iTunes Match kinda sucks

So remember how I was using iTunes Match and a smart shuffle app to manage my music?

Well, that hasn’t ended up working all that well.

The smart shuffle app, in particular, is incredibly unreliable and slow, and also my iTunes Match-backed library has… Issues.

Like, a lot of songs won’t sync over because of an “unspecified error” (I assume label interference, because they’re all songs from a particular label as far as I can tell), and a lot of other songs won’t sync over because they appear as “duplicates” since like… sometimes I have more than one instance of a song across multiple albums. Best-of compilations and singles releases and so on. Sometimes it does legitimately find a duplicate I want to get rid of but most of the time it’s just… not. And even when it does, it’s a crapshoot as to which one it decides is the duplicate and which is the “real” one.

Like. My whole thing is listening to albums, not individual songs, and if a song appears in multiple albums, I want it to be played within all of those albums.

At least they seem to have figured out that there are sometimes multiple versions of a song by the same artist and on different albums (like, it never seems to show the various Past Masters versions of Beatles songs as duplicates of the album versions). (Oh I guess I talked about that last time too. Obviously this is important to me.)

I’ve also noticed that playing songs on the iPhone doesn’t update the play stats in my cloud library, and even with the enormity of my library I’m still hearing albums more frequently than I’d like.

I feel like there has got to be a better way than any of this.

Oh wait, there was one, and Apple stopped bothering to support it.

Current goings-on

Oh I guess I haven’t blogged in a while. Like, a whole week. This can’t stand.

So, what am I up to?

Re: Why Publ won’t support magic auth links

In response to a Publ blog post, Kicks Condor writes:

One question, though—could the Atom feed list rel alternate versions of the feed? (That would have type application/atom+xml?) It also seems like rel self could have the non-authenticated version of the feed. It doesn’t make sense for credentials to be in that URL. These are possibly naive suggestions—apologies, if so. Again, fantastic write-up!

The problem is that it’s up to the sharing news reader to know which URL to use for the sharing, and there’s no way to control what URL the reader happens to use. I know that Feed On Feeds will use the URL for the actual subscription (since that’s the only source URL it tracks in the first place), and who knows what other readers with sharing features will do!

And changing the rel="self" URL has a different problem – some readers (again, such as Feed On Feeds) treat that as the canonical URL and will update their subscriptions to point to that URL instead, so setting rel="self" to the unauthenticated feed means most users will be unable to remain logged in.

Basically, it’s a tricky issue that has no right answer with the Atom spec as it currently exists. So if some other mechanism has to be designed, it might as well be done in a safe, unambiguous way from the beginning. If some other use case for magic auth links comes up I’ll reconsider implementing them, but at least for friends-only subscription access, the privacy risks are simply not worth it.

GeekGirlCon 2019 Merch!

Hey everyone! I just thought I’d give folks a preview of the items I’ll be selling at GeekGirlCon.

Gah

Why didn’t anyone tell me that the previous blog post was posted as a very-broken comics post

Diagnostic process

Today was a travel day to Portland, for Retro Game Expo. So of course just as the train was ready to take off was when my HMO decided to call me to do the ADHD diagnostic intake. I asked if I could just call back later when I wasn’t likely to lose coverage in 3 minutes, and eventually I got the phone number to call.

So, when I got to Portland I called the number, where they immediately put me on hold for 30 minutes. After which they asked me what I was calling about, and when I said I was calling about getting my ADHD screening, they put me on hold for another 15 minutes. Not a great start.

So, this post about signs of undiagnosed ADHD showed up on one of my fibro communities and so much of it seemed PRETTY FAMILIAR, and I also found out that fibromyalgia and ADHD are highly comorbid, and then I was realizing that I stopped being able to focus on work and Getting Stuff Done when I had to go cold turkey on caffeine when my panic disorder started in 2011, and, wellp.

Using Firefox as my primary browser

For a while my browser usage has been Safari as my primary and Firefox as my backup (for the rare site that didn’t work in Safari, usually due to the “modern” web being terrible), mostly because it gave me good integration with the iCloud Keychain as well as a few nice little handoff things (migrating sessions between computers/my phone, autofilling SMS OTP keys, etc.).

However, ever since the most recent Safari update, I’ve been finding it to be incredibly unstable or troublesome in a lot of ways (like entering a URL causing it to not actually load said URL, or feedback just plain being lost), and of course the recent loss of the 1Password 6 extension has made it less pleasant as well. (I have reasons for not wanting to upgrade to 1Password 7, but that’s a whole other rant.) Also, as nice as the iCloud Keychain is, Safari’s password autofill has always had problems on a lot of sites, and the fact I had to run it side-by-side with 1Password to get my passwords available on Windows machines was getting pretty annoying.

So, I decided to actually try Firefox as my full-time browser on macOS, and so far I’m liking it.

Stop it with the zero-calorie sweeteners

I love my Sodastream carbonator. But I don’t like how all of its soda syrups have “50% less sugar” by them replacing it with Stevia or sucralose. Yesterday at Target I saw that they had a new line of syrups that claimed to be made of just fruit juice, and I looked at the ingredients, and didn’t see anything problematic, so I bought some.

Just now I made a cup of soda with it, and at the first sip realized that they’d snuck Stevia in. I looked at the ingredients again, and there was at the very end, steviol glycosides – the distilled essence of what makes Stevia Stevia.

So, that’s $10 down the drain, literally. Read more… waffling Just an incredibly dorky ramble I posted on a Slack chat, which I am saving here for posterity. okay so someone put the idea of getting a waffle fry cutter in my head (not naming names, as it was in a private channel) and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy one only to find that the BB&B herre closed down sometime, and so I went to Target and found that they had, like, no knives or cutters anymore. I’m not gonna spend$100 on one at Sur La Table so I guess Amazon is my best bet. Anyone have any suggestions on waffle fry cutters there?

Rippled knife is okay, mandolin-style slicer would be better. In the latter case, it’d be great if it’s a good mandolin on its own too.

I already have a decent flat-blade mandolin cutter but I wouldn’t mind an upgrade in that department either.

or I mean I guess I could just buy pre-made frozen waffle fries too, honestly that’s probably a better deal

From a TCO standpoint anyway

Frozen waffle fries are about $2/pound and potatoes are about$1/pound. Waffle cutters seem to be \$10-20 depending on style so that means needing to make at least 10 pounds of waffle fries before it pays off.

But think of all the other things I could waffle cut!

Like, I dunno, carrots or cucumbers or something

Jicama

Also I could experiment with the geometry of doing waffle cuts at angles other than 90°

Imagine equilateral triangle waffles

Or with some extra work, penrose tilings

the possibilities are endless. or at least finite-but-unbounded

Upcoming shows!

I will be tabling at two upcoming shows in the Pacific Northwest area:

1. On October 20, I’ll be showing CATcher at the Portland Indie Game Squad “indie arcade” booth at Retro Gaming Expo, alongside a bunch of other indie games. Come check us out at table 3500 in the arcade (right by the concessions)!
2. On November 16 and 17 I’ll be running my own vendor table at GeekGirlCon, where I’ll be selling comics, pins, prints, and possibly some other stuff. I’ll be at table 101, right in the corner nearest the escalators; see this handy map!

How the heck I can listen to music the way I want to

Okay, after posting my rant, someone on a Slack I’m on pointed me to Smart Shuffle, an alternate player for iOS which plays music the way I want to listen to it. (Thanks, Roman!)

I also signed up for iTunes Match, which provides the only part of Apple Music I care about (while also costing way less). And it seems to be doing a good job of pre-populating my device with music, and Smart Shuffle is able to play from iCloud while I’m on wifi and then automatically switch to stuff that’s locally cached when I’m not on it, so hopefully that makes for a reasonably seamless experience.

I guess with the vast quantity of music I have at this point I don’t really care about play stats for excluding stuff I’ve heard recently since I have so much of it that it’s less likely for duplication to happen like that.

The iPhone does have a setting for how much music to prefetch but as far as I can tell there’s no way to tell it which playlists/songs/whatever to prioritize; as far as I can tell it intends to focus on stuff that I listen to already, which is pretty much the opposite of what I want.

I suppose that if I care incredibly deeply about having proper randomness available on my phone I could just get a 512GB iPhone when I inevitably upgrade. I guess that’s a decision I can make next time I’m in Portland (which is in just two weeks).

One annoyance with iTunes Match so far is that it refuses to cloud-upload songs which it sees as duplicates. Fortunately its duplicate detection seems to be a lot better than in the bad old days of just matching artist and title, but unfortunately it still means that if you have an artist who has released multiple close-enough-to-each-other versions of the same song on different albums, or has released a best-of compilation, you’ll only get one rendition of it and it won’t appear in all the albums, and you can’t even choose which one is the canonical album placement. Kind of annoying. But less annoying than all the other things iTunes annoys me with, I guess.

How the heck can I listen to music the way I want to?

I collect music. Lots and lots of music. I have something like 250GB of the stuff. It’s across basically every genre known to man. Possibly a few unknown to man, too.

The way I’ve preferred to listen to music for the past 15 years or so is to have my player device of choice shuffle by album - which is to say, choose an album at random and then play it all the way through, in order. It works really well for my listening habits, because it ensures that I will, for example, get a complete opera (following all of its cadences), followed by a complete rock album (following all of its cadences), followed by a complete abstract electronica compilation, and so on. Sometimes I’ll get singles interspersed between them. That’s fine.

The main way I discover more music is if I come across something I like (from random YouTube exploration or adding the SXSW torrents to my library or whatever), I will just buy that artist’s entire discography all at once, with the hopes that those albums will eventually come up in my listening sometime in the future. It’s like a little present to my future self.

Unfortunately, the modern music app landscape makes this incredibly difficult to do. Back in the classic iPod era, this worked well enough - I’d make a smart iTunes playlist which just filtered out stuff I’d listened to recently, and then populated with random albums up to whatever storage limit the iPod had. (Once upon a time I could fit my entire library into a single iPod Classic but that hasn’t been the case for well over a decade now.) And I continued with this with the iPod Touch and iPhone and so on, because even though those devices didn’t support shuffle-by-album, the smart playlists still worked.

But now a few stupid things have all happened:

• My iOS devices stopped being able to sync (and none of the “fixes” I’ve found work at all)
• iTunes switched from being a “manage your library” thing to an “Apple Music frontend player”
• I tried using iTunes Match to at least get the iCloud Music Library thing but now that’s made it so that even my smart playlists don’t work anymore – even after disabling iTunes Match! (In particular, they no longer shuffle by album and I’m no longer able to force it to re-select a new set of songs, which I used to be able to do by removing items from the playlist.)

For years I have stuck with iTunes and iPod/iOS because they were the only ecosystem I could manage to get to work right with my listening preferences. I haven’t found any other players, much less device synchronization systems, that allow for the shuffle-by-album thing. But now even that isn’t working anymore, and Apple is showing no interest in fixing it; I’ve had bug reports open for years on each of the individual issues I’ve mentioned above, and nobody I know seems to run into these problems but nobody I know wants to listen to their music in this way; they’re happy to just listen to random radio/Apple Music/Pandora/etc. stations, and don’t care about plumbing the depths of their gigantic, varied collection.

I keep hoping that someone will know of some alternate player and sync solution that lets me do what I want though. Every now and then someone will maybe mention that there might be a Foobar2000 plugin or something but I’ll look into it and not only is Foobar2000 Windows-only but it doesn’t actually do what I want, or it has no way of synchronizing with plays across devices or whatever.

I’m not even asking for anything that exotic or unknown. iTunes used to do this as its normal mode of operation. But it’s like everyone who makes music software and library managers has forgotten about everything, possibly because of the streaming services which are in turn patterned after radio, which never provided a listening experience I enjoyed.

I’m not about to start hand-managing my library either. My brain isn’t nearly large enough to keep track of what music I’ve listened to or make the decisions of what to listen to next. I want a simple unbiased random algorithm to do that for me!

Why is this so fucking hard?

EDIT: It looks like there are macOS and iOS versions of Foobar2000. The macOS version is outdated, abandoned, and doesn’t support album shuffle (or external device sync). The iOS version supports album sync but just uses the iTunes library on the device, which is great if you can sync music into it but I can’t. So frustrating. But it looks like maybe there’s a way that I can sorta bludgeon it into working? We’ll see.

EDIT 2: So of course right after I posted this, iTunes suddenly started behaving again. Let’s see how long it lasts this time.

Also someone on a Slack I’m on wrote:

Perhaps it’s time to concede that whatever you want from it is just not going to work reliably any longer, and adjust expectations and habits accordingly? It’s quite obvious that it’s not going to get fixed anytime soon.

Nah, fuck this attitude entirely. I’d have to completely change the way I listen to music, and all of the ways that are even feasible anymore are the ones which just so happen to help the record labels instead of actual musicians, for some reasonGee golly whillikers.

I am so sick of control being taken away from me, especially in a way which doesn’t benefit the musicians I want to support.

Just some brief updates for the goings-on.

More kitchen remodel crap

So, I mentioned recently that I’m remodeling my kitchen. As usual, a major fiasco is apparently going to happen with my stove, which seems to always be the case.

My kitchen uses downdraft venting. This is not by choice, but because of the way that the building is laid out. There is absolutely no way to install an over-the-range vent hood, because of its layout. Not even a ductless one. Just believe me when I say this, and don’t try to come up with ways of adding a range hood – trust me, you can’t.

Death poop from hell

Ugh, not only was the medication itself making me incredibly nauseous, but it was making me incredibly constipated, and I had my first death poop from hell since last December.

Gabapentin 300mg day 6

So on this, the 6th day of being at 3x daily gabapentin, I noticed that I haven’t been in severe agony all over for the first time in a while. I’m still feeling tendon pain in the parts that get chronically overused (especially my thumbs) but it’s not doing the usual radiating thing that turns into systemic pain all over.

On the minus side, after taking my afternoon dose I got incredibly nauseous which only really started to let up 7 hours later (which is, incidentally, the elimination half-life of gabapentin), and this is the worst the nausea’s been. I’d been getting somewhat nauseous from the doses before but as it builds up in my system it’s just been getting worse and worse.

So I sent a note to my doctor asking if there’s a better way of dealing with it (because I’ve been very unable to get stuff done for the last couple days and I have a lot of stuff that needs to get done!) and meanwhile decided to go back to 2x/daily.

Supposedly the nausea subsides after 2-3 weeks but I really can’t wait 2-3 weeks for that to happen right now. I have GeekGirlCon prep to do, I have a job interview down in Portland sometime in the next week or two (for a job I’d probably be staying in Seattle for but it’s Portland-based and this means I might have to go to Portland more often, oh the horror! no, not the comfy chair!), and I have AR stuff to do in the meantime.

Anyway. Hopefully this means there actually is some hope in sight, and I just need to find the right balance of things. Or maybe something else that helps to counteract the nausea while I’m still acclimating to the gabapentin.

Some template changes

I’ve changed my site templates a bit more, to make CWs work a bit better. In particular, now entries which have a CW will also hide the text behind a <details> on the page (for example), and similarly I’ve hidden CWed images on individual comic pages (for example). Comic images will also (finally!) be blurred in the OpenGraph tags, as well, after one too many “oops"es when posting links to Slack demonstrating how my CWs work.

I’ve also improved compatibility with Bridgy Fed and with the way that webmention microformats are supposed to work in the first place, per a conversation in which I learned that I wasn’t actually using reply types correctly. (You may have noticed a bunch more micro-posts on the chatter section as a result of me fixing this as well. I also need to finally implement a thing so I can properly filter that stuff out of the little "latest posts” box on the main page!)

The sample templates repository has been updated, accordingly.

As always, thanks to the various IndieWeb folks, especially Ryan and Kevin for setting me straight on this issue.

Edit: It didn’t take me very long to implement the Publ feature change. I went ahead and cleaned up a bunch of query generator code while I was at it. Also I think I found a bug in PonyORM. Nope, I think I was just being hopelessly optimistic about a thing.

Things I accomplished today

Oops I haven’t been posting to my blog as much lately. I’ve been kinda busy I guess?

So let’s see:

1. Had a technical interview with Mozilla which went pretty well. I remember more about the fiddly low-level bits of C++ than I thought, even after not really doing anything in C++ for a few years (and purposefully avoiding the minefield-type stuff I was asked about)
2. Received a bunch of custom enamel pins that I’ll be selling at GeekGirlCon and turned out fantastic (more on this closer to the show!)
3. Also received my vendor packet omg this is really happening isn’t it
4. Put down a deposit on a new kitchen (not that I’m that eager to go through a remodel process again but my kitchen has been literally falling apart due to the cheap stuff the previous owners put in, and this time around I’m just getting everything gutted and replaced which is turning out to be… easier?)
5. Finally got my gabapentin dose up to the target of 3x a day, which had me pretty hecked up this evening and I left drawing group earlier than usual but folks were understanding at least, and also this is probably still placebo but I kinda feel like I’m in less pain finally?
6. Hugged so many cats (well, okay, mostly just one cat, but I hugged her a lot of times)
7. did a bloggy thing

Oh also happy 9/19/19, which is apparently the last palindrome date (for a particularly reductive definition of “date”) we’re gonna have for a long time.

Unless you count 2/22/22 which is technically a palindrome and actually will work the same way in most truncated date formats (including 22/22/2 and 22/2/22).

Things I need to accomplish at some point in the near future:

• Pushl has gotten overcomplicated and also isn’t actually working quite right anymore and I need to open an issue to track how I think I’m going to fix one of the breakages
• Make prints for GeekGirlCon
• Get rid of a bunch of cardboard boxes and other trash-like substance
• order new refrigerator, settle on final appliances and sink fixtures, do some short-term plumbing to make a transitional bit of that a bit easier
• learn rust
• fix the o key on my MP1 model01
• maybe set up a new VPN now that I don’t have access to the university one anymore? for now I’m just using hide.me’s free tier