Showing posts from March, 2024


The podcast hype train passed me by until late 2018. I never understood it and thought it was some Apple specific thing. Then, one evening, on a flight from Amsterdam to Berlin, I thought "I'm too tired to work or read, but I can listen to an interesting story, let's give podcasts a try." The first episode I listened to was by 99% Invisible. I believe that by the time I got back to Amsterdam a few days later I had listened to about 10 episodes. Half a year later and I had gone through 80% of all episodes. I'm a bit obsessive, and as it turns out, picky. For me to love a podcast it has to be: A uthentic. I have a soft spot for the lone podcaster who loves what he/she is doing. I nformative. I want to learn new things, and be slightly entertained in the process. O rchestrated. I can't stand random people talking about something without a clear direction. Orchestrated and Authentic can sometimes conflict. It's a sign of good artistic leadership if that doesn&

The Fog of War, or: when being vague is useful

I've always been a straight shooter. Perhaps it's the Dutch culture or the protestant roots, but mystery, rituals and concepts annoy me. If a company can't say clearly what their product does, I am annoyed. I don't need you to tell me that my team will be 5% more effective, let me figure out myself how useful your product is on the merits of what it actually does. Recently I had the pleasure to work with a CEO and got some feedback that I shared plans with our suppliers too clearly. He said he didn't like that at all and he wanted things to be as vague as possible. My gut reaction was that this was ridiculous. If they don't understand our plans and motives how can they deliver a good service? It goes against everything I've read about leading people. But, when I reflected a bit, I thought of the idiom "Knowledge is Power". If knowledge is power, then it follows that the absence of knowledge must be weakness. By keeping the people around you weak, y

The unreasonable effectiveness of i3, or: ten years of a boring desktop environment

My wife uses Windows and over the years I've helped her move things to new systems. Win8, 10 and now 11. With every upgrade the UI changes. Now I can't right click the bottom right corner anymore to open Task Manager. The UI feels "fresh" and up-to-date I guess, but does it really matter? My desktop has looked like this since 2008. I love the picture of the gearbox, it's a testament to the hidden precision engineering that goes on inside the built world all the time. I don't see much of the gearbox though, because most of the time my screens look like this: The environment around my background picture has changed a little more, but has been stable for the last 10 years. My experience is very different to my wife's constantly changing system. In 2009 I moved from Windows to Ubuntu, then to Debian using Gnome. Then finally to i3 in 2013 after a brief affair with XMonad in 2012. So by now in early 2024, I've had the same minimal UI for more than 10 years,

[TSTIL] The WaterRower Camera

[ This is a part of " The Software That I Love ", a series of posts about Software that I created or had a small part in ] 2021 - The WaterRower Camera I was getting more and more heavy during this period, almost reaching 90kg / 200lbs. I never exercised but I had bought a rowing machine with a water tank because I wanted to exercise, in principle. The machine was bought in 2019 just before the pandemic and during the boring early pandemic months it was a welcome way to distract myself. For some weeks I started rowing like a maniac but of course it wasn't sustainable. The machine started collecting dust. It had a small "workout computer" displaying the stats, but it was very dumb and not connected to anything. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to measure my stroke speed, depth, and power more closely. The (black) elastic band is wound up around a cylinder. By painting the cylinder white and tracking with a camera how much black/white pixels are v