Reviews by arx

5 stars
Little 60s/70s style bijou outside of Paris mainstream

This small restaurant in Paris’ 20th arrondissement is not exactly at a tourist hotspot – which is probably what adds to its charm. The restaurant is lovingly decorated in a vintage 60s/70s style and you really feel like you are sitting in a friends’ living room. A friend with a somewhat eccentric taste, that is, but blessed with amazing cooking skills.

We had a very, very nice dinner at Chez Elle, with wonderful French cuisine at a very fair price (the full menu is 13.50 EUR), and will definitely come here again on our next stay in Paris. It is well worth the metro trip up to Télégraphe station!

Mpow Flame Wireless Sport Headphones
3 stars
Ok and cheap, but nothing more

I was looking for new sports headphones and after reading the reviews on Amazon which compared those “Mpow” headphones favourably to the Beats Powerbeats line I thought I would give them a try - at 30 CAD they are really cheap.

I have never tried the Beats headphones, but if they are really comparable to these this is not a great endorsement for the Beats line. First, the good: They fit well, don’t fall off and pairing works well. Battery power is sufficient for a longer run. But sound quality is pretty mediocre (and I am not a hi-fi connoisseur). If you don’t need Bluetooth, you are (in my opinion) better off to get similarly priced headphones with a cable connection which will have much better sound quality.

4 stars
Nice café / coworking place in the heart of Bordeaux

Anticafé is called anti-café because it works differently than a regular café: You don’t pay for what you consume but for the time you spend there (5 EUR / hour, capped at 24 EUR / day). While you are there you can freely consume their (great!) coffee (with a very good selection - including cappucino, hot chocolate etc.) and from a little buffet with cookies, cake, nachos etc.

The good part about this approach is that you don’t need to feel guilty to occupy a space for a long time - making the Anticafé also a great co-working space. The wifi is decent, they have comfortable and varied seating areas (some more couch-like, others with real tables; if they get busy it might be a bit difficult to find a good spot) and overall a very comfortable, friendly vibe. What you should note, however, is that they sell themselves more as a café than a coworking space, which primarily means that people chatting around you is to be expected. If you thrive in a vibrant environment, this could be the space for you, if you want to work in a quieter environment a coworking space with quiet areas might be better suited for you.

They would definitely get five stars from me if it weren’t for the very diverse coworking scene in Bordeaux: Their prices are more expensive than e.g. the Buro des Possibles or the Bac A Sables and I find the former more cozy (plus better wifi and the option to have lunch there), while the latter is larger and offers different areas e.g. for quiet or not-so-quiet working. But definitely check out all three of them for yourself, they are all great choices and your mileage may vary (YMMV)!

4 stars
Organising something? Use Framaforms to collect responses.

Framaforms is a quick solution to design web-based forms and collect responses through these forms. The responses can then be exported as spreadsheets or viewed as charts and aggregate tables on the website. It is an alternative to Google Forms, allowing you to ask your users to fill in a form without having to hand their data over to Google.

I am using Framaforms for a couple of projects and use cases and have to say it is very reliable, has so far satisfied all my needs and in fact provides many more features that I currently need - you can set-up emails to both the users completing the forms and you as recipient, you can style the form in various ways, it supports a ton of form elements and sophisticated validation rules to evaluate form input. The only downside (and why it only gets four stars) is that your forms expire after six months unless you renew them (renewing them is as simple as logging in and changing the expiry date, but still it’s a bit inconvenient…).

Framaforms is hosted in Europe by the Framasoft non-profit, which provides hosted open-source alternatives to many services of the Internet giants Google et al. It is based on Drupal’s Webform module, which you can also self-host if you prefer full control.

5 stars
Cute café offering much more than delicious marmelade

Its website advertises L‘Étagère Gourmande as a shop for marmalade, but it is also an extremely cute café with nice, «pètit» plates such as deliciously topped toasts, soups etc.

We went there for brunch and I guess there are two types of brunch: if you are looking for huge, protein-filled plates of Eggs Benedict, L’Étagère Gourmande is probably not for you. Otherwise, definitely go there: the brunch menu (at $29 not that cheap, though) includes a small plate of crêpes with delicious, self-made marmelade, two amazing «tartes» and a small glass of granola-marmelade yogurt. It left me feeling rejuvenated for the rest of the day!

And if you aren’t travelling with light luggage, like we were, afterwards you will almost definitely also buy some of their marmelade to take back home.

5 stars
Why let your reviews be kept hostage by others?

I like writing reviews. I like helping out others in discovering new bars or restaurant, avoiding tourist traps or crappy products and in general discovering cool new stuff. However, it has always nagged me that I am really writing for free for those huge corporations that then go on to sell ads (or apply, as with for example Yelp, even shadier business tactics) next to my reviews.

So, for me at least, is the solution: Not only can you review everything that has an URL (which, let’s face it, today is basically anything), but your reviews will be published under an open license so that everyone can freely download and benefit from them (similar to Wikipedia or OpenStreetMap). And by integrating with open data sources such as Wikidata or (hopefully in the future) OpenStreetMap, the reviews will be tied into a vibrant, open and truly free data ecosystem.

4 stars
Nice café and great selection of pastry

Les Cousins is a mixture of French bakery and café. They sell a variety of pastry, including savoury dishes like pizza or pies that you can take home and heat up in the oven. But they are also a café with great cappuccino bowls and different sweets to accompany them.

Due to the mixture of bakery and café, it is not the most cozy café I have ever been to, but personally I like watching the people going in and out. And did I mention that they have great coffee and sweets? They also always have a broad newspaper selection available. And in summer they also have a terrace where you can enjoy the sun and watch Avenue Cartier.

4 stars
My go-to browser on iOS to quickly look something up

To be upfront: Firefox Focus[1] for iOS is not a full-featured browser. And it doesn’t aim to be. It has no bookmarks, no tabs and doesn’t store your browsing history. When you close it and re-open it after a while, it will have forgotten all your logged in websites. And it also isn’t a browser in the sense that even though it is called “Firefox”, it is using Apple’s WebKit engine to render websites, not the Firefox engine. (This last point is not a voluntary decision, as Apple does not allow third-party browser engines on iOS.)

However, just because it is not a full-featured browser, it is perfect to quickly look something up on the go: It is fast, uncluttered and dead simple to use. It blocks trackers and ads, greatly speeding up page loading times especially on slow connections (although it can be a bit overzealous on some websites). And because it forgets by design, it preserves your privacy (both against the pervasive tracking on the Internet as well as against someone who looks through your phone).

At first, I was pretty sceptical about the concept - but now I have to say that more likely than not I will tap on Firefox instead of Safari when I just want to quickly look at some website on my iPhone. Sometimes I would still wish for simple bookmarks, but maybe it is a good thing that wishes like those remain unfulfilled: they would compromise its simplicity and thus its value.

[1]: Or “Firefox Klar”, as it is called in the German-speaking countries where it is by default even a bit more private.

4 stars
Best automated online translator, beating Google hands-down

DeepL is a machine-learning based online translator, similar to Google Translate and others: You enter text in the box on the left and it will output the text translated to another language in the box on the right. In my experience (mainly translating between English, German and/or French) it provides very, very impressive and definitely far better results than any other automated translator I have tested. The translation is almost always very understandable and often nearly flawless.

They also provide a (paid) API if you want to use DeepL translations in your own products.

Only downsides (and why it only gets four stars):

  • It only supports relatively few European languages compared to Google Translate (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish; in particular no Chinese or other Asian languages).
  • It cannot translate whole webpages, you always need to copy-&-paste the specific text you want to translate.
  • While it is the best automated translator on the market, it is still not as good as a human translator.

5 stars
Best crowdfunding platform with the lowest fees

Liberapay is a platform for recurrent donations to creators and other individuals or organisations worth supporting. Sign-up, loading money and setting up your recurrent donations is straight-forward, so that you really have no excuse not to support your favorite creators.

Contrary to its commercial counterparts (such as Patreon), Liberapay is a non-profit, its code is open source and it does not take a cut (except for payment fees) from the money flowing between donors and recipients. Payment fees are kept low by offering SEPA bank transfers in addition to credit card payments. This means that significantly more of your money will actually reach the intended recipient instead of paying for the profits of venture capital investors.

The only potential downside is that Liberapay is strictly a donations platform: you cannot provide “perks” to your supporters as is possible with Patreon and others. The reason for this is that this way you are really receiving donations and not providing a service, which I guess might make things easier depending on your countries’ laws (e.g. regarding taxes, social security, and/or liability).