Category Archives: Technology

Höhenpark Killesberg #5: Killesbergbahn

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There is a lovely train running through the park area, and different from the fun but rather basic one at Blühendes Barock in Ludwigsburg, this one is the real deal.


The tracks circle pretty much all of the park and the ride is really nice. There are two kinds of trains running on the tracks: a more modern Diesel engine and a classic steam engine (which is the one everybody wants to ride on, really).

We bought tickets and then we had to wait till it was our turn.


I just love how Oskar and Fabian are interacting. Fabian is really sweet and patient with smaller kids.
Eventually, the train arrived:


Yeah, I know: isn’t this awesome?


Before the ride continues, the engineer is checking everything’s okay with the engine.


And then off we went. Oskar was sitting with Fabian, Alex and Silke and he clearly enjoyed himself.


Thomas was sitting with me and Lamia one compartment further and I could not get a good angle to take a photo of him. But he seemed to enjoy himself, too. Not sure he did as much as Oskar, though. Look at him…


Maybe the love for trains that runs in part of the family will manifest itself in him, who knows?

After the train ride we walked back to the cars and drove home.
Thank you as always to Alex, Silke and Fabian to spend this time with us and showing us around – this was a beautiful morning and afternoon.

A day at the Apple Store

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Yesterday I called Apple Support in Germany. I was bracing myself for the worst: in Singapore, my experience with Apple Support is hardly pleasant and the people I usually get connected to are often utterly clueless or simply don’t seem to care to give a proper answer. Granted, in Singapore I have made the mistake multiple time to think that chat support is quick and easy. And then I always spend 20x more time than I think I would and I am always angry when it’s finished (and yes, I know that they won’t be located in Singapore).

So I called Apple in Germany. Lamia’s iPhone 6 has serious battery issues and this needs fixing. The replies and the cluelessness of the idiotic chat support in Singapore had been epic and the only thing they came up with was that it is perfectly normal that a phone battery does not have full charge anymore after 18 months usage. And I would agree, but the behavior of Lamia’s phone was not that of a battery losing charge due to age. Instead, it simply crashed from 80% to 0%, just to be back at 79% when connected to a power outlet. There is no Apple Store in Singapore (yet), so the only option to have this fixed wa going to an authorized service center and I did not feel like doing that. Sindelfingen, however, which is not that far from where my parents live, has an Apple Store and given we were in the region, I thought I have this issue fixed once and for all.

The intent of my call was hence simply to make an appointment at that Apple Store. The person on the phone was listening carefully to what I talked about, did not give me that typical US bullshit paragraph that should assure me they understand how upsetting it is that my little shiny device is not working, and actually said right away that this behavior clearly was not okay. Now look at how refreshing this was…

He asked me to run an online test (which is smartly built into the iPhone, in case you did not know – I didn’t), stated that he could see the results from the tests I had run with his colleagues when I was in the support chat and then said to my big surprise:

Apple Support: Ah, I can see my colleagues ran this test before as well and already concluded it failed…

Erg, what?
That’s not what they told me…

He ran the test again, confirmed the same result and made an appointment for me at the Apple Store in Sindelfingen. To be honest, this was likely one of the best Apple Care experiences I’ve ever had. Not because he said Lamia would get a replacement (he did not), but simply because he clearly understood the problem, was competent in explaining details and what to do next and swiftly made an appointment for today at 12 pm.

Fast forward to earlier today: we arrived at Breuningerland Sindelfingen around 11:30 am, did some clothes and shoe shopping and then hit the Apple Store at 12 pm. Here’s a photo I took in the store while we were waiting for our support (not a great photo, but it’s the only one I took):


A friendly support person listened to the issue and then ran another check. His analysis showed that while the battery was not defect as per Apple’s definition, there were clearly cells which had been utterly depleted and did not work anymore. After quickly checking the phone in the back, he also confirmed that part of the battery had expanded. Long story short: he told me he could not replace the battery under warranty, but he offered to provide Lamia with a brand new (not refurbished) iPhone 6 at the price of a battery replacement (89 Euro).

We took the deal.

Replacing the phone had been something I had predicted as possible outcome of this, so we had made sure in the morning that Lamia’s phone backup was up to date. It’s also important to disconnect the Apple Watch from the old phone before resetting it, because otherwise it might not be able to connect to a new phone (I am not sure this is still true, but I’ve read something about this in the past and wanted to make sure we did not miss anything stupid). I also wanted to make sure we completed the principle set up of the replacement phone in the Apple Store in case we’d run into unexpected issues. This should have been a reasonably quick process.

It wasn’t.

There were several things that gave me trouble:

  1. When we wanted to activate the new phone with Lamia’s SIM, it did not accept the SIM – arguably because it’s from Singapore in Germany. We circumvented this by using a dummy SIM from the Apple Store (and I congratulated myself for the foresight to stay in the store and set up the phone).
  2. Then I wanted to set up Lamia’s Apple ID, but I had not considered that the 2-factor auhorization would make this a little challenging. At this step, one of Lamia’s other devices (iPad or Mac) would show a code, but we did not bring any of these. After some hard thinking, I realized I could call my mom and ask her to look on Lamia’s iPad This worked, even though it required some work to explain which device to grab (not Lamia’s battle ship of a work laptop) and where to press (reminder to self: the Home button might be on the left or right, not the bottom, if the iPad is in landscape mode). We eventually got the code (thank you, Mom!) and continued the installation.
  3. Then a software update had to be installed (sigh).
  4. And once this was done, iOS was setting up the system and probably downloaded Apple ID related files. This should not take forever, by the way. Maybe 20-30 minutes. So I waited.
  5. And waited. Lamia took Oskar shopping.
  6. And waited. Lamia took Thomas shopping.
  7. And waited.
  8. And waited.
  9. And wai…

Oskar: Papa – peepee!

Erg… what?! Now? Didn’t he go like 20 minutes ago? Hum, hum. Okay. Luckily the toilets were just around the corner of the Apple Store, but I of course lost the Wifi connection on the way there and the process bar on the phone paused. Oskar peed, then we returned and the process bar eventually continued. Good.

Lamia eventually came back and it was still not done. By now, I was easily waiting for more than an hour and it did not seem that this phone would want to get to the point where the Home screen would show (which would have meant that it now downloads the apps, i.e. the point in time where I would have said we are okay to finish at home). After 1 1/2 hours Lamia pushed me to talk to the Apple staff. I would not have done this, but it’s likely a good thing I did.

When it was my turn again, the support person shut down the phone, restarted and indicated that the issue might have stemmed from the little break in Wifi connectivity that occurred when I took Oskar to the toilets. At first everything seemed to be okay and after rebooting the phone seemed to be in the expected state of showing the Home screen with apps starting to download. I wanted to make sure, however, that Lamia’s Apple Watch would not only install nicely on the new phone, but also show all the activity credits that she had earned to date. And then it happened: the screen of the phone became unresponsive and it was virtually impossible to do anything. This is when the support agent was checking on me.

Apple Support: How do things look like?

Leo:
 I thought good at first, but the phone is not responsive now… looks like touch disease to me…

I don’t know whether it was touch disease, because this seems to me more a problem of the iPhone 6 Plus. And maybe it was just sluggish because it downloaded so many files in the background. But the moment where the puzzled Apple Support person took the phone in his hand without so much as touching the screen, it crashed and restarted.

That did not look good and was asking him rather annoyed whether they had given me a broken phone as replacement.

Without much discussion, he grabbed the phone went into the back and came out with… a new one. I had to sign a few times and then he replaced the replacement phone with another replacement phone. Wow! See, on the one hand side I thought this was pretty awesome and good service. Then again, I had just wasted nearly 2 hours on this. And that’s a long time when your wife and kids have to wait, too (you can only play at the iPad kids table for so long, after all).

And of course…

  1. I had to borrow the dummy SIM from the Apple Store again.
  2. I had to call my mom again to give me the code on Lamia’s iPad because of the 2-factor authorization (you would think my mom would be faster on second try to figure out how to find the code, but she wasn’t… uh: love you, mom! :) ).
  3. Software update.
  4. Download.
  5. Waiting.

Now, in all fairness, the steps seemed to go faster now. Either the Apple Store’s Wifi signal got stronger in the course of out little visit or something had been seriously wrong before. It still took what felt like ages. But this time the installation went through as expected. Lastly, I successfully installed Lamia’s watch and then we were finally ready to go.
We had then spent something like 3 1/2 hours here, which is pretty much 2 1/2 hours more than I had planned for. Nevertheless, Lamia got a new phone for a reasonable price. And while we were setting up the new phone for the first time, I remembered that my iPhone was eligible for a free battery replacement. So I had that done in parallel, too (in fact, it was long complete before I had Lamia’s phone up and running).

Anyway. That was a bit much Apple, even for me.
But we both have now new phones and / or batteries – and that’s a good thing, when you are ~18 months into owning your phone.

A playground in Montrouge

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Later today we walked the kids to a nice little playground. It was adoreable how much Oskar and Thomas had just running around, exploring and especially with Nagi.

And yes, I used Clips again. This time I actually took the footage directly in app itself (versus saving video to the photo roll and editing it later in Clips). This second attempt to use Clips is already better than the first, though it is not an app intended to create long videos (hence the name, duh!). I am pretty impressed by the way it handles its built-in music options and fits them to your clip. I wished it let the user add transitions and simple fade-in and fade-out, however.

Carousell 

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Next to the supermarket which is close to where Joy and Yann live there’s currently a charming little carousell. So when we took a walk today with the kids, we naturally could not pass by without Oskar and Thomas taking a ride. They picked the bus: Oskar is sitting in the front right, with another kid next to him, and Thomas is sitting in the back, chauffeured like a king.

I know what you think: what’s with that comic look?

Well, Apple has launched a new movie making app called “Clips”. It’s supposedly meant to be the movie app for the Instagram and Snapchat generation, so there are some interesting ways to put filters on your movie and hence the square canvas. And I wanted to try this out. I guess I could have done better framing and setting up the clip, but bear with me: I am still learning.

And the kids really had fun.

Lightroom Mobile Realworld Test

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Okay, it is now a little while since we’ve travelled to Europe and celebrate Christmas with our family. But there is one thing that I wanted to write about and I have not done so, yet: remember, I started playing with Lightroom Mobile in October last year, was slowly learning that the 2 GB storage limit of the Creative Cloud Photography plan does not seem to count photos and eventually even wondered whether I’d still need a laptop.

Now, there are several things I still cannot do on an iPad which I certainly need a laptop for, but when it comes to editing photos Lightroom Mobile had taken me surprisingly far at that point already. And so I made a bold decision: when we travelled to Europe end of last year, I did not take my laptop and brought only my iPad Pro. If you love taking photos and you are into meticulously editing them like I am, you might understand this is a big deal.

On this trip I knew I would take hundreds of photos (it turned out to become 418 “keepers”) and while it would certainly be possible to edit all of these on my Mac once I’d be back home, besides the actual time this takes when done at once, it would have also been a massive cognitive load. No! I had to have a solution to work on the photos in a quality way during the vacation, in the occasional “cracks of peace” during the day and that does not take much editing later on. So I decided to take the risk and at the same time enjoy the convenience of not taking both my laptop and my iPad Pro. Sure – both are light weight and not very bulky. In theory I could have taken both “just in case”. But I did not want to do that (and frankly, we always stuff our luggage to the max, so any relief is very welcome.

We’re now back from this Christmas holiday for something like 4+ months and I wanted to write about my experience given that we are leaving again to Europe end of this week. Obvious questions would be: did I regret not bringing my laptop? What are the shortcomings of Lightroom Mobile it you want to edit photos? And were there any problems?

Did I regret not bringing my laptop?
Not a minute! I might have missed it if I had wanted to do some other specific tasks. When I was on the iPad, it was mostly in the evenings and I edited the photos that I had taken during the day. While the SD card dongle is certainly not pretty when it sticks out of the iPad, it’s a practical way to transfer RAW files quickly from my camera’s memory card to the iPad. Once the files are transferred it’s gone and I can just use the iPad as large photo editing playground which is actually pretty amazing and from a visual stand point beats the experience on my Mac (despite my 4+ year old MacBook having this absolutely gorgeous display).

Here’s the import dialogue in Photos once the dongle with the SD card is inserted in the iPad’s Lightning port:

Pretty straight forward and only a problem when you have hundreds of photos on your card. In that case Photos is slowly building the full catalogue of thumbnails of the photos on the card. After 2 weeks I had accumulated enough photos that it would take a while until the photos I wanted to import would show up, because the catalogue is built anew each time and it’s happening sequentially. I could have of course erased photos from the card once they were on the iPad. During this trip to Europe, however, I did not want to do that. I did not know yet how reliable this photo workflow worked and I wanted to make sure I’d be able to access the original RAW files later on my Mac, just in case the iPad Pro or Mobile Lightroom screw something up. This did not happen with one exception, but more on that later.

For now one pro tip, though: I realized there was a simple way to speed up importing photos without having to wait until the full catalogue was built up. This only works reliably assuming that you only want to import the most recent photos you’ve shot, but if this fits your workflow you can save quite some time. Here goes: when you import the photos in Photos and the thumbnails come up, you’ll see that the actual image count is already complete: the images on the card are represented virtually immediately as grey boxes. And these are then replaced with the image thumbnails, one by one. But photos that have been already imported have the green tick mark, even if the thumbnail is not available yet. If you do not erase anything from the memory card, all the older, already imported thumbnails or grey boxes are identified by the green tick mark. So all you have to do is to scroll down to the bottom of the list, and select the sequence of photos without a tick mark at the very end of the list. Then you import these and bingo – you’ve just saved a few minutes. And if you do not want to keep all the images in the Photos app after importing them to Lightroom to save space, just keep the last imported photo in Photos and then screen for the single image with a green tick mark in the list the next time you import newer images. Every image after that one will be from the latest photo shoot you have done.

Now, once the photos are inside the Photos library you can import them into Lightroom. In the beginning I was not sure whether Lightroom would actually import these into a dedicated library or whether it required these photos to stay within Photos. But as mentioned above, the photos are in fact copied  into Lightroom Mobile and can be removed from the Photos app to save some storage space. This works with both JPEGs and RAWs.


Within Lightroom Mobile photos can be sorted into folders. Photos and all the edits made are immediately synced with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, i.e. they are uploaded to a server from which they are then again available to download to other devices. The little cloud on the upper left will show an animation as long as syncing takes place. Even when I added dozens of photos at once, the syncing happened reasonably fast. And yes, the original files are uploaded, not a watered down, smaller file version.

Photos can be edited via a pleasant interface. I don’t want to say it is 100% better than the desktop version of Lightroom, because there are some steps which are cumbersome (pretty much like there are cumbersome steps in the desktop version). By and large, editing photos on the iPad feels more direct and I enjoy it more than on a laptop, because a tablet removes a lot of friction (a keyboard, a mouse, weight, partly app launch times) and you can engage better with your content.


If I could have one wish, I would want to implement a way that the editing selection tool (the one on the left, which is represented by an aperture icon in the above screenshot) would be accessible from anywhere on the screen, or at least from anywhere in the black area with all the functions below. Maybe it’d be enough to have it positioned in the lowest row, so it’s more or less in the center. This would make changing editing tools much quicker and you would not have to move your finger to the far left. Not a biggie, just sayin’.

While you edit, everything is again directly synced with the cloud. Once you are done you move to the next photo or you export the edited file back to Photos as a JPEG to be used in other apps (like in WordPress to write your blog, for example). 

This workflow is pretty neat and it works really well.

Once back home I simply open Lightroom on my MacBook, look at the dedicated syncing folder within the app and wait till all the photos I shot are showing up. And they will of course carry all the edits I have already completed on my iPad. I then transfer these into my “normal” Lightroom library.

What are the shortcomings of Lightroom Mobile?
As I said, the workflow is great and it was so convenient that I did not miss having not brought my laptop. There are shortcomings of Lightroom Mobile, where it is missing functionality compared to the desktop version, however. Some of this I don’t really care about, but a few features made my life a little harder.

I really wished Lightroom Mobile would also include:

  • sharpening
  • noise reduction
  • GPS editing or addition
  • keywords (please synced with the existing ones in Lightroom Desktop)
  • other EXIF modifications (time shift correction would have been nice)

Some of these gaps I could handle with other apps. The Photoshop app has a very decent sharpening and noise reduction feature on the iPad. And it is linked to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so it’s easy to edit photos and then save them for usage on my blog (the collage feature is also quite good). GPS editing or addition I tried to work through the Exif Photos app. This is a pretty good app, but it does not work for this situation because it cannot write the GPS data (or other EXIF information for that matter) into a RAW file. It will create a jpeg file from the RAW data and when you import this into Lightroom, Lightroom will pick the (still present) RAW data and disregard whatever Exif Photos did.

Were there any problems?
Surprisingly few. The biggest issue came from a single photo of the Christmas tree at my parent’s place that whatever I did would not show up in the Photos import dialogue. I restarted the iPad, I tried duplicating the file within the camera in the hope to make it visible… all to no avail. Eventually I simply transferred a jpeg version of it by creating a hotspot with the camera and pulling it into my Photos library via the Canon app, so I could use it in my blog. This only happened once, but it was quite annoying. When I got home I put the SD card in my Mac and particularly looked for this file – I found it and could download it, no problem. So beats me what went wrong here:


But this was in fact the only issue I encountered during nearly 5 weeks of quite heavy shooting and editing. This is of course not bad, but this also means that – even though I am super happy with how this experiment played out – I do not trust this workflow 100%, yet. I trust it enough to rely on it in the future, too, but I hope this will remain a freak incidence.

Nonetheless, Lightroom Mobile is an impressive app on the iPad, too, and the syncing feature via Creative Cloud works really well. I maintain my opinion that at the price for the Photography package, where you get Lightroom for Mobile and Desktop plus Photoshop for Desktop plus what seems like unlimited cloud storage for photos, this is a steal and if you’re using these apps once in a while, you’d be nuts if you did not try it out at least.

Another testament to how well this works is of course that my photo workflow is now to always go through the iPad, even when I am home and have access to my MacBook. After I am done with my edits on the iPad I will eventually move to the laptop and finish the things that cannot be done (yet?) on Lightroom Mobile.

Who would have thought I’d ever say that, but well done, Adobe!

The Zac-Challenge – accepted!

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After our morning activities we had Linda, Hsien and Zac visit us for as late brunch. Zac has really grown a lot and he’s really cute. But he’s another case of a toddler who’s not easy to take photos of. I was still in hunting mood, so I tried to get a collection of decent photos of him. Here are a few…


Not too terrible. I also love that I can create really nice photo websites directly out of Mobile Lightroom, so after I had edited the photos on my iPad Pro (now my standard process to edit photos, but there’s a longer entry coming later), I could easily set up that site and share it with Linda to check out the photos.

Brunch was fun, too, but who cares when technology is so intriguing :)

AirPods follow-up

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Since I got my AirPods they have become the only wireless headphones I am using. I thought I would keep using my previous set, but they have replaced my (very much liked) Jaybird Bluebuds X completely, despite inferior sealing of the ear. The reason is simple: the AirPods score profoundly higher than my Bluebuds headset for…

  • first time set up
  • turning on / off
  • convenience to share across all my devices
  • staying in my ears

The last one is curious. I would have thought that the Bluebuds are way better in terms to running, particularly when it comes to running. The truth is, however, that when I am running I adjust the fit of the Bluebuds every few minutes because they are close to slipping out of my ears. How come? The problem is the cable which runs between the ears and is susceptible to pull the headset out, despite the nice rubber surface and good general ear fit.

This never happens with the AirPods, hands down.
And the reason is exactly that: because they do not have a cable. This simple thing is one of the biggest (surprise) delighters for me. 

The sound is good and the battery life…

Ah! – the battery life.
This one is interesting: the AirPods claim 5 hour playing time on a single charge. And they can be recharged several times with the case they come in which holds another 24 hour charge and tops up the AirPods when you put them back in. The idea of a charging case is not new, but it’s a nice and elegant implementation. Nerd that I am I was checking the battery status of AirPods and case like a hawk since I have them. In the beginning I thought the numbers I saw seemed to make sense for the claimed playing time.

But then I realized in the past weeks – amidst more and more chatter on the web about the same thing – that something was wrong. Both the AirPods and the case were losing power much faster than they should have. I compared my notes on battery status with what I read on the web and, yes, it looked like that my set was affected by batteries that drained faster than they should. It did not have any real world impact, except that I maybe had to charge the case every three days versus every five days, but it annoyed me and I was getting ready to have my AirPods replaced or fixed.

And then Apple suddenly released a firmware update. I did not have to do anything: the update installed itself without me doing anything.
I then re-checked my battery life in the same scenarios I had tested before. And look and behold: where the case lost 10% or even more before, it now loses nothing or maybe a percent charge. Perfect!

So, everything great?

Well, there are two things which do not work so well:

  1. The AirPods have no button or gesture to control volume. I can do it via the Apple Watch, but it’s still more cumbersome compared to a cable remote.
  2. You can control volume also via Siri. It works fine for volume, but it’s not a great experience. In general, Siri has still problems with accuracy and speed, despite the certainly very adequate microphones in the AirPods. It is super weird to double-tap the plastic thing in your ear and then speak articulated commands to an invisible something. And it is annoying when this takes longer than using a physical solution and / or requires several attempts.

Yet, despite these downsides, the AirPods are easily the most surprising and delighting product Apple has released in a while. All the iPhone and iPads and Macs are stunning and amazing from a technology and design point of view. The AirPods, however, add and rekindle a kind of magic which you only get once in a while.

And when you happen to find it, you fall in love and you stick to it.

AirPods

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When Apple announced the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2 I liked what I saw, but I did not feel the need to upgrade. Sure, the dual camera system on the phone is intriguing, but it’s only on the Plus size. Maybe it’s enough to go to this hunking size after all, but I did not feel compelled, particularly because my iPhone 6s is of course still awesome. The watch is admittedly a different animal because version 1 – as much as I love it and as much as I still wear it every day – had clearly a speed issue. Well: it had one till watchOS 3. So it is possible that if watchOS 3 had not brought these massive speed improvements, I would have maybe wanted to buy the new model. But now I feel like I’ve already had a little upgrade, so I can easily wait another year or so. To be clear, I do like all the improvements of the series 2, but here’s what I really want from an Apple Watch upgrade:

  1. Faster connection between the iPhone and the watch for upgrades.
  2. Super simple ability to load podcasts directly on the watch, so I do not have to stream them from the phone and can basically go to the gym without my phone.

You see, the second one is even in the realm of possibilities with the hardware of the Apple Watch I have right now.

Anyway. My actual point was: I liked Apple’s keynote, but I felt happy with the gadgets I have. But there were also the AirPods. And these were clearly something simply amazing. Mind you, I am using the wireless Jaybird Bluebuds already, which are pretty great, so what can the AirPods bring? After all, I do not expect them to have better sound quality and I doubt they will seal as well as the Bluebuds, which means I’d likely have to crank up the volume (like I did with regular EarPods).

The answer is simple: convenience. What I simply hate about Bluetooth headphones is the pairing process and that it is cumbersome to use them with multiple devices. All of this goes away with the AirPods.

And look what Lamia gave me as a Christmas present:

So great!
I am really excited and after my first try-outs, they seem to deliver exactly the convenience they promise: pairing is super elegant and it is a pinch to use them with all my Apple devices (which are quite some) with hardly any friction. It just works.

Let’s see how it goes, but this is potentially one of the best products Apple has launched in a few years.

Kick the bucket

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So my parents had a pedal bin in the kitchen since forever. As you’d expect, the trash was kept under the sink and that bin was located on a metal rack that was attached to the cabinet door. When you opened the door, the bin would swing out, you’d open it, dispose of whatever you wanted to dispose of and be done with it. My earliest memory of using that bin is that you pushed the pedal with your foot and thus open the lid. My parents will violently deny this, but I tell you it’s true. This construction made this system of course okay to use – maybe not elegant, but practical enough.

What happened then is that I came visiting my parents one day (not sure whether I was still working in Frankfurt or had already moved to Belgium) and the functionality of the pedal bin had been significantly compromised: before it had been mounted onto its rack and was stable enough to withstand the force exerted when pushing the pedal with your foot to open the lid. Now this connection was gone and when you pushed the pedal, the whole bucket tipped towards you. The only way to operate this now was to lift the lid of the bucket with one hand. That’s okay if you want to toss a used tissue but if you have both hands full of shit or maybe wet hands because you are working at the sink, this is suddenly annoying like a kid sitting behind you in an airplane, kicking your seat.

I do not know how this happened and why the bucket mount got messed up, but I recall that I immediately tried to fix it, but to no avail. I was utterly perplexed that this damn bin did not work anymore the way it was intended to (and more importantly: the way *I* wanted it to work) and I was even more perplexed that my parents did not seem to care that much.

Time passed, and I had to live with this bloody bucket each time I visited my parents. And I was annoyed by it every time I was there. I got even more angry at it when I was taking out the trash, pulling out the plastic bag with the kitchen garbage and sometimes it would get somehow stuck to the bucket and pull the whole thing up and off the rack. What a mess! But clearly, opening the door and having to lift the lid of that fucking shit bucket with one hand versus just pushing the pedal with a foot to open the lid was my chief reason to hate that thing (even more so because the lid had no stay-open feature, which is really handy if you have several things you want to throw away in short sequence, say, oranges after squeezing them).

One day, I came visiting and the bucket had been replaced. It was now a much nicer new pedal bin, shiny red, standing on that same rack. Automatically I expected the situation had been finally fixed and I would be able to push the pedal with my foot and the bucket would stand strong.

But no, it did not. It was the same crappy bucket, just in red.

Boy, was I pissed off about that. I often suggested solutions of how to maybe fix the whole thing, but my parents were adamant that this bloody, darn bucket had always worked exactly like that and that there was no need to change anything and I should mind my own business and what kind of cake I want to eat later. Well, okay then: I did not live there anymore, so why bother, right?

But it bothered me, uh yes, it did.

So when we visited this year for Christmas, I decided after one day that I would go to a DIY store and check for solutions. I had arrived at a point where it had become a point of pride that I would replace this retarded piece of junk with something that did not look like it was used by cavemen. Yesterday I passed by the big Hornbach and checked at the Information:

Leo: Where can I find trash bins for the kitchen?
Info Lady: You mean the ones that go under the sink?
Leo: Yep.
Info Lady: Check in the aisle right over there.
Leo: This one there?
Info Lady: Yes.
Leo: Hum… the one with the sign that says “Trash bins”?
Info Lady: Yes.
Leo: Okay then…

Sigh… anyway, there were two potential options: a trash bin box where you had to pull out the bin with one hand and one that would swing out when you opened the cabinet door, ready to use. Easy choice.

And today after lunch, when there was napping all around the house, I removed the red shit bucket with an evil grin on my face from the cabinet under the sink and installed the new wondrous technology, that would catapult my parents from living like the animals to modern day trash bin luxury. Quite frankly, I was stressed out about messing up the assembly. It had to be perfect, otherwise I’d make a total moron out of myself.
I was hence extra careful, spent quality time and look and behold:

It *is* perfect. I works exactly as intended, swings out smoothly, has even more volume than the old one and once you use it, you have immediately forgotten it’s there. That’s how good it is.

The reception of my parents to this alien wizardry was lukewarm, though:

Mom: I am – oh! – soooo happy that I have this thing in my 50 year old kitchen now. Yay! Wow!
Dad: I don’t like the color.

Sometimes I really think I was adopted.