After Life Season 3

Finished watching Season 3 of After Life with Ricky Gervais last night. Felt like he had to do season 3 to wrap up the series and some of it felt forced and there were more than a few scenes of dog-walking that just felt like filler material so that they could stretch season 3 out to six episodes.

Despite all that, I’m glad we watched it. Gervais’ character is such that he makes you really confront what it might be like to go through various phases of losing someone you love dearly and, like he does when he’s not playing this character, he makes you confront uncomfortable truths with laughter.

Like Chappelle, Gervais seems to know that some material is so sensitive that the only way that most of us are going to confront it is if we can laugh while doing so together, even if it’s uncomfortable laughter. And we’re better people for confronting it than denying or ignoring the material.

In any case, despite Season 3 feeling a little long-winded, the entire 3 seasons are absolutely worth a Netflix binge if you haven’t seen them.

More on sleep

I think about it most when I’m getting the least of it. Anyway, very good piece in the nytimes about relationship between diet and sleep. I know that on nights when I get 6hrs of spotty sleep, it is very difficult to say no to the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru.

Per several of the studies mentioned in this article, that’s because insufficient sleep increases ghrelin, the hormone that makes you hungry. It’s a viscous cycle though because the more crap you eat, the worse your sleep (and the more crap you want to eat).

The takeaway is that diet and sleep are entwined. Improving one can help you improve the other and vice versa, creating a positive cycle where they perpetuate one another, said Dr. Susan Redline, a senior physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies diet and sleep disorders.

Last.fm to Apple Music playlist shortcut

This is a pretty handy Swiss Army knife-type shortcut for creating Apple Music Playlists from last.fm data. I originally wrote it so that I could create Apple Music playlists based upon the listening history of my last.fm musical neighbors. But as I started poking around on the web, I noticed that last.fm users were looking for ways to play their own playlists on Apple Music, too.

There are a few key variables in the shortcut, most are defined through menus as you run the shortcut. The only two you need to explicitly add to the top of the shortcut are username and APIKEY. You can get a last.fm API key here.

Username: the name of the user to use for a data source. I run this with my own username but also run it every once in a while with my musical neighbors’ usernames to create discovery-type playlists

Period: overall | 7day | 1month | 3month | 6month | 12month – The time period over which to retrieve top tracks for. You’ll select this from a menu when you run the shortcut.

Threshold (e.g. only include songs that have been listened to more than x times): the rationale for this variable is sometimes when creating a playlist you only want to include tracks that you (or whatever username you’re querying) has listened to multiple times. You’ll select this threshold from a menu when you run the shortcut.

Limit: the number of tracks to pull (note that if you select 50 tracks here but set the # of times listened threshold to a high number the playlist will only include the tracks that meet that threshold so may include less than 50 tracks).

This has been working pretty reliably for me for the past week or so, so I’m sending v 1.0 out into the world, hope you enjoy and find it useful. You can download it here.

Sick all of the time.

I’m always on the lookout for clues as to why I get sick more frequently than most folks and why, when I do get sick, my colds last so much longer. I came across this study which adds additional weight to my theory that one cause is that for reasons I cannot really do much about, my sleep sucks.

Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness…

There was a graded association with average sleep duration: participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-7.30) more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep. The association with sleep efficiency was also graded: participants with less than 92% efficiency were 5.50 times (95% CI, 2.08-14.48) more likely to develop a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency

 

What’s especially interesting here is the sleep efficiency bit. I track my sleep using my Apple Watch and an application called AutoSleep. It is fairly reliable and I have at least a year’s worth of sleep data collected now. It’s interesting to see how lower sleep efficiency relates to lower heart rate variability when I dig into the Health app. This quote, especially, was striking:

even a minimal habitual sleep disturbance (sleep losses of 2%-8%, 10-38 minutes for an 8-hour sleeper) is associated with 3.9 times the risk of developing a cold.

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AutoSleep data on the iPhone

What’s a bit confusing for me though is how many nights in a given period can sleep efficiency fall below 92% before that 3.9x risk occurs. Surely one night or two nights over a 2 week period (the length of the study) can’t cause this 3.9x risk. 

Still, taken as a whole/moving average over a 2 week period, it does seem like one of the AutoSleep numbers I should be looking at it sleep efficiency. 

 

Quickly Share Marvis settings across devices

I was struggling to keep my Marvis player settings in sync across multiple iOS devices and landed on this really low friction solution:

Go to Settings->Advanced->Export Settings and then use the share sheet the pops up to AirDrop the file to your secondary devices. The receiving device will automatically open the file in Marvis and import the new settings.

Apple Music Library Organization & Marvis

A few weeks ago I began using an iOS app called Marvis (which, I cannot recommend enough for helping to organize and find albums/playlists in your Apple Music). Using Marvis, I’ve created a few rule/filter sets that help me surface albums I haven’t listened to in a while.

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However, what I am finding is a disappointingly large number of albums I have ripped or collected in MP3/FLAC over the years are incomplete. 

Take this Neil Young album, After the Gold Rush for example:

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Why in the world am I missing track 3?

I know that I own this CD and ripped it myself. I’m totally confused as to why the track is missing. At first I thought Apple’s Cloud Sync was somehow to blame and that this track was just missing in my Apple Library but not on the actual filesystem. No such luck. It’s missing on my external SSD as well as on my backup drive. 

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I am totally confused about what’s going on here! 

The Great Purge

Marvis has helped me realize that I have a bunch of albums in my Apple Music Library that I am never going to listen to. Stuff that I’ve acquired over the past 20 years or so. In the early years of digital audio, in a frenzy of “digital music acquisition syndrome” I just piled my external drives up with all sorts of garbage as friends and I would trade drives. For example, I like some Bjork now and then, but do I need her complete library? Prob not.

Anyway, I have set a goal to reduce my Apple Music Library to just the essentials. I’ll keep complete albums that matter to me and remove stuff that I’ll probably never spin. But while I remove the cruft from my Apple Library, I’ll keep the source files on my filesystem/external drive so that if I ever want to reimport them, I can. 

Which leads me back to my incomplete album problem. Some of the albums I want to keep in my Library have ended up being incomplete which is a bummer.

As usual, Doug AdamsDoug’s Applescripts site has a script I can run to help me at least determine which of my albums are incomplete. Albums Amiss has proven especially helpful:

This script uses track information to calculate whether a particular batch of tracks with the same Album title represent an incomplete or over-complete album, with either too few or too many requisite album tracks. Such batches will be copied to a discrete results playlist where they can be examined. The entire Music library or an individially selected Smart playlist can be scanned. (To be clear: the script does not check some kind of online database; it uses the extant local track entry information. Thus, tag accuracy is essential.)

Of the 2,400 or so albums currently in my library (I’ve already purged about 300, so, progress!) this AppleScript found 700 that are incomplete. Now, at least some of those are because my track entry tags are missing but a lot are just plain incomplete albums. So this helps jumpstart the purge in 2 ways:

  • Start by reviewing the albums that are missing tracks for stuff I’ll never listen to and remove it from my library
  • Determine which incomplete albums I want to rerip from CD (and do so in some kind of lossless format this time around)

Hopefully when this little project is done, I’ll have an Apple Music Library that consists of complete albums that I want to listen to and not a lot of cruft. From there, I ought to be able to build out some especially useful/inspiring lists in Marvis. 

This, combined with my current habit of buying vinyl from artists I’m currently digging, makes me feel like I’m moving just the tiniest bit away from streaming as my preferred way of listening to music. 

Anyway, if you are interested in learning more about Marvis, here is a terrific writeup of the application from Marc Barrowclift.

The Tyranny of the Filing Cabinet

I have been thinking a lot about the relative merits of two different ways of storing files: a robust and well-executed hierarchical folder/file system vs tagging/metadata files. I’m thinking about this in the context of a work project but also in light of something L.M. Sacacas wrote a while back in, A World Ordered Only By Search, one of his excellent newsletters from Convivial Society.

“There comes a point when our capacity to store information outpaces our ability to actively organize it, no matter how prodigious our effort to do so.”

For many computer users of my generation, the filing cabinet has been a very useful metaphor for a computer’s directory system. Organizing computer files in nested folders is a reasonable extension of how the physical office space has always worked. That said, I’ve been considering a few of the limitations of the file/nested folder metaphor on computers that is probably hitting almost 30 years old at this point, if not more.

1.) As this metaphor has been the primary way of understanding file organization for almost 30 years, we now have a generation of computer users who have never seen an actual filing cabinet or manilla file folder. The metaphor and filing system are lost on them, especially as this generation has almost certainly grown up using gmail or similar for their email which relies on searching, not organizing emails into folders.

2.) In the file/folder model of file storage, a file can only exist in one place at one time. In this case we’ve taken a limitation of the physical world (“get me the invoice for last month from the Facilities folder”) and carried it over to the digital domain (“let me save this invoice in the Facilities folder”). In the world of tagging and metadata though, a file can exist in multiple places at the same time. (“Let me tag this document as an “invoice” and as related to “Facilities.”) The same instance of a file can live in multiple collections at once, transcending the limitations of the physical filing cabinet.

3.) Now, getting back to that Sacacas quote from above: folder hierarchies require some internalized understanding of how the filing system works. It is very rare to encounter a hierarchical file system that is self-documenting enough that a new employee could file a document without any sort of training.  Moreover, as anyone who has maintained even the most well-manicured and maintained hierarchical file system knows, sometimes you’ve got to fall back on searching because you just can’t recall where it made sense to put some document. Tagging removes the burden of having to recall the “why” of a folder system.

All of this said, searching is an imperfect solution. Just creating some kind of junk drawer for your data, the hot mess that Sacacas refers to in his piece, is not sustainable for an organization. Some kind of tagging needs to be implemented if searching is going to work. However, tagging does introduce some friction into the file management process, so we’re trading the present convenience of quickly being able to drop a file into a folder in some well-manicured hierarchy for the tedium of tagging a file when it needs to be saved with the future promise that this document will be easier to find. Either way, if not at the individual level than absolutely at the organizational level, our curation, collection and creation of digital data has totally outpaced our ability to manage it using the outdated metaphor of a filing cabinet.

“We build external rather than internal archives. And we certainly don’t believe that interiorizing knowledge is a way of fitting the soul to the order of things. In part, because the very idea of an order of things is implausible to those of us whose primary encounter with the world is mediated by massive externalized databases of variously coded information.” 

That quote is from the same Sacacas piece where, citing Illich, he goes on to discuss how when the “text” became detached from the “book” the individual became detached from the community. Much of this makes me think about how work will change:

When an office migrates to tagging and becomes detached from the geological layers of meaning embedded in its folder structures, what will happen to shared understanding of the business that was represented by those folders?

I’d love to hear any thoughts/feedback on this. Feel free to get in touch.

2021 Year End Music Review

Started writing this in my journal but figure it’s probably something share-worthy, here’s a quick look at what I listened to in 2021. Planning on using last.fm this year to better track this stuff.

Telecaster/Guitar music

Earlier this year during lockdown I picked up a very nice used American Telecaster. I love it. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from my Gibson 335. They both have their place in my playing/songwriting. Anyway, picking up the tele got me listening to way more tele players including a lot of Kenny Vaughan and Marty Stuart.

Reading a bunch of Kenny Vaughan interviews, he kept mentioning Hollywood Fats, Roy Nichols and Roy Lanham so I did a lot of digging on their playing over the past year.

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Somewhere in that dive on tele players, I came across Ripley Johnson who is not at all like Kenny Vaughan but as soon as I heard him playing with his Rose City Band, I immediately went over to the Thrill Jockey website and bought all of the Rose City Band albums on vinyl. There’s something that reminds me of the more melodic exploration/noodling of Jerry Garcia’s playing in Johnson’s playing and I love his tone and the sound environment of the Rose City Band albums so he was a really welcomed accidental discovery this year. He reminds me a bit of William Tyler, too, but maybe more accessible or less demanding than Tyler who I didn’t listen to as much this year as I did in 2020.

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I listened to the Jerry on Jerry audiobook this year which I highly recommend for any fans of Jerry Garcia and his playing. So much good material in there and it’s Jerry’s actual voice on the interviews so that’s a joy, too. He mentions this fiddle player, Scotty Stoneman, in a couple of the interviews and that ended up being a very useful vein to mine on the streaming services and it yielded a live show where he’s playing with Clarence White though you can’t hear Clarence too well on the recording. Still great listening and I could hear that sense of abandon and really long melodic phrases in Stoneman’s playing that Jerry was so drawn to.

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Pop/Country, etc.

I continued my deep dive into Bahamas. During a break in covid my son and a friend of mine headed up into NY to see Afie Jurvanen at Webster Hall and it did not disappoint even though it was a solo show and it would have been great to see him with a full band but, man, what a great player/performer/songwriter. I’ve gone back to his Live to Tape videos on YouTube so many times this year.

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Also listed many times to Sierra Ferrell’s Long Time Coming. Great songwriting, fantastic performances. Such a listenable ablum, i should buy the vinyl version if its available (or would if they were not all sold out!). Her album deserves to be sold out, all killer, no filler!

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Also, waded a bit into the Hiss Golden Messenger waters. I heard Way Back in the Way Back on our local 90.5 The Night radio station on my way to a gig. Immediately after hearing it on the radio I fired it up on Spotify and listened to it about 5 times in row. Love the guitar tone on the outro solo. I listened to a few albums and spun Quietly Blowing It many times and while they were all good, nothing grabbed me like that first song.

Same is mostly true about The War on Drugs latest, I Don’t Live Here Anymore. I spun that album quite a few times. I’m not sure if it’s because of a lack of hooks or just my lack of attention but nothing from those repeated listening really stuck with me though when I fire it up when I’m putting the dishes away in the kitchen, etc, there is a really nice comfortable familiarity to the album so it may just be taking a while for it to stick.

My son had been telling me about King Gizzard for months now and every time I put them on I just wasn’t feeling it. Until I heard their latest release, Butterfly 3000. Perhaps my favorite album of 2021. I love everything about this album from the songwriting to the sonic landscape. It’s all so new and fresh to my ears and melodic, too.

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John Mayer Sob Rock. A few tracks on this really stuck with me and I love the whole shitpost vibe of the album and the sounds are just incredible and are like a nostalgia bath for the ears.

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Other

I have no idea how I landed on this album but I must have listened to it 25 times this year and still find it to be one of my favorite to listen to when I’m up before dawn waiting for a reasonable hour to start making coffee:

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iOS and Last.fm

Really a bummer that iOS makes it so tricky to log listening to last.fm. While on vacation this week I haven’t been sitting at my computer that much and have been doing a bunch of listening on my iPhone and iPad and very little of what I’ve listened to is showing up in my log over at last.fm. I’ve discovered some great music this week and feel like a bunch of those discoveries are gone now because I have no easy way of resurfacing them. Agh. So frustrating.

Support artists, buy vinyl?

I’ve been buying albums from new artists for the past year or so. If I find myself repeatedly listening to a new release on Spotify or Apple Music, I buy the record. It’s usually about $30 w/ shipping which is steep but I’ve long suspected that the margin is pretty good for the artist so, why not.

A couple of recent purchases are Yola from the Easy Eye store and a couple of Rose City Band releases from Thrill Jockey. Have listened to them a few times and really like having the artwork/liner notes.

Anyway, came across this today:

A vinyl record costs ~$7 to manufacture, and a band typically sells it directly to fans for $25 — good for $18 in profit.

By contrast, streaming services only pay out a fraction of a penny for each listen. 

A band would have to amass 450k streams on Spotify to match the profit of 100 vinyl sales.

So I think my assumption was correct that buying records from artists is a good way to support them. Anyway, so more interesting numbers around vinyl and supply chain are in the full article.

Getting better at tracking listening

I use this service called readwise that helps me remember what I read. I’ve posted about it before. 

Anyway, it occurs to me that I really need something similar for my listening. Like, what artists have I recently followed in Spotify or tracks I’ve dug Apple Music, etc. I think there’s probably some way to use iOS shortcuts to get at this info. Until then, I’ve resuscitated my last.fm account and paid for the year of Pro access so I can play around with the reports and API. I spent some time at lunch today hacking away at it. I think even just getting an email that looked like this grid below of my top albums from the past month would be a great first step. Note that some of these albums weren’t actually my top albums for the month but because of a bug in one of the apps I was using a bunch of songs got duplicate/triplicate counted. I think I’ve got that worked out. Anyway, nice little programming challenge for 2021!

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Focus mode for musicians on iOS

I’m sure there are a bunch of really excellent use cases for the new focus mode in iOS but this one that I created yesterday is a total game-changer for me. On so many occasions I’ve been playing guitar or recording something in garage band and had a phone call or text interrupt the recording session and it is really a challenge to remember to put on do not disturb each time I launch a recording session in GB.

Enter focus mode! I created a focus mode that turns off all alerts/interuptions called “Recording” and set it so that the mode is engaged every time I launch Garage Band. Focus mode is pretty intelligent and automatically puts all of my iOS devices in “Recording” mode as soon as I launch Garage Band. This is awesome and I highly recommend it!

 

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AirPlay 2 on Shairport

This is still in its infancy but it’s fantastic to see AirPlay 2 support making its way into Shairport/Linux. I haven’t tested this yet as I’ve been buying old AirPort Express (amazingly, they support AirPlay 2) devices to replace my Raspberry Pi’s but it’ll be fun to pull out a raspberry pi and try to get synchronized audio playing out on my patio speakers.

Long Form Article Reading on Kindle, Improved

Over the past year I’ve been using a service called Readwise.io to surface highlights from books I read on my Kindle and from articles I read on my iPad using Instapaper.

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The service has its flaws but all in all has been useful to me in helping me to remember what I’ve read and found important.

That said, I’m finding myself less inclined to wanting to read long form journalism on my iPad, especially at night in bed when I’m trying to stay away from screens or at the beach where my Kindle feels easier to read than my iPad.

I have spent the past couple of weeks cobbling together a collection of tools that makes reading long articles on my Kindle easier as well as saves any article highlights I’ve made to Readwise.

I wish that I could use Instapaper for this workflow but, while you can read Instapaper articles on the Kindle pretty easily, tracking highlights doesn’t work so well. So I’ve landed on the following:

Push to Kindle from fivefilters allows me to easily push web articles to my kindle from my Mac (via Safari extension), iPhone or iPad (nice, easy to configure dedicated iOS app)

I then read/highlight on my Kindle paperwhite

When I plug my Kindle into my Mac’s USB connection, the highlights are automatically sent to my Readwise account

This last bit requires a good bit of AppleScript sorcery but it’s pretty easy to achieve using EventScripts.

Basically, EventScripts notices when my Kindle is plugged in. Once it sees the Kindle is plugged in, it executes this AppleScript which emails the My Clippings.txt file automatically to readwise who then imports it.

Really pretty elegant stuff here that, I hope, shows the value proposition of many small/lightweight tools loosely coupled as opposed to some monolithic solution.

Apple Lossless Dolby Atmos

I scored a great deal on a NAD receiver/amplifier (with a phono preamp!) recently and finally had a chance to run it through its paces into my KEF Q150s. I primarily listen to vinyl through this setup but also have an older AirPort Express going into an outboard DAC via optical out so that I can stream music from Apple Music and Spotify via AirPlay from my iPad/iPhone.

Which is how I stumbled across the opportunity to check out some of Apple’s new Dolby Atmos versions of albums. First up was a quick run through Rush’s Moving Pictures. The Dolby Atmos logo showed up under the album art and I sent Tom Sawyer over to the NAD via AirPlay ready to have my socks blown off.

And it sounded like garbage. I did some A/B between the Apple version and the Spotify version and the plain old Spotify version sounded way better. So I did some digging and it turns out I was doing it all wrong.

The thing with Atmos-enabled albums is they should only be played on Atmos-capable speakers/headphones (like AirPod Pros or HomePods via Apple TV) not on a pair of regular KEF’s. It took me a while to figure out that it’s important to sanity check the Music settings on your iOS device to make sure everything is all cool before sending music over AirPlay.

When you go to Settings->Music->Dolby Atmos on your iPhone or iPad make sure it’s not set to Always On! If you put it on Automatic what happens is if you are playing through AirPod Pros (or other Atmos-enabled speaker) is that it plays that Atmos-version of the album but if you AirPlay to a regular stereo, it plays the Lossless instead.

I confirmed this and now when I choose to AirPlay to my HiFi system the logo under Moving Pictures changes from “Dolby Atmos” to “Lossless.” Pretty cool.

So, the regular stereo Lossless stuff sounds, as expected, pretty excellent through the NAD->KEF setup. Also, the Atmos stuff sounds pretty cool through the AirPod Pros I have, not sure if it’s anything more than a novelty at this point. Some mixes just sound a little wider but others (I stumbled on I Want You Back by Jackson 5) you can really hear the soundstage way more distinctly in the Atmos version as opposed to the plain stereo version.

I don’t do a lot of serious listening through my AirPods but if you have a pair and want to hear something really cool, click this link and wait about 10 seconds and then start to turn your head from side to side. Pretty cool, right?

So the next step here is to check out some Atmos stuff on my pair of stereo HomePods. I have a pair of the original HomePods and they sound killer as a stereo pair. Unfortunately you can’t airplay right from your phone to the HomePods and get Atmos-enabled sound. Instead you need to send audio from an Apple TV to the HomePods to get the Atmos features. Which isn’t too big of deal since we’ve got an Apple TV in the room with the stereo pair. I’m looking forward to checking that out.

Three key health metrics from Apple Watch – V02 Max, HRV and resting heart rate

As I finished up my run this AM, I checked my phone to look at the health data captured during the run. This is my habit and it got me thinking that based upon some recent conversations with friends of mine who got Apple Watches for Christmas, it feels like more than a few Apple Watch users are missing out by not regularly reviewing some of the key health metrics that the watch captures.

Of course, these metrics become more illustritive and valuable the longer you wear your watch. Meaning, you won’t learn a whole lot for a couple of weeks of data but, wear your watch for a few months or years and you’ve got some terrific baseline data to help you get a clearer picture of your overall health. Note, too, that the data your Watch sends to your phone can be viewed in both the Health app and the Fitness app. They offer different views into similar data but the Health app allows access to more data points and allows you to create favorite metrics, etc.

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The first step is realizing how much valuable information the Apple Watch (or other fitness tracker) sends to the Health app. That’s the white icon with the heart on it on your phone. Your watch sends all sorts of data to that app and you’ll want to just view the highlights using the “Summary” view in the Health app.

The first two metrics that I always make sure are on my iOS Health Summary screen are Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability. (If you’re not sure how to edit your iOS Health App Summary view: Launch Health app, click Summary in bottom left and then “edit” in upper right.)

The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate. In theory. More importantly, if you see your resting heart rate trending up or having huge spikes it could be a sign that you’re getting sick or something else is going on to impact your overall health.

Likewise, with heart rate variability (HRV). The greater the variability of your beat-to-beat rate, the healthier your autonomic nervous system. So, higher numbers here are better. If you see your HRV trending downwards it could be a sign that you’re getting sick or something else is going on. I wrote a post a while back about how big changes in both my resting heart rate and my HRV were clearly visible on my phone when I had Lyme’s disease.

Then there’s V02 Max (aka Cardio Fitness). This is a great indicator of your overall fitness. Higher is better. With iOS 14, Apple changed this metric to be called “Cardio Fitness.” I’m glad to see Apple paying attention to this metric. For a while my Apple Watch was very inconsistent in updating my V02 max but since September my watch has updated my V02 max every time I’ve run or walked for longer than 20 minutes.

Combined, these three metrics can tell me a lot about how stressed out I am, if I am getting enough sleep and if I am exercising enough, too little or too much. Definitely worth adding to your Summary screen if you have an Apple Watch.

iPad Pro for home studio recording

I love my iPad Pro for recording. My current workflow involves laying tracks into GarageBand and then either exporting the stems out to a Google Drive where one of my band mates adds them to our band’s Reaper projects or I dump the project to my Mac and play around with the mix in Logic.

But the best part about the iPad Pro as the nucleus of my recording setup is this:

I can use the portable setup in the early AM with headphones and not disturb anyone . . .
…and then later just bring the iPad into my office for this setup.

This kind of flexibility can’t be beat. I’ve made and recorded more music over the past two weeks with this setup than I’ve made in years. Some of the motivation to record surely comes from Mirror Sound and just thumbing through those pages gave me all sorts of setup ideas.

Being able to just use a USB dongle and a midi keyboard/headphone setup for moving from room to room is very lightweight/portable setup. I am also very happy with my Akai MPK mini even if I don’t totally know how to use it to its full potential.

Using the iPad Pro, I can also plug in an audio interface and do the full microphone recording setup in my office is great. I’ve got a good template setup in GarageBand for the two mic multitrack setup so as soon as I have something to record I can just pop down on my stool, start a new project based on the template and hit record. Takes about 1 minute to get setup and it sounds really damn good.

That said, I’m hoping that Santa brings the new audio interface that I’ve asked for so I can stop using my Zoom H4N as that minute of setup time is due almost solely to how long it takes the zoom to connect as an audio interface. That, and I still haven’t found a really stable USB hub that allows me to run the interface, power and my midi keyboard concurrently in my iPad. But them’s first-world problems.

 

Joni Mitchell’s River

Kül d’Sack put together a little Christmas present for our listeners. Usually at this time of year we’d be doing our Christmas show at a local bar and cajoling the crowd to join us in the caroling. This year COVID kept that from happening.

Instead we each recorded our parts for Joni Mitchell’s River at home and John, our bass player, did a super pro job editing a video together of us playing at home. I did a write up a while back on my home recording gear, you can read here.

Here’s the thing, at the same time we were all recording our parts at home, I was reading Spencer Tweedy’s book, Mirror Sound. I can’t recommend this book enough. I ultimately ended up buying copies for all the guys in Kül d’Sack and if i had the money, I’d buy it for every one of my musician friends.

Tweedy’s book is useful and inspiring for a few reasons: it dispells the imposter syndrome fallacy that so many home-recorded musicians can suffer from by showing that it doesn’t matter where you make your music, so long as you make it.

It also dispells the falacy that music recorded at home will always sound less-than-pro. Reading these interviews with musicians about their home-recording setups and process makes it clear you can make music at home that sounds just as good as music recorded in an expensive studio. Moreover, so many of these musicians extol the benefits of recording at home over a fancy studio: luxury of time, getting into the zone more easily, being more comfortable, etc.

This book comes at just the right time for me. I know musicians who record at home, a lot. For a bunch of reasons though, I never thought that I could do it. But after reading Mirror Sound cover to cover a few times (it’s that kinds of book) I am seeing that the real limitations presented by recording at home are my inertia and the time constraints of working and having a family. But those are small potatoes compared to the imaginary barriers that Tweedy’s book help me dismantle.

Deleting minutes from Apple Watch Exercise

I accidentally left Zwift running in the background on my Apple TV the other night and ended up with a few thousand exercise minutes showing up on my Apple Watch rings. In the interest of maintaining clean data I set about trying to remove the unearned minutes. Whoa. What a rabbit hole!

– you can remove the activity: iPhone Health App->Browse->Search for Workouts->select Workouts, scroll to bottom->Show All Data->Delete the workout.

But that doesn’t seem to get rid of the minutes. Crazy, right?

To do that: iPhone Health App->Brows->Search for Exercise Minutes->Scroll to bottom->

Pick the device that recorded the spurious data (in my case it was the iPhone as that’s where the Zwift companion app lives) and you can delete all of the exercise minutes registered by that device for a given day in one shot (as opposed to deleting each individual minute).

Tedious, but it seemed to work. The “rings” retained my legitimate Apple Watch recorded minutes and discarded the inaccurate/unearned iPhone recorded minutes.

Goodreads. The roach motel for your reading data?

Have never had a whole lot of love for Goodreads as the site feels like Amazon stealth research department. Now that they’ve made it impossible for me to get out my annual stats via API, I’d really like to find a good alternative.

 

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