When you sit down to learn Norman Blake’s New Chance Blues and just keep clicking though on the jams:
When you sit down to learn Norman Blake’s New Chance Blues and just keep clicking though on the jams:
Love the mix of drum machine and live drums on this track:
Man, I have got my music streaming dialed in using Marvis. Combining tracks from a bunch of playlists, applying some filters and sorting. Just saying.
Massive centralized platforms create problems for society. By posting to your own site, you control your content, distributing it more evenly across the web and minimizing the power of big tech companies.
Temporary, viral movements like #DeleteFacebook are not enough. We need something sustainable that permanently changes the narrative.
Both from Manton Reece’s excellent Indie Microblogging.
Our high-schools should have a whole class built around this book. It would teach kids how to take action, how to not be powerless. From understanding ownership of content to understanding the way the Internet runs on open standards. It’s all in here.
I’ve never pre-ordered a book so quickly.
This quote from Illich shows up in more than one of L.M. Sacasas’ excellent newsletter, The Convivial Society:
“A convivial society should be designed to allow all its members the most autonomous action by means of tools least controlled by others. People feel joy, as opposed to mere pleasure, to the extent that their activities are creative; while the growth of tools beyond a certain point increases regimentation, dependence,
exploitation, and impotence.”
— Ivan Illich, Tools For Conviviality (1973)
Working in tech, I’m always trying to find balance between autonomy and support. Recently we spent a lot of time thinking through how to best allow staff to use their personal smartphones with our work systems. I am glad we did so and it looks like this was a step in the right direction for autonomy. This WSJ piece is about a recent, small study that shows this kind of empowerment is good for employee morale.
Out for a late afternoon walk in my local woods. The silence in this particular spot was incredible, in part because I’m in NJ and it’s almost never quiet, anywhere here. Took this with my iPhone. I had my Fuji w/ me in my backpack but was too lazy to take it out. Wish I had. That velvia simulation would have looked awesome here:
Several months back I read Tim Egan’s Pilgrimage to Eternity. I am a sucker for books about long walks. Egan’s was really good. He references a great St. Francis of Assisi quote:
Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
I’ve had that quote in my mind so many times over the past few weeks and several times have ignored its sage wisdom to my own detriment.
Every (workday) morning, I follow a checklist called Morning Routine in my Things application that walks me through triaging my inboxes, checking various project status sites (Jira, etc.), responding to open loops in a bunch of different messaging platforms (SMS, Zoom, etc.) I have come to rely on this checklist very heavily over the past few years as working from home has allowed me to refine, add, hone and massage this checklist into a list that sets me up for a good day of work.
Lately though work has been entirely overwhelming for a variety of reasons (short-staffed, too many projects, interference with home priorities, etc.) and there have been several days over the past few weeks where I’ve sat at my desk in the morning and had a work inbox that was so backlogged with messages that I would just jump into my email. Once I do so, I almost never go back to my Morning Routine checklist. This is a bad thing. Stuff falls through the cracks. By responding to my inbox (the brightest/hotest burning fire) instead of doing what is necessary, I’m shooting myself in the foot.
This is just mostly a public reminder to myself to have faith in my checklists, do what is necessary first or I’ll never get to the possible let alone the impossible!
Month 2 of my algorithm-free music discovery. I think my Top 5 songs definitely reflect that.
You can listen to this playlist on Apple Music or Last.FM
The Alison is a real gem that I found digging through Bandcamp. I’m withholding judgment a bit on Epic’s takeover of Bandcamp. I hope it doesn’t destroy the product/community and/or turn it into an onboarding platform for musicians to sell NFTs.
There are a lot of strange ones on the list, too, because I’ve found this Apple Music Playlist called Sleep Cycles that has a bunch of really excellent ambient drone stuff that I use to sleep on the couch when family obligations force me up at 4:30AM. So if you’re listening and wondering why those tracks are on there, it means I was up early so many times that some of the tracks got repeated, a bunch. Not entirely sure how or if to filter them out.
Anyway, The Weather Station was another gem of a find. So suggestive of Kate Bush but the band is also crackling with quiet intensity which I love.
Sort of relieved to see that I’m not the only one who had some significant fallout with the latest round of OneDrive and MacOS updates. It looks like it mostly had to do with a new File on Demand issue in MS’s OneDrive client update.
The problem, for me at least, is that the update inconsistently upgraded/migrated my OneDrive and SharePoint links to the new ~/Library/CloudStorage directory.
My situation probably isn’t unique, so sharing how I fixed it.
I had OneDrive files that I accessed through Finder on my Mac. I also had SharePoint Libraries that I accessed through the Finder on my Mac. Both of these files were synchronized and represented in the Finder through the OneDrive client.
When OneDrive updated, it moved, I presume appropriately, my non-SharePoint OneDrive directories to ~/Library/CloudStorage and created a symlink in my Home Directory to that CloudStorage location. Seemed like everything was mostly working (though, I will note that when I renamed a file in Word using “File->Rename” menu option, it did not change the file name in OneDrive.
Importantly, of the 10 or SharePoint libraries I was accessing via my Finder with the old OneDrive client, only one was moved to ~/Library/CloudStorage. I experienced all sorts of problems trying to save and/or access SharePoint library files on my Mac through the Finder or application File dialog boxes.
Note, that after the reinstall, I do not have the option to control Files on Demand:
Also, importantly, only one of the many SharePoint libraries to which I was accessing through my Finder were added to the Account tab. Totally bummer. I will have to go back through and resubscribe to all of those Libraries again.
Hoping that this leads to a more stable OneDrive/Finder integration experience on my Mac.
Also, after this upgrade, I’m going to explore a bit more carefully the collaborative editing settings from Microsoft.
As promised, I’m trying to get better with tracking my listening and less-algorithmic with my music discovery process. Here’s what I listened to a lot of in January. Maybe next month I’ll figure out some fancy way to make this list streamable? We’ll see.
Here’s the playlist on Apple Music.
Wet Dream – Wet Leg – Wet Dream – Single
Slide Tackle – Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Wild Blue – John Mayer – Sob Rock
Tell Me Something Good (feat. Chaka Khan) – Rufus – The Women of Soul
the angel of 8th ave. – Gang of Youths – the angel of 8th ave. – Single
Bonny – Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen (Remastered)
When Love Breaks Down – Prefab Sprout – A Life of Surprises: The Best of Prefab Sprout (Remastered)
Anxious – The Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4
Happy Hour – The Housemartins – The Last King of Pop
Better Now – The Weather Station – Ignorance (Deluxe Version)
But Not for Me – Ahmad Jamal – Dinner Jazz Classics
Remember – Air – Moon Safari
Nicoteen – Bunny Lowe – Nicoteen – Single
My People – Cha Wa – My People
Bring On the Dancing Horses – Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever
in the wake of your leave – Gang of Youths – angel in realtime.
Don’t Change – INXS – GLUTTONY – EP
“I may not be as strong as I think,” the old man said. “But I know many tricks and I have resolution.”
– The Old Man and the Sea, E. Hemingway.
At baseline, my memory is only so-so.
For example, I can remember chord progressions to songs and lyrics only with a lot of rehearsal. I need cheat sheets for a lot of stuff in my day to day life. My autobiographical memory —my memory of past events — is especially not so good.
Vonnegut said we’re all just “huge, rubbery test tubes with chemical reactions seething inside.” Well, my chemical reactions are such that my brain doesn’t encode very well the things that have happened to me. Or, if it does encode them, I can’t recall them very easily. Either way, it’s the way I’m built.
Fortunately, I’ve got some good compensatory skills. I’ve found a bunch of tools to help support my memory in ways that are good and beneficial.
I am a master todo list maker and checklist reviewer and routine-doer. Siri has been one of the greatest things to ever happen for people like me. A half-dozen times a day or more I ask my watch to remind me about something I need to do. I am being supported at any point in time by a constellation of technologies that not only helps me compensate for my dodgy autobiographical memory but may in fact allow me to flourish in a way that I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to compensate.
There are a host of possible explanations for why memory —and specifically autobiographical memory—is weaker in some people. Hormone/thyroid disregulation can cause encoding issues. Mood disorders. The way we are socialized (the nurture part of nature v. nurture).
After years of trying to figure out what is going on, I’ve settled instead on trying to figure out what I can do to improve my autobiographical memory.
One of the best things I’ve done is to keep a journal. I use an app called Day One. I write down all sorts of stuff in there like when our mattress got delivered or when I get a cold or when I taught my son how to play a G-run on guitar.
There are, I’ve determined, two primary ways that I can improve upon my baseline autobiographical memory and journaling supports both of them: Noting and Rehearsing.
1.) By recollecting with as much precision as possible certain event: what I saw, what I remember and writing that down in my journal. I have many days in my journal where the entry is simply a list of three specific things that I remembered seeing from the previous day.
But the point here is, especially for positive events or accomplishments, to pause and take a beat and note how the positive event felt and the physical details surrounding that event.
Our brains are wired to hold on to negative stuff and let the positive stuff fall away. By noting with detail the positive stuff it sort of coaxes the brain to hold on to the memory a bit better.
So whenever possible, when something positive happens, when I wrap up some minor or major accomplishment, I try to note the details down in my journal.
2.) By regularly rehearsing and revisiting past events. This is the social component of autobiographical memory. We all know friends and family members who like to tell stories about the past. Those people have good autobiographical memories but, importantly, because they have a bias towards retelling those stories, they are constantly improving their autobiographical memory.
It can be a vicous or virtuous cycle. If you have good autobiographical memory and like to tell stories about things that have happened to you, that muscle will keep getting stronger. If you don’t have a great autobiographical memory to begin with, you won’t tell a whole lot of stories, won’t revisit your memories and the muscle will continue to atrophy.
So, I have a strongly ingrained habit of not only writing in my journal but also reviewing my journal. Day One’s “on this day” feature is especially great as it will show entries from this date from prior years in my journal and it’s valuable and helpful to revisit those entries as, I hope, through revisiting them I’m making stronger connections in my brain.
Over quarantine, I’ve noticed a different kind of slipperiness to my memory: I am having a difficult time gauging the passing of time. I know I’m not alone in this. Days feel like weeks but whole seasons feel like they go by in a week, too.
Time feels like it is passing both slowly and quickly. It is disorienting, like looking out the window of a speeding train when another speeding train appears alongside and it all of a sudden feels like you are going both fast and slow.
Day One’s handy “On this day..” feature is useful here but knowing what I was up to last year on this day (or 5 years ago, etc.) is not helping to orient me in time. But I have found another practice using Day One that has helped orient me a bit more precisely in time.
Over the past few weeks is now to revisit in my journal not only the entries from “on this day” over the past few years but to also look at:
It’s by reviewing this breadcrumb of events at different time scales that I am slowly starting to regain a sense of the passing of time. Sometimes the events referenced in my entry from last week feel like they happened yesterday, othertimes those events feel like distant memories. Either way, reviewing the entries with this cadence feels helpful.
It’s not making time feel less slippery but it is does help me get out of the whiplash feeling that time has left a lot of people feeling during quarantine.
With the help of another Day One forum member, I’ve got a pretty useful iOS shortcut put together that you can run to view events with this cadence [download here]. I hope you find it helpful! If you do, I’d love it if you drop me a line and let me know how you’re using it. Note that while we wait for the developers at Day One to update the Mac app to work with shortcuts, this shortcut only works on iOS devices at the moment.
Appears that with Monterey 12.2 or some other recent upgrade, something changed with OneDrive’s local file storage. I had been excluding Users/$username/OneDrive from my backups but now need to include:
Users/$username/Library/CloudStorage/OneDrive-SharedLibraries-$name of share
OneDrive’s links seem to cause SuperDuper! to fail, so this path needs to be updated in any Exclude scripts on your backup. If your SuperDuper! backup is failing after upgrading, this could be the cause.
One of the most popular Shortcuts I’ve written is my “Logging to Day One” shortcut that allows you to keep a timestamped list of items to a single day’s journal entry throughout the day. I wrote a post about it two years ago, you can read more about it here.
I updated the post today and it got me thinking about how, two years ago when I first wrote that shortcut, how amazing it would be if that same shortcut would run on my Mac so that I didn’t need to maintain a Keyboard Maestro version as well.
Well, Monterey is here and Shortcuts are on the Mac but the shortcut doesn’t work. I get an error indicating that the folks at Day One need to make some changes to the app yet to support Shortcuts on the Mac version of Day One. Hopefully that will be coming soon.
A new study/meta analysis: Diet Composition and Objectively Assessed Sleep Quality: A Narrative Review
…diets higher in complex carbohydrates (e.g., fiber) and healthier fats (e.g., unsaturated) being associated with better sleep quality. Diets higher in protein were associated with better sleep quality. In general, diets rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and anti-inflammatory nutrients and lower in saturated fat (e.g., Mediterranean diet) were associated with better sleep quality.
Nothing new there. Eat healthy, sleep healthy. Sleep healthy and maybe you won’t want to eat junk?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
I am totally confused about what’s going on here!
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 Adams’ Doug’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:
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.