Tasty bits and pieces from the internet, mixed with opinions and canned.

One of the things I enjoy about working remotely

One of the founders of the company I've been working for since late 2013 recently posted this article into our company chat:

10 years of remote working. This is what I have learned so far.
by Martín Pérez

For anyone considering working remotely or already doing so, it should be an interesting and potentially illuminating read. I've been thinking about this same topic a lot in recent months and I'm no stranger to the challenges of this kind of work style. The day after I read the article, however, I experienced once again one of the things that I love about working from home:

I had slept badly the night before, hardly getting any rest and felt mentally exhausted and slow. At some point, after realising that I had just looked up a word in a German–English dictionary that I had just written in an email moments before, I said to myself, "Fuck it!"  
So I closed down my computer (it was 14:00), put on some sports clothing, and did a 30-minute high intensity interval training. After that, properly physically exhausted, I took a shower, ate a light meal, prepared and drank a big mug of coffee, and had a coffee nap. This bit of self care then allowed me to continue work for the next four hours fully concentrated and focused.

The freedom to structure my work day how I need, taking into account my strengths, weaknesses, habits, and the simple fact that I'm human, is a massive advantage of working remotely in my book.

Reducing my utilization of Amazon products, step 3

After cancelling my Amazon Prime membership and making efforts not to shop on if at all possible, and having changed the way I handle Audible audiobooks, the last two pieces of the puzzle concerned my Kindle.

These two pieces for me are: 1. letting go of the Kindle and finding a different device/app to read ebooks and 2. finding a new source for ebooks in the future.

With the lessons I learned in dealing with Audible audiobooks and making them easier to use for me across all of my devices, getting Kindle ebooks into a state allowing me to untether from the Kindle itself was quite easy and a personal use backup of my entire library of Kindle ebooks was quickly set up.  

There are many good ways to read ebooks and my current choice is the Books app on iOS devices. I‘m happy with the reading experience and should I want an E Ink display again in the future, there are a good number of E Ink-based ePub format-compatible eReaders that are close enough in display resolution and hardware quality to the Kindle Paperwhite.

Obtaining ebooks is a different, less headache-inducing matter. Unlike audiobooks, where Amazon has a de facto monopoly with Audible, ebooks are regulated differently in Germany: we have a fixed book price that applies to (e)books, which mitigates competition based on price in the German market and prevents absolute market dominance from Amazon. With price differences not being a consideration, there's a wealth of places to buy ebooks from.  

There is a catch, though: outside of the Kindle store many publishers insist on ineffective and reader-hostile Adobe DRM. I'm going to try to favour those that either don‘t use DRM at all or simply add a watermark to ebooks. Still, Adobe DRM isn‘t more difficult to handle than Kindle DRM and not buying from Amazon is big enough of a benefit for me to tolerate Adobe DRM for a moment after purchase.

I‘ve already bought two ebooks in the online shop of my book retailer around the corner and getting them into Apples Books app was a breeze. I‘m going to sell my Kinde Paperwhite in the next few days.

A timeless image about Trump

It's going to be a long time until we have a full understanding of the damage that has been done by Putin's puppet Trump and I fear that a lot of the damage is going to be irreparable. Let's work on stopping Trump and people like him around the world.

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich for AJC (Source)

Reducing my utilization of Amazon products, step 2

Back in January, I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership, beginning a process to reduce the number of Amazon services I use. About a month in, I have missed neither Prime Video nor the Prime shipping options. For shopping I've used both Google Shopping and to find online shops with good prices, fast shipping, and sensible return policies.

Audible was going to be more challenging to let go of — and I suspected this beforehand. The search for alternatives yielded almost nothing viable for the following reasons:

  1. Audible have a de facto monopoly on audio book sales.
  2. Audible are the largest producer of audio books and they sell exclusively in their own shop.
  3. Prices for audio books outside of Audible are close to prohibitive.

While this means that I won't be able to let go of Amazon for obtaining audio books, there is a silver lining that lets me claim a partial victory:

Getting the media fully under my control is easy, almost trivially so.
Yes, Audible files have copy protection but in the end the AAX file type they're using is just a slightly modified M4B (MPEG-4 Audio Book) file, which in turn is just an AAC audio file with some extras like support for chapter markers.
With a tiny bit of work, I managed to get a personal use backup of the Audible files into Apple's Books app on my iPhone and even onto an old iPod (both using iTunes, of course). Now I won't have to worry about Audible's copy protection locking me out of the media I bought if their licensing servers go down or the company goes under.

Next step: Kindle eBooks…