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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.

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.

Read more…

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
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Drawing apps, still meh

Once again it’s getting time to renew my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and once again I really don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars for another year of access to Photoshop. So as usual I’ve looked at other drawing programs to see what the state of affairs is for my uses, and boy howdy is it still pretty dismal.

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More iTunes/iPhone sync woes

So, I’m still having the iPhone sync issue, only now it’s gotten so bad that I can’t even sync my music after doing a full factory restore of my phone. Ridiculous.

As an attempt at just getting my dang music on my phone I decided to sign up for another Apple Music trial period, figuring I’d use the iCloud Music Library sync stuff instead.

Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t really work.

Read more…

Gabapentin adventures continue

I guess I haven’t posted a public update on my gabapentin experiment in a while. Yesterday I started taking it twice a day, 100mg each time. I also created a simple blood serum estimator more to satisfy curiosity than anything else; I don’t expect it to be all that useful for anyone although I’m thinking that at some point I’ll add the ability to plot graphs and maybe specify the times of days for the doses or something?

Anyway, taking it in the morning as well as the evening means that I get a nice surge of dizziness, which will supposedly pass eventually (and will get better when I get up to 3x a day). So far I’m not noticing any difference in my pain levels, and I kinda feel like my emotions might be a bit more intense? Last night I certainly had a bout of frustration with technology and drawing apps (I really want to work on comics again and I feel like my tools are actively getting in the way!) but I’m feeling much more even-keeled today at least. Drowsy a lot though.

This is certainly an interesting time for me to be experimenting with my neurochemistry, as I only have a few days left at my current job and am also trying to ramp up on some projects at the AR startup while also juggling an interview process with a well-known and generally-beloved non-profit corporation that I’d love to work at – and so far that’s been going really well! I just hope my brain has stabilized again by the next interview, which is yet to be scheduled. Anyway I’m waiting for that to happen before I go up to 3x100mg of gabapentin.

Oh also I’m finally making progress on redoing my kitchen, which is way overdue. The previous owners had done a really cheap, low-quality job of refurbishing it about 10 years ago, and it’s all been falling apart. I’m taking the opportunity to finally fix some long-standing issues with it, like a lack of storage (caused by a ripple effect from a way-too-large sink) and also switching to a smaller refrigerator and dishwasher (freeing up more storage space). Also going to finally get a new range, with such perfect timing since the oven in the existing one has finally given up the ghost for good. Unfortunately there’s only one range available that actually fits in the space (due to the odd venting configuration) and going with a different solution would require a lot of compromises and be way more expensive (due to the aforementioned odd venting situation), but still, I think everything will be better in the long run.

In any case, given that I’ll soon be working from home most of the time again, it’ll be good to have a space where I can enjoy cooking for myself again.

(I’m also looking forward to getting back in the habit of buying bulk produce and unbutchered meat at my favorite restaurant supplier. And probably doing more sous vide again!)

My review of the new Amazon Go store

There’s a new Amazon Go store on the way home from my therapist, and I was feeling too tired to think about dinner so I decided to just check it out.

There’s a little seating area in front and a greeter who watches you to help people out (and probably make sure they aren’t up to Shenanigans). I suspect that there’s actual human intelligence going on and it isn’t purely AI like the marketing leads everyone to believe. Still, I have some ideas for things to test.

Food selection is pretty okay. The prices are fairly reasonable for Seattle. It’s mostly sandwiches and salads and snacks, and I think they’re all made elsewhere (probably at the flagship store downtown).

I ended up getting a “Tex-Mex Salad with Beef” and a caramel latte. The salad was $8.50. The coffee was $1.85, on sale, although the regular price is $2.35 which is still really cheap for Seattle. The cup and lid were Starbucks-branded, but the cardboard cozy thing said Amazon Go on it.

The salad was pretty okay. It had too much quinoa and not enough lettuce for my taste, but it was tasty and more or less filling. It did have an expiration date of today. I wonder when it was actually made.

The coffee was a bit too sweet and also wasn’t very hot by the time I got home and I suspect it wasn’t actually freshly-brewed hot. They did have regular and decaf options, but no non-dairy milks. It tasted okay. They let you bring your own cup, which is nice.

Not a fan of how it’s yet another case of tech displacing workers from jobs and automating everything away while driving even more of a wage gap and an overall wealth divide.

Also the salad selection could be better.

All in all I think it’s a place I’ll go to get cheap, quick coffee but I don’t expect to make a habit out of it.

They’re also opening a gigantic flagship store a block from my home. I look forward to seeing what the anarchists do to it.

Alec, isolation, solidarity

Scott Benson wrote a more detailed, public article about what had been going on with him and Alec Holowka. Please read the whole thing, but I want to especially highlight this paragraph:

I’d asked people who knew not to tell anyone. This is pretty common. I had reasons- during development we couldn’t deal with publicly hashing this out, I was too exhausted to handle some big public thing with Alec, etc. And I was too far removed from Alec’s social circles to really know what was happening there. And lots of other people who had similar experiences with Alec never told me, or anyone. It’s common. I wasn’t keeping Alec’s secret. I was keeping mine. That’s how this happens.

That feels a lot like the shit I’d been holding on to privately for the past 8 years. Nobody wanted to tarnish the reputation of a widely-beloved person, and I’m still afraid of actually directly naming him in these posts. I don’t want to relive the community abuse I experienced, especially if it means being seen as being a “collaborator” or “protector” of a serial abuser, and on the other hand being seen as someone who’s looking for attention or some perceived “clout.”

In the aftermath of my writeup, on Sunday I had a very good conversation with the mutual friend who’d taken on the burden of the wellness check and the estate management. I won’t repeat anything of what he said (that’s his story to tell, of course) but the conversation helped me quite a lot, and I hope it helped him too.

For what it’s worth, the past two days have been the lowest-pain I’ve had in a while.

Seeing the reactions to Scott’s articles, including on the now-quite-toxic backers-only thread on the NITW kickstarter, all I can hope for is that everyone eventually finds their peace with this, and that we as a society start having better, more open conversations about this stuff before it turns tragic.

There are no happy endings

The recent unfortunate and tragic news about Alec Holowka has hit me very hard. On the one hand, I was a fan of his music and games, and saddened that he could be responsible for such things. But also the reaction at large to every stage of this whole horrible affair has been dredging up some very bad, stressful feelings that have been affecting me for the past eight years, and I feel it’s finally time to talk about it publicly.

I am not going to name names, even though the names are easy enough to figure out. I don’t want this to be about me, either, but I am necessarily talking about a thing that happened to and around me, and affected many people in a profound, terrible way.

In particular, I have at least something of an understanding of what Scott Benson is going through right now.

This is probably going to be a difficult read.

Read more… (CW: suicide, abuse of minors)

Gabapentin, day 1

So, yesterday I finally got my prescription for gabapentin/Neurontin, as another attempt at managing my fibro symptoms. Took my first dose at 9 PM, and felt very tired and dizzy by 11 PM. Then still managed to not fall asleep until around 3 AM (I was definitely wide awake at 2, and my smart bed thing says I didn’t fall asleep until 3 so that seems believable).

I slept pretty okay although I had vivid dreams about unpleasant stuff, as always seems to be the case when my neurochemistry is being tampered with.

Woke up at 8 AM, couldn’t actually peel myself out of bed until half past 9, and I felt wobbly/dizzy/tired all day.

Pain was okay in the morning, but at 2:40 PM or so I had a flareup. It cleared up with a snack, though, and I kinda-sorta managed to get some actual work done, ish.

Went home at 6, had dinner, not sure where the past two hours went but I’m really tired and sleepy right now and also flaring like a matroncopulator, and it’s time for my next dose. Maybe I’ll sleep better/longer tonight and feel better tomorrow.

Auth security tweak

I’m working on improving some of the https-related security in Authl, in particular making it so that if a site is configured with https, then it’ll only send the security cookie over https. This reduces the chances of a certain kind of possible security issue, but it also means that if you normally access the site with http://beesbuzz.biz instead of https://beesbuzz.biz it’ll show you as being signed out, and if you click the “log in” link it’ll ask you to sign in again even if you were already signed in.

I have a fix for that in mind, but it might cause a potential redirection loop problem in some cases so I’m not going to implement it until I’ve determined the scope of the problem and figured out if I need further workarounds.

Update: Fix is implemented and being tested on this site. Authl and Publ updates pending other folks trying it out.

So about that AMP-script thing

Two days ago, Google breathlessly announced this amazing new revolution for websites:

Or in other words:

Let’s make a limited subset of the web that guarantees performance! No JavaScript, to keep it lean!

(Two weeks later)

So about that JavaScript thing…

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Novembeat has a website now

For the last few years I’ve participated in a thing called Novembeat, started by my friend Paul. Whenever I tell people about it they’re never sure how to find out more, though, because there’s no website.

So, I finally fixed that.

Yet another rehash

So, one of the things with the Isso migration is that I finally came up with a better way of handling thread IDs to keep them actually-private. And part of that is the mechanism to rehash them.

Which is good, because I keep on accidentally leaking the dang secret sauce. The first time was when I updated my sample templates with the comment hash generation (and I accidentally left the HMAC key intact), and the second time was when I started building a new Publ-based website and decided to start with my actual app.py as the basis, HMAC key and all, never mind that I later ended up removing about 90% of the beesbuzz.biz custom routes and the Authl config since they’re not actually needed for this site. Yeesh.

Anyway, whatever. Someday I’ll learn my lesson (and maybe I’ll even go so far as to make the HMAC key not even be checked into code!), but today is not that day.

You can now use IndieAuth to login to this site

I’ve released a new version of Authl that has direct login support for IndieAuth. Also as of v0.1.6 it supports discovery via WebFinger, which should at least have Ryan a lot happier.

If you don’t know what any of the above means, this update probably doesn’t matter to you. 🙃