Off the Top: Music Entries


February 1, 2021

Weeknote - 31 January 2021

This seemed like a really quick week. A lot of digging on things on the work side of things.

Read

A Day in the Life of Your Data from Apple is quite well done. The audience for it is more developers than the general public, but it can be a good handbook for them as well. Apple released this to help developers and application owners understand the impact the actions with data have on their users.

It was great to read M.G. Siglar writes about location-based service Gowalla coming back to life, which was one of my favorite apps and used for location based service and recommendations. The t-shirt I got for them was adopted about 10 years ago as a night shirt and he still wears it. I’m happy he may get to understand Gowalla is and use it.

Listened

I used one of the Apple Music algo playlists “Pure Chill” to find some calming background music for work stumbled upon Zimmer’s self-named album Zimmer and the song Rey which I really liked, as it starts some with a light rhythm that builds a little bit, but in a way that it feels like a rising wave of deep emotion. It wasn’t work music (the rest of the album works rather well for that, and yet I’m pulling together this weeknote to it on loop just fine), but it was an amazing piece that washes over you. I don’t remember a song doing that before.

I really enjoyed 99% Invisible’s Beneath the Skyway episode about the skyways in Minneapolis. Seattle and Spokane had skyways when I was a kid, but not an abundance, and they were deeply fascinating. Visiting Chicago, I found they had even more around Wacker Drive, then there are the underground path systems in Montreal and Toronto which are massive. But, learning about what Minneapolis’ skyway did to street traffic, the downtown use patters, but also who it included and shunned was a really good perspective.

I was entertained and sent into a some deep thinking for a day or two from Postlight Podcast - Are Conspiracy Theories Just Bad Theories With Good UX?.

Today (I normally don’t include the Sunday I’m pulling together weeknotes in the weeknote, but it was too good to push a week) I was listening to Jorge Arango’s The Informed Life - Kourosh Dini on DEVONthink podcast. I’ve pushed the meat of this down to the Productivity section below.

Food

Sunday steak and eggs is getting to be something of a ritual. Steak isn’t exactly the right term as it could be different cuts of beef, like: tri tip, hangar steak, strip steak, flank steak, etc. They are relatively inexpensive cuts just salted, garlic granules, and pepper, seared in a cast iron pan to medium rare (so 3 to 4 minutes a side) and taken out to rest and slice against the grain. Often some sliced or large diced shitake mushrooms are added to the pan with a little salt to cook down and get a little meaty just before I add the beef. After the beef is out, the pan deglazed with a healthy dose of red wine (Cote du Rhone has been the favorite go to if on hand) and a table spoon or two of Dijon (Trader Joe’s is a fav) mustard are added and the pan scrapped down and tipped to put a corner / side of the pan over the flame to reduce. The sliced beef is plated and thee sauce put over and a eggs quickly scrambled in a non-stick pan for large curd with chopsticks or spatula. Then my son and I just enjoy.

Productivity

I’ve long been a fan / follower of Kourosh Dini’s workflow models, as his OmniFocus tips and tricks changed how I used it for a long time (I’m not using OmniFocus at the moment, which is a longer discussion and nothing really to do with OmniFocus). I’ve started following Kourosh’s work around note taking flows and his are close to what I’ve been doing and tweaking where I use DevonThink (DT) to search and build connections. I’ve used DT for more than 15 years now and scarily all in one database. But, my use of tags with DT is light its search and AI driven search is so good normal use of tags isn’t quite needed, but I tag with project context (writing piece I’m using it in or for, as well as work project collection used in), author, source (if those two are highly relevant and not called out in the pieces well), and tag terms used that are not in the piece. The tagging is more meta as it is about construct of use for refinding in that context. But, I don’t take notes in DT, I point DT to where my notes are and index that location with DT or sometimes feed it in, but always keep the notes in their grouping.

This week another IA and long time productivity cohort, Austin Govella dug into note taking and particularly evergreen notes. There are some interesting things in this and some really good links in it. I am still teasing this one apart and may post something mid-week or later.



January 17, 2021

Weeknote - 17 January 2021

Busy, but not overly productive week. I’ve been battling getting a replacement laptop actually functioning, so battling and not being productive. That scenario drives me absolutely up the wall. Going through the battles reminds me of how fairly seamlessly Apple does this.

Evenings have been trying to run errands, but finding stores closing quite early due to Covid and complications around the attack on the Capitol and Inauguration. This has left me rather tired, but also not sleeping well.

Insights from

I just read about Foxsy shutting from their CEO’s blog post about the company and product and his and their lessons learned, Moved on from my journey Foxsy. I was introduced to them from an investor as they were hitting an inflection point and needed help smoothing out some of the interactions, user flow model, and some language areas. The product was rather ingenious as it was a cross social platform chat service using AI to match people. Jin was in San Francisco and the rest of the team at that point and time was in Japan. It was great to read they kept going as I shifted to another project.

The glimpse inside a San Francisco start-up is rather typical from the doing everything to scrape by to keep the product going and get to the next level. I heard some of these stories when I was helping them and hearing it from Japanese guys was interesting as the story wasn’t that different from American guys, the French teams I know, nor the mixed teams from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The small companies I knew / know in Europe, Latin America, and Singapore were a bit different, but the dedication and passion isn’t.

While I hate to see Foxsy shut, I know whatever each of these people do will be fantastic. Only a very small percentage of start-ups make it through to launch, through a few years or use, and then making money to be self-sustaining, and getting the investors some profit. Here’s to whatever is next Foxsy crew!

Read

Every January I dig out the Saint Mary’s Jan Term Catalog and look through was is / was offered. When I was at St. Mary’s Jan Term was something I deeply enjoyed. St. Mary’s ran on a 4–1–4 schedule with four courses in a fall semester, one course in January, and four in spring semester. January classes typically met for 3 or 4 hours Monday through Thursday for an intensive course on a tight subject. There are usually also travel courses for Jan Term, like religious architecture in Ireland or Italy, or sailing course in the Caribbean. My first year I had a Sports Psychology course and second year was on charisma and public leaders (this was amazing). My last year I didn’t exactly get Jan Term as I was doing a full term in Oxford at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Centre.

Every year I find new intriguing courses with good reading lists and I add the reading list and often start digging into a subject of a few each year. I’ve long wondered what a full school year of one month one class would look like. The Oxbridge tutorial system is somewhat similar over two months with intensive tutorials used to fill in gaps through guided self-learning, with that guidance being deep and good.

I stumbled on this article from a couple people, ‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude. This concept is an utter gem! The guy in Japan is selling his service of not doing anything, other than “just being there” for a round $96 a task. People using him to walk them to a court house as quiet support. Listening to people talk through something that they don’t want others to they know to hear or to judge them on. The service of “doing nothing” is somewhat akin to renting someone in a mature relationship that is years into that calm quiet support that gives the deep relief of not being alone and some togetherness.

Watched

Modern Doctor Who is on HBO Max. My two favorite Doctors are David Tennent and Matt Smith. There were a lot of the Tennent episodes I missed and being able to fill in the gaps is wonderful. But, also being able to watch favorite Matt Smith episodes again is something I’m looking for.

Listened

I tend to listen to a lot of music that doesn’t have lyrics or English lyrics. I don’t often listen to lyrics when they are in English, even though I will sing along or sing the song with out music. But, every now and then the lyrics stand out as they are creative. Twice this week I hit this.

One instance was going back something I used to listen to a lot and listened to driving across country with my dad, it was A.J. Croce’s self titled album. The music and production quality are really good, but the lyrics also stand out as they are witty and creative.

The other was Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver License, which was in my short list of recommended new music for the week and I had it playing in the background and the chorus of “’Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street” that really stuck out and I scrubbed back and relisten. That was insanely well crafted lyrically as well as musically.

Food

El Charro Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette, California Closed for Good, which may be one of the odd Covid maladies I’ve run across that hurt, beside the people it has taken from us. This was my first taco. It was also the accidental spark that got my parents and I obsessed with guacamole. When I was born this wasn’t all that far from where we lived and it was a favorite of my parents. I don’t remember going here as we moved when I was about 18 months old or so. But, we always stopped here when in the Bay Area.

I went to undergrad at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, which is sort of next door via back roads through the hills. When my parent would come and visit we would often goo to El Carro for lunch or dinner. One of the things my parents loved was the small dish of guacamole that came with tortilla chips, as well as salsa. From the time I was a baby my parents tried to replicate this intensely flavored guacamole. We learned many different ways of making guacamole and had a few favorites that are still really good. But, it wasn’t anything like El Charro’s.

So one day we asked about the guacamole, with my parents explaining they had tried to replicate it for 20 some years when we moved away. There was a bit of confusion, but the waitress understood and went in the back to ask. He head cook came out smiling. He explained it wasn’t guacamole, but blue cheese, a little garlic, and butter all mashed together until the blue of the cheese was a green-ish spread / dip. I’ve never seen this anywhere else. The cook had said the owner knew it from Mexico and was a special treat in a small town there. Thanks to the confusion I’ve learned many different guacamole recipes, probably more than 50, but also how to riff with the basics.

Productivity

I’ve been trying to put something in a daily dump note. The book notes and idea notes are getting to be a decent habit and being able to easily search and build on an understanding is really nice to have. Obsidian has been proving to be an insanely great augmentation layer.

Talking with a couple people using Roam this week about Obsidian has been interesting as both lost network access and didn’t have access to their notes. This also got them thinking about how to exit Roam, and the lack of API and a common framework they are feeling really stuck. There is now an option to scrape Roam to pull the content into markdown files that can work with Obsidian, and it seems it will also work with block replication. Roam is slick and what the people who love slick, but don’t consider function and the basic use cases for every platform: Do I have ownership of everything I put in?; Do I have constant access?; How do I exit?

I’m thinking through these as I have been looking at Craft, an Apple OS focussed note system that is quite similar to Notion. I somewhat like Notion and its capabilities, but getting to things, feeding them, and searching when working on things (I have to go to it and perform search and moving content in and out for writing and other workflows has a lot of friction. One solution around it is an API, which isn’t fully there. Craft being more native and sync with iCloud or other would enable what is in it being found in a search. Notion for personal use is now free and Craft is pay, but only about $4 a month.

Craft wouldn’t replace anything in Obsidian, but could help with some organization systems. I use Notion most for pushing podcast and YouTube links into them and then annotate them for refinding and reusing.



January 3, 2021

Weeknote - 3 January 2021

Happy 309th day of March in the Year of Covid and welcome to the first weeknote of the year here. Having a work break since Christmas Eve has been fantastic. But, it took me about seven days to get into the swing of the break and put behind things that weren’t part of the break. This being the turn of the year many of the news and media outlets, as well as many of my favorite blogs still running were posting their year end wrap-ups and I really enjoy reading those, particularly for books, things to watch, music, and ideas to explore.

This week I stumbled onto a new podcast that is a gem for me, but also in digging through ideas, links, and related exploration to the podcast I stumbled upon one of my own posts from 2006 about technisocial architect, which still hits at an awful lot of my approach and where I’m really happy focussing (that across multiple domains with depth in beyond generalist depth, but aiming toward a polymath depth). The labelling of people with multiple depths and expertise and to this day still bugs me as old style business that haven’t modernized think in one dimensional people and most often have no understanding how to use people with serious depth (they mostly just leave to go to places that know what to do with then and respect them) and really are lost with people with multiple deep dimensions. I’ve been back to pulling others like this together as really missing them and the conversations the freely spin across different domains and open opportunities to explore adjacent ideas.

A wifi hub going south (the end of my Apple AirPorts) meant switching to something different and was concerned with lack of ease of use, but was pleasantly surprised. Having WiFi 6 seems to have improve the odd drops we’ve been having and able to set priority for devices. The odd blind spots for wifi now seem to be gone as well.

Read

I’ve been reading across a bunch of new additions as well as going back through some books and gutting them for some idea spelunking related to the Near Future Lab podcast and newsletters (see below). The Near Future Lab newsletter has been a good find and the breadth of things it is covering with some depth has been triggering some pulling together quite a few things I’ve put in notes and tucked away over the last 15 to 20 years. Relatedly, I’ve had David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World out and gutting it, particularly around polymath, which Epstein has a good framing of, which I find far more helpful than the generalists, which is more of a deep generalist.

Book sales and gift cards have been adding to the stacks near the sofa during break, as well as targeted reading and gutting on subjects to flesh out some things in my notes (Obsidian has been great for showing gaps as I pulled in a couple of the blogfodder tagged notes and blogfodder lists).

One fiction book I picked and read the first chapter has me deeply enthralled is Richard Powers’ The Overstory: A Novel and was amazed with the beauty of it. It was like each word was a gem and each sentence a finely crafted bracelet or necklace. After two or three pages I was wondering if this would keep it up for the chapter, and it pretty much did. It has been a long while since I’ve read something this well crafted with language. I’ve been back reading poetry a little bit, but long for narrative this well crafted is a lot of work and I’m really impressed. But, with Overstory I’m also drawn by the story.

The end of this week I’ve been trying to catch-up with past [Near Future Lab Newsletters] as well as Jorge Arango’s writing and links (from the past few weeks). So much good fodder in these.

The “best of…” books I picked up and started reading a little bit, have not only been a source of good works in them, but I noticed the “other notable…” lists in the back of the books, which have been really good. These additional works mentioned have not only provided good pieces of interest to track down, but publications and sites that I’m now adding to my follow list. The last two or three years I’ve seen a lot of regular sources stop publishing and / or shut, which is problematic. There is a lot of fracturing and splintering of media recently. Most media is only as good as their individual contributors (which is the same as many things including analysts, contracting, consulting, etc.) and the really good individuals now have the capability to run things themselves or group with other strong individuals to build a good strong focused resource.

Watched

Early in the week I found myself watching downhill skiing, which I used to love watching as a kid. Not having Olympics this year has me wanting more skiing to watch and other winter sports (yes, I know it is a Summer Olympics year put on hold, but still).

Listened

One of my favorite sources for inspiration over the last 10+ years has been the Near Future Lab and this week they started a podcast (it is found linked in their 4th edition of their new newsletter Design Fiction newsletter - Design Fiction and the Optimistic Contrarian)and the first one is a pure gem for me. It is a discussion between Julian Bleeker, Fabien Girardin, and Nicholas Nova of the Near Future Lab. The focus is on what Giradin calls ambidexterity, or the switching of tasks and focus between domains and practice area. Julian maps that to what has been his favorite book of 2020, David Epstein’s Range, which is about the success of the generalist. This isn’t quiet your thin thinking generalists, but deeply curious multi-disciplinary generalist that go deep in across many domains and can deeply think (scientifically and exploratorily) as well as do. It is polymath as deep thinker and doer. The type of person who keep pursuing things to where there is boredom or able to hand it off to others. These folks are the ones who can easily have discussions with experts and leave the experts with new thinking and understandings beyond what they new prior.

Realizing Tidal added a ton of new music that is MQA wrapped from their Warner Music Group, I’be been rebuilding some play lists with the “master” version and listening as well. Along these lines I’m finding something is going on in Apple Music as a lot of their catalog is sounding much better running through a DAC on decent headphones (also finding Apple Music stopped scrobbling to Last.fm in December and I can’t get it functioning again, but Tidal still works).

Play

I was thinking I would play and finish Ghosts of Tsushima over break, but a discount on 2K21 made that the gaming focus. I’m a bit surprised with 2k21 as it isn’t as painful to play as it normally is with their “create a character” mode, but the GM mode is still as odd as it was last version. The storyline in the crate a character mode really wasn’t painful and felt more playable than usual and no annoying out of left field diversion thrown in.

Productivity

Obsidian has been getting a workout this week. I still need to sort out linking blocks, but I spent much of my time dumping in notes and connecting things. I need to sort out my workflow for writing, which is currently mostly done in iA Writer and that saves best for remote use in iCloud and my notes for Obsidian are in Dropbox. I need to work out a workflow for how to better handle this. One of the things I did this week was add a snippet for TextExpander for my existing blogfodder notes that were tagged in NValt. The snippet has the state for blogfodder to note if it is a stub, draft, done and not posted, and posted with a link to where it is posted. That would work to copy completed and posted pieces I’ve worked on in iA Writer, but need to sort out how to make that smooth.



January 2, 2021

20 Years of Blogging and Wrapping Up the Year 2020

Happy New Year (the 307th day of March in the Year of Covid). As of December 31, 2020 this blog is 20 years old. It started sort of on a whim in Blogger. I find a lot of things that stick start on a whim around here, either as a quick experiment (there are a lot always running) or just fed-up to the point of just do something. Curiosity strikes hard, but it does for most of the people who I spend time with and who do well around tech and digital systems.

There are now 2,103 blog posts. All but a handful are still around. The first one is gone, as it was a “Hello Squirrel!” post (20 years ago I was already insanely tired of hello world and switched some where in 1999 or 2000 and it stuck. I’ve thought about running stats to look at years of activity (in 2004 or 2005 I started Personal InfoCloud as my more work focussed blog and vanderwal.net stayed as my random thoughts and rarely edited brain dump. The top 5 used categories for this blog since its start are Personal, Information Architecture, Web, User-Centered Design, and Apple / Mac. The whole list can be found at vanderwal Off the Top Categories List - By Use. I really need to get a sparkline placed next to each as that would be really helpful to see what is popular when and something I’ve wanted to do for 15 or so years, but never got around to.

I haven’t really kept track of analytics. I would look at analytics on a weekly or monthly basis, but I really haven’t done that in a long while. I do know some of the folksonomy posts drew a lot of attention (the main defining folksonomy post was moved to a static HTML page at the strong urging of academics who needed that for citation purposes. I know a few posts drew a lot of attention inside some companies which were posted here and cross-posted at Personal InfoCloud.

I’ve used blogging to think out loud so to make sense of things, but also for refinding for myself, but also to connect with others who have insights or similar interests.

Wrapping Up 2020

This also is sort of Best of 2020, or things that I spent enjoyable time on or changed me in some good way. I don’t think I’ve ever done a year end wrap as I always feel I’m in the middle of things and a wrap isn’t really fitting when in the midst of things.

Podcasts

Postlight / Track Changes podcast over the last two or three years has become the conversation I’m missing. It is the conversations I miss having and sort of work I’ve been missing at times (I’ve had good stretches of moving things forward to help organization avoid the missing manhole covers or recover through helping understand need, gaps, and pain points to create vastly improved paths forward. Paul and Rich, as well as when Gina gets to play along have been great moments of agreement and a handful of, “ooh, that is good!” as well.

Dear Hank and John from brothers (vlog brothers) Hank Green and John Green, was one of the Year of Covid’s great find as refinding the vlog brothers YouTube channel and their books was comforting and grounding during this odd and rough year. In 2007 time frame with Hank and John were starting out I saw them as Ze Frank copycats, which admittedly they were, and I was a big fan of Ze (particularly after meeting him and having some great winding down rabbits holes of philosophy around content, community, and connection). I was entertained with the vlog brothers 2007 to around 2009, but didn’t overly seek them out and they fell off my radar. This year during the start of lock down they came back into to focus and stayed.

99% Invisible is a weekly breath of fresh air that digs into just one more subject from beautiful Downtown Oakland California. I am continually learning from it and go digging for more information after their podcast.

Matt Mullenweg’s Distributed isn’t quite regular, but I make room for it. Matt has had some really insightful podcasts that also have me digging for more and really am happy to see all that Matt has built so far. It is great that Matt is largely open with his sharing insights and information about they do things at Automattic, but also the guests from outside are really good.

Dave Chang Podcast seems like has a ton of content coming out and I can’t keep up. My favorites are when he is talking with other chefs and restaurant owners. The podcast was really good to listen to during the pandmic as Dave and guests dug deep into the challenges and economics around the effects of the shutdowns.

No Such Thing as a Fish is often my weekend morning listen. Last winter I caught their live DC show, which was great to see after many years. A show where you can get informed and laugh like crazy is always a win in my book.

Newsletters

Newsletters are a love / hate thing for me. The hate mostly is that they are in mail apps where doing useful things with content in them in my information capture for refinding, connecting with other similar things, giving attribution, and coalescing into something new or an anchor point for exploration is tough when in any mail app or service. But, I love a lot of the content. The best newsletters have HTML pages that are easy to search, find things, and interconnect ideas in. The Tiny Newsletter newsletters do this fairly well, Substack does this quite well (and can be RSS feeds), some custom solutions (like Stratechery) do this insanely well, while Mailchimp is miserable with this in so many ways (sadly none of my favorite sources is in Mailchimp, which is ironic and also frustrating).

The perennial favorite for years is Stratechery and keeping up with Ben Thompson’s take and really well thought through explanations are one of the few things I intentionally track down and at least skim (some of the subjects I know really well and look to see where Ben has a different take or a better framing for understanding).

This year perennial favorite New York Times columnist David Leonhardtt (whom I in only recently in the past year or two realized I know and see regularly) took over the daily news summary, New York Times Morning newsletter and it has become what I read as I’m getting up. The insights and framing are really good. But, also pulling things into focus in the NT Times that I may have missed is an invaluable resource with an incredibly smart take no it all.

One added midway this year is the daily MIT Technology Review’s own MIT TR Download that is edited by Charlotte Jee. The intro section and daily focussed editorial is always good, but equally as good are the daily links as I always find something that was well off my radar that I feel should be drawn closer.

My guilty pleasure that I read each morning on my coffee walk (I walk to get coffee every morning as working remotely I may not make it out the front door that day) is the Monocle Minute and Weekend Edition newsletter. Which during the week is quick, informative, breezy in a familiar tone, that cover international business, politics, global focus, travel, and more. I’ve long had a soft spot for Monocle since the started. The Weekend Edition newsletters are longer and have a highlight of someone, which I deeply enjoy, and focus on food, travel, media, the good things in life. The recipes on Sunday are also something I look out for.

The non-regular Craig Mod newsletters, Ridgeline, Explorer, and general newsletter are a good dose of calm and insight.

One of my favorite voices on systems, design, and information architecture is Jorge Arango and his biweekly Jorge Arango Newsletter is a gem of great links. I’m always finding smart and well considered content from this newsletter.

Music

I changed up my listening setup for headphones a bit swapping some things around and now enjoying things quite a bit.

I’ve been writing a bit about music in my weeknotes, but Lianne I don’t think has made the write-ups as I seem to be listening to her music during work wind down as it draws my attention and focus.

Books

2020 was a year of picking up books, but given the state of things reading wasn’t fully functional.

There are two books, which I am still working through, or more akin to meditating through that really struck me in 2020.

The first is Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge about a stretch of about 1,000 years and how classical books and knowledge were lost and found. She focusses on nine different periods. The background for how books were copied to stay alive (with far more frequency than I imagined), how the big libraries of the world were kept, whom they served, and how they went away and their collections lost or destroyed. This book deeply challenged a lot of underlying beliefs and, looking back, silly assumptions about keeping knowledge and the vast knowledge we have (which is only a tiny slice of what has gone before us). Reading this book, sometimes just a few pages at a time, causes long walks and deep consideration. It has been a while since I have reworked a lot of foundations for beliefs and understandings so profoundly. A lot of this book also reminds me of my time at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies that also challenged me and pushed me in similar ways, but that was more of setting foundations and extending them than reworking them.

The other book, which I’m still working through is Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own that I had been looking forward to it since I heard about it late in 2019. As we hit summer in 2020 and the murder of George Floyd sparked a deep reawakening of the realities of race issues in the United States it brought back memories of the 1980s and 1990s and thinking and working through similar ideas. That deep caring and belief that things were better and had improved were shattered as reality reared its head. I had stumbled onto James Baldwin after returning from living in England and France for the last semester of undergrad and a little bit more. I returned to the U.S. with really bad reverse culture shock and one of those challenging understandings I had was around race and very little in the U.S. felt right nor on inline with a united anything. This bothered me deeply for a lot of reasons, but part was being threatened just by hanging out with good friends who were running errands and they were verbally abused (and I feared worse was coming) by just walking in a store and I was a target of the same because I was with him. There were many times like this. After living in England and France this was clear it was mostly an American thing, particularly in educated circles where skin color wasn’t the first consideration it was who you are and what you believe and do. Baldwin echoed these vibrations of reality that trembled through me, it made me feel not alone in this, but he also gave urgings to stand up and be a different way. Over the years this faded, until the torch march on Charlottesville, Virginia and then the long series of murders at the hands of people who should be protecting not wrongly dishing out their perverted mis-understanding of justice. Begin Again has had me thinking again, believing again, and acting again, but taking it in small meditative steps and also reworking my foundation.

William Gibson’s Agency was a good romp and included a handful of places I know quite well, which really help me see it. I hadn’t finished reading Peripheral, but have it on the list to do.

John Green’s Paper Towns was a wonderful read and his view on the world and use of language is one I find comforting, insightful, and delightful. I have The Fault in Our Stars queued up. I also picked up his brother Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and made it about a third to half way through and it was reminding me a lot of 2005 to 2010 or so and things I hadn’t fully unpacked, so set it aside for a bit. I really enjoyed the characters and storyline, but I needed something that was a little more calm for me.

Lawrence Levy’s To Pixar and Beyond which was an interesting take on one person’s interactions with Steve Jobs and Pixar, which I found incredibly insightful and enjoyable. I’ve read a lot of books on Steve Jobs, Apple, and Pixar over the last 20 to 25 years and this added new insights.

James and Deborah Fallows’ Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America has been a really good read to help understand and get insights into where America is today with what are the thinking and beliefs.

The Monocle Book of Japan is really enjoyable as it is beautifully make. It is part picture book with the great photography that is in Monocle(https://monocle.com) as well as brief well written insights into many different facets of Japan and life in Japan.

Games

Ghost of Tsushima is one of the best games I’ve run across in a long time. It is utterly beautiful, the transitions are quick, and the game play (while quite bloody) is fun and not over taxing nor complicated. I’ve really enjoyed prior Sucker Punch Production’s games, I the Infamous series has been a real favorite (although hearing a slow moving empty garbage truck with rumbling diesel engine still puts me on edge as it sounds like the Dustmen from the first Infamous game). The storyline in Ghosts is really good as well and has kept me moving through the game after taking a break. I love the open map as well, which sizable and insanely beautiful.

MLB the Show is continually one of my favorite sport sim games as the game play is quite good, the visuals are amazing, and the team management and different ways to play through a season are really enjoyable. It gets so many things right that most other sport simulations don’t. I quite like sport sims as they have a fixed time, which makes it easy to stop or at least consider how long you have been playing and then get back to other things.

Fifa 20 and 21 continued to be really fun and enjoyable. The graphics and game play improves quite a bit each iterations and this last entry was no different. Much like the Show I find Fifa really relaxing to play and fun to manage teams and work through improving them.

Others I’ve enjoyed and played Death Stranding, No Man Sky, Journey, and Grand Tourismo. Death Stranding I didn’t finish even though I was enjoying it, the theme wasn’t really working well with the Covid–19 pandemic, but I know I will return to it. I’ve sunk a fair amount of time exploring in No Man Sky again and really enjoy it. I’m still playing Journey after all these years and still like it a lot as it is calming, familiar, and time limited. Grand Tourimso is still one of the most gorgeous games and fun to just drive around in.

Watching

I’ve written a fair amount in weeknotes about these three. There is more I liked, but I I haven’t really kept good track of those things.
* The Crown
* Ted Lasso
* Mandalorian

Productivity

The big shift has been Obsidian, which has become the layer over my existing notes that are in markdown and already in directories. I looked at Roam Research, but quickly realized it is most everything I try to stay far from, which is the content isn’t in my possession (if anything goes south I’m stuck), there are no APIs to extend use, the subscription is expensive for something not fully built and not well thought through, and a whole lot of arrogance from the developers (this is something to steer very far from, particularly if things aren’t well thought through).

Obsidian has me not only finding things in my existing notes, but allowing for interconnecting them and adding structure to them. The ability to have block level linking is really nice to have as well, but I haven’t really made use of that yet. I have been writing a lot more notes and pulling notes and highlights out of books. In the past I have used VooDoo Pad wiki on Mac and loved it and Obsidian gives me that capability and with storing the notes on Dropbox I can search, edit, and add from mobile as well.

Obsidian may be my one of my favorite things from 2020 and one that will keep giving for years to come.



December 28, 2020

Weeknote - 27 December 2020

Ahhh! Year end holiday break. This is deeply needed. Ten days of long walks, reading, writing, and perhaps some planning ahead this stretch.

The past week turned out rather well after hitting a wall, but no resolution, but others also seeing the pain and how backwards things are and working to resolve them and bring them closer too modern without repeating known problems and pains of past years so to improve work and productivity (basically what I’ve been doing the last 20+ years).

A successful Christmas was had with a good dinner, with a variation of duck leg (drumstick and thigh) rather than duck breast as I couldn’t find them easily. The Thanksgiving and Christmas meal is getting to be a five pan on four burner production that is getting really honed.

Watched & Listened

I stumbled onto the full Snarky Puppy We Like it Here in studio concert recording, which started a good deep dive into all things Snarky Puppy and related musicians for a few nights and playing albums as background for repetitive task times during work.

I found Snarky Puppy around 2015 or so when a few musician friends were sharing it and it reminded them (then me) of college and after jam sessions with really good musicians and having something that wasn’t much turn into something rather good. Snarky Puppy takes that and turns it up to 11. Their approach to music and draw for amazing musicians to play in with them is very much like Steely Dan. Their music isn’t quite fitting to any existing genre (also much like Steely Dan), but they also drift across many different musical types and backgrounds and global foci that drifts and morphs.

Food

Having extra blueberry leek and thyme reduction has been really nice with some smoked duck and extra strong German mustard.

But, extra Italian bulk sausage and an abundance of left over gluten-free stuffing with leek and Italian sausage cooked and reheated so a little crispy with a runny yolk egg on top is my favorite breakfast. A bit sad that it is now finished.

Play

I had a bit of time to move Ghost of Tsushima along a little farther. I’m getting within range of finishing, which I may do over break.

Saturday night I noticed 2K basketball was on half-off sale (or more so nabbed it and started the download. 2K often offers enjoyment and a lot of frustration (glitches galore).



December 14, 2020

Weeknotes - 29 November Through 13 December 2020

This is a triple weeknote, largely because after posting the last weeknote I started in on moving this blog and its CMS, the whole site, another site or two on the same host, and some other apps running on the same host and a stack of email addresses. It was simple and complicated at the same time, but I wrote about the site move prior when the DNS propagation finished. That post was the 2,100 post to the blog here (in its various forms) that started 20 years ago at the end of this month. That move and some other things ate time that attributes to content for here.


Thanksgiving week, that included the annual photo walk through Georgetown and making dinner with the usual duck breast and its accompanying blueberry leek thyme reduction. A lot to be thankful for with work consistency and health. Thursday morning came with a doctor’s call with all clear for tests, following quarantine after not feeling well the prior weekend. In these times it is really good to be overly cautious, but still a relief.

This weekend could have been longer by Saturday I was wiped out and started on the action part of moving this site and all the digital accretion around it to its new home. The evenings this week will hopefully be wrapping that up. This weeknote is the last change to anything on the current host before the move.


The middle week was mostly site move and related matters when not working or running a shuttle service for one or waiting for a set of negative test to come back for the shuttlee and who was quarantining with me.


This week allows for catching up on some listening and watching favorite teams, some movies, and shows.

Watched

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian (Season 2, Episode 5) was one of the best yet in my opinion. Not having watched any Akira Kurosawa, but reading a lot of reviews of The Ghost of Tsushima game that I have been really enjoying for a few months and enjoying the visual tapestry and story telling and reviews point to much of that as Kurosawa style. Mandalorian had a lot of the storylines and visual fingerprints that would also point to Kurosawa.

I also got back to watching movies and shows a bit. I think I’m in the midst of three series have partly intrigued me.

I watched Crazy Rich Asians, which I enjoyed, but it echoes a lot of other movies and story lines I spent much of the time trying to remember what it is that it was harkening back to.

Listened

A long awaited delivery of an a tweak to headphone listening arrived and I’ve been going back through some of my favorite songs to listen to so to hear different dimensions. Yosi Hoyakawa’s Bubble and Fluid are two of them. Both can be utterly stunning for sound quality, but also spacial representation.

I also went through some of the Edition Records offerings I have, particularly Daniel Herskedal and his Slow Eastbound Train album and The Roc. I listened to Alexis Ffrench Evolution album, which has some of the most breath takingly calming music I know of. I took a spin through some really dense Prince music, Peter Gabriel, and wonderful Stevie Wonder. Listening to Snarky Puppy really helped see the clarity and opening up of the space in the music. This band that is ever changing can be dense and swims in complicated patterns and being able to hear into the music more with more separation and clarity was fantastic. The last listen that really opened up and became more wonderful to me was Construction that really becomes more moving, as in a sense of drifting.

In listening to Snarky Puppy I also stumbled upon a YouTube video of drummer Larnell Lewis of Snarky Puppy and other bands listening to people play some of his complicated Snarky Puppy pieces. This was wonderful, he was so overjoyed, but also his ability to give constructive positive criticism was amazing to watch. I’ve been a fan of his playing for some time, but never seen any of his own social media contributions. I’m hooked.

Food

Last week the local market had petrale sole, which is not all that common here and I did a quick picata with corn starch and rice crumb crust cooked in olive oil and brown butter with capers and lemon. This is one of my favorite dishes. One my dad used to whip up for sand dabs or petrale sole on a Saturday night. I’m not going by a recipe, but going off what I can eat and a slightly more healthy version than just full on browned butter. It is such a quick happy meal with a little broccoli that has been thrown in the pan after the fish if flipped.

Productivity

Getting my site moved was a relatively large chore. Using a mind map and Omni Outliner to set the steps and order of the move and what was completed really helped (there are still a few things that need wrapping up, but that will come in time). One thing I thought I was going to be getting is a server in my timezone, but it is set to GMT / UMT, so my blog posts would have a local timestamp. Just adding that to my to do list.

One of the things I’m trying to do is get back in a better habit of tracking things in Obsidian. Having it be my own has been a great help and I am deeply thankful I didn’t go down the route of Roam (mostly because I own it and can shape it how I want to and need to use it). The mobile capture is still one extra step from tossing something in Drafts and that text step to dropping it in the directory where Roam sits. I have quite a few things in Drafts I need to comb back through, do the push and the clean up.

In the past week I’ve been able to pull back and recall information easily from Obsidian, which has related context. I’ve done this from mobile devices and laptop. The mobile access has been a real treat. I really need to find a good port for Delicious Library into structured Markdown for my books, particularly series like those Charles Stross has as keep track of what I’ve read, what I have, and what is coming up.



November 23, 2020

Weeknote - 22 November 2020

Happy 267th day of March in the Year of Covid.

A rather heads down week or planning with some errands and running kid to his appointments. The weekend became caring for a kid’s insanely kinked neck followed by stomach issues.

Read

Not a whole lot of reading happened this week as it was planning week at work and some errands and driving my son (but having it dark I lost a bit of my reading books time while waiting in the car).

One of the things that is echoing loudly from the James Fallows’ and Deborah Fallows’ Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America is people moving to “the city” or larger towns from where they grew up. This desire to get off the farm, move from a small town of a few thousand to the state’s large city of 100,000 or more for more opportunity, performing a role they trained or went to school to learn, or to get a larger dating pool to find a life mate. This desire is interesting and common, if you’ve lived in a large city. There are people who move between large cities following jobs or opportunities, but they don’t move to smaller cities (they may move to a city’s edge, an exurb, or suburb when raising families).

Somehow we are to one of my favorite times of the year a a reader, the “Top Books of the Year” time of the year. The New York Times top 100, Washington Post Top 10 (this links to other top book lists, and Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2020 have theirs out.

Sadly, a favorite author died this week at the age of 94. Jan Morris historian, travel writer, and trans pioneer dies, as the Guardian labelled her. I found Morris from her histories and culture overviews of Oxford that I read in the months prior to my heading to Oxford where I would take my last semester of undergrad. I later found collections of her travel writings and other histories, but it was the framings of Oxford that impressed me and I still return to today.

Watched

Started in on Season 4 of The Crown and finding the Prince Charles character, whom they wrote in season 3 as a young man finding himself and a bit lost, but with a soft look on life (rather than a hard, non-caring stoic side, nor overly aggressive side), and seeing hints of the effort to spin him to a dark and evil-ish look. The glare at the end of episode 1 was more funny (in an “oh, really…” way). I’m curious where the story arcs are going to go.

On Friday got caught up with Mandalorian with my son, who in used downtime due to the Covid pandemic to watch Clone Wars in its entirety and is far more versed in the backstory, places, and names that I am. I’m still enjoying it, but is doesn’t have the richness it does for him.

Listened

Not much listening to happened this week other than a really good 99% Invisible - In The Unlikely Event podcast episode, which is a really good look at not just make instructional materials work well, but understanding the whole system first, from planes, mechanical, human, and the ever important understanding the psychology of humans.

This week Pomplamoose and KT Tunstall collaborated on a new arrangement of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found”, which I found incredibly good. There is also a really good Making of Still Haven’t Found, on Jack Conte’s own channel. This may be one of the best covers / versions of the song I’ve heard by U2 or others.

One of my favorite labels, Edition Record had some new releases this week, but so far I haven’t had a chance to listen to them much but liking it a bit.

Productivity

It was good to see a New Yorker piece, The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done by Cal Newport and starting off with Merlin Mann. It wove through the enhancements something like Getting Things Done offers, but also its gaps. It wove in Thomas Davenport’s knowledge management improvements for personal improvement and thinking. It is a good high level view, that roughly scratches the surface. But, the diversity of options and models are also ones that are quite personal, but also needed for diversity of intellectual processes and needs of different systems and purpose.

I’ve been doing some rethinking of some of my Social / Complexity Lenses Models to expand and branch them as need and realities dictate. It takes some rigor in understanding what you have, what the needs are, and even more what are the gaps. It is at that point where thinking of a system to support what is being worked through and augmented as well as things held in valuable tension.



November 9, 2020

Weeknote - 8 November 2020

Happy 253rd day of March in the Year of Covid.

Work week was busy. Again not a lot of extra time for reading or moving this site. The election and the week of counting all the votes ate attention. One of my favorite clips from the week was of this Detroit pastor talking about protecting counting the vote and the impact of Black Americans involvement in the process with the great line, “we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents”. I love a good turn of phrase, and this is a gem.

After four years not not believing what I was seeing and hearing coming out of the White House, change has come with Joe Biden being announced as the President-Elect of the United States with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. Hopefully this we be a turn toward calm, getting ahead of Covid by following science and medicine, and getting the economy and environmental needs back in focus. It is so good to hear a President talking about being a President of “all the people” again.

Watched

The Atlantic’s “25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again” list has been pointed to as a list of comforting movies to get through the current week. Some of my favorites on on there, like: Metropolitan (Whit Stillman movie which is one of my favorite movies, but not on my top 5 and I may need to rethink that or make my top 5 my top 10 - Barcelona I find to also really enjoy but isn’t quite as chatty and the dialog in Metropolitan is brilliant), Before Sunset (I really like Before Sunrise more, but after a couple watchings Before Sunset has grown on me and I still have the last of the trilogy to watch), High Fidelity (I really liked the book more, but I’m a big John Cusack fan thanks to Sure Thing that had friends as extras in it, yet when I think of the movie as separate from the book I like the movie a lot), Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh’s edition and the whole series I find to be fun), Ponyo (is still on my watch list and likely my next up of Miyazaki’s films, but I’m thinking of this as most any of Miyazaki’s films as most of them exude comfort, kindness, and a sense of peace in turbulent times). Two the list but I haven’t watched, but one I have it in this category is Julie & Julia, the other is Inside Man that I really would like to watch for more than just a few minutes at a time. One that I would add that isn’t on the list is Local Hero, which I have watched numerous times after watching it in the theater twice when it came out. I likely have seen Local Hero more than 15 times, and possibly more than 20, but there is always something new that surfaces and some missed humor or something in the background that is wort paying attention to.

I have a feeling by week’s end I may have watched one or two of these again, or for the first time… Well, I did watch Before Sunset again, which I liked much more this time. I also watched some of the additional content from the Criterion Collection edition.

I started in on the newest episodes of The Mandelorian with my son. My son has watched Clone Wars since the last series ended and was much more attuned to back story.

Listened

I restumbled onto the work of Yosi Horikawa, which the genre normally isn’t fully in my interests, but I found I really enjoy Fluid and Longing off his newest album, Spaces. I have had Bubbles in playlists from audio testing and sampling playlists, but back listening to it more closely as music not analytical sampling of equipment.

Also out this week is Construction’s newest, "We’re Great Thanks for Asking, which I really like. So far my favorite song is “Never Fail”, which is video of it and filmed in Venice (pre-Covid).

Food

A couple weeks back I shifted breakfast to smoothies from a fresh fruit and yoghurt stretch, which has replaced a black bean and mushroom bowl with egg on top, which replaced a long stretch of huevos verde with black beans. This was sparked by sorting out a working blender. The mix has settled into frozen banana, ginger root, turmeric root, a little under a cup or probiotic yoghurt drink, fresh orange juice, pineapple, and berries. This ends up being about 16 ounces and keeps me going to mid-afternoon.

The weekend, due to errands, turned into takeout, and finally did pick-up from a favorite restaurant, La Piquette, with a well packaged frisée salad with lardons and poached egg (normally a salad Lyonnaise) is one of my favorites and makes me happy. Also tried their cassoulet, which was stunning. I have had some poor to horrible cassoulets over the past few years and this put my faith back into cassoulets as amazing and really good comfort food.



October 25, 2020

Weeknote - 25 October 2020

I’m returning back to something I read a bit ago from Matt Webb about getting back into a habit for blogging again. Matt’s posting about 15 rules for blogging, and my current streak is one that really struck home as I’m trying to get back to a regular writing habit, here and elsewhere. Matt’s idea for one idea per post is the old school way of knocking out quick short notes on one topic for reference for one’s self, but also sharing out for others by default. The weeknote model runs a bit counter to this, but trying to get back to a habit of capturing things and trying to get to a schedule helps get things moving again. Matt’s post is more than worth your time.

The week was heavily focussed on the work front as trying doing work that could really benefit from a good innovation space with large whiteboard and to include teammates to think and work through the flows and integrated systems. I’ve been working through a solutions to a gap that makes some easy solutions not viable due to compliance and needing to craft for a large enterprise and the constraints and diversity of needs. The start to the solution came about about 3 weeks ago and trying to work through a solution for one piece of it that would remove a lot of manual work that has a lot of opportunity for error as it scales and scope increases. Getting he foundations right is key, but I think we will have a good solution. Working through permeations of scenarios and modifications coming from vendors was a good chunk of working with large logic puzzles, but the foundation should be good. Now to work on workflows and interactions for it, or at least the first step and a solid system of record for these. I love this type of work, but it is much more sane with a good sized room, large whiteboard and stickynotes, and a few others to work through permeations and potential missing manhole covers that are created when the goal is seeing them and resolving them.

Early voting starts this week and trying to sort out when I can fit that in. While today (Sunday) was eerily quiet, which could be the cold snap or Covid cases spiking at its worst everywhere around the U.S. and people playing safe, I don’t expect that quiet to last for the week.

Read

A really quiet week on the reading front. I have some things to read this next week for a quick review that I am really looking forward to.

Watched

I sort of stumbled onto starting the Finnish crime drama, Deadwind that is on Netflix. I have only watched one episode, but I think I will stick with it. I thought it was a different series, but it has me interested.

One of the things that had me intrigued is not so much the show, but it is in Finnish. I haven’t listened to a lot of Finnish as an adult and its spoken and linguistic patterns are well outside of any language I have a passing understanding of. I was reading the closed captions and trying to pull out some words that could work as way in, but that was tough. I also realized I really liked the cinematography and focussing on closed captions and thinking about language structure was a bit in the way of what had drawn me in.

Listened

Over the past year I’ve become a fan of Rick Beato’s YouTube channel and I stumbled onto his break down of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes in the episode What Makes This Song Great? Ep.27 Peter Gabriel. There is so much more to this song and with Rick had taken another 30 minutes to dig into that.

Productivity

I’ve been using Obsidian more and a release that should hit those with early access and allowing block addressability really looks good. I’m finding with what Obsidian offers I’m able to really get a lot of crosswalks between ideas, sources, authors / creators, and structures that I just didn’t have access to before. Already it feels a bit like I have a James Burke long transfer system in the works that is part of the structure of his Connections series.



October 19, 2020

Weeknote - 18 October 2020

Okay, that week was the prior week’s weeknote. Now I’m trying to capture two weeks in one. The prior week was rather busy and the weekend full too.

The morning coffee walk, this week turned a bit wet and chilly. I may need to change from wearing shorts for my this trek to get me out my door and a bit of exercise to start the day. Seasons and other temporal changes of worldly transitions have really flown past this year with little acknowledgement. The trees are just starting to turn in their autumnal color pageant, but it seems like they were just bare and bright green sprouts coming out.

I got a note this week from my webhost, which had been bought quite a while ago by GoDaddy and they finally said they are transitioning and my host is going away. I know a lot of people who work at GoDaddy and the leadership and inhumane leadership problems are gone. But, they are planning on moving from a hosting plan and platform I love that fits what I want to keep going (this site) and some small experimental spaces playing with Python, NodeJS small services, and a little Ruby and moving to a service that really isn’t clear about what it does, nor what it offers, nor pricing, nor service, and it is only based in the UK. With Brexit it is deeply unclear what is going on in the UK with regulation and anything and that is one of the last places I would want to have anything hosted.

So, some of my time will be focussed in the next couple or few weeks transitioning elsewhere. I think I know where, which is a hosting platform from former founders and employees of my current host. They have similar offerings, but I’m needing to sort out what these changes will entail for some of the custom pieces I have and dealing with email.

I was in the midst of starting to plan an upgrade to the underlying code of the site to bring it to a modern version of PHP. This is on hold until I get the site moved.

Read

There wasn’t a lot of reading time this week. But, I sort of parked An Absolutely Remarkable Thing for now as the micro-fame discussions were something that was causing a lot of self reflection around similar. I picked up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and just a few pages in I’m happy with the swap as John Green’s writing voice is one I find comfort in.

I’m also reading / skimming back through some Richard Feynman as some friends have stumbled on to it and has lead to interesting discussions. I read Six Easy Pieces around 2003 or so after writing the draft of Model of Attraction and as I fleshed it out and it turned into Complexity / Social Lenses there is a strong underpinning in physics through Feynman’s introduction, followed by discussions with good depth in physics and quantum underpinnings.

Watched

The Pete Souza documentary, The Way I See It about his time as White House photographer for Reagan and Obama. It was completely wonderful and a solid reminder of what a great leader does through understanding things deeply and supporting all others through leading with empathy.

Listened

Tigran Hamasyan is a musician I stumbled upon through a “what is this” explainer on YouTube, which lead to a mini deep dive. The two videos that had been deeply intrigued and really enjoying his music are IMPOSSIBLE Time Signature or 4/4? Tigran Hamasyan Explained and The Rhythms of Tigran Hamasyan on David Bruce’s channel, which I have enjoyed and stumbled on before. The cross over and different mental model using math transformations and mapping patterns through size relevance patterns that are adaptive is really intriguing.

Food

I don’t understand why sole, particularly Dover or Petrale, is so hard to find on the East Coast. I swear they were pretty much a year round fish growing up on the West Coast. This week I stumbled on a decent sale on Dover Sole so made a quick fry in virgin olive oil and brown butter, with a dry coating of corn starch, rice crumbles, sea salt, and black pepper then finishing with lemon and quick fried capers and pickled capers. This was a good Sunday brunch to say the least.

Productivity

In this transition from light too mid-term notes in NValt to Obsidian for better organization and cross-linking and an app that actually works (NValt stopped working spectacularly). One of the things I was peeved about was the tagging I had done in NValt. But, Brett Terpstra knows tagging well and tucked the tags in the user interface of NValt into the tag field in Apple’s file metadata. The one that I’m really wanting to get organized is my blogfodder tag, which is really rough drafts of posts, or collections of notes no a subject.



October 11, 2020

Weeknote - 04 October 2020

I have so many partially completed weeknotes sitting for the last many weeks. Some are partial efforts to combine two, then three weeks or even more. The Black Lives Matter need for focus from utterly disgusting lack of people’s care for other humans diverts my focus.

But, I’ve also been needing to do a slight update to get this site running on a slightly newer version of PHP. Yet, in the next few months I needing to do a slow drip conversion to a quite modern PHP. To me it is utterly amazing that this site is still running on code I started writing in 2000 and fully started using in 2001 (I ran it is a temporary travel blogging fill-in when all too often hotels wouldn’t connect with FTP that I used to push Blogger pieces into place for new blog posts). I have made some minor changes to the underlying code three or four times, but this is going to be a large change. I will likely just do a straight conversion of the underpinnings, but following that may finish some better navigation and then a redesign.

Work has shifted from 4 days a week back to 5 days and that shift put a damper on a couple small personal side projects.

Another thing I’m working on is turning some of my core pieces of my talks and workshops into 1 to 5 minute video explainers. I regularly chat with grad students that run into my work around folksonomy, but also many of the social complexity models and lenses. Some of these have helpful animations I use as explainers and get really strong praise from professors when they run across them. This will likely lead to writing them up as well.

The other piece the last few weeks I’ve been focussing on is reworking my note taking and organization model. I will get into this in more detail below in the Productivity section.

Read

Reading took a bit of a back seat the past 6 weeks or so. I’be been reading two books in a slow meditative manner, due to the thinking and rethinking they are leading to. These two are The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., which I’ve mention here before (I think, they may be in unfinished weeknotes I haven’t posted). My fun read, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, has turned into a slow meditative read, which is helping me realize why I stopped writing and sharing on the web as much, but also why I need to get back to it. The last of my concurrent reads is James Fallows and Deborah Fallows Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America fits one of my favorite genres of exploring America though stopping and asking questions, but also listening deeply across America.

The Map of Knowledge runs quite counter to the poor assumption that the intellectuals of antiquity we know shared their knowledge and we have much of it. Well, we have very little of it. Much of it lost to lack of continual upkeep and continual recopying of works that was / is needed. The book looks at the old great libraries and how they disappeared and what happened to their collections.

A few years ago doing expert witness analysis I was amazed that much of the domain of canonical works about the internet, particularly around the Web 2.0 era, were gone from the web, they are also missing from the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. I have a decent chunk of them in my own collection as archived html and / or PDF tucked away and searchable in DevonThink. But, many of these are linked to from Wikipedia the sites that hosted them are gone to the digital winds. For a long time we thought of the Web as being the holding of all the thinking of mankind and having it all searchable and within easy reach (this also means the appalling thought of the fringes that get over amplified are there as well), yet this is far far from the case.

I have yet to discern if this loss of knowledge and really good thinking and understanding not being a new reality is comforting or not. A high school economics summer school class that introduced the “pure flow of information” leading to good decisions. Searching Google for “pure flow of information” my blog pops up a fair amount where I’m pointing to Nobel Prize for economists work around the internet and this, how to manage a vast flow of information, disillusionment with the lack of reality of the pure flow, and more. The thought I keep having, is along the lines of, “I thought we had so much more than we do”, then weighing true repositories like the Bodlian Library and the Library of Congress and their seemingly vast collections. The vacillating perspective of “we have only a tiny slice of what we have known” and “we have far more than any one person or collection of people can know” are a tension I’m very slowly learning to live with as a viable tension while still believing in the pure flow.

Watched

Mostly I’ve been rewatching movies and shows. But, the newest season of Endeavour, The Young Wallander, Van Der Valk have scratched an itch that I can always use more of.

Like many, I’ve stumbled into and really been enjoying Ted Lasso which has been a really good cultural palate cleanser to the mess going on in the world who want to lead by hate and lies.

Listened

Through a Tidal recommendation I found Brian Bromberg’s album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, which is decently good, but Hey Joe really stuck out and I’m really enjoying it (particularly on Tidal and really wishing they had a Master (MQA) version of it).

My podcast listening slowed as I shifted my morning breakfast routine from a 15 minute making a black bean bowl (black beans, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, fresh turmeric, Canadian bacon, sometimes grape tomatoes (cooked so they are jammy), and with a farm fresh egg on top). The current is thick yoghurt and fresh fruit, sometimes with muesli on top and a perfect bar. I’ve also gone back to doing a coffee walk in the morning to fetch coffee (this ensures I get out for a decent walk at least once a day) rather than preferably making coffee at home. This shift from 15 minutes to under 5 minutes knocked out my usual podcast listening time.

Food

I finally tried some gluten free baking. A peach and blueberry clafoutis was a good pleasure, but the gluten free Dutch baby went all sorts of wrong.

Play

I’m about a third of the way through Ghosts of Tsushima and a bit stalled. This game is a really gem. It is utterly beautiful (yet insanely bloody, which is something I often steer clear of) with an open map, good game play, and a tiny bit educational and has lead to reading understanding feudal Japan and samurai culture. I am a big fan of Sucker Punch’s prior series, Infamous, and Ghosts expands on what I really like about their games.

Productivity

The past few weeks I’ve been needing to find a different and improved method for my note taking method and workflow. I have long used NValt and it stopped working, but since it is just a front end for many (1,200+) markdown text files, I can use any markdown editor or text editor. But, what is missing is a loose wrapper around these short snippets of somethingness, collections of quotes, lists of interesting words with definitions, drafts for blog posts, other stubs of ideas (fiction and non-fiction), and also finished items I’ve started in NValt and then using small apps loosely joined method of doing things I use focussed writing tools for longer pieces that work with markdown files natively and can output to many other formats.

This exploration I pulled from here and posted it as its own piece (in very rough form) as Rebuilding My Note Taking and Management System and Model on Saturday.



August 8, 2011

Coming Farther Out of the Grief Fog

Today along with the past week in California at my Mom's place has finally begun feeling like another of many layers of the grief fog lifting. I was not fully prepared for the reality of taking care of my Mom’s and remainder of my Dad’s affairs. After losing my dad last Summer I was more prepared mentally for the passing of my Mom and her long struggles with good health really making it all seem like is was forever close. Yet, with all that was going on at the same time (move and transitions with work and elsewhere) it was a good struggle.

The trip out to California with my son last week really was good. My mom badly wanted to go to baseball games this Summer at some point with the two of us. She was a long time and die hard Oakland A’s game and my son got to run the bases after the game, then watched the Giants play in SF from a few rows behind home plate, went to see the Sacramento Rivercats play, and finally watched the Stockton Ports from right behind their dugout on consecutive days from funds tucked away for just that the grief fog lifted.

The past few days back (and prepping for another few trips to California to continue to go through and close things out) really started sinking in the wonder of life that has been so far. Watching Milk last evening really brought back many memories of growing up in Northern California and that really odd time of teen years sorting things out at the same time the world around me was struggling with the same thing (not sure the world ever is finished with that journey). The drives the week before from the Central Valley to the Bay Area really brought back many memories and understandings of who I’ve been and where I am.

Today I got out and went to Politics & Prose to look around and there is something about a really well curated local bookstore that you can connect with that brings the senses alive. Politics & Prose really did that for me today. I’ve long missed other Washington, DC area bookstores like Olson’s that had just the right things displayed that tickled my mind and soul bringing them to life. Pulling thoughts and glimpses of understandings (for myself and to share with others) out of the denseness of the grief fog really was wonderful. Politics and Prose had so many things out on special displays that are at the top of my Amazon wish list it really was a dangerous place to be.

Today was wrapped up by watching Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that chronicled the existence of the band Rush from its creation to current date. My neighbor Tom Just turned me on to Rush in 1980 when he moved into the neighborhood from Chicago. Listening to “2112”, “A Farewell to Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and “Permanent Waves” really struck me from a music stand point, but also the lyrics (I pay attention to lyrics much later than the music, there are some Rush lyrics I am just getting around to listening to in full after 30 some years). But, in watching this movie tonight it brought out the love and passion the band members have for their craft and the depth to which they put their understanding and pushing the edges of it. The discussion of Neal Peart’s loss of his daughter in a tragic accident and then his wife and his struggle to find it all and put it all back together helped cement the breaking through another layer of this grief fog.

In the past few weeks I've been talking with some companies about their products and some are in fairly good shape and needing a few tweaks and pushes in the right direction, yet others are lost in a world of buzzwords and social development memes with little value. I'm really looking to getting my hands dirty again and anxious to clear through the family affairs that need addressing. I also have a good chunk of writing to do and prepping for some presentations ahead.

On a Sunday evening I am ready for this next week to begin and dig in.



March 1, 2007

The Merlin Show interview with John Vanderslice

Yowza! The Merlin Show interview with John Vanderslice is fantastic. The discussion about changes in old media, marketing, music, DRM, and the state of the music industry is fantastic. John is smart and understands the marketplace and how to make money. How to make good money.

I am completely enjoying The Merlin Show with Marlin Mann. I am not a huge fan of podcast nor video podcasts due to the attention and time they take. I do have a stack of them backlogged that I will get to the day the Internet is gone for good, but Merlin is keeping me drawn in when I can't sit down and chat with him in person.

Love ya Merlin, keep up the killer work!



February 10, 2007

Cuban Clocks and Music Long Tail Discovery

The last two trips to San Francisco I have heard a latin version of Coldplay's Clocks on KFOG and it really intrigued me. This last trip I was in the car for four songs and one of them was Coldplay's Clocks by the Cuban All Stars. I have been trying to track this track down since first hearing, but am not having great luck. This continually happens when I listen to KFOG, which is about the only regular radio station I will listen to (I much prefer XM Radio for is lack of advertising and blathering idiots spouting off while playing overplayed songs that have little merit.

What I like about this version of Clocks by the Cuban All Stars (I have seen the dashboard metadata list it as Ibrahim Ferrer, but it has not been described as such by the DJs on KFOG). This is where my music recommendations break. But, some digging on the KFOG website points me to Rhythms Del Mundo as the source (but their Flash site seems horribly broken in all browsers as none of the links work). I have found the album on iTunes, but only a partial listing and none of the physical music store options have this in stock as it is not mainstream enough (how I miss Tower).

This all seems like far more work that should be needed. But, not if one has even slightly long tail musical interests. I had a wonderful discussion along these lines wish Cory from IODA about this and the lack of really good long tail discovery systems.

I use Last.fm to discover new things from friend#039;s lists, but the Last.fm neighbor recommendations seem to only work on more mainstream interests (Pandora really falls off on the long tail for me). Now if KFOG put their play list in KFOG, it would help greatly and I would add them to my friend list (or I could move back home to the San Francisco Bay Area).



October 10, 2006

Tower Records is No More

My musical youth has a chapter closed with the Sale and Liquidation of Tower Records. In Central California, where I went to high school there was rather little constructive to do. I was a fan of music and played in school bands and some pick-up bands. But the place where much of the discussion about music took place was Tower Records.

The Social Gathering Spot

Tower Records was one of my first non-formal social meeting places. I would meet friends there to talk about new bands and music of interest, which included things that were not quite on local radio that embraced a mono-culture of rock, more rock, some rock, and light rock. Radio did not venture too far from "Top 40" radio, but Tower Records did. Not only did I find out from friends music that could be of interest to me, but the staff was insanely knowledgeable. I had my jazz interests broadended and found out about non-American bands.

Tower Grew with Me

As I moved around to university and life beyond, Tower Records remained a resource of smart musically engaged staff that could make great recommendations or do a deep dive on nearly any genre of music. In the past few years I have been trying to find similar recommendations services that are as broad as the human staff at Tower Records, but nothing can quite match it. I still have been shopping at Tower Records as my off-center music interests can be satiated at Tower on a Saturday looking through the new music discount stack or bin. I could walk into the nearest Tower to me and have a half-brained request with remotely partial information and the staff would nail what I was seeking. I continued to discover more music of interest that I was not getting turned on to anywhere else. The prices at Tower for much of the new music farther out in the long tail met my price point metric of less than 12 US dollars.

Other Poor Options

While I would occasionally buy from Amazon or other on-line retailer, Tower was my place. Now I am heading more toward on-line only as Walmart and Best Buy have incredibly horrible staff that continually walk away rather than answer a question to get a sale. Both have the most painful customer service and I know an quick in and out trip will turn into a 45 minute lesson poor customer service and how poorly trained and unpassionate staff can ruin an experience. Tower was about people passionate about music.

Holiday Memories

One memory that will always last with me is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was very little open in Stockton, California, the place that is a giant suburb, without and "urb" to be a sub of. In high school we would gather at Tower on Christmas Eve night and head there the first opportunity we had on Christmas Day to spend whatever money we had garnered or to return the Carpenters greatest hts album. In the college years it was the place to gather and see friends who did not go to the "big party". In the post college years it was the place to go when the bars seemed like they were filled with young kids home from college and so loud you could not have a conversation. Tower Records held great memories and was held together by staff with great passion for the music they sold.



September 11, 2006

Found Killer Live Music is Alive in England

I will get to d.construct in another post, but on the way up to London on the train from Brighton today I sat next to a couple guys who were going to do a jazz combo gig, but when they stepped off four guys sat in their seats along with a guy they just met. The four guys (Tomme, Laurie, Pete, and Mat) make up Bad Sandwich and were on their way to London to play at the Battle of the Bands at Rock Garden Club in Covent Garden. I really enjoyed chatting with them and their friend Robin (whom they had just met).

The Bad Sandwich guys explained they payed a heavy funk, which made me think of a band from San Francisco, the Smoking Section, that was a favorite band in the late 80s and early 90s. Tomme gave me a sticker for their band that had their MySpace page (putting it on the cover of my laptop was not smart as I had to close the lid to read it then open the lid and type). I checked out their page and sampled a little music, it was quite good and a free live concert did not sound so bad.

Bad Sandwich is a Killer Live Band

I made it to Rock Garden in time to see Soul Step and the rest of the bands (I will get to Soul Step in a moment). Bad Sandwich guys were very appreciative that I made it, but after they played I may have been the one that was happier. Bad Sandwich is killer. Utter killer! They were really tight with Pete (lead guitar), Laurie (bass), and Mat (drums) just in were in tight sync. Tomme has an insane amount of energy, is very charismatic on stage, and proved to be very good lead singer for this band. The music kept me wanting to get out of my seat and just move. My head would not stay still and I could not hold back a big smile. This guys were just fantastic. They were just heavy hard funk and really want these guys to do well as I really really want to have them making more music for me to listen to.

Soul Step Is another to Watch

The band prior to Bad Sandwich was Soul Step with a rock, soul, blues, and rockabilly all blended wonderfully. They were incredibly good showmen and served up great music. Ryan Burns (lead singer and bass) was fantastic and if Roland Orzibal (Tears for Fears) were to have done similar music in his early days Ryan is channeling that showmanship. Joseph Warwick on lead guitar was really really good and kept showed an excellent range. The drummer, Krissi Carter had the showmanship skills of a big band drimmer, she was just stellar and their music really showed off her talent. All together this trio made music I wanted to buy on the spot and keep listening to (unfortunately the music on their site does not do justice to their live experience and a good studio session could make them equal or better than their live performance. I really with them well as I really want to want to keep listening to their music as well.

Two Killer Bands to Follow, One Good Night

The Battle of the Bands involved a vote, which went to a heavy metal band most in the club were grumbling about. I don't quite feel bad about Bad Sandwich or Soul Step not getting voted forward as they were really impressive. Bad Sandwich seems to have a decent following and all the other bands really thought they were excellent. I can not wait for these two band to get good recordings out as I really want to buy them. I also really want to see them live, again and again.

Go give them an ear and if you are lucky enough to be in England they are well work going to see them as well.



August 22, 2006

The Tension of Sharing

In today's culture there is a serious tension between creative types, publishers & owner of rights, and other creative types. Society and culture has traditionally been handed down through generations and each innovation is built upon. Today we are living in a world that is trying to monetize this sharing and handing from one creator to another, which is placing money as a higher value than advancing culture and society. Today in the New York Times the latest iteration of the clamping down is presented in the article, Now the Music Industry Wants Guitarists to Stop Sharing, which is about sharing guitar tabs online.

We Can Advance Culture and Society Faster Today Than Ever Before

This sharing of guitar tabs has always been around, as has sharing most other music insights from one musician to another. This sharing is how nearly all of us have learned, embraced, and improved our skills. Not only do musicians learn this way, just as they always have, but it also how designers learn and share. The web not only made this quicker and easier, but web designers and developers have always been able to peek at the under pinnings of each others markup and design. This sharing helped move the web along more quickly than many technologies and mediums that came before it. The web is built on a creative culture mindset of free sharing. Part of this extension is nearly all creative cultures have advanced in recent years because of the web. Creativity has been democratized and the ability to get from zero to 7 is made very easy. It has been a time of immense innovation and a vast spreading of innovation.

One of the odd things is the corporate culture, which does not move at as fast of a pace (look at the ironic juxtaposition of Microsoft, which enabled innovation and was incredibly innovative, often by using the innovation of others (bought or "borrowed") is not a big corporation that is very slow moving and more reactive than innovative (on a whole, as I do realize there are some incredibly innovative segments inside Microsoft - particularly in the Live area and things that Ray Ozzie touches). It is the corporate culture of those that do not create but try and "own" what is the result of the creative process that are trying to stand in the way of traditional sharing in society and culture. It is ironic that what they spend their time suing to inhibit is what created the items of value they are claiming they are protecting.

Creativity Needs Sharing and It will Find Ways Around Control

There are many ironies in the top-down control industry, in that they are trying to kill what makes them money. The RIAA has tried to kill peer-to-peer sharing, but with the horrible state of radio the best way to learn about new music is to use peer-to-peer services. Recent studies show nearly all of the music on in iTunes and iPods is actually owned by the person using that device. Research around how people find the music they purchase points to open sharing of that music. That is how I do it and many of the others that I know.

Let me illustrate... Recently I ran across a Steely Dan making of Peg video on YouTube, which I really enjoyed. It was about the deep geek side of musicians sharing how they recorded and produced their hit song Peg. They were sharing their secrets, for a small price. But in this instance it was free on YouTube. I doubt that Steely Dan or anybody related to the DVD that this video came from authorized its use. But, because of watching the YouTube segment I bought the Steely Dan Aja DVD. I would have never known about it had I not run across the sample on YouTube. Not only did I buy it but in my circle of friends I know seven others that did the exact same thing, watched it on YouTube and then bought it.

This is a story of free sharing about musicians sharing their craft with others so to improve upon the whole of the craft. This is the thing that the New York Times article highlights as being a problem. But, it is the corporations around creativity that have put a noose around their prospective industries by getting their friends in U.S. Congress to regulate sharing and creativity and make it a crime in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (PDF).

I am finding that much of the music I enjoy is not coming out of the corporations, but the creators and innovators who are connecting with their audience directly. Last evening I watched a video on YouTube that we are interested in picking up. I clicked a little bit on YouTube and discovered The Dualers from London, who I am quite impressed with. The Dualers are a ska/raggae duo/band who do not have backing of a record company, but made it into the pop charts in 2004 and stayed there for a bit. Ska/raggae is a type of music that is out of fashion with the record companies, but still has a large following. It is music that still resonates not too far out in the long tail. YouTube is one of the means that The Dualers promote their works. They have sold over 35,000 CDs, which is atleast $350,000 if they are sold for $10 a pop, which would be much better than a deal a record company could offer them starting out.

How to Ease the Tension?

A large part of fixing the current problem is fixing the laws and getting people in upper management and in control of the media companies organization that litigate rather than adapt. We need to return to embracing creativity and sharing. We need to do this in a manner that creators can make a living, which may include cutting back on the role of the middle men. I see a shift toward media outlets that can innovate, iterate, and help support the creators as well as support the media outlets. The radio industry is in serious trouble in its current iteration and may need to move to a more segmented and broader distribution like XM and/or Yahoo Music and LastFM and MySpace as social means of finding new music and connecting directly with bands/creators.

I have been quite interested in some of the stories about EMI and how they have added value, creativity, and innovation for Gorillaz and even Coldplay. It seems that EMI pays attention to the community and lets the artists connect with their audience, which then helps shape their music and creativity. This sounds like the smart leadership that is needed. I have only heard these stories anecdotally, so I am not sure how much is really done by the community with interest or the artists. But, I can hope.



May 22, 2005

Musical Baton

Livia passed me the Musical Baton. I have a somewhat broad collection of music that narrowing is extremely tough. I may answer this very differently in a week, month, or year. But, as of today...

Total volume of music on my computer

I have 6003 songs taking up 31.5 GB on my hard drive. This encompasses around 700 artists (give or take odd variants that become multipliers).

The last CD I bought

It turns out that I picked up a stack of CDs today, which included: Kem Album II, Midival Punditz Midival Times, Dave Matthews Band Stand Up, Bruce Springsteen Devils & Dust, among a handful of backfill disks.

Song playing right now

Blue Nile The Days of Our Lives

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me

  1. Dizzy Gilespie Man from Monterey
  2. T.J. Baden Sureal
  3. Youssou N'Dour Shaking the Tree
  4. Lyle Lovett Can't Resist It (live)
  5. Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton

  1. Dan Brown
  2. Andrew Otwell
  3. Dan Hill
  4. Molly Steensen
  5. George Kelly


March 22, 2005

Audio Spatial Relationships in Jazz Trio Recordings

This morning on the way into work I was listening to some music from the jazz pianist Benny Green. There was something that seemed quite odd. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on it, but I finally got it. The audio image was backwards, that is to say left was right and vice versa. Having played the piano for years the sound was mapped completely wrong for me. I expect to have the bass notes in the left ear and the treble in the right, just as it would be were I sitting at the piano.

Since I have had my Sure E2C (the best mobile headphones I have ever owned) I have had to re-rip many CDs to get a better sound quality as the music sounded clipped. I am a huge fan of jazz music and particularly big band and trios each for vastly different reasons. I love big band jazz because of the breadth and depth of the sound. A large horn section can really move me with volume and richness, but a really tight big band (one that move swiftly as one) has me in awe. A trio is the opposite for me, the individuals stand out in the purity of each of the player's talents working together to blend as one. In the trio individual textures are readily apparent like grains of wood showing through in a polished piece of fine furniture.

So why did the "incorrect" sound mapping bother me? When listening to jazz on headphones the only place a spatial separation can be heard in the manner represented is sitting at the keyboard. With a grand piano or at an upright the sound emitting from the piano is greatly diffused, even by the short distance, and the sound can only be heard as one voice from coming out of the piano, not the individual strings nor the left and right.

The problem is most likely attributed to the mike placement during recording. Most often piano is recorded from within the body, with the mike(s) facing the player, hence reversing the spatial relationship. The only way to replicate this sound in person is to sit in the body of a grand piano, which is not usual, nor recommended seating.

Is there a program that will reverse the left and right channels? This is going to bug me to no end. I can not put my headphones in the wrong ears as they do not fit and really do not work that way.



December 17, 2004

Destroyed Good Only To Get Great

Earlier this week we sheared half of the head of one of our earphones off leaving it less than usable as a earbud. Hence I went out that same evening and picked up a set of Shure E2C earphones. I have heard rave reviews about them and some friends really enjoy their set.

After picking them up and getting them home, I was feeling like these better rock for the money, which is nearly what I paid three years prior for my set just I had destroyed. I commute to work and have ample time to listen to music and downloaded BBC and Studio360 radio segments.

The E2C come with two different types of ear pieces and three different sizes of each set. I tried a couple different sizes of each and found one size of the foam (most outside sound dampening of the two kinds, not that sound dampening was my primary goal) that seemed to work best. But, after 10 minutes of trying to read the directions and trying different contortions I could not get a decent bass sound out of the earphones. But, finally I did it just right and I got full range. I listened for a moment or two to what ever I had playing and was in utter awe. I was hearing pieces in music I had owned for nearly 10 years that I had never heard before.

The remainder of this week I have been listening to music with acoustic instruments as there is much richness to that type of music. I have heard bowing on acoustic bass during songs on bass lines I never noticed. I also heard quiet undertones I had never heard that now were readily apparent. One of the things I noticed today, while listening to Dave Brubeck's Take Five, was I could approximate the room size during the drum solo as the reverberations of the sound had texture and echo of music rooms and studios I had played in. I have a new love for the music I have and it is a great joy to listen and take in the subtleties on my commute.

The ear phones I had before had very good sound, but the E2C may be some of the best earphones or speakers I have ever listened to music with. The E2C wires are not as lithe as the Sony wires, which would make more active listening a little more difficult, I imagine. I am not too worried about active listening at this point, but just being transformed to new places through the music.



July 4, 2004

What Goes In Your Ears

Tim Bray brings to life a point I recently discovered, compression on MP3 is rather poor sound quality. I unintentionally ripped a disk this past week at the lossless sound quality in Apple iTunes and ended up with 23 MB to 30 MB files in the Apple file format. I dumped the songs in my iPod and hit the road. That evening on my way home I listened to my disk I ripped, Danny Wilson's Meet Danny Wilson, and was utterly blown away by the lush tones finding their way to my ears through the Sony in-ear fontopia headset. I have been ripping my collection over the past couple years at 160 bits in the Apple format or in MP3 and getting 4 to 5 MB per song. Since my experience I am now ripping at 192 bits, but still not getting the lush sounds, although the quality is improved. I will run out of space at some point, but I will have much better sounding bits to listen.

Not everything needs the better sound quality, but there are many things in my collection that I may go back and re-rip so I have better travel versions with me.



May 22, 2004

iTunes on External Drive

I finally moved my iTunes repository, all 18GB of it, off my TiBook (40GB hard drive) to my external firewire hard drive (120GB). By changing the iTune directory to the external drive in iTunes preferences then going into Advanced an set iTunes to "consolodate" iTunes files everything will be properly copied to the external drive. After ripping a disk and finding the disk only loaded on the external drive I knew I had success. I then deleted the iTunes on the TiBook.

I have now successfully synched my iPod connecting to the external drive through the same firewire hub. I now have 20GB of free hard drive available on my laptop, which is a nice relief.



March 14, 2004

iPod still missing music

I have been loving my iPod for some months now. But, I am continually amazed that in the 4,000 songs I currently have stored I don't always have what I want to hear. Not only do I not have the one or two songs, but I do not have anything by that artist or composer and I own four or five CDs by that person. I just realized that I did not have any Eric Clapton, but that was only when I was grabbing the Holy Cole Trio to rip. Eric Clapton August lived in my Walkman for years at the end of the 80s. It was part of what framed living in Oxford and traveling into London on Thursdays or Fridays.

I had been thinking that the iPod would be much like having a Walkman again, but it is much more than that. A Walkman took pre-cognitive measures before heading out to ensure that the music you wanted was loaded or in another pocket. I always traveled with three or four tapes, usually mix tapes to get my space worth. Now I always have something I am not tired of or would like to hear (albeit not always exactly what I wanted, yet).

I am really enjoying the iPod on the train rides as it blocks out the chatter of non-regular riders who know the rules of the Metro are not to talk, but if necessary to have a conversation quietly. I really enjoy the music while waiting on the platform watching others. One night a man stepped to the edge of the platform and was practicing ballet positions in street shoes and slacks. His tapping, pointing, and placing the his feet was in perfect time to what I was listening to, which I believe was Lamb.

I do not wear the telltale white headphones as I am not a fan of the look, but also greatly prefer the sounds produced by my Sony Fontopia, which tend to block a lot of external noise.

The biggest downside of this arrangement is missing out on the sounds around me. I also am not finding the concentration reading or when knocking out ideas on my graphpad. These are things I did not notice when I was younger and had my Walkman, but I may not have felt free time so rare.



January 18, 2004

Music for Real People

The Internet, particularly the Web, has become a solid replacement for traditional radio, which most people believe only provides a service for background noise. Traditional radio in the U.S. fails the listener as a medium for finding new music, be they bands, artists, or labels that insight the users to want to own the music. (I am using ownership in a broad sense of the term, which can entail purchasing CDs or downloads as well as downloading free music offerings as defined and offered by the creator of the music.)

The Internet provides a great platform for finding new music. One means of finding new music is from others sharing what they are listening to. The sharing can be done on Macs using iChat and iTunes where iChat shows others what your are currently listening to. Others share music on their personal sites, like Dan Hill does on City of Sound in his year end review or Jeffrey Veen does in his sidebar offering of "heavy iPod rotation". People also share in their finds in their weblogs, which are more difficult to track. Other options are to peruse Amazon wishlists.

Other Internet options are listening to Internet radio broadcasts. There are many options, like Radio Paradise, that offer broadcasts of genre specific music. These stations also usually provide metadata that helps the listener know the creator of the music and the title.

Many people want to consume music, but traditional radio and even record labels have forgotten that people want to consume music, if only they could find music they want to consume. Apple's iTunes has expanded the offerings for purchasing music and also does a decent job (though not great, Amazon does a much better job suggesting related music and provides a means to store music of interest) of suggesting other music that would be of interest.



December 28, 2003

Mobile Audio

I picked up Audio Hijack Pro so I can record some of my favorite radio shows on the Internet to playback when I have time. Since I stopped driving to work and went back to taking the Metro I have been missing Marketplace on my drive home. I can also listen to Studio 360, which I plan to do tomorrow, when I have time. The Audio Hijack is like the Tivo for Internet audio, but missing the time schedules and recommendations.

The benefit of the portable audio is getting the top item on my wishlist, an iPod. I am wishing the iPod interface was slightly more malleable and offered how much information was available about the audio file, it would be good to have search functionality too. I am happy to have my full address-book and calendar tucked in the device also. I am surprised there has not been a thumb keyboard introduced for the iPod as of yet. I am even more surprised there is not a dial and click text entry component, just like the arcade games of yore.



November 21, 2003

Jack into iPod

On the ride to work on the DC Metro today I read Feel Free to Jack Into My IPod from WiredNews and loved the story. Not so much for the sharing the actual iPod, but the later discussion of integrating Bluetooth and Rendezvous into the iPod. The "jacking" an iPod is a nice social idea, but the idea of being able to listen to another's playlist on the ride to work would be a great way to find new music, as radio sucks.

I would also love for an iPod to act as a source for my laptop or desktop machine. The technology of Bluetooth is relatively small and can fit in cell phones that are much smaller than an iPod. Rendezvous is a software application (if I have understood correctly). This combination should not be that difficult to produce.

This could lead to awkward moment where one person is following another person, not to cause harm but to listen into their iPod streaming. We could end up with random acts of Stream Stalking flooding the news.



November 9, 2003

Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD is terrific

We picked up Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD yesterday. I took the first whack at it, and I have really enjoyed the DVD. The version of Red Rain from that tour is my favorite. The video does the concert we saw here in DC justice. Not only was it a great concert, but it makes for a great DVD.

The version of the concert that we saw was based on a raised circular stage in the middle of the arena. There is much going on under the stage to prepare for what comes next on stage. The video, in documentary format, spits the screen horizontally many times during the show to capture what is happening on stage as well as under. It was a very nice effect. The video representation of Downside Up was also done extremely well on the video.

If you are a Gabriel fan and missed the arena concert, the DVD is a great way to capture what was missed.



October 18, 2003

Links to artists and songs in iTunes

Do you have a song you want to share? Apple now offers a tool to link to any artist and song in the Apple Music Store - iTunes



July 27, 2003

New music written and recorded before your eyes in 24 hours

This morning I caught-up with Scott and Shannon's blogathon, which is 24 hours of postings on their site. The donations go to a great cause and they also did an amazing thing. The two of them wrote and recorded two new songs.

The wonderful parts of this are they are 3,000 miles apart, the collaboration was on line in the blog for this purpose, their auditory updates were posted throughout the 24 hours, and their two voices and guitar tracks and other instrument tracks were all pulled together for two wonderful songs. I have been humming Southdown all day. I want to spend more time reviewing each of the steps to this transparent adventure.

This may be the coolest things I have seen on the Web in quite some time.



July 9, 2003

File sharers buy more music

BBC reports file sharers buy more music. No duh! The horrible state or radio makes finding music worth buying quite difficult. The quality of the music files being shared greatly lacking and for many the shared files are just decent, but not great samples. The quality in Apple's Music store is an improvement, but not a fungible replacement for music right off a CD.



July 7, 2003

League of Extrodanary Gentlemen only from download

Apple purportedly gets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen soundtrack for the Apple Music Store. Oddly it seems there is no physical CD rights for distribution in the U.S. To me this seems like a good step forward, it would be a great step forward if there was also a true CD quality version available for download rather than a lossy compression of the music for download. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the size and comparative sound of the Apple MP4 format, but I prefer even much less compression, particularly with music from a symphony.



June 24, 2003

BBC Proms means Summer

Summer means many things and BBC Proms are one of the highlights. Great classical music at great prices in and wonderful venue. When going to the Proms get there a little early to wander around and take in the building.



June 21, 2003

Currently listening to Lamb and Massive Attack

Currently listening to Lamb What Sound, which I picked up after extended playing at a listening station. I am really enjoying this, which has tones of early 90s euro alt rock. I also added Massive Attack 100th Window, which sounds like a matured Propaganda, but with Sinead singing.



June 11, 2003

Metheny offers relaxation

I am really enjoying Pat Metheny's new solo recording of him using baritone guitar titled One Quiet Night. (This was one of the items in the ill fated shipment.) The sound quality of the disk is fantastic. The baritone guitar has great breadth and offers a warm depth to the sounds. The music is very relaxing and has shades of New Chautauqua, which is one of my favorite acoustic guitar recordings and may have been the album that got me hooked on acoustic guitar and prepared me for Windham Hill Records. The song Over on 4th Street really brings Chautauqua to mind.



May 11, 2003

Perceived viable price for music

An unexpected moment happened this weekend as I stopped in Tower Records as it is the same parking area as another regular Saturday morning errand I found Kem Kemistry for under 10 dollars. I had stumbled across Kem in the Apple Music Store this past week and really enjoyed it. I had though about making that the first disk I downloaded from AMS, but finding the disc for less than I would have paid to Apple I was a proud owner. (Kem is a new artist that sounds much like Al Jarreau but with a little more Motown R&B).

Until AMS my maximum price for a CD was 14 US dollars (with a few exceptions), but now it seems that 10 dollars may be my new threashold. I love music and really enjoy quality production as well as clean honest music, which the recording industry has ignored of late as they throw plastic layers over talent and foster mediocrity. When I find the increasingly rare gems in regular music bins I dig to find it at a decent price. I miss the days of playing music in a band and the creative process that is fostered in small bands. I played sax and keyboard (many years of piano as a child went to something) in jazz bands, pick-up bands, concert bands, and sat in on cover bands through high school and through college, even in pick-up bands in early work years in San Francisco. There are times when listening to music I ache to play regularly and there are times when I am in awe of great talent and great musicianship. I have seen far too many great bands ruined by the music industry, which leached the blood from bands and single artists that would bring a large smile to my face for days. I finally am seeing hope with the music industry I have not seen in a long time.

With music prices possibly dropping and a levelling of the playing field for independent artist to get exposure of the interchangable Britneys, I see hope. The downside of late is seeing music programs in public schools cut back due to budget cuts. Not only is music needed for its own sake, but there is a strong corrolation between music and mathematics and sciences. Nearly every American programmer that I have known that I have considered to be above average has been a musician also, and often was formally trained. Many of the visual designers have also been musicians, but not as high a ratio as programmers.

Having music be a decent price is very important to me as I truly believe is supporting the artist that create that which gives pleasure. I wish more of the money would flow to the artist and less to the suits that ruin that with has the potential for being great.



Cover art can make a difference

In 1994 I was walking through the Washington, DC Tower Records in Foggy Bottom and saw an album cover that blew me away as a large poster on a wall. At first I just saw the continent of Africa, including Madigascar. But as I grew closer I could see a slightly contorted man in a suit. I walked backward and forward blurring my vision to get the original image I saw then stood in wonderment for a moment before tracking down the CD to buy. This may have been the first and only album or CD I bought based solely on the cover art. I was afraid I would not be able to find that disk again if I did not buy it. I really wanted the poster too, but at the time I knew it would not fit well in my studio apartment as the initial viewing and reviewing the image helps with distance.

Today I am finally ripping Manu Dibango's Wakafrika from the disc I bought years ago into my TiBook with AAC at a 160 bit rate to ensure the wonderful quality of the music. The music on the disk is equal to the cover art and I keep forgetting I do not have it to take with me on travel. Now with iTunes 4 I can also have to cover art.



May 8, 2003

AAC Internet Radio next

I am now wanting MPEG-4 streams of Internet Radio as Apple's use of AAC has me enjoying the crisp clean sound from music purchased in the Apple Music Store and ripping the music from CD. The quality is very clean and enjoyable, but Internet Radio now sounds rather muddy.



May 1, 2003


April 29, 2003

Apple Music Store has many gems but not everything

I have been having fun with the Apple Music Store in iTunes 4. The store only has 200,000 songs, which is not that many if one has eclectic tastes, but I did find Trash Can Sinatras, but did not find many other finds. I did pick-up a few songs that I have on vinyl that I have not been able to find the disc in stores. The international selection is lacking and I hope they start filling in some of the gaps in the near future. The interface is good and the quickness to start to play is fantastic as is the quality of the sample and downloads.

I may rip a CD or two with MPG4 on a higher rate to check the clarity and file size. I have a good collection of music ripped between Joy's collection and mine, which has been great on trips and just hanging out or working.

This is one of the many days I am overjoyed to have a Mac.



April 28, 2003

Apple changes music buying and bring reality to the industry

Michael Sippy expounds on Apple iTunes 4 and music store, which sounds much like my life, but I do still buy CDs (but only if they are less than $15). I have found virtually nothing coming out of the major record labels for the last 5 years that was worth buying. I can find five to 10 discs each year I am interested in buying, but very little of it is the interchangable Brittney's or the 400 Machbox 20 Wannabee's. The major labels over produce garbage by the truckful and wonder why they can't sell music. Things get so bad for the industry they hire a mindless shill to point fingers at pirates. Ever look at what many of these folks have downloaded? Much of it is not forsale in the local record store. Now with Apple it looks like there is no need for the major labels if Apple starts picking up indi artists. It looks like somebody is finally smart enough to make money on in the music industry. Mabye the shrill shill will go away and take her lawsuits with her.



February 14, 2003

Rap Master Plushie

For your Valentine entertainment pleasure Hip Hop Plushies, in DJ Format's video. [hat tip Cory]



January 11, 2003

Groov'n to midival punditz

I am groving to Midival Punditz, which I picked up today. The midival punditz have remixed Tabla Beat Science, whom I also really enjoy. There are touches of aural passages in the midival punditz work that are very reminicent of Peter Gabiel's work.


December 11, 2002

Liars want more money to for blank media

IT Buisiness writes, "Media levy hike may force vendors to drop products", which seems to be part of my problem with the proposed increase in price of any medium to false levels that are not set my the market. In a sense the increase is being proposed by folks who are not creative, are finding they are not creating value, they have nothing productive to contribute, and have found a means to slip their overly padded pockets before the consumer again. The reasons given for the increases are the same poor lies about the starving artists. The artists are starving because of the middle men. The liars in this case have added notthing to society and want to force folks to pay their unproductive behinds more money to copy my own content I created or content I bought and would like to have fair use (my own edit of a movie or a mixed CD I can play in my car). The liars want to point fingers at you when they should point fingers at themselves. Every new media was the downfall of a media's industry. The liars cry "poor me" at each and every turn, but they are replaced with folks that learn to take advantage of the medium and create compelling content. The current band of unsuccessful business must bereplaced with a breed that understands how to take advantage of the medium. The liars know their days are numbered in their own jobs, because they are incapable of doing their jobs.



December 9, 2002

NPR finds music gems

Running errands this past weekend I heard a snippet on NPR about the All Songs Considered 2 CD. There were a few songs played and discussed that really intrigued me. This meant Saturday night I spent nearly three hours digging through the All Songs Considered site listening to the archives. I found many obscure bands that I new really want to listen to more. I often have caught bits and pieces of ASC while in the car, but never can remember who it was that piqued my interest.

This site, like many others on NPR really augments the radio experience, bringing it into an explorative medium with memory, which has been my complaint with radio for years. Radio is transitory and fleeting. Remembering a song or discussion while changing lanes, answering the phone, draining the pasta, etc inhibits structured listening that augments aural memory.

I was once embarrassed that I picked up much of my new music finds from NPR, but with much of the commercial radio market serving up untalented pablum (or perhaps misproduced talent) I have an outlet. I have found John Mayer before many others I considered to be well plugged in. There is a depth of music talent and spectrum that is missing in the overly corporate regulated airways.

A few finds from this weekends digging are The Frames who gave up the over produced song and started their own record label. Metaphor, Damien Gough/Badly Drawn Boy reminding me of Prefab Sprout, and Lanterna. Lanterna is a rather unknown band that is from Champaign, Illinois and one of the members works as a sound engineer for an NPR station, unknown to the folks at ASC.

Following this thread to music that I really enjoy from a relatively unknown... It is rumored that The Walkingbirds have received air play on an NPR site in Pennsylvania. This is great news if it is true. I have really enjoyed Scott's music that he contributes to Walkingbirds. It seems that NPR finds the gems in the rough terrain that great music is forced to walk in by the corporations that produce musical mediocrity. I am happy that NPR has blessed the gem of Walkingbirds. This has been a good few days for finding music.



November 25, 2002

Gabriel puts on a great creative show

We saw Peter Gabriel at the MCI Arena tonight (11/24), which was a great show. It was wonderful sound and as usual the show and theatrics were stunning. If you are remotely a fan of Gabriel it is well worth the price. Tony Levin is touring with him again. (Tony is also keeping a road journal that includes pictures from the show and pictures of the audience. We were sitting right in front of Tony (40 to 50 feet away). Peter is also touring with his daugher Melanie (backup vocals), David Rhodes (guitar), Rachael Z. (keyboards), Ged Lynch (drums), and Richard Evans (guitar and flute). The creativity and design of the show, as it is with most Gabriel shows, is stunning. Joy and I are talking about where we can see this tour again.


November 1, 2002

Gabriel Videos

Peter Gabriel's site has a video section with full versions from So, such as In Your Eyes, which I had never seen. This song really reminds me of the summer of 1986 when I was living in Berkeley, CA and listening to the So album driving through the Berkeley and Oakland hills to get to work in Moraga. I had listened to Gabriel from his early albums, but So really was wonderful and now brings back great memories. So also opened the world of Youssou N'Dour to me, which is some of my favorite grounding music.


October 2, 2002

Gabriel Live

We now have tickets for the November 11th November 24th Peter Gabriel show at MCI Center. I have only seen Gabriel as a part of festival shows like WOMAD and the Amnesty Internationl Tour. I am so ready to see a full show.


October 1, 2002

Scott and Peter return

I am very happy Scott is posting again. His observations are always very welcome and helpful. In today's scottandrew post he notes the joy that Peter Gabriel's new album, UP brings. I agree wholely. UP brings back memories of the first 3 Gabriel albums as well as So. I picked up the album on Saturday, while running house errands and really enjoyed listening in the car and then in my home stereo. I was so impressed.


August 1, 2002

Vote MP3

Would you vote MP3?


July 25, 2002

Tabla Beat Science

Tabla Beat Science is completely new to me, but one song has me wanting more, much more. I heard Sacred Channel (an mp3) this morning and I am very entranced. Interesting Monstah, in a July 22, 2002 posting, included this track in a review of World techno/jazz/instramental/etc songs. It seems Karsh Kale of TBS is playing in Baltimore on Saturday July 27 at 3pm at the Artscape Festival. Hmmm. [hat tip Bill]


May 28, 2002

John Mayer found on NPR

This evening on the way home NPR was interviewing John Mayer and I now have a new musician to follow. One does get to feel out of touch when one learns of an enjoyable pop musician from NPR. Oh, well, I consider myself fortunate. It also seems Mayer was the bell of the ball at SXSW 2000.


May 21, 2002

Headphone review

I tried my new headphones on my recent trip and really enjoyed them. They were great on the plane as they blocked out a lot of the extraneous noise and in those quiet times they provided fantastic sound. I was incredibly impressed.


May 16, 2002

Creative Commons comes to life

The Creative Commons is up for our perusal. This seems to be a much better approach to digital rights management than the Hollywood and music industry approach, and light years better than DCMA.


May 4, 2002

Peter Gabriel new site

Peter Gabriel has his own distinct site up. This site is offering previews of his new albulm due out in at least four more moon cycles. Join the full moon club and get previews of the album and news. The scenescapes in the videos are rather comforting.


April 15, 2002

The WSJ's Thomas Weber has an opion I strongly believe in, Record Companies Should Attempt To Compete for Music Fans' Loyalty. I have a strong belief in competition of the marketplace. Media companies have poor business leaders who do not know how to compete and take advantage of changing parameters of their business environment. When VHS came out movie companies complained that it would take away sales. Solid business minds learned not to cry wolf, but to compete. The record companies have failed in the marketplace and learning to take advantage of a changed marketplace.


April 11, 2002

Wired magazine's article on Moby delivers good insight on not only the person, but also the brand. This may be the first article by Wired that I have really liked in a long long time. Moby continually intrigues me with his morphing genre styles. I also like this techical approach and innovation. This article gave me better appreciation of the man and the brand. (There is an indirect comparison to Puff Daddy - or what ever he thinks will sell a record.)


April 7, 2002

Beeb also offers an insight into the Rocket Network, which is a collaboration tool that unites musicians virtually. The network lets artist collaborate anywhere in the world, but that is the same story for anything that touches the Internet.


February 22, 2002

There may be some hope for the sharing of digital music. I found more new music through Napster and the like then in turn bought the stuff I liked and kept listening to. In the past year I have bought very little new music as the radio stations in my area play little music that is worth buying, IMHO. I have had many friends in bands that received record deals, which in turn ruined their creativity and ability to create music. Most were happiest the day their contract ended. In turn the music I loved to go hear was rarely recorded as the music companies thought they knew best.


February 21, 2002


February 19, 2002

Scott releases another winner to download from his site. I am really wishing this one was of higher quality, but it is free and one can't have everything.


February 2, 2002

Trying to play music CDs on your computer and they don't work? Neil McAllister explains the music labels don't want you to in the SF Chronicle. Those of us that like our music and believe we do have our "fair-use" rights to record music like we always have, from the days of albums and tapes to CDs and MP3s, should buy as much music that we can (keeping in mind the lack of the notice "Compact Disc Digital Audio"). Then return it and rightly state it is broken, as we can not play it on our computer. Who does not play music on their computer?


January 27, 2002

Studio360 examines emergence with Steven Johnson (having Real Player will help with your enjoyment of the show). Steven Johnson is the author of EMERGENCE: The Connected Lives Of Ants, Brains, Cities, And Software, which has me quite intrigued (and Amazon seems to think the same for me as it is my top recommended book).


December 24, 2001

The Beeb and local public radio stations have been running The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England. To me it is a wonderful preparation for Christmas Day, while doing my final wrapping of presents. It plays again on Christmas Day.

I wish everybody safe and peaceful travels and a wonderful holiday season.



December 8, 2001

Sting's All This Time DVD Success

Yesterday I purchased the Sting's "All This Time" DVD and have been so happy for the purchase. I caught snippets of this performance and documentary (recorded before and on September 11, 2001 in Tuscany, Italy). The documentary reminds me of "Bring on the Night" video of the assembly and rehersals of the first Sting band. Both the BotN and All This Time offer a great insight into music rehersals and musicianship of some amazing musicians. Watching either digs at that itch to get my sax and keyboard out of the closet and just play.

The "All This Time" provides some wonderful rearrangements of Sting and Police tunes. The performace portion of the DVD offers fantastic music to dig into. One of my favorite jazz bass players, Christian McBride, has joined the Sting ensemble for this DVD and co-released CD.

I did not know there was a DVD that had been released, but was so hoping there would be one. I was overjoyed to find it in the store yesterday. (Not so much Joy as she is having to return one of my Christmas gifts).


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