July 2014

07/31/2014 19:00:14

The zCasting 3000 Vision

I was writing here and there about the upcoming changes and vision I have imagined for my company, zCasting 3000. Today I can finally give you an overview of what I want this company to be.

Please read this article: The zCasting 3000 Vision

07/30/2014 19:00:00

My Review of Tower 2

I didn’t miss this, first of all. In fact I saw this in my stream right when it was released. But I wanted to look at the app more thoroughly before I post anything. The office has been quite busy lately, and so I was unable to check out Tower 2 when it was in beta. If I use a beta, I want to make sure that I can use it in the beta, otherwise I won’t sign up, which was the case here.

Now that it’s out the door, and we recorded an episode on Der Übercast on Git and Tower 2, I finally found enough time to give the app a whirl.

Tower 2 is an absolutely fantastic release. In comparison to its previous version, this one looks so much cleaner, feels modern and integrates lots of things it was missing to its competition.

Disclaimer: I am not endorsed nor affiliated with Fournova or Tower. While I know these folks personally I am not getting any money out of this review. Everything that you read here is based on personal observations. Fournova did not have any influence on this review.

Visual Appearance

Tower 2 has gotten the interface overhaul. I’d say no icon looks like the previous version. All the icons that I see make sense and look attractive. My personal favorite, as douchy as it may sound, are the branch icons. I just like the three little dots and how the branch is curved a little more than it should, but that little detail makes me smile.

That said, most icons use gray gradients, which those icons don’t.

There’s now a little HEAD indicator right next to the active branch. Which makes it easier to see what’s going on. I personally found it hard to view my history of commits. Tower 1 used to have tabs at the top. One for files, history, and so forth. This has been moved to the sidebar. At first I didn’t know where to look, but it makes sense to have this stuff in the sidebar now. I get adjusted to it.


Feature-wise Tower 2 adds a lot to its bucket. I assume a lot of users were missing Git-Flow. Something I personally don’t use, and I appreciate that it’s off by default, but a lot of more advanced users probably needed this desperately. It also makes Tower more compelling in comparison to its biggest competitor, SourceTree.

Tower now integrates with the biggest online Git hosting services, GitHub, Bitbucket and Beanstalk. Users can now directly check out any repository they have created on GitHub within Tower. This is a very welcome feature. It makes it very easy to fork a repo on GitHub and pull it locally, to work on.

Another feature that is really nice is the remote activity viewer. Tower 1 used to show a window that was blocking the UI when remote operations were running. This has been changed, thankfully.

There’s a ton more. I could write about the Conflict Manager, Quick Open and other new stuff too, but since most repos I work on only by myself, I don’t get to see conflicts that often. I would recommend to check out Tower’s website and read more.


Tower is the most solid app that I can recommend as Git GUI. One thing that wins me over from the competition is that it’s built by a small independent team here in Germany. Some guys in Stuttgart and Berlin. That just wins the price for nicest people on earth easily.

If I really have a problem with Git, I can’t figure out by myself, I could literally hop on my bike and get to the guys. And they are pretty helpful folks too. Fournova have built a "Learn Git" page where you can download an eBook, view video courses and take part in online courses even. I can personally recommend this, because Fournova knows their stuff. They use Git all day and they build Tower for themselves, basically. It’s not even a service to their users! Can you imagine? Jerks.
I remember that Tobias once gave a Git course in our coworking space. The course was set for, I don’t know, two or three hours. The first left after the set time, but the course and presentation was still going on. I’m sure he was done with what he had to say by then, but the course took about eight hours total. Asking people what took them so long they said: “Well, we had questions, and Tobias answered them.” That’s at least five hours of added value. Self-centered, arrogant, egoistic jerks.

Tower 2 is available for $59. Customers of Tower 1 pay 50% less. Educational and student licenses available too.

07/29/2014 19:00:12

Challenge: Why I Am a Great Person

Challenge: Why I am a great person

This is a personal challenge I came up with last year. It basically tackles the problem that we normally don’t know exactly how others see us. This is to identify how we are perceived by other people so we can get a better understanding of ourselves. Are you really intelligent? Are you really too small?

Let me first explain the goal, and then the challenge.

The Goal

Inside ourselves we have negative thoughts (“I’m not good/intelligent/handsome enough”). Other people don’t give us nearly enough positive feedback to counter them. This is bad because we tend to see them as reality, because our reality doesn’t tell us otherwise. Therefore some of these thoughts may eventually become reality.

On the other hand, we sometimes don’t know how we are perceived by others. Do they think we are too pushy? Do they think we are quiet? Is one of our qualities “normal” or a little bit extreme?

The Challenge

The problematic task is to figure out what other people think about you. (Not what you think other people think about you.) Listen carefully to what other people say about you. Part of the problem is to be “aware of” and “here in” the moment to realize that a person just said something about you.
When someone says to you “I think you are smart that you came up with this solution”, you can note down “I am smart”; with full confidence that you are.

I call this challenge “Why I Am a Great Man/Woman”. Basically a mind map where you collect the things other people say about you.

Just as example: It took me about two months to collect only 10 of these compliments! Here is an example mind map. Note that this is not my actual mind map! Take it as an inspiration.

Obviously desperately hunting for compliments is unfavorable, but sometimes you’re going to have a chat with someone, they say something, and then just take notice.
I wouldn’t recommend to ask other people directly, or actively. Wait for them to tell you.

It shouldn’t take long. Just one of those 30-day challenges.

Note that not everything is “positive”, you’ll earn critique as well. In those cases just take notice and write it down.
You’ll also hear “compliments” which have two sides. As an example let’s take “sensible”. Men often don’t want to be sensible. Men are strong. We eat glass and drive fast cars and no men should ever cry. So “sensible” might have a certain negative tone for you, when in fact it also has its positive sides. Sensible means you are sensible enough to hear or see small physical reactions of somebody else. This means you are also sensible enough and say something like “did I say anything wrong?” more quickly than somebody who is not as sensible. Well, and it also means you don’t eat glass, because your tongue is too sensible. I’m sorry to disappoint. No glass for you anymore!

Next steps

After you’ve invested much time to collect these things, it comes the time to reap the fruits of your labor. For instance, you can leave little notes to yourself around the house, to remind you how you really are.

Here’s an idea. Open Pages, create a text box, and write “You are beautiful, I like your face” in it. Create more text boxes as needed. Print them out and leave these notes around your home. Now when you brush teeth in the morning, you are greeted with this little message. Isn’t it nice that you thought of yourself?

Another idea, if you are a little bit on the nerdy side: write a script that randomly outputs a line from a file, and display it using GeekTool, or pipe its output to notifyutil.

07/28/2014 22:10:00

But It Doesn't Have Heart

I am 33 years old now and I feel like I’ve really become an adult just this year. I don’t know what happened exactly, but there were some circumstances that made it important for me to realize what place I’ve come to, and then decide where to go next. About 10 years ago I had an idea of myself that I wanted to make a reality. I realized that I could become anything, if I just decide to go for it. Back then I made a plan of what I want to do with my life. Back then I jokingly said to myself that it would take me until I’m 60 to get there.

I got into self improvement. I started reading books. I learned everything that I thought would widen my horizon. Fast forward ten 10 years and here I am. Most of the things, that I once thought would be impossible to achieve, are now my reality.
Many other folks of my generation have done the same thing, and folks of older generations have done the same thing, too. Some have gotten into self improvement, so that we can build better, bigger, and more efficient companies and relationships. Imagination, fast forward 10 years, reality.

Our universities and schools have taught us from the head upwards that we need to make the right decisions, we need to put a lot of sciencing and efficiencing into what we do.
I feel like we’ve grown up without reviewing who we once were. As kids we were very much into our bodies. As we grew older and got more educated, our head started taking over. That’s not a bad thing, really. It’s what makes some people be successful in the work place.

This year I got into styling and one thing strikes me. I look at people who are about my age, and how they behave at business events. Some people try so hard to be as businessy as they can, but inside they’re just not the person they are trying to convey to be. I’m guilty too. A couple of years ago, when I left uni after I got my first degree, I was trying so hard to be the businessiest guy that I could be. Connecting people, trying to make good deals. That was so totally not me. And when I look at like-minded folks, who try to do the same thing, I just think to myself: “Who the fuck are you trying to kid?”

I mean think about it. There’s this old business dude, once the same age, once maybe trying to do the same things. Don’t you think that dude knows exactly what’s going on? Don’t you think he or she can immediately tell the difference if you just try to make a deal or if you really try to build a connection? Why do we try to make deals at the most unappropriate times? Why can’t we just be present in the moment, appreciate the other person’s time and value the moment? We don’t need to try so hard:

"Everything you need to know will come at the right time". (Unknown source)

Relax. Just chill the fuck out. Trying hard won’t take you anywhere. You can also just do things your way and see how far you get. Trying hard is your head taking the lead. People can feel that there’s a disconnect inside you, between your head and your body.

Lots people about my age just had their first longer-lasting relationships end too. People are now back into dating, and where once was a clear vision are now questions and doubt. A friend had a nice quote. She said: “You know, I know I could try to be in a relationship again, it’s not that difficult. There are so many men out there, I just need to grab one. I can focus on my career right now.” Others like her go the “head” way too. I also went the head way about 10 years ago, when I ignored dating and put learning in focus.
Some go the “body” way. Guys, girls, threesomes, pickup, sex, lust… I’m not saying this is bad. I just want to emphasize the disconnect between head and body. Most are somewhat in between however. When you “test” a new person the hardest thing is to find the right balance between physical and intellectual attraction:

"It is the heart that is the hardest to follow. Your brain always goes for ‘bigger and better’. Your body always goes for ‘sexier and more pleasure’. And your poor heart is always torn between the two."

Of course you can have sex every day with almost every women, but it doesn’t have heart. Of course you can connect with someone deeply on a spiritual level only, but it doesn’t have heart. Of course you can efficience meetings, work over hours, do as much for your job as you can, but it doesn’t have heart. Of course you can go to every business meeting and be the businessiest person in the room, but that just doesn’t have heart.

When you’re into something with your full presence and human being, things change. People can feel when you’re there with your head and your toes. Your body language changes, your posture changes, your thoughts change, your goals change, the way you approach things changes. Once you’re present in the moment, and embrace things with your full heart, head, and body, things suddenly work out.

A piece of art, drawn with a lot of thought, and which required a considerable amount of time to finish, that has heart. A lonely mother of 5 with no money on the bank account still raising her kids, nurturing them with loving thoughts how beautiful this world is, that has heart. A couple that has been together for 20+ years, refreshing their love, that has heart. Not giving up has. Showing up has. Having the guts to be who you are has.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how we create artificial online personas for other people to follow. That’s not me you read on Facebook. I’m the motion designer, so I post motion designery stuff. Tutorials, links to articles, free icon sets, marketing, sales, yadda yadda yadda. But when you look at someones profile who only has these things, what do you think? “Wow, this person has a really awesome job!” or more something like “Get a life!”

My work is part of me, but it’s not me me.

Of course I’m into media production. Obviously. I mean, did I miss anything? But I’m also into meditation, spirituality, sport, reading, gaming. I love to connect with people. I’m open, I’m closed, I’m fiery, I have a big mouth, I’m intelligent, I’m thoughtful, I’m sensible… I’m all of that, but I’m also a producer at heart, a business owner, a vegetarian, I have political opinions, I have a history, I have scars, I love music. All of that, and that all is me, not just my (carefully crafted) online portfolio.

We’ve unlearned to connect. We rather click Like buttons mindlessly, than turn off this stupid machine and talk with our wives. We disconnect. We let our head take us where we want to go, rather than our body. There’s no room left for the heart, because the head takes up so much space.
After mentioned long relationships people want to fulfill their bodily desires. But if you just fulfill those bodily needs, you miss your heart halfway through.

Recently I met a friend. A little bit lonely. Trying hard to be successful. We spent some time together. I listened to what he was said, he listened to what I said. Connecting on a spiritual level. It was nice, really.
He seemed fine, happy, of course some worries here and there, but overall not too bad. He even told me he feels fine. His body spoke a different language however. You can tell that he works his ass off. His whole body screams: “Rest! Please!” I don’t know when it was the last time he did nothing. Not nothing to get some rest, to have more energy, to be more productive again. Rest to sit around, stare at the walls and just do nothing. His body showed other signs too. There was worry, there was anxiety, there were motions of closing and self cuddling. I didn’t know what else to do than be present and help a little. Disconnect of body and head. Head speaks other language than body.
Just the other day I was driving with another friend. Just a couple of hours earlier she told me how she looks at the details and looks right and left, rather than straight. It was funny because as we were driving down the street she literally missed a right exit she was supposed to take. Disconnect between head and body. Body didn’t turn head, to show the head where the exit was.

Back to our business dude. When we approach that guy, as we are, in the moment, as imperfect as we may be, that leads to a better and deeper connection, rather than trying hard to be someone we’re just not. At least someone we’re just not yet. I can’t speak for you, but I’m just not as slick as other guys. Sometimes I’d love to be tall, dress and shave perfectly every single day, but that wouldn’t be me. I’m a little rough around the edges. I mean I take care of myself, but if I’d be clean and smooth every single day, that wouldn’t be me. I am willing to learn the rules, but I’m not going to obey them blindly. I’m the guy who would buy a full-blown suit for an important meeting, but wear flip-flops with it. Well, I wouldn’t, but you get the point. It’s much more me to do something like that, than try to fit in. So business dude, would see me in flip-flops with a suit, he’d smile, because he knows what’s going on. As long as he feels that I’ve got my heart at the right place, am present, and am not just businessing everything out of the moment, he’ll understand.

The takeaway. Do me one favor. Look at pictures of you from ten years ago and then look in the mirror. What did you make out of your younger self? Does this person follow their heart or their head?

07/04/2014 19:00:00

How to Save €200 and More Per Month

Some people who know me, know that I’m niggard. I mean really niggard. Though I sometimes enjoy spending money on something, I try to save as much of it as possible. It started some years ago, and ever since I have been questioning my spendings regularly. I question whether I have too much and I ask myself if I have enough.

I try to make “smart” expenditure choices. An expenditure is quite simply explained. In our modern culture, you have a problem, you go into a store, you buy something to solve that problem, you go home, and apply the thing you just bought, to solve the problem. It’s comfortable for most of us. There’s many many problems we have and that we like to get solved. That’s why there are so many startups and companies who like to solve these problems for us. They charge money for their solution. And that is the price we literally pay. We exchange money for comfort.

Some of the items we buy fall into the “needed for survival” category, like food. Some of the items are “luxury goods” like apps, music, and movies. I see lots of people who spend money on things needed for survival thoughtlessly. Survival items are not questioned. It’s a thought that not occurs to many. The thought that even if something is needed for survival, the thing a supermarkt offers may not be the best option to get.

Now “best” is controversial in and of itself. What you prefer to buy is influenced by various factors like quality, if it was made naturally, and sustainable, etc. Often an item that is of higher quality is also more expensive, though that is not always the case because what is also involved in determining the price of an item is how complicated it is to manufacture. Say you have the problem that you want something red to your pasta. Something to surround your pasta that is of fluid quality. Something that tastes like tomato and herbs. If you don’t know anything about the process of making tomato sauce and you have no tendency to get into learning it, and you also don’t have the time to make your own or learn cooking, then buying a pre-made tomato sauce is a plausible choice. But as many people who can cook will tell you, making tomato sauce is really not that difficult and you can save a ton of money.

So this is my theory. The more you know, the more you are able to dissect and question an existing product in terms of its quality. And the more you know, the easier it is for you to make your own products, therefore potentially saving money. (Or making a product that is more individually tailored to your personal needs.)

I did write about saving money in the past. That previous post was mainly addressing luxury goods. In this post I’d like to focus on consumable goods and mentioned “needed” items.


What it boils down to is mostly this: do it yourself, roll your own.

You don’t know how much stuff you can do by yourself. Easily within minutes. A couple of examples.

Over the last years, according to numbers, I save about €200/month more now. That is quite a huge number, isn’t it? It didn’t come easily from one day to the next, it took effort. Interested to know what changed? Read on.

Beauty Products

The main reason I write this article are my investigations in the realms of beauty products. Beauty products are not makeup or things “a man doesn’t need”. I am a man, mind you. But a man can still be a manly-man, clean, and save money. I’ve been “hacking” beauty products since the end of 2013. These are the results of my research and investigations. Though I acquired most of this research in 2014, the soap for showering example is from 2011-2013.

As I’ve written earlier, I’m questioning the obvious. The obvious is stuff we are told by the industry to use. Stuff like “here’s shampoo, it makes your hair good.” I haven’t found much information that said that shampoo is required for good hair. In fact when looking at the history of humanity, shampoo is an item that is actually not that old. It’s mainly soap. All those years before human didn’t need shampoo. Why now? What would happen if you exchange shampoo with a bar of soap? I can tell you what happens. Exactly nothing. Your hair is a little more squeaky after the shower, but otherwise I wasn’t able to observe any negatives, if you call squeakyness a downside that is. I switched back to shampoo 6 months or so ago, but quickly searched for articles on how to “stretch” the usage.

If you take anything from this article, then this: do a quick research to see if you find a recipe to “stretch” the usage of a product. In the case of shampoo, you can double the amount with something as simple as gelatine, without adding anything negative to the product and you can still use “shampoo” for showering, if the thought of not using shampoo for your hair scares you.

The same goes for other items as well. Cremes, for instance, can often be replaced with oils. If you have (really) sensitive skin, this is a secret tip: use natural oils for your skin. You’ll be surprised by the effects, and how happy your super-sensitive skin will be.

If you want to take it up a notch, you can roll your own products relatively easy. There are tons of recipes you can find online for everything. From "make your own soap" to "make your own lotion". I actually actually find making soap quite a nice experience. It takes about an hour to make, but afterwards you have soap for a year at least. And it makes a good present.

All these things don’t save you €30 here and €20 there. It’s all just €3 per month per item, but it adds up to €30 and more easily!


Try to buy cheaper alternatives for things like an Olloclip2, on a site like AliExpress or Amazon. You’ll be amazed by how much of the items you can purchase cheaper, that are exactly the same item as the more expensive version.

You can ask yourself if you really need the main brand name of a certain product, or if the cheaper alternative does the trick. I would recommend to set preferences and focus points. Personally I’m not hugely into photography, but I do like to take some artistic pictures occasionally. I’m fine with the ten-dollar-version of the Olloclip. The lens may not be as well thoughtout and manufactured as an Olloclip, but it does the job.
You may have different focus areas. Maybe eletronics are not as important to you as getting the brand name in the clothing area. That’s cool. Just (try to) make smart purchase decisions. That is all.

  1. If you are concerned that gelatine is not vegetarian/vegan try cornstarch. 

  2. Original Olloclip: $60-$70. Alternative: ~$10. 

07/03/2014 19:00:29

This Is the Best Photo Taking Advice I Can Give You

I thought I’d share one of my iOS photo workflows. It’s always in the flux; changes often, never stays quite the same. But there’s a general approach I take that makes sense. Most people don’t seem to know how to make good pictures, I thought I’d share some considerations when taking photos and how to make a good photo look great.

Taking a picture

Taking the picture is the process of getting what you want to capture from the real world into your device. Here are some general tips and things most people do wrong in the capturing moment.

Takeaway: Take care of framing, leveling, and lighting your main object well.


After the picture has been taken, you can work on optimizing it. Generally most apps have decent tools for optimization adjustments, but it is recommendable to follow a certain pattern. I’m not religious to follow the same steps every time, it is better to take care of the same things every time. These are, again: framing, leveling, lighting.

At the moment I like SKRWT for the first round of optimization. The app has some really neat tools to focus on the main object. In my example you can see that I made slight adjustments to the rotation, but I also reduced the space on the edges to focus more on the main object — the logo of this company. Play with the app and you can get a feel of its power and usefulness.

After this first optimization step I like to focus on colors and brightness. At the moment Perfectly Clear does a good job here. The app has a sole focus on “fixing” levels, brightness, contrast, and several other things. Some rules of thumb:

In my example you can see that after the second correction the image is much clearer.

For corrections I use: SKRWT, Perfectly Clear, Camera+, ProCamera, Photoshop Express, and Photogene (has a histogram), and Facetune.


Now that you have optimized your image, and if you don’t want to share it with other Hipsters on Instagram, you are done. Just leave the picture as it is now, but if you want to get some likes, add filters.

In my example I went with a heavily blue-ish filter that adds a lot of noise to the picture. I have several filter apps, but some just stay on my iPhone as the go-to standards. Camera+, ProCamera, PicsPlay Pro, VSCOcam, Photoshop Express (really good!), Stackables, Picfx.

In case you like to apply some more, less common, filters to a picture. Try something like PowerUp or Decim8.


My main goal with this piece was to give you an idea what “taking a good picture” actually means. What things to look for, what things a lot of folks do wrong, and how you can improve your own workflow and eyes.

07/02/2014 19:00:39

The Warrior, The Monk, and The Lover

I just finished the book The Compleat Gentleman by Brad Miner. The Compleat Gentleman is a very good book on chivalry, the history of the gentleman, and manliness.

The book is not entirely made for “man” though. That is far from how I see it. This book perfectly explains the gentleman, and a woman can be a gentle-“man” too, because as Miner often repeats, the gentleman is: a warrior, a monk, and a lover. I can’t see any reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to acquire these traits. A term more familiar may be “noblewoman” or something along those lines.

The Monk

The Compleat Gentleman was a read that closed one loop for me. The one that goes from far-east Buddhism and martial arts back to our western culture in terms of religion and fighting.
Our european culture doesn’t have monks that are nearly as cool as Buddhist monks. They don’t use weapons very artistically and living an abstinent life doesn’t sound very appealing. But sheer Son Goku-like powers, laser-sharp focus, and living a life of purpose sounds really cool.

While the eastern Buddhist sounds attractive, we, or rather I, often forget about the fact that our culture has monks too. They may not be using weaponry but they live a life of purpose, though their religion is different from Buddhism. Religions have a lot of common ground. Religions are about spirituality — your mind. Religion is about what we think. Controlling our thoughts.
We also control how we deal with certain situations with our head. If we get offended by a stranger at night, we can decide how we want to handle things. If you are aware of the situation, mindful, and present, you have the choice to not be offended, make a remark, or raise your fists. This differentiates the gentleman from other man. A gentleman is present in the moment. The buddhist monk and, for sake of easier argumentation, the western monk are really not that different.

The Warrior

Warriors are a thing we are much more common with. The military campaigns from medieval times. A time where warriors were needed to safe innocent civilians from hostile enemies.
Later when these rough times evolved into a time where the warrior didn’t solve so much purpose anymore, the western martial artist also had to evolve to survive. Knights fought against each other. They still served the civilians, though their focus was not entirely on fighting anymore. The knight was a more elaborate version of the coarse, rough, warrior.
Even further in the future, when monarchism was replaced by democracy, knights evolved into the gentleman. A man more noble than a civilian, but of lesser nobility than a monarch.

A gentleman was a man who thought about his steps. A man who didn’t just react. A man who practiced his skills for years and years, making him a monk in his field. The gentleman was, or is, a person who knows his stuff. The gentleman is a man who has acquired skills through learning and practicing over and over and over again. This is as true today, as it used to be.

The gentleman is a person, including women, who never stops to learn what is important. Today it is not so important anymore to be able to use sheer violence to get forward in life. Other skills are more useful:

It becomes clear that the gentleman is not an old outdated version of the knight. It is the best version of the ninja our western culture has to offer. A gentleman is as knowledgable in spirituality, as he is in science.

The Lover

This is probably going to be hardest to explain. A lover is not Mr. Multi-Macho. A lover is someone who loves. Love doesn’t begin, or stop, with the love to another human being. Love is for things too. We love the world around us. We love to be able to wake up every morning and breath. It is love when you hold on for a moment and admire the beautiful world around yourself. When you see the good in the world. But you also see the bad. You see the things that are not so nice, the things that are not so full of love and not in mutual agreement. It is the person who sees these things that also has the might to decide whether it is more appropriate to use the monk or the warrior skills.

A lover is a person who takes care, someone who doesn’t hurt or shame unnecessarily. We do not hurt, we agree to relationships, and we do not ignore decisions being made in that relationship. I am against saying that love only exists in a one-man-one-woman relationship. It doesn’t matter if you, or I, or any other person, decides to live in a multi-relationship or a same-sex-relationship as long as the relationship is based on respect, mutual agreement, and love.

The Warrior, the Monk, and the Lover

The gentleman is, in this sense, your own truest form. It will be your life goal to perfect your skills and learn new ones. Every day you will have to get out and fight for yourself and what is holy to you. Sometimes you will have to be aggressive, sometimes you will have to be tender. Don’t forget to connect with yourself to reach your life’s goal.