Scrobbling

I’ve been using Last.FM for nearly six years, but it isn’t the community or music discovery that keeps me around: it’s the data.

Reviewing my changing musical taste, questionable detours included, is both addictive and fascinating. But the dataset is incomplete: what about CDs/vinyl? Technical issues? Simple forgetfulness? The ability to manually scrobble entire albums would be amazing.

As such, the “Universal Scrobbler” was an exciting discovery, but despite the solid execution, I just can’t justify the price. Still, I’ve begun to wonder if an afternoon tinkering with the Last.FM API might finally solve this problem. Rainy weekend plan, sorted!

Enjoyable blur

Blurryface, Twenty One Pilots’ latest, is genuinely enjoyable, but it’s no Vessel.

Heavydirtysoul and Fairly Local may be more musically refined than anything on their previous album, but nothing packs that instant punch of Car Radio*, the emotion of Guns For Hands nor the wonderful disharmony of Ode to Sleep. Vessel fused poppy, bubbly hooks and crescendos with dark lyrics, sombre drops and sinister sub-layers. It was amazing.

Blurryface lacks the lyricism, the depth and the intrigue. They may have a tighter, more successful album, but they lost something in the process.

*If you haven’t already, watch it now.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D [Spoilers]

I may have my doubts about the method of purchase, but as the final episode closed I can categorically say I have zero regrets having bought Agents of Shield. The second season hit the ground running and never looked back. The story kept pounding forward, never losing pace, yet the characters remained consistently human, allowing for slower, more impactful/emotional moments. Fitz was exceptional.

Final minute aside, the ending was exceedingly well executed, with a huge variety of sub-plots given closure. Genuinely one of the best seasons of TV  I’ve watched for a while; I’m seriously excited for the next chapter!

Elephant in the room

Memory augmentation has always interested me. I’m envious of those that never forget a name or can quote verbatim. Like Mark Llobrera, I’ve started using technology to never forget.

Mark has his own suite of tools, but the core technique is the same: a long term archive, fully indexed for search (Evernote), combined with short term, no-fuss solutions (Pocket, Workflowy).

Software augmentation, however, only works with access to the software. My job has tight data security measures: third-party software, phones, even personal notepads are banned.

Just as my augmentation was really working, I’m beginning to forget again. It’s very frustrating.

Scoping the wrong query?

The RICG has a new fight: CSS container queries. The article’s ignited discussion, beneficially. The problem is legitimate, the reasoning well argued and the solution intriguing. But something’s niggling me. Element queries won’t work for the various reasons given, but they’re also ugly.

Which got me thinking. Why not scope the query to the property, not the element? Why write:

.mod:media( min-width: 40em ) {
align: left;
}

.mod {
align: right;
}

When you could write:

.mod {
align:media( min-width: 40em ):: left;
align: right;
}

Still ugly, sure, but I’d rather have repetition in my attributes than in my elements. It’s a more orderly ugly.

TBC: I’m aware RICG have taken another direction; just a brain worm I needed to squash.

Gretel and the Dark [Spoilers]

About two weeks ago we chanced upon our (currently yarn bombed) local library. I was still riding the Ways With Words guilt trip regarding reading, so picked up the first vaguely interesting book I saw.

I chose Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville, believing I’d picked up a modern noir fairy tale (I was wrong). The book jumped between two time periods with face-palmingly obvious connections that the characters frustratingly ignored. It all felt a little try-hard, until the end when everything neatly slotted into place. Suddenly, the whole thing had been about kids coping during the Holocaust. Huh.

Psychic algorithms are here

Today contained dull, “adult” stuff regarding accounts and filing. Not very inspiring, but a good excuse to test Spotify’s latest feature: Discover Weekly.

In theory, it creates a weekly personalised playlist. In reality, it’s largely being referred to as “creepy“… but positively so. As a tool to discover music, I’m impressed!

So far, I’ve only recognised two suggested tracks and yet ~90% of what I’ve heard, I’ve liked. I found four new albums in one afternoon, remarkably including a group I’ve been trying to find for months since seeing an uncited video on Facebook. That’s a pretty powerful personal playlist!

Do you want me to pirate?

I’ve just purchased the second season of Agents of Shield, and writing that sentence makes me angry. To be clear, I love the show but I hate that I bought it through iTunes.

Why? Well:

  1. Despite being digital and infinitely replicable, the price was roughly equivalent to a Blu-ray boxset.
  2. Legally, I’m renting the series.
  3. I don’t get extras or bonus content.
  4. I can only watch the show on iTunes, so my TV, my laptop and my phone are off limits.

DRM turned me away from digital content five years ago. I guess I’ll wait another half-decade before trying again.

Size doesn’t matter [Antman Spoilers]

Marvel movies work best when dabbling in different genres. Guardians went space opera; Iron Man embraced the war genre; Winter Solider played spy. Now, we have Marvel’s heist movie: Antman! Wait, Antman?

Yep, Scott Lang is the new Danny Ocean, albeit less suave, more self aware and with a crap ton of ants. Adorable, awesome ants.

Formicidae aside, Antman (film) manages to make Antman (hero) cool, funny and interesting. Hank Pym et al. remain, but with a new and intriguing path. Heck, Antman will probably be the best Marvel film of 2015!

P.S. Crazy ants are awesome, but living circuit-boards? Nope.

To subscribe or not to subscribe?

Surely I’m not alone in wanting YouTube playlist subscriptions?

I recently discovered “After Hours“, a Cracked series that analyses tropes/media. I’ve now watched every episode and I’m eager for more, but I won’t subscribe to Cracked.

My subscription “stream” is reserved for content I’ll always watch. Cracked, in general, doesn’t fit, but After Hours does. Let me subscribe to the playlist and I’m a guaranteed “view”. Force me to remember and I will forget; it’s happened before!

Both “Freeman’s Mind” (Machinima) and “Zero Punctuation” (TheEscapist) are awesome series I forgot about and stopped watching. Playlist subscriptions would have prevented that.