Liner Notes (February 22nd, 2019)

In this week’s roundup I talk about tackling tweet embedding in the forums, share my thoughts on Into the Spider-Verse during my weekly media diet rundown, and it was a pretty music heavy week this week, so there’s a lot of singles and new albums to discuss. I also share a playlist of ten songs I loved this week and rant about the NCAA. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Three Things

  • One of my first installs on any new Mac, and easily one of the most indispensable apps in my collection, is Alfred. It’s a Spotlight replacement that does so much more. While the workflows and different tricks in the app are endless, one of the things I use regularly are the custom web searches. You create a keyword for a specific website, and then when you type that keyword anything you type next will run a search on that site. It’s great for things like Amazon or Twitter (and StackOverflow), but the custom searches make finding something on this website insanely easy. I have both set to the “ch” keyword, so I can type “ch [phrase]” and then choose if I want to search the main website or the forums. Here’s what the main website search looks like, and here’s what the forum one looks like. The search URL you will need to use for the forum can be copied from this link, and the main website URL scheme can be copied from this link. (The forum search only searches the main forums and does not include the news article forum on purpose. I usually want to find a thread and not a news article when I search the forums.) I figured these might be interesting to some of you.
  • One of the most used features on the website is Twitter embedding. A lot of tweets get posted in the forums, and not just in the infamous Absurdist Twitter thread. For a long time this has been powered by a series of bad code and hacks to work correctly, and I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to clean it all up and fix some of the issues to make loading tweets a much better experience for everyone. This is one of those features that’s hard to test because there are so many different scenarios that will come up with tweet size, the amount on a page, and even just knowing what it’s like to browse through a thread with a lot of tweets on it. So, I rolled out my changes earlier this week to spend a few days playing around with it and see how it works. So far, it’s a lot better, but there are still some bugs that I need to fix. Some sizing issues are still showing up, and I’ll be working on fixing those up when I’m done with today’s newsletter. I’ve also been working on making Instagram embeds work better, and then I’ll take all this code and move through all our automatic embeds to improve all of them from Facebook to Spotify to hopefully finally adding Apple Music support. This is something that’s used so much in a regular day of browsing and using the website that I think it’s important to focus on. Just the little things of being able to be quoted into a thread with a tweet, and not have the entire page jump around if the post above has a colossal tweet in it, is annoying to get right. I think we’re about 90% of the way there now to having a great solution for this. It’s that last 10% that’s going to be a pain in my ass.
  • I’m officially in the hunt for a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Hannah has been home a lot more over the past few weeks, and I realize now how much I like, and need, a quiet environment when I’m working. It’s tough for me to focus at times if there’s extra noises, or phone calls, or anything in the background. I’ve also become so used to wireless headphones with the AirPods I love so much that I want something that doesn’t need to connect me to my desk or I could use sitting out in the living room with the iPad. I’m going to do some testing over the next few weeks and will report back on what I decide to do. Music quality is going to be important here, as is the noise canceling itself. If anyone has a pair they like, feel free to drop me a line.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I was going to wait and not listen to the new single from The Maine until I heard the entire album. However, when I saw someone describe it as “forced” I was worried for a second. I pre-ordered this album on vinyl without ever hearing a song; I gotta make sure I like it! So, I listened once. This song’s awesome. What a great chorus. I’m not remotely worried if I’m going to like this album or not now and I’m going to (patiently) wait for an advance to come so I can hear the entire thing.
  • I like the new single from John Mayer. It’s better than anything on his last album by a pretty large margin. I haven’t gone back to his last two releases in a long while, but I may be feeling a John Mayer discography dive again soon. This captures what I always liked about him most: clever-ish wordplay and fun guitar. I think he still has some great music in him; I think he’s still searching for what he wants his next “sound” to be.
  • We’re getting new The Damned Things music! This is exciting. The lead single is a great little rock song, and I’m totally in. I still play that first album when I’m in the mood for that kind of music and am looking forward to seeing what they do for a follow-up.
  • I’m enjoying what’s come out of this Simple Creatures project so far. Both of these songs have a fun pop quality to them and let Alex and Mark fully embrace this style. The video made my brain hurt, but the song’s great. I think an EP is the perfect length to start with here and I am actively excited about hearing the rest of the songs.
  • The Dangerous Summer finally working with a producer that lets their songs breath is giving me an excitement around their new music that I haven’t felt in a long time. This is exactly what I wanted them to do for the last two albums, and now that it’s here it’s as good as I could have hoped for. If they can take this feeling and expand it over an album’s length of songs, and those songs can have some diversity, I firmly believe they could have another classic album in them. I’m rooting for it; this is a damn good start.
  • I didn’t listen to the NFG cover yet because I want to dive into that album all at once and then go back to the video.
  • I found this album by Thutmose this week called Man on Fire that ended up getting multiple plays. I think it’s a solid hip-hop album. That’s not really a genre I’m an expert in, by any means, but I got on a kick this week and think this is good.
  • Multiple listens of the latest Betty Who album happened this week. I’m still enamored with it.
  • After seeing his performance at the NBA All-Star game, I realized I didn’t know much about J. Cole. So, I took some time to listen to his albums this week and try and get acquainted with his catalog. Yeah, this is one of those “woah I am so out of the loop” kinda things. How did I go this long without hearing a J. Cole album? I don’t know, but it happened.
  • I’ve seen a lot of praise for the new Wicca Phase Springs album. I gave it a shot, and I don’t know how I feel about it. The lyrics felt a little too on the nose for me, and it wasn’t quite grabbing me. I found myself nodding along to some of the beats, but I don’t see myself going back to it.
  • Picture This’s new album, MDRN LV, has some excellent pop songs on it. And some really boring pop songs on it. And some just run of the mill pop songs on it.
  • The new Avril Lavigne album did nothing for me.
  • I spent a lot of time this week listening to the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack. I like this entire thing almost front to back. (I cut out track 11 and have never heard it.)

Entertainment Thoughts

  • I’ve loved Spider-Man for as long as I can remember. There were various things I connected to as a kid: the nerdy aspect of Peter Parker, not feeling like you fit in, feeling like you wanted to live up the call of responsibility, to do great, to juggle life and duty, and that you never give up and always fight through. Those that have been following this newsletter for a while know I still, to this day, read and enjoy Spider-Man comic books. I finally saw Into the Spider-Verse this week, and it was everything I could have hoped it would be. It’s far and away the best Spider-Man movie that’s ever been made, and it’s not close. It gets everything about the character and injects such an amazing life and feeling into the world that I sat there with a giant smile on my face the entire time. What a monumental achievement of a movie and one that I absolutely will be watching multiple times over the next few years. I haven’t felt this way about a superhero movie since The Dark Knight, where I was so blown away and happy that someone was able to capture what it is I love about superheroes, comic books, and the characters so perfectly and put it on the screen in such an incredible way. It’s my favorite movie in a long while and comes highly recommended. Miles, Gwen, and all the Spider-Folk are perfect, and I just can’t get over how well they captured this world and characters. I’m just in awe of this film.
  • Thinking about it a few days later, I liked Creed II. But, at the same time, it’s not even close to how much I liked the first movie. From the script to the directing, to the cinematography, it just … wasn’t on the same level. Yet, by the end, I was cheering for our hero and my love for MBJ is as strong as ever. I’d probably watch it again, but I know I won’t go back to it as much as I did Creed. I’ll watch another, but I’m sad that we probably won’t get Ryan Coogler directing it. That combination is just exceptional.
  • I finished season one of Star Trek: Discovery and my short take is: I liked it. It was a fun adventure series that kept my attention, and one that I wanted to actively watch regularly. I’m excited for season two, and I need to decide if I’m going to start it while it’s still airing or wait a little while so that I don’t get “caught up” too quickly. I like a lot of these characters and am excited to spend more time with them.
  • After reading all the praise for it, we’ve started bingeing Pen15 (we’re currently on episode 6). It’s a nostalgia trip, and I think it does a pretty good job of capturing middle school for many people. It’s set in the exact time frame that Hannah was this age, so that’s been kinda funny to see. I’m a little older so my middle school era was a little different. It still does a great job of exploring the first foray into things like AIM and friends and phone calls, so I’m getting a kick out of that. AIM being a thing was enough to deal with, I’m glad I didn’t go to middle school, or high school, with all the social media kids have these days. I do miss setting an away message though. Away messages were awesome ways to be passive aggressive and make everything think you were writing about them. Ahhhh, New Found Glory and Fall Out Boy lyrics were so good for that purpose. Looking forward to finishing this one.
  • We finished season 6 of Below Deck and are now officially all caught up. If my weekly newsletters about how damn addicting this show is aren’t enough, this write up from Ben Brooks captures why I think I love it so much. Not only is it escapism, but the management lessons are interesting. We’re going to give the Mediterranean episodes a shot once we finish up Pen15.
  • The worst thing I saw all week was my favorite player on my favorite college basketball team going down with an injury 33 seconds into one of the biggest games of the year against their hated rival. That fucking sucked. Just a massive gut punch that made me want to crawl up and stare into the void. It shows how messed up the NCAA is and they need to get that shit figured out. These kids are making everyone else millions of dollars and their careers could end in an instant. It looks like it’s only a minor knee sprain for Zion and he’ll be ok, but, man, it’s hard for me to find joy and excitement in the games with that in the back of my mind.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I asked my two closest friends to be groomsmen yesterday. That was a lot of fun since we so rarely get to get together just the three of us these days. There’s not much better in life than a couple of beers and nachos with best friends.
  • Weight management remains virtually precisely where I want it to be and that includes a day last week where I wasn’t feeling super great so I ate way too many crackers.

Ten Songs

Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.

  1. Post Malone, Swae Lee – Sunflower
  2. Betty Who – I Remember
  3. John Mayer – I Guess I Just Feel Like
  4. Thutmose – Ride With Me
  5. Set it Off – Lonely Dance
  6. Copeland – Skywriter
  7. The Maine – My Best Habit
  8. The Dangerous Summer – Where Were You When the Sky…
  9. Simple Creatures – Strange Love
  10. Picture This – One Drink

The playlists are also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Well, I need to get myself something to eat, and then I’m going to get to squashing some of these embed bugs. Hannah’s working late tonight, so I’ve got some time to try and get through as many of these on my list as possible. Wish me luck! I hope everyone has a great weekend, thanks, as always, for reading.

Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.