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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:

2020-02-13: 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 ...

2020-02-08: Adobe Digital Editions: Error #2038

Update 2017-12-18: William's comment on the issue

Update 2020-02-08: Workaround using PocketBook

For a year, I had a nice setup to obtain ebooks in EPUB format from my local library. I set up Adobe Digital Editions 1.7 (ADE) on my wine from Xubuntu 16.04.

You have to use ADE since the ebooks are using Digital Rights Management (DRM) which prevents you from using the data as you would like to. DRM is for protecting the property of companies. So you never own any DRM protected data. You only rent it as long as the DRM owner allows you to.

The only way to make it run was for me using winetricks with "install software" and choosing ADE version 1.7.2. Don't even try to install a downloaded ADE exe setup file within wine.

After setting up my Adobe account, I was able to download an EPUB into ADE. ADE then (sometimes) recognized my Kobo ebook reader and transferred the books onto its storage.

This worked somehow until recently:

ADE error #2038 when trying to download an EPUB

Read the whole article ...

2020-02-07: Who Wants to Volunteer For xfce4-toggle-plugin?

Update 2020-02-06: Difference to libnotify

Update 2020-02-07: workaround using yad

I do have an idea. Unfortunately, my previous experience with C is from another millennia. Therefore, I need to find somebody who wants to invest a couple of hours to implement something that is going to make many Xfce users happy ones. Including myself. :-)

It should not really be complicated because of limited feature-set and almost every sub-part of it was already implemented in other plugins.

Read the whole article ...

2020-02-01: Google and Its Messaging Solutions

Google has quite of a story when it comes to services and apps for messaging:

Somebody could say that this is what you get when people get promoted when they "ship something to the customer" totally neglecting whether or not this "something" has meaning, value or other positive aspects. This is a general cultural issue of the Silicon Valley.

Google was on the right track in my opinion when they worked on Google Wave. It was planned as a federated open protocol with open source code published. This way, each company, organization or community was able to set up their own instance that talked to all other instances. Just like the email infrastructure.

For the first time, I thought that this had the potential to replace business email services in the long run. The technology involved was awesome and highly collaborative work was extremely well supported. In this direction, I've never seen anything better ever since.

Then Google discontinued the development out of the blue and moved the code to the Apache Foundation. It entered a slow but steady death road until it was finally declared dead in 2018.

There are no specific descriptions on the new stuff Google is going to release. My prediction is that this is going to be either dead on arrival or a bit later or it is going to be a niche product for some time.

Considering the market power of Google, the whole story is a declaration of failure.

2020-01-25: Don't Do Complex Folder Hierarchies - They Don't Work and This Is Why and What to Do Instead

I often read comments from people that are trying to come up with a clever, deeply-nested directory hierarchy to manage their personal files. You will frequently find discussions about these topics on this sub-reddit. I don't recommend investing effort in complex directory structures and this is why and what to do instead.

Note: Please do read this article in order to learn about the terms "directory" and "folder" and how my personal directory hierarchy looks like.

Read the whole article ...

2020-01-25: What App am I Using for What and How?

Most recent check of the status of all entries: 2019-12-02

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 ...

2020-01-21: Emacs is Not Just An Editor

Update 2016-07-02: Link to article by Christopher Patti

Update 2020-01-21: Link to the "Emacs is no text editor" article

The editor war between users of the vim editor and the Emacs editor exists since decades. Here is my comment on that as somebody who is using vim and GNU/Emacs intensive on a daily basis.

In my opinion, the most dominant advantage of Emacs is that it's not just an editor: it's a LISP interpreter and thus a very capable highly dynamic platform.

The consequence of this fact is dramatically: Emacs runs a very large number of third party packages. Those packages provide top-of-the-art features for editing but also for non-editing stuff like file management, games, project management, email management, calendar, data processing and visualization, version management, spreadsheets, drawings, or even composing music.

Other "editors" do offer some few non-editing features as well. However, only Emacs is even used by people who don't need an editor at all. Org-mode is an excellent example of functionality which has almost nothing to do with editing per se and whose enormous capabilities are not matched by any other software solution.

Apparently, the well known quote "Emacs is not an editor, it's an operating system" is not just a funny phrase to make you smile - it's simply the truth. People like John Wiegley (and many more) are not using much operating system features or other software at all. They basically "live" within Emacs only. They've added another abstraction layer on top of their classic operating system. This does provide great abilities whose benefits can't be understood by most people unfortunately. It's impossible to explain colors to people who can not see (yet).

So: comparing Emacs to an editor is like comparing GNU/Linux to a word processor. It's an unfair and inadequate comparison for both sides. Those stupid editor flame-wars are not worth the time at all.

If you need only an editor, great power-tools like vim are fine as well. Don't complain that Emacs can be so much more than just an editor.

Simply use the best tool for each job deliberately.

Also interesting to read:

2020-01-20: UOMF: How to Start With Emacs Org Mode

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.

If you just found out about Org mode and you want to try it out yourself, there is a chance that you are going to be disappointed because of some common mistakes people tend to do. This article tries to come up with some tips from my hands-on knowledge so that your experience is starting as a pleasant one.

Be my guest.

Read the whole article ...

2020-01-13: Thunderbird Can Not Share a Maildir With Notmuch

I've tried to set up a Xubuntu Linux host with Thunderbird as graphical mail client and notmuch as Emacs mail client.

My plan was, that they both share the same maildir hierarchy to store emails since Thunderbird offers maildir as a beta feature since years.

So far, I failed to accomplish so.

Read the whole article ...

2020-01-03: Estimations on Complexity

I'd like to recommend you two articles: Text Rendering Hates You and Text Editing Hates You Too.

The first one is explaining some aspects on implementing text rendering for a general purpose software. The second one extends the topic to text input.

Both topics do seem to be simple and straight-forward. Reading them will remind you that the devil is in the details.

I had a similar effect with The Problem with Time & Timezones by Tom Scott where he explains implementation implications on time and time zones.

TL;DR: avoid contact with any topic mentioned. ;-)

2020-01-01: UOMF: Logging With Emacs Org Mode

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.

In this article, I'm going to explain why and how I moved certain notifications and error logs to Org mode.

Read the whole article ...

2020-01-01: git: post-commit hook for determining large number of deleted lines in Org-mode

Update 2020-01-01: Modified version using appendorgheading

Maybe you have faced the very same issue: when large Org mode hierarchies are folded, it might happen that you overwrite or delete large parts of your Org mode file without noticing.

This is not a big deal if you happen to have your Org mode files within a git repository. All changes to my Org mode files even get committed automatically using gitwatch. Everything that happened to your Org mode files can be revoked. However, you have to recognize the deleted lines in order to be able to restore them.

And this is where this small trick can help you: using the post-commit hook below, you get a warning on your daily agenda when you check in a commit that deleted more than a given number of lines.

Read the whole article ...

2019-12-17: Erfahrungen und Tipps zu meiner Arbeitssuche

Ich war auf Arbeitssuche und habe nun eine neue Aufgabe gefunden. Ich werde hier nicht über meinen künftigen Arbeitgeber schreiben, da dieser Blog ausschließlich meine Privatmeinung wiedergibt und ich keine Vermischung dahingehen möchte.

Nur soweit: die Firma habe ich über persönlichen Kontakt gefunden. Das war insofern auch etwas überraschend, als dass schlussendlich vier Personalvermittlungsfirmen mit mir gemeinsam nach Jobs Ausschau gehalten haben und mir durchaus einige interessante Kontakte ermöglicht haben. Es war sehr spannend, Firmen im Bereich in und um Graz genauer kennenzulernen.

Dieser Beitrag hier gibt ein paar Lessons Learned wieder, da mich der Leyrer dazu motiviert hat. Er hat auch gesucht und darüber gebloggt.

Read the whole article ...

2019-12-12: Improving Code Robustness by Deriving Component Index for RegEx Matches

Update 2019-12-12: Email Comment: Named Groups

This is about an idea I've got for a slightly more robust handling of regular expressions (regex). It is not specific to Python but I'm using Python code snippets to explain what I mean. I don't claim that I'm the first person who is doing it like this. As often, after you have seen it, it may seem obvious anyway.

TL;DR: I'm using an example string on a regular expression to determine the index of the interesting chunks within the resulting list of matches. This has some advantages in certain situations.

Read the whole article ...

2019-11-26: Tagging Files With Windows 10

This quite lengthy article explains and discusses the built-in file tagging implementation of Microsoft Windows 10. I do have a strong background with PIM and tagging and this article is written from the human perspective when manually tagging user-generated files.

To my knowledge, Microsoft is currently not actively promoting this feature. Therefore, complaining on bad design decisions does not apply here as long as Microsoft does not understand this kind of tagging as something which was designed to be used by the general user. Because from my perspective, it obviously can't be meant to be used in practice. Unfortunately. Let's take a closer look why I came to this conclusion.

TL;DR: Microsoft Windows does provide NTFS features to tag arbitrary files. Some applications do also merge format-specific tags with these NTFS tags. Although there are quite nice retrieval functions for tags, it is very complicated to use this for general file management. Applied tags are easily lost so that in practice, users will refrain from using native Windows file tagging like this.

Table of contents:

  1. What Does Tagging Mean Here?
  2. A Well-Hidden Feature
  3. How to See and Assign Tags
  4. How to Make Use of Tags
  5. Playing Around With Tags
  6. Enabled File Types for Tagging
  7. How to Enable Tags for More File Types
  8. Relations Between Applications and Meta-Data
  9. History, Implementation Details, and Similar Implementations
  10. Windows 10 Tags Considered as Fragile
  11. Summary and Remarks

Read the whole article ...

2019-11-23: Johann Puch Museum

Yesterday, I visited the Johann Puch Museum of Graz. Johann Puch founded a company in Graz that got famous for their bicycles, motorcycles and cars.

I do recommend you to visit the museum on your own since there are many cool artifacts to see.

Here are just a few impressions from my trip.

Read the whole article ...

2019-11-16: UOMF: Linking Headings

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.

In this article, I'm going to explain how I am using internal links to create links pointing to headings using unique :ID: properties.

Read the whole article ...

2019-11-15: Per MediathekView Beiträge von der ORF TVthek herunterladen

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

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 ...

2019-11-15: UOMF: Easy Entering Values for Org Mode Properties

Silent update 2019-09-25: added to blog series "Using Org Mode Features"

Update 2019-11-15: Screencast demo

Please do read my "Using Org Mode Features" (UOMF) series page for explanations on articles of this series.

If you are using Org-mode you might find yourself in a position, where you want to set or update a property value for an existing property.

In my case, I frequently do this for my contacts. Whenever a phone number changes, I add a note to the heading of the corresponding contact. Additionally, I maintain phone numbers in properties as well. To do this in a sane way, I only mark the new phone number (region) and press a keyboard shortcut which calls an Elisp function. This function asks me for the name of a property (with tab completion). Then, the value of this property is set to the string of the region.

Very handy.

Here is the Elisp code of my-org-region-to-property() which was made possible with the help of Antoine R. Dumont:

Read the whole article ...

2019-11-11: The Best Restaurants In and Around Graz


From time to time, I do love to eat in more or less fancy restaurants.

If I'm in the right mood, I blog about my experience.

Here is my list of my personal restaurant recommendations for Graz mostly in no particular order:

Please note that I did not get any money or other benefit for this list.

2019-11-09: Programming With PowerPoint

I just watched a video with Tom Wildenhain demonstrating how he is using Microsoft PowerPoint as a graphical programming environment:

Besides the fact that the video has great entertainment value, Tom is demonstrating quite impressively how someone is able to reverse engineer the inner workings of something. In this case, he did a very good job in finding out how Microsoft implemented the morph transition for various objects. This way, you can use PowerPoint to render 3D animations, for example.

I was astonished about handling cyclic dependencies between embedded slides within slides and navigating between them. Building interactive fractals within PowerPoint? Why not!

With that knowledge, he built a Turing Machine in PowerPoint which is actually pretty handy for demonstrating how these machines actually work.

Even if you're not interested in programming in PowerPoint, this fifty minute video shows you hardly known features you can use in your daily PowerPoint life: special transitions, use of high-quality 3D assets, export these 3D assets for using them in other tools, and so forth.

Lastly, he presents the Design Idea feature I noticed myself just a couple of days ago. With this awesome PowerPoint feature you create very high quality slides without any effort. While Microsoft was famous for having the ugliest templates of the market for decades, this is a new killer-feature where the alternatives do not have anything as good as that.

2019-11-09: UOMF: On How to Define Projects in Org Mode

Update 2019-11-09: my-mark-as-project()

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.

In my world, I tend to define "projects" as a construct that contains a set of tasks in order to reach a common project goal.

Within Org mode, I need a syntax element to decorate my projects as such in order to make sure Org recognizes projects in case I need Org mode support for projects.

Read the whole article ...