When I made a visit to East Berlin a few years before the wall came down, my teenage eyes wondered about shopping and customer service.

To visit a bookstore near Alexanderplatz I had to stand in line. There were only a handful of shopping baskets available, and they were mandatory, so you stood in line until someone left the shop and returned the basket. I stood there for a while, and then with a basket could browse the shelves. There were less than ten people in the shop. While many more stood outside waiting.

Visiting a cafe with two others, the tables were all the same size, only the number of chairs at each table differed. We were three. A table with two chairs was free. Next to it was a man on his own, I remember he wore a leather jacket sipping coffee and reading a paper, at a table with three chairs. We asked if we could have a chair, and pull it up to our table. “Na klar”, he said. We looked at the menu. No service came. We waited. No service came. I went up to the waitress and asked if she could take our order. No, she said, “you’re with three people on a table for two so you’re not getting served.” I was stunned. I tried logic, “look the tables are all the same size!”, but failed. In the end we returned a chair to the table with the guy in the leather jacket and asked him to trade tables. He picked up his coffee and newspaper (it was the 80’s remember), and sat at our original table, while we moved to his. Within seconds the waitress was with us to take our lunch orders.

For years I shared these anecdotes as examples of how odd it all was during that visit to East Germany.

Fast forward 33 years, to our pandemic times.

In our neighbhourhood most shops have introduced a system of mandatory baskets. They use it to cap the number of clients in the store to the maximum they can accomodate within the 1.5m distancing guidelines. Outside others wait their turn.

From next week cafes and restaurants can open again, and I see and read how those here in town are arranging same sized tables out on the market square, varying the number of chairs to make it all work, and setting tables inside for specific numbers of people to stay within max allowed capacity.

After 33 years I need to retire my anecdotes from 1980’s East Berlin it seems. It wasn’t odd, it was avant garde!

East Berlin 1987
Walking down Friedrichstrasse in East Berlin, in 1987

Useful post (in Dutch) by Max Roeleveld on his home automation using a RaspberryPi with Home Assistant. On how to do these things without silo’d hard- and software. To motivate others to take more online and offline things into their own control, not beholden to some service provider that then basically controls your off-switch, and harvests your behavioural data in the process.

In our household we are very much addicted to our Philips Hue lamps all over the house. We run those without external access or connections (we don’t use it to switch on/off lights when we’re not at home), but still it’s a silo of course. It could integrate with Home Assistant I see. There’s other unused stuff (Ikea’s Trådfri lamps a.o.) around the house too.

Bookmarked for the ‘someday’ project list.

Bookmarked Home Assistant, en wat ik er momenteel mee doe by @Max

Home Assistent met RaspberryPi, Zigbee en lampjes in de woon- en slaapkamer. Een kijkje in de… nou ja, niet in de keuken.

We took an afternoon walk in the Den Treek nature reserve, just south of Amersfoort. Not many people around, very pleasant. Bought some honey from the local beekeeper’s honour system sales box along the path.

Walking in Den Treek preserve / Leusden

For a moment I was tempted to install NextCloud on my laptop today, on a whim to see if I could use a local instance for note taking. Both as a step away from Evernote, as well as to strengthen my digital garden. Then I checked myself, and realised I need to think about my process and needs first, not think in terms of tools. Over the past weeks exploring posts and discussions about note taking and digital gardening, I noticed how much of it is focused on tools, and how little on envisioned or existing workflow, process or intended effect.

So I should take my own advice in the first of three follow-ups in a recent conversation on wikis, and look at my information strategy first. Starting from this 2005 image and posting about filtering:

input filter

If after such an exercise I conclude that running a local (non-cloud) instance of NextCloud makes sense, it will be early enough to install it.