very happy with the tweaks and ingredients I have established now. I can reproducibly prepare a salad that I am very happy with. The same goes for some other dishes and baking bread, which was also one project of “mastering” something.

In terms of technology, I think 2017 was a great year and I’m very excited about 2018 technology-wise. Just look at the myriads of use cases for machine learning which appeared in 2017. That’s crazy, at one point I had the feeling that there was something new and incredible each week (this youtube channel contains a lot of interesting works). The developments surrounding reusable rockets and SpaceX and some of the blockchain startups (I like Colony) are also very exciting. Of course a lot of stuff is overhyped, but it’s still exciting to be immersed in this scene.

Travel-wise I had a nice time in Israel, Portugal, Amsterdam and some nice parts of Germany/Austria. City-wise I have the feeling that I got a bit more comfortable with Berlin in our second year here. Some things which I really enjoy are the vast amount of different restaurants, fine-dining options, interesting people, international crowd (half of my colleagues are non-German), concerts of distinguished and non-major artists, theaters, courses, electronic music clubs (I can’t emphasize this enough), and conferences (I attended the TechCrunch Discrupt in December).

Good ideas
Placing a “Use soon” basket visibly in the kitchen and put stuff in it which should be consumed soon. For me this basket also serves well as a reminder to use up certain things which I always forget.

I finally became a vegetarian. This was a natural development and in the last years I ate less and less meat. A while ago I stopped cooking with it altogether. When travelling I was always eating vegetarian since a long time. My main reason for going vegetarian is of ethical nature. In the last months I even ate vegan most of the time, I stopped buying milk, butter, or eggs altogether some months ago.

Quotes which stuck

Some worry that an artificial consciousnesses could turn against humans. I am not concerned about this. […] It seems that intelligence and abundance comes hand-in-hand with empathy. Humans, more and more, are peaceful creatures. An increasing number are so empathetic that they avoid eating animals entirely. If a super intelligence could outsmart me, then it would also understand all that I’ve outlined above about how fragile and rare life is. A super intelligence would, I think, be super empathetic.
    —Ryan Dahl, Optimistic Nihilism

Interface is a metaphor for information.
    —(from an OP-1 presentation by one of the founders)

Intimacy is the process of […] inviting others in to have a look around.
    —Charles Foster, Being a beast

Statt uns ein Gefuehl von Sicherheit zu geben, koennen uns Gegenstaende belasten und hemmen.
    —Pia Mester, Flow from July

I continue to believe that we can be the generation that ends disease, ends poverty, and stops climate change.
    —Mark Zuckerberg

Minimalism isn’t about having less. It’s about having only the things that add value to your life.

In Wahrheit ist jeder Wunsch, dem wir nachjagen, eine Belastung.
    —Pia Mester

Ask yourself: What would it be simply ridiculous to not have in 30 years time? Then go make that.
    —Alan Kay on startups and ideas

In a world run by blockchains, decentralisation could be pushed even further, to include objects. Once they have their own identity and can be controlled via a blockchain, it is possible to imagine them becoming, in a way, self-determining. A few years back, Mike Hearn, a former bitcoin developer who now works for R3, a blockchain consortium, suggested the idea of self-driving cars which are also financially autonomous. Guided by smart contracts, they would stash away some of the digital money they make by ferrying people around, so as to pay for repairs or to replace themselves when repairs are no longer worthwhile. They would put themselves in long-term parking if not enough rides are to be had—or emigrate to another city. They could issue tokens to raise funds and to allow owners to get part of their profits.”
    —The Economist, Disrupting the trust business

Interesting articles
Ryan Dahl, Optimistic Nihilism

Oh My Gosh, It’s Covered in Rule 30s!

This section in the Wiki article on Survivorship Bias was an eye opener.

I really like packaging lists, such as this one.

Oskar introduced me to Simpsonwaves — mashups of old simpson series enhanced with old VHS effects and underlied with Vaporwave music. Perfectly fits my taste of music & style :-). Here is one great example.

Spotify says that Nocow and Lorn are two very popular electronic music artists of mine in 2017.

Good Videos
Stephan recommended the Brothers Green cooking videos and I took quite some inspiration from them. I especially cooked the (vegan) stir fry described in this video a lot.

Movie which rang the bell most/Movie which reached me most
Weit. I got this movie recommended on festivals and from friends. The movie is emotionally capturing and really nice, it’s a documentation and all of it has happened that way. The story is that of a young German couple (from Freiburg) who decide to travel east for as long as they need to make it around the world. They hitchhike, hike, take the boat, etc. (but never the plane). They recorded a lot of this journey on camera and cut it into this movie. The movie is quite professional though and was a surprise hit in German arthouse cinemas. It’s definitely worth watching and will give you wanderlust :-).

Blade Runner. I re-watched the original and it’s impressive how well the movie still holds up.

Hell or High Water. Great movie with a great pace.

Best photos that I took
I’m happy with most of the photos that I put on this blog, these are some which I were very happy with in 2017:


I’m also very much satisfied with portraits I made of some other people close to me, but I don’t want to post them all here.

Last years new years resolutions
My new year resolutions last year were:

  1. Buy maximum 5 clothing items. ✗
    Oh oh, the first resolution and I have to admit that I failed miserably :(. Unfortunately I couldn’t resist and bought way more new clothing items. This was mainly due to discovering some nice stuff when travelling, but also due to the discovery of a very nice custom tailor here in Berlin and the techwear brand Outlier. They both hooked me!
  2. Cook a new meal each week. ✓
    I (and Valerie) did it! Quite often it was even more than one meal. My top new dishes were: homemade granola, vegan bacon (following this recipe), marinated champignons, hummus + baked eggplant + pomegranate, and marinated brussels sprouts.
  3. Learn more Spanish and don’t lose all the stuff learned in South America.
  4. Finish up some old, half-finished projects. ✓
    I mainly had the video interview with Elf Pavlik in mind and I finally finished and published it.
  5. Phone more with friends. ✓
  6. Donate more. ✓
  7. Make one publication. ✓
    I did, but this work dates back to my time at university and it just took a long time for it to get published. So hmm…I originally had in mind to create a new publication when I put this resolution up.
  8. Get rid of more stuff, keep striving for minimalism. ~
    Hmm. Sold a lot of stuff, gave away a lot of stuff, threw a lot of stuff away. But also bought some new stuff. Ahh this is difficult. I really would like to be there: only own the stuff that contributes value to my life. I read so much about this and I admire the people who live out of one bag so much. It’s a journey and I’m making a constant effort to downsize. Still I own too much stuff and the worst thing this year was that I went nuts with clothing items.

New year resolutions for 2018

  • Spend less money.
    I went a bit nuts in 2017, in 2018 I want to spend less and save more. That’s my number one new year resolution. As a first starting point I want to gather a detailed overview over all my expenses and want to meticulously document every cent that I spend in January.
  • Consider meditation again.
  • One additional, regular fitness exercise.
  • Bring photography skills to a level that I am satisfied with (i.e. a more serious level). Specifically by thinking more about composition and getting better at it.
  • Contribute more to open source projects.
    In 2017 I contributed a bit to two smaller projects on GitHub by fixing some issues and doing a bit of enhancements, it would be nice to contribute to more projects.
  • Start a technically challenging new project.
  • Develop my own clothing style further.
    I like it a lot to analyze clothing and think about the way others (or I) dress. Here in Berlin I very often see people which have found their unique style, it seems to me that some of those people really wear their look. They have found an idea which they want to convey and they just nail that. Especially in Neukoelln (where I work) I see a lot of people who fit this description. I also strive to achieve a level where I feel that every clothing item which I wear fits very well into the complete picture. I am not entirely happy with the status quo though, since I am currently very much interested in two different styles of clothing: the techwear direction with materials such as Dynemma and companies like Outlier and the — kind of opposite — direction of classical clothes which remind of the suits/skirts from the 60s/70s with e.g. pleats on the pants or rougher materials like wool or linen.
  • Decide fast, don’t overthink.

Looking back on 2011

Last year I did a review for 2010. This year I want to do the same.
A lot has been going on in 2011 for me. I’ve attended hackathons, barcamps, writeathons, contests, hackcamps, seminars, workshops and stuff. This has proven to be a very good idea. I got to know about a hell lot of stuff out there I didn’t even know existed!

Most interesting website discovered:
Kickstarter. So far I have invested in 3 projects.
I find it a very interesting concept to just crowdsource the investment process of a project. I hope this enables more people to realize their ideas without having to take a huge debt from a bank.

Book I learned the most from:
Douglas Crockford — JavaScript: The Good Parts.
Taking JavaScript to the next level. Last year I wrote that one of the most interesting projects I’ve discovered was node.js: serverside JavaScript. In 2011 I did a lot of stuff with node.js and JavaScript.

Most interesting fictional books:
The books Daemon and its successor FreedomTM by Daniel Suarez have been a big inspiration for me. I really enjoyed reading them. I don’t know about the german translations though, I generally read and watch stuff in english.

I also liked Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I got interested in reading the book after I read an interview with Mark Zuckerberg where he talked about his favorite scifi book.

Video, movies, music
I still stream my music-use to last.fm. Since I am incredibly forgetful I use this as a way to determine what my favorite music has been. But I listen to far too much music to have one album I liked the most. Currently I am heavily listening to the LPs Casper – XOXO and The Jezabels – Dark Storm.

Looking at movies my favorite one was “Into the Wild”. A really amazing movie that deeply impressed me. Also an amazingly fitting soundtrack by Eddie Veeder. I also loved Tron. The story is not really surprising, but I loved how the digital world was presented and I have hacked through many nights by listening to the great Daft Punk soundtrack.

The video I liked the most was Carving the mountains. A video about pretty girls riding longboards.

Best decisions:
Writing a blog, saying yes, spending money, following interests and dropping everything else.
Just doing stuff. Not waiting for anybody.

The rough plan for 2012: (I am surely getting back to this next year!)
I have several things on the road, most of them can be summarized under the term “Free software“.
I want to replace my existing workflow to a majority of free software. I have started several efforts of migrating to Linux/*BSD, but I always failed because the Apple stuff is so incredibly comfortable. But: I don’t want to support a closed, proprietary platform anymore. I don’t want to have to pay for software anymore. But most of all: I want to build my own system, I want to write more software straightly suited for me and I want to improve existing free software.

Since all my past efforts to migrate miserably failed, due to not being radical enough, I always got back to the Mac as my main workstation. But now I have a new plan: I will leave my Mac at home and will only take my netbook (currently running OpenBSD) with me. I will still need the Mac for some advanced Multimedia stuff (Photoshop, Premiere, Lightroom). But since I mostly work at the university, I presume this will drastically limit my use of the Mac.

Also I will go for a much more commandline-oriented workflow. Last year I wrote about my plans to look into zsh — which I did. Thing is: The software works great, but it is incredibly bloated. I use a 5k lines config file from the Grml project. You need 5k for it to work well?! C’mon! So for 2012 I plan to get into ksh. I also use vim *a lot*. Same problem. My config is too bloated since I copy-pasted most of it from various sources. So I am going for vi and a plain .exrc. I aim for a minimalistic setup where I understand why everything is in its place. I am sure I will gather a better understanding of e.g. vi, if I understand exactly why the config file looks the way it does.

Also I don’t want to speak of “Open Source” anymore, I will try to accomodate the term “Free software”. I had some discussions with meillo on this topic and he finally brought my attention to an article that briefly describes the difference.

Looking back on 2010

These are some of the things I found helpful for me or discovered in 2010.
It’s a very mixed up compilation and partly very techy :-).

The video I liked the most
Way back home (set to 1080p). Amazingly beautifully shot.

Most interesting websites I discovered
GitHub: For me social coding is a big thing, I like discovering new projects based on coders or projects I follow.
I like the concept of a whole community dedicated to develop open-source projects further and exploring ideas.
Having social interaction and a way to reputate yourself online fits perfectly with what Prof. Norbert Bolz calls “the age of recommendation and reputation” and “to brand yourself”.

Flattr: I think micropayment is a great concept and I hope it is going to change the way we see and think about content.

Twitter: I now use twitter on a daily basis, I found it very helpful in getting the information that I am interested in.
The best analogy I heard in 2010 was that twitter is like your personal radio station that plays information you are interested in. Of course you have to follow the right people.

Most interesting feed/newsletter
The cryptogram is a monthly newsletter by the legendary cryptography researcher Bruce Schneier. He writes mature thougts on current security topics and discussions. I found it really helpful in getting a reasonable opinion about topics and staying up-to-date.

Most interesting video lecture
JavaScript, the evil parts. Quite some interesting ideas.

Most surprising programming language
Haskell: Very clean design. I first got into contact with functional programming in 2010 and found it very intuitive and useful.
Since parallelization gets more and more important these days, languages that are inherently designed without side-effects have a great future.

Most helpful podcasts
Linux Reality: 100 episodes about linux related topics. Good for starters.
Chaosradio Express by Tim Pritlove: German podcast, I can recommand TeX, Coffee and Mobile Ad-hoc networks.

Most interesting projects I discovered
node.js: Server side javascript at it’s best.
Cinder: High performance creative coding framework for C++.
Ethersex: A project that enables network facilities like IPv6 or HTTP for microcontrollers.

Most used software
Bash: Maybe I will look into zsh in 2011, for now I am very happy.
Vim: Hands off, best text editor out there.
LaTeX: Just great.
Git: For me git made a big change in my coding workflow and the way I keep the development, staging and productive environment in sync.

Project I learned the most from
Setting up a company server from scratch (hardware, archlinux os, web-server, wiki, backup system, vpn, etc.).
Especially getting handy with Unix and Linux had some big insights for me.

Best article/paper/etc
Reading the famous RFC 2616 in it’s completeness was really helpful for understanding the concepts behind the world wide web.

Most interesting persons of 2010
Dr. Michael Schmidt-Salomon: German philosopher, if you are interested in faith, humanism, ethics and the “free will”-debate listen to this interview.

Daniel Domscheidt-Berg: I think this is pretty much ideally how one should present himself: Sophisticated and calm.

Robert Hodgin: Very inspiring. Co-founder of Cinder and the barbarian group. Big one in creative coding.

About Me

I am a 32 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


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