October 2014

10/31/2014 19:00:00


I realized after recording our last episode that my rabbit holes have changed quite a bit. Ever since the beginning of this year I research a lot about ethics, work culture, culture in general. Barriers interest me a lot. I’m interested in etiquette; the things we are “ought to do” in certain situations. How we’re supposed to dress, and behave. What’s a gentleman like? Does he/she still exist, and, does he, or she, still have relevance?

That’s just stuff that goes through my head. I’m asking myself a lot why I do the things I do, and what’s keeping me acting the way I want to act. Let me give you an easy example. (Disclaimer: These are just fictional examples.) Picture yourself in the following situation:

Now, does the thought to eat bugs cause you any sort of discomfort?

Another example:

Do you take your pants off? No? Why not? Does the thought what other people might think of you scare you? Why?
Why is eating bugs such a problem? The people in the village have been eating them for years. There’s (scientific) proof that they are not toxic.
But still we fear do either of the two things. Why? What’s keeping you? That’s just a thing your head made up. It’s not real.

On the one side, you feel like taking your pants off is the perfect thing to do. On the other side, there’s society, that has told you, it’s not appropriate.

At this point you have two options:

I hope it becomes clear what I’m getting at. This is an extreme, extreme example, but I hope they express my point. Whatever it is that feels right for us, is sometimes less important than what feels right for many folks.

There are lots and lots of these barriers that we take for granted. Barriers not mentioned yet, are those that are actually harmful to others, where we are unable to break out of our own prison.

Let’s assume the following. Let’s assume you are walking home at night. You overhear a couple, fighting. She says something like “I don’t want to see you anymore”, along with a very clear body language that says “get away from me”. Now, as you walk, the two happen to stop right in front of you. As you walk by, you realize the guy is the biggest guy you’ve ever seen. He could crush you, and he’s in an aggressive state, too. He yells at her “but I excused!”. He yells in a way like she’s supposed to answer: “All right, you excused. That means everything’s perfectly fine”.
So, you are in this situation. What are you doing?

Let’s go a little bit further. Normally I see people back out of a situation, because they feel they don’t know what to do. Let’s, moreover, assume that you made up the perfect response to that boyfriend who’s scaring his girlfriend. What are you doing?

It becomes evident, hopefully, what I mean. “Barriers”1 are everywhere. The reason I am so fascinated with this topic is because when you’re old enough you start to see, and feel, these barriers. It’s the reason I posted the picture above on Instagram.

There’s a prison that we have built in our head, and we are in it, and the only person keeping us in is us. Of course you could just go bonkers and don’t care anymore what other people think about you, but that’s not appropriate and you’ll soon be called a lunatic. But that’s not really my point here.

My point is that there are boundaries that can be good when overcome, but we are too scared to. Examples?

At the end of all these barriers lies the question: What is keeping you?

Easy, right? The thing is, those things are not easy. “Just” doing something, does not mean you are “just” doing it. Some things are easy, some things are insanely hard to do. It is not "just".

You can work around this, with some diligence and patience. A lot is psychological. Mainly you need to adjust the frame how you see certain situations. After a while you are able to do this on a situation-by-situation basis. Some things may even become your frame. Don’t be scared. Grow, learn, become a better version of yourself.

  1. I quote barriers here, because barriers are set by society and called etiquette, rules, manners, as well. 

10/30/2014 19:00:35

Do You Dress Up to See Other People?

In the former post on Clear Mascara I wrote that I’m going to publish a writing why “makeup” is attractive to women (or other people in general). This is this post.

Is makeup attractive to other people?

This is a tough question to answer in one or two sentences. Generally, what it comes down to, is the fact that if you take “care” of yourself, other people see that you took care of yourself, and that makes you more attractive. Put very very simply.

It’s very easy, actually. Say you go to meet a friend to have lunch with them. What do you wear? The mere fact that you’re thinking about it, is actually showing, that you do care. Right?

Most men, don’t take much care of themselves, though. That means that the border is hanging low for us. If you dress up, you quickly exceed what’s “normal”. Dressing up, is not a bad thing though. Not wearing your oldest pair of jeans and a nice shirt is nice to look at.

This is one of the reasons women wear makeup. They color their eyes a certain way to make them look bigger, darker, etc.. She may even put on makeup specifically for you. That takes some time off her life. Don’t forget that. (Read: dressing yourself up for someone else, means that you’re willing to put in the time to takes to dress up, for the other person. If you don’t, well, then you don’t care enough to be dressing up. Makes sense?

As men, we can do that too, of course. You can just walk into the next store and buy mascara, foundation, mineral makeup, eyeliner, whatever, but from the society’s perspective it is not that common and accepted. I’m going to publish a separate article about this specific problem in the future, but right now let’s just stick with this argument. You can go willy-nilly with men’s makeup and wear it like a beautiful drag queen, but people are going to look at you flummoxed, and may even associate certain thoughts with you.

Anyway, when women are asked what they like in a man. Then it’s mostly manly behavior, and manly style. The modern gentleman is a warrior, a monk, and a lover. Women like it when a man is dressed well. It might not surprise you to hear that not just women like it when you dress well. Other folks do too.
You can take that “dress up” thought to the extreme, and start to think about other body parts as well. Generally accepted is nail care, for example. Most of us cut the nails short regularly.

The thing is you can keep the nails long as well, but it’s not showing appreciation to yourself and the other person. When you’re dining out with your hopefully-soon-girlfriend and your nails are cut, she may not see it at first, but when she does, and you notice that she just noticed, that’s not a bad feeling. If she likes what she sees, her body language changes. She (literally) opens her body to you. She moves closer, or the eyes dilute, or she starts smiling, etc.

Right? Right.

Now we take that example to the extreme and we end up with men’s makeup and skin care products. Follow the two links in the former post the goFeminin forums (link 1, link 2) to get a glimpse what’s being discussed. Putting on Clear Mascara, apparently, might show enough “self care taking” to make this a viable product. Or so, some company thought.

Many women like man who are able to take care of themselves. After all it’s very manly to do so, because, believe it or not, it also shows that you don’t need anyone else to take care of matters. And what is more manly than that?

Point made clear? I hope so.

10/29/2014 19:00:30

How I Found Out That Clear Mascara Is a Thing

I want to post this because I just semi-picked Clear Mascara on our podcast, Der Übercast. (If you haven’t, you should really check it out. Perfect balance of information density and entertainment. German only.) I discovered this a couple of weeks ago, but kept it for me because I thought Patrick, Sven, and our guest, Franziska, might get a good laugh out of it. Well, they did.

I realized after recording our last episode that my rabbit holes have changed quite a bit. While I’m still the technical nerd that I used to be, I use my nerdy powers now more often to find stuff about societal, and business issues. After all, there’s more what I want zCasting 3000 to be, so it makes sense to do some research in this regards.

Anyway. The rabbit hole. This rabbit hole goes something like this. I read somewhere that China is a growing market for big companies like Apple, and they invest a considerable amount of effort to expand in these regions. First I was wondering what are people up to in these countries. So I researched some articles about that topic.

After I found out what the market generally wants, I also found some articles which mentioned that grooming and skin care products are specifically successful in Korea:

After I found that out, I was wondering: What’s the stance in Germany? Is it now acceptable to wear makeup? At work? To go out? What’s the business etiquette saying?

To give you a quick overview:

Because men’s makeup has to be “subtle”, some companies come up with products that are not really makeup. Makeup in this regard means that it’s colored, and therefore changes pigmentation, highlights, etc., on certain areas.

After I had the gist, I wanted to go into specifics. Hair, fingers, head, eyes. The Clear Mascara came up when I finally reached “eyes” as my research target. There’s a German forum I come across occasionally, goFeminin. I found these two threads there:

Second link mentions “Makeup for men is acceptable […] get clear mascara…”. That caught enough of my attention that I had to find out if that’s a thing. And, yes, it’s a thing. Clear Mascara is a thing we humans have. One company who makes these is Maybelline. Link is at the top of this post.


That’s how I spend some weekends. Research stuff, because I’m a huge nerd.

10/28/2014 19:00:28

If you ever wrote something, and a string got botched up, this talk will give you an idea why it happened and how you can fix it.

Comes via @drdrang


10/23/2014 19:00:19

nPlayer: Advanced iOS Video Player With Speed Controls

I have been looking the App Store up and down for “I don’t know how long”, but I feel like I finally found the app I was looking for: nPlayer.

My gripe with iOS video players is that all that those which look nice, don’t have the features I want. And those that have those features, look awful. nPlayer hits it out of the ball park. It brings the features I want, and looks neat. I agree that it could look even better, but it looks good enough.

Some things that this app does that others don’t:

Speed controls: The thing that I want from a video player is that it allows to adjust playback speed. I’ve tried SpeedUpTV (Universal) and Swift Player (Universal). Both have speed controls, but Swift hasn’t got an iOS 7 interface refresh, and SpeedUpTV is complicated to use. Actually both are pretty complicated.

DLNA, YouTube, Browser: Other apps I’ve tried miss either DLNA (for Plex), or some support for YouTube1. I can live with a built-in browser that I can use to log in to YouTube, to access my Watch Later, and other playlists. nPlayer doesn’t have API support for YouTube, but a browser. Good enough.

A Player That Doesn’t Suck: nPlayer has implemented some nifty features in its player. The player looks like this on an iPhone:

nPlayer on iPhone: Lots o' buttons!

Rotation lock, a loop (which I haven’t seen at all as feature in other players), (this videos’) playback settings, on the left. Speed controls on the right. On the bottom skip buttons, aspect/fill, etc. Interesting is the top right - button. It minimizes the player so that you can look for a different video. Something that the YouTube had for quite a while now, and I’m happy to see this implemented in a different app quite neatly.

This app has gestures as well. By default you can swipe up to increase and decrease brightness or the volume, and swipe left and right to seek, and a couple more like double-tapping for fill. Gestures can be set in the preferences.

nPlayer plays almost any file, like other apps, do as well (looking at you, Infuse 3).
As I wrote a couple of paragraphs earlier. It’s not 100% true that DLNA-capable players can’t authorize with the YouTube API directly. If you install the YouTube Channel, you get direct access to YouTube, through Plex. But you have to go through your Plex server to do that, obviously.

nPlayer is $4.99 on the App Store.

  1. A note on YouTube follows below. 

10/23/2014 18:06:00

MindNode 3.5 for iOS is now available!

This update fixes a lot of things, but comes with a completely redesigned Inspector, and Sharing workflow.

This means that it’s now easier to beautify things, and Sharing works also more beautifully.

Oh, and… yes, we did our best to make you a beautiful App Preview as well! Brought to you again by zCasting 3000.


10/19/2014 19:00:23

Please don't make us use iCloud anymore

iCloud has never delivered what Apple told us it would do. The lie started with iDisk, which then became iCloud, and now is iCloud Drive. I really would want to love iCloud, but the reality is, it doesn’t work. iCloud is a complete mess of utter bullshit.

The reason I write this is because one of my favorite iOS apps has just been released in a new major version. Its rock-solid sync engine replaced with iCloud. Now it’s not working anymore. I’m writing about Drafts 4.

iCloud could be the bestest thing, but in the end, it has to deliver. It never has. Let me explain.

Under iOS 7 iCloud had the issue that it sometimes just stops working altogether. Calendar, Contacts, and Documents. All apps just “freeze” their content and are unable to upload or download changes. The fix was to reboot the device. If that didn’t help, then you could go to icloud.com where Apple had a checkbox to reset iCloud. This involved rebooting all devices. When the devices finished the reboot they received an event from the iCloud servers that told them to upload their latest documents’ status again. This resulted in a lot of sync conflicts, but also made iCloud work again.
Fortunately this issue didn’t happen too often. Maybe once a week or so, for most users, but now we have iOS 8.

When I see users report a problem for an app, most of their problems is not because of the app, it’s iCloud.

Obviously I’m using more apps than just MindNode. There’s been another app that I dearly love, in fact an app many users love. They are also using iCloud as their syncing backend. On iOS 8 their app suddenly stopped syncing with iCloud. The same issue as on iOS 7. Documents just stop updating. Rebooting didn’t help. I was suffering through the iOS 8 beta, hoping that the final version of iOS 8 would resolve sync issues. iOS 8 was released, it didn’t fix anything. I was wondering how their support handles this issue, and also, obviously, I wanted to get my data syncing again. I’m not going to mention the devs, because their app is a) very popular and b) their response has been very straight and honest, and I don’t want to discourage people from using their app.

Don’t use iCloud. iCloud Drive is a complete mess. Stay away from it.

I congratulate their honesty.

On iOS 8, the previous fix still works, but now this “fix” has to be applied for each app individually. One app stops syncing? Reboot the device!
I reboot my device about three times a day now, just to get iCloud syncing back, just for one specific app.
If that doesn’t fix it, well, users report that you can delete the app and install it again, then sometimes iCloud does seem to come back. If not, well, try installing the app again. If that doesn’t fix it, you can always restore the device, which usually fixes the problem.

Things that do not work for me:

This list is not complete, but those are the apps that I use most.

Greg Pierce, if you read this, please bring us the old sync engine back. It worked so spectacularly well that I was wondering why Drafts was the only app that used Simperium as its sync engine. I cannot figure out why you would switch away from something that worked so well, to iCloud. In order to make a switch to something else necessary, I think, the other thing has to be better than what you had. iCloud is not better.

This article is a little bit older, I’m writing this on the weekend. On Drafts 4’s release date, I wrote the following:

I installed Drafts 4 eagerly as soon as it came out. I had 4 drafts, and I deleted two of them. Since then, the changes haven’t been synced to the other device. It’s now 8 hours past, a couple of reboots later, still nothing. I don’t want to delete and reinstall the app, because the actions, and now the “keyboard” too, still don’t sync. (There’s a feature request in this paragraph.)

I beg every developer who reads this. Please don’t make us use iCloud anymore.

10/07/2014 19:00:12

iOS 8 and Yosemite Finally Allow to Close Tabs on Other Devices

Heureka! I never thought the day would come, but apparently we can now close other devices’ tabs from one device.

On iOS bring up the tab list and scroll to the bottom. It will list your iCloud Tabs on the bottom. Simply swipe to delete. A few moments later the tab will automatically close on the other device.

On OS X bring up iCloud Tabs and click the small X. A few moments later the tab will automatically close on the other device.

10/03/2014 19:00:17

You Are A Mess! What Your Task Inbox Says About You

You use lists to get stuff done? You write stuff down carefully so you won’t forget it? Maybe you are into GTD® too? You know that stuff goes into lists and from lists stuff gets checked off and done? Then I’ve got something for you.

Let’s assume you are a GTD aficionado. You know that “stuff” flows in from pretty much everywhere into your “trusted system” to something called Inbox. This inbox needs to be processed regularly. To clear your mind, to clear your desk, to make yourself feel productive. It is best to process to 0.

Here’s the thing. When everything goes well, when we are at the top of our game it is really easy to process everything flows easily. We feel productive and confident of ourselves.

But as life is, things get messy sometimes. Say you’re in the middle of a project or your long-year girlfriend just split up, you moved into a new home, or a loved one died, or similar life-changing events. Those are all things that throw us off completely. In difficult times some things are more important than others and we naturally go into a mode where we focus on survival. Naturally our “trusted system” becomes less important and we neglect all the goodness it brings to our lives. An indicator is when there is an ever-increasing amount of unprocessed stuff in your inbox.
Maybe you own some shelves where you put stuff to be processed and they are a mess too. I saw some messy shelves yesterday, and honestly I didn’t find them messy at all, because there were two boards on the opposite side of a room. One side was neatly organized, the other side not so much.

"I’m a mess", she said. I couldn’t believe my ears. "Rare to meet people that are as organized as her", I thought to myself. The disorganization reminded me of my own inbox at the moment. I have about 50+ tasks that I have set for myself and just don’t process for the last two months. I just don’t care enough. Other things outside my inbox are so much more important and I rather work on that. My private life, work is going great, exercising and meditation, etc.
That gave me some thought. Am I messy? Is she messy? I’m not disorganized! Are you kidding? And she’s one of the most organized people I know. I look at her kitchen, for example, and am like: “let’s better not move stuff around here or hell breaks lose”.
The situation also reminded me of myself moving in to my new apartment. It took me about half a year to get back into my groove. There was so much stuff that was more important. I wish I had someone to help. Things probably would have gone quicker. But that’s just how life is. Life is fucking hard sometimes.

Are You a Mess Because Your Inbox Is a Mess?

Life is so hard that we can barely keep our system: afloat, atop, congruent, and consistent. We wish we could, but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? During the hard times, things pile up. That’s natural. Don’t you think?
Now that you are aware that it’s hard to keep everything running in tough times: Can you imagine that other people know that too? Of course they do. Pretty much everybody has moved into a new place a couple of times in their life. How many people do you know who had enough energy to keep up with their normal life? So, how are you supposed to?

Which brings me straight to my point. What does a messy inbox say about you? I think it says “I am busy”; in all of its unfulfilled glory. It also says “I don’t have a plan right now”, “I’m a mess right now”. But it also says “I have something else to do”. When I look at a full inbox I might say: “what a full inbox that is”, but when I look closer at all the folders a particular person has created, categories, subcategories, etc.… A trusted system… Then I can tell you that this person is very well organized. He or she just can’t keep up at the moment, and that’s normal from time to time.

How to Become a Messy Person

Remains the question: how do you become a mess, if you so desire? Essentially that’s really easy. Just don’t organize stuff anymore. Let it pile up as much as it wants to. Never ever categorize and move stuff around. Just let it happen and sit and watch as more and more stuff piles up. After a certain period of time, other people will tell you that you don’t seem to be well organized. That is the point when you became a mess.

What differentiates “a messy person” from “an organized person” is that organizers organize. After much stuff has piled up, enough energy builds inside that causes stuff to get processed. Stuff gets processed to 0. If we’d just let it sit, we’d be called a mess, but since most of us don’t, we are not. Looking at a mess still doesn’t cause great feelings though, and there’s not much I can write for you to make that go away, but all I can say is that it’s natural from time to time to have a messy desk. Having a little bit of stress and discomfort is actually healthy (maybe you are the only person putting stress onto yourself?). Keeping a little bit of stress, just below the tipping point to distressed, exhausted, and ultimately the breakdown. Relax, it’s normal, get cracking!