Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tea; Earl Grey; Hot! JJ Abram Style


Earl Grey JJ Abram Style
<!!>Originally uploaded by bazwilliams.</!!>

I bought my wife some Earl Grey Tea for Mother's day a few weeks back. This is Federation issue tea fit for Picard!

However, we didn't have a strainer for loose leaf tea bags, the only option available was a Star Wars death star strainer.

So here is a picture of Earl Grey - Abrams style!

Smartphone

A few weeks back I blogged about losing my Nexus for a week whilst it was in for repair. This is a continuation or conclusion to that after my use of the repaired phone for a few weeks.

To summarise, I prefer my smartphone.



So what did I miss without my phone?

  • Taking notes/photo notes when out and about
  • Easy access to the internet for information
  • Tweetdeck
  • A password database
  • Photography depth of field calculator
  • Google maps
  • Draw something!
  • Calendar and ToDo widgets
  • Spotify

With this analysis in mind, once I got my phone back I let Google restore all my apps onto the phone and I restored my Titanium backups, but didn't organise my home screens the same way as before. This time I decided I'd only add an app after I used it for a few times - this has kept the home screens relatively clear. I then switched off as many notifications as I could find. I now find I rarely check emails on my phone - however I do find I search for my Gmail from my phone.

I put Remember The Milk! and Google Calendar on my home screen.

I also had a think about backup strategy; whilst cherished information like photos were automatically synced to Dropbox, I was lucky last time that I could get my app data and SMS messages off the phone. I now use Titanium Backup to backup to a Dropbox synced folder weekly or at least after I think a backup is worthwhile. I've decided keeping all my SMS messages sent and received ever is pointless for me, I've never once searched them so I didn't bother importing them and now delete conversations once finished. 

Surprisingly, I've not installed an ebook reader on my phone or synced my calibre library to the device. I simply haven't had the desire to read a book using my phone, ironically, this was one of the main reasons I bought a phone with a big screen... 

But I still have to charge my phone every day... 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Music Curation and Discovery

I've not bought a CD in years for music - I quickly adopted iTunes and built up a large music collection by purchasing and ripping existing CDs. A few years later when Spotify was announced I started using that more and more relegating this (large) music collection to a virtual shelf.

Earlier in the year I setup a NAS to serve up music and video to various DLNA equipment in my house and part of this project was to move my old iTunes library making it available to current and future music streaming devices in my home. This presented me with an interesting problem; what does one do with digital music they no longer want? In the 90s I'd give the physical medium away, perhaps move it to a different shelf or even box it in the loft... Ultimately that piece of information still exists, somewhere in the world, but with digital music, for some reason I can't bring myself to just delete music from my hard disk.

I'm attempting to solve this problem by setting up playlists containing the music I like. In Spotify I'm using playlist folders a bit like virtual shelves. That way I can keep the music I like 'pure'.

So this week I've been reorganising my music playlists in Spotify in an attempt to 'curate' my virtual music collection - i.e. demoting albums I'm no longer interested in and also using this as an opportunity to tweak some of my existing mixlists. This process often involves discovering what other albums an artist has created or perhaps related music; this process used to involve finding random album covers which took my fancy in a music store - or by recommendation. Today, I only use recommendation, but not by friends or colleagues, by web service.

Something I've been doing for years (since April 2006) is scrobbling my music to last.fm specifically to discover new music. As of this post I have scrobbled 26,180 listens and last.fm has a great facility to chart my own music, from all time listened to albums to tracks per week. Indeed on this blog you'll see my most listened to artists in the sidebar - clicking it will take you to my last.fm profile. This offers an incredibly powerful ability to match my tastes with random internet people with what last.fm call neighbours. By seeing what artists these "neighbouring" people listen to allows me to discover brand new albums and artists and hopefully those people discover artists which I like too.

last.fm have integrated a good album recommendation application in Spotify which I use and another great source I've commonly used is Spotibot which provides last.fm functionality to generate a Spotify playlist based on your personal last.fm profile.

Incidentally, this is my 300th blog post - wow! I'll sign off with a playlist to celebrate: