I bought a book on Twitter

I just bought Chris Hadfield’s book directly via his tweet .

Screenshot, in case the embedded Twitter card doesn’t show properly:

This must be a new thing, right? My first reaction is that it’s a great idea. I like books.

Fixing my digital music collection using Beets

I usually listen to music on vinyl, just as I have for 40 years. Keeping my vinyl library up to date is easy. Whatever is on the shelves is what I have. I keep albums in basically alphabetical order by artist. Easy, and there’s not much that can go wrong with such a system.

I also use streaming services (my current favorite being Deezer). There’s not much to organizing streamed music other than favoriting albums and picking which I want to have downloaded to my phone.

My iTunes library, on the other hand, needed work. Files were named inconsistently, tagged incorrectly, and stored in various places. I tend to think about music in terms of complete albums, yet I had hundreds of single tracks that I never listen to.

I used Beets to clean things up and it worked very well. Among other things Beets is “an infinitely flexible automatic metadata corrector and file renamer.” It is a command line utility so be prepared to sit at your $TERM for a while.

I enabled a few extra plugins before importing everything: fromfilename, fetchart, and chroma. That last one, chroma, takes an audio signature of each file and uses that for comparisons. Fancy.

The steps I took were, in summary:

  1. pip install beets
  2. Edit config file in ~/config/beets/config.yml so Beets knew where to put everything
  3. beet import -q ~/Volumes/Media/MusicImport First import using “quiet” option to let it do what it can without interaction
  4. beet import ~/Volumes/Media/MusicImport Interactive import. This requires paying attention and making decisions so plan on being around a while (depending on the size of your library

It took maybe 2 hours for me to respond to all of the prompts and let Beets do its thing. My digital music library is now a collection of complete and consistent music files.



Photo: Aug 1954

 Every picture tells a story, don’t it. —Rod Stewart

This is one of the few photos from my grandfather’s photo albums without a detailed caption written the reverse. It says simply, “Aug 1954”. I love it.

The woman with the beach ball is playing catch with another woman who is out of frame. The man watches the second woman until his wife has had enough and snatches the binoculars away from him. At least that’s how I imagine it.


My reading list as a text file

For years now I’ve maintained a list of books I’ve read and have stored it in many different formats using many different tools. It started as a simple text file. Then I got fancy with Delicious Library, which was a lot of fun for a while, but eventually the novelty wore off and I started looking for something easier and cloud-based. I ended up importing the list into LibraryThing. That was nice, but soon after I went through an anti-web app phase so I wanted something local. I was already keeping notes in Tinderbox, so I started logging books there and that’s worked great.

The problem is that I’ve once again gone all-in on keeping things in text files. I’d been successfully avoided changing the way my book list is managed yet again until I read Jamie Todd Rubin’s post titled “Joys of a Text-Based Reading List”. That did it. I exported everything out of Tinderbox and moved it into a single text file. It’s not nearly as fancy this way, but I can easily manipulate and query it using the same tools I use for nearly everything else. Jamie’s post lists a number of neat ways of doing that.

Here’s what part of mine looks like today.

Of course one advantage of doing it this way it’s easy to manage via Git and Github, which I’ve done. I might decide that this needs a little more structure someday but for now it’s doing the job.


Cole Rise |

Cole Rise |

“I have days of photos and no actual memory of that day aside from the photos that I took. That’s because I’m so lost in the minutia of the camera and trying to get a photo that I’m not participating. I’m hiding behind this machine.”

“…no actual memory of that day aside from the photos I took.” I used to believe this was a thing. That you could take too many photos and not actually be part of whatever’s happening. I no longer buy it. In fact, I find taking photos to bring me closer to an event.

“Hey everyone, stand over there and look at me!”

See there? I’m interacting! I’m certainly not going to forget what’s going on right there in front of me. I look right at it, I take a quick photo, and I continue looking right at it. Didn’t miss a thing. No reason I’d forget any of it either.

I’m a total camera nerd and I don’t recall the “minutia” of a camera ever distracting me for more that a few seconds. I can miss those few seconds in order to take home some lovely photographs.

The point, I suppose, is don’t waste too much time farting around with a camera. Fair enough, but let’s not exaggerate the effects of doing so either.


Real Life Tools

IMG_0467 IMG_0466

I try to keep tools everywhere, so they are always handy. In time, that plan always fails and I end up with six of the same size screwdriver in each location and I can’t find a decent pair of pliers. Time to weed out the junk and get things tidy again. I upended a few drawers and neatly laid everything out. As expected, I have too many of some things and not enough of others.

Some of these tools are cheap and I hate cheap tools. Some are useless to me. I’ll throw them away. On the other hand, some of them were given to me by my grandfather and may have been given to him by his, for all I know. These I’ll keep, regardless of whether or not I’ll ever need them. For example, what good is this tiny hammer?


Who knows, but it’s cute and it belonged to my grandfather. Keep.

My problem is that I’ve laid everything out and now I don’t know where to begin. Guess I’ll leave everything spread out all over my kitchen and blog about it.

Mean People Fail – Paul Graham

Paul Graham – Mean People Fail:

One is that being mean makes you stupid. That’s why I hate fights. You never do your best work in a fight, because fights are not sufficiently general. Winning is always a function of the situation and the people involved. You don’t win fights by thinking of big ideas but by thinking of tricks that work in one particular case

He’s mostly talking about failure in the context of startups but it applies to just about everything.

FSF Giving Guide 2014

Free Software Foundation Giving Guide 2014

Are you giving your loved ones holiday gifts they can use freely, or gifts which put someone else in control?

Neither, I’m giving them gifts they want. Seriously, I’m all for the FSF and love the idea of being in complete control of my media, software, and devices. But come on, no one I know would choose any of the Free options listed unless trying to prove a point. I suppose proving a point is what the list is for in the first place. Still, I’m not ready to give up on the good stuff until the Free stuff is better. Or at least remotely as good.

The Secret About Rangefinder Cameras

The Secret About Rangefinder Cameras:

So here’s the deep dark secret about rangefinders (Leica fanboys might not want to click past the break):

…Most people don’t like ‘em.

(Via The Online Photographer)

That may be true, but I don’t understand why. Michael goes on to list some of the advantages of rangefinders. What’s not to like?

For me, rangefinders are superior. The most significant reasons:

  1. I can see the scene outside of the framelines. I like being able to reframe based on what I know is outside the frame rather than by guessing.
  2. Ease of focusing. It has always seemed obvious to me that manually focusing using a rangefinder is much easier. Apparently, some don’t agree. Who knew?

A fortunate side effect of preferring rangefinders is that I can use Leicas. That is almost reason enough.