Harry Keller

November 5, 2022

↬ October 2022: Yup, that’s it, that’s the headline. Just October 2022.

Hey y’all,
last month I wrote about our long vacation + workation in England, this time we’re back to the regular programming of random stuff that caught my attention! Work has been intense over the last weeks (in a good way), so this newsletter is unfortunately a few days late. I’ll keep the points shorter this time (just kidding, of course I didn’t, there’s nothing harder than writing succinctly). Let’s get into it!

🚨 What’s new
I’m taking a course on co-ops, hosted by the co-operative college. The first session was quite enlightening already, mostly a history lesson, among other things, about the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers (what a name!): They are widely considered to be the first modern cooperative, founded in 1844 in Rochdale, England. Very cool!

I’m meticulous about my to do lists and for years I’ve used a mix of teuxdeux, then replaced by the very similar Tweek, plus Obsidian on the side. All these apps have their issues though: loading times, synching problems, lack of iOS widgets, no offline support, bad mobile apps, … so I recently wondered if Apple’s Reminders would maybe be good enough by now? Turns out it is. So I went all in and I’m now exclusively using Reminders – the app is fast, works the same way on every platform I use and integrates super well with my calendar (Fantastical). What’s interesting is that Reminders is both an app, but also simply to do list infrastructure other apps can tap into … Fantastical integrates with Reminders, so now I can just drag my tasks into the calendar, which makes planning the day slightly easier, giving tasks the same weight as meetings. I also tried GoodTask, but it was too confusing and overwhelming for me. Somebody please make a simple teuxdeux-like interface based on Reminders!

Here’s some free advice for all the food companies creating vegan versions of their products: Make it the same portion size, same price and approx. same taste as your regular product, resist the urge to slap environmental branding on it and don’t make it a limited special edition. You’d be surprised how many products don’t pass this test and it’s infuriating. 😅 Latest offender: vegan KitKat, really a case study how to completely fuck this up. Stupid environmental ornaments on the packaging, obnoxious V branding, twice as expensive, tastes like crap.  I can already picture the executives sitting in a board room six months from now, looking at the sales numbers and concluding that there’s simply no market demand for it. Come on, it’s 2022, about time you do this properly! Better even: veganize your product without anyone noticing – did you know Oreos are vegan? Exactly. Talk to some real customers instead of staring at the affluent young environmentalist persona you’re trying to rip off!

What’s good
A much better example: I ordered a few items from Lush and they are doing everything right, not a single gram of plastic in the whole package. All products come without wrapping, the package filling material is based on corn starch and dissolves in water, almost all products are vegan by default, cruelty-free and have been for years. They even have a whole packaging-free store in Berlin. And when they use plastic, it’s all recycled and they take back the bottles/jars. So good. If a cosmetics company can do it, so can almost everyone else! Try harder!

I harvested a ton of chilis, now wondering what to do with them. Some people on twitter recommended fermenting, as a base for home-made chili sauce, so I ordered some fermenting jars. I’ll keep y’all posted!

I finished Zelda: Ocarina of Time, woot! I got the game in 1999 as a child and never managed to play beyond the forest temple, mainly because I found the place so creepy (the music, the hand, the paintings, the twisting corridors, if you know you know). But this time I was determined, dusted off my old 3DS and played all through the remake released in 2011. What a great game, absolutely stunning, even though the remake is also already 11 years old. Time is wild, and so is this game! Random algorithmic find: There’s forest temple ambiance on YouTube, which brings back all my childhood nightmares.

Started using Tailwind (the CSS framework) on a project and web development hasn’t been this much fun in a long time. I’ve always had a lot of utility classes in my CSS, but it drove most people who worked with me nuts because it was never a cohesive system or properly documented. Tailwind is what I always wanted, been on my radar for years, but now I finally get to use it on a real project. So good!

AOC for president! She is just incredible.

Wrist pain update: I got a split keyboard and it’s been a game changer. Makes me sit up straighter, you can angle the halves outwards (called “tenting”) and it’s very satisfyingly tactile. Being on a Mac and being used to German ISO layout there weren’t many options for me, but I am perfectly happy with the Matias Ergo Pro. It’s admittedly hideous, but it makes all the difference for my wrists: Pain is basically gone since I got it! It has a learning curve, but only for a few days. At some point I’ll upgrade to the Moonlander, but not anytime soon.

💡 What’s interesting
Zuckerjerk launched a bunch of VR stuff and I wrote a short article about it: the metaverse is a stupid nerd fantasy, but there are also wonderful gems to be found in the VR space, the kinda stuff you can’t experience anywhere else. Joram also has a thoughtful post about VR on his newsletter (in German).

I’m not gonna comment on the twitter meltdown, other than that it’s so sad what’s happening to the platform under the unhinged billionaire clown. I very much agree with this sentiment, this and also this. Meanwhile over on Mastodon, the vibe has changed from deserted ghost town to something cool might be happening here. It’s not twitter and you’ll be disappointed if you expect it to be, but give it a chance maybe? Let’s connect: https://mastodon.social/@harryfk

BeReal is also still fun! Been posting every day for months!

Feels like we’ve reached an inflection point in tech: With all of the ruthless layoffs going on at startups, the dystopian metaverse crap and twitter collapsing, this might be the moment where any lingering 2010s tech optimism finally dies. Start of a bleaker, but possibly also more grounded era. Let’s build better, smaller and more sustainable things…

👀 What’s recommended
… w
hich is what we’re doing with Village One. A lot has been happening with our little cooperative: new projects, we’re fully employed now, about to publish our first job posting, bringing new people aboard. Catch up through these articles and newsletters:

Shout-outs: Taís’s monthly recaps are always worth reading! So are Christoph’s and even Doro has a substack now!

TV series interlude: Finished the new Lord of the Rings series and really liked it, pretty perfect first season to set up the world, characters and tensions. Meanwhile The Good Fight (spin-off of The Good Wife) is coming to an end and I’m going to miss all these characters and their stories. The Good Fight is/was especially relevant and adventurous. Good-bye Diane, thank you for those 13 years!

🔮 What’s next
Our last book club meeting about Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost was brilliant, possibly the most intensely personal conversation we ever had. We’re reading Marlen Haushofer’s classic “The Wall” / “Die Wand” next, meeting is on the 13th of December via Zoom. Join us, plenty of time left!

Otherwise, what’s next: Cold, grey and dark of course. Oh well, Berlin during winter. I didn’t miss it.

📷 What’s in the camera roll

Lots of orange incoming! 🎃

Köpenick in fall!

Freddy’s inevitable newsletter appearance!

Halloween + proof of finishing Zelda!

Alright, that’s all I got this time! Enjoy your weekend and have a lovely November!

Until next time,

Harry Keller
based in Berlin
+49 178 55 29 111
@harryfk | .com | newsletter

About Harry Keller

Heya, I’m Harry, a software developer in Berlin/Germany—he/him, *351ppm, feminist, cooperativist, dogfather. I recently co-founded the somewhat utopian design+tech cooperative Village One and also diesdas.digital before that. You can learn more about me on harryfk.com and we can connect on Mastodon, Twitter, BeReal, PixelfedInstagram. Or you can simply read my newsletter below! 💁