New $5 Linodes Are Great Learning Tools

Linode, which is where this website is hosted, has launched a new $5 per month plan:

We’re also introducing the Linode 1GB, our lowest priced instance ever at only $5 per month. We believe this will add a great deal of utility to our service.

I have one of these that I use for testing and to run a few basic maintenance tasks (reports, stat checking, things like that), and it’s great. If you’re at all interested in learning about servers, Linux, and basic web administration, I highly recommend Linode. You can jump in, try things out, and it’s a simple and inexpensive way to learn (they also have good tutorials). If you mess something up, it’s easy to restore and reset and keep playing around. I’m a big “learn by doing” person, and if you’re like me, take the plunge and give it a shot!

As Marco Arment once wrote:

Modern Linux server administration is much easier than you think. If you can write a halfway decent app, you can manage a Linux VPS in your sleep.

You don’t need to compile kernels, build anything from source code, partition any disks, or deal with iptables in most cases. The defaults of good distributions and packages are almost always very secure. And once you set everything up, you can leave it running largely untouched indefinitely. You’ll probably never be woken up at 3 AM to reboot anything or delete log files.

Launching a Color Picker

I really love the Skala color picker for macOS, it’s a great way to grab colors from the screen and find the correct code to use in web development or other design work. I like it so much that sometimes I want to just launch the color picker outside of an app that has it built in. The best way I’ve found to do this is to create a simple AppleScript application (this app apparently does the same thing, but writing your own is fun).

I use this icon with it.

America, America

Jonathan Kirshner:

Worse still, even if we manage to endure the next four years and then oust him in the next election, from this point forward we will always be the country that elected Donald Trump as President. And as Albert Finney knew all too well in Under the Volcano, “some things, you just can’t apologize for.” This will be felt most acutely on the world stage. Keep in mind that in those areas where Trump departs from traditional Republican positions, such as those regarding trade and international security, Congressional power is much weaker. Trump can start a trade war or provoke an international crisis just by tweeting executive orders from the White House. And that damage will prove irreversible. Because from now on, and for a very long time, countries around the world will have to calculate their interests, expectations, and behavior with the understanding that this is America, or, at the very least, that this is what the American political system can plausibly produce. And so the election of Trump will come to mark the end of the international order that was built to avoid repeating the catastrophes of the first half the twentieth century, and which did so successfully — horrors that we like to imagine we have outgrown. It will not serve us well.

Favorite Bands (Encore Episode 143)

Encore 143

On this week’s episode of Encore I am once again joined by special guest Craig Manning. We talk about who our favorite bands are, what makes them our favorites, how that’s changed over the years and what it means to be a “favorite.” We also discuss what artists have the best chance of jumping into that list in the future. Then there’s some Grammy talk, and a look at Andrew McMahon and his career, all of his different projects, and his new album. There may be some album ranking.

We Need Your Help: We’re Expanding Our Supporter Packages

This April will see the one year mark of when I started Chorus. By and large it’s been the most fulfilling stretch of work in my entire career. It’s been stressful. It’s been intense. But it’s also been extremely fun, challenging, and stimulating. As we come up on this anniversary I’ve been working on the first set of changes I want to make to the website to prepare ourselves for the future. There will be some design tweaks coming shortly, but the first thing I want to focus on is tightening up our supporter program.

Our supporter program has been a resounding success. When I started this project I made the argument that I believed the future of online publishing was going to depend on dedicated readers for websites to continue development and publication. Over the last year I’ve only become more convinced of this direction. And, I’ve been blown away by the first year of support from readers of this website. However, one of the main pieces of feedback I’ve heard is: I love this website, I love what you’re doing and want to help make sure it stays around, but I don’t really want to sign up for a forum membership account, is there any way I can become a patron without needing to join the forum community? My goal was to provide that functionality in the easiest form possible and allow readers to help support our continued existence for mere pennies per day.

If that’s all you need to hear, please take a look at our membership packages and sign up, if you want to be woo’d a little bit more, I’ve a longer pitch for you below.

ReadKit 2.5

ReadKit 2.5:

ReadKit 2.5 is a major update that introduces a new design and contains various improvements and fixes. Beside the new UI, this version also adds support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro. Delicious API has been too unstable lately; therefore, this service is no longer supported by ReadKit.

My favorite Mac RSS reader got a nice update.

NightStand for Apple Watch

ElevationLab’s Apple Watch dock, NightStand, is currently on sale:

Just set your watch on, from out of the corner of your eye, no careful alignment required. Locks to your bedside table so you never have to hunt for the cord. Undocking is one-handed. Solid, soft, seamless construction. Low-profile, minimal design.

I looked at a few different charging/docking methods and this is by far my favorite.

Call Blockers for iOS

Marco:

When I learned about Nomorobo from readers and saw how creepy it wasn’t, I deleted Truecaller immediately and subscribed to Nomorobo, and it works great.

A few days ago, after a 100% success rate for a couple of weeks — every spam call (and zero non-spam calls) identified before I answer — I enabled the option to send spam calls directly to voicemail.

Now, from my point of view, I just don’t get spam calls anymore.

To me, that’s $2/month very well spent.

I must have been put on some list somewhere because I’ve been getting one or two robocalls a day for the past month.1 I finally signed up for Nomorobo after hearing Marco talk about it on the latest episode of ATP and it’s been money well spent.


  1. I love the fake “oh I was just putting my headset on” call the most.

Cool App: Downie

Downie:

Ever wished you could save a video from the Internet? Search no more, Downie is what you’re looking for. Easily download videos from thousands of different sites.

I’ve been playing around with this app the past couple of days to see how well it works and have come away impressed. I’ve tried a few of these in the past and they never quite work right for me — but this one has been solid so far.

After the Party (Encore Episode 142)

Encore 142

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined once again by special guest Thomas Nassiff. Thomas returns for a deep dive on the new album, After the Party, by The Menzingers. We talk about the band in general, their catalog, and what they mean to us. Then we go through the album and talk about our favorite songs and how we think this album may just be something “special” for the music scene. We end with some chatter about the latest Japandroids’ release, and do a little bit of catching up as well.

Carousel Kings – “Dynamite” (Song Premiere)

Today we’ve got the premiere for the new song “Dynamite” from Carousel Kings. The track comes from the band’s upcoming album, Charm City, due out February 10th. Lead singer, David Alexander, had this to say about the song:

“Dynamite” is one of the heavy hitters from the album and definitely one of our favorites to jam live. Where most of the album has a positive outlook, this song was written as an expression of the band’s thoughts/distaste/unhappiness about the current state of affairs. The song is a call for all who hear it to look inward for the answers pertaining to how we can possibly change the world we live in.

Pre-orders packages are currently up.

Most Anticipated of 2017

Most Anticipated 2017

2016 was a helluva year for music and 2017 is shaping up to be pretty damn good as well. The world may be falling apart around us, but at least we have a little something to look forward to. I talked about the albums I was most anticipating on a recent episode of Encore, but I wanted to reach out to some of our contributors and see what albums they were looking forward to most as well.

Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Evil

Rolling Stone:

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that stops all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, and those fleeing the brutal war in Syria indefinitely. It also gives Christians fleeing persecution priority over Muslims, inserting a religious test into our refugee program. It bans all visas from seven countries whose populations are mostly Muslim.

This order is an act of evil.

It’s Gonna Be a Long Four Years Playlist

The first week in the reign of Trump has me in a bit of a mood. The guy’s a total clown and checking my Twitter feed is basically just an exercise in “what has this jackass done now?” — it’s gonna be a long four years. So, while I’ve been spending some time getting ready for the months ahead (organize, organize, organize), I’ve also been diving back into a bunch of punk albums to channel the swings of rage and anxiety. I tossed together a playlist of some of my favorites and put them up on Spotify and Apple Music to share with others.

If you’ve never been into some of the more political punk music, now’s a great time to check out what you’ve been missing. Also, feel free to hit me up with with any recommendations of other bands I should be listening to, I’m not expecting this hole to be filled anytime soon. And, lastly, please be kind to each other out there and look out for those in your community.

‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ Exceeds All Expectations

Polygon:

Voltron: Legendary Defender’s second season far surpasses any expectations I had for it. I was worried going in that the show would suffer from a sophomore slump, but Legendary Defender manages to capture the magic of the first season and expand the universe. In the three episodes Netflix provided to me ahead of the show’s release, there are more characters, more worlds and the backstories we got a glimpse of last season are explored more at length.

We just started the second season last night and I’m hooked again. I love this show.