Daniël Lacko

@lackodan

Biomedical software engineer and product development researcher. Interested in health care, product design, human-computer interaction, personal productivity, eastern philosophy and ethics of technology.

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Oh ... Hello, World

Why hello there, dear subscriber. I'm not sure I am quite ready for you yet, but there you are. And I was so sure I still had some time before someone would be reading these words. Ah well, to borrow Vonnegut's words (and buy some time before putting down more of my own): so it goes. Let me thank you and apologise. Thank you, because without that mail announcing your existence; I might not be typing this right now. It's late, there is still some work to do, I am incredibly tired, and I'm not particularly inspired. If I was writing only for myself, I would probably prefer convenience over consistency. It is thanks to you that I am here instead.

Still, as far as letting go goes, I will allow myself to be a bit lazy today. I will choose something that is easy to let go of. (Mind you, it was not easy to find something easy.) In reviewing my to do-lists, I started taking out activities for the explicit purpose of this letting go-exercise and writing them down in a separate note. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that it's not really tasks or hobbies that I am trying to let go off. What I really want to let go off are identities. After all, it is my attachment to these identities, and to the stories I create around them, that is causing most of my suffering. So I started grouping my activities according to the role or identity they belong to, and eliminated the one that appealed to me the least. That is to say, today I am letting go of my (desired) identity as a smart investor. Somewhere at the end of last year I got the idea into my head that I should be doing something "smart" with my savings and that keeping all of them on a savings account was not it. I went to a bank, had a talk with one of their people about investments, opened an account, took home some folders, and ... nothing. Since then, this has been sitting in the back of my mind as something that still needs to be taken care of. (Which makes me wonder about David Allen's statement that writing things down on a to do-list keeps them out of your mind.) The funny thing is, I never really cared a lot about making tons of money. I have the incredible fortune that I never needed to worry about money, that I could live very comfortably with my current salary for the rest of my life, and that I have the required degrees and skills to ensure job security. So why giving away my peace of mind to try and make more money, especially if I don't enjoy the process? I suppose this is why most millionaires also seem to never have enough, which is something I never really understood up until now. So at least I gained a new perspective out of the worrying. No mud, no lotus.

Side note: in the middle of writing this post, I got a call from my Red Cross division to help out with an appartment fire in Antwerp. I met with some colleague volunteers at the our base in Merksem, and even though we did not even make it out of the city before the alarm got called off, I realized again that I want to hold on to this identity as a first aid responder a bit longer. Even though this time I did nothing but change into my uniform and drive a for a few minutes, I'm perfectly satisfied with the knowledge that I could have helped if things turned out worse. No regrets about wasted time. No regrets about going to work tired tomorrow. Good. Okay, okay, I admit I also did enjoy driving around town with lights and sirens. Seems like my inner child is in perfect health. Now to take care of the adult and get some sleep. Good night!

Letting Go

I tried to repair my Logitech MX Anywhere 2 mouse yesterday. I did not enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I was greatly frustrated throughout most of the evening. The problem was that the left mouse button was no longer correctly registering a click-and-hold, so I started missing parts of selection or dropping files in folders that they had no business being in. Apparently this is a common problem with Logitech mice, going back all the way to the G500. This made me very unhappy. When I pay a premium price for a device, I expect that device to function correctly for a reasonable time -- let's say at least a year or so. I don't think I've had that MX Anywhere for more than six months. To think I have been recommending Logitech stuff to my friends and family for at least a decade! In retrospect, I think I must have suffered from a sort of Stockholm syndrome. A long long time ago, I bought the original MX Anywhere and was extremely satisfied with it. I might have still been using it if it supported Logitech's unifying receiver technology. After that, I bought the next generation of the MX Anywhere. Its sensor did not track on white surfaces such as a sheet of paper or a white tabletop. Extremely annoying, but my father had the same mouse and it worked perfectly fine, so I accepted the fact that I had gotten hold of a lemon. (Danny's law, as my colleagues are now calling it.) I did not return it for warranty because my previous experiences with customer service had crushed part of my belief in humanity. Rightly so, as you will find out in a little while. After that, my next Logitech product was a gaming mouse; the one with all of the side buttons. Unfortunately (again), one of those side buttons did not register keypresses correctly. Since I was still not in good terms with customer service, I fixed that issue myself by opening up the mouse and putting some tape over the button switch. It gave myself a pat on the back for my repairman skill and called it a day. Some more time passed, and the current revision of the MX Anywhere 2 came out. It was glorious! Not only did it still have the form factor I had come to love, it charged by USB, allowed for use while recharging, offered the choice to connect either via Bluetooth or a unifying dongle, had internal profiles to connect to three different devices, and -- last but not least -- was beautifully designed with the geometric textures and the unique colouring. So I shelled out 60 euros (or was it 80?) for a computer mouse. It was everything I ever expected. So much so, that I ended up also buying the MX Master 2 (100 euros) a little while later. It was the perfect team: the Master at the office and the Anywhere on the go.

The dream team, however, dit not last very long. First, the MX Master broke: the button that toggled the scroll wheel flywheel mode stopped working. An internet search revealed it was a common problem, so I opened up the mouse and fixed it. However, after having spent so much money on Logitech over the years, I was getting very annoyed with their build quality. Then the MX Anywhere 2 issue showed up. And believe it or not, that was not even the last drop! No, I was close to giving up on Logitech altogether, but I decided to give them one final chance and write to their customer support. I received absolutely no response for a few weeks. After that, a brief automated message to "apologize" for the late response, but it had been very busy at Logitech. They assumed I had already resolved the issue myself and would automatically be closing it shortly. If the problem was still not resolved, I could always open a new ticket. And so my perpetual dissapointment at what passes for customer services was yet again reaffirmed, and I had to resort to repairing the mouse myself again. Longer story short, no dice! I spent a few hours taking a part microswitches, searching for tiny buttons and plastic parts after catapulting them on the floor multiple times, and finally breaking one of the tiny but crucial parts of the switch as I t ried to adjust it. The MX Anywhere 2 is now on the way to its final resting place. From now on, since it is all Chinese crap with meaningless branding on it anyway, I will set my peripheral spending limits to Chinese crap as well.


Not to worry, though: this sad story is not without its merits. You see, I have lately been struggling a lot with all of my engagements and occupations. I currently have multiple jobs, multiple obligations and multiple interests. This was (sort of) fine for a long time, but now that I am approaching thirty, I feel inclined to take it down a notch and focus on what really matters. As it is, it's all taking up too much energy and I not achieving any sense of fulfillment. Like Bilbo Baggings says, I feel like butter spread out too thin on a piece of toast. The thing is, I have been thinking about this for a long time, and I really cannot rationally decide on what to keep. I would very much like to take a bottom-up approach, and be able to say: "These activities are essential, and I will build my life around them." Unfortunatly, the passion-seeking approach is not working, so I have (finally) decided to take a different road. For at least the remainder of this week, I will let go one of my projects or ambitions every day. Hopefully, by cutting out everything that is not necessary, I will get closer to what feels like my purpose.

The first one to go, is the ambition to become a spare-time electronics repairman and fight planned obscolesence by only using and recommending devices that I repair myself. I would love to become an advocate for iFixit and to repair unreasonably broken devices for friends and family, but there are other things that I value more. If possible, I will still make my devices last a bit longer by performing simple repairs, but if not, I resolve to recycle and replace them. I will no longer feel compelled to only buy products I can open up; functionality, privacy, and ergonomics are more important. As I discovered yesterday, I am neither very good at it, nor do I enjoy it. Just because the word "electronics" is on one of my diplomas does not mean that I should devote my live to it. Other people will have to take this up. To quote Mewtwo: "This cannot be my destiny".


(On a side note: I cheated a bit. I'm letting go of two things today: my right-to-repair-crusade and my fear of putting my thoughts out there. Not only am I putting this stream of thoughts online, I am doing so without re-reading or editing it. Granted, the changes of someone actually reading this on Listed without me providing the link are very small, but clicking "publish" will be surprisingly scary. What if someone I know reads it and thinks less of me? What if I no longer agree with it tomorrow? What if I left some horrible spelling mistake in there? What if ...