8 years of wearing Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 8 (GPS + Cellular, 45mm)

Exactly 8 years ago I started wearing an Apple Watch, the original series. At that time, Apple was offering an aluminium sports watch, the “regular” watch made from stainless steel, and an outrageously expensive gold watch. Apple did not yet know what to do with the watch and they eventually pivoted to health and fitness, which happened to be exactly my use case from day one.

I wanted to close my rings every single day of the week, and I have now been doing this for 8 years. As you can see, I completed 2900 days with reaching my move goal, out of 2920 days. My longest move streak has been more than a thousand days until I missed one day by a few calories.

A few years ago, Apple Watch alerted me of a health condition that turned out to be a severe sepsis, a potentially life-threatening situation. Three doctors made the right decisions within just two hours. I had surgery the next day and I walked out of the hospital three days later.

In the years since Apple Watch has received an ECG monitor, fall detection, crash detection, irregular heart rhythm detection. The display has gotten a lot better, it has been always on for more than three years, its battery life has gotten much better, and it charges faster, so that you can wear it 23.5 hours a day and track your sleep. The long-term health data makes it so valuable for me. When my resting heart rate goes up, I know something is wrong.

With Apple Pay I can pay for almost everything just by holding it to a payment terminal, I can take a call without even carrying my iPhone and can dispatch iMessages just by talking to it. When I leave the house, I continue to listen to a podcast through my AirPods, and all this tight integration makes the watch indispensable to me.

That’s all nice and good. But what makes me wear this thing every single day is that it watches over me.

I may not even be here without it.

On to the next 100 days to complete the 3000 days of closing my rings. #dontbreakthechain

You don’t own your data on Mastodon

As I have learned last week, you don’t really own your data on Mastodon. It can just disappear overnight. And even if you made a daily backup, that would be incomplete, and you cannot import all of it.

The main reason for this deficiency is identity. My identity changed a couple of times from @vowe@mastodon.social to @vowe@chaos.social to @vowe@home.social to @vowe@social.heise.de. Many people will never change their identity, but when they do they leave something behind.

Everything you post, contains the name of your server (in Fediverse parlance: instance). Example: https://social.heise.de/@vowe/109763782893905881 If that server goes out of business, all links to this post will 404. You can backup the post, but you don’t own the URL. Should the server just disappear or ban you, it’s gone.

Some of your data is portable when you move to a different server. You can see those CSV files: Follows, Lists, Blocks, Mutes, Domain Blocks and Bookmarks. If you back them up in time, you will be able to upload them to a new home.

Since identity is tied to a server, it needs to be updated when you move from one server to another. Mastodon does that for you. You can tell the two servers to move your followers. This looks like magic. Your old accounts get marked as moved and then your followers will change their follow list, completely automatic.

This magic is also dangerous, because it alters data en masse, data that you do not own. Example: I blocked one instance, as per my export. When you do this, your server tells the other server to remove you from the follow list of all people on the other server. There is no undo.

As I have shown you last week, it is quite easy to strike an instance because you select this nuclear option on an innocent looking menu on a single person entry. Once you do this, you will lose a part of your data with no backup.

You learn from your mistakes. I have learned my data is not safe in Mastodon. Last week I lost around 900 followers on mastodon.social which is the largest instance on Mastodon. I have exactly one blocked person on this server:

I cannot really remember why I blocked this account, but the handle suggests it was one of the spammers that have plagued this server. I don’t really understand why I have been removed from all my followers on mastodon.social, but a few of them have found I was missing and re-followed me although I am currently taking a break from Mastodon.

You can architect identity in a different way. did:plc:k5ybhnnyl4zwq7ey3q3fogzt is my identity in atproto, the protocol that drives Bluesky and soon many other services. I use my domain @vowe.net to resolve to this identity. That is my name within Bluesky. I can change my name but it will still resolve to this identity.

Great video on the Kindle Scribe

This video gives you a deeper dive into the Kindle Scribe. What it does not mention is how the larger screen lets you comfortably read PDF files and the fact that you can in fact draw and write on them.

If that is not your cup of tea and you just want a premium reading experience when reading books you bought on Amazon, I still recommend the Kindle Oasis and as a budget option the regular Kindle. Many years ago I bought the second-generation Kindle because English language books were so much cheaper, and it paid for itself in months.

MSN feed to be gone

Microsoft has announced that an update later this year will enable the ability to disable the MSN feed in the widgets board on Windows 11, offering different layouts including one that’s “widgets only”.

Ever since Microsoft introduced the widgets in Windows 11, they have shot themselves in the foot with their horrible, curated newsfeed from MSN. The only way to get rid of it is to disable widgets completely.

My feeling is that Microsoft should axe MSN completely and forever. Just shut the whole thing down. It’s not only polluting Windows but Edge as well.

This is a camera

After crashing one iPhone I am now using Apple’s Clear Case

I find it quite amusing how Techtuber chat up the latest and greatest camera models. To folding revenues of camera manufacturers. Yes, it is not a coincidence that they all come out with their reviews at the same time.

Don’t fear missing out. Camera wars are over and the smartphone won. If you spend 400 Eur and up on a smartphone, you are good. There are measurebators who will tell you that this camera is better than that camera, but I am pretty sure that your quality as a photographer makes a bigger difference.

Don’t love cameras. Love photos.

UX disaster in Mastodon: an innocent weapon of mass destruction

Only one of these is irreversible.

No, I did not block my friend Andreas. I (presumably) did something much worse.

During the night from May 23rd to 24th, around 900 followers disappeared from my Mastodon profile. Did I say something that upset 900 people in one night? Unlikely. My assumption was that I was blocked by an instance or that we had been de-federated. The second option was unlikely since the follower count on @heiseonline@social.heise.de had not dropped. It was only me.

I turned to an analysis tool at and quickly found out my connection to mastodon.social was severed. The 900 followers from the largest Mastodon instance were missing. Every single connection was missing.

It took me a while to notice that there were no posts from mastodon.social coming in. My assumption was that I had been banned from this instance and that was surely going to be an honest mistake.

A message from Eugen Rochko, developer of Mastodon and admin of the largest Mastodon instance explained that this did not happen on his server but originated from social.heise.de. The only logical conclusion was that I had blocked the mastodon.social domain.

And this led me to the discovery of the Mastodon weapon of mass destruction. If you go to any profile on a remote server, open the context menu, every single option in that menu is reversible. You can mute and unmute, block and unblock the user, you can report him to his instance admin. And then, if you scroll one more entry down to block domain, you drop the bomb. Two things happen:

  • You drop every single person from that instance from your followers, with no way to recover.
  • Your instance sends a remove request to the other server. That server goes through its database and drops you from the follow list of all your followers on that instance. No recovery option.

Boom. All gone. No more social connections. Irreversibly gone forever.

Works as designed. And the design is broken. I have never seen anything like this before. Not in 40 years of working in IT. It is a f’up on the level of putting “securely wipe this disk” next to “put this file into trash”.

PS: In deutscher Sprache ist die Bombe noch besser versteckt. Verstecken?

New Firmware for Kindle Scribe

Version 5.16.2 – May 2023

Here’s what’s new:

PDF Reading Improvements: For PDFs uploaded through Send to Kindle, switch between portrait and landscape mode, crop margins, and select text to make highlights with your finger or pen, add text notes, or look up dictionary definitions, translations, and Wikipedia results.

Lasso Select: In the writing toolbar, choose the Lasso Select tool to move, resize, cut, or copy your handwritten strokes. The Clipboard tool saves any copied or cut strokes; when selected, paste on the same page or across different notebooks or books.

Convert to text in Export: In the Share menu of a notebook, choose ”Convert to text and email“ to preview and edit the converted text of your handwritten notebook. Choose “Convert to text and quick send to [your registered email address]” to skip preview.

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