Categories
Automation Post

Log/Append a photo to a Day One entry

Someone posted a question about how to do this on the Day One Community site so I thought I’d build up a little iOS shortcut that:

– checks to see if you have an entry for today, if not it creates a blank one and then prompts you to choose a photo, resizes that photo and then appends the photo to today’s journal entry.

Here’s the shortcut, you’ll need to choose which journal to use and how large you want the inserted photo to be.

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Post

Friday Links for Jul 31, 2020

My new gig at work is keeping me insanely busy and so it’s been a while since I’ve gotten around to updating here. Here’s a few of the links I’ve saved this week. Linking ≠ endorsement. 

  • Free Speech Prevails at Princeton | Robert P. George – This is a time of testing for our nation. We were already in the midst of dealing with a pandemic—trying to protect public health while respecting basic…
  • How to Plan Your Week Like a Boss – If you feel that your productivity has been hitting a slump, I highly recommend planning out your week ahead of time. Getting clear about what you’ll be doing…
  • The American Death Cult – A significant percentage of conservative culture in America defines “freedom” as death. This is causing a lot more problems right now than even its usual…
  • ‘White Fragility’ Is Everywhere. But Does Antiracism Training Work? – Race and America Three Words, 70 Cases George Floyd Transcripts Debate Over Officers’ Protection Lessons from Camden, N.J. Robin DiAngelo at home in Seattle.…
  • Save Them All, Let the Algorithms Sort Em Out – Smartly serving up content amidst information overload M.G. Siegler Follow Jul 16 · 4 min read Every day is exactly the same. Even before the COVID lockdowns,…
  • What Makes Us Happy? – For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage…
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Book Notes

Book Review – Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Saunder’s Catholicism-informed Buddhism is on full display. The detailing of Lincoln’s transformation of grief is one of the best things I’ve ever read on dealing with loss. The re-animation of the souls stuck in bardo through their metta/lovingkindness engagement with the departing Lincoln, also great.

Also highlighted many passages about how, at the time, people thought Lincoln was a horrible leader, horrible parent, etc. and history holds him in an entirely different regard than his contemporaries.

We must try to see one another in this way. As suffering, limited being.

Also, the passages about what the dead will miss about daily life (the specificity. pasting a long one here):

Though the things of the world were strong with me still. Such as, for example: a gaggle of children trudging through a side-blown December flurry; a friendly match-share beneath some collision-tilted streetlight; a frozen clock, bird-visited within its high tower; cold water from a tin jug; toweling off one’s clinging shirt post–June rain. Pearls, rags, buttons, rug-tuft, beer-froth. Someone’s kind wishes for you; someone remembering to write; someone noticing that you are not at all at ease. A bloody roast death-red on a platter; a hedgetop under-hand as you flee late to some chalk-and-woodfire-smelling schoolhouse. Geese above, clover below, the sound of one’s own breath when winded. The way a moistness in the eye will blur a field of stars; the sore place on the shoulder a resting toboggan makes; writing one’s beloved’s name upon a frosted window with a gloved finger. Tying a shoe; tying a knot on a package; a mouth on yours; a hand on yours; the ending of the day; the beginning of the day; the feeling that there will always be a day ahead. Goodbye, I must now say goodbye to all of it. Loon-call in the dark; calf-cramp in the spring; neck-rub in the parlor; milk-sip at end of day.

— this seems right out of William Carlos Williams’ edict of no ideas but in things. meaning Saunders’ specificity of things in this passage is what makes it so damn powerful.

amazing book. have already read Saunder’s stories, looking forward to more novels from him for sure.

Categories
HowTo Tech

Mac->Parallels->Windows Remote Desktop Keyboard mapping problem

Whoa, this was driving me nuts, so glad I got it sorted.

When I used Remote Desktop on my Mac’s Parallel’s VM running Windows 10, every time I typed the pipe key (|) I got double quotes (“) and every time I typed a backslash (\) I got a single tick (‘) and my quote (“) key gave me a tilde (~).

Made it very hard to work in putty while shelled into a remote machine on the remote machine because I couldn’t type | pipe character which is kinda important for Linux. Anyway, I found the answer on the Parallels forum from a guy in Italy who was having a similar problem

I had to edit the keyboard settings on the version of Windows running in Parallels (not on the Remote Desktop machine) to use just US QWERTY instead of US (Apple). Logged out, and everything is working!

Categories
Music

Good Grateful Dead Matrix Recordings

On facebook the other day, a friend asked for some Grateful Dead live show recording suggestions the other day.

I can’t imagine a show that I wouldn’t listen to but I list some recent favorites down below.

There is always gold to be mined in every show, somewhere.

That said, for the past year I’ve been really enjoying matrix recordings of live shows, where an audio engineer takes a really good Soundboard recording and one or two really good audience recordings and layers them on top of one another.

I go through phases where I really just like audience recordings and sometimes when I like the clarity of really good SBD but matrix recordings are another world entirely, sort of the best of both worlds but greater than the sum the parts if you know what I mean.

Generally I categorize shows into a handful of eras
-early w/ Pigpen
– shows with just billy on drums-my favs,
good Wall of Sound recordings circa ’74,
good ’77 shows when jerry was at one of his peaks of creativity and dexterity
and then the later stuff-mid 80s onward into the 90s which probably has about 3 sub-categories e.g. with Bruce, etc. but all of these categories are generally meaningless.

Sometimes in the 80s jerry plays like he did in the early 70s. He was really a magical guitar player whose catalog of ideas were like lines of poetry that he would go back to mine again and again and again. But anyway. I have been listening to about 20 or so different matrix recordings this year. Some of them standout, but they’re all standouts to me and I would have loved to have been at any one of these shows. So here’s a little sample of some matrix recordings worth listening to:

Providence, 1974, wall of sound

Winterland, 1977, great matrix

Greek theater, 1984

and, of course, you’ve heard Barton Hall but here is a great matrix recording of that show that may give it a different shimmer for you.

Categories
Tech

Essential Working From Home Apps and Tools

All of this working from home has meant that I have not spent this much uninterrupted time behind my personal computer since I do not know when. This is to say, over the past few weeks I have dialed in my personal setup in a way that is super-useful to me and I thought I’d share the apps/tools I’ve started/revisited using since working from home during the quarantine.

First up, Apple’s AirPods Pros.

I’ve never owned headphones with active noise cancelation before but, man, where have these been all of my life???? Right now, there is a huge racket in my house from one of my kids shooting hoops in his room with a nerf basketball. I can feel the ball bouncing but my concentration is not broken because I can not hear the sound of the ball bouncing. This is AMAZING!

Throughout the day I am bathed in the warm nothingness of active noise cancellation. On occasion I’ve noticed that I do not even have music playing, I’m just enjoying the near-silence that they offer. If you need to concentrate in a noisy house, highly recommended.

Audio/Listening/Zoom

Over the past few weeks I’ve evolved a somewhat complicated Zoom/music listening setup on my iMac. At work, we live in Zoom and I’ve had to do some refactoring to balance my music and Zoom needs. I’ll detail a few of those tools here:

Triode: I listen to The Current throughout the day when I’m not actively listening to music from my collection. Triode is *the* best radio playing application, ever. If you listen to internet radio stations, hard to imagine life without it.

I want my music to play through my Kinter Tripath amplifier to my external speakers but want my Zoom/Facetime audio to go through my iMac display. This black magic wizardry is achieved through an application called SoundSource from Rogue Ameoba. Combined with a cheap dongle, I can easily send audio from any app to any output. Awesome application, highly recommended.

As an aside, I have been using this time while trapped in my office to re-rip some CDs into Lossless (ALAC) format and am using XLD running on an old, headless Mac mini to do so.

Other apps for maintaining sanity:

DayOne Journal. I’ve been using this application for years but making notes about what it is like to experience this quarantine has felt important.

Waking Up. Sam Harris’ meditation app has been my meditation app of choice for about a year now. I have less time to use it now that we are all at home but every time I use it, I feel better.

I’ve got a few other notable mentions like Parallels, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive which have all made getting real work in a Windows-centric environment less unproductive. Also, I just started using GeekTool to pipe some useful outputs to my desktop but the jury is still out on how useful that is. If time permits I’ll circle back in a few weeks to update here.

Categories
HowTo Music

Recording Music/Video with GarageBand on iPad and video on iPhone – Part 1

If you’ve spent anytime at all on YouTube watching videos of guitarists you know that they range in quality from quick and dirty iPhone videos to more elaborate multi-screen, multi-track presentations.

Until this week and being quarantined and all with the Coronavirus pandemic, I had never really given much thought to posting my own videos or how one might even go about doing so.

Over the past few days, I’ve hit on a pretty good middle-ground between the quick and dirty iPhone video and the more elaborate, high-production quality videos and figured I’d share how I do it.

Here’s an example of a video I recently recorded of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright using the setup detailed below.

I’m going to break this HowTo into 3 sections:

  • Part 1, recording guitar and vocal into GarageBand on iPad using 2 external microphones
  • Part 2, recording the video component
  • Part 3, synchronizing the audio and video component and publishing the final product.

Part 1

Recording guitar and vocal into GarageBand on iPad using 2 external microphones

I record my audio using Garageband. By design I don’t do a lot of tweaking to the default settings. I use the preset “lead vocal” setting for the vocals and the default “nice room” setting for the guitar. I don’t fiddle with the EQ.

Here are some details from Apple on using the “Audio Recorder” function of GarageBand on iPad. Some very useful stuff here and worth looking over.

Recording into an iPad Pro with external microphones requires some kind of Audio Interface to convert the XLR or 1/4″ inputs of your microphones into USB for the iPad.

I have an older Zoom H4n Pro that does double duty as field recorder and an audio interface (here’s how to set it up). I got lucky, I had no idea it had the audio interface feature when I bought it, but it does.

So I didn’t need to buy an interface. If you need one, for under $200, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is referenced on a lot of websites/videos as being a good safe bet.

Once you have your microphones and XLR cables, here’s a diagram detailing how I get them into the iPad.

Once you have all the hardware hooked up, you can just record into GarageBand.

You can, of course, go down some really deep rabbit holes of which microphones to use, mic placement, eq, etc. Feel free. I’m using a Shure SM-58 and a Sennheiser 609 that I usually use for mic’ing up my amplifier but seems to work just fine for vocals. Very easy to start chasing marginal gains with this kind of stuff. My advice is get it good enough and start recording.

There are a couple of minor settings changes you need to make in GarageBand to do simultaneous multitrack recordings. This guy has a fantastic video. If you’re not super-familiar with GarageBand and don’t want to through your iPad out the window trying to sort out multitrack recording on your own, I highly encourage you to sit through this guy’s tutorial.

Ok, so that’s the audio part! I’ll write up the video and synchronization stuff as soon as I can.

Categories
Links

Friday Links for Mar 20, 2020

Categories
Music

Friend of the Devil — Martin D-18

We are on mandatory lock-down here in NJ to help flatten the curve. Yesterday, late in the afternoon I made the mistake of looking at Facebook. I should have known better.

Facebook just seems to bring out the worst in people. So I figured I might try to tilt the scales a little bit more to the positive and record a song and post it. I am going to try to do more of these while we are locked down at home.

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Links

Friday Links for Mar 13, 2020

Categories
Tech

Conveying Presence/Availability During Remote Work

My day job is Business Systems Architect at Princeton University Press. As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all staff in the Princeton office have been asked to work from home for the next month.

The team I work with at the Press consists of programers, analysts and project managers. The Press has a robust infrastructure built up around Zoom to support remote meetings and many of us regularly work from home. That said, a month away from face-to-face interaction with my colleagues is going to be a different kind of experience, for sure. As such I’m documenting here the friction points, possible solutions, tips/hacks, etc. that we discover during this month-long exercise.

User Presence

I believe that once you get the various communication infrastructure established for remote meetings, remote file access, etc (of which I’ll write more as the days go on here), one of the challenges of working remotely is conveying presence/availability while working at home.

It is easy to walk by a colleague’s desk at work and get a sense if you can comfortably interrupt with a question or comment, much harder to do so when working remotely. There are many tools that could be used for this. Many programming shops use Slack, others Skype. At the Press, all staff are on Zoom and some are regular users of Microsoft Teams.

So I am looking here primarily at conveying user presence in Zoom vs Teams:

Both Teams and Zoom offer a “chat” section in their applications where you can set your availability and view whether or not your co-workers are available, away, busy, etc.

Zoom Status Guide

Zoom’s status options don’t synchronize well across devices. Meaning, if you set your Desktop Zoom application to “away” and then close Zoom on your desktop because you are expecting to use your mobile device, co-workers will continue to see you as “away” until you re-open your desktop Zoom app and change your status to “available.”

Meaning, your availability on your mobile device is not conveyed to your other co-workers.

The best way to think about Zoom status is: whatever your Desktop status is set to (or was last set to when you closed the app) is how your co-workers will likely see your status appear in the Chat section of Zoom.

Teams Status Documentation

Team’s status is the hands-down winner here. It almost-instantly synchronizes across all devices (mobile/desktop) when you change it (using the Desktop app you change your status by clicking your initials in the upper right corner of the application).

Also, the Teams iPhone application seems to be much better at providing chat notifications when the app is in the background then Zoom. Zoom chat alerts on the iPhone are pretty inconsistent in my experience.

Likewise Teams offers a very handy “Set status message” that you can fill out so that if someone messages you in the Teams chat area, they will get an auto-response to their message.  Meaning you could set your status message to “letting the dog out, back at 1:55pm” and if someone chats with you they’ll get that message as a reply automatically. Much more useful than a generic away/available status icon.

I have spent an equal amount of time using the chat function on Teams as I have on Zoom. They both have their benefits but clearly when it comes to conveying user-presence, Teams is superior. This opens up questions such as:

  • Do we standardize on one tool for chat even though multiple staff regularly use Zoom for chat?
  • Or, do we maintain user-presence/status in two apps and hope that we remember to set them both correctly?

We’re only on Day 1 here, so I don’t have a clear answer yet but, stay tuned.

Disclaimer: I’m writing about my experience of mandatory remote work at Princeton University Press during the COVID-19 pandemic, any comments and opinions here are entirely my own.

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Links

Friday Links for Feb 29, 2020

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Links

Friday Links for Feb 21, 2020

Categories
Automation Tech

Logging throughout the day with Day One and iOS shortcuts

Spending some time on the Day One community page on Facebook it seems like for those who journal multiple times per day–adding notes, thoughts, activities throughout the day–there are two schools of thought for capturing throughout the day:

1.) create a new entry in Day One for each of the day’s multiple entries
2.) append to a single daily entry throughout the day.

I fall firmly into the second camp, using markdown bullets and a time stamp to log entries to a single entry throughout the day.

Unfortunately, for all of Day One’s strengths and features it does not make it especially easy to automate the process of appending thoughts/notes to a single day’s entry throughout the day.

In the past, I might have relied on a bit of AppleScript or Keyboard Maestro to solve this problem. But now, my time is split evenly between sitting behind my Mac and using my iPad.

Apple is making it harder and harder to write one-size-fits-all automations that can be used on the Mac and on the iPad and iPhone. Automation is now platform specific: shortcuts on iOS and some combination of automator, AppleScript, keyboard maestro, Alfred, etc. on the Mac.

But whether I’m in front of my Mac or my iPad, I always have my iPhone with me. And while it’s not the best device for capture, I decided to focus my “capture and append” automation efforts on the iPhone rather than string together a bunch of hacks on my Mac.

I wrote an iOS shortcut I wrote does the following:

  • checks to see if a Day One entry exists for today
  • if one doesn’t exist it prompts you to create either:
    • a blank entry
    • an entry using a few prompt questions
  • prompts for log entry
  • asks if you want to put time with the log entry
  • appends the time/log entry to the end of today’s journal entry

If you are going to use this shortcut you must expand the six “Day One” actions in the shortcut and change the “Journal” field to match the name of the journal you’re using in Day One.

You may also want to edit the questions in the “A new entry from prompts” section. Just make sure to split them up with a line break.

Once you make those changes, it should just work for you.

The big caveat here is that if you use Day One on both iPad and iPhone, this shortcut seems to only work on one device. It works great on my iPhone. But if I try to use it on my iPad and I haven’t yet opened Day One on my iPad the shortcut doesn’t realize that I’ve already created an entry for today on my iPhone.

This seems to be related to background syncing of the journal contents. The solution is just use it on one iOS device OR make sure you open up Day One and that it syncs before running it on that other device. That being said, even when I do run it on the iPad, the appended line doesn’t show up on the entry, which is weird because if I view the entry on my iPhone, it’s there.

Again, syncing seems to be the issue here. Day One support has been helpful (as always) in helping me troubleshoot this but it seems like iPadOS background syncing is just flakey right now.

Here’s a link to the shortcut. Ok, happy logging!

Note/Update: the shortcut now copies the entry to your clipboard. Occasionally it seems like the shortcut doesn’t actually append the log entry as expected. I don’t know why. Restarting my iPhone seemed to solve the problem so probably syncing related but in any case, by copying the entry to your clipboard if for some reason the log note doesn’t appear when the entry is opened, you can always just paste it in from the clipboard. Lame, I know. I wish shortcuts were more reliable.

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Links

Friday Links for Feb 14, 2020

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Links

Friday Links for Feb 7, 2020

 

 

Other stuff? My dog ate my Kindle. I had the base model and upgraded to the fancier Paperwhite. Since I use the JUMBO FONT to read without my glasses on, that extra 300dpi really looks nice! Highly recommend paying the extra $30.

Also, been doing a lot of work building out my HiFi setup with an Intel NUC running Roon/Qobuz and loving it. Will do a writeup next week when I’m not so busy. 

Categories
Post

Friday Links for Jan 31, 2020

  • Dark Mode for Web – Some css tips for making a dark mode version of a website. Putting this on my list of things to tackle.
  • You Are A Strange Loop – YouTube – Was speaking with some friends about Doug Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach the other day and then serendipitously came across this great, short video explainer of the strange loop, key to understanding what he’s getting at in his book. So worth the viewing time.

Other things from this week? I’ve been doing a deep dive on Roon’s audio player as a way to unify my local music catalog with my Qobuz account. Very good so far but I think I need to buy a Mac mini or something to run it as my old MacBook Air isn’t working out so well.

This is somewhat unnecessary right now as I just got in the mail the vinyl LP of Yola’s Walk Through Fire and that has been in heavy rotation on my turntable. Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys plays on/produced this masterpiece. Dude has an incredible ear. Such great stuff.

Categories
Tech

10 years of Instapaper

Scouring the web for new/interesting stuff to read is one of the best things about the Internet for me. My workflow for this foraging has been pretty similar for a very long time: browse RSS feeds of interesting people, read short interesting stuff immediately, save the longer stuff in a “read it later” tool.

For the past 10 years, my “read it later” tool of choice has been Instapaper.

To celebrate 10 years of using Instapaper, I went through and cleaned out my “unread” folder and archived the stuff from the past 10 years that I will probably never read completely. Now I’ve got 9 unread articles and 996 articles in my archives as read/mostly read.

I also ran some analysis on my 10 years of reading history using python and the Instapaper API. I repurposed a bunch of code from this project  and that gave me a real head start on putting together some python code to analyze my Instapaper usage.

Unfortunately the Instapaper API is limited to 500 bookmarks so my time analysis below only represents the last 500 articles I read, so I am not sure how accurate/valuable it is.

Instapaper aby

That said, if you visit the “settings” page of your Instapaper account you can download a .csv file with your complete list of bookmark titles and URLs. Having a complete list of all article titles allowed me to do some cool word cloud analysis of the titles of the articles I’ve saved for the past 10 years:

Instapaper wc

Funny how just about right that word cloud is in capturing my reading habits/interests! I love that Jim Harrison gets his own little line in the upper left.

Anyway, suggestion to the guys who are currently keeping Instapaper alive: make it possible to include the date, progress and bookmark_id in the .csv that is downloadable through the settings page. Including in the .csv those attributes that are available via the API’s bookmarks/list method would allow the ability to do a full analysis on how many articles I saved/read per month over the past 10 years.

Instapaper is a joy to use and is very tightly integrated into my reading life and how I use the internet. I thought it was surprising/cool/interesting to realize that I have been using it for 10 years now. Thanks @MarcoArment for writing it and @bthdonohue for keeping it alive!

Categories
HowTo Tech

Reset All Finder Window Customizations

Sometimes you need to go nuclear and get back to baseline on all of those Finder window customizations that you make over time and start afresh. This will get rid of all the .DS_Store files that hold those customizations. I save it as a bash script, chmod it 775 and keep it in my ~/bin/ directory as reset_finder_windows.sh

#!/bin/bash
sudo find / -name .DS_Store -delete; killall Finder
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Links

Friday Links for Jan 24, 2020

  1. Instapaper Saves for This Week:

Pinboard Saves for This Week: