My Blog: Apps & Tech 📱

I’m not just a creator but also a huge fan of apps and technology. Here, I write about tech that I’m personally excited about.

An image showing a desktop with a notepad, the number 2024 a coffee mug and an iPhone and Apple Watch showing the Zenitizer stats and yearly review feature

Reflections and Resolutions: Meditation Year in Review

Sunday, 31 December, 2023

For many of us, turning towards the new year involves two things: reflecting about the past 12 months and setting intentions for the road ahead - Zenitizer is here to support you with both!


Personalized Meditation Year In Review

Wonder how many hours you meditated throughout 2023 or how many days per week on average? With Zenitizer’s new statistics, you can see these and many more data points and share your 2023 meditation progress as a personalized image.

And the best thing? The 2023 Yearly Stats feature is free and even works if you haven’t used Zenitizer before since it seamlessly integrates with Apple Health and takes mindful minutes from other meditation apps into account (dark theme and removal of the Zenitizer logo in the generated image require Zenitizer+)

An image showing the feature in three screenshots


Community Motivation & Inspiration

New year’s resolutions are easy to make, but tricky to stick with in the long term. Zenitizer already offers features to support you in forming habits, such as streaks, statistics and daily meditation reminders. But there’s another highly effective way to make a long-term commitment: sharing your goals, progress and challenges with likeminded people - the community!

Adding a community feature inside the app itself would be difficult to align with Zenitizer’s vision to provide a minimal and distraction-free meditation environment that focusses on the core time experience.

This is why the community will, instead, be organized around the @zenitizer account on various social media channels where followers can engage with weekly check-in posts to share their progress, ask questions and motivate and inspire one another. The goal is to achieve a sense of mutual accountability and mentorship between different meditation enthusiasts (regardlness of whether they use the app or not).

The @zenitizer account will also regularly post general meditation and mindfulness tips and tricks and educate you about new and advanced features as they are being added to the app.

You can follow and connect with @zenitizer on Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, Facebook and Twitter/X

Lifetime Commitment

To further support you in making a serious commitment to a regular meditation practice the Zenitizer+ Lifetime plan is currently reduced by 50% ($69.99 → $34.99). The offer is valid all throughout the first week of January up until January 7th.

The Lifetime plan is not discounted often and it was never discounted this much, so this is a rare opportunity for anyone who is looking to permanently unlock all Zenitizer+ premium features.

A picture of me sitting on a meditation cushion listening to calming background sounds on my HomePods during a meditation with my app Zenitizer.

Guided vs. Unguided Meditations - My Journey

Tuesday, 23 May, 2023

In this article, I am sharing my own thoughts about guided and unguided meditations and a few details about my own meditation journey which led me from the former to the latter and eventually to building my own app for unguided meditations.

Start Of My Meditation Journey

After growing up in rural Germany (we’re talking really rural… population of my village being ~500, if you count the cows, that is), I moved to London (population: ~9 Million) for my first full-time job after university. Suffice it to say, it was a very exciting time of my life: both the “good kind of exciting” but I also got my fair share of the “overwhelming and stressful kind of exciting”.

I remember the day, I was sitting on a bench in Queens Park, London thinking to myself: “maybe you should try one of these meditation apps that seem to be all the rage these days. Certainly could use something to calm you down in this hectic big-city lifestyle you’ve gotten yourself into”.

So that’s what I did. I went straight on the App Store and downloaded one of the “big meditation apps” and got started with an introductory mindfulness course consisting of short, guided meditations. This was a key moment for me, because as I was continuing the course over the following weeks, I learned strategies that would help me be more present and balanced and made a notable difference in my life.

Transition To Unguided Meditations

As I kept up a semi-regular meditation practice over the years, I noticed that I naturally wanted to use guided meditations less over time. The app that I was using at the time was designed around providing a large catalogue of guided meditations and similar content but it also had a few “unguided” sessions with just interval bells or very few spoken instructions every couple minutes.

I learned to appreciate the simplicity of those but the problem is that everything about the way the app was designed tried to nudge me towards a new series of guided content while the “simple timer experience” I’ve come to appreciate felt very limited.

In Search Of An App

This is when I started looking for more simple alternatives that focus on the core timer experience instead of guided content and there certainly are a number of great options out there. However… (and I know this sounds cliché and is the start of literally every “scratch-my-own-itch I should build an app for that” story ever) none of the existing options quite worked, looked and felt the way I had envisioned them.

One thing I really liked about the “big meditation app” that I got started with is that it had the notion of a “streak” feature. This was always very motivating for me to keep up a regular practice so that’s something I was looking for in a minimal meditation timer app, too. In addition to that, while I often meditate silently these days (just using haptic notifications on my Apple Watch), I also really enjoy a calming background soundscape from time to time so backgrounds sounds was another important feature for me.

Lastly, I wanted my ideal meditation timer app to be deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem. Storing and retrieving data from Apple Health, for example. I know some apps allow storing mindful minutes in Apple Health but will not take minutes recorded by other meditation apps into account for their own in-app streaks feature. This forces users to keep using one particular app if they want to keep up the streak - which is of course what these apps want you to do but it always felt bad to me. I felt locked-in and I did not like that.

Another area of system-integration that is extremely well-suited for meditation apps is Shortcuts support. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a big Shortcuts fan and I certainly use Shortcuts in totally over-engineered and weird ways but for a meditation app it really makes so much sense. Just being able to ask Siri to start a meditation, for example - or automatically doing so when you wake up - or setting a scene in your smart home during a meditation - or automatically turning on the “Do not Disturb” Focus Mode… The list goes on and once you think about these opportunities it feels so incredibly limiting not to have them.

Building My Own App

Unable to find an app that ticks all the boxes and has the right look and feel for me, I arrived at the conclusion that… well: I just gotta build it myself. How hard could it be (famous last words 😅).

It’s been an ongoing project for over half a year, now. As I was also involved in freelance projects, I did not work on it 100% full time, but I definitely spent a significant chunk of my time on Zenitizer. I needed to learn all of the steps involved in building and shipping an app for the first time (basically everything except the coding part and even that involved many new learnings due to using so many frameworks and APIs for the very first time and diving much deeper into SwiftUI than I ever did before).

During that time I learned a lot and had the incredibly rewarding experience of interacting with wonderful beta testers who have given me thoughtful, constructive feedback and so many kind words of encouragement along the way.

Launch Date Confirmed 🚀

As of writing this, the app has been approved for submission on the App Store and the launch date is confirmed: May 25th 2023 - that’s just two days from now. I am very excited to finally be able to share with the world what I’ve been working on all this time and keep growing and improving Zenitizer from here (hopefully for a very long time to come).

Unguided vs. Guided Mediations - Which One Is It Now?

Well, as someone who has developed an app for unguided meditations I am - of course - biased. I personally think that spoken instructions can be a source of distraction and may result in actually being less in the present moment. On the other hand they can be a great learning resource and act as a great ritual to get into the right mindset.

Ultimately, it’s a very personal choice and I encourage you to try for yourself to see what works best for you. And you should keep evaluating this along your journey. Maybe you prefer unguided meditations right away? Or, like me, over time you learn to appreciate them and prefer them over guided meditations? Or you will simply always prefer guided meditations?

Whatever you find to be effective and enjoyable for yourself, Zenitizer will take your mindful minutes in Apple Health recorded by other apps into account (so you can use multiple meditation apps and still grow your Zenitizer streak) and even allows manually logging meditations so you could, for example, visit a guided session in your local meditation/yoga studio or watch one on YouTube and later just record 15 minutes in Zenitizer. I want you to be able to mix-and-match meditation styles, tools, techniques and apps in whichever way works best for you ❤️

Trying Zenitizer For Yourself

Now, if you’re interested in Zenitizer you can find out more here or head straight to the App Store to download and try it for yourself.

What Operating System is That?! banner image

What Operating System Is That?!

Wednesday, 04 November, 2015

📜 Archived

During the last month or so, a remarkable number of people have asked me, “what OS is that on your laptop”? When I got my new laptop, I have put quite some time into setting up my personal Arch Linux installation and apparently I am not the only one to appreciate its looks and workflow.

The sad part of the story is that I cannot give a simple answer, because it is, in fact, a compilation of various software packages, themes and configurations, that make it what it is. This is why I have decided to write a blog post which allows others to replicate my “desktop experience”.

Desktop Environment

I cannot even specifiy a particular desktop environment, because even that consists of modules from various projects, most of which are located in the “GTK camp”. Most of the time I, point people to elementary OS, if they want something “similar” out of the box, because I use Deepin WM, which is a fork of their window manager and elementary’s dock Plank, which make up the most relevant part of the desktop. Readers of my blog or Google+ followers know that I have been quite keen about the elementary project - and I still am! I just consider Arch the most attractive distribution for me personally due its rolling release model, “DIY philosophy” and the amount of packages available in the AUR.

The panel on top is Budige Panel from the Solus projectes. The new version features Raven, a sliding panel with calendar, music player and sound widgets as well as an overview of missed notifications, which is both beautiful and highly functional. I really like the whole budgie desktop experience and can recommend trying Solus, if you do not need a window manager with “fancy window and workspace overview” modes.

Look and Feel

Regarding look and feel, the Arc GTK theme and the Numix Circle icon set are most notable. Not only are these the (imho) best-looking, flat themes in the Linux world, but also are both astonishingly complete, that is, almost every app installed has a a corresponding Numix icon and Arc looks functional and consistent with all sorts of different apps. There is even an Arc Firefox theme, which makes Firefoox look 100% native. I might mention at this point that I have created an eclipse theme that is supposed to match Arc as closely as possible.


A “representable excerpt of my everyday software stack” is listed below:

  • Nautilus (file manager)
  • Gnome Terminal (terminal emulator)
  • Kupfer (command launcher)
  • Firefox (for general web browsing)
  • Chromium (as “webapp runtime”)
  • Geary (mail client)
  • California (calendar)
  • Gnome Contacts (contact manager)
  • Go For It! (productivity, sorry for shameless self-promotion…)
  • Corebird (twitter client)
  • Okular (PDF reader)
  • Sublime Text (text editor)
  • Lollypop + Spotify (music players)

You might ask yourself, what I mean by “webapp runtime”. I prefer to think of websites like Google+ or Facebook Messenger as apps, rather than websites. Thus I do not want them to clutter my browser tab list, but interact with them as if they were native applications. This is done by creating .desktop files with mLauncher, which execute chromium with the --app=url parameter and specify the corresponding icon.

My favourite tool on any Linux desktop is the Kupfer command launcher for which I have written a few plugins myself. To enable multi touch (up to 4 fingers) gestures on my Thinkpad t450s, I run xSwipe and I use xbindkeys to define keyboard shortcuts.

If you wonder, why I use KDE’s PDF reader on a GTK setup I can understand you. Basically, I need it for “academic reasons”: Okular’s highlighting functionality is unbeatable. I read a lot of scientific papers and I rely on the ability of using differently coloured markers. Morever it plays nicely together with LaTeX in regard to biderectional search and it is well integrated into KBibTex, which I use to organise my references. Also if you set your KDE settings to match the GTK theme and disable the toolbar, Okular actually looks quite clean and well integrated.

Session and Login

The whole desktop session is initiated via startx using my custom .xinitrc, which is based on a snippet from the Arch Wiki. If I want to lock my screen, I use i3lock for which I have created a .desktop file with mLauncher, aswell.


The above is far from being complete. There are many settings and details that I might not have mentioned in the post. Feel free to ask, if you encounter any questions or problems.

Enjoy customizing your Linux desktop ;-)

Desktop Touchpads for Linux: Logitech T650 vs. Apple Magic Trackpad banner image

Desktop Touchpads for Linux: Logitech T650 vs. Apple Magic Trackpad

Monday, 03 November, 2014

📜 Archived

Working “on the road” a lot I have grown used to touchpads and have developed a slight aversion to mice (the gadgets, not the animals).

Due to that I caught myself sitting around with my notebook even when I was at home where I could be spending time at my desk with a docking station, a proper keyboard and a bigger screen. So I decided it was time to replace my mouse with a modern touch device.

My requirements were as follows:

  • GNU+Linux compatibility (of course)
  • Ability to recognize a multitude of gestures
  • Appealing haptics, design and build quality

After some research it turned out that the most promising canidates appeared to be the Logitech T650 and Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Look and Feel

Both devices are a pleasure to interact with, as they have big glassy surfaces and a “valuable overall feeling” to them. The Magic Trackpad feels a bit sturdier as it is mostly composed of metal parts. Moreover it looks somewhat more “modern” whereas I considered the T650 to be a better match for the other components of my setup. Mechanical clicks on the T650 require a decent amount of pressure which can be tedious after a longer usage period.


The Logitech T650 comes with its own dongle consuming one of my valuable USB slots. It was recognized after plugging in the dongle and turning on the device. As long as one sticks to Logitech products it is possible to connect up to six devices to that dongle using the Unifying Device Technology which is being brought to Linux by the Solaar project.

This policy of urging customers to buy more and more products of a particualar brand by using proprietary interfaces that are desigend to exclude or obstruct competitors’ products is often associated with Apple. In this particular case it is actually the other way round: The Apple Magic Trackpad uses the well established Bluetooth technology for connecting to the computer. This was achieved in less than a minute on Xubuntu 14.04 by pairing the device via the Blueman applet using the PIN 0000.

Gesture Recognition and Setup

The first thing to do with the T650 for Linux support is a firmware upgrade, because otherwise not even “tap to click” is functional. Unfortunately the software required for that procedure is only available for Windows, which was the first obstacle for me. Gestures get interpreted in the device’s hardware which then sends key events that are meant to trigger (Windows 8 specific) events. By mapping these keys to meaningful commands in the XFCE system settings I was able to make use of the built in gestures, which are limited to two and three finger swipes as well as (somewhat uncomfortable) edge swipes. I was not able to manage software like Touchégg or Ginn to recognize  “real gestures” using both the synaptics and the evdev driver.

The Magic Trackpand on the other hand sends events that can be properly interpreted by Touchégg. I am using the synaptics driver for gestures of up to two fingers as it provides the smoothest scrolling experience and best integration with certain applications and Touchégg for dealing with everything that involves three or more fingers. For that purpose one must disable synaptic’s 3 finger recognition. This can be achieved by setting TapButton3 and ClickFinger3 to “0” via the synclient command (temporary) or a specific xorg configuration (permanent). Up to 5 fingers are being recognized and I have used swipe, drag, pinch and (double) tap gestures so far. KWin, which I use as window manager provides a lot of “fancy gimmicks” like smooth workspace switching animations and the “Present Windows” effect (comparable to OSX’s “Exposé”), which feels very natural when triggered by multitouch gestures.


The T650 has a built-in battery. While this has the advantage of being rechargeable, it comes with the downside of being hard to replace (Never forget that batteries are wearing parts!). The Magic Trackpad is powered by 2 AA batteries which means that a regular battery change will be necessary. I cannot judge about the runtime as my testing period is not long enough, but both are reported to run for several weeks when used on a regular base.


The Magic Trackpad is about twice as expensive as the T650, which is to be considered when comparing the two. I am lucky to get my mine used for a lower price, because a friend of mine has no need for the one that came bundled to his iMac.


The Magic Trackpad outperforms the T650 in almost every category I consider important. On the other hand you could save $30 if the aforementioned disadvantages of the T650 are not relevant to you. Moreover it must not be left aside that both devices may perform different on the platform they were orignially designed for. So if you are not using GNU+Linux exclusively but dual boot to OSX or Windows 8 then you may choose to buy the corresponding device so you can get the most out of your touchpad.

Some Additional Information about Touchégg

If you do not like to write configuration files by hand you may want to have a look at Touchegg GCE which offers a graphical frontend to set up Touchégg gestures. Moreover it is advised to build Touchégg from source if you want to use pinch gestures, because your distribution may not package the newest version where a pinching related bug has been fixed.

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