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This is the home-page of Karl Voit.

On this page you can see the latest blog updates. For further articles, please use the search bar or navigate through the blue tags. My recommendations are pim, privacy, or security.

I recommend any decent RSS/Atom aggregator to get notified on blog updates.

Most recent articles or updates:

2020-06-23: Self-Limitation Due to Software Simplification


I recently listened to a podcast episode of 99% Invisible named Of Mice and Men where Christina Engelbart, the daughter of the famous Douglas Engelbart was interviewed. Her father not only invented the computer mouse. He also was the man behind the Mother of all Demos where he presented technologies like remote video conferencing, on-line collaboration tools, hypertext, word processing, revision control system in 1968! He truly was way in advance of his time, influencing many researchers and companies for decades. Here, I don't want to spoil all of the fun: you have to watch his demo yourself and listen to the podcast episode as well.

This article is about some opinions and motivations that Douglas was following that resonate with my experience perfectly well:

We are limiting ourselves by not learning about how to use a computer more efficiently. Furthermore, we are limiting ourselves by sticking to simplified and easy to use software products.

Read the whole article ...

2020-06-17: Clippings

On this page, I collect my public/media appearances of any kind.

Most recent updates:

Read the whole article ...

2020-06-16: Zettelkasten/Org-roam/Org-brain Is Crap

Update 2020-06-16: Comment by Alan Schmitt

First, I'd like to apologize for the rude title. I used this rhetoric trick to get the right kind of people into reading these lines: People who care about the Zettelkasten-method and who are able to express the usefulness of it for themselves.

Now that I have your attention, I'd like to write down my personal concerns about the Zettelkasten method which may not reflect your reality. I then would love to read about your arguments why my prejudice might not be valid in general.

My pile of Org mode data is huge. There are certain costs attached to migrating my data to a Zettelkasten method, even if this would only affect my file which contains my general knowledge base.

At this moment in time, I doubt that I will move to a Zettelkasten approach. Nevertheless, I'd love to read your comments that try to falsify (or confirm?) my worries on that topic.

Read the whole article ...

2020-06-14: Christian Felber über die Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie

Jung & naïv brachte in Folge 459 ein Interview mit Christian Felber über die Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie:

Ich zitiere hier bequemlichkeitshalber gleich die Beschreibung vom Video und ergänze es mit ein paar Links:

Wir treffen den österreichischen Autor, politischen Aktivisten, Ökonomen und Tanzperformer Christian Felber, der seit etwa zehn Jahren für die Gemeinwohlökonomie (GWÖ) kämpft. Christian ist Mitbegründer von attac Österreich und gründete 2010 den Verein zur Förderung der Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie für ein Wirtschaften, das auf Kooperation statt Konkurrenz setzt.
Mit Christian geht's zunächst um seinen Werdegang: Wieso tanzt er so gerne? Was hat das Tanzen mit unserem Zusammenleben zu tun? Was hat er studiert bzw. was konnte er nicht studieren? Wie hat er sich seine ökonomischen Grundlagen angeeignet? Warum will Christian den Kapitalismus überwinden? Was hat die GWÖ noch mit Marktwirtschaft zu tun? Warum sollten wir auf Kooperation statt Konkurrenz setzen? Kann es in einer GWÖ noch weiterhin Wachstum geben? Wie ist er überhaupt auf die Idee einer GWÖ gekommen? Und was ist davon in unseren Verfassungen zu finden? Könnten wir damit einfach in Deutschland anfangen oder muss das global passieren?
Außerdem geht's um privates Eigentum, Waffenhersteller, Nachhaltigkeit, eine "Obergrenze" für Unternehmen und ein Spekulationsverbot.

Das Interview ist beinahe zweieinhalb Stunden lang. Doch selten hat mich ein Video so in den Bann gezogen wie dieses Interview mit Christian Felber.

Meiner Meinung nach ist das ein Pflichtvideo für jeden vernünftigen Wähler. Aus diesem Grunde verdient es das Tag mindblowing absolut. Bitte ansehen!

Ich wünsche mir für uns alle, dass die Ideen der GWÖ unsere zukünftigen Wirtschaftssysteme und Werte extrem stark beeinflussen.

2020-06-06: Managing Digital Files (e.g., Photographs) in Files and Folders


Managing digital files is mostly done in an ad hoc way. People are collecting files on their computers and using folder hierarchies that grow organically. This does not scale well when it comes to retrieval success. Looking for a specific file is a task that often does not result in finding the information or it requires some level of frustration.

I'm somebody who has spent many years with personal organization schemes. I tried all kinds of tools and methods. I changed my personal file management concept multiple times in order to minimize file curation effort, maximize consistency and retrieval success. For a couple of years, I was a professional researcher for this topic, writing a PhD thesis on a new file management method that tries to overcome the limitations of the desktop metaphor of our desktops. Scientific results from peers, my own findings and methods from this PhD project had a huge influence on the method I developed afterwards.

This article is explaining the concept I developed and which I am using on a daily basis. I'm using digital photographs as an use-case example. However, the method described is not about image files only.

My method consists of multiple ingredients:

  1. My simple folder hierarchy.
  2. A file name convention including tags.
  3. A set of self-written tools that minimizes my personal effort as much as possible.
  4. Advanced information retrieval features that you can't find anywhere else like TagTrees.

If you don't want to read this long article about my method now, you might find motivation to do so afterwards by taking a look at this online demo of some features of the tools involved. It doesn't explain my method at all but it should transport some aspects from a practical view. This might give you enough curiosity to come back here and read the rest on how to combine those features to an efficient method.

Further more, here is a 45 minute talk I gave at Linuxtage Graz 2018 presenting the workflows and tools mentioned in this article: (alternative video hosted on

You will find following sections below. Bold section names are not related to the example use-case of photographs only:

For the example use-case, the story goes like this: I am a passionate photographer when being on vacation or whenever I see something beautiful. This way, I collected many JPEG files over the past decades. Here, I describe how I manage my digital photographs while avoiding any vendor lock-in which binds me to a temporary solution and leads to loss of data in the long run. I prefer solutions where I am able to invest my time and effort for a long-term relationship.

Before I start explaining my method, we should come to an agreement whether or not we do have the same set of requirements I am trying to address with my method. If you are into raw image formats, storing your photographs somewhere in the cloud or anything else very special to you (and not to me), you might not get satisfied with the things described here. At least for the photograph use-case. Decide yourself.

Read the whole article ...

2020-06-05: You Can't Control Your Data in the Cloud

There is this well cited argument that cloud companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and you-name-it are able to protect your personal data much better than you are able to. They have military grade security restrictions, better backup methods, and are able to do this much cheaper.

While this argument being absolutely true, people seem to forget that giving away your data to any third party is the root of many problems in the first place. It is not relevant to whom you are giving your data to.

Let me explain.

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2020-06-04: My Preferred Business Email Setup With Thunderbird and Notmuch (and Why it Doesn't Work)

This is a software rant article on an email setup for business use and why Thunderbird prevents me from using it like that.

First, lets start with some requirements for my business email setup.

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2020-06-03: What App am I Using for What and How?

Most recent check of the status of all entries: 2020-06-03

Here is a list of tasks I do on my computers and the software I am using for accomplishing these tasks. The first column also links corresponding workflow descriptions with further information on how I am doing things. At the very bottom, there are links to more workflow descriptions.

For all the Emacs people visiting this page: here, I just list a few Emacs packages. For more details on which packages I'm using for my workflows, please do visit my online Emacs config and check out the first chapters explaining my setup.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-19: RelFS: A Hypothetical Tag-Based File System by Nayuki

A reddit thread mentioned the article on "Designing better file organization around tags, not hierarchies" by Nayuki which was last updated in early 2017.

Since I have some scientific and hands-on background on the topic of file management by tags, I would like to comment on this article. Unfortunately, Nayuki does not provide any comment feature on his web page. Hence, I'm publishing this comment on my blog.

The article by Nayuki is written similar to a classic white-paper for a research conference or a scientific journal. It consists of following sections:

I "printed" the web page into a PDF file which resulted in 29 pages of A4 with my page settings. Therefore, it's a lengthy paper that requires some time to read carefully. Nevertheless, it offers good content for readers who are into file management in general and tag-based approaches in particular. I really do recommend it. If you continue reading my comments now, you should have read the article beforehand in order to get the most out of my comments as I won't repeat most content from the article I'm referring to.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-17: My Mastodon Manifesto

I'm in a love-hate-relationship with Mastodon since a couple of years.

My Twitter account still has more followers and publicity. My sympathy goes to the decentralized or federated open Fediverse. This the way to go to overcome the dependency on one big company, running Twitter and defining its rules.

Currently, you can follow me on where I moved to after using for a few years. To minimize my personal effort while maximizing the level of publicity, I decided to use a bi-directional Twitter-Mastodon-crossposter service.

Here are some thoughts on Mastodon: why it's great and what are the things I dislike about it.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-17: Mastodon: I switched from to

On December 28 2019, I received following email from the Mastodon instance I'm using since 2017:

While your account is limited, only people who are already following you will see your toots on this server, and you may be excluded from various public listings. However, others may still manually follow you.

I violated their rule-set which includes a ban of cross-posting retweets to Mastodon.

After some stupid whining, I understood that I had to migrate my active but limited account to a different Mastodon instance. Their instance, their effort, their rules.

While this was not a high-priority task for the longest time, it got some attention after I learned about a brand new local community server that ran a Mastodon instance:

They do not only provide Mastodon service. They also have Mumble, Peertube, Jitsi Meet and other services. I support them financially with a few bucks each month.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-17: I Am Testing Mastodon as a Supplement for Twitter

Update 2020-05-17: Meanwhile, I switched my Mastodon instance to Follow me there. Also added an introduction article.

I'm on Twitter since 2009. It is an important source of information. However, I also do have many concerns related to Twitter. For this and other reasons, I even did a test-run and ignored twitter for 40 days.

Switching from Twitter to a different service is hard. Thqere are many alternatives to choose from and there is the problem of not having my peers.

In order to get some experience, I signed up for Mastodon yesterday as:

This is my first toot, as tweets are called on Mastodon:

I'd be happy to get followers and peers on Mastodon.

For helpful articles on Mastodon, read this introduction article on Mastodon and read the related articles below:

2020-05-14: Per MediathekView Beiträge von der ORF TVthek herunterladen

Update 2019-11-15: ZIB2-Dateinamensergebnisse und Hinweis auf youtube-downloader

Update 2020-05-14: Spendenmöglichkeit

Der ORF bietet ein gutes Programm. Gerade für Österreicher ist er wohl das Maß aller Dinge im Bereich des täglichen Bewegtbildes. An Qualität und Inhalten ist er den privaten Konkurrenten meiner Meinung nach haushoch überlegen - besonders im Nachrichtenbereich. Ich oute mich als großer Fan der ZIB2, die ich keinen Tag versäume.

Dieser Beitrag beschreibt, wie ich Sendungen vom ORF herunterlade, um sie am Handy anzusehen - oder meistens sogar nur nebenbei anzuhören.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-09: Issues with Lenovo T490 and (X)Ubuntu 19.10

Update 2020-03-12: X.Org sluggishness, Fan

Update 2020-05-09: Upgrade to Xubuntu 20.04 LTS fixed most issues

My company notebook is a brand new Lenovo T490 with 8 Gigabytes of RAM:

I replaced Windows 10 after a week with the most up-to-date Xubuntu which is based on Ubuntu 19.10. That's basically a normal Ubuntu with the Xfce environment instead of Ubuntu's GNOME decision.

Although I'm using GNU/Linux for decades, I can hardly remember running a system which is as unstable as this one. In this blog article, I summarize my current issues just to give others a landing page with my findings in case they face similar problems.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-08: Migrating Media Meta-Data from Bashee to Rhythmbox

As I upgraded my home system from Debian 9 (Stretch) to Debian 10 (Buster), I noticed that my long-time music player software Banshee was not able to start its UI any more. The last stable version of Banshee was published in 2014 and the project died after that.

Then why is this worth a blog entry? Before I was using Banshee, I used iTunes on OS X since approximately 2004. In the process of moving my mp3 music archive from OS X to GNU/Linux, I migrated all the meta-data which was not represented within the mp3 files from iTunes to Banshee:

Accumulating my listening meta-data over fifteen years, this meta-data does have some value to me.

Before I join the tedious game of trying to get Banshee to run by down-grading libraries, running some container stuff I don't really want to use, or similar, I decided to move away from this unmaintained project to a maintained one.

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-04: Accessing Your Home Server Via Ssh over the Tor Network

Update 2020-05-04: added "Alternative Explanations"

While watching a very interesting talk about Onion services from 32C3, I got the urge to access my home server via the Tor network. The service I want to access is ssh (listening at home on port 22) but you can also access a web browser by chosing port 80 (or similar) instead of 22.

On the one side, I get high security (authentication, encryption, untraceable connection) to access a computer behind my firewall without even having to expose ports on my internet-router. On the other side, I get the neat bonus of having a unique address despite the fact that my home IP is constantly changing (by DHCP). Therefore, independent of my IP address, my home server can be accessed via Tor by an address which looks like 1y8oybr42aun85pw.onion. So by gaining additional security, I don't have to pay a service like to get a fixed address. This sound neat, isn't it?

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-03: UOMF: My Current Org Mode Files and Heading Structure

This is an article from a series of blog postings. Please do read my "Using Org Mode Features" (UOMF) series page for explanations on articles of this series.

Similar to my article explaining my file hierarchy, this long article describes my current Org mode files, how they are named, what main headings they contain and some statistics. If you're not an Emacs Org mode fetishist, this is probably not going to be of high interest to you.

I did not sit down and decided on the structure and names of my Org mode files and heading structure properly. The things I'm going to show you are the current results of a "natural development". It wasn't always the way it is now and it most probably will change in the future as well. Some things are "good enough" to stay like they are despite the fact that I can imagine a better concept. Some things stay as they are because they are difficult to change because of migration cost in form of manual effort.

Therefore, there is no hidden message "this is how it should be done". Far from that. Please do not think that I will convince anybody to do it exactly as it happens to be at my side here.

If you expect a clean setup with consistent patterns, you will be disappointed. I even described stuff that is somewhat embarrassing, considering my interest in PIM and self-organization.

This article is for people who are really curious on how my Org mode files are organized. It's a reference I'll use myself. Maybe I'll do a similar article in a couple of years from now and highlight differences. Maybe this is a one-hit wonder due to the considerable amount of time I had to spend describing all those things. Let's see.

Here is an overview of the headings of this article:

Read the whole article ...

2020-05-02: Org-Mode Is One of the Most Reasonable Markup Languages to Use for Text

Update 2017-09-25: Simplified the table syntax even more

Update 2018-04-06: Comments on the standardization argument

Update 2019-04-12: Extended syntax examples, "Makes Sense Outside of Emacs", "Tool Support" and added more backlinks

Update 2020-05-02: Comment by Ian Zimmerman

Disclaimer: this is a very nerdy blog entry. It is about lightweight markup languages and why I think that Org mode is the best lightweight markup language for many use-cases. And with lightweight markup language, I do mean the syntax, the way you express headings, lists, font variations such as bold face or italic, and such things.

Please do note that this is not about Emacs. This is about Org mode syntax and its advantages even when used outside of Emacs. You can type Org mode in vim, notepad.exe, Atom, Notepad++, and all other text editors out there. And in my opinion it does have advantages compared to the other, common lightweight markup standards such as Markdown, AsciiDoc, Wikitext or reStructuredText.

Of course, Org mode is my favorite syntax. Despite my personal choice you will see that I've got some pretty convincing arguments that underline my statement as well. So this is not just a matter of personal taste.

If you already have a grin on your face because you don't have any clue what this is all about: keep on reading. It makes an excellent example for making fun of nerds at your next dinner party. ;-)

Read the whole article ...

2020-03-21: "Ist es vernünftig, an Gott zu glauben?" - Religion und Wissenschaft

Ich bin weißgott kein Experte für Religion (pun intended). Und schon gar nicht für das Thema Wissenschaft und Religion als Widerspruch oder eben nicht. Jedoch finde ich dies eine interessante Fragestellung, über die ich schon des öfteren nachgedacht habe und mir meine Meinung gebildet habe.

Umso erfreulicher, wenn man so eine Diskussion wie die zwischen Prof. Rudolf Taschner und Prof. John Lennox entdeckt und genießt:

Es gibt hier vermutlich zwei entgegengesetzte Positionen. Diejenige, die Wissenschaft über die Religion stell und diejenige, die die Religion über alles andere stellt. Für beide, als auch für das breite Spektrum dazwischen, werden diese hundert Minuten einen Wert darstellen, da bin ich mir sicher.

2020-03-18: Demo: Advanced File Management

This is a multi-step demo for my advance file management workflow.

You will find more detailed explanations and instructions on this page. However, going through this demo is a good motivation to read the longer article afterwards in case you want to learn more.

So let's start with the demo.

Read the whole article ...

2020-03-08: Buch-Kritik: »Kopftuchmafia« von Thomas Stipsits

Heute las ich das aktuelle Buch "Kopftuchmafia" von Thomas Stipsits. Ganz. In vier Stunden war ich durch.

Der Kriminalroman ergießt sich auf weniger als zweihundert Seiten. Trotzdem ist es für mich ungewöhnlich, ein Buch in einem Rutsch zu lesen. Das passierte mir bislang nur ein einziges Mal vorher. Insofern würde ich meinen, ist das ein deutliches Zeichen.

Leider lese ich nur selten etwas anderes als Fachliteratur. Umso mehr fesselte mich die burgenländische Welt, die Thomas Stipsits hier in Stinatz aufspannt. Es gibt wunderbare Beschreibungen schrulliger Typen, die ein Jeder ohnehin auch aus dem eigenen Umfeld kennt aber selten so treffend beschreiben könnte. Es gibt Mord und Totschlag, große Tragik, Verstrickungen, Tratsch und vor allem viel Witz, der dankenswerterweise nicht übertrieben wurde. Vielmehr wird mit feiner Klinge gearbeitet und nicht selten entsteht ein Lächeln aufgrund einer Situation, die man aus dem eigenen Leben wiedererkennt. Schließlich kommt auch die Mama vom Kommissar vor.

Von dem, was ich als Literatur-Abstinenter so mitbekomme, fand ich die Sprache wirklich gut. Es fielen mir einige treffende und wohlüberlegte Formulierungen auf. Thomas Stipsits hat offenbar nicht nur ein Talent beim Erstellen und Vortrag eines Kabarettprogramms, sondern auch im Niederschreiben.

Kurzweilige Unterhaltung mit netten Figuren, von denen man noch gerne mehr gelesen hätte. Ach ja: der Bösewicht kommt am Schluss auch noch hinter Gitter.

2020-02-13: Searching and Typing Unicode Characters - Like Emojis - System-Wide Via Emacs

Update 2020-02-13: trying to move from insert-char to counsel-unicode-char after this reddit comment

Mastodon-user @jeeger tooted about a nice way to search for Unicode characters such as Emojis:

Unlike somebody would think that this is only relevant within Emacs, this method is using the really nice built-in Emacs character search for entering special characters in any application:

  1. Define my-insert-char() in your Emacs configuration (see below).
  2. Manually test in the command line using the following line:

    emacsclient -c -e '(my-insert-char)'
  3. Map to a system-wise keyboard shortcut and use it to put arbitrary Unicode characters in the system clipboard.

(defun my-insert-char ()
    (call-interactively 'insert-char) ;; classic method
    ;; (call-interactively 'counsel-unicode-char) ;; improved usability but inserts characters differently
    (kill-ring-save (point-min) (point-max))))	  

I mapped this command to Fn-Search which is a special key that is available on some keyboards.

This way, I can search for something like "arrow" and using TAB completion to get something like this: ⤴ For emojis, I might search for "happy" to get "happy person raising one hand": 🙋

This is going to be an additional input method to me besides emojione-picker.

2020-02-11: Fefe über Verteidigungsmaßnahmen in der IT-Security

Man kann zum IT-Security-Blogger fefe stehen, wie man will. "Food for thought" und unkonventionelle Ansichten bringt er in jedem Fall unter die Leute.

Ich selber bin wohl mehrheitlich ein Fanboy und gebe es zu. Schon alleine, weil er mir ständig neue Blickwinkel auf Althergebrachtes bietet. Ich muss ja nicht immer einer Meinung mit ihm sein.

Heute hat er wieder gebloggt. Und zwar über vorbeugende Maßnahmen in der IT Security.

Hier ein paar ausgesuchte Zitate aus dem Artikel, damit du dir eventuell die Langversion durchliest:

Mich stört das schon länger, dass die Regierungen alle in Angriff investieren und niemand macht Verteidigung.
Meine Erwartung war: Fehlerminimierende Softwarearchitektur, resilienzsteigernde Netzwerkarchitektur, vorbeugender Coding-Stil, sowas.
Die reden da überhaupt nicht darüber, wie wir eine sichere Infrastruktur aufbauen können, oder wie wir von Windows+Outlook+Active Directory wegkommen, sondern die optimieren da, wie schnell man nach einem Emotet-Befall neu aufsetzen kann. Den Emotet-Befall selbst verhindert niemand. Der ist bei dem Zustand der Infrastruktur so sicher wie das Amen in der Kirche.
Das, was wir aber mal wirklich machen müssten, das macht niemand.
Ich bin inzwischen der Meinung, dass das nicht nur nicht hilfreich ist, sondern dass das aktiv schädlich ist, wenn man in Incident Response investiert.
Aber ich glaube, dass das nie besser wird, wenn wir nicht mal einen so richtig fetten Großschadensfall haben und denen ihre Ministerien niederbrennen, weil keiner vorgesorgt hat. Je länger dann alles down ist, desto besser. Damit das auch mal Konsequenzen hat.

Am Ende hat er nicht nur etwas zum Meckern übrig, sondern fasst auch seine Ideen zusammen, was man denn seiner Meinung nach machen sollte.

Viel Spaß beim Diskutieren! :-)

2020-02-09: DIY-Sound Absorption Box for an Intel NUC and Its External HDD

At home, I'm running an old intel NUC i5 from 2015 as my main computer as described in this article.. It is also serving as a 24/7 home server. The NUC has a minimal SSD with the operating system and the rest of the data resides on an external 3,5" hard disk.

Since it is running all the time, I don't want to be disturbed by noise when I try to concentrate in my home office. The only noise sources are the fan of the NUC and the noises from the external hard disk. Both are quite silent, when I compare them to the really loud computers I was using more than a decade ago.

However, the disk emits noises on read/write access and the NUC fan occasionally speeds up. To optimize my subjective noise level, I decided to apply some DIY noise-reduction ideas.

Read the whole article ...

2020-02-09: My Hardware Setup

2018-05-17: Updated my setup description that was outdated and covered the situation of 2014. Meanwhile, I maintain a comprehensive list of software I use. Therefore, I removed most references to software from this page.

2020-02-09: Updated my setup:

On this page, I summarize my IT set-up according to the last update time-stamp above.

Read the whole article ...