Harry Keller

March 31, 2022

↬ March 2022: holidays, digital tooling, growing chilis (or not)

Hey there,
welcome to my third monthly recap this year – I’m writing this one pretty last minute, because I’ve been happily ignoring my todo list for all of March. My daily work at diesdas.digital came to a close in February and I had given myself a month to unwind and regain some creative energy. That has meant fewer obligations, fewer Zooms, fewer notifications and my days being less structured. So good, so needed. Definitely feeling somewhat eager to get back to my desk now.

🚨 What’s new

Last year I grew 🌶 chilis myself, from germinating the seeds in little greenhouses to harvesting all kinds of different chilis at the end of summer. It was a rousing success, even though I had done zero research and just did what felt right every step of the way. I used the wrong soil, the wrong pots, too much water, too much fertilizer, messed up the timing … and yet 9 out of 10 seeds germinated and turned into full plants, yielding dozens of chilis. This year I tried to improve on that, buying more sophisticated greenhouses, heating mats, coconut pods for germination, supposedly better seeds … and this time a mere 1 out of 10 seeds is springing into life so far. Possibly a lesson in following your intuition rather than over-engineering the setup. Might have to buy some pre-grown plants now. 😥

Leaving diesdas.digital meant I had to rethink some of my digital tooling – for example I had used my diesdas calendar for everything personal as well. My goal is usually to support independent software makers and stay clear of big tech and VC-funded startups as much as possible (with the exception of Apple). My current setup is …
  • HEY for emails
  • Obsidian and iA Writer for notes
  • Tweek for todos
  • Toggl for time tracking (but I want to try heev as well)
  • Testing Bitwarden for passwords, eventually ditching 1Password
  • Upgrading my iCloud subscription to get rid of Dropbox
The calendar decision turned out to be the hardest, because sadly nothing works as seamlessly as Google’s Calendar. I was initially excited about Cron (but it requires a Google account 🤦‍♂️), Morgen and Fantastical, but I reluctantly went back to using Google Calendar each time. 

I’ve also registered as a freelancer again, so that I can work as a web developer and product owner on a few projects I maintained at diesdas and will continue to handle in the foreseeable future (mycountrytalks.org, hvdfonts.com, z2x.zeit.de, typemates.com, p98a.com). Still not ready to share what I’m doing next professionally (beyond freelancing). I know, it’s getting tedious, but I’m taking my time.

What’s good

My girlfriend and I hadn’t really traveled during the pandemic and it was time for a longer trip, after a long-grey-wet-cold winter in Berlin. We booked two weeks in Italy, one at Lake Garda and one in Porto Venere, Liguria. I had forgotten how revitalizing a change of scenery really is. Different flora, different colors, different language, different people … so good for the mind. Some photos below and on my insta!

As a child I loved all of Star TrekThe Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine were all my jam! So naturally I’m delighted that there’s quite a bit of Trek on the air right now: Discovery found it’s footing and just concluded a spectacular fourth season (dealing with trauma and sporting such a wonderfully diverse cast), Picard’s second season started with the best Trek episode in maybe decades (sadly couldn’t keep it up though) and I’m also excited for Strange New Worlds! I think we’re in desperate need to see more positive futures portrayed in media and Trek is one of the few!

I revived my old iPod shuffle 🥰 

💡 What’s interesting

A good tweet: Freelancing without contracts (yes to all of this!)

A good online shop: 🔥 Heatsupply – thanks Norman! My neighbor Brent ordered the top 10 sauces, we tried all of them yesterday, it was glorious (and painful).

Speaking of digital products: Vowel is an interesting, more collaborative take on video calls. However, I also feel this is trying to solve human/social problems with more tech, which honestly rarely works. The problem with most video calls is not that there isn’t a real-time collaborative notepad for capturing action points, but rather that the meeting shouldn’t have been a meeting in the first place, involves too many people including a few who like to hear themselves talk too much, therefore derail the meeting for everyone else and then leave henceforth ignoring whatever the group agreed on (if anything). None of these can be solved with more tech (and more tech might even have the opposite effect, being hella distracting instead of creating more focus). I dunno. Maybe the key to better meetings is just talking less and listening more, without distractions? Or maybe I’m too cynical and there are good ideas here … admittedly I haven’t tried it myself.

Watch brands Swatch and Omega teamed up on the Moonswatch, recreating the classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch as a cheaper, colorful Swatch variant. I like it, I’d want one, but they were sold out in minutes everywhere. I’d probably pick the yellow version, it seems the most fun, but I’m pretty sure it’ll wear too large on my flimsy wrists.

Here’s an incredible photo

“Nobody Works Eight Hours A Day, And You Are An Idiot If You Think They Should”

👀 What’s recommended

Turning Red on Disney+! What a fantastic, multi-layered movie that speaks to people of all ages. Thoroughly enjoyed it! Bonus points for early 2000s nostalgia!

A deep dive on how some of the Oscar-nominated blockbusters are made. I’m endlessly fascinated watching the end credits of movies roll, seeing HOW MANY people were involved, all bringing different ideas and different skillsets, but needing to understand each other’s work and the larger vision to pull it all together into a coherent work of art. Seeing how many basic coordination and communication problems plague digital products in even tiny teams, I honestly have no idea how it’s even possible to make a movie. Much to learn from other industries.

As always: join our Discord under lanky.horse for many more interesting links around design, tech and media.

🔮 What’s next

Well, freelancing and catching up with lots of people I haven’t had time to talk to in too long.

Also: Book club on Tuesday (but I’m only at 20% of the book, which is aptly titled “I didn’t do the thing today”, so the next couple of days I really have to do the thing and read more).

📷 What’s in the camera roll

Only holiday shots this time, everything else pales in comparison! 🇮🇹

Empty streets in Porto Venere and Bardolino

The color of that water, omg

Sunrise in Porto Venere and the village from a pier

Freddy waiting for food + evening walk in Bardolino

Alright, that’s it for March, I hope you had a good month and I wish you an even better April! See you in a month, at the book club or on Twitter! If you’ve received this post as an email, feel free to hit reply and say hello! If not: Maybe subscribe? 👀

Best,
Harry