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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:

2018-02-16: Other People Using lazyblorg for Blogging

I wrote lazyblorg in order to get the blogging software I wanted to use myself. Therefore, I optimized it for minimal effort for a posting and being embedded into my Org-Mode setup.

Of course, I published lazyblorg on GitHub so that other people could use it as well. The second reason for publishing lazyblorg for others was that I was forced not to deliver an ugly works-on-my-machine hack.

Read the whole article ...

2018-02-03: Millennials Are Easy Targets Because They Trust Less Secure Methods

IBM released an interesting study on security.

According to this study, Millennials seem to be easy targets for malicious activity because they do tend to follow insecure practices.

Compared to people at the age of 55 or more, they use less complex passwords, they do share more passwords between services, they trust insecure biometrics such as fingerprint readers and even declare them as "most secure form of authentication".

Millennials seem to rank security top for their bank apps. In contrast to that, they have a rather poor understanding of the importance of security related to social media accounts. This is quite disturbing when you know that social media is the number one cloud service that holds your most detailed personal profile.

On the other hand side, they do use more password managers which is a very good thing. However, when you do share passwords and trust insecure fingerprint technology, a password manager does not help that much any more.

2018-02-02: My Personal Emacs History

Update 2017-06-08: Reddit thread about other Emacs stories

Update 2018-02-02: further reddit thread

This article describes my personal history with Emacs.

Let me be clear right from the start: I happily use vim on a daily basis and choose my tools deliberately. I don't understand the editor war because I do think that Emacs is not just an editor such as vim is for the most parts. Emacs has its domains, vim has its domains. And in my opinion, those domains do not overlap for the most parts in case you got a deeper understanding of both.

Read the whole article ...

2018-02-02: Advanced Usage of Dependencies Between Tasks Using Org-mode

Update 2018-02-02: Link to org-edna

This blog article is for advanced users of Emacs org-mode and people who are curious how non-trivial todo management can be accomplished using those tools.

Defining dependencies between todo tasks is done via the contribution package org-depend.el. It offers a nice set of features. However, I do only use a sub-set for my workflows. Therefore, this article is not an exhaustive description of org-depend.el but it gives ideas on how to use and improve it.

Read the whole article ...

2018-02-01: Burns Supper 2018 in Graz

Update 2018-02-01: German page with more photos of the event via Islay Whisky Chapter Austria

Yesterday, we've been at the Burns Supper 2018 organized by The Islay Whisky Chapter Austria. It took place at the lovely Schlossbergrestaurant up above the beautiful city of Graz.

Claddagh, tranditional celtic music

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-27: OnePlus 5: OxygenOS 5.0.1 OTA Update to Android 8 Re-Introduces the Backdoor

Update 2018-01-27: Evidence for theft of data through clipboard

A couple of monts ago, I wrote about my OnePlus 5 mobile which had a backdoor pre-installed. It was covered in tech media and people had to manually remove the backdoor software themselves.

Yesterday, I installed the OTA-update which brought Android 8 to my OnePlus 5 OxygenOS.

Fun thing: after downloading the 1.6GB update and starting the update process, my usually really stable WiFi router had an issue. This resulted in a non-functioning WiFi. Right after the first boot with OxygenOS 5.0.1 I had no WiFi connection. Unfortunately, I thought this is related to the update. However, it could be resolved by a router reboot.

Otherwise, the update went fine. However, I had to read that the backdoor I was mentioning before returned with a different app name. According to the article, EngineerMode is now called FactoryMode.

I had to disable the backdoor using the adb method again. In my case, the idProduct identifier changed with the update. This might apply to your side as well.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-26: Organize Your Life With Org-Mode

For decades, I have been interested in methods and tools to organize my life. There are multiple reasons for that. The most obvious reason is that I don't want to forget or miss important things. Furthermore, I want to be able to concentrate on the current task without having to worry about some different things I have to remember in the meantime.

A very important motivation is the need for curating a knowledge base. This knowledge base is crucial for my life. With it, I can re-construct the past to a great level of detail. When I faced a certain issue and was able to find a solution, my knowledge base is able to tell me the solution when the issue re-appears somewhere else.

This is about the journey for the best tool there is to organize my life.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-25: Fingerabdrücke verdeckt stehlen

Ich habe des öfteren darauf hingewiesen, dass Fingerabdrücke eine schlechte Idee als Ersatz für ein gutes Passwort sind. Fingerabdrücke sind maximal ein Ersatz für den Benutzernamen, mehr aber nicht.

Dieser Umstand wird nun wichtiger werden, denn nun hat eine Firma durchsichtige Fingerabdrucksensoren angekündigt. Während das die Einen freut, dass solche Sensoren künftig direkt in die Displays eingebaut werden können, denken die Anderen schon weiter.

Wenn man einen Fingerabdrucksensor nun quasi nicht mehr erkennt, kann man sie vermehrt auch verdeckt einbauen und so beispielsweise an Türschnallen, Lichtschaltern und so weiter die Fingerabdrücke von Menschen abgreifen, ohne, dass die betroffenen Personen etwas merken können.

Wenn man bedenkt, dass teilweise sogar mit Fingerabdrücken bezahlt werden kann, ist das Gefahrenpotential recht schnell erklärt.

Es bleibt spannend.

2018-01-24: External Links to Outlook Emails Get Broken When Emails Are Moved

A reddit post gave me the idea to link Outlook emails within my Org-mode. Unfortunately, this method comes with some drawbacks.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-21: Android Lost the Possibility to Play a Video When Screen Is Off

Update 2018-01-21: MX Player solved my issue

Update 2018-01-22: Correction on VLC

With the latest update of my OnePlus 5 Android smartphone, I lost a feature which was very important to me: While commuting or killing some other waiting period, I use to listen to videos of talks I downloaded from the web to my phone.

Usually, I've got one plug of my headphones in an ear while the video is played on my phone while the LCD is off (device locked). In case there is something mentioned by the speaker which does seem to relate to any visual content, I unlock the device and thus turn on the display to watch this scene. After the visual information is not that important any more, I press the on/off button and the display is black again. It is important to know that this LCD on/off switching is seamlessly: the audio never stops or pauses.

I am using this method for years and I took it for granted. Until I lost it with the recent update.

Now, my (unchanged) video player Meridian stops the playback when the display is turned off. When I turn on the display after unlocking it, the video playback is continued again. At least the playback position within the video is preserved.

I tested three Android video player apps (including VLC) and got the same behavior. I disabled all battery optimizing settings for those apps with no change in behavior.

My favorite video playback app Meridian offers the ability to play back the audio of video files. This works with LCD turned off and on - as usual. However, I still lose the ability to turn on the screen to watch the video content whenever appropriate.

Do you have any idea how I can get my "video playback while LCD is turned off"-feature back?

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-21: Programmers May Get Access to Recordings of Alexa

Amazon may give app developers access to Alexa audio recordings.

You don't have to be a genius to imagine the tons of problems that relates even to the discussion of it. Especially after we found out that the spy agencies maintain voice-profiles of everybody to identify and track us any time we are near a microphone.

If you wondered in school how people were able to live with surveillance of Stasi (GDR) or nowadays in China: millions of people are buying finest espionage hardware and placing them in their homes.

Yes, consumers actually pay for being spied on.

No, this is not exaggerated.

(Via fefe)

2018-01-21: Google Does Not Find Old Stuff

For all those people saying "I don't maintain a bookmark collection because when I re-access, Google will find it" I do have bad news: as it turns out - by evidence, not by proof - Google does not index older parts of the Web.

From a technical perspective, this is absolutely understandable. However, from the viewpoint of an ordinary user who expects Google to remember or locate everything, this is a pity because it is a false assumption.

Either you maintain an easy-to-use collection of bookmarks by yourself or you switch to different search engines who still find older stuff.

2018-01-20: A Lesson on Changing a Message Via Simplification

The german blogger fefe wrote about a very interesting video: Jordan Peterson was interviewed by British Channel 4 for half an hour on equal treatment and equal payment for women and men.

The interesting thing of this interview is not the opinion of Peterson or the journalist. The real interesting part of this video is the constantly repeated pattern of an academic and personal opinion and a simplified but wrong summary of the journalist. By simplification and partly also exaggeration, she put words in Peterson's mouth he did not say or mean.

Now imagine an interview which is not on uncut video. Imagine an interview where the journalist let the interviewee talk and later-on, he/she is summarizing and extracting from the recording. In this case, the interviewee can not instantly correct the errors.

The video above demonstrates this effect in a perfect way. Peterson is very careful with his words and the journalist is obviously trying to find scandalous statements that suppress women in our culture.

Again: completely independend of the opinions of the two interview partners, this video is really worth watching in order to get a lesson in mechanism of the media.

In contrast to the stupid statements of Trump related to fake news, this is ought to be the original fake news definition: alter the meaning of a statement by putting in different but wrong words.

Fefe should start blogging in English as well. ;-)

2018-01-18: Weshalb soll man freie Software einsetzen?

Auf den Grazer Linuxtagen im Jahr 2016 hielt ich einen Vortrag zum Thema "Warum freie Software?" - ich habe das damals hier angekündigt.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-14: Typography and LaTeX: Usability of the Written Word

Update 2018-01-14: Comment by Tina Ricardson

A dear friend of mine from the community got me into a short discussion on Twitter whether or not Markdown and Pandoc is a good replacement for the LaTeX typesetting system. He started by suggesting his combination instead of using LaTeX. After my objection that Markdown/Pandoc (or Org-mode/PDF-export) is just for quick/short things, he claimed that I never had seriously used Pandoc before. Well, he's got a point: I never did. I only use the PDF-export of Org-mode for "quick stuff".

My point is that methods like Markdown/Pandoc or Org-mode/PDF-export are great for getting something on paper which is not intended to be used by many readers or by serious readers. The result simply lacks decent typography in most cases.

Clearly, the same argument holds for all kind of WYSIWYG word processors like Microsoft Word.

The Twitter discussion above is just one example of many where people underestimate the value of typography in daily life.

I don't want to start a discussion about the purpose of typography in general. I'm not going to argue whether or not typography is important. This whole blog entry is about usability of the written word for authors (the source and the tool) on once side and for consumers (the result, usually PDF) on the other side. Legibility ‘refers to perception’ and readability ‘refers to comprehension’. Typographers aim to achieve excellence in both.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-14: Google and Their Honest Understanding of Saving Your Privacy

Google AMP is a technology to speed up web content by pre-rendering content and using their infrastructure. Independent from this particular technology I found it very interesting how Google people are thinking in terms of our privacy.

Read the whole article ...

2018-01-14: Die Möglichkeit, dass man falsch liegt, muss man sich offenhalten

Ich habe mal die erste Sequenz vom 34C3-Interview von Tilo Jung mit fefe herausgeschrieben, da ich es sehr wichtig finde, das hervorzuheben:

Zu jedem Thema muss es einen Punkt geben, wo mir Fakten gezeigt werden, die mich meine Meinung revidieren lassen.
Was müsste ich jetzt beobachten, [...] damit ich es anders sehe, als ich es gerade gesagt habe.
Das ist die absolute Grundfrage im Leben.
Zu allen Sachen muss man sich immer fragen "Ist es hier gerade eine Religion?", ist es eine Aktion, was ich glaube und es ist halt so oder hebe ich mir das als Möglichkeit auf zu sagen "Oh, da habe ich mich geirrt.".
Und ich finde, man muss sich das immer als Möglichkeit offen halten zu sagen "Oh, da habe ich falsch gelegen". Man liegt ja ständig falsch. Ich liege ständig falsch. Ich versuche das zu minimieren aber ich betrachte es als deutlich besser falsch zu liegen als falsch zu liegen und es nicht zu merken und es nicht wahrhaben zu wollen. Das finde ich absolut Horror.

Das ganze Interview ist eine Stunde zwanzig lang, die ich durchaus lohnend empfand:

In einem Toot habe ich darüber geschrieben:

Das Bestreben von fefe, sich die Möglichkeit eines Irrtums ständig freizuhalten, finde ich nachahmenswert. Da muss ich mich selber vermehrt daran orientieren.

2017-12-24: Wissensverwaltung auf Papier und digital

Der heise-Verlag hat mich wieder mit einem genialen Beitrag überrascht: Missing Link: Wenn der Kasten denkt - Niklas Luhmann und die Folgen

Niklas Luhmann war ein deutscher Soziologe und Gesellschaftstheoretiker. Er publizierte unglaublich viele Werke und sein zentrales Werkzeug war ein Zettelkasten. Der Kasten bestand aus 24 verhältnismäßig kleinen Kästen gefüllt mit tausenden von sehr dünnen A6-Zetteln. Die Zetteln sind alle mit einem interessanten Nummernsystem versehen beinhalten kurze Gedanken und Verweise.

Das für mich interessante dabei ist das Verständnis, dass der Zettelkasten kein Archiv ist, sondern ein Werkzeug, das neue Gedanken hervorbringt und Ausgangsbasis von Luhmanns produktiver Arbeit war.

Read the whole article ...

2017-12-18: Adobe Digital Editions: Error #2038

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

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 ...

2017-12-17: Using Template Files for Pandoc Exports to Word or LibreOffice

The amazing @pdfkungfoo tweeted about a nice feature of Pandoc, the universal document conversion tool:

Lade das Vorlagen-Muster in Word (.dot / .docx -- egal), mache evtl. gewünschte Anpassungen an'n Stilen + speicher's als DOCX (nicht DOT) unter "my-reference.docx". Dann:

#pandoc input --reference-docx=my-reference.docx -o out.docx

Wirklich erstaunlich, wie viel da geht!

— pdfkungfoo (@pdfkungfoo) October 30, 2017

According to the manual, the option =--reference-doc=FILE= may define a docx (Word) or odt (LibreOffice) document which is used as a format template file.

So if you do have a company template for arbitrary Word files, you could use it as a template for your export. Copy a docx file (not a dotx template) as reference.docx to either:

  1. the current folder OR
  2. a folder which is defined by --data-dir OR
  3. the system default folder for data-dir which is
    • $HOME/.pandoc on UNIX-like systems
    • C:\Documents And Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\pandoc on Windows XP you should not use any more
    • C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\pandoc on Windows Vista or later.

So I took a company docx, renamed it to reference.docx and copied it to C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\pandoc on my Windows 10. When I now export from my Emacs Org-mode to a docx file (via ox-pandoc), I get documents that follow the style of our company documents: fonts, font colors, and even the company logo.

Awesome and nifty feature.

The only thing left is that I do have to learn how to avoid Emacs opening the resulting docx file as ZIP file in a buffer instead of opening it in Word.

2017-12-17: Cross-Post From Twitter to Mastodon and Vice Versa

A couple of days ago, I blogged that I'm going to test Mastodon as a replacement for Twitter.

Currently, I am using Talon for Twitter as Twitter mobile app and Tusky for Mastodon as Mastodon mobile app. Both are fine for my use-cases.

Using Twitter and Mastodon in parallel results in a split brain issue: do I post something on Twitter or on Mastodon or on both?

I could solve this issue using the Mastodon Twitter Crossposter which is also hosted on GitHub. This way, I can on either platform and the content gets cross-posted on the other side as well. I can now be on both networks without neglecting the other. The setup even worked with 2FA using FreeOTP I have set-up on Mastodon. (No, Twitter, you won't get my personal phone numer.)

Starting with cross-posting yesterday, I could double my toots within less than 24 hours. I can even use Mastodon as my main status tool, moving away from Twitter more and more.

The only important thing to me what it missing on Mastodon is a proper export functionality. I created a feature request on GitHub for it.

2017-12-17: DIY-Feinstaubsensor

Update 2017-12-17: Hinweis auf hinzugefügt

Bereits Anfang des Jahres wurde ich auf ein tolles Projekt namens aufmerksam. Die Organisatoren vom OK Lab Stuttgart vertreiben eine Bauanleitung für einen Feinstaubsensor, der auch weitere Sensordaten wie beispielsweise Temperatur und Luftfeuchte aufnimmt. Die Hardware kostet um die 35€ und der Zusammenbau ist auch mit mäßigen Technikkenntnissen innerhalb einer Stunde schnell erledigt.

Read the whole article ...

2017-12-08: People Describing Their Hardware/Software Setup

This is a constantly updated list of links where people are describing their personal hardware/software setup which I found interesting.

Read the whole article ...

2017-12-03: Sopranica: a Surveillance-Free Cellular Network Built by Volunteers

I was waiting a long time to see projects like this popping up:

Chris linked and article that describes the basic idea behind building a privacy-respecting decentralized cellular network. I do like this idea a lot.

Interesting project. #privacy #surveillance

— chris_koerner (@chris_koerner) December 3, 2017

Read the whole article ...

2017-11-26: I Am Testing Mastodon as a Supplement for Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

For helpful articles on Mastodon, see the related articles below: