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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:

2021-02-21: Keyboard Switch Tester

If you have read my article about keyboards, you have realized my interest in ergonomics and other details of keyboards. You have also learned that there are many different mechanical switches.

Since the haptic experience of pressing a switch is difficult to describe and even more difficult to imagine, I have decided to buy a switch tester.

I was lucky to find an offer of a large switch tester which is brand new and which was bought accidentally twice. I got it for about 50€.

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2021-02-21: derGrazer: Tendenziöse Berichterstattung zur Grazer U-Bahn

Diese Woche gab es einigen Aufruhr wegen der Veröffentlichung von Plänen des Grazer Bürgermeisters Mag. Siegfried Nagl (ÖVP) mit seinem Vizebürgermeister Mag. (FH) Mario Eustacchio (FPÖ).

Graz mit seinen rund 300.000 Einwohnern soll eine U-Bahn bekommen, um seine Probleme im öffentlichen Verkehr zu bekämpfen.

Das wurde unter anderem auch mit einer Umfrage von der Wochenzeitung derGrazer untermauert, wonach 42,5 Prozent der Grazer das Vorhaben positiv sehen. Laut Impressum ist derGrazer eine "Unabhängige Wochenzeitung für Graz und Umgebung".

Ich habe mir das mal angesehen. Gleich vorweg: ich gehöre keiner politischen Partei an, bin kein Experte für Verkehrsfragen, habe als Grazer jedoch großes Interesse an einem bestmöglichen, öffentlichen Verkehr.

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2021-02-04: Viral Video: Speed Boat Accident

Once in a while, I get curious about the story behind certain meme pictures or videos. Then I try to find some backgruond story.

One of the most famous boat crash GIFs is based on this video.

Here is an article on the background story for it. Luckily, all people survived the incident.

2021-01-31: Keyboards

Here is an article on keyboards and my personal keyboard history including plans to buy a new mechanical keyboard soon.

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2021-01-23: UOMF: Easy Dependency Creation With org-linker-edna

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.

After switching from the simple and built-in Org mode dependency method org-depend to the more powerful org-edna, I had to accept the more complex dependency definition syntax of org-edna.

One of the most basic tasks here are:

  1. Resolving the current heading should trigger a todo keyword for a remote heading.
  2. Resolving the current heading should trigger a scheduled date for a remote heading.
  3. Any heading that gets triggered by a remote heading should have a link to this dependency.

This is where org-linker-edna is going to help you. It comes with a dependency on org-linker as well as the helm framework.

You can see in my Emacs configuration how I set up the packages. It also contains the definitions of all custom functions mentioned.

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2021-01-18: How to Choose a Tool

Many times, I watch people making sub-optimal choices for their software tools. Maslow once said:

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

For me, the proper way of choosing a tool is following this pattern:

  1. Requirements analysis.
  2. Choosing a method.
  3. Analyze the tools.
  4. Choose a tool.
  5. Optimization.

In that order.

Let's take a look at each step.

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2021-01-18: Don't Ask for Features When You Still Need a Method

This is an updated version of a reddit comment of mine. I often see people asking for features of a software or service while they still struggle with how to solve their problem(s) in principle.

In my opinion, they should not looking for features. You should go back at least one step and start by looking for a method or even go back further and realize what your general requirements are.

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2021-01-15: The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done

The New Yorker featured an article "The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done" by Cal Newport.

It's an article that resonates quite well with my personal point of view although I am unsure if I will come to the same conclusions.

Either way, it's a PIM-related article that you have to read.

He spans a nice productivity optimization story that starts with Peter Drucker (the term "knowledge work"), jumps to the personal journey of Merlin Mann (43 Folders, Inbox Zero, Hipster PDA) and embraces the GTD method by David Allen.

The great thing about the article is that it also mentions the downside of this "Productivity pr0n": somehow the work needs to be done. Being an efficient knowledge worker may lead to a dread-mill where external work input is unthrottled for too long.

Another aspect the article covers is the tradeoff between self-organization and independence versus being managed by peers.

In any case, the article is well worth your time if you're interested in PIM or self-management in general.

Other sources discussing the topic:

2021-01-13: Search for a Text in Multiple PDF Files in Parallel

Update 2021-01-13: Section on ripgrep-all which is much faster.

I often do need to search a specific word or term within specification files in PDF format. With only a small number of PDF files, this can be done from a decent shell using pdfgrep quite easily.

However, with a larger set of PDF files, you may want to do it more efficiently.

Read the whole article ...

2021-01-11: How to Design File Management for a Company

The author of this reddit thread asked how to design a file naming convention for a (new) company. The question was not only about file name convention but also covered a directory hierarchy on the shared file server and such.

I would like to give some general recommendations from my personal experience. You will end up with a "customized" version anyway.

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2021-01-02: Tag Gardening on Publicvoit

I usually do give some advises on how to use tags properly - within Org mode and in general. One best practice is to limit yourself to a limited and pre-defined set of tags: the controlled vocabulary (CV).

Since this blog is using tags as a first-level navigational tool, you might have noticed that my tag-cloud did not follow that advice. This is because the tags developed way over a decade with multiple authoring and blogging tools. I was too lazy to clean up my tags for too many years.

Yesterday, I sat down a couple of hours and cleaned up large parts of this chaos. This is called "tag gardening". I consider this an important process. Therefore I added dedicated features to my filetags tool to support the user as much as possible.

Please notice that this is an ongoing process. I should get rid of even more tags in order to get a better controlled vocabulary. I now do have almost 80 tags which is still too much in my opinion. Furthermore, new tags will appear as my personal world is shifting and a few of the current tags will vanish over time for the same reason.

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2020-12-31: Don't Contribute Anything Relevant in Web Forums Like Reddit

If you're, for example, contributing to a reddit thread about something which is irrelevant or anything with only a short-term relevance, this article does not apply to you right now.

However, as soon as you're helping somebody solving an interesting issue, summarize your experiences with something or write anything that might be cool to be around in a couple of years as well, you do provide potential high-value content. My message to all those authors is: don't use web-based forums.

TL;DR: all of the content of closed, centralized services will be lost in the long run. Choose the platform you contribute to wisely now instead of learning through more large data loss events later-on.

The longer version is worth your time:

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2020-12-31: Publicvoit Access Statistics for 2020

Here is some insight in the 2020 webalizer statistics of my blog.

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2020-12-30: The Nightmare of Files and Directories

Sebastian sent me the link to the video "Computers for Cynics 1 - The Nightmare of Files and Directories" by Ted Nelson, which is a very important person in the history of computing.

Just like me, he is criticizing hierarchical file systems as the dominant way of organizing user data (in contrast to operating system and program files). I do think that my arguments against strict hierarchies do have a broader basis. However, his arguments derived from the history of file systems are absolutely valid and worth the 15 minutes of the video.

Here are my personal notes with a few annotations on that video.

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2020-12-28: How to Change People's Mind

Today, I stumbled over a TEDx talk by Emily Calandrelli: "Making science nicer, stupid".

She is using the example of people of West Virginia. While growing up in West Virginia, industrial propaganda finances lots of material to embrace cloal mining as a wonderful thing while downplaying or even opposing the huge role of coal related to the climate change.

Clearly, being stupid or uneducated can not be the one and only explanation why people in West Virginia are positive related to coal mining.

The important question when trying to convince people about something is: Is your goal to be right or is it to change people's mind?

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2020-12-27: Moving from OnePlus5 to Pixel 4a Smartphone

I got myself a new Google Pixel 4a smartphone (running Android 11) which will replace my three year old OnePlus 5 which is still running Android 9 (OxygenOS 9.0.11) although the OTA upgrade to Android 10 should have been rolled out by now.

The OnePlus 5 is still working. Battery life has declined but more than enough for one day, camera is still great, I could easily live with the internal storage space, no scratches or reasons to replace it.

However, I chose to replace it because of the issues reported in the "Disadvantages" section of my review article on the OnePlus 5 which also explains why OnePlus is not an option for me as a brand any more.

The same article also mentions my thoughts on mobile phone requirements. You can even read more about my thoughts on an ideal smartphone.

This is a personal blog article which does not try to compete with the many review articles about this phone out there. Here are some things that came up during the decision and setup phase of the Pixel 4a I've got for a week now: device choice, cost perspective, notable features and a few issues worth mentioning that I have found so far.

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2020-12-27: Tagging Natural Objects

How to choose a sufficient and limited set of tags for tagging things is a frequently asked question in Personal Information Management. Those sets of tags are called controlled vocabulary (CV). I wrote about some aspects about CVs in this article about classification and in this article about folder hierarchies.

This article follows one approach to classify general natural objects within 49 or 17 general dimensions. Those dimensions can be used for tagging arbitrary natural objects. The neat thing about this approach is that the way the dimensions were derived should assure a maximum consensus.

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2020-12-27: Fixing "Everything I Type Is In Times New Roman" in Word 2016

I had a very stupid issue with Word 2016 on my office computer and this my story about the journey to solve it which took me a couple of months. Spoiler: it re-appeared and could not be fixed for good.

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2020-12-14: What I Should Have Said at My First Conference/Workshop as a PhD Student

In 2009, I started working on my PhD. I was trying to get a decent overview on the research related to Personal Information Management (PIM). With sheer luck, my first positional paper "Why Personal Information Management (PIM) Technologies Are Not Widespread" got accepted to the PIM workshop 2009 which was held at the ASIS&T conference in Vancouver.

The PIM workshop was the perfect starting point for my PhD thesis. The majority of people relevant to PIM research was at one spot in a room with probably 40-50 participants. Yes, the research field is that small - unfortunately.

Instead of presenting what I wrote in the positional paper, I should have talked about completely different things.

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2020-12-11: UOMF: Linking to Text Within PDF Files

Update 2020-12-11: switch from org-link-abbrev-alist to org-link-set-parameters

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.

By reading this article, you will learn how to create custom link abbreviations to link to text within PDF files.

Read the whole article ...

2020-12-09: Zettelkasten/Org-roam/Org-brain Is Crap


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.

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2020-11-24: What App am I Using for What and How?

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 which should be our focus, not the tool. 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.

It is important to emphasize that you can not derive anything for your situation without knowing my requirements and how they lead to my choice for a tool. For some workflows, I've added a link to further information which might also contain a description of my requirements (first column).

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2020-11-12: The Average Price Per Month for My Smartphones so Far (2020-11 edition)

This is the second instance of my smart phone cost analysis which started with this article in 2019-10. Please do read it first because I only mention updates worth mentioning in this article here.

The current history of my Android smartphones as of 2020-11 after buying a Pixel 4a (neglecting inflation):

Smartphone From Cost Years €/Month Notes
HTC Magic [2009-12-04 Fri] 230 1.5 13.00 2nd hand price
HTC Desire [2011-05-26 Thu] 410 2.4 14.01
Nexus 5 [2013-11-01 Fri] 399 3.8 8.67
OnePlus 5 [2017-09-01 Fri] 200 3.2 5.23 company co-funded
Pixel 4a [2020-11-07 Sat] 340 2.8 10.00
[2023-09-07 Thu] replaced after average duration

Compared to the previous article, I notice that my average cost per month will probably be higher with the Pixel 4a due to the higher price as long as I do not use it for more than the average mobile device usage time so far. Therefore, I hope to use it much longer than the OnePlus 5 in order to drop the cost per month even more. At least for software updates, I should be safe as long as possible. Google just released the phone and it will get the longest period of update support compared to other Android phone brands.

With the latest update, the total sum spent on mobile phone hardware is 1579€ which translates to 7.91€ per month. I've spend as much money on all of my five smartphones as some people spend on one iPhone these days.

2020-11-12: The Average Price Per Month for My Smartphones so Far (2019-10 edition)

Update 2020-11-12: This article holds the numbers for 2020-11

A few facts on the history of my Android smartphones so far are summarized in the following table (neglecting inflation):

Smartphone From Cost Years €/Month Notes
HTC Magic [2009-12-04 Fri] 230 1.5 13.00 2nd hand price
HTC Desire [2011-05-26 Thu] 410 2.4 14.01
Nexus 5 [2013-11-01 Fri] 399 3.8 8.67
OnePlus 5 [2017-09-01 Fri] 200 2.1 7.77 company co-funded
[2019-10-24 Thu] If I'd replace it today

Out of curiosity, I played with the numbers.

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2020-10-26: Empfehlenswerte Erweiterungen für den Rasenmäherroboter Gardena R40Li

Ergänzend zu meinem Erfahrungsbericht zum Rasenmäherroboter möchte ich hier noch kurz erwähnen, dass ich inzwischen zwei Erweiterungen der Hardware vorgenommen habe, die sich aus äußerst empfehlenswert herausgestellt haben.

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