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Pretty Good Hat

Tag: computers

MacOS/Shortcuts folks: Can I send a photo to a shortcut via quick actions? I can run the action in a shortcut to pop up the little picker, but can’t figure out if there’s a way to do it from within Photos itself. I want to be looking at an image, run an action, and send that image to a workflow. I think I’m mistaken in believing that this should work.

There is still a pretty good tape and baling wire aspect of it, but I’m pretty pleased to have put together a nicely-working revision to my photo posting, using a MacOS shortcut to upload photos to my media endpoint and output their destination URLs to a list that I can grab from in Drafts to compose and post. It was nice learning for a Saturday, too.

Data storytelling with last.fm: Ever since wondering if I could make something vaguely Spotify Wrapped-like with data from last.fm, I’ve dived deep into retrieving, slicing and making pictures of my music data over the past several years. Experimenting with a view of my most-played tracks over, it started to click for me just how many stories are found in this data, that this is much more than listening history – my own stories are embedded in this data, too.

In this plot of my most-played tracks for each year since 2005, you can see the huge spike in 2015, featuring huge numbers of plays of songs by Lord Huron, Frank Taylor, Hem, and Josh Ritter. I knew immediately what this was: The bedtime playlist for our kiddo, whom we would tuck in and leave to listen to songs they loved at the time. They’ve never, ever slept well without a lot of work, and for a while we had a beautiful routine of tuckins and music.

a parallel coordinates plot showing many colorful dots and a vertical spike of much larger dots in 2015

It’s a little bittersweet to see this, as it represents a really hard time in all our lives but also signifies a lot of love and, in the music itself, something that’s always been and continues to be really special.

(Methodological note: Because the spike in 2015 is so high, I had to re-do the entire plot on a log scale in order to see any variation at all in the lower-numbered tracks! I made up for that by scaling the size of the dots to the true total annual play count of each track.)

You can see the data entirely fall off a cliff after 2015. This same picture also tells the story of the death of Rdio, at one time my very favorite way to listen to music and which had great support for tools like last.fm; I replaced it with Apple Music, which has never natively supported that record-keeping, so 2015 is the last year until 2020 that I even have much of this information.

That, of course, is the first year of pandemic and also the first year I started using Roon, listening to music exclusively at home, and shifted all my workouts to home, too. So that big 2020-2021 spike of lots of colors? That’s my wife and me lifting weights and doing squat jumps in our living room!

a colorful stack of close-together dots in a scatterplot

In 2007 you can see the light blue dots appear: That’s when I started listening to Josh Ritter, while away from home for a few months. I was living alone in Bellevue, WA, on a pre-doctoral internship, and carrying my iPod in my pocket while jogging or walking in the park across the street from my long-term company housing complex. I can trace those light blue dots and lines all the way through to now (though the frequency of that workout playlist swamps even my favorite artists right out of the annual top twenty). And looking at this graph I can see the trails in that little park, remember the first time I heard Josh Ritter play “Wings” in my headphones; I can recall tucking the iPod into the console of my rental car, and then spiral into memories of the post-internship vacation that my wife and I took up to the San Juan Islands, where years before I spent a summer teaching climbing.

photo of a shiny silver car gear-shift, with a white third-generation iPod tucked beside it

I can click the 2011 dots to see the music I played for our kiddo in the car while driving to and from day-care. There are some silly kids songs that they used to love, and I was also on a pretty good OK Go kick at the time, so “This Too Shall Pass” was a common track in the car. God that song still gets me. I got into TV On the Radio around this time, too, and found it good car music. (Again: Thanks to Rdio, I was discovering and listening to a lot of music.)

Way back in 2005-2006 I was working at home on finishing my disseration. In iTunes I had albums from Richmond Fontaine and Tom Waits in heavy rotation – Ripped from actual CDs that I bought at Gopher Sounds in downtown Flagstaff!

I’m honestly surprised that last.fm is still operating. I’m not sure what it really does, anymore that would make revenue, but I’m glad it’s still there and that I have good tools to store my listening history once again (Oh – including now adopting Marvis as a great iOS app for scrobbling when I do listen to Apple Music again, thanks to some good discussion with music folks at micro.blog!) When scrobbling stopped working reliably there after 2015, for a while I decided that I didn’t care: listening to music was an ephemeral experience, and so would be my interest in online web-2.0 tools, I reasoned, and I made peace with leaving behind that history.

Now, as long as it continues to work, I’m so happy to have this somewhat constant and almost invisible trace, this throughline of so many moments in my life.

Keyboard Week!

What a great hobby week. A few days ago I built a keyboard with my kiddo, and yesterday I got started on a build for myself. We built the KBD67Lite from kbdfans. While I’ve had a couple of mechanical keyboards, these were the first that I’ve built up from parts – fortunately, the kbdlite comes as a nice kit which made for a gentle introduction to lubricating stabilizers. (Which, by the way, makes a tremendous difference.)

close-up view of a hotswap PCB

Kiddo picked out keycaps that make this lovely gradient, and they feel really nice.

side view of a purple keyboard case with keycaps that run from vivid to pale pink and orange

I went with gray keycaps on a white case. So far this board is a real pleasure to type on. Now that I have a good point of comparison with my Q1 board I can start to get a feel for how qualitatively different switches and keys can feel. By comparison, the Q1 is indeed a little pingy, for example, so I’m even more curious to see how some modifications to its components could feel.

top-down view of a white keyboard case with gray and dark gray accent keycaps

After the build, I did some work in QMK to program a couple of MacOS specific layers for the KBD67Lite. Unlike the Q1, it doesn’t have a hardware mode switch, so I have to make a virtual one that lets me toggle Mac and Windows layers with a key combination. Fortunately I was familiar with working in QMK from all the screwing around I did with the vim mode I built, so it didn’t take too long to figure this out – and I’m happily typing away!

A blue plastic keyboard case without switches or caps installed, showing the bare switch sockets, held in my hand

Building this kbd67lite with kiddo was a good Christmas day project. (I got one for myself, too – caps and switches should arrive tomorrow!)

Playing around with my last.fm stats Shiny app a bit more this morning, and I remembered how to get what I want out of a nested list returned from the API with only 20 minutes of cursing. Progress!

A side view of an old MacBook, showing ethernet, MagSafe, USB, SD card, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt ports.

Holiday tech support operations resume this year with setting up Dad’s 2009 MacBook Pro to migrate to my year-old model. Look at the ports on that thing!