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Johan Bové

Why I am shaving my head bald on September 26th 2020

I am supporting the fight against childhood cancer!

2 min read

Me before the shave

Childhood cancer strikes more than children alone, it attacks whole families at once. The foundation that helps fight childhood cancer and the families affected needs our help and support.

As Childhood Cancer Advocates, we are united in our desire of health for all children with cancer, but they cannot fight it on their own. We are inspired by our heroes and want to end childhood cancer, because their fight is our fight.

I am part of the St. Baldrick's "Conquer Childhood Cancers" organization because I want to support the critical research they advance all over the World. When you send support to St.Baldrick's, you help more than 377 institutions that treat children in 30 countries.

Seeing a child fight cancer changes you forever. We are endlessly inspired by the strength, resilience and joy these heroes demonstrate. But no child should have to fight it or surrender their lives to it.

I am shaving my head to raise money for childhood research and I am not doing it alone. I am one of 25 participants in an event organised by Jeff, the father of Jacob and Sandra, great-aunt to Mighty Max.

Our team is a diverse group of kids, teenagers, parents, colleagues, family and friends.

We all are having our heads shaved to raise money and awareness for the good cause that is the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

On September, 26th, you will be able to follow live online how we all are getting our heads shaved. During the event there will be families sharing their stories with us.

We want to raise $50.000 this year. Help me to reach this goal.

Visit this URL to learn more: https://bald.johanbove.info

Johan Bové

Twitter Interests page checkboxes are terribly bad implemented

It's almost that they don't really want you to edit your interests

2 min read

See this page if you have a Twitter account and want to control what kind of ads you get served: https://twitter.com/settings/your_twitter_data/twitter_interests

It contained over 300 keywords, some of them I totally did not know why they would be added to my profile, some clearly wrong (Loud Orange Face was in there too) - so I started curating the list. The UX of this page is terrible.

In my case, there are over 300 checkboxes in a long list and there is no way to go through the process of unchecking the boxes easily because on EVERY click a POST request is sent to Twitter, which creates a brief moment where the user needs to wait before they can click on the next checkbox.

So obviously when a lot of people do this at the same time, especially now after watching the Social Dilemma documentary, clearly this page was not designed with that kind of traffic and server load in mind.

Was it done deliberately to discourage people to maintain this list? After 10 clicks or so the server is responding with error 503 ("Service Unavailable" or "over capacity") and none of the changes you make to the list is actually stored. I only noticed this after a reload. Yes, you can happily click further ignoring the error toast notification, but none of your changes will be saved.

This smells like a dark pattern, doesn't it?

Johan Bové

Contact-less cash in the Real World?

How to hand out cash contact-less?

4 min read

Got a SwatchPay watch developed by Swatch and G+D Mobile Security, the other Saturday as a father’s day gift. I activated the payment function today using the Boon Virtual Debet Card I had registered for some months ago. Since WireCard in Germany is filing for bankrupcy there was some confusion and uncertainty.

The nice people at the Düsseldorf @Swatch store had to verify that it would work. It did. Some time later I paid contact-less for lunch with my new watch. Pretty sleek and COVID - safe.

Being able to pay contact-less is pretty great. But people on the street who depend on small change donations are really left out. I simply don’t carry cash and coins anymore with me. My credit-card size wallet also attest for that.

So how could we give small-change using a contact-less cash system? Similar to how in China vagrants use Alibaba Pay QR codes to beg for a small contribution on the street.

How would that work with a system that relies on NFC like SwatchPay? Give everyone who needs it access to NFC readers? What is the cheapest, most battery-efficient, weather-proof, solar-powered NFC reader payment terminal you know of?

It would have to be a system that works offline, but where the collections can be transfered into a system that exchanges for actual cash or exchange for food and clothes or shelter. People who have no identification should also still be able to use this system. The reader would have to taken care of as if it was actual cash.

How can we digitalize small-change donations in Germany where a large part of the population, luckily, still trusts cash in the hand more than electronic payment systems?

So the best solution is that we would reverse the devices. The people on the street all get “SwatchPay - like” watches or a similar thing like a card. They work without a battery, need only to be registered once. Then it would be up to everyone else to use their phones, or a portable NCF payments-capable device, to initialize the donation transaction. There would be an app for that. Just like the existing Boon or SwatchPay apps.

Instead of paying, we would be giving.

How much technology is inside the SwatchPay watches? It’s an NFC tag chip, similar to the ones we all have on our bank and credit cards.

How SwatchPay! Works (source)
Payments are made possible by the NFC chip, which is located on the back of the case. In a ring around the bezel, the watch has an antenna that catches the radiation, connecting the chip with the payment terminal. This is exactly the same technology as your bank card uses. You can activate your watch with your internet banking system. Setting this up costs about ten minutes. SwatchPAY! uses a method they call tokenization, which creates a unique “token” for the device. Simply store your credit or prepaid card on your smartwatch via the app (activation of SwatchPAY! watch in Swatch store) – the app is available for iOS and Android.

More insights in the tokenization can be found in the PDF: SwatchPay case-study by G+D Mobile Security.

Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security is a company based in Munich, Germany

I’m not an engineer or have really investigated fully into the technical side of this, but the logic seems sound. What if we could tokenize everything this way?

And how we would avoid abuse is a whole different level of challenges to look into.

Johan Bové

Open Letter to René Benko by Nicole Lange about Schadowstraße in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf In einem Offenen Brief an Karstadt/Kaufhof-Eigentümer René Benko schreibt die RP-Online Redakteurin Nicole Lange, warum die Einkaufsstraße bald wieder ein Top-Standort sein wird und welche Rolle die Kaufhäuser dabei spielen können.

5 min read

Von Nicole Lange

Sehr geehrter Herr Benko,

kürzlich habe ich mir Schuhe gekauft; im Karstadt an der Schadowstraße. (Es sind übrigens bequeme Sandalen, trotzdem ein bisschen schick.) Die Stimmung bei diesem Einkauf war gedrückt, denn tags zuvor war bekannt geworden, dass beide großen Kaufhäuser an der Straße schließen sollen, der benachbarte Kaufhof also gleich mit. Mehrere hundert Arbeitsplätze hängen an dieser Entscheidung, von Menschen, die teils seit Jahrzehnten dort arbeiten. Gleich neben mir unterhielt sich eine Kundin mit einer Verkäuferin, die noch unter Schock stand wie auch viele ihrer Kollegen. „Die Leute weinen die ganze Zeit“, hat sie zu der Kundin gesagt. Ich will Ihnen das nicht verschweigen, aber es geht mir auch nicht darum, auf die Tränendrüse zu drücken. Denn es gibt auch gute sachliche Argumente, warum die Schließung beider Häuser ein Fehler wäre.

Baustellen-Ende an der Schadowstraße Die Kundenfrequenzen und Umsätze beider Kaufhäuser sind seit Jahren stark beeinflusst durch die Dauerbaustelle(n) an der Schadowstraße – aber das Ende dieser Zeit naht in großen Schritten. Blicken wir zurück: Anfang 2008, vor mehr als zwölf Jahren, haben die Bauarbeiten für die Wehrhahn-Linie begonnen. Schnell wurde die Straße „ein Ort, an dem die Abrissbirnen kreisen und wo es schrecklich aussieht“, so damals der Einzelhandelsverband. Bis 2010 fiel die Schadowstraße aus den Top 10 der deutschen Einkaufsstraßen auf Rang 22. Aktuell liegt sie auf Rang 17, noch hinter der Flinger Straße. Dass es in diesen Jahren schwer war für die Kaufhäuser: Wen wundert’s?

Für den Weg zurück unter die Top-Einkaufslagen gibt es aber einen klaren Zeitplan. Seit Februar 2016 fährt die Wehrhahn-Linie, die oberirdischen Straßenbahnen sind verschwunden. Bislang kann der gewonnene Platz zwar nicht zum Flanieren genutzt werden: Wenn aber die Arbeiten für den Kö-Bogen II beendet sind, wird die Straße mit neuer Oberflächengestaltung erstrahlen (ein guter Teil ist 2021 fertig, der Rest voraussichtlich bis 2023). Das vieldiskutierte Konzept sieht einen geteilten Straßenraum vor, mit breiten Flanierzonen für Passanten, gelben Lounge-Sesseln und einem großzügigen Radweg. Über letzteren kann man freilich streiten – aber dass das Gesamtkonzept ein Erfolg wird, bezweifelt kaum jemand. Und ein Kaufhaus an einer generalüberholten Einkaufsmeile scheint keine schlechte Sache zu sein. (Und dann ist da noch das geplante Wasserspiel gleich vor Karstadt...)

Kö-Bogen II wird mehr Leute anziehen Wo wir beim Thema Baustelle sind: Bei den Baggern und Bauzäunen geht es ja nicht mehr nur um die Verkehrserschließung, sondern um ein großes städtebauliches Projekt inklusive Einkaufszentrum. Die Mieter des quasi fertigen Kö-Bogen II sind trotz des Namens nicht an der Edelmeile orientiert, sondern klassische Marken für die eher „konsumige“ Schadowstraße: TK Maxx, H&M, Mango, ein dm-Markt. Das Center wird auch Gastronomie beherbergen und die Laufwege von der östlichen Kö komplett neu prägen, glauben Handelsexperten. Die Straße bekommt also einen festen Anker im Westen – ein weiterer im Osten wäre ein Gewinn für die gesamte Straße, mit breitem Sortiment und Tradition. Eine B-Lage, so hat es ja schon Oberbürgermeister Thomas Geisel gesagt, ist das fürwahr nicht.

Die Qualität der Immobilie Vielleicht reden wir an dieser Stelle einmal nur über den Karstadt – denn für dessen Zukunft hege ich wie viele andere die deutlich größeren Hoffnungen; und wir wollen ja komplett ehrlich miteinander sein. Experten haben seit Jahren darüber spekuliert, dass der Kaufhof am Wehrhahn vermutlich schnell einer neuen Nutzung zugeführt würde, wenn beide Häuser zum gleichen Unternehmen gehören. Pläne für einen Neubau haben Sie ja offenbar schon; und die Lage eignet sich tatsächlich für einen Bürobau bestens.

Nebenan sind Sie dagegen Mieter einer Immobilie, die mit ihrer edlen Fassade ein erhaltenswertes Schmuckstück ist; übrigens auch der letzte Warenhausneubau des Architekten Philipp Schaefer, über Jahrzehnte der Chef-Planer für die Kaufhäuser von Karstadt. Zuletzt wurde dort einiges investiert, beispielsweise in die neuen Rolltreppen. Untermieter gibt es im Untergeschoss auch – ein Konzept, das sich weiter ausrollen lässt, um das teils angestaubte Warenhaus-Konzept weiter aufzufrischen.

Dass Kaufhäuser an sich noch eine Zukunft haben, glauben Sie ja selbst – sonst würden Sie kein KaDeWe für die Düsseldorfer vorbereiten, und den Kaufhof an der Kö haben Sie bei unserem Ständehaus-Treff als „mega-erfolgreich“ bezeichnet. Die Schadowstraße der Zukunft wird definitiv Platz für ein weiteres mega-erfolgreiches Haus haben. Ich würde auch zusagen, die nächsten Sandalen wieder dort zu kaufen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Nicole Lange

Johan Bové

Gimme A Token "client mismatch" in Known

Figuring out why Gimme A Token is not working for my Known instance

2 min read

Trying to obtain an Access Token for IndiePub with IndieAuth to be used in IFTTT requests so I can link other Web Services with my site.

I was able before to get a token using https://gimme-a-token.5eb.nl/, and the integration with Pocket, Deezer and others worked, but I revoked all access tokens and today it no longer works to create a new token on my Known instance running version 1.2.2.

This post is about trying to solve this issue.

Got the endpoints of my server using:
https://indieweb-endpoints.cc/search?url=https%3A%2F%2Fsocial.johanbove.info

After entering all the fields in "Gimme A Token" and going through the process to get the access token, I end up on https://social.johanbove.info/indieauth/token with the message "Client mismatch". And I'm not sure where to go next.

What is causing this "client mismatch"? Did Known get safer or is "gimme-a-token" broken?

Going to reach out to Seb and Marcus in the next days.

Found that Greg had a similar issue with Monocle some months ago: https://gist.github.com/jgmac1106/3d4df34f99f9a2bd34d47262f26bf508

Update 2020-06-29 19:00

So I can rule out that "Gimme-A-Token" is broken.

Thanks to the greate people on the IRC channel (thanks Aaron, Greg and sknebel) I have a pointer towards htaccess and http/https redirecting. Looking into that now.

Update 2020-06-29 23:20

It seems that for a correct IndieAuth authentication, I had to add a hard-coded "me" url in the head of the Known head.tpl.php file so the Known homepage would always have this link:

<!-- Hardcoded me url -->
<link href="https://social.johanbove.info" rel="me" class="u-url">

This resolved the https://monocle.p3k.io site error message and I can log in in one flow without having to retry.

But unfortunately I'm still getting "Client mismatch" errors with "Gimme a token" most of the time. I did manage to get once an actual token which I can now use again for IFTTT PESOS syndication.

Johan Bové

Note: Making Beaker OS a reality

Gathering ideas and basic requirements

1 min read

Actually: Beaker OS would be very similar to Google's Chrome OS which installs on many laptops. What would be necessary to make Beaker OS "bootable" ?

A list of basic applications any computer should have

  • Editor: check: basic text editor and coding IDE (similar to VScode)
  • Browser: check; similar to Chromium, without the extensions. Also issues with accessibility and internationalization.
  • Application platform: check
  • Address book: how would we integrate non-beaker profiles in the address book?
  • Calendar: CalDav, web client
  • Message client (email): web client
  • File Manager: check, but issues with syncing with OS FUSE and Hyperdrive
  • Terminal: check, and extensible with "Web Term Commands"
  • Media player: some examples: Winamp player, video player?
  • Photo Management: creating a photo gallery is easy. Web client?
  • Chat client: IRCCloud, web clients
  • "Office-like" applications: spreadsheet, editor, presentations: offline working spreadsheet?
  • Games: many web games already out there. Some multi-player using Beaker api?
  • Remote Desktop Client: not sure how this would work.

Johan Bové

First reaction to Zoom buying Keybase

1 min read

At first, the Keybase acquisition by Zoom comes as a shock to me and I actually immediately thought of deleting my account. But I have invested quite some time and effort in the account and the platform. I use it as my main encryption and signing tool and I've got a decent network and some Stellar Lumens in my account which I'm not sure where to transfer to at the moment. I get it how the people behind , who are actually really cool, want to finish their "incredible journey" with some honestly hard-earned money; and on top of all the current features Keybase offers, video chat makes a lot of sense if they want to compete with MS Teams and Slack. But the whole thing still feels like a sell-out and it is totally unclear what will happen to the current user base. Is Zoom going to charge us for our accounts now? It would have been cooler if Keybase has aquired Zoom instead. Worried about the future of Keybase, so I will be looking for an alternative tool in the next days. Not going to delete my account, just yet.

Johan Bové

Online auctions as a spectator sport

1 min read

Discovered an exciting new online spectator-sport: following Ebay auctions for rare(ish), yet popular devices.

The last auction I followed for a Sony MZ-RH1 player was a real nail-biter. Within the duration of the final 60 seconds four bidders competed with each other, with the bid going up from €188 to €289.

The winning bid went to someone who made a bid only 4 times for this item and only followed a single auction in the last period. They won against someone who, looking at their bidding history, is going through some effort finding the rare gem.

ps. I am not going to make this a regular report - just thought this last auction was particular and I was personally glad the winning bid was just a little bit more than what I offered for a similar device just last week.

Johan Bové

I dream of a Digital World without passwords

1 min read

In a perfect World I would be able to access all my digital assets without having to enter a password or even authenticate manually.

One of the best parts of is the fact I only need a secret key file to access my content. The file is literally my access key to all my own SSB stuff.

No need to remember any crazy character combination or even having to register for an email account. I have an SSB and a secret and that’s all that should be necessary.

Having said that, being able to restore my account on with the “recovery phrase” does make sense since mobile operating system have terrible file access management.

Thank you dear community to make this dream become a little more reality.

ps. Since I can authenticate to my PC with my own face (Windows Hello), I really do not need to enter login and password to jump right into Patchwork.

Johan Bové

Webcams are in high demand these days

1 min read

The fact that you can buy a used webcam today faster than new is astounding. A Microsoft Lifecam Cinema, which would sell new before the corona crisis for about €50, was sold today as a good second hand condition on Ebay for €81 (+ shipping cost).

If you happen to own an unused webcam in your drawers, then now is the time to sell and you could even make a profit.

Ebay Auction for a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema

Price range for a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema

Microsoft LifeCam 3000 outrageously over-priced.

Some shops are not shy in offering this camera for an insanely high price! Don't get fooled.

Price range for Microsoft Lifecam 3000Outrageous prices for a €25 euro webcam