Categories
Links

Friday Links for Feb 14, 2020

Categories
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
Categories
Links

Friday Links for Jan 24, 2020

  1. Instapaper Saves for This Week:

Pinboard Saves for This Week:

Categories
Tech

On Not Splitting up a Mac Fusion Drive

I’ve been second-guessing drive read/write speeds on my new iMac because it has a fusion drive. My iMac has a 2Tb Fusion Drive so that means it has 128GB SSD and the rest is spinning platters.

I never really know if I’m reading/writing to/from the SSD or the platters. I mean, it seems zippy so my inclination is just to leave it as-is and trust that Apple knows what they are doing.

I have entertained the idea of splitting up the fusion drive and trying to manage the SSD space on my own but thanks to this post, I’m feeling less inclined to do so. Rauol Pop did it and then ran some tests that show splitting the drive up yields equivocal benefits and some measurable negatives so, I’m trusting that the engineers at Apple know what they’re doing.

That, and I’m making good use of 24GB of RAM and just loading up all my applications into RAM anyway, so, there’s that. Also, as soon as they come down in price just a smidge, I’m going to pickup an external SSD that supports Thunderbolt 3 like the Samsung X5, that ought to be pretty close to the speeds of the internal SSD.

Categories
Tech

Installing pyinstapaper on Mac OS

lxml 4.0 doesn’t build on Mac OS Mojave. But the latest version does. Unfortunately pyinstapaper looks for 4.0 when it builds.

I would have never figured this out but another developer submitted a merge request that noted the lxml issue.

The request hasn’t been accepted yet so if you try to install pyinstapaper using pip it will error out. That said, you can still install pyinstapaper from source (assumes you have jumped through all of the ‘brew install $foo’ requirements stuff) to get python 3.x running on your Mac.

To get pyinstapaper to install:

  • Download the the code for this module as a zip file.
  • Extract zip.
  • Edit the setup.py file and change  the line that reads:
  • ‘lxml>=3.4,<=4’, to ‘lxml>=3.4,<=5’,
  • save the change and then from within the directory that you downloaded the source run
    ‘python setup.py install’ and you should be good to go.
Categories
Book Notes

Book Review: No Country for Old Men

This was my first Cormac McCarthy book. I asked a good friend of mine who is a McCarthy fan to pick one and this was his pick.

Man. What an amazing read. All of the components were there: great story, unfamiliar-sounding yet authentic dialog, characters who you really, really cared about. And then on top of that there is a meta-plot about how the hell one ought to behave when the world around you is falling apart, something that seems especially timely.

The story here seems mostly about choosing to commit and persevere no matter how bad the outcome looks. Doing the right thing in the face of inevitability. But it’s so much more than that. The Sheriff may be one of my favorite characters ever. McCarthy’s dialog partly accounts for that but it is also really compelling to watch his internal struggle reconciling his behaviors, something we all deal with at one level or another. Such a great book. Really grateful to have read it.

Categories
Book Notes

Book Review: Brave New World

The premise of Brave New World is compelling enough to recommend the book. Especially if you’re in high school, which I think is when I first read it. The dytopian future portrayed by Huxley of a world that tries to engineer a better version of itself challenges the reader to pull connections from more modern attempts at these efforts.

Despite the interesting premise, I just didn’t enjoy the writing. The world represented in the book seemed like an academic exercise that Huxley engineered to make a point. It was interesting but only as a thought exercise.

I discovered that Ridley Scott was going to try to make a movie out of the book and seems to have backed away, citing:

I think Brave New World was probably great in nineteen thirty-eight, because it had a very interesting revolutionary idea. Don’t forget it came shortly before or after George Orwell, roughly the same time. When you re-analyze it, maybe it should stay as a book. I don’t know.

I think Scott would have been hard pressed to get an audience to feel real empathy for any of the characters the way he did in Blade Runner.

Huxley apparently was inspired to write the book in response to a trip he made to the US where he observed our obsession with youth and commercialism. That’s easy enough to believe. Out national fixation on self-improvement seems like just the kind of ecosystem that unchecked could eventually yield the kind of attempts to engineer the friction out of life represented in Brave New World.

To me, it’s this thread of the book’s narrative that is so interesting to me. Specifically, what happens when you engineer the suffering out of life. Huxley’s plot seems to fixate on the tools and techniques used to engineer the friction out of life but I think the tools and techniaues are mere disctraction.

Instead, especially relevant and meaningful are the effects of a life devoid of friction or where friction is seen as somehow being different from or seperate from the good life. Huxley fails to really dig into this thread in a satisfying way and perhaps that why it felt a little flat to me.

It certainly seems relevant today where we seem spend so much energy trying to reduce friction, sadness, pain, etc. from our lives. But it occurs to me that those things we try to avoid and minimize (and which have been erradicated in Huxley’s work) are exactly the things that make life worth living.

That is the underlying message of BNW that gets hidden in all of the dystopian engineering: If life is all good, it’s no good. Life is only good to the extent that we are open to the suffering it exposes us to.

Categories
Book Notes

Book Review: The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys was on a lot of “Best of” lists for 2019 so I figured to check it out and I’m glad I did. I haven’t read anything else by Colson Whitehead so not sure if this is true with all of his writing but he got me to feel a degree of empathy for his characters that was so deep that by the end of the book I felt wrung out.

I don’t get that a lot.

Moreover, I’m a middle age white guy and here I am feeling really deep connection and empathy towards these African american boys in Jim Crow south. Whitehead’s ability to connect the reader to these characters is unreal. I found myself highlighting certain passages throughout the book that achieved this effect and by then end I realized that part of his skill lies in what I think of as a casual intimacy with the characters’ inner lives.

Meaning the powerfully brutal scenes built connection and alone they would have probably been sufficient. But certain scenes where the narrator makes these offhanded observations—like when waiting for a table at a restaurant, briefly wondering if the delay is racism or just bad service—reveal the lens through which the characters are viewing the world and by the end of the book you and the character are nearly one and the book is just a powerfully moving experience. Grateful that Whitehead wrote it and that I got to experience it.

Categories
Post

Friday Links for Jan 17, 2020

I implemented this great python script from @micahflee to automatically get rid of my tweets after a specified period of time. Similar to the Chrome extension I use to get rid of my Facebook posts but automated/scheduled so much more convenient.

  • The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job | The New Republic – Another obituary for Google’s RSS reader and how Facebook ruined the Internet.
  • It’s time to change the abortion debate in America – Worthwhile read. This argument could be applied to a host of issues facing Americans.
  • Daring Fireball: Quit Confirmation for Safari on MacOS – Great little Keyboard Maestro script.
  • Categories
    Music

    Stereo HomePods for Difficult Rooms and Social Listening

    I’ve seen couple of blogs (Kirkville, BirchTree) recently opining on stereo HomePod configurations and comparing them to a pair of Sonos speakers. I don’t have a pair of Sonos to compare my stereo HomePod configuration to but my experience with the HomePods stereo pair may be useful for some so I am sharing here.

    A few months ago we re-arranged the furniture in several rooms in our house. The net effect was that my Vandersteens (and, as such, my serious listening space) were relocated out of our living room and into a smaller room that has become my now dedicated listening area.

    We spend a lot of time in our living room and–as we have large families–often times with a lot of people. I needed a music solution to replace my traditional HiFi and Vandersteen towers that didn’t take up nearly as much space. (Note: I have in-ceilings in the living room but they just don’t sound as good as regular speakers and really don’t fill up the room without creating two very loud areas underneath that make it impossible to carry on a conversation so we never use them in that room).

    So when the opportunity came to pick up a second HomePod at a discount (I got mine refurb’d from Apple store but they show up new for $200 on sale on occasion), I decided to try a stereo pair of HomePods in the living room.

    For this situation they are absolutely perfect. And by this situation I mean: a large living room area with seating all over the place where you want the music to sound good no matter where you are sitting. The HomePods are amazing at delivering good sound in this environment and I would argue that they are way better than my Vandersteens for this situation.

    Sure, where the Vandersteens (or a pair of Sonos) might give you good sounds with great stereo imaging and a convincing sound stage, the eight speakers in the HomePods give you a really diffuse stereo field instead.

    Yes, you give up a single sweet spot with vivid imaging. That said, about 85% of the seating options in my living room get a really full stereo sound field where you hear a balanced representation of both the right and left speakers.

    The HomePods are strange in this way in that you can be sitting very close to one of the pair but still not sure if what you’re hearing is predominantly coming from the speaker closest to you or the one on the other side of the room.

    Moreover, as you move further and further away from the HomePods, the volume of the music does not seem to fall off quite so rapidly. Meaning it’s easier to have a conversation in the room while music is playing and the music volume always seems just about right now matter where your are sitting.[1]

    NewImage
    Bose 901’s featured multiple speakers for dispersion.

    In this way, the HomePods remind me a lot of the Bose 901s. Say what you want about Bose but it is near impossible to beat the experience that pair of 901s delivers to a roomful of people listing to music outside of the dead center stereo imaging position that most speaker pairs mandate.

    The HomePods, like the 901s before them, are for social music listening (as opposed to the lone experience of sitting dead center between a pair of towers) and they do a terrific job at that.

     

    1.) This volume roll off is similar to the effect that our Bose L1 with an array of 24 speakers has in our live performances where the music seems to be a pretty constant volume no matter how near/far you are from the tower, it’s uncanny

    Categories
    Links

    Friday Link List

    note: forgot to hit publish on this on Friday 🙁 will try to do better this week!

    How To Expand Launchpad

    Hard for me to imagine Launchpad ever being as useful as Alfred for launching apps. That said, this tip for expanding the rows/columns of Launchpad might make a more compelling use case. Via Chris Hannah via @JPEGuin

     

    On being able to write about whatever the hell you are interested in:

    As someone with a bunch of interests, I’m all for a non-directional approach to blogging (via Josh Ginter and Initial Charge). I’m tired of reading commercial sites, have stocked my RSS app with independent publishers and have no regrets, especially when blog authors stray from their usual topics.

     

    Joe Henry – Welcoming Flies at the Picnic. 

    Loved hearing this rebroadcast of Krisa Tippett’s interview with a very articulate songwriter.

     

    Reeder 4 tips

    This old review (from May, 2019) of Reeder 4 has some interesting usage tips/hints that I wasn’t aware of, worth a read if you use Reeder for your feeds.

    Categories
    Photos

    New Fuji X100 soon?

    Love my Fuji X-E2s. It is the best camera I have ever owned, hands down. Whether I’m using an old Pentax lens on it or the pricey but awesome Fuji lenses, the thing is a joy to use.

    That said, I don’t bring it with me nearly as often as I should. I feel awkward carrying it on a camera strap and it’s just a bit too big to fit in any of my jacket pockets. Probably need to get over that.

    DSCF0140
    My MGB shot with my X-E2s and an old Pentax lens.

    Still though, I have coveted the X100 series. I almost bought the X100 instead of the X-E2s but am glad for being able to use interchangeable lenses (something you can’t do with the X100 fixed lens).

    My current camera still feels bleeding edge to me but newer Fuji’s have picked up some new film simulations and I’ve been keeping my eyes opened for a new version of the X100. The latest X100 is from 2017 (the X-E2s is from 2016) but it seems like Fuji may be on the verge of announcing a new X100.

    I noticed a price drop on the latest X100 on camelcamelcamel the other day and now fujirumors is hinting at February.

    Fuji X Weekly has this:

    The X100V has been whispered and rumored across the internet for many months. There’s no surprise that it’s coming soon. What we don’t know is how much different it will be from the X100F. It will certainly have the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor and processor, and probably all of the new JPEG tools of the X-Pro3, but beyond that nobody knows. There’s been speculation for some time that Fujifilm redesigned the lens, but I don’t know if that’s true or not

    It’s not just the new film sims but the variables at play in customizing the built-in film simulations that give me camera envy here. I am a huge fan of Ritchie Roesch’s recipes and on my older camera I usually have to just approximate some of the settings in the receipts.

    Categories
    Automation

    AppleScript for Day One braindump to Things

    Highlighting the truly first-world problem of Mac automation being totally different from iOS automation, I wrote up a simple AppleScript that mirrors the functionality of my iOS shortcut that takes my brain dump list out of Day One and “intelligently” transfers it to Things.

    When I write my morning entry in my Day One journal I sometimes brainstorm a little todo list, and this allows me to copy it and load the todo list into Things. Moreover, it looks for the string “today” in the brain dump and puts those items in the Today list in things.

    set TodayStr to "today"
    set Total to 0
    set listContents to get the clipboard
    set delimitedList to paragraphs of listContents
    
    
    tell application "Things3"
    	repeat with currentTodo in delimitedList
    		if currentTodo as string is not equal to "" then
    			set Total to Total + 1
    			if currentTodo contains TodayStr then
    				set newToDo to make new to do ¬
    					with properties {name:currentTodo, due date:current date} ¬
    					at beginning of list "Today"
    							else
    				set newToDo to make new to do ¬
    					with properties {name:currentTodo} ¬
    												end if
    		end if
    			end repeat
    		end tell
    
    set theDialogText to "Added " & Total & " Todo Items to Things"
    display dialog theDialogText

    I mapped this in Alfred to ⌘T so that when I’m in Day One and finish brainstorming what I need to tackle, I can just highlight the list and hit ⌘T and the list is moved to Things. Not brain surgery but really useful for me.

    Still though it does feel weird to have to automate using AppleScript on the Mac and Shortcuts on iOS.

    Especially now that the automating functionality offered by apps like Day One differs depending on whether you are on a Mac or on iOS. Looking at you Append function that’s available on iOS.

    Categories
    Automation

    Amazon Order History to Markdown table in Day One

    Back in the spring I wrote an automator action that incorporated some Python code to take a downloaded Amazon Order History file and massage it into a nice Markdown table and creates a Day One entry.

    A few months back though the Day One command line tool stopped working and that broke this action. But surprise!!! The command line tool works again (although not as well as it used to). So I modified the automator action to get it working again. 

    So, pop this workflow in your ~/Library/Services folder and you can just right click on the downloaded Amazon order history file to create a Day One entry from the purchases. 

    Screen Shot 2020 01 08 at 7 59 24 AM

     

    This is what the Markdown table looks like as a Day One entry (atypically expensive month, FWIW 🙂

    Screen Shot 2020 01 08 at 8 02 20 AM

    Categories
    Automation Post Tech

    Adding todos to Today list in Things using AppleScript

    Really pulled my hair out for a while on this issue so hoping to help someone out here.

    set newToDo to make new to do ¬
    		with properties {name:CurrentTodo} at beginning of list "Today"

    This, despite the Cultured Code documentation using Today as an example list in the AppleScript guide.

    So, if you use that code and replace “Today” with “Someday” it works like a champ but if you pass it the list “Today” the todo item is created in the Inbox and not the Today area of Things. Weird and it was making me crazy.

    Anyway, the easy solution is:

    set newToDo to make new to do ¬
    		with properties {name:CurrentTodo, due date:current date} 
    Categories
    Post Tech

    Shortcut: Day One braindump to Things

    I use Day One as a journal almost every day. Most mornings start with me doing a bit of a brain dump into Day One, listing anything that’s on my radar that I need to deal with.

    So I wrote a shortcut to help me deal with those brain dumps a bit better.

    This shortcut:

    – takes a list of items from the clipboard (so, I would just select/copy the list in Day One) and creates entries in Things (my todo list app of choice for the past many years).

    – With a bit of a rub: if the tasks contains the word “today” (e.g. I need to call Joe today) the shortcut puts the task in the Today section of Things instead of in the Inbox section.

    Admittedly this is not really wizardry level stuff here and the inability to run a similar procedure on my Mac (shortcuts only working on iOS I mean) limits its use a bit. But anyway, for anyone running Day One on iOS who is interested, here’s the shortcut I use to extract a brain dump from Day One and load the tasks into Things.

    Categories
    Links

    Friday Links – Jan 3, 2020

    Ambitiously titling this post Friday Links thinking that I may be able to do it again next Friday and the one after that. We’ll see!

    Anyway, some links I’ve enjoyed from around the web over the past few days:

    The rise, fall and resurrection of Flickr – Ferdy Christant

    When you support free, you support billionaires. When you pay, you support sane businesses and real creators. Start paying for things that cost money. If you can’t afford to, use fewer things, which generally make you happier anyway.

    Very long but interesting post about Flickr. Where it is now, where it came from, etc. I haven’t renewed my Flickr Pro account in forever and don’t expect that I will simply because I have no need for it but we will definitely lose an important piece of Internet history if Flickr can’t sustain itself.

    Time Out: We Don’t Give Music Enough Time to Grow on Us Anymore

    A few years ago I started making playlists in iTunes that only contained 3-5 albums and listened to those tracks exclusively for a few weeks before rotating them out. There is something about becoming really familiar with a recording, a whole album preferably, that rewards in a way that superficially skimming the surface of Spotify just doesn’t deliver. Thinking about restarting this practice somehow.

    Genius loci

    Learned this phrase this week. the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place. Love it.