How to do “prepping” in a city like Vienna

As Covid-19 reaches pandemic status and hysteria is in full swing I just reminded myself I wanted to write a quick guide how to survive a month in your flat in a city like Vienna if you can't buy anything. As a healty, slightly overweight couple.

1. You need water.

Most likely the authorities will try everything to keep water on, because if the water is off that would be catastrophic pretty quickly. But for the same reason it is also the most important to secure.

You don't want to shower. You don't want to do heavy excercise. You just want to stay in your flat and not go out for a month. So you need maybe 3L per day per person + 2L for cooking.
So for two people you need 240L. That's 0,24m³ and quite heavy: 240kg approximately.
But you get 3x30L plastic containers for 34 Euro on Amazon: https://www.amazon.de/Kanister-Deckel-Zapfhahn-Ausgie%C3%9Fer-Trinkwasser/dp/B01786V4AS/ref=cts_sp_2_vtp
So that's like 100 Euro for the water storage. Test the containers before usage and make sure they are not leaky.
Fill them up with Austrian safe tap water and add some conservation additive. https://www.amazon.de/Katadyn-Micropur-Classic-1000F-100ml/dp/B000S0I9AU Don't put the 240kg all in the same place. Spread the weight of the containers out over the flat.

2. You need food.

You are in a city and if there is no supply in the super market you quickly run out of options. You need about 2000kcal per day per person. That's 60.000kcal in a month per person.
Cheapest is to buy spaghetti. Spaghetti has 3540kcal per kg and costs 0.8 Euro per kilo https://www.cleverleben.at/produkte/1961/spaghetti
So you need 17kg of spaghetti to survive a month for 13.30 Euro. In the likely event that you don't need it then just throw it away after 3 years or eat the spaghetti before it expires.
That is all mostly cabohydrates and no protein or fat. So ideally you would also have a bit of protein and vitamins. But you will survive.
If you are slightly overweight/obese (read "fat") but otherwise healthy you can easily survive on 1000kcal per day for a month. So you can both share the 17kg of spaghetti with your significant other. In any case food is probably the cheapest of everything on this list.

If you eat Soylent/Mana/Jake/... ( https://drink-mana.com/ ) that is much more expensive, but you have it easiest because you probably already have a month's supply of instant-food with all you need at home. And you don't need electrical power or a gas cooker ( https://www.amazon.de/Campingkocher-Gaskocher-Koffer-inclusive-Gaskartuschen/dp/B00MR34RCA/ ) to cook the spaghetti al dente.

3. You need communication.

You likely already have a mobile phone. And an FM broadcast radio receiver.

If you are paranoid also get a small ham radio https://www.amazon.de/BAOFENG-GT-3TP-Dualband-Handfunkger%C3%A4t-Headset/dp/B00R7OB7T0. 41 Euro. Strictly speaking you also need a license to use it ( https://www.oevsv.at/amateurfunk/wie-werde-ich-funkamateur/ ) and you need to know how to use it and to programm the local repeater. So that's not exactly trivial.

And you maybe want to buy a small solar cell.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33002940234.html (65 Euro, need to sign up on Aliexpress to view item)
Test that it can charge your mobile phone and your ham radio and that you have the proper adapers and cables.

4. You need a gun.

Get a gun license for self defense. That costs approximately 450 Euro.
Plus followup costs for renewal every ~ five years.

Affordable pistol and amunition probably 1000 Euro.

And basic gun storage 150 Euro.

5. You need a resilient medium of exchange. (optional)

Consider a gold bar. There are affordable ones where you can break out 1/10 ounce pieces to swap with your neighbors https://philoro.at/shop/goldbarren/gold-combibar-1-oz-philoro
And consider buying some fraction of a Bitcoin to still be able to send and receive "money" from around the world, even if banks are closed, as long as you have some internet access. E.g. buy with https://www.bitpanda.com/ and store on https://shop.ledger.com/products/ledger-nano-x (120EUR) wich connects to your mobile phone if needed.

Disclaimer

I wrote this whole guide in an hour with very little research and as always I give no warranties whatsoever. Be reasonable. Don't do stupid things. If you are old, have kids or have medical problems you need to prep differently.

    What made me uninstall a game I use for stress relief out of frustration

    It's a common banter in online games to chat something like "you're so bad - uninstall the game". Recently something happened to me that made me actually uninstall a game.

    I don't play computer games much anymore (reasons in separate blogpost), but it is still an itch that I get every year or so.
    So recently I installed an old favorite of mine: Rainbow 6 Siege. I had to relearn new player characters, that got introduced into the game. I had to learn new maps that got added or redesigned. And I had to adapt to changed weapon characteristics and game mechanics etc. etc.

    While I just reinstalled the game to relief some stress and out of curiosity I am a very competitive guy. In other words: I don't like to lose and I like to give it my all for some time. And it's a game where 1 team of 5 players plays against 5 other human players. And half of the players is always gonna lose. So by the very nature it is a competitive game. Blink and you lose. Keep that concentration for hours. So because I am a competitive guy from the get go I try my best to be in the winning team.

    The problem is that if you're like me and you have a life and you don't play regularly you don't really get 4 other friends to play with you and get really, really competitive for some time until you lose interest again. So you play solo-queue. That means you play with 4 strangers against 5 other strangers.

    But here comes the frustration: Europe. If you play from Europe, you get put into a game with other European gamers, because Rainbow 6, like other games of its kind is kind of also a reflex game, and it turns out speed of light matters and so you get put into a game with people close to you.

    But Europe is so multicultural, you can't really communicate with other random players online. If I play online, I might play with 2 people from Bulgaria/Russia, one guy from the Netherlands and one Italian guy/girl. I am not expecting every European to speak German, but a surprisingly low percentage of European players seem to speak English.
    The Russians: no chance. Maybe they understand: yes / no. Not very useful in a competitive game where everyone preferably should be using headsets and microphones and talk and communicate the whole game duration with their teammates. Even if I could speak Russian, that wouldn't help my Italian team mate.
    Italians: You have better luck finding Italian gamers who speak German, than English.
    The French don't speak English, because some wrong sense of pride. So they might understand a bit of English but they prefer not to speak it.

    At this point you need to know that the game tries to estimate your playing skill and tries to put you into a game with similarly skilled opponents and team mates to keep you challenged but not overwhelmed. It does so by keeping track of how many games you lose or win.

    But now you participate with a team made of random people who get annoyed by each other because they can't understand each other. You got people just randomly leaving the match. Leaving you with an uphill battle of 3 people in your team vs 5 other people. You have people that get so annoyed, bored, funny spirited, or incompetent they start killing their own team. It's a shitshow.

    I won slightly more than half of my placement matches (the first 10 games) due to random luck on how many of my teammates or the opponents quit half way during the match. You are supposed to get penalized for leaving the game and of course you will not rank up but some people don't care. And of course I am also not the best player not playing regularly. So the game determines I am "low silver" rank (that is in the lower-middle skill level).
    I am hoping I can win enough matches so the game will think I am a better player and put me into games with good players (which are more likely to speak English or just randomly kill each other or leave the game) but it's not happening. I randomly win or lose half of the games I play in because I am not that good that I can win the game on my own. And sometimes I win games undeservingly where I didn't contribute much. All in all instead of getting better I derank slightly to "high broze".

    I learned the hard way that you have to be very selective at what time of day you play. If you play too early in the day you get put into a team of teenagers that just love to make Nazi jokes instead of giving useful information, or timezone wise you get into Russia. If you play too late you get into a game where nobody says anything any more because they don't want to wake their spouse or sleeping kids. And you wonder why you are not getting information any more.

    What really was the tipping point for me when I actually played one of my best games ever. I was getting points left and right. Insane plays. Like I make up 95% of my teams effort. But three French players were just purposely dying. Purposely blinding the only two players still making an effort, barricading me into a room. And shooting me. And when the game started automatically punishing them for it they started shooting around me, so I could not hear anything any more (sound is critical in the game). When they could have easily won our team the round they just left the computer for a minute. All of that is called "griefing". I was wise enough neither to engage with them or give them any reason to do stupid stuff. But apparently they knew each other and were drunk or something.

    When the next game was similar, I just gave up in frustration. I had seen the new content. The curiosity was satisfied. I don't have the time, or the patience to suffer ("grind") through the ranks doing something that I don't enjoy. I uninstalled the game.

      Mysterious Email problem

      I just had a wierd problem with people/friends/clients (let's just call them clients):

      Client #1 has Google suite for emails with multiple native domains. But mostly only one domain is used for email.

      Client #2 has a personal Gmail account. He also has his business email (with a non-gmail domain) as a receive and sender email added to his personal GMAIL.
      For his business email he uses the native SMTP server of the business domain's webhost to send.

      Client #1 has not noticed any problems with emails whatsoever. Same with Client #2 - he regularly sends and receives email on both his personal and his business email without issue.

      However yesterday Client #2 sent an invoice to #1 from his business address. The email never arrived.
      No delivery failure notification was received. It just failed silently. No the email is not in #1' junk/ads/spam.

      If #2 sends #1 an email from his personal address from the same Gmail dashboard it arrives without issue.

      If #2 puts additional to #1 in to TO another receiver into BCC or CC they get the email, just not #1.

      If #1 sends an email to #2' personal address it works.

      The first really valueable error message is: if #1 sends #2' business address an email they get a "failed delivery" response that reads:

      Die Adresse wurde nicht gefunden
      Ihre Nachricht wurde nicht an #2 zugestellt, weil die Adresse nicht gefunden wurde oder keine E-Mails empfangen kann.
      Die Antwort vom Remoteserver ist:
      -- 550 Verification failed for #1 Unrouteable address Sender verify failed

      I am not sure yet who is at fault. No obvious email DNS errors. But it's quite interresting. To be continued.

      Update 2020-01-20 to 2020-01-27:

      So I have solved this now. Both #1 and #2 use the same webhost. My fault was not turning off the email server for #1. When #2 got the email from #1 it was looking it up on the webhosters' email server instead of going through DNS, and when it didn't find the sender address there, #2 denied receiving #1' email.
      In the other direction #1 never got emails from #2 because again the sender didn't go through #1' DNS but trying to deliver to the unused webhosts' email server.

      What is the moral of the story? Always test from webhoster server to webhoster server, and from gmail to gmail, and from and to a different third party. You never want local delivery to mask an error with DNS. And you never want a correct DNS mask an error with the local configuration.

        Sony WI-1000X USB connector

        My experience with the Sony WI-1000X

        In October 2018 I bought the Sony WI-1000X wireless headphones for 206 Euro with shipping.

        I had learned from my mistakes with the Bose QC25. Namely that the cable was akward boarding planes and while dressing up. That the on-ear QC25 were uncomfortable while sleeping in a plane seat. And that the post-sales Bose customer support "had room for improvement".

        So I was looking for something new. The Sony noise cancellation was supposed to be top notch and my eye fell on the WI-1000X. When I bought it, it was one of the very few headsets that supported high quality LDAC Bluetooth codec.

        When I got it, it was amazing. The sound quality was impecable for anything I had heard in this price range. Not quite as good as the bulky, non-insulating HD650 monitors, but close. If you want to see a good summary of the sound quality and noice cancelling performance check out https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/sony/wi-1000x-wireless
        I don't fly as often as I used to, but if you have worked with me in the last few years you probably noticed that I alwas have a pair of headphones hanging over my neck.

        Do they have room for improvement? 1.5 years later I am still not aware of any better headphones for this use case (read as: I recommend them). They sound a class better than the 1MORE triple driver Bluetooth headphones.
        I would have preferred a flexible silicon strap on the back instead a rigid bar, so they break less easily. And maybe faster charging. Because of Bluetooth limitations I can not connect the WI-1000X to the laptop and to the phone at the same time. And because it is time consuming to switch I usually have one pair of headphones permanently connected to the laptop and a second one permanently connected to the phone. It's ridiculous, but that's the state of the art in wireless Bluetooth right now. Windows sound output over Blueooth has its own quirks (I am using an Intel AX200) that are beyond the scope of this blogpost.

        The WI-1000X also support wired line-in input. This is great for using it with Subpac. https://twitter.com/MarkusKrainz/status/1143061740755857408
        How do they to this? Via a prorietary, passive USB-micro to 3.5mm adapter cable. The microUSB end goes into the headphones. Apparently companies have been doing this even before Type C ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB-C#Audio_Adapter_Accessory_Mode_2 )
        I almost lost this cable once early 2019 and Sony quoted me 70 Euro for this 1m passive cable replacement (https://at.eetgroup.com/i/191219061-Sony-CABLE-WITH-PLUG-BLK1, Dedicated headphone cable (approx. 1.0 m (39 3/8 in.)))

        Cable Pinout

        I am documenting this quirky cable's pinout now, so you don't have to spend 70 Euro if you lose yours.

        So that's

        3.5mm micro USB
        Sleeve GND
        Ring D+
        Tip D-

        The Vbus (Vcc/Vdd) pin is floating (not connected). I don't think you need any resistors. For the record I have measured 287kΩ between GND and the microUSB's OTG/ID pin, but I don't think that's intentional.

          II. Why I didn’t invest in Bitcoin earlier and why the concerns that I had back then are not an issue any more

          This is the second part of two blogposts about Bitcoin (short: BTC).
          In the first blogpost we looked at what Bitcoin can do and why that makes it valueable.

          1. Past BTC performance.

          If you invested in Bitcoin at any point until until September 2017 you have done spectacularly, phenominally well.

          So spectacularly well you have to plot the chart on a logarithmic scale:


          (BTC historical performance - Open image in new tab to maginfy)

          You could have bought or sold one Bitcoin in January 2011 at around 0.3 USD,
          in January 2012 at around 6 USD.
          January 2013 at around 14 USD
          January 2014 at around 450 USD
          January 2015 at around 300 USD
          January 2016 at around 600 USD
          January 2017 at around 900 USD
          January 2018 at around 15000 USD
          January 2019 at around 3300 USD
          and currently at around 7400 USD.

          And with yearly candles:

          (Bitcoin price chart. source: BLX)

          Those are absolutely insanely high returns.

          As you can see the Bitcoin price hasn't went straigt up. Actually the Bitcoin USD exchange rate regularly changes by 30% in a single month.


          Source: https://cryptoslate.com/november-on-average-the-best-performing-month-for-bitcoin-january-poorest/

          Those price differences are called volatility (the measure of how much the price changes in a given time). Volatility is undesireable to an investor, because it can cause drawdowns (decline in % if you invested at a local high). However also the price going up is volatility. Ideally an investment would just monotonically go up in price, having just "good" volatility from price increases - but that does not exist, an open market price always oscillates. ;-).
          Even if accounting for the fact that the Bitcoin price is very volatile with the so called sharpe ratio, which punishes volatile assets, Bitcoin is still by far the best performing asset between stocks, bonds, gold, oil http://charts.woobull.com/bitcoin-risk-adjusted-return/ when held for a 4 year period at any point over its 10 year existance.

          No wonder retail investors with no idea what makes Bitcoin valueable (read my first Blogpost), fell for scaming schemes the last years. Scam copy-cats like "Onecoin" and "Bitconnect", which were pozi scemes without any actual crypto-blockchain behind it. If the real thing is giving you 1000% returns in a year why wouldn't the "Bitconnect" scam?

          But past performance alone is not indicative of future results. For all we know, Bitcoin could be hugely overpriced and overbought after it's astronomical price rise the last ten years. We have to dig deeper!

          2. My story

          I can't remember exactly when I first heard about Bitcoin. But I participated in the Bitcoin network by providing a server with my computing power to it. And I mined 1 Bitcoin (BTC) on my home computer in 2013 on an AMD graphics card.

          Back then it was still possible to just earn a Bitcoin economically on your computer. Nowadays almost all Bitcoin servers use highly efficient specialized mining computers to be able to provide the most computing power to the network for a low power bill, and therefore get more "mining reward" to help people transact securely.

          But I never bought any Bitcoin with my EUR savings! I seriously considered it when Bitcoin price fell below USD 500 in 2015 after peaking at USD 1000 and I thought it was cheap. I never did, because I was too cautious!

          Specifically I was worrying about:

          • (a) What if a better crypto coin overtakes BTC just as Facebook overtook Myspace/Studivz?
          • (b) What if BTC is outlawed or trade with BTC forbidden?
          • (c) What if the exchanges go under and trust in BTC is permanently shattered?

          So I never bought more Bitcoin while some friends earned hundres of thousands of EUR being invested into BTC. But that's ok, hindsight is always 20:20 and it could have gone the the other way.

          I kind of payed low attention to Bitcoin the following years, being busy with life and startup. I briefly thought about Bitcoin when the price peaked at about USD 20k in December 2017 making headlines. I remember at the time talking with my friend Erik Bovee on Facebook about selling some (because during the mania with the price peak, the game company Valve stopped accepting it as a payment for their game store Steam because the bitcoin network of servers was so slow confirming transactions and the BTC price so volatile, making it completely unacceptable as a currency). But I didn't really have much to sell anyway.

          The next time I really thought about Bitcoin was a year ago in December 2018 when I took an Uber taxi and the Uber driver asked me something to the effect of "Bitcoin is going horrible, no chance it recovers, am I right?". That caught my attention because if your taxi driver and hair dresser and dentist (you get the idea) are buying stuff you should likely sell it. If your taxi driver is telling you X will never recover it might be a good time to buy. I confirmed that Bitcoin had just heinously dropped in price from 6000 to around 3000 USD with fears of further drops. Bitcoin had become 83% cheaper than a year ago. In hindsight this was a so called "capitulation" move were many owners of Bitcoin where so frustrated by the drawdown they gave up on it and sold at ridiculous cheap prices.
          So that further peaked my interest about buying. So I researched a lot if it was in fact cheap, or if there were still fundamental open issues about Bitcoin - the result is basically most of what is in the blogpost further below for you!

          And as you will see all fears (a),(b),(c) that I had with Bitcoin in 2015 had been more than addressed. In January 2019 I was conviced. I even started harrassing my close friends and family about buying bitcoin.
          Rarely anybody listened - except my girlfriend. Also my friend Markus R. who had already some exposure, and some others who I am not sure if they are comfortable being named increased their investments. And my parents are are amazing as well.

          3. Issues addressed

          3.A What if a better crypto coin overtakes BTC just as Facebook overtook Myspace/Studivz?

          Is Bitcoin the right horse to bet on, or will I end up with "worthless internet money" when the next better coin eventually comes along?

          Like the Google Chrome Browser Bitcoin is based on open source technology.
          Everybody can take the code from "Google Chrome" web browser (with some exceptions like Google's secret encrypted video playback technology), call it something different like "Franz" browser and try to covince people to use theirs instead of Google's web brower.

          Except it's not that easy. Let's build on what I wrote about what bitcoin is in the first blogpost.

          Bitcoin comprises of

          • the network of 10000+ servers of expensive computers that process, vote on and protect the transactions, and consuming loads of expensive electricity to do so ( it is purposely designed to take effort to run them)
          • the transaction log that all those servers store showing who transacted what and how much bitcoin is owned by which wallet's addresses

          and the whole ecosystem around the coin such as

          • exchanges that match up buyers and sellers for bitcoin for fiat currencies
          • Bitcoin ATMs (cash machines)
          • Bitcoin wallet software used to interact with your wallet
          • other projects using the bitcoin servers to build other services on top
          • all the people owning bitcoin already
          • people that know about bitcoin or are trained in using bitcoin or programming with it

          If you were to copy Google Chrome browser you would have to convince internet users to use your "Franz" browser instead of Googles instead, which is difficult but not impossible.
          But with Bitcoin it's a lot harder. Not only would you have to convince the users, you would also have to convince the existing 10.000+ server operators to switch or get new operators to use your Bitcoin copycat instead. You would have to create new wallets, convince exchanges and ATM operators and all the people who bought and spent money for Bitcoin to use your coin instead. Not gonna happen. Because of network effect.
          See this video: https://youtu.be/p0ftZgCEZos?t=71 in full.
          Even if you were to invent a slightly better Bitcoin, the space of what Bitcoin does is already taken. Imagine you have a slighly better rabbit in an ecosystem. If your better rabbit came much later than the original rabbit species, even if it's better it will compete with a gazillion other already established rabbits for food. Your new better rabbit will fail spectacularly.

          Still people have tried to build a better Bitcoin. And they have done so in various ways.

          Keeping the transaction log (i.e. the "wallet balances")

          In 2017 and 2018 some people created a new kind of Bitcoin called "Bitcoin Cash" and "Bitcoin SV". They both claimed to be the real Bitcoin. They made minimal changes to the code and they kept the transaction log of who owns what.

          Those kinds of copy cats are harmless to a long-term Bitcoin investor. Because the same Bitcoin transaction log is used in the copy cat, you know have both the real Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash copycat wallet balances. Congratulations!

          Still having multiple Bitcoins could have been confusing. And the transaction logs would have diverged over time. But it's good to know that by now it's all but certain that the Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV initiatives (also called "forks") have failed to convince any meaningful number of server operators to join their crypto network instead of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the firm leader and the failure of Bitcoin Cash and Co. will be a deterent to future forks.

          New Coins not keeping the transaction log

          As I said people have tried to build a better Bitcoin, but not keeping the balances and not calling it Bitcoin.

          Those can be differentiated into classes like

          The Distributed Apps (D-Apps, "Smart Contract") coins

          It turns out that the technology that Bitcoin is based on isn't just great as a store of value commodity, but it can also be used to create immutable clould programms. So basically you can use the network of servers to not just send coin transactions but also to do general computation tasks. You pay for the compute usage with the coin. Bitcoin itself doesn't support this D-Apps use-case well.

          By far the most prominent of those crypto coins is Etherium (ETH).
          There are others with their own spin (easier to programm, more efficient) such as
          EOS, NEM, NEO, Cardano. But they suffer from the same fate as coins that want to compete with Bitcoin. Etherium has already established itself, so the new coins while maybe better have a hard time competing.

          New money coins and money services

          Those are coins that want to be like Bitcoin but better suited for direct use as a day to day cash currency. They have various differences compared to Bitcoin like faster transaction processing and/or better anonymity about transactions. Examples are Litecoin, Zcash, Monero, and DASH and (to some degree) Lightning Network.

          Stable coins

          Stable coins do not have a limited number of coins that will be created like Bitcoin. Instead they are I-Owe-You tokens for some stable asset. Read: not the e.g. +/- 10% volatility in a day of e.g. Bitcoin.
          Two examples are Tether and Libra coin.
          Tether is emmited by a company that sells you a Tether for an USD each. And then promises to keep that USD on their account and it will exchange that Tether back to one USD. They print Tether when people are buying them with USD and destroying them as people return them for USD. The problem is that you have to trust this company to actually keep that USD safe and uphold it's promise to exchange it back. On the positive side you now have a crypto coin that is not volatile but approximately tied to the value of a dollar 1:1.
          Facebook's US/Swiss Libra coin wants to be very similar in the future. They want to buy treasury notes and currency of different currencies (currency basket) with the fiat money people spend on their coin to create an international stable coin.

          Other Tokens for service or ownership coins

          Loads of companies have used the popularity of crypto to create more coins. Those coins, like stable coins are tokens redeemable for something (but not currency like with stable coin). Mostly for services. One company would maybe create their own currency to only offer their products in this currency. Then people who wanted their product couldn't just buy it with USD or EUR directly they first had to exchange into this fantasy token. Example 0: One token/coin could represent the right to use 1 Gigabyte of online storage for a month. You could then buy this token on an exchange for a fair market price. When you actually provided cloud space you could gain those tokens. Expample 1: One company would pay you tokens to view adds while surfinging the web, while advertisers can buy those coins to show you the adds. Example 2: Exchanges would sell you their own crypto token, that you could use to pay for trading fees. Effectively getting money up front, and offering you discounts if you payed the trading fees with those tokens.

          Other tokens/coins would represent shares in companies or some other claim on future payouts ("initial coin offering - "ICO").

          This category of ownership and product coins and tokens was by far the most scumy and unnecessary category of coins. Naive retail investors would spend millions on crypto coins, many of which turned out to be worth nothing.

          Don't get me wrong, it does have an advantage that you can trade your reward tokens (e.g. BAT) on an exchange (https://youtu.be/rPq2zxTSWuc?t=517). But is it strictly necessary? No?

          What do all of those coins have in common?

          All of those coins are called Altcoins.

          They had a hard time getting adoption and convincing anybody to create servers for them. Today the most healthy server network besides Bitcoins is Etherium.
          Other coins that have a network that is n OK to secure are e.g. Litecoin, Monero and Zcash.

          Most newer coins try to use technology that tries to reduce the advantage you can get from specialzied computers. Their computer networks run well on commodity computers. Therefore they hope that they can get a secure transaction server network even if it's smaller than Bitcoins, because when it runs best on commodity computers smaller less, concentrated, and therefore less easily attacked networks can still be competitive.

          If they don't use their own network then they are piggibacking off the bigger networks by storing extra data for their coins into Bitcoin's or Etherium's blockchain (Most small tokens for service or ownership coins, Tether).

          Others have created a model where the networks do not vote with their computing power but with a proof of owernership of coins. The thought is that when you can proof that you own a coin you have less incentive to make bad transactions because it would hurt the network and therefore undermine the value of the coins that you already own. This technology is still very immature but small coins are migrating towards it because of despreation. Because their coins are not popular they can not adequately pay their server operators in mining fee for their electricity, so instead they have to adapt this ownership model. Few wealthy people could still potentially attack the system, when the price of the coin is too low, but it is not reasearched enough yet. Cardano is an example. Etherium (which is the strongest network besides Bitcoin) is also moving slowly into direction of Proof of Stake/Ownership.

          Other coins have given up on the core strength on Bitcoin, the resilient distributed nature all together, and instead of running thousands of decentralized servers they only have a few dozzens. Examples are: XRP, Libra, Binance Coin. They try to make up for the fact by securing access to that few remaining servers very heavily. But they are completely incomparable to Bitcoin security wise. Those tokens tend to do better in countries where the population is more brand loyal and doesn't have as much cultural value on decentralization and censorship resistance (Asia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsEnqUvESL0)

          A lot of coins would trade only a tiny fraction of the total supply of coins on an exchange. The rest would be reserved for a few select, or sold by a company to fund the development and promotion of the coin. The small traded fraction, driven up in price by naive retail investors would lead to an inflated market cap of the coin.

          Some other systems do not even attempt to be a coin, but a just services built on top of bitcoin ("2nd layer solutions")

          For example credit cards that would work like regular creadit cards and take the value of your purchases off your bitcoin balance once a month.
          Or other services that facilitate fast purchases and then settle the balance in BTC later (such as "Lightning Network").

          In summary

          In summary no crypto coin has ever come or will likely ever come close to replacing Bitcoin as an electronic commodity with excellent properties to store wealth.

          There are coins that have other use-cases like Etherium, Monero or Lightning Network, that are different enough to be worthy porjects on their own.
          Altcoins are not bad per se, but they still have a lot of proofing to do if they provide value in their specific niche, enough to justify their network requirements.

          Today 2/3s of all investment money into crypto (excluding stable coins) have gone into Bitcoin. Number two is Etherium with just 8.1%.

          3.B What if BTC is outlawed or trade with BTC forbidden?

          My greatest fear has always been that a government says it's now illegal to exchange Bitcoin for fiat money.

          [... to be amended....]

          3.C What if the exchanges go under and trust in BTC is permanently shattered?

          [... to be amended....]

          4. Other fundamental developments

          [... to be amended....]

          5. Summary

          [... to be amended....]

          Followup

          Read in part 3/4(/5?) what

          1. I stipulate about bitcoins price development in the future
          2. how I would invest
          3. and what other potential risks there may arrise in the future that I have ommited for breivity but want to document in an appendix of some sort.

            I. What can Bitcoin do and why does that make it valuable?

            This is the first part of three to five blogposts about Bitcoin. This first one was written mainly on 2019-10-25 and finished between 2019-11-05 and 2019-11-07. The Bitcoin price changes between those days had little to no impact on the content.

            What is Bitcoin

            Bitcoin (short: BTC, or XBT) is an electronic asset.
            It is the world's first "cryptocurrency" and was invented by an anonymous author around 2009 - so it is approximately 10 years old!

            On currency

            Financial assets are approximately divisible into commodities (e.g. cotton, coffee, lithium,..), receivables from debt (e.g. bonds) and equity (e.g. stocks).

            Currency is a medium of exchange to facilitate easier trade.

            Traditionally currency was either made from non-corroding precious metal commodities, or I-owe-you paper for a commodity. An example for such a commodity was gold (short: XAU) because of its desirable properties as currency: its stable, limited supply and demand to make jewelry and therefore stable value, its fungibility (all gold is the same), and its non-spoilability.
            But these days all common currencies are all "fiat" money, meaning they don't represent a claim to anything else. Money has become its own asset class (also called "cash and cash equivalents").

            Bitcoin believers and gold bugs will be quick to remind you that because currencies aren't "backed" by anything - meaning they don't represent any equity, receivable or commodity of value - that makes them worthless.

            "It has value because we think it has value. It is money out of thin air."

            I don't agree. I think traditional currencies such as USD, EUR, YEN or Pound gets its value because you have to accept it by law. In Austria where I live currently you are required to accept payments of debt in EUR by law. And that is a very strong argument for its use. It is the sovereign body's power that gives it value. So it isn't exactly out of thin air.

            But it is true that state controlled currencies can be inflated at will of the central bank. Print 10x the money? No problem! So as an investor you are always at risk holding currency. That's why some very careful investors want to hold commodities such as gold instead. You know - as an insurance if shit hits the fan. You can't create gold or cotton as easily as the central bank can just buy goverment bonds for billions of freshly printed money.

            In fact, even a lot of central banks still hoard gold for emergencies, in case they want to trade with it. Especially if they can't use their own currencies, for example because their own currency is not accepted any more.

            What desirable properties does Bitcoin have as a digital commodity?

            Limited supply

            The very nice thing about BTC is the way it has been designed with a fixed number of coins. There can never be more than 21 Million Bitcoin. Out of those 21 Million Bitcoin only 3 Million Bitcoin are left to be created, and approximately 3 Million are lost. That leaves us with an incredible scarce resource.

            Not just that, the Bitcoin code is programmed in a way that the amount of newly created Bitcoin is halved approximately every 4 years. Think of this as: every 4 years half of the gold mines are permanently destroyed. So in 4 years you only have half the supply in 8 years you only have a fourth, in 12 years you only have an eighth and so on.
            Those halfings are predicable events where the supply drops off abruptly, the next time will be next year.
            Soon 99% of Bitcoin will be mined, with the remaining tiny fraction being spread out until 2140.

            Together with the aforementioned lost BTC (people losing wallets). This leaves us with a de facto deflationary resource.

            No central bank can easilty devalue your wealth, by creating more Bitcoin.

            You can trade it on its own network of servers that has no central point of failure

            Even though BTC is a very scarce, deflationary resource, that you can actively exchange over the internet in very little time (10-20 minutes per transaction), it has no single point of failure.

            This means that there is no single server that you can go to and take over to

            1. block a transaction from happening
            2. revert a transaction
            3. confiscate Bitcoin during a transaction or from a wallet

            Instead the power is spread out over 10.000 (and growing) different servers all over the world that memorize which wallet keeps how many Bitcoins and what was transacted. Those servers vote with their computing power (which needs costly electrical energy and investment into computers) which transactions are legit. Legit meaning that e.g. someone can not spend their Bitcoin twice, once it's transacted away from your wallet it has left your control.

            And while 10-20 minutes to do a transaction seem long, it is all done electronically and you don't have to verify commodity purity manually like if you were trying to transact with e.g. gold.

            Ensuring this decentralized working with mathematics and programming is the main innovation of BTC actually. https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

            The great thing is that because this resilient network is spread out over the whole world, you need only computers and power to participate. So no single sovereign country, no government can easily control the BTC network of servers.

            The server operators are rewarded for their services by receiving all newly created Bitcoin and by receiving transaction fees from the one trading Bitcoin.

            More desireable properties of BTC

            Divisibility

            Even though you only have 21.000.000 BTC (Approx 0.0027 BTC per Earth's 7.7 Billion humans) it is nicely divisible.
            Unlike an EUR which can be divided into 100 Cents, each BTC can be devided into
            100 Million "Satoshis". So you can split it up much more fine grained.
            At the time of this writing 1,000 Satoshi bought on the free market cost you 7.4 EURO cent. So even if Bitcoin was to appreciate a thousand times (1000x) in fiat currency value to 7.4 Million Euros we could still transact it in nice little 7 EUR Cent increments.
            Gold is not easily divisible in contrast, except with a very fine calibrated scale that is trusted by both parties.

            It doesn't spoil

            Bitcoin is stored in virtual electronic wallets. As long as you know the key to the wallet you can create copies of the wallet that let you control the Bitcoin inside it.

            The key is nothing more than a long number. You can print this long key number on a piece of paper. And as long as you keep this piece of paper you can create instances of your wallet with it that let you control the Bitcoin you stored within. Just don't lose that piece of paper.

            Howerver most people store their Bitcoin wallet key in a safe little computer so they don't have to type it in every time they want to transact. These types of computers are made just of that purpose to be a wallelt, and thus are not easily hackable because it is made just to do this one thing and so it doesn't have a lot of ways to exploit it.

            Although most people still have a backup on a piece of paper in their bank safe or in their head (don't die without telling your relatives the key).

            There are also ways to memorize this long number by memorizing e.g. 15 words. So if you would like to do so, you can keep those 15 words in memory and store potentially billions of Dollars/Euros worth of goods inside your head. Except for torture nothing can extract those billions from you.

            You can't take it from the owner, you can't restrict or block transactions, you can always take it with you

            I always have to smile if I land back in Vienna by plane, and there are signs that you have to go through customs, if you carry more than 10.000 EUR with you. Because when your wealth is stored electronically distributed there is no transporting or importing of money. It is always accessible to you and it is everywhere. The wealth just is. And capital controls are not enforcable at the border. How could the customs agent know what 15 words you have memorized in your brain?

            Not Cash

            While you can use Bitcoin like a currency to buy goods (someone famously payed 10,000 Bitcoins for a pizza in 2010). Bitcoin doesn't have all ingredients to be great virtual cash currency.

            Firstly because of technical reasons: while Bitcoin is an ingenious invention, you can't always transact it as fast as cash bills or a Paypal transaction, nor as anonymously as today's cash.

            And for legal reasons: You can't legally pay your goods, and debt in Bitcoin today.

            Since Bitcoin's creation 10 years ago there has been a lot of research and engineering in the direction to extend or build on top of Bitcoin to create better money. So Bitcoin or Bitcoin's technology could be a central building block to create currency that replaces cash payments.
            And legal frameworks are slowly reacting as well.

            Summary

            In summary BTC is extremely portable. The transaction mechanism doesn't have a single point of failure. It is cheap to store. It is very scarce and cannot be inflated beyond 21 Million coins. Each coin is very divisible so you can transact a single Satoshi. It is durable, it doesn't spoil. It is unconfiscatable without the wallet key.

            But while Bitcoin is not cash or currency (yet) it is a valuable commodity with excellent properties to store wealth - like gold on steroids. Those inherently desirable properties are what give it value, not the sovereign power of a nation.

            Followup

            Read in part two why I didn't invest in Bitcoin earlier and why the concernes that I had back then are not an issue any more.

              Colored clipboard from shell

              Related image
              What is this magic? Pleasantville (1998) © Larger Than Life Productions

              In August 2018 I was evaluating Ceph file system for my servers and writing a blog post about it. So I copied the shell commands and the console output to WordPress. To my astonishment it is quite difficult to copy paste from a terminal to another document or in this case my blog without losing formatting.
              Believe me I tried it. If I just copy paste from my terminal into the edit blog view I get dull black text.

              How this is usually handled with WordPress

              You can insert code in
              <code></code> tags for an output like this:

               class lol : test { public: inline void main (char[]* args){ } }; 

              or you can use plugins like this one based on SyntaxHighlighter1)http://alexgorbatchev.com/SyntaxHighlighter/, that parse and format copied source code to style pasted code:

              [cpp]
              class lol : test {
              public:
              inline void main (char[]* args){ }
              };
              [/cpp]
              becomes

              class lol : test {
              public:
              inline void main (char[]* args){ }
              };
              

              And

              [bash] ~/ ls -la
              total 664
              drwxr-xr-x 44 markus markus 12288 Jun 5 23:48 .
              drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Mar 3 2017 ..
              drwxrwxr-x 6 markus markus 4096 Apr 14 07:25 ansifilter-src
              -rw-rw-r-- 1 markus markus 653 May 4 2018 .anyconnect
              -rw------- 1 markus markus 7092 Mar 9 2017 .bash_history[/bash]
              becomes

                ~/ ls -la
               total 664
               drwxr-xr-x 44 markus markus  12288 Jun  5 23:48 .
               drwxr-xr-x  3 root   root     4096 Mar  3  2017 ..
               drwxrwxr-x  6 markus markus   4096 Apr 14 07:25 ansifilter-src
               -rw-rw-r--  1 markus markus    653 May  4  2018 .anyconnect
               -rw-------  1 markus markus   7092 Mar  9  2017 .bash_history 

              There exist many similar tools2)https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1647724/color-syntax-highlighting-within-an-html-code-tag , https://github.com/google/code-prettify, https://askubuntu.com/a/405970/299013. Another popular answer seems to be to copy it into a text editor and then recolor the code3)https://stackoverflow.com/a/51043085/643011 ,
              https://askubuntu.com/a/394230/299013
              .

              The way to get this into WordPress is to export it as HTML formatted text and then include the HTML-colored text into WordPress. This works well.

              But that's odd. Why would I throw away the color from the terminal just to reconstruct the color with a plugin? I want to include the original color in my blogpost.

              Digging deeper

              Unix/Linux based text terminals use ANSI escape sequences to show colored text. 4)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANSI_escape_code#Colors 5)http://www.lihaoyi.com/post/BuildyourownCommandLinewithANSIescapecodes.html#colors

              ANSI escape sequences are started by the ASCII escape character hex
              \x1B ( in decimal: 27 visualized as ^ ) followed
              by [ and multiple bytes encoding the actual ANSI control sequence.

              Whats the difference between ANSI control sequence and ASCII code? While there is an ASCII code for making a beeping sound, to signal the end of a column or to shift the cursor to the next line, there are only so many commands that can fit into a few characters in 7bit ASCII.6)https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pattis/15-1XX/common/handouts/ascii.html Multi-Byte ANSI control sequences are more powerful and can clear the screen, change the font and font style, save or change cursor position, and use up to 24bit background and foreground text color in the virtual terminal.

              Your favorite programming language probably has convenience libraries for printing colored text7)https://stackoverflow.com/questions/287871/how-to-print-colored-text-in-terminal-in-python,
              https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5947742/how-to-change-the-output-color-of-echo-in-linux
              Most GNU core utils have colored support8)https://askubuntu.com/questions/17299/what-do-the-different-colors-mean-in-ls However how do I get this into my browser?

              Finding the culprit

              I tried all combinations of trying to copy colored output with

              1. the X-based GNOME Terminal and
              2. XTerm
              3. terminator
              4. guake

              pasting into a text editor

              1. Libreoffice Writer
              2. MS Word and
              3. gedit

              LibreOffice Writer monochrome

              or into a browser where I tried both

              1. Firefox and
              2. Chromium

              while using as a target

              1. WordPress Gutenberg visual editor or
              2. https://www.tiny.cloud/ rich HTML textfield or
              3. https://quilljs.com/ rich HTML textfield
              WordPress Gutenberg editor hasn't seen the (colored) light yet

              All while trying both the

              1. PRIMARY X-selection (ICCCM) way of copying (middle mouse button)
              2. and CLIPBOARD way of copying.

              (Yes, X.org is weird.9) https://specifications.freedesktop.org/clipboards-spec/clipboards-latest.txt
              https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Clipboard#
              https://www.jwz.org/doc/x-cut-and-paste.html
              https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/254745/34172
              )

              All failed.

              So is it the terminals, X or the target applications that fail?

              You can redirect the colored output to a file ls -la --color=always > test.txtand later view it colored just fine with cat test.txt in the terminal. If it doesn't work with your cat, you might have to use echo -e $(cat test.txt) instead10)https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/388747/34172

              Opening the test.txt file in Open Office Writer yields color stripped text. While chrome doesn't know how to render ASCII escape character and shows garbled output. But this is a better result than before for the browser. At least by piping to a file we don't get the color code stripped completely.

              aha - to convert to html

              We can successfully get colored text out from the terminal by piping data through aha ("Ansi HTML Adapter"). aha creates an HTML file.
              ls -la --color=always | aha > ls-output.htm11)https://stackoverflow.com/questions/245121/a-library-to-convert-ansi-escapes-terminal-formatting-color-codes-to-html

              The output is not amazing HTML, every line is encapsulated in a span with a simple style attribute, but it works!


              Copy to clipboard with xclip use file MIME type

              There is an alternative way to copy to clipboard using the Xclip utility. 12)https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/145134/34172
              https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4486376/does-the-gnome-clipboard-have-a-mime-type-associated-with-the-data
              https://stackoverflow.com/questions/749544/pipe-to-from-the-clipboard-in-bash-script

              The ICCCM standard allows to supply multiple types of file representations, 13)https://tronche.com/gui/x/icccm/sec-2.html#s-2.6.2 each identified by its MIME File type. This allows you to e.g. copy and paste picture binary data. If I remember correctly from the dark days where I programmed Swing desktop applications in Java, there is a similar mechanism in all OSes and that concept was also exposed in the Java cross-platform copy paste API.

              We can now use this and generate a format that can successfully be pasted into Open Office Writer:

              ls --color=always | aha | xclip -selection clipboard -t 'text/html' -i

              Copying HTML into Open Office Writer - Success!

              Alternative using RTF

              An alternative way is providing the pasted into application an RTF formatted, colored text. For this I downloaded and built ansifilter, which can do the RTF conversion: https://github.com/andre-simon/ansifilter
              http://www.andre-simon.de/doku/ansifilter/en/ansifilter.php

              With this you can ls -la --color=always | ansifilter --rtf | xclip -selection clipboard -t 'text/rtf' -i

              This again is accepted by Open Office Writer, but not any browser and neither gedit.

              Fun fact, most of the tools you find are for stripping ANSI codes and removing RTF files. Because progress bar cursor annotations and other stuff is annoying in logs

              There is a tool for the Windows Powershell to copy colorized text to RTF formatted output, but I haven't tried it.14)https://devblogs.microsoft.com/powershell/colorized-capture-of-console-screen-in-html-and-rtf/
              https://superuser.com/questions/77781/how-to-copy-text-from-the-cmd-console-and-keep-the-formatting-with-color

              Tying it all together

              In order to copy from the shell you need to redirect all output from the shell:
              zsh |& tee zsh.log
              aha -f zsh.log > zsh-output.html

              Or from ssh (same concept as above):
              ssh [email protected] | tee ssh3.log
              This works great!

              Screenshot from Firefox render of resulting html file

              You can also directly copy to the clipboard and paste into the browser or an editor with xsel: ls --color=always | aha | xsel -i -b 15)https://askubuntu.com/a/394612/299013

              WordPress code editor just inserts the HTML into the document as expected. If on the other hand you paste the HTML source into the visual editor it converts the pasted HTML to styled text (keeping the font bold) but strips the color. 🤦🏾‍♂️

              Switching Firefox editor into Code Editor (HTML mode)

              Switching just one Gutenberg block into HTML mode (notice how I had to escape the bash tag earlier in this post 😉 )

              Bonus: GNU Screen

              But what if I already have some output in the screen copy buffer that I would like to copy?

              you can use hardcopy -h <filename>.
              16)https://stackoverflow.com/a/6604296/643011
              But this strips ANSI color codes before saving to file. No color 🙁

              You can select a range from the buffer to be copied.
              Then set a buffer file with bufferfile /tmp/somefile.txt
              17)https://stackoverflow.com/a/5896568/643011
              And finally use the command >
              But this also writes to the file without color.

              You can also use :writebuf /tmp/somefile.log - same result: colors are not preserved!

              Oddly enough screen's log on does preserve colors! But you have to enable it before the output occurs!
              This file is saved to screens working directory. Even though you can't easily put it into screen.rc it is possible to enable it by default.

              The disadvantage of this method is that this produces 100s MB big log files and HTML files. And some text editors and browsers choke several minutes opening that. VS Code works great by the way.

              Bonus: MacOS Terminal

              Apparently some os x terminals can copy paste out of the box18)https://superuser.com/a/879099/182880

              And it does work with:
              Textedit Version 1.13 (333)
              Terminal Version 2.8.3 (404.1)
              But not with the Notes app

              Markuss-Mac:~ markuskrainz$ ls -G
              Desktop Documents Downloads Library Movies Music Pictures Public

              Apple Textedit accepting colored paste from Apple Terminal

              Summary

              The problems seem to stem from the fact that terminal color is an ANSI escape sequence, that is not understood by most programs, and because it also contains potentially confusing characters such as moving the cursor, it is usually stripped before copying. A better way would be to leave the colors alone / and or offer multiple formats to copy from (see how the macOS terminal does this)

              I can redirect (tee) all my ssh connections output to a file, convert this to HTML-formatted color. Then I have to manually scroll through my copy buffer to get all the history. Finally I can insert the code into WordPress blog using the code editor.

              If you have a suggestion on how to copy directly from the screen copy buffer without losing formatting then please send me a message!

              Final Result

              [email protected]:/mnt# vim /etc/fstab
              "/etc/fstab" 6L, 382C
              # UNCONFIGURED FSTAB FOR BASE SYSTEM
              UUID=e78534f3-ff39-4b37-9dc0-89c6ebe27951 /boot ext2 defaults 0 2
              PARTUUID=de00fcfe-5c5e-4a72-8e4d-e23a149610ee /boot/efi vfat nofail,x-systemd.device-timeout=1 0 1
              PARTUUID=bc16cfe9-6286-40fd-bba2-ac44620c7018 /boot/efi2 vfat nofail,x-systemd.device-timeout=1 0 1
              rpool/var/log /var/log zfs defaults 0 0
              rpool/var/tmp /var/tmp zfs defaults 0 0

                   [ + ]

                1. http://alexgorbatchev.com/SyntaxHighlighter/
                2. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1647724/color-syntax-highlighting-within-an-html-code-tag , https://github.com/google/code-prettify, https://askubuntu.com/a/405970/299013
                3. https://stackoverflow.com/a/51043085/643011 ,
                https://askubuntu.com/a/394230/299013
                4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANSI_escape_code#Colors
                5. http://www.lihaoyi.com/post/BuildyourownCommandLinewithANSIescapecodes.html#colors
                6. https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pattis/15-1XX/common/handouts/ascii.html
                7. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/287871/how-to-print-colored-text-in-terminal-in-python,
                https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5947742/how-to-change-the-output-color-of-echo-in-linux
                8. https://askubuntu.com/questions/17299/what-do-the-different-colors-mean-in-ls
                9. https://specifications.freedesktop.org/clipboards-spec/clipboards-latest.txt
                https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Clipboard#
                https://www.jwz.org/doc/x-cut-and-paste.html
                https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/254745/34172
                10. https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/388747/34172
                11. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/245121/a-library-to-convert-ansi-escapes-terminal-formatting-color-codes-to-html
                12. https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/145134/34172
                https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4486376/does-the-gnome-clipboard-have-a-mime-type-associated-with-the-data
                https://stackoverflow.com/questions/749544/pipe-to-from-the-clipboard-in-bash-script
                13. https://tronche.com/gui/x/icccm/sec-2.html#s-2.6.2
                14. https://devblogs.microsoft.com/powershell/colorized-capture-of-console-screen-in-html-and-rtf/
                https://superuser.com/questions/77781/how-to-copy-text-from-the-cmd-console-and-keep-the-formatting-with-color
                15. https://askubuntu.com/a/394612/299013
                16. https://stackoverflow.com/a/6604296/643011
                17. https://stackoverflow.com/a/5896568/643011
                18. https://superuser.com/a/879099/182880

                Buying things from outside EU

                Some time ago I bought a computer part I needed. The best offer was from Israel 🇮🇱1)This is obviously the Israeli flag! https://esham.io/2014/06/unicode-flags It shows up in WordPress preview but not in edit view. I hope it works with your favorite font!. The delivery method was Post. About a week after sale it arrived in Austria and landed in the beautiful "Auslandszentrum Post / Zollamt Wien" (AWZ) - pictured below!

                Customs office (AWZ) 

                Customs didn't recognize it so I get the usual letter forcing me to deliver receipt and bank transfer or have the delivery perish on September 10th. I provided this on August 22nd. And there it sits since then for nearly 2 weeks now waiting to be processed.


                There is a phone number for inquiries which I called this time out of curiosity. Turns out between post and customs office they are really good at passing responsibility between each other like a hot potato if you actually want to talk to somebody. Also first time I called they just threw me out of the waiting line after 17 minutes. When I got trough the only response that I got was:

                1 month customs office processing time is completely normal.

                Here's what happens once customs finally bothers to check the parcel:

                1. It will be cleared
                2. post delivery will want the value added tax (VAT) + 10 euro service fee in cash at delivery time, which I have to pay from my personal money since company doesn't have a cash register.
                3. Then I will reimburse myself for my personal cash expenditure from my company account since it's a company item.
                4. Then my company will charge that against the tax offices VAT claims.

                The only parcels that always make it through customs, no matter how grossly wrong they are declared are parcels from China!

                Summary

                I think it's obvious that this is not going ideally. In the end it will just have been a huge waste of time. Sadly most sellers don't offer (expensive) FedEx or DHL with pre-paid customs option. So mostly it's either not worth it or not feasible to buy outside the EU single market. I fear when UK leaves the EU. This will be the next country where I will avoid to buy stuff from. Jay Brexit!

                     [ + ]

                  1. This is obviously the Israeli flag! https://esham.io/2014/06/unicode-flags It shows up in WordPress preview but not in edit view. I hope it works with your favorite font!

                  How to focus at home according to fiction author

                  Pile of Five Books

                  Last weekend I was at yet another 30th birthday party of a very good friend. I talked with the other guests. 
                  One of the guests is also a long standing friend of mine, but one who I don't really had much quality time with in recent years. I came late and he had to leave early but I squeezed in a few minutes talking with him.

                  He is a fiction author, studied law, and works in that field. He recently had a baby. He is also programming a game which he intends to release in the Steam store. I talked to him and he said "I love working from home". I was like shaking my head in disbelief and amazement: What? How can you do that? With a child? I explained: "well you know I get distracted easily and I work with several customers and projects so if I work from home one project always keeps distracting me from the other. In order to keep work separated I have to work at the respective customer's office or from university".

                  To which he replied (paraphrased):

                  1. Don't be a wuss. Just have will power to stay focused. There is no trick.
                  2. Keep a list of what distracted you. Then work to remove those blockades.
                  3. Disable your internet. Turn off notifications. Enable your flight mode.
                    - "but what if I need the internet to research something?"
                  4. Keep a list of what you want to research. Batch it. If you research during writing as an author you eventually end up on Wikipedia and then it's over. 🙂
                  5. Try meditation. Even 10 Min daily will give you great results. He did learn that at university in Vienna, where they have access to "Vienna University Sports institute" (USI) course on that. It will keep your thoughts from drifting off and spinning into other areas.
                    You practice that by focusing on breathing, which is the most mundane, basic thing. If you can focus on that, you can focus on anything.

                    What to avoid in emails

                    I recently read an article (German: Die nervigsten E-Mail-Gewohnheiten) on what to avoid in emails from the otherwise excellent DerStandard.at that I found poor and undifferentiatedThe article is apparently based on a mashup of Adobe.com and Swiss newspaper survey results. They also referenced this guardian article, which is a lot funnier, so I think a lot got lost in translation. Anyway it prompted me to write this reply:

                    It makes a difference who you are talking to

                    "I am not sure if you have read my last email" apparently creates lots of frustration.

                    translated derstandard.at/2000086500996/Mail-schon-gelesen-Die-nervigsten-E-Mail-Gewohnheiten

                    If you are talking to a colleague, customer, investor or boss it is perfectly fine to send a reminder if he/she doesn't reply in 1 week or so. Sometimes it's even your duty to check up why the other guy is not taking action. "I am wondering if you got my email" is a perfectly polite way to express that.

                    It's a different story if you get illegal spam emails from Eastern European outsourcing companies. Of course they will followup with annoying "did you get my messages" emails. They do so not because they want to be polite, but because it works for them in ways they care about. It raises their success rate, selling their services. They face little to no consequences for abusing the system.

                    Rerferencing pervious oral communication

                    Especially the hint that something was communicated before seems to create anger, because respondents also voted for "as mentioned before" and "as discussed"

                    translated derstandard.at/2000086500996/Mail-schon-gelesen-Die-nervigsten-E-Mail-Gewohnheiten

                    No, no, no. This is not impolite. It's a good practice to reference oral communication in a written followup. First of all you want to remind the other person that what you are writing is not the full story. And secondly it can help you in legal arguments when suddenly the other person can't "remember" any more what you talked about.

                    Referencing a previous email can be a little daunting, but has its uses when you want to point out that this is not the first time the issue was raised.

                    Excessive "CCing" (sending email to more recpients)

                    the habit to CC countless coworkers, even if it's often not obvious, how this person is related to the topic.

                    translated derstandard.at/2000086500996/Mail-schon-gelesen-Die-nervigsten-E-Mail-Gewohnheiten

                    Of course CCing is a balance act. But when CCing, always err on CCing more people. It's much more annoying to not know about something that you should know, than to getting extra (unnecessary) information. Especially if one is so easily to correct for while the other one isn't.

                    It's good practice that when the discussion gets too detailed, to clean up the CC-list. E.g. you CCed your boss in the project kickoff email, but then your counterpart replies with project details that you don't want to bother your boss with. You would at the next reply move your boss from CC to BCC. And mention in the email body that you have done so. This way, the person you just moved to BCC is aware that he/she has been removed from the email thread but the discussion is still ongoing. The other people know that the person moved to BCC still got the last email. And the next time someone Replys he/she won't get spamed any more.

                    If you are the target of unnecessary email, and you can't afford to keep up, do the same but with yourself.

                    Interrupting the recipient at his desk with an immediate followup to your email

                    if a colleague sends an email and a short time period later shows up at the desk of the recipient to tell him/her about the email.

                    translated derstandard.at/2000086500996/Mail-schon-gelesen-Die-nervigsten-E-Mail-Gewohnheiten

                    This one is actually true. But what the article doesn't mention is that while it's annoying for the recipient, it's completely devastating for the impatient sender.

                    Why? Because if you send an email, you should put time into writing it. Why then approach the recipient before he/she has even read it?
                    Moreover the recipient will then immediately reply orally, and might not address all the points that you (the sender) have made in your email. But he will not see a need any more to reply to your email, because "you already talked about it" anyway.

                    If you must have an immediate response prefer call, or instant messaging. Email is only for communication that doesn't require immediate action. If you feel the need to both write and talk (e.g. for legal reasons, or so you don't forget what was discussed), always talk first, never email first.

                    If the article is so bad what are some more points to actually watch out for?

                    The most important: Reply within 2 days, or set an out of office reply. If you can't reply within 2 days send a "sorry I am busy" email.

                    Always "Reply all", never "reply single". If you reply single you are breaking the email thread. And you are now personally responsible for creating unnecessary "did you do this already?" replies and "out of the loop" persons.
                    There's nothing more annoying than having to repeat yourself, or having to repair the chain by replying again and manually copy-pasting the addresses back in because some idiot can't be bothered to reply correctly.

                    Before you start typing ask yourself what the goal of this email is. Then write accordingly.

                    Always write email as succinctly as possible. Put the most important sentence first.

                    Thank your correspondents. I am convinced that you should always appreciate when people take time to read or reply. And when you show that it goes a long way.

                    Write the email how you think the message will be best understood by the reader, not how you would summarize it to yourself.

                    Always ask yourself "would this email get me into trouble if it ended up in court?" before hitting "send".

                    I highly recommend this book: HBR Guide to Better Business Writing