the only site ever

Briefly   Photos   Archive   About   Feeds  

wilt rn 003 🎶

Here’s the third What I’m Listening To Right Now playlist:

  1. Twin Atlantic - Hold On (Acoustic)
  2. The 1975 - Somebody Else
  3. The xx - On Hold
  4. Your Boy Tony Braxton - Good (Enough)
  5. Metric - Now or Never Now
  6. Allie X - Little Things
  7. Dan Mangan - Fool for Waiting
  8. Dan Mangan - Sold


This one is a bit all over the place… the new 1975 album had me going back to some of their older music, the new Shad album made me want to listen his Tony Braxton side project, the new Allie X made me want to listen to Metric and the new Dan Mangan album had me digging up old favourites from a decade ago. Enjoy jumping back and forth with this one.

wilt rn 003

wilt rn 002 🎵

Here’s the second What I’m Listening To Right Now playlist:

  1. bülow - Not a Love Song
  2. Delaney Jane - Bad Habits
  3. Metric - Dressed to Suppress
  4. CHVRCHES - Graffiti
  5. Rhye - Phoenix
  6. The 1975 - TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME
  7. Frank Turner - 1933
  8. Reuben and the Dark - Heart in Two


I am not surprised that it only took two playlists for me to show my heavy bias for female-led pop/indie/electronic artists. I am also not surprised that the 50% of this playlist is exactly that… every week my For You playlist on Apple Music is basically 40% female-led bands, 30% Dallas Green, 20% Canadian Indie, and 10% pop and/or folksy acoustic stuff.

wilt rn 002

wilt rn 001 🎵

For the n-teenth time, I’m trying out publishing a playlist on a fairly regular basis sharing the songs I’m listing to.

Here’s the first1 What I’m Listening To Right Now playlist:

  1. Reuben and the Dark - Bobcaygeon
  2. Dermot Kennedy - Young & Free
  3. Coleman Hell - Manic
  4. Donovan Woods - Next Year
  5. Explosions In The Sky - Your Hand In Mine
  6. Aquilo - Thin
  7. Legendcast - Grief


This group of tracks definitely trended towards a more indie folk vibe… I’ve been listening to a lot of that recently. The whole Donovan Woods album is pretty good but Next Year stood out for me for a number of reasons that I don’t want to detail. The Reuben and the Dark track is a cover2 and it’s not as good as the original but it came up in my new releases and I’ve gone back to it more than a few times. The last two tracks came from a playlist in the Focus section on Apple Music. They’re preceded by an Explosions In Sky song that is from the Friday Night Lights (tv show) soundtrack… I’ve recently been rewatching the show and felt it worth including alongside those two tracks.

wilt rn 001

  1. it’s likely the 7th or 8th playlist, not the 1st… but who’s counting? ↩︎

  2. You knew that, right? ↩︎

Life After iPhone On The Weekend

This is the third post1 in what I guess I can now call a series.

My weekends are largely spent playing with my kids and going to various locations with our family. Occasionally a dinner out. Maybe some errands or tasks around the house. The only reason I would really need my phone on the weekend is to take pictures. There are many times before this experiment where I’ve left the house with just my Apple Watch so I wasn’t expecting too many issues.

Things That Happened

  • As much as I try, if my iPhone is nearby I will grab it out of habit to respond to a message, read some news, or kill an idle moment… I would have to move my iPhone to somewhere inconvenient to get over this;
  • I recently changed the mesh network in our house and the new hardware’s app is iPhone-only. I have been regularly monitoring which devices are connected to which Wi-Fi repeater and have just been using my iPhone for this. I do not anticipate checking this regularly after the first couple of days;
  • I was trying to plan a visit with a friend for the upcoming week and was exchanging a few lengthy messages with him throughout the day. I ended up grabbing my phone to type out messages to him - I could have used my iPad for this but the phone was nearby;
  • We went to the zoo and there was no way I wasn’t going to take photos. I could have taken my camera with me but it is much larger, much more inconvenient, and not so much better at taking pictures that it I feel it is necessary. I brought the phone with me and used the phone for CarPlay on our drive and for taking photos but otherwise it stayed in my pocket;


I suspected photography would be the most noteworthy shortcoming of this experiment and that has been the case in several situations - whether it was actually bringing my iPhone explicitly to take photos or being without it when I wanted to take a photo of something. The performance on the last few iPhone has been so good that the only real reason I have been upgrading has been for the camera. I have an Olympus micro four-thirds camera that does take very nice photos but for the most part, the iPhone X photos are fantastic. I still do use my camera but well over 75% of all of my photos over the last two or three years have been taken with my iPhone.

I am going to go keep going with this for the next week or so and see what else comes up before I try to really conclude on anything. Going Apple Watch-only at this point doesn’t seem possible. Aside from the fact that you need the iPhone to setup the Apple Watch, a secondary device seems like a requirement but that really shouldn’t be a surprise. If anything is surprising so far, it’s that I’m confident I could make the LTE Apple Watch + LTE iPad setup work.

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. I’ve taken this Day One, Day Two, etc approach even though this has been going on for more than a week. It seems like an more appealing way to package this all together. ↩︎

Life After iPhone Day Two

This was a work day with a one-hour driving commute. After Day One I presumed the lack of CarPlay would be the biggest issue on day two because otherwise the time I spend in the office wouldn’t be much different than day one.

Things That Happened

  • I cheated again. My phone was plugged into my car so I could have CarPlay on my commute but I left it in there during the day;
  • I was listening to a podcast in the car (via my iPhone and CarPlay) and when I got out to walk to work I realized that I couldn’t just resume it by using my AirPods and Siri to say, “Play” because I was using my iPhone in the car… I could have pulled out my iPad and connected to my AirPods but instead just used Siri to start playback of a music playlist from my Apple Watch;
  • My lunch-time in this office is different than the office I was in on day one - it’s a lot more social and interactive. People are also on their phones and sharing news stories, pictures, or funny tweets. I typically keep my iPhone in my pocket so it wouldn’t normally be a big issue but today we got on the topic of sharing bad photos of ourselves and I couldn’t participate;
  • I know I’m not unique in this, but trips to the washroom were drastically shortened because there was no iPhone to distract me;
  • I had a personal phone call to make - which is rare, but does happen - and I was able to go into a private meeting room and use my Apple Watch without any issues;
  • By the end of the day, my Apple Watch battery was at 35%. I suspect that this is because a) Apple Watch was on the cell network less (it was connected to my phone on the drive to and from work and b) I streamed more music from Apple Watch on day one than I did on day two - more than I would normally need to because I was just trying it out
  • Before the drive home I tinkered a bit with the in-car setup because I really didn’t want to use my iPhone. I realized that I could connect my iPad over Bluetooth to the car stereo and still be able to use Siri through the car1. While this is significantly less ideal than CarPlay, I could still play songs, playlists, and podcasts via Siri… I could also still use Siri to read/respond to messages. If I needed directions or had to make a phone call, I could use my AirPods and Apple Watch. This mostly worked and I was able to go without using my iPhone for the whole trip home


Day two went about as well as day one AND I discovered a totally acceptable solution to the CarPlay problem. Not perfect but there wasn’t anything that happened that made me want to abort this experiment.

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. If my iPad is connected via USB, it seems to be treated like a flash drive but if I’m using Bluetooth it’s more like a mobile phone - being able to use Siri is a big difference maker that I hadn’t originally considered. ↩︎

Life After iPhone Day One

As a fun experiment, I am going to try and pretend like my iPhone doesn’t exist… in its place a combination of my LTE Apple Watch and LTE iPad. Here’s my introduction post

I have essentially four types of days - a work day with a one-hour (each way) driving commute, a work day with a one-hour (each way) train commute, a work-from-home-day, and a non-working day with misc family activities/life chores.

The lack of CarPlay will be something I would really miss for the driving commute and on days that I’m working from home or not working at all, my phone already plays a very limited role in my day so I doubt I will get much insight from either of those days. As a result, the work day with the train commute is likely going to be the most interesting/least frustrating day to try going iPhone-free.

Things That Happened

  • I cheated almost immediately - part of the one-hour commute involves a 15-minute drive to the train station (followed by a 45-minute train ride). I took my phone with me and plugged it into the car so I could have CarPlay. When I arrived at the station, I left my phone in the car;
  • Within five minutes of leaving my phone behind I was already checking my pockets thinking I had lost it;
  • For quick use-cases, iPhone is obviously better… on the train I use my iPhone to select a podcast or pick songs/playlists to listen to.. this was much more cumbersome with iPad;
  • While walking to/from the office I had my AirPods connected to my iPad and noticed that with fluctuating noise in the city, not having volume control was an issue. If it was streaming from my Apple Watch, volume control would be easier. I may have to consider putting my iPad in a specific position my bag to easily reach the volume buttons (like a more annoying version of hitting the volume buttons of the phone in your pocket over top of your pants);
  • A bonus of using Siri more often was that I was not burying my head in my iPhone as I walked;
  • Using a combination of Siri, Scribble, and the Quick Replies on the watch (depending on my surroundings) was mostly fine but I was definitely more comfortable using my iPad at my desk for more involved conversations;
  • A few hiccups aside, switching AirPods between my Apple Watch and iPad was fantastic. I will be first in line for over-the-air headphones with a W-series chip that can be charged with a lightning cable;
  • Getting up to go grab a coffee or go for a walk was oddly freeing as I would only have my Apple Watch during these moments;
  • Having Apple Pay on my Apple Watch was very useful… I’ve always known it’s there but would normally use my iPhone;
  • I’ve had my iPad at my desk for months, so having it open with iMessages or Apple Music at my desk didn’t seem odd to my co-workers but it is definitely less discreet than an iPhone;
  • There were two or three moments when I was away from my desk that I wanted to take a picture but couldn’t. These moments were insignificant so I wasn’t too bothered;
  • There was also a moment that I wanted to send a friend a picture from my camera roll but I could not do that from my Apple Watch (I did this with my iPad back at my desk);
  • When I got on the train to go home, my Apple Watch battery was at 10% - this is the only time I’ve ever worried about the battery on the Series 3 Apple Watch. Because I had my iPad, this wasn’t a big concern but I may have to re-think portable batteries and having an Apple Watch charger handy;
  • I got home, put my Apple Watch on the charger and realized I left my iPhone in the car;
  • I ended up using my phone a couple times in the evening out of convenience (my iPad was still in my work bag)


Day one was definitely a success. I’m looking forward to seeing how often I notice some of the same shortcomings.

❀ ❀ ❀

Living The Future, Today

Actual excerpt from my inner monologue:

“I just need to buy this thing…”
“Why?”
“Because I want to have less things”

tl;dr - As a fun experiment, I am going to try and pretend like my iPhone doesn’t exist… in its place a combination of my LTE Apple Watch and LTE iPad.

❀ ❀ ❀

I can remember the uncertainty I felt being at a Starbucks with my cellular iPad and realizing that I forgot my iPhone at home. We - the royal we - were already well into the era of always having your phone with you and feeling lost without it. I remember running through different circumstances to see if I was going to have to leave to get my phone or if I would be ok to hang out for a while… most of my friends use iMessage so that’s fine… my wife might call, but if I don’t pick up she’ll send me an iMessage and we can use FaceTime audio if we have to… my parents may call but if it’s urgent they’ll call my wife… I was mostly fine. This was around 2012.

I can remember the excitement I felt watching the Apple Watch reveal, reading the subsequent previews and reviews, and then again when I got my hands on one. At that point, I had a couple of quartz watches1 but wasn’t really a watch guy2. The Apple Watch wasn’t competing with any established habits so there was no barrier to entry - just a cool new gadget that I wanted to try. I can remember turning my phone off when I was at home and just using my Apple Watch on Wi-Fi. I can even remember going over to a friends house to watch a hockey game and not bringing my phone (knowing that I had connected to his Wi-Fi network before and my watch would be able to). These situations were neat but they were extremely limited. I could still receive iMessages and a couple of push notifications for things but for the most part I was very disconnected. This was 2015.

The release of the Apple Watch with LTE re-ignited that excitement and because of expanded capabilities (of both the Apple Watch and overall improved reliability of apps and data staying in sync across iOS) you could, at the very least, start to see glimpses of what life would be like without constantly carrying an iPhone around with you.

So here’s what I am going to do: I am going to make an effort to minimize the role my iPhone plays in my day-to-day life. I’ve thought about this for a while so I already know what some of the difficulties will be. The two things that I will be thinking about constantly while I do this will be: a) Can I be contacted/contact people? and b) Is there anything I’d do on my phone that I couldn’t do without it? With the follow-up question to that being: Does it matter?

How It’s Going To Go

From what I can tell, whether I have my iPhone, my iPad, or my Apple Watch with me, there isn’t a situation where I wouldn’t be able to be reached by the most common methods. With all devices I can send and receive all text messages (SMS and iMessages). Same for emails. I can make and receive phone calls3. I don’t have WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger or anything else like that to worry about whether or not it would work.

The iPad doesn’t support CarPlay so on days that I have to make my one-hour driving commute to work, I will have to rely on Sirius XM for music. I could connect my iPad and use it like an iPod but that’s not ideal for a few different reasons. I could also stream music from the Apple Watch to my AirPods while I drive but that isn’t great either.

When I have my iPad with me, there is nothing that I can do on my phone that I couldn’t do with iPad. The worst case may be using an app in 2x mode because it was only designed to work on iPhone. When I only have my Apple Watch this definitely won’t be the case. I will be able to send/receive messages and phone calls, check the weather, get directions and traffic information, check some sports scores, and even get some news headlines but all of these interactions will be limited. I’ll still be able to listen to music and with an Outcast on watchOS I could technically listen to podcasts. I won’t be able to access or share files and I won’t be able to send GIFs in Messages4. I won’t be able to browse the web or play games but that seems like net-positive; a feature not bug5.

Not being able to take photos is the biggest hurdle and I can’t think of an alternative that doesn’t introduce a different - and worse - set of problems. When I’m at home I can grab my camera but when I’m out with just my Apple Watch I will have no ability to take a photo. When my iPad is nearby I could use that to take a photo but I will not be carrying my iPad around with me so I do not think it will often be a solution. This is where I think this whole experiment will fall apart. I like taking photos. Landscape photos, candid moments, photos of things I need to remember - lots of things. I have two kids under five and they are forever doing something cute. Even after I got the LTE Apple Watch and wanted to go out without my iPhone, I would catch myself thinking of scenarios where I might want to take a picture of something and would end up taking the phone with me.

What Do I Want To Get Out Of This?

Ultimately I am not sure what I want to get out of this. I know there’s a lot of talk about what comes after the phone? and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that some kind of wearable device could play a major role6 so it’s kind of neat to see how it would work in practice.

I am fixated on minimize how many things I have. Not in a minimalist way but just that I hate carrying stuff when I go out. I’m not the first person to say this, but leaving the house without your phone does feel freeing. Eventually that feeling seems to transition to anxiety about being disconnected but with an LTE Apple Watch that free feeling seems to linger. I love going to the park with my kid without taking anything with me. I love going to the store to run errands without having to grab my iPhone7. It seems dumb and it seems like it wouldn’t matter - and it may not, for you… but it is a noticeable feeling for me.

Another angle comes from something I heard in the quasi-documentary/quasi-interview movie It Might Get Loud where Jack White makes a point about how placing artificial restrictions on yourself can lead to more creativity because you can’t rely on your habits and things you are comfortable with. I’m not looking to get some kind of creativity boost from this but I suspect that by breaking such a consistent and prevalent habit (i.e. having my iPhone with me constantly) that I may have some interesting thoughts and perspectives on some of my current habits.

Here Are The Posts That Followed


❀ ❀ ❀

  1. The Timex Weekender and a couple of Daniel Wellington watches ↩︎

  2. I had an appreciation for watches and wanted to be a watch guy, but, at the time I wasn’t going to spend the money to get a nice watch ↩︎

  3. I’m not sure if the iPad can make and receive non-FaceTime phone calls on it’s own. I would not be surprised if the Handoff of cell network calls requires my phone to be nearby but I will almost certainly have my Apple Watch with me during this trial and since it can receive phone calls, it won’t matter if the iPad is unable to. ↩︎

  4. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but I send a lot of GIFs ↩︎

  5. It will be interesting to see if I feel free when I’m in the moment… I suspect I may just feel inconvenienced. ↩︎

  6. I think if you could throw in some kind of Apple Glasses type device into this experiment where I would be able to see things on a much larger screen and have some kind of a camera I think I could easily live without the iPhone ↩︎

  7. It is also worth noting that with Apple Pay, there are many scenarios where I don’t even have to bring my wallet with me. If you assume that I would probably already be wearing some kind of a watch, I am able to leave the house with zero extras ↩︎

Marshall McLuhan believed that every technology “has the power to numb human awareness during the period of its first interiorization.” And it seems we have digested our devices; they can numb us, now, to the pleasure of patience. They can numb our enjoyment of that older literary experience.

I actually read this in the newspaper (that’s a whole other topic) and wanted to post it but forgot to. It came up in today’s Next Draft email newsletter so I figured now was the time.

I’ve never been a great reader. I struggled with high school-assigned books because I preferred to read non-fiction but even now - non-fiction still my preference - I find it hard to carve out time to read books. I have a stack of them sitting on my night table1 but whenever I look at them all I can think of is how long it’s going to take to finish them and opt to do something that’s fleeting instead. Or just go to sleep.

  1. Omar El Akkad’s American War, Matt Taibbi’s Insane Clown President, Hobbes’ Leviathan, and Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli ↩︎

Setting Up A Raspberry Pi Zero W For Homebridge

Have you ever seen that xkcd comic where someone proposes a solution to having too many competing standards by creating a standard that consolidates them all? Except the end result is that they just add one more standard to the mix? Well this is that, but for guides on setting up homebridge on a Raspberry Pi. I have probably used a dozen or so different guides and resources to try and develop a repeatable setup process and finally compiled all of the steps myself. I cannot guarantee this will work for you and I’m not competent enough to really provide any troubleshooting support… but for my setup1, the following steps worked.

Flash SD Card

I used to use PiBaker but have since found an app called Etcher that does a fantastic job of copying the desired OS to an SD card.

I am using Raspbian Stretch and as a result I need to enable SSH on the device. To do so, re-mount the SD card and place a blank file named ssh in the boot volume. I do that via macOS terminal and the command:

touch /Volumes/boot/ssh

(where /Volumes/boot/ is the path to the SD card).

I am also using a Raspberry Pi Zero W for this setup so I need to add the wifi credentials so that it will connect to my network when I first boot it up2. With the SD card mounted, I had to add a file named wpa_supplicant.conf into the boot volume with my wifi credentials. I do that via macOS terminal and the command:

nano /Volumes/boot/wpa_supplicant.conf

I came across several variations of what to put in the file but here is a plain text file of what I have in my file. You will need to replace the network name and network password as well as the country code (using the ISO/IEC alpha2 country code).

My wpa_supplicant.conf file… just copy/paste the text into the file you create.

March 2018 Update:

If you change Wi-Fi networks (or passwords), you can remove the SD card from the Pi Zero, mount it on a computer, and use the steps above to create a new wpa_supplicant file with your new network information. Copy that new file into the mounted boot drive and then put the SD card back in the Pi Zero and boot it up. It should connect to your new network*

You should be set to plug in the Raspberry Pi and access it via SSH now. You will need to know the IP address of the Pi in order to access it. I was able to find this in the eero app as it lists all of the devices on my network. There are other ways to find the IP address of the devices on the network but I won’t be of much help with that.

SSH into the Pi using the IP address and the username/password combo of pi and raspberry.

On first boot you should change the default password. To do that, type passwd, then enter the current password and the new password (twice) following along with the prompts.

Setting up homebridge

In theory, you should be able to do this using all of the information from the homebridge github page but I have never had luck getting it to work. Here are the steps that I have followed.

Run the update and upgrade commands to get everything up-to-date:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

A version of node is required to make this all work. I have found success using v4.3.2 on my Raspberry Pi Zero W. Download that version directly from nodejs.org, unarchive the file, and then copy the files to your /usr/local directory with the following four commands:

July 2018 Update:

Running through this setup I came across an error setting up PM2 (one of the last steps). I investigated it and it turns out it was because it required a newer version of node. Knowing that, I have made adjustments to the code below to go from Node.js v4.3.2 to v.4.5.0. Also worth noting - this isn’t the first time that I’ve come across errors with a homebridge on a Raspberry Pi that were related to the version Node.js. If you come across an error in the future and track it down to Node.js, you can view all versions of Node at this website (you will want to use the arm6l version). Swap in the URL below and adjust the tar and cd commands.

wget https://nodejs.org/dist/v4.5.0/node-v4.5.0-linux-armv6l.tar.gz

tar -xvf node-v4.5.0-linux-armv6l.tar.gz

cd node-v4.5.0-linux-armv6l

sudo cp -R * /usr/local

You can confirm you have installed this version of node with the command node -v

Now install git with the command:

sudo apt-get install git

Finally, install several other required dependencies with the command:

sudo apt-get install libavahi-compat-libdnssd-dev

To install homebridge, run:

sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge

This is where I would install all of the plugins you know you want. I was only doing this to add support the Harmony Hub, so I installed that plugin with:

sudo npm install -g homebridge-harmonyhub

You can confirm that homebridge has been installed by trying to run it with the command:

homebridge

You may see several warnings but ultimately it should launch and give you a HomeKit code to use to add homebridge to the Home.app.

Now we need to setup the config.json file. If homebridge is still running, use control+c to quit it.

Change into the homebridge directory with:

cd .homebridge

and create the config.json file with:

sudo nano config.json

You can copy the config.json file from the homebridge GitHub repo and edit it to add support for all of the plugins you installed (each plugin page should have specific instructions). Within the config.json file I usually alter the username value as well as the HomeKit pin value. I’m not sure if this matters but I assume there is at least some risk using all of the defaults.

Exit the file using control+x, selecting Y to confirm you want to save it, and then hit enter to confirm it. Now when you run homebridge you should see the new HomeKit pin listed and you should see it loading the plugins.

Lastly, to make homebridge run as a service there are a few different options. In theory (again), you should be able to use the instructions in the homebridge GitHub but I have not had much success doing so.

Recently I have used pm2 as a way to run homebridge as a service. To do so, install pm2 with:

sudo npm install -g pm2

You can confirm that pm2 was installed by typing:

pm2 startup

Add homebridge to pm2 startup with the following two commands:

pm2 start homebridge

pm2 save

Initialize pm2 and systemd with the following command:

sudo env PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin /usr/local/lib/node_modules/pm2/bin/pm2 startup systemd -u pi --hp /home/pi

At this point, homebridge should be running and should start on each boot. You can now add homebridge to the Home.app… hopefully.

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. Raspberry Pi Zero W using Raspbian Stretch Lite (2017-11-29). Other (probably not relevant details): a Kingston 64GB class 10 microSD card, eero wireless network, powered by a USB wall plug. ↩︎

  2. There are definitely other ways to do this but this seemed to be the easiest for me. ↩︎

Profile Pictures Through The Years

For no reason other than nostalgia, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane of the handful(ish) of photos and graphics I can remember using for my profile picture online.

When I started university in 2003 I was surprised to learn that ICQ was not the go-to chat app because it certainly was amongst my group of friends. So a switch to MSN Messenger presented an opportunity for a new profile photo. As I was in university, I wanted to seem cool but because the photo was taken with a terrible webcam, you can only barely make-out how cool I was1.

MSN Messenger

Within a year or two, Facebook started to take hold and I added this beauty of a photo. I used Facebook actively for a few years and then spent another several years keeping my account active but not using the service2. I have since deleted the account but for the ten(ish) years I had the account, I never changed my profile picture.

Facebook

Around the time I joined Twitter I started to become less interested in using my actual photo for things I did online. Thankfully I had the perfect graphic to use. I ran a failed campaign to be on the Wilfrid Laurier University Student Union Board of Directors and I created campaign buttons with my last name and a check mark. After my loss - and in attempt to be funny - I put a big red X through it and updated my MSN photo (which is probably still my avatar on there). It was also what I used when I signed up for Twitter and was probably the first universal logo I used for any new accounts.

Twitter

When we get in to the 2010s, Twitter was basically the only social network I used - my Facebook account wasn’t used and MSN seemed to have given way to things like iMessages, kik, and BBM… I had some profiles elsewhere (like Last.fm) but there weren’t many and I used them infrequently. At some point I realized that the J and K keys (my initials) were next to each other on the keyboard and with that, I found a perfect photo to use. I added a bit of a fake blur and some instagram-style filter and then replaced the profile picture for every active account I knew of.

Keyboard Initials

The keyboard initials were my default choice for a while - probably 5-6 years. A few years ago I was starting to come around to the idea of using a proper photo of myself and I was able to find a decent balance with the photo below. It’s a screenshot from a video I took at a ribfest using an app that made the video look like it was shot on an old camcorder. I really like the effect and I also thought I looked pretty cool. It helped that my face is partially obscured so it allowed me to use a real photo without putting myself too out there.

Ribfest Profile

Finally we arrive at the change I made yesterday. I needed to update my profile photo at work and was also getting tired of the hipster headshot I have been using. I had just got a haircut and my beard seems to be at a reasonable length where it doesn’t look too ragged. Because of my greatly reduced use of online accounts3, the only places I have had to use this photo are on the About page, on my Micro.blog page, my LinkedIn page, and my various profile photos at work.

2018 Profile

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. Please note the Che Guevara poster, my spacer earnings, the weed cartoon poster, and the mural of miscellaneous rock music stars. Just out of frame are the beer can Christmas lights. ↩︎

  2. During this period I also changed my account name to Lloyd Braun… which led to an unintentional update on my wife’s profile page saying she was married to Lloyd Braun. Perfect. ↩︎

  3. Facebook is long-gone, MSN/ICQ/AIM are no more, I use very few other online accounts, and as of a couple of months ago I stopped using Twitter (and removed my profile photo all together). ↩︎

Top Ten Albums: 2008

As part of my on-going music project, here are my ten favourite albums from 2008. They are listed in alphabetical order and there is a bonus list with some additional albums I considered.

Arkells - Jackson Square

Debut album be damned. This album is exactly what I would play for someone if they asked, “What’s an example of a great Canadian rock album?” Max’s vocals are perfect for the band’s sound and I’ve liked every album the Arkells have released since. Fun anecdote from future me: two years after this album was released I saw the Arkells perform at the Olympics in Vancouver (along with my best friend Stefan) though they self-censored the lyrics about Europeans vacationing in the summer.

Black Lungs - Send Flowers

I can’t remember if it was obvious at the time, but with this album it should have been clear that Wade needed to be a front man. If I remember correctly, this album was released around the same time there were rumours of an Alexisonfire1 break-up (but shortly before Alexisonfire released Young Cardinals). I remember liking the contrast in this album. There’s hard, punk rock parts, melodic parts, and even some up-beat reggae-type parts2. This was a cover-to-cover listen for me.

City and Colour - Bring Me Your Love

Dallas Green might be the best singer I have ever seen live. In a since-deleted Tweet - and often-repeated line - I would say something like, “At 1:33 of Pulmary Archery I fell in-love”. You can lock it in that every year Dallas released an album, it’ll be on my favourites list for the year. This was his second full-length solo album and still largely retains the acoustic-heavy sounds of his debut album but some of the tracks foreshadow his transition to a more folk-rock sound on the next album.

Die Mannequin - Unicorn Steak

Technically a re-release, this album combined their first two EPs into one record. The straight-out rock and growly vocals of Care Failure reminded me of bands like Veruca Salt, The Distillers, and Jakalope… just much better, much more raw. It didn’t hurt that they originally had Jesse F. Keeler on drums and doing production. They performed at my university as an opening band when only their first EP had been released and I watched Care Failure rock all around the venue like she owned the place - guitar in hand, full jam session, kicking drinks out of people’s hands as she strut across the bar top. Awesome.

Girl Talk - Feed The Animals

The combinations that Girl Talk puts together genuinely make me forget the original songs to the point where if I do hear a song featured on one of his albums, I will often sing the parts from Girl Talks’ version. It’s difficult to hear the song, “Nothing Compares 2 U” any more without also hearing “Gettin’ Some” right along with it.

Hey Rosetta! - Into Your Lungs

For a long time I had a hard time putting song names to songs on this album because I just listened to it straight through every time. There are only two songs on this whole album that I wouldn’t consider to be great songs. They’re just good songs.

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

Kanye West makes great music. He seems like an asshole but he makes great albums. I am far from a hip hop historian but to me, his first two albums were straight forward hip hop albums, but starting with Graduation he started to really explore and experiment with things. I remember this album being mocked for its reliance on Auto-Tune but compared to what Auto-Tune was being used for at the time, this was refreshing and new. I tried to start a music review site around the time this album came out (New Music Tuesday was the name, I believe) and I remember writing a review of this album. Paranoid and RoboCop were my favourite songs at the time and I think they still are. I think this album remains my favourite Kanye West album to date. I think it was daring and I think it helped further him down the road of making creatively challenging music rather than just standard fare hip hop.

Kings of Leon - Only By The Night

Kings of Leon were a band that were under-the-radar successful that never really interested me. Only By The Night interested me. The music doesn’t seem as southern-rock as their previous albums and I’m sure that pissed off some older fans. This is an an album that I liked so much and felt was enough of a reflection of ‘music that I like’ that I bought it on vinyl3.

Panic! At the Disco - Pretty. Odd.

There are some vocalists that just resonate with me. As the saying goes, “I’d listen to them sing the phone book.” This is the case for Brendon Urie. That, combined with a sound that reminds of Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles and I’ll gladly listen to this cover-to-cover.

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns

I think I have a thing for music you can stop your feet to. I also have a thing for kind-of-odd-sounding vocalists. The RAA have both, lots of it.

Bonus List

I started with a broad list of about 35 albums by quickly scanning my iTunes playlist for that year, Best Of lists from various music publications, and award winners/nominees from a few different music prizes. I further narrowed that list down to about 20 albums from which I selected my top 10. Highlights from the remaining 10 albums are listed alphabetically below with a couple of points about each.

Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony

There are several bands that fall into the category of “I wasn’t cool enough to really listen to them”. Alkaline Trio was one of those bands. I don’t know if this was the album that made them crossover into mainstream rock or not, but it certainly was the first one that I listened to. A lot.

Coeur de pirate - Coeur de pirate

Like another entry in this bonus list, I did not know of this album in 2008. I saw Heart Pirate perform in Vancouver and became an instant fan. I’ve enjoyed all of her albums since this one. It’s amazing what live performances can do to win over a fan.

Flobots - Fight With Tools

I cannot remember how I came to find this album but I think more than anything, the actual sound of the album is what kept me coming back. Excellent sound production that fits perfectly with the vocals.

Mother Mother - O My Heart

I became a much bigger fan of Mother Mother after seeing them in Vancuover at the Olympics (much like a handful of other Canadian indie bands). At the time, this album would not have been on my list.

Sam Sparro - Sam Sparro

Another one I’m not sure how I found it but I like the sound of the vocals and the music was a great combo of funk and synth. It didn’t hurt that Dallas Green often included a brief cover of Black & Gold in his live version of Sometimes.

T.I. - Paper Trails

There are a handful of hip hop artists, rappers, whatever you want to call them that I really like - as in their whole catalogue. T.I. is not one of them but his Paper Trails album caught my ear. It seems like this was his most successful album, at least in terms of mainstream success, so maybe that makes me a poseur. Ah well.

Winter Gloves - About a Girl

One of the many bands I saw perform at Starlight but one of the few that I left Starlight with their CD in hand. I did not like their follow-up album as much but it does not hinder my enjoyment of the debut.

The Playlist

And if all of that wasn’t enough, here’s an Apple Music playlist with some of my favourite songs from all of the albums, bonus list included.

Sources Used

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. Easter-egg time - I have had this domain since 2004 when I registered it while in university and used it for nothing but a link to HowardStern.com. The URL is a nod to the Alexisonfire website, theonlybandever.com ↩︎

  2. Doing some research while writing this post, I noticed that the former Bedouin Soundclash drummer was a part of the band… so the reggae/ska sound makes sense. ↩︎

  3. I have a few dozen records from my parents that I took from their collection as well as some older ones that I’ve picked up at garage sales but at some point I decided that it would be neat to have my own collection of vinyl of bands and albums that I really liked that could be kept as keepsakes for my children to use to judge me. I probably have 15-20 different records so far of albums that I enjoyed and/or had a big impact on me and I continually add to the collection as time passes. ↩︎

My Year-By-Year Best Of Music Project

Several months ago I wrote about wanting to put together back-dated Best Of lists for each year going back to 2005. I half-ass started the project by making Smart Playlists in iTunes for every year as a starting point. That’s 13 years of lists I’d have to research and put together. I didn’t do much more.

Since we’re still in the season of year-end lists, it’s now or never (not really, obviously) and I’m getting started with 2008. I’ve abandoned all hope of doing this chronologically and will just tackle random years as I am able to.

When I say Best Of I mean it in two (potentially overlapping) respects - albums that I enjoyed the most and albums that I thought were well made, critically speaking.

One thing note about this approach: there will be bias.

a) I am writing this with 10+ years of time to let albums cement themselves in - or fall-out of - my preferences. I will do my best to remember which albums I really liked at the time - even if I haven’t listened to, or thought of, them in several years. There will also be albums that I did not like at the time but have since come to really like. If I end up including such an album, I will make note of it.

b) I am writing this with the help of other Best Of lists. My iTunes library is the starting point to show which albums I at least made an effort to buy or download but it is not an exhaustive list (especially as we move passed the 2005-2008ish years). I will be filling in the memory gaps of other albums by reviewing other people’s lists and looking at some of the music awards given out that year.

Truly important breaking news always finds me. For everything else, there’s The Economist.

I subscribed to The Economist at some point last year and have done a decent job reading it on a regular basis. I don’t always read every week but I think the approach outlined in this article would help me do a better job.

THRASYMACHUS: Okay, maybe I’m not punished, but everyone in the agora will say that I’m racist and that I shouldn’t say insulting things about Thebans.

I don’t read McSweeney’s often but I don’t think I’ve ever come across an article that didn’t make me laugh.

I had intended to flee in broad daylight, but when you are going on the lam, there are a surprising number of last-minute errands to run. This morning, I picked up a set of professionally designed business cards for my fake company under my fake name, James Donald Gatz. I drove to a Best Buy, where I bought two prepaid cell phones with cash and then put a USB cord on my credit card — an arbitrary dollar amount I hoped would confuse investigators, who would scan my bill and wonder what gadgetry I had purchased.

I can’t remember which podcast I was listening to that mentioned this article but I’m glad I read it. This would be a hell of an assignment to get.

The place of honor that Mr. Downie occupies in Canada’s national imagination has no parallel in the United States. Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe combined into one sensitive, oblique poet-philosopher, and you’re getting close.

RIP Gord.

It seems the growth mindset has run amok. Kids are being offered empty praise for just trying. Effort itself has become praise-worthy without the goal it was meant to unleash: learning.

Would this be a case of broken telephone (optimist) or taking the easy way out (pessimist)?

It would be easier as a parent to soften the blow for a child who did not ‘win’ by emphasizing that their effort was the key part without having to address the growth part of the equation. You cannot point out that there is room for learning/improvement without also acknowledging that your kid is not the best at something. That may be a reason for stopping short.

The key to instilling a growth mindset is teaching kids that their brains are like muscles that can be strengthened through hard work and persistence.

I see some irony in this failure. The parents described as only focusing on the effort and not on the hard work and persistence needed for improvement are themselves not putting in the hard work needed to relay that message properly.

When I wear the Apple Watch I feel as though I am never out of contact. Tap, tap — your turn on this game. Tap, tap – someone made a joke about you in Slack. Tap, tap – unimportant text message. Tap, tap – news news news.

I take this point, but that end-user experience is dictated by the user. More often than not, when I am wearing my Apple Watch, it is because I have put my phone aside so I still want to receive some notifications but I have intentionally set it up to not push through many notifications other than text messages.

I’m glad I kept my watches. And my, how nice it is to not have to worry about charging my watch overnight. It takes some getting used to, getting back to checking your phone for missed alerts, but at the same time the entire thing is freeing.

The aspect of it being ‘freeing’ absolutely takes time because the initial reaction is the exact opposite. Asking yourself, “What am I missing?” over and over again.

The other angle I take on this relates to an LTE Apple Watch. I feel like that version of the watch would give me the same that same freedom from a burden. The idea of leaving the house without my phone but still having the ability to contact - or be contacted by - people (especially important people) sounds awesome.

The iPhone didn’t really start to cannibalize the camera business until the iPhone 4 came out, in 2010. ​ There are now nearly a billion smartphones worldwide capturing selfies, birthday smiles, breakfast sandwiches, Tuscan villages, and cats. In the past, such photos were taken by a point-and-shoot camera. Even today, the interchangeable-lens cameras and high-end cameras have their fans, so demand for these monsters still exists. But for how long?

On an infinite timescale, nothing last forever, so with that caveat, I do think that high-end cameras will be around for a long time. There is still a place for them and even when the cameras in our phones can take photos just as well as those high-end cameras, there will still be hobbyists that prefer the intricacies of using a DSLR.

This article was written around the launch of the iPhone 7 which is the first iPhone that I have taken on a vacation without taking my micro four-thirds camera as well. I still recognize that I can take better photos with that camera but the photos I get with my iPhone 7 Plus are absolutely fine - even when printing and framing them. It has its limitations that need to be acknowledged and accounted for, but so too do DSLR cameras.

It also marked a substantial break from tradition, even if it didn’t seem like it. For the most part, The Daily Show and its children (a family tree Full Frontal belongs to, along with HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver) have done their best to appear at least slightly objective.

I do like Samantha Bee’s Show. I had a hard time with its break from having a host sit behind a desk but once I got over that I really found her commentary to be more pointed than what I was used to with The Daily Show.

I do disagree with lumping in Last Week Tonight With John Oliver in terms of being slightly objective. John Oliver is anything but objective in most of his segments.

The hard work of understanding what happened and how we should do better is on us.

I love this response whenever someone is asking why they should do something or think differently about equality. It is not someone else’s responsibility to inform them of why they ​are wrong.

You’re going to shake your head solemnly at reports that black men get racially profiled by police, and then challenge your black colleague who tells you his last performance review felt biased? Really? Why?

Because it’s technically possible that this instance wasn’t? Because you want to assume the best of his manager? Assuming the best of people is something you get to do because you haven’t been kicked in the gut. This shit has been happening for his whole fucking life. He knows what it is. How about assuming the best of him and his judgement of the situation?

How about believing a woman who says that your colleague harassed her, even though you think he’s a good guy? Where’s her benefit of the doubt?

There’s a lot of benefit to that doubt. It can entrench those with power or it can balance the scales. You get to decide where it goes. When you’re making that call, err on the side of the people whose balance is light.

That is a great way to approach this. ​

I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to be less of an ass. I think this is a fine occupation for most people. But if you, like me, are a straight white man, my encouragement is that you try harder than most.

Great article. ​

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.

Yep.

Despite being written in November, this article correctly predicts much of what was to come.

Brennan calls people who don’t bother to learn about politics hobbits, and he thinks it for the best if they stay home on Election Day. A second group of people enjoy political news as a recreation, following it with the partisan devotion of sports fans, and Brennan calls them hooligans.

I do enjoy the specific calling out of people who watch political news like sports as also being part of the problem. Watching CNN, FOX News, etc does not mean you are politically informed or in a good position to intelligently discuss politics.

Democracy is other people, and the ignorance of the many has long galled the few, especially the few who consider themselves intellectuals.

This is part-article, part-book-review discussing one (of many) problems with democracy - that the very nature of democracy means that everyone gets one vote and that no single vote is worth more than the another.

The case made by the author of the book being reviewed is that an epistocracy should be preferred. A system where people who are more intelligent hold more weight in a vote. This is, at first take, something that everyone would likely oppose - it sounds elitist and flies in the face of all of the struggles to get equal voting for all people. At second or third take, though, I do not think it is so crazy. Obviously the logistics of figuring out how it would work seem like a nightmare but the idea that someone who is voting for someone because they like the cut of their jib can cast a vote that is worth as much as someone who has studied the candidates and the party platforms seems unfair as well.

In the future, he said, the “real value creation will come from stitching together photos as a fabric, extracting information and then providing that cumulative information as a totally different package.”

I am not sure this was the intention of the quote but it made me think of AI in photo editing and all of the transformative things it can do. I can already imagine the negative response to it but I find it fascinating.

My first example is not AI but compositing two photos to make a single photo. On the surface it looks fake. It looks doctored. It looks… amazing. This photographer took two photos and stitched them together to make a photo more interesting than either of the two individual photos on their own.

This was taken during the most recent eclipse in Toronto. Here is a link to the Instagram page of the person who took it.

CN Tower and the eclipse

This other example I came across last week is an AI application. By taking different focal lengths and combining them, the distances and size of objects that have been captured can be altered to create a more appealing photo. Here is the YouTube video.

This is the kind of thing that will make photographers feel weird… but I am positive it is not the first time that something new has made an established group feel uncomfortable.

Firstly, some people thought when I tweeted about this that I meant the iPad Pro would be my only portable computer and that I would still have a desktop computer. Not so. My intention is that the iPad Pro will be my only personal computer.

What I mean by that is that 99% of my computing will be done on my iPad Pro or my iPhone.

I have quasi-consciously been making an effort to move all but server-related-and-scheduled-task-based computing over to iOS for a couple of years and still read this and thought to myself, “Well that’s not possible,” and I assume that most people would have a similar reaction. The variable in all of this for a lot of people will be their job - despite the tech blog crowd being largely self-employed or lucky enough to work for companies with great BYOD support, there are a lot of people working at jobs where they have no control over the tools they use. If you, like me, find yourself in that situation, I have found it is best to just eliminate anything work-based from the equation because there is nothing you can do about it1.

If only personal computing is considered, I would wager that a lot of your computing is already done on iOS (or some other mobile OS). It sounds weirder in the abstract than it is in practice. I am looking forward to writing a post about how I have approached the problem (Spoiler dong: The CloudTM) but Fraser covers almost everything that I eventually will.

  1. Aside from banging your head against a wall to try and integrate your own devices without breaking any code of conduct or best practice… which is impossible. ↩︎

And now, just over a decade later, I am staring at this iPad Pro and thinking to myself: this is the same jump I made back in 2004. Yes, there will be somethings which won’t work, but I jumped because I knew that I had found the future of computing and I didn’t want to stay on the old crap I had before.

I share this feeling of looking at iOS and knowing it is the future of computing - or at least what I want it to be like. Aside from the Mac mini running headless in our basement and my work computer that is not used outside of work, all of my computing is done on iOS. I do not think this transition is going to be an easy or straight-forward one but I am fairly sure it will come quicker than I expect.

That data isn’t just of interest to health-conscious users. It can also be used by insurance companies, law enforcement officials, data mining firms, and possibly even medical identity thieves.

I seem to regularly be involved in discussing why privacy matters and, ‘who cares if someone gets a hold of information x, y, and z?’ type conversations1 are usually brought up.

The more innocuous stuff (browsing history, Facebook likes, etc) is not necessarily critical information, but it is just part of a growing pool of data that could paint a very accurate picture of everything about a person.

  1. If you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone using that argument - ask them for unrestricted access to their phone for an hour with the expectation that you may share some of the data you find. ↩︎

Mark Wolinski writing about why you should edit photos:

In photography, the word “edit” has – unfortunately – two meanings. The first is the post-production work you do on a photo: cropping, adjusting white balance, changing exposure, contrast, brightness, and so on. You may or may not do this with your photos before you show them to other people; in fact, most people don’t.

With the tools available to me on the iPhone there really is no excuse to not do this. It may seem daunting, but an edited photo - even if it is just leveling and cropping - will stand out.

The second meaning of the word “edit” is very different: it’s about editing a body of work. Let’s say you’ve taken a trip to a tropical island, and shot 500 photos. If you want to show them to friends, it’s a good idea to cull them, because no one – and I mean no one – will want to sit through all your pictures.

Going hand-in-hand with the first meaning, the second meaning may be even more important. After my wife and I had our kid, I - unsurprisingly - have seen my photo library explode. I do not expect to edit this down to just A++ shots, but even just removing duplicates and wasted shots would noticeably cut down the amount of photos. As an added bonus - removing unnecessary photos makes the first kind of editing even easier. If you only leave yourself with average-to-above-average photos, selecting the very best to edit is much easier.

Just as physical clutter can cloud the mind and hinder your focus, so can digital clutter. It takes up an inordinate amount of mental space and bandwidth.

Digital photo libraries are the best example of this that I can think of.

The digital version: Your inbox has thousands of messages. Your smartphone notification window is alerting you to 6 different social media apps that need your attention. You have 19 tabs open, each with some purpose that you’ve probably already forgotten. You have a conversation going with a family member in a variety of different places — text message, Facebook messenger, email — and you can’t keep track of what was last said.

The digital FOMO - your best intentions tell you that you will read those articles and you will respond to those emails and you will make sure you read your whole Twitter feed but that is a lot of mental overhead. Ideally you have a setup that limits those inputs so that a) they do not become overwhelming and b) they are all noteworthy so dealing with them is not a waste of time.

It is also nice to keep the option of declaring bankruptcy available. If your Instapaper queue is too long, determine a cut-off date and delete every article that predates it.

It’s part of a mounting body of evidence suggesting Snapchat is on the verge of its “mom moment,” the point at which a social media platform tips from niche network to mainstream sensation and becomes the type of thing your mother will start using.

This will be interesting to watch unfold. Having been a very early user of Facebook1 I have watched the network expand and with each additional feature or change there seems to be backlash, or “backlash”, suggesting that Facebook is no longer cool and is headed downhill. That kind of reaction has not happened yet with Snapchat.

However, with the success of Snapchat’s Story product, people can now be much more passive on the platform and just consume.

The Story part of Snapchat is what catches my interest. I like that the posts are not permanent. I like that because it is only available for 24-hours, if you step away from the service for a few days you do not have a backlog that you “have to” catch-up on. I like that you have to intentionally select a person to view their story - not be fed bits and pieces from everyone you follow, whether you want it or not.

As a direct messaging platform - text and photos - I do not like it. I prefer to have the conversation history as I find most of my chats with friends are spread out over days and without seeing that history and what I should be responding to, I would be lost.

  1. Because I wear it like a badge, I have to point out that I no longer use Facebook… not because it is not cool enough for me, but because it serves no purpose for me. ↩︎

People grow on you, but you have to put in the time. That’s something we struggle to do as we get older and busier.

I was (unfortunately) biased by the handful of mentions of sororities and hashtag greeklife in this article but the overall point and tone resonated with me. Keeping existing friendships is hard and making new friends only gets harder as you get older. This line about needing to put in the time is something I have talked about with my wife before; that it is too easy to come home from work, play with the kid(s), eat dinner, get prepared for the next day, and just decide to call it a night. Or on the weekend to just set aside time for chores and errands as opposed to planning together for lunch, a coffee, or a BBQ with a friend. No matter how casual the get-together, it takes effort to pull off but it is an absolute necessity. It is mentioned in this article as well, but one of the reasons maintain relationships with existing friends is easier is because of shared memories together… it makes sense then that to really solidify new relationships, experiencing things with them would go a long way to making that happen.

Even when playoff runs come up short, they can help to bring a community together and give fans memories that last a lifetime. That is meaningful.

In high school, my fri​ends and I moved the furniture from my parent’s living room out into the backyard so we could watch Maple Leaf playoffs games. The Maple Leafs vs Bruins game seven heart break from a couple years ago has become a “where were you when it happened” type story amongst friends and colleagues. The good and the bad have created equally long-lasting memories.

The odds are that your favorite team isn’t going to win a championship. There has to be a middle ground. Life is too short to live any other way.

This is a very good point and is antithetical to what someone who calls themselves a die-hard sports fan would say… but I like it. A championship is obviously the preference but being able to cheer for a team that is consistently a contender to win-it-all should not be frowned upon.

Music Project

My best friend - and best man - consistently wrote reviews of concerts and albums on his personal blog (which later moved to a more music-focused blog). It dates back to when we were in high school and carried on into and beyond our university days.

While he certainly went to way more concerts than I did, what always appealed to me was his annual ‘Best Of’ post where he outlined his favourite songs and albums from the previous year. In the same way that keeping any kind of journal would allow you to look back at your former self, these lists provide an unbiased look at his musical tastes through the years.

I have made several previous attempts at putting together a list but have had zero success. I am going to attempt to go back in time using my iTunes library, my Last.fm account, Stefan’s annual lists, various annual music awards (like the Polaris Prize), and other annual Best-Of lists to attempt to recreate my favourite songs and albums from as many previous years as I can. I expect the biggest issue will be avoiding bias while putting together the list; trying to re-write history to seem cooler than I actually was and hide bands like Crazy Town from appearing on any list.

I want to regularly post playlists of music that I am currently listening to but want to force myself to tackle this project first. Hopefully that is enough of a motivator.

Paramount to his appeal as a rock lyricist, of course, is Downie’s elevation of Canadian geography and mythology to the level of the mystical. When the Tragically Hip’s debut EP was released in 1987, to hear Canadiana in rousing rock songs was novel—to a large degree, it still is. Audiences in the Hip’s early days were hungry for it, especially when free trade, endless constitutional wrangling, the Oka crisis, the Montreal massacre and other issues were necessitating national self-examination. The Hip were hardly alone; they were one of many bands chiselling out a new identity in Canadian song.

The Hip set the bar for my personal expectation of what it means to be a Canadian band. Where you are from is secondary - at least for me - to what you write about. I expect Canadian bands to write about Canada. Not exclusively - not even predominantly - but my expectations are that they use their platform to tell stories about our history and share our culture. It is worth noting that despite his huge success across the globe, Drake easily meets my expectations for what it means to be a Canadian artist. He has no shortage of lyrics and songs about his hometown. Still waiting for Justin Bieber to write a song about the Stratford Festival.

Experiments In Blogging

Stop me if you have heard this one before, but for the last ten years I have wanted to create a blog like John Gruber’s Daring Fireball.

I am not a writer. I am not famous (internet or otherwise). I do not have unique or insightful opinions about things. Yet still I continue to want to have my own website that people willingly visit on a regular basis1.

My previously failed attempts include, but are not limited to:

  • A site based around curating Spotify playlists focusing on Canadian bands called SpotEH!fy
  • A rip-off the once-great-but-now-gone Evening Edition website, but with a focus on Canadian news called The Abridged
  • A linked-list style blog focusing on Canadian politics called One Hundred Eleven
  • A weekly review of a single album called New Music Tuesday
  • Several (as in easily more than four) attempts at this very format of original posts and linked-list posts using this URL
  • A photography website showcasing some photos I took when I masqueraded as a concert photographer
  • Another photography site showcasing more general photos I took

I came to learn that much like dating, I found the thrill of the chase more intriguing than actually running a website. These sites lasted weeks, at most. Some lasted mere days.

I started the current iteration of this site at the beginning of the year and when I inevitably abandoned it, not only did I not delete it, I actually setup a private README file for my future-self so I could just pick-up where I left-off without having to re-do the entire site.

I also have come to terms with my own limitations. A while ago I noticed that Ben Brooks setup a website to which he posted snippets of text… not quite tweets but definitely not full blog posts, and that intrigued me. In all of my failed attempts, I rarely wrote a full-length blog post but the idea of a quick quip seemed like something I could handle.

Enter Micro.blog - a microblogging/IndieWeb/feed compiler service from Manton Reece2 - that I backed on Kickstarter3 many months ago. I did not really know what it was, but it seemed like it lined up with the idea of easily posting text to the internet…. After a few weeks of fixing my RSS feeds to cross-post to Micro.blog and figuring out some iOS automations to help upload photos and make quick posts, I am actually in a position to give this a shot.

I am hoping that by having the ability to create these small pieces of content it may create a habit that will lead to creating longer pieces of content. My expectations, however, are that I will predominantly post photos and rarely write full-length blog posts. Brief text posts and linked-list posts will be somewhere in the middle. We will see how it goes…

❀ ❀ ❀

  1. I say that mostly sarcastically. I know it is the wrong way to approach it. I really like the idea of writing things (I say idea because I have never really given it an honest effort) and I know I should just focus on doing this just because I want to write ↩︎

  2. It should be obvious by that terrible explanation that I don’t have a solid understanding of what Micro.blog is ↩︎

  3. I previously backed App.net, so backing Micro.blog did not feel like an odd thing to do ↩︎

John Siracusa discussing dad jokes and one of the many roles of the parent in the child’s life:

The dad who comes into a gathering of his child’s peers and is charming and cool… that is the worst thing you can do to your child…

They [your children] don’t want all of their friends to think you are awesome and cool because they feel that that diminishes them… it starts to become [their] whole world - the idea of you wanting to, not impress [their] peers or look good in front of [their] peers, but having the approval of [their] peers. Whoever they may be, whoever [they] decide [their] peers are. At least to fit in with them…

The idea that someone would willingly go into a group and not even make an attempt at [fitting in] and - in fact - do the opposite of that seems laughable. It is freeing in that now they are free, in the terrible clique way… if they can find a common enemy, it will unite them… If they are all going to giggle and laugh at how dorky you are that is preferable to them beating up on the weird person.

I enjoy this podcast - especially when they talk about parenting. What John said about the father acting uncool in front of his kid’s friends was a revelation to me. I had a few friends with a cool dad. They were funny, charming, they had great stories, and we loved it when they hung around. My dad was never the cool dad. When I was a kid, even into my early adulthood, my friends would never ask him to hang around when we got together and I can remember thinking, “I wish my dad was cool” but he was doing exactly what he should have been doing.

Part of being a parent is not making yourself seem cool in front of your child’s friends. It is making your child seem cool - even if it means making yourself decidedly uncool.

Most photographers will go out of their way to avoid lens flares by using hoods or shades around their lenses. But if the Sun is in your frame or right next to it, it can be impossible to avoid.

I posted a photo I took of the partial eclipse and noted there was some kind of reflection that actually showed the eclipse. It was lens flare.

In today’s world, more so than ever, we value the now. Real time. 24/7. But this is, by definition, short-sighted. History will not judge us by the hot takes, because history won’t give a shit. History has the benefit of hindsight.

I read this post a couple of weeks ago but after writing up the link to the Chuck Klosterman interview, I was reminded of it.

Not only does M.G. Siegler cram in a nod to The Tragically Hip, he highlights the importance of being able to take the long view of something when forming an opinion and links it to the idea of being on the right side of history.

I agree and would go even further to suggest it is important to distinguish between what you want to happen and what is the most likely thing to happen. If you can make that distinction it might give you an opportunity to reflect on why there is a difference between the two.

Media is not a one-way relationship, it’s this two-way relationship where many people feel the reason they are consuming media is to respond to it. That it’s not for the content, it’s so that they can sort of use that content to have their response.

In this pod of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Chuck Klosterman is talking about how the profession of writing has changed. Previously, publishing the article would be the end of the process but now it is the middle because there is so much interaction that takes place only after something is made available. I enjoy Chuck Klosterman’s writing and this was a good interview that I would recommend, but it brought up something else I have been thinking about and discussing with friends for a while now.

I still do not feel like I can properly articulate my thoughts, but I find the current situation of the quick, off-hand response to everything that happens to be off-putting. I love that social media platforms have given people a chance to share opinions. I love that it is easier than ever to communicate with people. But I feel like this opportunity is often abused. I am of the opinion that people over-value the importance of their take on whatever is currently happening. As if having an immediate response to everything is required and reflection is discouraged. As if having a response to something is more valuable than actually creating something. On top of that, it feels like it has led to a situation where nuance is no longer welcome; you are either for something or against it, and not only do you have to take that stance immediately, any change to your stance is viewed as a weakness - not as a sign of intelligence or your ability to reflect and process new information. As if digging in your heels is the appropriate response.

The eclipse — the first to cross the U.S. coast to coast in 99 years — will also provide a celestial show to people north of the border, though the partial eclipse visible in Canada won’t be quite so striking.

Not that anyone needed a reminder, but today is the day. I’ll only be seeing about 70% coverage but am still excited. There are many guides you can access to check the time and amount of coverage for wherever you live.

There are also more than a few live streams probably worth checking out.

On Monday night, he was tweeting his frustration, accusing the “fake media” of never being satisfied. But by Tuesday morning, the president was fuming again. At a scheduled event about the permitting process for infrastructure, 45 asked for questions — contrary to the wishes of his aides, including John F. Kelly, his new chief of staff, who stood to the side, looking grim.

This is mostly here for posterity. I would prefer to write something longer but am not a good enough writer to do it justice. After more than year of watching 45 do things that would have ended any other politician’s career - and each time thinking “He’s never going to get out of this one, they got ‘em” - the reaction to his terrible handling of what happened in Charlottesville seems different than the other times. I am optimistic that this may actually change things. Having said that, it is depressing that it will not at all be surprising if this is just another thing in the long list of his shameful actions that we just move past.

Redheads are on the agenda at the next Unicode Technical Committee meeting, hosted by Apple next week.

Finally.

Under changes the Liberal government is set to enact in May, people who have not paid fines for driving-based offences, such as speeding and careless driving, won’t be able to get or renew their plates.

How is this not already what happens? I can’t renew my plates without paying my outstanding parking tickets.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sparked immediate anger among Alberta politicians on Friday by suggesting Canada should “phase out” the oilsands.

This should come as no surprise. Trudeau campaigned on moving away from oil and towards other energy sources. Large parts of the world are doing the same.

Here’s the full quote people are upset with:

You can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy. We can’t shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels. That is going to take time. And in the meantime, we have to manage that transition.

That seems, again, exactly what you would expect from the Liberal party. The disagreement here should simply be whether or not you think we eventually need to move away from oil. If you think we do, then we need to plan for it. If you don’t, then you need to support a different party.

Kudos to Rachael Notely for a reasonable response but the sensationalizing of the response from Brian Jean and Jason Kenney comes across as out of touch and insulting to the intelligence of their supporters.