My Favorite Music of 2019 30 Jun 2020, 5:00 am
These are my favorite music releases from 2019 (listed in alphabetical order by artist name).
If any of these links are broken, please let me know so that I can fix them.
American Football - American Football (LP3)
American Football somehow manages to continue releasing breathtaking music.
Andy Stott - It Should Be Us
A return to form for Andy Stott, channeling some of what I loved about his earlier works, while still sounding fresh.
Caribou - Home
This was the first single off of Caribou’s 2020 album Suddenly. The song came out around the time my first son Henry started to be able to perceive the world. I played this song for him often, and I used it to help teach him how to dance.
Caroline Polachek - Pang
I’d never heard of Caroline Polachek before this album was released. It’s an exciting and unique version of pop.
Carpet City - Little Longer
Full disclosure: Carpet City is the project of a friend of mine, but also full disclosure: Everything they do is excellent. This is their first single as Carpet City, and I desperately hope there is more to come!
(Definitely also check out their other single, I Don’t Wanna Know.)
Chris Staples - Holy Moly
Chris Staples can do no wrong in my eyes, and this album is in support of that. Another fun and deceptively virtuosic release. One of my favorite songwriters ever.
Denzel Curry - ZUU
I am consistently blown away by everything Denzel Curry does. ZUU is so unique. Nothing else like it.
Duster - Duster
After 19 years, the slowcore legend is baaaaaack.
Faye Webster - Atlanta Millionaires Club
Faye Webster was a new find for me this year, and has quickly become one of my favorite artists right now. I’ve been listening to a lot of alt-country. I’m eagerly awaiting her next release.
Floating Points - Crush
This album came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of Floating Points before. The depth and interest in his electronic bleeps is exciting.
Gabriel Gundacker - Wii Jogging
Gabriel Gundacker has been releasing Wii Sports songs since 2017 in his Unofficial Wii Sports Soundtrack. This year, he released Wii Jogging, and like the others, it sounds like it came direct from Nintendo.
Gang Starr - One of the Best Yet
A legend has returned in full form.
Griselda - WWCD
The Griselda crew has been around for a while, but this album was the first I’d heard by them. A killer release with some of the best beats in a long time. While the lyrics are a little more hardcore than I prefer, the must more than makes up for it.
Hatchie - Keepsake
Hatchie’s 2018 EP Sugar & Spice was a surprise delight, so I was eagerly awaiting Keepsake. While not as good as Sugar & Spice, Keepsake is still a wonderful piece of shoegazey dreampop.
The Highwomen - The Highwomen
Despite my best efforts, I’ve really like this album. It’s an homage to pop country of the 90s (think Reba McEntire) — which is not something I generally enjoy — but after overhearing the album multiple times as my wife listened to it, I eventually grew to love it.
Horse Jumper of Love - So Divine
There’s been a resurgence of slowcore recently, with new, young bands stepping in to reinterpret the sound. I discovered Horse Jumper of Love while on a semi-regular internet sojourn in search of new slowcore to listen to. This is my favorite slowcore album that has been released in the past few years.
Indian Summer - Giving Birth To Thunder
This album was a staple in my listening about 10 years ago, but until now, all I ever had were 128 kbps mp3 files from a shitty vinyl rip uploaded to some Russian punk blog. Finally some truly good quality!
Ithaca - The Language of Injury
Some great hardcore I randomly stumbled across.
Jai Paul - Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)
I won’t retell the tale here, but this is an infamous lost release. Now, we finally get a true official release — or as close to one as we’ll ever see.
James Blake - Assume Form
Another beautiful release from the man with the golden voice and the golden synths.
John Raymond - Where We Grew Up
I learned of John Raymond this year, after my wife offhandedly remarked that she went to high school with a really great trumpet player. We looked him up online, and I was blown away by this track — his most recent release at the time. It’s jazz with some beautiful trumpet playing by Raymond. My favorite bit though is the inclusion of what sounds like a pedal steel guitar. Pedal steel guitar makes me weep.
Joseph - Good Luck, Kid
Some great alternative pop music with female vocals. Not their finest release, but still a favorite of mine.
Julia Shapiro - Perfect Version
Julia Shapiro is the singer for the indie rock band Chastity Belt. This is her first solo endeavor, and it’s very different from the band’s music. Simple yet engaging, the songs capture something about the experience of depression and boredom that I keenly identify with.
La Dispute - Panorama
How should I describe La Dispute… Emo for dads maybe? Whatever it is, it’s emo with a depth of sadness that I haven’t heard elsewhere. (Full disclosure, I haven’t listened to a lot of emo, so please let me know of other great ones that I should know about!)
Mac DeMarco - Here Comes the Cowboy
How can you not love Mac DeMarco? The chillest indie rock music there is. Not his best release by a long shot (that honor goes to Salad Days obvi), still a solid release with some great tunes. Lots more delightful synths on this one too.
Noname - Song 31
This (and Song 32 below it) were both surprise releases. Noname’s delivery is like no other. It’s more like talking than rapping. Mellow and soothing and damn she’s smart.
Noname - Song 32
Pedro the Lion - Phoenix
This album right here blew me away. It might be my most-listened to release of 2019. I’d heard of Pedro the Lion before, and even tried listening to them, but didn’t much care for it. I can’t describe what’s different about this one, but it immediately grabbed me.
The album tells the story of David Bazan’s time growing up in Phoenix, AZ. I love the ways he describes childhood.
Phobophilic - Undimensioned Identities
I started to expand my appreciation of metal this year to other sub-genres. This is the first death metal record I’ve ever loved, and the band is from Fargo, ND of all places (near my hometown). Brutal, deep, chunky.
Pijn & Conjurer - Curse These Metal Hands
Shigeto - Versions
This might be my favorite jazz release ever (full disclosure, I don’t listen to nearly as much jazz as I should). I’d love to find more jazz like this, but I don’t have the knowledge or vocabulary to know how to find it. If you know of anything that sounds like this, please please let me know!
Soulkeeper - Gorgeous
Soulkeeper is my favorite local metal band. I discovered them a couple years back when they played at a show I attended to see a different band. They stole the show, bigly.
Spirit Trap - Demo
The music is abrasive, angular, and noisy (duh).
The Staves - Nothing’s Gonna Happen (Demo)
How The Staves are not more popular is beyond me. Arresting and emotional songwriting, coupled with gorgeous vocal harmonies. It should be a recipe for global accolades. But alas, they are too indie I guess.
The Staves have a special place in my heart, and I am terribly excited for their next full length release.
The Tallest Man on Earth - I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream.
The Tallest Man on Earth is Kristian Matsson, a Swede who sounds straight out of the Appalachia. This album continues his slight departure from his earlier, more folk-rooted music, but the roots are still there underneath. Beautiful. What a voice.
Taylor Swift - Lover
I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since 1989 (the album, not the year, of course). Nothing Swift has made has yet matched 1989’s pop genius, but it’s all been good, and Lover is no exception.
Telefon Tel Aviv - Dreams Are Not Enough
This album sounds nothing like their first release (and my favorite of theirs), Fahrenheit Fair Enough. Fahrenheit Fair Enough is pure and melodic, where Dreams Are Not Enough veers more toward arrhythmic electronic music, akin to Emptyset. Luckily, I like arrhythmic electronic music, akin to Emptyset.
Ty Segall - First Taste
More fun and fuzzy garage rock from the greatest garage rocker in the game.
Vetiver - Up on High
I was turned onto this album by an internet friend of mine. It’s folky indie rock, which is a pretty banal description, but do give it a listen. It’s far far better than it should be. I haven’t liked any of Vetiver’s previous releases, so here’s hoping this is a new leaf being turned over.
Vince Staples - Hell Bound (Ad 01)
A short and sweet single from one of the more singular hip-hop artists right now. Not groundbreaking, but very good!
Whirr - Feels Like You
This is the best shoegaze record I’ve heard in a long while. It has it all.
Apparently this album was only supposed to be released on vinyl (blergh), but it leaked online so they decided to make an official digital release as well (yay)! It’s not streaming anywhere officially, but you can buy the record on Bandcamp, and stream it unofficially on YouTube.
Whitney - Forever Turned Around
This is sunny Summer music if I ever heard it. Light, airy, melodic, crisp, soft.
Projects Update #1 21 Apr 2020, 5:00 am
A semi-regular and overly verbose update on my personal projects.
Work on version 3.0.0 of this website is basically complete! There are a few odds and ends that still need to be wrapped up before it’s “officially” launched, and I still need to write a wrap-up post about the new redesign, but it is basically ready to go. Please reach out if you have any feedback on the new design. Seriously.
Mac mini Server
I recently acquired a 2012 Mac mini to use as a home server, to replace a QNAP NAS. I’ve got multiple projects in flight related to the server.
Set up Arq to backup the computer.
The first step here is to decide on a backup destination. On my personal machine, I’m currently using Backblaze’s B2 Cloud Storage. I’ve been happy with it in every way except the price. I’ve currently got 8.7 TB backed up there, and it costs me around $45/month. I could probably slim that down by thinning my backups, but I haven’t explored that yet. Either way, that’s way more than I’d like to pay.
I very rarely access my backup data, so I plan to move to an “archive class” cloud storage solution. The cost is far cheaper, but you are charged to retrieve your data. I’m most likely going to use Amazon’s S3 Glacier class storage. I already use AWS for my web hosting and related things, and am marginally familiar with the service, so using it for backups seems appropriate.
Migrate eBooks to Calibre
Calibre is the de facto standard for eBook library management. It’s a gross app, but it’s powerful and has tons of support online. I’ve got eBooks and comic books strewn about in files that I’d like to import and organize within Calibre.
Moving from Evernote to Notion
I’ve wanted to move away from Evernote for a long time now, but until recently, hadn’t actually started the process. The biggest issue I had was that I hadn’t yet found a suitable replacement.
Enter Notion. Notion is something I’d heard about before — and even tried out briefly — but never gave any serious thought to it. I’d recently been hearing a lot about it in my online circles, so I decided to give it another look.
It meets most of the requirements that I had for a catchall notes replacement:
- Good apps for both iOS and macOS
- It can also be accessed via the web, which wasn’t a requirement, but is a nice-to-have
- Ability to host notes as web pages for easy public access
- I plan to use Notion as a wiki, to replace what I’ve currently called “living documents”
- Ability to embed multimedia within notes
- Easy Evernote import
- Notion actually has the ability to connect directly to Evernote’s API. Every other service I’ve tested required you to export your notes from Evernote into their proprietary
.enexfile format, then import them into the app, often with middling results. Notion’s Evernote import is worlds better — both faster and more reliable.
- Notion actually has the ability to connect directly to Evernote’s API. Every other service I’ve tested required you to export your notes from Evernote into their proprietary
- Easy export of notes
- Notion has multiple export options, including Markdown! 🎉
There are also some cons to Notion:
- The macOS app is an Electron app
- I’d much prefer a native app, but the Notion app is at least a decent Electron app. Not great1 by any means, but decent enough.
- The iOS app is not great
- It does not work offline, and some of the functionality can be cumbersome. That said, it’s passable, and it meets my needs.
- Notion has the concept of plain notes, but there are also “databases”
- The database feature is confusing to me. I can’t decide if it’s confusing just because I don’t yet understand it, or confusing because it’s confusing. Only time will tell.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons, so the migration has started. And the more I use the app and service, the more I like it. I’d say I’m about 60% of the way through. I’m also using the time to clean through a lot of the cruft that has built up in my Evernote database. Once this is completed, I’ll have a fresh clean notes database to use for hopefully a very long time.
I just looked, and I’ve got an Evernote premium subscription until July 16 of this year. That day will come fast!
Research Dynamic DNS Options
I’d like to setup dynamic DNS on my Mac mini server so that I can actually host some things on it for personal access outside my home. I need to research the options to decide which service to go with, as well as the potential security/privacy implications.
Buy New Sweatpants
My favorite sweatpants have started to get holes in them, so I need to buy a new pair. Have a favorite pair of your own to recommend? Let me know what they are!
Buy a New Wi-Fi Router
I’d like to get a new Wi-Fi router that supports Wi-Fi 6 (a.k.a. 802.11ax). Research has just started on this, so I haven’t got much idea yet what to get.
Buy a Bike Trailer
This will be my son’s first full Summer, and my wife and I are eager to get outside with him on our bikes. I need to find a good bike trailer to put him in. Hopefully one that can also double as a stroller.
We’re planning to buy a house in the next year or two, and research and discussion is continuing on what type of housing we’d look for (leaning toward a town home right now), and where we’d like to live. A current favorite of mine is Ramsey, Minnesota’s “COR” neighborhood.
I Was On a Couple Podcasts 6 Jun 2018, 5:00 am
This past week, two podcast episodes came out that I was involved in. These aren’t the first podcasts I’ve been in, so I also added a “Podcast Appearances” section to my artifacts page.
The Learn Swift Podcast
I was interviewed by Steven Sherry for The Learn Swift Podcast. Steven started the podcast when he was learning Swift himself, and couldn’t find any podcasts focused on people early on in their learning of Swift. He interviews people currently learning Swift, or those that have learned Swift in the past that can speak to their experiences in the process.
Steven and I got to talk about what it’s been like for me learning software development, how I got the opportunity to learn Swift and iOS development, and the specific projects that I’ve been working on at C.H. Robinson (Navisphere Carrier and Navisphere Driver). It’s not often that I get to talk in technical detail about the things that I’m working on, so it was nice to have a chance to do that with Steven.
Listen to the episode: Isaac Halvorson - iOS Developer @ CH Robinson
The Question of the Day Podcast
I was interviewed by Rebekah Smith for her Question of the Day Podcast. I’ve known Rebekah for a little while, and we actually recorded my part of the podcast months ago, but it was just released last week. The format of the Question of the Day Podcast is unique. Each episode, Rebekah comes up with a question, asks people that question, and then records their responses. She then mixes all the answers together in a sort of audio montage.
The question for this episode was, “What was the make, model, and year of your first car?” This question can prompt some surprisingly interesting stories, as Rebekah outlines in the show notes:
If you ask someone about their first car, they’ll probably tell you a story. Cars can tell a family history, teach us to deal with adversity and embed themselves into our fondest memories.
I actually hadn’t thought about my first car — a 1992 Chevrolet S-10 — for quite a while before being asked this question, so it was great fun revisiting the fond memories associated with it. My responses are peppered throughout the episode, but listen to the whole thing. There’s a lot of great stuff in there.
Listen to the episode: Make, model, year of your first car?
Quick Tip: How to Enable CarPlay in the iOS Simulator 27 Apr 2018, 5:00 am
This little tip was surprisingly hard to find — only mentioned a couple times online — so I figured I’d do my part to spread the word.
To enable CarPlay in Xcode’s iOS simulator, execute the following terminal command:
defaults write com.apple.iphonesimulator CarPlay -bool YES
Restart the simulator if it was currently running, and then in the menu bar, go to
Hardware > External Displays > CarPlay.
How to turn on CarPlay once you’ve enabled it in the simulator
Let’s Learn about Waveforms | The Pudding 25 Mar 2018, 5:00 am
Go check out this incredible web based visual explainer on sound waves by Josh Comeau1. It’s full of animations and sound that help to explain how sound waves, additive synthesis, and phase all work to create the sounds we hear every day. Having these concepts visually laid out like this helped me to understand the concepts more fully, even after going to audio production school for two years. Highly recommended! 👍👍
Update All the Things 12 Feb 2018, 6:00 am
The other day, I was wishing for an easy way to update all of the CLI package managers on my computer at once, rather than having to type each command separately. Then I realized, this would be a great job for a bash/zsh alias!
Here’s what I’ve come up with. I call it
alias update-all-the-things=' echo "🍺 Updating Homebrew" ; brew upgrade ; echo "\n🛢 Updating Casks" ; brew cask upgrade ; echo "\n🚀 Updating Global Node Modules" ; npm update -g ; echo "\n💎 Updating RubyGems" ; gem update ; echo "\n🐍 Updating pip" ; pip install --upgrade pip setuptools wheel ; pip freeze --local | grep -v "^-e" | cut -d = -f 1 | xargs pip install -U echo "\n🐉 Updating pip3" ; pip3 install --upgrade pip setuptools wheel ; pip3 freeze --local | grep -v "^-e" | cut -d = -f 1 | xargs pip3 install -U '
I think it would be fun to make this into an actual package itself someday. A super simple little Homebrew or NPM package would be fun to make. Have any ideas on how to implement it as its own package? Any package managers I’m missing? Let me know!
My Guide to the Twin Cities 2 Feb 2018, 6:00 am
I’ve lived in the Twin Cities since 2009, and have come to know them fairly well. Being there will be lots of people visiting from out of town this weekend — because Minneapolis is hosting Super Bowl LII — I’ve written up a guide to fun and interesting things to do in the Twin Cities.
iCloud Music Library Woes 30 Jan 2018, 6:00 am
After ordering an Apple HomePod, and learning that it supports iCloud Music Library for streaming music, I decided to give it another shot. I tried iTunes Match when it first launched, and had lots of frustrations, quickly giving up on the service. When iCloud Music Library first launched, I gave that a try too, with similar results. And now, my already rocky relationship with iCloud Music Library is once again on the rocks. Its been chugging reliably through my 22,000 song library — its matched about 10,000 tracks and is now uploading the rest — but this morning, I tried to change some metadata for some music, and although iTunes seemed to comply, the metadata didn’t actually change. That’s a major offense in my book. My library is my library, and I won’t tolerate anyone but me editing it and its data.
Against my better judgment, I’m going to give it a temporary pass for now, because it’s still working through processing my library, and that could conceivably impact its performance when managing tracks. Software is hard after all. If it’s still causing problems once the processing finishes, I’ll will disable it with haste. I’ve been pretty happy using Plex to stream my music to my iPhone and other devices, so I may just commit to that route.
2017 by the Numbers 4 Jan 2018, 6:00 am
In the year 2017, I did many things, including:
- 👨🏻💻 Made 2,039 git commits (910 on GitHub + 1,129 at work)
- 🐦 Tweeted 942 tweets (down considerably from 6,077 in 2016!)
- ⚖️ Lost 18.35 pounds (from 225.05 → 206.7)
- 🚶🏻♂️ Took 1,869,681 steps (926.46 miles)
- 📝 Wrote 205 journal entries
- 📧 Sent 1,480 emails
- 🤳🏻 Took 647 photos
- ⌨️ Edited a 36,830 word ebook
- 📖 Read 3 books (334 pages)
- 🍿 Watched 38 movies (65.7 hours)
- 📺 Watched 241 television episodes across 9 shows (167 hours)
- 💿 Added 396 new albums to my digital music library (12.6 days, 115.04 GB)
- 👨🏻💻 Built 7 websites
- 🏙 Visited 11 cities, in 11 states, in 2 countries
- 🌊 Seattle, WA
- 🌄 Denver, CO
- 🏛 Washington, D.C.
- 🏫 Boston, MA
- 🍂 Tunbridge, VT
- 👨🏻⚖️ Hanover, NH
- ⛵️ Baltimore, MD
- 🌽 Iowa City, IA
- 🏘 Fargo, ND
- 🌲 Hudson, WI
- 🏝 Negril, Jamaica
Spicy Uno 1 Jan 2018, 12:53 pm
On New Year’s Eve this year, my friends and I played one of my favorite games: Spicy Uno (a.k.a. Crazy Uno). It’s the Uno you know and love with some extra rules to make things more fast paced and exciting. The game has many rules, and is one of those games that each group of people plays differently. I usually have to Google the rules each time I play, so I figured it would be good to have the rules I use in one central spot, and be able to share them with others as well.
All rules are optional. Choose which rules you’d like to use for your game. (Note: This game is best played with at least two decks of Uno cards)
- Slap: If you have the exact same card that was last played, you may play it at any time, regardless of whose turn it is.
- If a player slaps his/her own card, it remains that player’s turn.
- Slaps must be played one card at a time, you cannot play multiple cards at once, even if you are able to slap them.
- Modification: If you’ve only got one deck of Uno cards, you can modify this rule to allow slapping on a card whose face value matches, regardless of color.
- If a 7 is played, the player must trade their hand with an opponent of his/her choice.
- Exception: If a 7 is slapped, the player who slapped has three choices:
- Trade his/her hand with an opponent of choice.
- Have two opponents trade their hands.
- Do nothing.
- Exception: If a 7 is slapped, the player who slapped has three choices:
- If a 0 is played, players must pass their hand in the direction of play.
- If a 1 is played, you must pass one card to an opponent of your choice.
- Nullification: If a reverse is slapped, it nullifies the original reverse thus preserving the direction of play.
- Dealing: The youngest player deals the first hand. Seven cards to each player dealt one at a time starting with the player to the dealer’s left. The dealer then flips the top card to begin play. This card is the “flipped card”.
- Optional rule: When dealing, deal the fourth card face up.
- Player names: Each player must pick their game name (other than their real name) before play begins. During play, all players must refer to all other players by their game name. Failure to do so will result in one penalty card being drawn from the stockpile.
- Slap out da gate bonus: If the “flipped card” is slapped by any player other than the player whose turn it is, the hand is over. The player who slapped receives the -20 points for going out and all other players add up their hands as usual.
- Draw four out da gate: If a player legally plays a draw four on the flipped card, that player receives a bonus of -50 at the end of the hand.
- Exception: If the flipped card is a draw four, there is no bonus awarded, only the “slap out da gate bonus”. (See rule 8)
- If a player leaves a game for any reason, they receive a DNF (Did Not Finish) for their score and are not allowed to re-enter the game.
- No substitutions permitted under any circumstances.
- If a player wishes to join a game in progress, their score begins at one (1) plus the current last place player’s score.
- If you cannot play when it is your turn you pick one card from the stockpile and either pass or play. (Note: You may choose to pass at any time regardless of whether or not you can play)
- Modification: Instead of only drawing one card when you cannot play, continue drawing from the stockpile until you can play.
- The current dealer has the right to move the game to an alternate location before he/she deals.
- Scoring Card Point Values:
- Seven (7) = -7
- Zero (0) = +100
- Face cards (Skip, Reverse, Draw Two) = +20
- Numbered Cards (1-6, 8-9) = Face Value (1 = +1, 2 = +2, etc.)
- Black Cards (Wild and Wild Draw Four) = +50
- Going Out = -20
- Draw Four Out Da Gate Bonus = -50 (See rule 9)
- Game End: Decide when starting what score you would like to go to. 500 is a good starting point. Once a player reaches 500 points, the player who has the lowest score wins the game.
These rules were adapted from Bernie DeKoven’s The Official Crazy Uno Rules.