Reviews by arx

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).

5 stars
Best OpenStreetMap Navigation App for iOS

I prefer OpenStreetMap, the open map data, to commercial offerings such as Google or (yikes!) Apple Maps - because of its open spirit, because anyone can contribute and improve the map, because you don’t get tracked about your every move and also simply because in many places in Europe OpenStreetMap these days has actually better, more accurate data.

However, OpenStreetMap is just a database - they provide a website to browse the map (, but no navigation apps or other tools when you are on the go. However, OpenStreetMap doesn’t need to, because – as the data is freely available – everyone can build navigation apps on top of the data source.

This is where Magic Earth comes into play: It uses OpenStreetMap data and I use their iPhone app almost daily:

  • It provides frequent map updates: OpenStreetMap receives updates from contributors every second, but it will take a while for that to feed into your favorite navigation app, with Magic Earth providing sufficiently frequent updates in my opinion.

  • It provides offline maps for free: you can download as many maps as you like (and you have storage space for) to your device, meaning you can use them offline when there is no cellphone reception, you are roaming abroad or you just want to save on bandwidth. And, contrary to some other offline maps, it also supports searching for addresses or points-of-interests (POI) while you are offline.

  • It provides beautiful maps (3D views etc.) and a useful selection of POIs (restaurants etc.) which makes it easy to find your way around even if you’re not using the navigation mode.

  • It implements a very good routing algorithm, providing different choices of shortest, fastest etc. routes and can take into account traffic conditions in many regions of the world.

  • It’s navigation mode provides very clear indications and also supports lane indications (if the lanes have been mapped in OpenStreetMap, which unfortunately is not yet the case everywhere but is improving) and max speed warnings.

  • It is free.

For me, Magic Earth is the best navigation app on iOS, beating competitors such as (which I also like), primarily due to its superior navigation features, POI (points-of-interest) selection and just general usability. The latter, of course, is very subjective and your tastes may vary – but since Magic Earth is free, you might just as well give it a try and delete it again if you don’t like it!

5 stars
Recommended on your way to Mont Orford

We had dinner here on our way to Parc National du Mont Orford, finding this restaurant by accident, and we have seldomly been so lucky: We already knew we were in for a treat based on how busy the restaurant was, and we were not disappointed: Far from the ubiquitous burgers, Pinocchio presents a varied menu of dishes, and all of which we tasted were excellent!

The portions are reasonable, which means that you might be disappointed if you are into huge portions. However, this also means that you will have room for a dessert, which is a huge upside: definitely try the “Mi-Cuit” if you are a chocolate lover, or the “Pudding Chômeur” if you are more the maple fan.

4 stars
My favorite French learning app

Babbel is my favorite app to learn a foreign language (French, in my case) and I use their website and iOS app for learning.

While I started out with Duolingo (which, contrary to Babbel, is free), in my experience Duolingo will become pretty repetitive quite soon and you will reach the end of their learning ladder without really speaking the language all that well. Babbel includes a ton of content for learning French, which starts with the basics but moves on to very advanced vocabulary – I’m still not all the way through it! I also prefer that they actually have human-made dialogues (some of them are actually quite nice mini-stories) and actually explain the grammar to you (not only by trail-and-error translation exercises but by actually explaining the concepts behind it).

Thanks to Babbel, I feel far more confident speaking French these days. I would argue that none of these apps can replace human interaction, especially to train your speaking skills, so you might still want to invest in a French teacher, but they are a good way to get started and for low-friction learning when you’re waiting for a bus etc.

What I would prefer is for Babbel to include more gamification like Duolingo does - you can argue that it is a bit sad to need such artificial encouragement to stay on it, but I will admit that Duolingo’s “streaks” and points really do motivated me to keep going, while Babbel requires more self-discipline. If they would include these features, they would get five stars from me.