The first newsletter of the year has some thoughts on some projects I’ve been working on to start the year and my usual thoughts on music, entertainment, and other random musings. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
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A Few Things
- Hello from the first newsletter of 2023. It looks like we made it through another year. This week we published our annual best-of feature on the website, and you can read the staff contributed list here. My list of my favorite albums (and movies, TV shows, books, and apps) can be found here. And if you’d like to share your list, there’s a thread in our forums for that. Overall, I thought it was a fun year of music, and I enjoyed looking back through all the albums I spent time with.
- During the down period, I had time to work on a few website-related things. I revamped our supporter system to better deal with the Stripe fraud issue, and I can proudly say that — knock on wood — so far, it’s 100% solved the problem. Not exactly the most “fun” project in the world, but it was necessary for our continued existence and therefore needed to take priority. And I was happy to take another pass at our support page design-wise and am much more satisfied with this look than the previous one. After pushing out those changes, I had a few days to look at another project on my list. I decided to look at the automatic embeds we have in the forums. I rewrote the code for both Instagram and Twitter to be faster, more reliable, and take up less memory. The Twitter embeds were cut down by about half, but if there’s a whole bunch of them on a page, they still can crash mobile Safari. There’s not a whole lot more I can squeeze out of optimizing those as long as I’m still using their embed code. Instagram was improved by about 75%, but there’s still the issue where we get rate limited by Instagram itself on mobile Safari. I think it has to do with the non-ad-tracking feature built into the browser because it only happens on mobile Safari. Now that this foundation is set I want to look into bringing Mastodon embeds to the website, but that’s going to take some work. I may look at using this base to revamp a few of the other more common embeds first. All-in-all, I enjoyed getting my hands dirty with some real code for the first time in a long time.
- Hannah and I have been experimenting with this app Locket for the last week. The idea is straightforward: it’s a home screen widget where you can share one photo. So, each day we’ve been enjoying sending each other fun images that appear on the home screen. It feels a little more personal and whimsical than just sharing photos, and it’s a clever idea. I love having it as one of the widgets on my work focus mode to add just a little fun and personality to my phone during the day.
- I thought this article about Shopify mandating a considerable cut to meeting creep interesting. I find the cliche true that most meetings could be a quick call, most quick calls could be an email, and most emails can usually just be actioned. One of my goals for 2023 is to try and be more mindful of my time. If I find myself drifting through meetings I don’t need to be in; I need to reevaluate. This dovetails nicely with my other goals this year. First, I want to make it a point to care about what I like more than what I don’t like, and then this year’s theme is one of pause. I want to take stock of the day-to-day. Breathe. And really pay attention to and be mindful of each hour. I’m turning 40 this year, and recently I’ve felt like so many of my days (and years) have flown by at unrecognizable speeds. I want to try and be more cognizant of my time here on this planet and make sure I’m being present and not just floating through the motions. We’ll see how that goes.
- Raycast has ended up being a complete win for me. It’s slid right in as an Alfred replacement in my computing life. The killer feature is the integrated Shortcut support. This is best showcased in two things I do dozens of times a day. The first is message my wife. I have keyboard shortcuts to quickly and easily open Messages (caps lock + M), but often I’ll be in the middle of doing something and want to quickly just send a short message to Hannah. With Raycast, I can be in the middle of anything, hit command + space, type “m” and it triggers my Message Hannah shortcut, all within Raycast. I just type my message to Hannah, hit enter, and get back to work. All without needing to open Messages. I can do the same thing to append notes to a document. For example, I have a “Liner Notes Ideas” note that I keep a running list of things I think about throughout the week to put in this newsletter. Now, I can type “ln” and start typing my idea right into Raycast, hit enter, and it adds my idea at the end of my ideas note without ever needing to open any extra apps. Little things like this save me countless minutes during the day of not needing to flip through various apps, find the right document, add the weird thing I was thinking about, close the app, and then get back to whatever I was doing. Instead, I can quickly jot down notes or send a quick message without interrupting my flow. Add to this a better clipboard manager and some excellent extensions, and I haven’t missed Alfred at all. I’ve moved every workflow I was using into Raycast with no problems. And it’s faster. It finds files faster, finds the correct file more often first, and lets me do things like control speaker volume with fast keyboard commands right out of the box. Great application. Gets my full recommendation. (Setting this all up reminded me again of how there are multiple entire classes of applications that can’t exist on the iPad. And these include things that I use thousands of times a week to get my work done faster.)
- P.S.A: It’s the start of the year, so there’s never a better time to look into using Last.fm if you’d like to track your music listening over the next twelve months. A bunch of people recently signed up from our supporter thread and have been detailing their journey.
In Case You Missed It
- Chorus.fm’s Top 30 Albums of 2022
- Jason Tate’s Top Albums of 2022
- Craig Manning’s Top Albums of 2022
- Adam Grundy’s Top Albums of 2022
- Foo Fighters Will Continue
- Fall Out Boy Post “We’re Back” Message
- Fireworks Release New Album
- Modest Mouse Drummer Passes Away
- White Reaper – “Pink Slip”
- Brian McTernan Talks ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’
- The Hold Steady Announce New Album
- Albums in Stores – Jan. 6th, 2022
- There were two new releases I spent some time with this week. The first is the new album from Fireworks. Fireworks are a band that has always been a website favorite but never stuck for me. I just never “got” it. I didn’t like the lyrics, didn’t like the vocals, and found the music … fine. I’m not really sure why, but it’s never clicked for me. The new album, however, I think is pretty consistently their best. The vocals still bug me; like, at times, I get this weird mixture of early Steel Train yelp meets Conor Oberst. The final track is by far my favorite, and I’m not sure how much I’ll be craving to return to this, but on the whole, I do find it more enjoyable than I expected. The other new album I played a bunch this week is the new one from Anti-Flag. I’ve shared some early thoughts already, but it’s a real joy to now have it in higher quality. Funny enough, when I was looking at my most-played albums of 2022, this was on there. I could see it being like the Underoath album last year, where an album at the end of one year up bleeding into being a favorite the next year as well. This band has been on an incredible hot streak, and I think this might just be their best yet.
- It’s an annual tradition to listen through a bunch of other people’s best-of lists as well to see what I missed and if there are any hidden gems. So far, I’ve been enjoying the new album Holy Fawn that I saw on Riley from Thrice’s list. Melodic and heavy without ever feeling abrasive. Speaking of Thrice, rumors are running wild that the band is revisiting/re-recording The Artist in the Ambulance for the 20th anniversary this year. That’s one of my most played and favorite albums of the past 20 years, so I’m totally in to see what an updated version of this could sound like.
The Stats: Over the past week, I listened to 27 different artists, 52 different albums, and 441 different tracks (478 scrobbles). My most-played artist was Fall Out Boy, and my most-played album was the new one from Fireworks. Here is my Top 9 from last week, and you can follow me on Apple Music and/or Last.fm.
- The Menu was wild. Good. Dark. All sorts of fucked up. But good. Is it weird that it made me want a good meal?
- Fall was simultaneously too long while also making my hands sweat practically non-stop. The real lesson is to never trust an influencer friend.
- We’ve begun season two of White Lotus. The best show about people I’d never want to spend 5-minutes with.
- The new season of Jack Ryan was exactly what you’d expect it to be. Totally passable, fun, Tom Clancy-like story. I can’t do a lot of these kinds of shows, but every once in a while it itches a very specific craving.
- A Storm for Christmas was a little slow to get going but the last two episode payoff was worth it. Very heartwarming. Not as good as Home for Christmas, but still a worthy holiday watch.
- I’m very mad that Netflix canceled 1899. It makes me want to cancel my subscription mad. Besides Stranger Things, I can’t think of anything else on Netflix in a while that I’ve considered a must-watch and if they’re going to cancel the actual good shows and keep pumping out all this crap, I need to stop giving them my money each month. That bill has become just a weird habit, but this is final straw worthy to me.
Random and Personal Stuff
- The holidays were a lot of fun. Lots of food was consumed. Lots of good beer was drank. Now I’ve got to get myself back in gear/shape. The hardest part is getting the routine back up and spinning. Once it’s going, I always feel a whole lot better, but a few weeks of slacking off makes those first couple of days of making sure I’m going to the gym and being mindful a little rough.
The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:
- NFL Gameday Week 18
- Evil Dead Rise (Lee Cronin, April 21, 2023)
- Book Lists 2023
- Rolling Stone’s 200 Greatest Singers of All Time
- The Hold Steady – The Price Of Progress (March 31,2023)
- Tour Prediction and Speculation Thread
- Men’s Soccer (Football) Thread
- Video Games : Game Harder JFG Edition
- Wrestling Thread 7: FTR Baldhausen
The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by JoshIsMediocre in the “The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes On Forever (Sept 23rd 2022)” thread.
He’s right. Upsides was #5, Suburbia was #2, The Greatest Generation was #2. Well deserved “win” for the band with what I’m pretty confident in calling my favorite album from those guys at this point.
Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.