Chronicles of Ryebone

Singles 2015

It's that time of year again to share my annual playlist! For those not familiar, I have - for the past few years - been adding music I listen to frequently, to a playlist on whatever streaming service I'm subscribed to. I don't overload it with too many songs, and I end up with a pretty solid mix, typically fifteen to twenty songs. 

YouTube Playlist

2015 was an interesting year for music. I really got into The Black Keys, whom I have listened to before but not with the same level of interest. I was also introduced to Wolfmother, whose songs hit me hard: they're fun and full of rock. It makes me miss some of the "heavier" tunes I've listened to in the past. A nice return to form, for sure. I'm really digging this 2015 playlist. The songs are, for the most part, at this comfortable level for me. Nothing too hard, nothing too pop. Quite a bit of older music, and a few new tracks as well that I hope will stand the test of time. So far, I imagine they will: I frequently listen to 2013 and 2015, with 2014 bringing up the fewest listens, as I believe there was a bit more experimentation and inconsistencies throughout. I know the playlist is a good one when I can share it to some friends and they play the entire thing back without giving me one of those "Ryebone, what kind of weird stuff are you into?" looks.

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Singles 2013

As I mentioned in my previous Heavy Rotation post, I started a new job that wasn't really music friendly. That is, I can't really use headphones and playing music through speakers isn't going to happen when some people are in the room (my office is a large, window-less room with three people in it, including my immediate supervisor). So Rdio takes an even bigger hit, and listening to music at home typically involves putting on MP3s (or whatever format they are in - I like to collect FLAC). As this downturn in office listening occurs, an upturn in mobile listening comes out. I've put together a "Singles 2013" playlist on Rdio which is composed of any singles that I've taken an interest in. I think it's a pretty awesome mix, if I do say so myself. It comes on in the car all the time, in the house while I'm doing chores, and whenever I want to listen to some seriously solid songs.

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Mix 2008 I

Do any of you remember mix tapes? Or even mix CDs? It feels a generation ago that any of us were making these compilations. With the advent of the iPod and deluge of MP3 players afterward, the compilation CD was rendered obsolete and a memory of old tech.

There's a problem though, in that many of our cars don't have connections for digital music players. Sure, mostly all of them do now, but you go back a few years and they all lack that AUX jack that makes it all come together. Instead, we're stuck with a single disc CD player and the radio. My car is a 2008 model and has that AUX jack so I don't have much of an excuse to pop in a CD anymore, aside from that fact that it is infinitely more convenient than getting the cable and everything plugged in (especially while driving - a big no no) and navigating the interface to start playing something. With a CD, I pull it out of the visor storage area and pop it in, the music is playing immediately. So there is much to be said for the CD mix these days, although I recognize I am in the minority here.

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Heavy Rotation - July 2013

Rdio has taken a bit of a backseat to life these days; with a change in jobs I don't have as many opportunities to put in headphones and set my mind on a task. My fear is that my music listening will fall way behind, so I'm actively trying to keep a few albums open, and Rdio playing a shuffled artist station whenever I can.

So far so good, but I've definitely hit a snag, in that I just keep listening to a few albums that I discovered just a few months ago. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as its telling of the quality of these albums, right?

I was asked recently what I've been listening to, and this post has been sitting in draft for a while. So here you go, my top four albums this past month!

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 First, I have to tell you that Rdio is one of the greatest services that I have ever used, and has completely changed the way that I listen to and discover music. I’ll probably write more about that another time, because the focus here is on one artist I found through Rdio that reaffirms the model and reinvigorates my love for music. It also helps to remind me that there is new, good music out there, and that I’m not crazy in looking for that “click.” See, when I first listened to The National, something just clicked, and I was hooked immediately. I sought out and bought all their music almost immediately. Ever since, I’ve loaded up new albums, had a listen and moved on, never to experience that click in quite the same way. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t degrees of clicking and trying to list those degrees is akin to basically ranking your favourite albums and artists (which is fundamentally unfair, I know). It’s safe to say The National (and specifically Boxer and Alligator) are amongst the top; I could easily just list the most recent additions to my music library as other good contenders. One album though has stood out, which is The Golden Age by Woodkid.

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The Great Music Collection, part four: The Aftermath

It's now been months since I first imported my collection into iTunes and really embraced the ecosystem. After months of use, the import has proven successful: the data is clean, the albums are organized and it is an actually joy to work with. Never did I believe you would hear that from me in regards to iTunes. That's not to say the software isn't without it's problems, as the software can be slow, sluggish and a pest with it's need to update all the time. But the initial setup and planning has paid off: I have the Core playlist which syncs with my iPod, and podcast episodes are individually chosen. Subscriptions to podcasts are all setup and download automatically all the time (although iTunes seems to forget the odd one).

One of the goals I had was to have the entire music library available through Subsonic, which runs off my server/HTPC that is always powered on (the desktop housing iTunes is not always on). The previous folder structure I had was good for Subsonic, but iTunes' structure is even better. Folders for artists, then folders for each album inside. I simply copied the entire iTunes music folder onto the server and pointed Subsonic at it: everything worked as expected, and as a bonus I get a simple mirror backup of my music. Now, that was good for a while, but I rarely use Subsonic anymore, as work and life don't really permit me to do so. I don't have a big need for it, so the service has been turned off (as has the server most days).

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Computer Build 2014: Murney

All the parts were spread in front of me on the table. They beckoned my name, but they felt disjointed; like they didn't belong where they were. They knew their place and were confused why they weren't there, and it's entirely my fault. On a slow Thursday at work, I took the plunge and began ordering computer parts online. Months of research had thrown me into analysis paralysis. It took one post - a recommended system - to snap me out of it into the purchasing mode. It was quick; it was furious; it was expensive. Twelve hours later my credit card would be locked, and I would spend twenty minutes on the phone taking quizzes about my credit history and my shopping habits over the past twenty four hours. My credit card company was staging a kind of pre-intervention before my habit spun out of control too quickly.

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A few months ago Google shook things up a little by releasing the Chromecast upon us. It's a small streaming device that plugs directly into your television's HDMI port, and acts entirely wirelessly. Chromecast was a bit different than other streaming boxes in its simplicity: plug directly into HDMI, no inputs, just a single micro-USB port on it and it has no interface of its own. See, the Chromecast puts itself into a ready state, allowing other devices to send content to it. So anyone on my wireless network could theoretically open their YouTube app on their phone/tablet/computer and start playing it on the big screen. It's a rather simple device, but quite elegant, and at $35 it was exactly what I was looking for.

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Nexus 7

Do you recall when the first iPad came out and your thoughts/feelings on it? It wasn't that long ago - April 2010 in fact - that Jobs and Apple dropped this piece of tech on us. It was met with skepticism in part, probably due to one line of thought that it looked simply like a big iPhone, and that Apple was brash enough to tell how this device was going to fill a hole in our lives that we didn't know was there. It's bold, but in the end they were right of course. The iPad would take the poorly performing tablet market and redefine it, just as they did the portable music device and smart phones in general. But I still scoffed at it a bit: it was easy to do so while working in the tech industry. My coworkers and I didn't see how it fit into the corporate world, and to a degree we are still correct, although the app selection and evolution has made them more business and productivity friendly.

The president of our company wanted one, so we got him one, then the IT department got one as well so we would know how to support them - standard practice. But we never used the thing and it collected dust; that is, until I started taking it home on the weekends. I brought it home during my stint with Fallout 3, and it served as the perfect companion on my in-game journeys. The iPad sat propped up on a pillow next to me, open to a browser with various Fallout wiki articles and guides opened. The size was pretty ideal for that, but I didn't get into the tablet for much else. I thought about getting one, but didn't feel that the price of it was justified. This would continue for a while, especially as more tablets came out, and the tech evolved rapidly. I didn't want to be stuck with old tech or missing key features. You know what I mean.

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Mediasonic 4-Bay JBOD Enclosure: HF2-SU2S2

The time finally came that my old Mediasonic enclosure had reached capacity, and it was time to look for either a new solution, or buy another box. In the two years since buying the original enclosure, I have purchased very few hard drives, but my method of consumption and computer use has changed a tiny bit. First, I decided to move away from having drives inside my tower computer. This computer, housed in an Antec P183 chassis, served as both home theatre PC (HTPC) and server. It performed magnificently, but times have changed. In July, I moved in with a friend, which brings us to the second change: multiple servers and HTPC boxes throughout the house. See, my friend had a similar setup, and it seemed senseless to duplicate media and purpose when one server/library could handle all of our needs.

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