• I love astroid! #ilovefs

    Hugo and me declaring our love to astroid

    You cannot imagine how long I’ve waited to write this blog post. Normally I’m not the bragging kind of guy but for this year’s edition of my „I love Free Software“ declaration articles (after 2014, 2015 and 2016) I just want to shout out to the world: I have the world’s best mail client: astroid!

    Okay, maybe I’ll add two or three words to explain why I am so grateful to the authors of this awesome Free Software application. Firstly, I should note that until ~6 months ago I have used Thunderbird – extended with lots of add-ons but still a mail user agent that most of you will know. But with each new email and project it became obvious to me that I have to find a way to organise my tenthousands of mails in a better way: not folder-based but tag-based, but not to the expense of overview and comfort.

    Thanks to Hugo I became aware of astroid, an application that unites my needs and is open to multiple workflows. Let’s read how astroid describes itself:

    Astroid is a lightweight and fast Mail User Agent that provides a graphical interface to searching, display and composing email, organized in thread and tags. Astroid uses the notmuch backend for blazingly fast searches through tons of email. Astroid searches, displays and composes emails – and rely on other programs for fetching, syncing and sending email.

    My currently unread and tagged emails

    Astroid is roughly 3 years old, is based on sup, and is mainly developed by Gaute Hope, an awesome programmer who encourages people – also non-programmers like me – to engage in the small and friendly community.

    Why is astroid so cool?

    That’s one secret of astroid: it doesn’t try to catch up to programs that do certain jobs very well already. So astroid relies on external POP/IMAP fetching (e.g. offlineimap), SMTP server (e.g. msmtp), email indexing (notmuch), and mail editors (e.g. vim, emacs). This way, astroid can concentrate on offering a unique interface that unites many strenghts:

    Saved searches on the left, a new editor window on the right

    • astroid encourages you to use tabs. Email threads open in a new tab, a newly composed message is a separate tab, as well as a search query. You won’t loose any information when you write an email while researching in your archive while keeping an eye on incoming unread mails. If your tab bar becomes too long, just open another astroid instance.
    • It can be used by either keyboard or mouse. Beginners value to have a similar experience as with mouse-based mail agents like Thunderbird, experts hunt through their mails with the configurable keyboard shortcuts.
    • Tagging of emails is blazingly fast and efficient. You can either tag single mails or whole email threads with certain keywords that you can freely choose. Astroid doesn’t impose a certain tagging scheme on its users.
    • astroid already included the possibility to read HTML or GPG-exncrypted emails. No need to create a demotivatingly huge configuration file like with mutt.
    • Theming your personal astoid is easy. The templates can be configured using HTML and CSS syntax.
    • It is expandable by Python and lua plugins.
    • It’s incredibly fast! Thunderbird or Evolution users will never have to bother with 20+ seconds startup time anymore. Efficiency hooray!

      On startup, I see my saved search queries

    Because it is open to any workflow, you can also easily use astroid with rather uncommon workflows. I, personally, use a mix of folder- and tag-based sorting. My mail server automatically moves incoming mails to certain folders (mostly based on mailing lists) which is important to me because I often use my mobile phone that doesn’t include a tagging-based email client, too. But with my laptop I can add additional tags or tag unsorted mails. Based on these tags, I again sort these mails to certain folders to reduce the amount of mails lying around in my unsorted inbox. Such a strange setup would have been impossible with many other email agents but with astroid (almost) everything is possible.

    Did I convince you? Well, certainly not. Switching one’s email client is a huge step because for most people it involves changing the way how most of theor digital communication happens. But hopefully I convinced you to have a look at astroid and think about whether this awesome client may fulfill some of your demands better than your existing one. If you already use notmuch, a local SMTP server, offlineimap, procmail or other required parts, testing astroid will be very easy for you. And if your way to using astroid will be longer, as mine was, feel free to ask me or the helpful community.

    PS: FSFE activists in Berlin carried out two awesome activities for ILoveFS!

  • OpenRheinRuhr 2016 – A report of iron and freedom

    orr2016_iron

    Our Dutch iron fighters

    Last weekend, I visited Oberhausen to participate in OpenRheinRuhr, a well-known Free Software event in north-western Germany. Over two days I was part of FSFE’s booth team, gave a talk, and enjoyed talking to tons of like-minded people about politics, technology and other stuff. In the next few minutes you will learn what coat hangers have to do with flat irons and which hotel you shouldn’t book if you plan to visit Oberhausen.

    On Friday, Matthias, Erik, and I arrived at the event location which normally is a museum collecting memories of heavy industries in the Ruhr area: old machines, the history and background of industry workers, and pictures of people fighting for their rights. Because we arrived a bit too early we helped the (fantastic!) orga team with some remaining work in the exhibition hall before setting up FSFE’s booth. While doing so, we already sold the first tshirt and baby romper (is this a new record?) and had nice talks. Afterwards we enjoyed a free evening and prepared for the next busy day.

    But Matthias and I faced a bad suprised: our hotel rooms were build for midgets and lacked a few basic features. For example, Matthias‘ room had no heating, and in my bathroom someone has stolen the shelf. At least I’ve been given a bedside lamp – except the little fact that the architect forgot to install a socket nearby. Another (semi-)funny bug were the emergency exits in front of our doors: by escaping from dangers inside the hotel, taking these exits won’t rescue you but instead increase the probability of dying from severe bone fractures. So if you ever need a hotel in Oberhausen, try to avoid City Lounge Hotel by any means. Pictures at the end of this article. [ » Read More…]

  • „Schluss mit dem Routerzwang“ – Radiosendung im Deutschlandfunk

    Heute war ich beim Deutschlandfunk zu einer Radiosendung über den Routerzwang eingeladen. Wir haben etwa eine Stunde lang darüber geredet, warum es so wichtig ist, dass wir seit dem 1. August endlich Routerfreiheit in Deutschland haben, was das für Verbraucher bringt und welche Fragen noch ungeklärt sind.

    Zusammen mit den beiden anderen Gästen, Marleen Frontzeck von teltarif.de und Katja Henschler von der Verbraucherzentrale Sachsen, haben wir mit dem Moderator Römermann aber auch weitere Aspekte angeschnitten, etwa W-LAN-Sicherheit und Freifunk-Netzwerke. Insgesamt war es eine sehr angenehme und hoffentlich für möglichst viele Menschen auch informative Sendung. Und da es mein erstes Radio-Interview war, zumal auch noch live, freut mich das ganz besonders.

    Eine kurze Zusammenfassung gibt auf der Deutschlandfunk-Webseite, von wo man auch die Audio-Aufnahme herunterladen bzw. direkt anhören kann. Für Archivierungszwecke stelle ich die komplette Sendung auch im freien ogg-Format hier zum Download bereit.

  • Getting oldschool, oder: Wie ich uncool wurde

    old-manLangsam tritt das ein, von dem ich gehofft habe, es möge mich nicht ereilen: Ich werde alt – zumindest gefühlt. Noch vor fünf bis zehn Jahren glaubte ich mich an der Spitze des neuen Ökosystems: Des Internets. Ich war der Meinung, diese Welt besser zu kennen als der Großteil der Menschheit. Kein Trend war vor mir sicher. Instant Messenger, Tauschbörsen, soziale Netzwerke, Diskussionsforen, Videoportale und all die lustigen und verstörenden Teile dieser neuen, digitalen und immer schneller werdenden Welt. Jedes neue Feature war ein Segen in meinen Augen.

    Alter Mann

    Und was ist heute? Lese ich von einer neuen tolle App, stöhne ich nur auf. Wird mir vorgeschlagen, Messenger X oder Y zu verwenden, rattern mir schon Ausreden durch den Kopf. Erfahre ich auf Portalen wie dem angesagten bento etwas über die „10 lustigsten Videos“ des letzten Jahres, kenne ich maximal eines davon – und das auch nur, weil im Spiegel oder so etwas darüber stand. Und bei jeder neuen Registrierung für einen Internetdienst, und sei es auch nur ein simpler Onlineshop, zieht mein Puls an.

    Stellenanzeigen sind besonders frustrierend für mich. War ich mir früher – überspitzt gesagt – sicher, mit meinen coolen Internetproskillz auf dem Arbeitsmarkt gefragt zu sein, auch wenn ich die nächsten zwei Jahre Mathe schwänze, sind mir angesagte Jobs für junge Menschen schon jetzt teilweise zu hoch. Wird etwa für Internetredakteure oder Community-Manager verlangt, sich unter anderem gut in „Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope und flickr“ auszukennen, müsste ich zugeben, auf keinem dieser trendigen Netzwerke überhaupt einen Account zu haben, geschweige denn das geringste Interesse daran.

    Am schlimmsten sind jedoch die Berichte in Fachzeitschriften über IT-Konferenzen. Wenn ich nur lese, dass wir in zehn Jahren unseren Alltag über ein Mikrofon steuern können, das unsere Spracheingaben direkt an Google oder Amazon schickt, würde ich am liebsten einen Flug in die hinterste Dritte Welt buchen.

    Die Frage nach dem Warum

    [ » Read More…]

  • In The End Freedom Is What Matters

    Yesterday I’ve been asked by a good friend of mine why I am investing so much time in the FSFE (Free Software¹ Foundation Europe) instead of putting more energy in other organisations with more focus on privacy issues. The background of his question is that I’m quite concerned about governmental and commercial surveillance and the lack of really private ways to communicate with each other and the impact this has on our online and offline behaviour. With Laura Poitras‘ recent movie „Citizenfour“ awarded with an Oscar, I use the media attention as an icebreaker to talk with my friends about these topics if the situation allows it.

    Back to question which can also be read as „Why are you investing your time in Free Software instead of privacy which seems to touch you more?“. To be honest I had to think about this a bit. But then I remembered Jacob Appelbaum saying[…] what people used to call liberty and freedom we now call privacy„. And I think that’s the reason why I stick with putting my energy as activist in FSFE rather than in other (very good!) organisations: Because I think that freedom is the foundation of everything we call privacy today and in the future. I’ll explain that in the following paragraphs. [ » Read More…]

  • Sharing is caring – my Git instance

    Some days ago I noticed another time that I have far too less knowledge about Git.
    „Time to change that!“, I thought and set up my own Git instance and also installed gitweb for better usability.

    Upside 1: I can keep track of the many (mainly bash) scripts I wrote in the past and all the changes I will adopt in the future.
    Upside 2: You can hopefully benefit from using and reading my code. All code is licensed under GNU GPL v3 so please feel free to use, study, share and improve my work!

    Some noteworthy projects I’m (a bit) proud of:

    Any questions, ideas or improvements? Please contact me!

    Update 26.02.2016:
    I washed away the quite basic gitweb instance and moved to Gogs. Here’s why and how. Links to the project may have changed because of that (and I’m too lazy to change them here).

  • My internship at FSFE

    I recently saw that the Free Software Foundation Europe is offering a new and very interesting internship position. That’s a great opportunity for every student interested in Free Software and political activism — and for me to write about my internship I completed from October 2013 until end of March 2014. Here’s a report I wrote some time ago:

    Starting from October 2013 I was able to work 6 months as an intern for the Free Software Foundation Europe in Berlin. This was an internship required by my bachelor degree course at the University of Konstanz (Germany) where I study Politics and Public Administration. Some years before my internship I already was an FSFE Fellow and then decided to apply there.

    My daily tasks contained monitoring and moderation of the various mailing lists and social network accounts. There were also various technical jobs to do: Updating and creating single websites, sending out newsletters, fixing smaller bugs on our pages and so on.

    The bigger part in my internship was political work. In Germany, various ISPs want to hinder end consumers to freely choose a router because they only want officially supported ones. Such policy comes with serious consequences for security, free competition, trust in technology, and compatibility. My tasks contained analysing regulation drafts, writing statements for public hearings and coordination with other activists. We summarized the issue and our work on https://fsfe.org/activities/routers

    After the parliamentary elections in Germany 2013 I analysed the Grand Coalition’s agreement to identify possible positive and negative effects on Free Software. I also was able to visit several politicians in the German Bundestag to talk with them about Free Software and upcoming important tasks we wanted to work on.

    Besides I helped a lot organising our various campaigns like „Document Freedom Day“ and „I love Free Software“. For many of these political tasks and campaigns I wrote press releases and public statements.

    During my internship I learned a lot about the structure and work in a multinational organisation and how to collaborate and talk with different people around the world. Another plus is the know-how I aquired by helping planning the various campaigns and analyses. When I was in Brussels and Chemnitz to help at FSFE’s booths during conferences I also learned very much about how to talk with people of all kinds and how to carry ideas and convictions to others.

    I will never regret applying for and completing the internship at FSFE. There were so many theoretical and practical things no study course can teach. Being able to work at the interface between communities, companies and politics is something every interested student should be granted.

    I want to thank everybody who enabled the FSFE to offer these internships. Organisations like the Free Software Foundation Europe are important to bring equality and freedom to our society and these internships allow students to get an insight into this very interesting area of activity.

    This internship was a very general one so I was able to work in many different areas of FSFE’s activity. The offered internship is mostly about Document Freedom Day, FSFE’s largest campaign in which I also invested a lot of time. I’m quite sure that this position is also very interesting — and very important as well! So if you want to take responsibility and want to learn much about collaboration, worldwide activism and public relations, go ahead and apply for this internship!

    If you are interested in this internship but you have some questions left, please feel free to ask me anything.

  • Guter E-Mail-Stil

    Heutzutage ist schriftlicher Stil in E-Mails ebenso wichtig wie eine angemessene Sprechweise oder standardisierte Floskeln und Höflichkeiten in Briefen. E-Mails sind trotz Short Messaging wie per SMS, WhatsApp oder Facebook weiterhin die bedeutenste digitale Kommunikationsmöglichkeit.
    Das ist auch der Grund, weshalb ein guter E-Mail-Stil so enorm wichtig ist: Wir werden von E-Mails regelrecht bombardiert, auch wenn man den Spam nicht einmal mit einberechnet. Daher sollten wir uns und unseren Kommunikationspartnern die Sache erleichtern, indem wir einen guten, effizienten und dennoch freundlichen Umgang und Stil pflegen.

    Der Erstkontakt

    Sollte man derjenige sein, der eine E-Mail versendet, sind bereits einige Dinge sehr wichtig:
    [ » Read More…]