Life in today’s capitalist societies is far from great. It’s full of meaningless bullshit work, full of laws and other constraints, and all of that in the face of multiple ecological crises that ordinary people seem unable to do anything about and elites seem determined to ignore until it is too late.

That is exactly what capitalism did to us: we are of no other use than being mindless, dependent consumers to buy the shitty products of corporate capitalists in order to enrich them. All of that at the cost of the whole natural environment, and all of that only because directly robbing us or letting us work as slaves turned out to be too cumbersome and too dangerous for the elites. So instead, they invented the capitalist economy as a tool of oppression. Not consciously – it emerged over time by trial and error.

So we are wasting our lifetime for a few moments of diversion granted by consumer products, and for the rent we have to pay, and for the taxes we have to pay into systems that are not frugal, not accountable and not improvable. This is not the life we want. Especially not at this time of unprecedented ecocide and impending climate catastrophe.

Instead, here is a very rough draft of a social order that would be up to meet today’s challenges. And it would be meaningful, interesting, fun to take part.

First of all, no bullshit work anymore. Everything that is ecologically destructive is bullshit work. Everything that is luxury or unnecessary or inefficient or technologically nonsense is bullshit work. We have no time or resources for that, as this is an ecological emergency. Now these about 60-80% of people freed from bullshit jobs can then build the society and world we want to live in, everyone according to their full set of skills.

We don’t just need a Green New Deal, we need a New Deal for Everything, and everyone would have both hands full of work to contribute. No idle minute anymore, no diversion like watching mindless series, movies, YouTube, playing computer games and so on. You won’t miss it, as you’ll be needed in the real world, to do meaningful work, probably for the first time of your whole miserable life.

And here’s just some the work that we’d have to do, and fast:

  • transition to a zero-carbon economy within 10 years (it’s not that difficult once everyone is switched over to a frugal, mindful lifestyle, which would be about an 80% reduction of GHG emissions already)
  • carbon sequestration
  • solving the food waste crisis, once and for all
  • frugal innovation and frugal lifestyles: for long-term well-being, being extremely frugal with our non-renewables is key
  • abolishing all copyright, once and for all: knowledge is to share, not for profit
  • protecting half the planet: half is for nature, half is for people
  • ecosystem restoration, including global desert greening, including accelerated rainforest construction etc.
  • ocean restoration and de-acidification
  • human population limiting (by free education for every girl on the planet as long as they like … something like that)
  • de-extinction: bring the woolly mammoth back, but before that, let’s bring most of the species back that we killed off so far
  • solving the multi-resistence pathogen crisis: proper healthcare systems, all-organic agriculture and animal husbandry, phage therapy and so on
  • proper education systems: those that make scientists, not obedient citizens and mindless consumers
  • humans as a multi-planetary species: yes, let’s make Mars habitable, why not?
  • asteroid / comet impact prevention

And money is not the problem – not in the way you think. Agriculture employs 3% of people in industrial nations, so everyone else is free to do other stuff. There is no law of nature that says this “other stuff” must be crappy consumer goods. It’s all just a matter of how we organize ourselves. Currently, society is organized around money as a resource allocation system. But we can organize about something completely different just as well. Like around a collective decision-making software.

Now what is the chance to construct that social order before The Crisis hits home? What is the chance that I can ring the bell of my neighbor, explain what I explain here, and then he or she would join the movement and it would grow from there?

While I don’t exactly live in a food truck, I live in a truck and I cook food. Here’s a random selection of the dishes that I happen to have photos of.

And to finish it all off, below is the last picture of red cabbage that I’ll ever take in my life. It’s something to celebrate: after seven f*****g years, I have successfully eaten through all of the red cabbage that I had rescued.

The final Red Cabbage Recipe

The backstory is actually this: a friend had a shop for food, and among other things sold jars from a big pallet of overstock or mislabeled red cabbage jars that he had got somewhere. He has this skill of getting the strangest stuff from the strangest of places. But people didn’t buy the red cabbage too much, so when they went past their best before date at the end of 2011, he gave them to me. Let’s do something against food waste, right? And now, the boxes and boxes of jars and jars are all finished. (And also, the last lived to 7.5 years over its best-before date, but still tasted good, and none of the jar lids had lifted in all these years.)

And now, celebrations! Without red cabbage.

Celebrations! (The cake was a gift 😛 )

Because I live in a truck, in summer I have the interesting problem of excess (practically free) photovoltaics electricity. The same can happen in an off-grid home or a grid-connected home in a location with zero-export regulations.

This is a small overview of the current options to earn from utilizing your unused or underused computing resources and / or electricity.

By “recommendability”, judged purely subjectively by myself:

  • SONM. Blockchain project where you rent out systems by time, like VPS hosts on a cloud platform. The system just went live (yesterday). Looks like well-done tech, worth a try. Of course, nobody knows what you can earn with this (yet), but it should not get lower than the price of electricity. So if you have excess (“free”) electricity available, it’s always a benefit for you.
  • Golem. Blockchain project for various special-purpose computation tasks (Blender rendering, later machine learning etc.). Already live since a few months, see here for reported earnings.
  • iExec. Blockchain project where you rent out your CPU resources and earn tokens. For a comparison to SONM, see here.
  • Primecoin. The first “meaningful mining” coin ever created. Coins are mined by securing transactions with a prime number chain called “Cunningham chain“. This is for the most part basic research, but has some uses: “Cunningham chains are now considered useful in cryptographic systems since “they provide two concurrent suitable settings for the ElGamal cryptosystem … [which] can be implemented in any field where the discrete logarithm problem is difficult.” (source). For results of the prime number chains it found, see the records and  the details. The coin is “naturally scarce” due to the scarcity of prime numbers, just that the upper limit of coins that will exist is not known beforehand (nice feature :D).
  • Gridcoin. One of the first “useful mining” coins, started in October 2013. Uses an interesting concept called “proof of research” that combines proof of stake and proof of BOINC (contributions to the BOINC platform for distributed scientific computing). You are not paid by BOINC projects but donate your CPU resources to them; instead you are paid in newly minted Gridcoins. Since this (together with the 1.5% inflation from teh proof-of-stake) sets Gridcoins on a path of continuous inflation and there is no immediate use value for Gridcoin (except speculation), this is a rather poor design for a currency. I once tested this about 1-2 years ago and calculated what I could make when running my i7 notebook on excess solar power (4-6 hours a day), and it was only 1-2 USD a year.
  • EFF prizes for large primes. You can participate in GIMPS (a collaborative effort hunting these primes) but this is more for sportsmanship and not for the money, as it seems there are no regular “mining pool style” payouts or shares of a future payout in case of an eventual, collaborative success. GIMPS will distribute a small fraction to the person actually finding it on their computer (3000 USD of 150k USD? compare here and here). You could instead hunt these primes solo, but the chances of success are of course slim. Good for those who like playing lottery and have free electricity around, so it does not cost them anything …
  • Proof-of-work mining. There are lots of cryptocurrencies you can mine with proof-of-work, including Bitcoin of course (but that’s only meaningful with GPUs and ASIC miners these days) and others that are designed to be economically CPU mineable. However, I don’t recommend this, as all these calculations are used for nothing beyond securing transactions – which can also be done with proof-of-stake instead of burning all that electricity. All mineable coins where mining serves a meaningful purpose beyond this have been included in the list above.

And some not yet or no longer functional projects:

  • DCP. Very similar to Gridcoin, as rewards are again earned from BOINC calculations. But seems to provide a more modern tech stack that could potentially do other tasks in the future. Not released yet.
  • Curecoin. Similar to Gridcoin, but limited to only one of the BOINC tasks (protein folding). Also, only half of the energy is used for these computations while the other half goes for proof-of-work. Gridcoin does not have that issue, as proof-of-stake uses only negligible CPU resources. This applies to the previous version. The coin seems to undergo a rewrite / relaunch currently.

There are other (blockchain based) projects that reward people for data storage, data transmission (CDN, video streaming), attention (“voluntary ads viewing”) and sharing personal data. We focused on CPU / GPU intensive tasks here only, as that is the best use in case you have to “burn” free electricity as meaningfully as possible.

At the company I co-founded, we have tried for quite some time to find a collaboration software solution that works for young, free-range, independent workers. We’re settling on Dynalist for now – which is not open source 🙁 but otherwise close-to-perfect for our uses, after some necessary adaptations.

Below is a list of various applications I studied during our search, ordered roughly by suitability for our purposes, the best first.

  1. Dynalist. Not open source. Unlimited nodes in private lists even in the free version. Tags, due dates, Markdown formatting. Nice search options with link to searches, allowing “GTD” type selections of nodes like “everything due in the next week”.
  2. Workflowy. Not open source. Like Dynalist, but some features less. “The original”.
  3. Open Source Dynalist / Workflowy replacements. Of course that would be the ultimate solution, but we’re not there yet. I found the several promising base software applications though, if you want to invest some work (best first):
    1.  Treenote. So far, an offline outliner application similar to Workflowy. An online variant with realtime collaboration is in the making as a master thesis project, and “nearly finished” as of 2017-11. That could be the complete solution, so let’s keep an eye on what happens here.
    2. Etherpad Lite. A proven, open source realtime collaborative editor. There are multiple open source variants (most notably Stekpad / formerly Hackpad), and multiple plugins. However so far, there is nothing like the list folding and zoom-to-item features of Dynalist / Workflowy – it’s all one long document, and the tasklist plugin only adds checkboxes before list items (see). Tag, search and filter functions are also not nearly as functional for a GTD / task list application as they are in Dynalist / Workflowy, and there is no deadline feature. But the collaborative editing part is there (incl. full history and authorship), the plugin infrastructure is there, so it seems doable. Given the advanced state of its realtime editing capabilities, and the difficulty to get this part right, this is probably a better base software than any of the below alternatives.
    3. Vimflowy. See also here on Github. It’s the closest open source Dynalist-like software that I found. Can be used with the mouse, while the Vim modes are also useful after getting used to them. It can do remote data storage, but unfortunately no collaborative real-time editing. So that is a major thing to add (but could be simple when not requiring true realtime updates, rather AJAX to make changes, and a button to pull changes). Also the design and a lot of little bugs have to be fixed. But it’s promising, and in active development as of 2017-11.
    4. ndentJS. Engine / base component for a hierarchical list widget with realtime collaborative editing.
    5. Concord. Another open source, JavaScript engine for Workflowy / Dynalist style task management applications. Seemingly the only one that is available open source. Documentation is here. Needs some programming to create a useful application out of this, though, because even in its most advanced incarnation (Fargo), it was “just” an outliner (see), from which we would be missing real-time collaboration features, specialized features for tasks etc..
    6. HackFlowy. And another engine / base component for a hierarchical list widget with realtime collaborative editing.
  4. Taiga. Open source, kanban style collaboration tool. Nice, but you have to like the kanban way of doing things. For my taste, it is still too much form filling for truly agile, “uninhibited” collaboration. In large, esp. public projects where you need a full revision history (such as open source projects with a public issue tracker), Taiga is a great tool though – collaboration has to be less agile, more formalized there to work.
  5. Wekan. Open source, similar to Taiga and Trello.
  6. Tracks. Open source, Ruby based GTD application. Mature, but not much in development. More than 10 years in the making. Misses a more comfortable user experience (no drag&drop between projects etc., rather some form filling) and misses collaboration features (every user account gets to manage their own tasks only, it seems). Otherwise, very nice. You can try it out with a test account on gtd.pm.
  7. Gingko. Not open source. Very nice and somewhat similar to Dynalist and Workflowy concept-wise. However, more specialized for writing longer texts. While it can be used for task-based collaboration, it is lacking specialized features for task-based collaboration on the other hand (no due dates, no “focus” mode). Pay-what-you-like sales model, the free version is limited to 100 cards per month.
  8. TDO. Open source, minimalistic, nice little kanban style task manager. But allows no sub-tasks (which is what I don’t like about kanban style), and seemingly no made for collaboration.
  9. Nitro 3.0. Open source, nice, collaborative task manager with markdown, due dates, priorities, notes on tasks etc.. It just seems that tasks cannot be nested but are contained in multiple flat lists (if judging from Nitro 1.5 is any indication). Also, Nitro 3.0 is not yet released as of November 2017 and it is a complete rewrite, so it will probably not be available as stable software for some months still. But then, definitely worth a look.

Some pictures of living in the truck over the last month (2017-05-03 to 2017-06-08).

#vanlife 🙂

(Click picture to see a larger version.)

For a friend, I recently researched which notebook can be recommended for Ultra HD video editing (4K UHD, 3840 × 2160 px). Here is, in short, what we found.
 
First priority: Intel Core i7-7xxx CPU, as fast as possible
There are three major ways to encode video: with the processor in software (Linux libx264 and libx265 libraries), with the CPU in hardware (using Intel's or AMDs dedicated features for that), or with the GPU in hardware (using Nvidia's NVENC mechanism). The hardware based mechanisms are much faster. For example, one comparison test was 55 fps on a i7-5930K CPU and up to 540 fps on a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU [source]. So a factor of 10 can be expected.
 
However, hardware encoding is somewhat limited in terms of features, so the same video quality will have a bigger file size, or for the same file size, you get less quality. For example, Nvidia NVENC supports B frames (some kind of small, compressed frame type that reduces video size by approx. 30% at the same quality) only in H.264, not in H.265 [source]. So the enthusiast video editor will probably want to do the final encoding runs in software on the CPU, which can be 20 times slower, but gives better quality for the same file sizes. Preview versions can still be created with the CPU or GPU hardware support, but do not need as much computation power as resolutions will be lower. Also, reportedly the primary, most powerful competitors are Intel CPU hardware based encoding on Kaby Lake processors (Core i7-7xxx) and GPU Nvidia Pascal GPU based encoding on Nvidia GeForce GTX 10xx graphics chips, and the best of both are approximately equally powerful. There seems to be better software support for the Nvidia solution though (but that is just a rough impression).
 
As a consequence, when you want the best quality and accept a long final coding run in exchange, the graphics board does not really matter much, it "only" has to be suitable for playing back 4k video and perhaps applying some live effects on them. So even a "previous generation" (Maxwell based) Nvidia GTX 960 will do, as some models have in this list of 4k editing notebooks. You will however want the best and fastest CPU you can get, which (in gamer notebooks) seems to be approx. the Intel Core i7-7600HQ (2.8 GHz).
 
Second priority: display
The next question is what display to get. Choices are between 15" and 17" displays, and for both between Full HD (1920×1080) and 4k Ultra HD (3840×2160) resolutions. Without a 4k display, you obviously can't watch your 4k video in full glory while editing, but even with a 17" 4k display, pixels are so small that there is very little to no optical difference between a Full HD and a 4k Ultra HD display (as reported by gamers). You will have to zoom into frames to see quality differences anyway. But the price difference is sometimes just 200 EUR, which might make the 4k Ultra HD display worth having.
 
Third priority: main memory, mass storage
These things can be upgraded as needed, so you don't do a final decision on purchase. 16 GB DDR4 RAM and a "128 GB SSD plus 1 TB hard disk" combination seem a reasonable minimum though. To speed things up, the SSD should be sufficient for the operating system, software, and the video files of your current project, while the (cheaper and larger) hard disk would hold all the archived video editing projects.

Model recommendations
The most interesting models (high performance but at the lower end of the possible price range) that we found are these:

  • HP Omen OMEN 17-w207ng, 1500 EUR, i7-7600HQ CPU, Nvidia GeForce GPX 1050 Ti, 17" display 3840×2160, 256 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD
  • HP Omen 15-ax202ng, 1300 EUR, i7-7600HQ CPU, Nvidia GPX 1050, 15" display 1920×1080, 256 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD
  • Dell XPS 15 9560, ca. 1600 EUR, i7-7600HQ CPU, 15" display 1920×1080

More interesting information and sources

Just a quick brain dump: more and less useful things you can do with the components of an old electric wheelchair (usually two 24 V DC geared electric motors of 200-400 W each, a motor controller, and batteries).

  • Telepresence robot for tele-farming. The robot would have a video camera and a high resolution still image camera. It would carry PV panels to recharge itself, so would never get completely stuck (but may only be able to move a few hundred meters per day). The robot can be used to inspect the farms and growing conditions for remotely giving advice to smallholder farmers in developing regions. Also, it could allow consumers from so-called developed countries to explore the farms and village where their products come from, without having to travel there. As part of a P2P food monitoring scheme like the Fairdirect Label (which I co-developed), the telepresence robot would allow customers to check whether the farming conditions are as stated.
  • Telepresence robot for “visiting” friends and relatives.
  • Remote gardening robot. So you can grow your food in one place even when living a nomadic life. The robot for this would look like a portal robot, driving above a row of plants.
  • Weeding robot. Would use deep learning based image classifiers to identify weeds.
  • Irrigation robot for gardening.
  • Robotic parcel delivery in a village. Would be a simple line following robot, with a network of lines on sidewalks in the village.
  • Toolsharing robot for multiple villages. At 7-10 km/h it’s realistic to let the robot move tools on demand in an area of 5 km diameter (6-8 villages). Delivery time would be at most one hour (going to the village 5 km apart, and coming back). It could be a simple line-following robot, with lines on the ground between villages.
  • Pulling a trailer with load.
  • Solar powered autonomous vehicle. This is more like an art project: an autonomous robot that is left to travel alone forever.
  • Firewood collecting robot.
  • Street sweeper robot. Of course autonomous.
  • Street graffitti robot. CNC painting on the street and other large surfaces. ith spray paint cans, chalk or other means.
  • Telepresence robot for the public. Would be put in some interesting location, like an abandoned industrial area, a refugee camp, or a war zone. It would be controlled by anyone on the Internet who is interested in driving it for a time.
  • Animal herding robot.
  • Open source StreetView mapping robot. In contrast to normal StreetView, it would collect 360° pictures in a grid every 5-10 cm. This allows to fluidly visualize moving from anywhere to anywhere (while keeping eye distance from the floor, of course).
  • Soil mapping robot for agriculture.
  • Autonomous mini library. It would drive around in a city by itself and offer books to anyone who wants them.
  • Sutonomous mini sales cart.
  • Snow pattern maker. Some people create huge, nice geometric patterns in snow by walking them. This would be more efficient.
  • Autonomous terrace farming robot. It would probably be tracked for that purpose.
  • Fertilizer robot. In organic gardening that would mean urine and compost.
  • Load carrying robot that follows a person. Using an optical beacon attached to the person.
  • Drink and food server for a restaurant.
  • Self-driving battery power tool carrier and charger.
  • Storage management robot. Carrying pallets or boxes to storage workers, like Amazon does it in their storage areas.
  • Robotic load carrier for mountain villages. It would move slowly but autonomously between villages. For villages in Nepal which are still often only connected by footpaths, this could be an interesting and economical new logistics infrastructure.
  • Vacuum cleaner robot for indoors.
  • Trash collecting robot for cleaning up outdoors.
  • Camera rig robot.
  • Childrens’ toy car. They will love it.
  • Remote surveillance robot for guarding a place. WIth cameras and LED lamps attached.
  • Advertising carrier robot. To be used in pedestrian areas etc..
  • Segway type vehicle. Quite suitable as there are two independently powered wheels normally.

To approach any of these ideas, or your own of course, have a look at some of the more interesting devices people already created out of electric wheelchair parts:

Finally, here are some good technical explanations about how to add remote control to an electric wheelchair: