Today marks the 5th anniversary of my time at Facebook (Or Faceversary, if you will). I’m proud to work at a company that’s gone from making the world more open and connected to giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, and look forward to the next 5 years doing unique things in some of the world’s biggest data centers. (It’s also the kind of place where the culinary team baked me a special faceversary cake!)

Just ordered a new Apple Watch. I surprised myself by choosing the later delivery of the Nike version rather than the immediate gratification of the regular space drab aluminum. Usually I’d eat the marshmallow.

Interesting observation when working with a non-native English speaker this morning: Overlooked and Overseen aren’t the same thing.

Today in Overheard dumb things racists say: “You can’t make funny movies anymore because everything has to be politically correct.” Shockingly, this followed a conversation about how amazing Joe Rogan is. I hate people.

I saw Mission Impossible: Fallout. It was mediocre, if I’m being generous. Plot holes were everywhere. All tech in the entire movie was hand-wavingly described as working over microwave, which requires line of sight that never existed. The nuclear bombs were on timers, but chasing the guy with the detonator was the climactic moment. If you haven’t seen it, don’t waste your time. 👎🏾🍿

RIP Rene Portland. Your shameful and dispicable homophobia and hate will be your lasting legacy, not any of the success you had winning basketball games.

I changed my political views on Facebook for the first time in over a decade. Now identify as: Fucking Angry.

Why Sonos and Airplay 2 Isn't Just About 🎵

I have several Sonos speakers throughout the house. They’re great, but my biggest gripe has always been that I can’t airplay music from my Apple devices. With the newest Sonos update, that apparently changes. (I’m traveling for work, so I haven’t actually confirmed it works as seamlessly as expected, but I’m hopeful!)

I’ve been so eager for this feature that I almost overlooked the bigger announcement Sonos made, though.

By enabling Siri to control Apple Music on Sonos, you unlock yet another option for controlling your home sound system. But you don’t have to stick with one method or the other; you can control Sonos on your terms. After you’ve started the music with Siri, you can let Alexa adjust the volume or skip to the next song via your Sonos One, Beam, or any Alexa-enabled Sonos device (set up through the Sonos skill on your Echo device). (emphasis mine, extra points to Sonos for correctly using the semi-colon.)

Different software stacks are good at different things, and cluttering a home with multiple smart cylinders to reap the benefits of each is a non-starter for all but the most gadget-hungry.

Sonos is positioning itself as the integrator, supporting Alexa, Google Assistant (soon, apparently), and now some Siri support for control from iOS devices. It will be interesting to see if companies continue to allow Sonos to be the integrator, or if their hubris will destroy this de-coupling of branded cylinder and assistant software in the long run.

Everything is Awful, and that's ok 🎵

Since my friend Caroline first sent me an mp3 copy of Red Right Ankle 15ish years ago, I’ve been a fan of the Decemberists’ electro-folky sound and cerebral, sad, loquacious, story-telling lyrics.

Their newest album, I’ll Be Your Girl has been on my mind and in my ears a lot lately, and has been good accompaniment for a spring and summer dominated by my mother’s death, the atrocities of the Trump administration tearing families apart, and the general sense that things in the world are headed in the dangerously wrong direction.

The album slowly fades in on acoustic guitar strumming, causing you to hit the volume up button just before lead singer Colin Meloy’s voice hits you louder than expected with

oh for once in my life….could just something go right.

It’s the quintessential sound of the Decemberists, right from the start.

The rest of the album has a blend of the expected Decemberist oeuvre. My favorite track is probably the rocking, percussive electro-pop tune Your Ghost. We All Die Young has some of those same qualities, with the addition of a rockin’ sax solo and a children’s chorus. There’s a languid, mournful acoustic song, involving both child and betrothed lover murder (in back-to-back verses, even) called Cutting Stone. Rusulka, Rusulka sounds like it could have been ripped from the soundtrack of West World.

If there’s anything unexpected or new in the sound on I’ll Be Your Girl, it’s maybe the slightly more country/western/cowboy rock vibe and slide guitar in songs like Sucker’s Prayer, and several other tracks.

The absurdly, ironically upbeat Everything Is Awful is the centerpiece of the album, wallowing in a worrying world, but with a cheerfulness that laughs in the face of the awful. A stubborn optimism in the face of great evils is one way through trying times.

One final note: Jenny Conlee shines on the keyboards throughout the whole album, whether playing the Hammond organ, piano, or accordion.

Converting FLAC w/ Cover Images for iTunes

Zoe Keating recently released a new EP that I downloaded as FLAC files from Bandcamp. I wanted to add it to my iTunes library, but needed to convert it to ALAC in order to do that. In the past, I’ve used ffmpeg1 (installed via homebrew2) to do the conversion.

The problem

I had some issues with the conversion, getting this error message.

Could not write header for output file #0 (incorrect codec parameters ?): Invalid argument
Error initializing output stream 0:1 -- 
Conversion failed!

It turned out that the embedded cover photo in the flac file was causing the encoder to barf. A quick google search, and I found that the metaflac tool3 could be used to delete the cover photo. But, I didn’t have metaflac installed, and brew search metaflac didn’t find anything to install. A bit more googling, and it turns out metaflac is one of the binaries that you get when installing flac. And that is a homebrew package.

Putting it all together

Here’s what I did to make it all work.

brew install ffmpeg
brew install flac
for f in ./*.flac; do metaflac --remove --block-type=PICTURE "$f"; do ffmpeg -i "$f" -c:a alac "${f%.*}.m4a"; done

Maybe this post will help someone else googling for the error to put it all together without all of the googling.

  1. This Stack Exchange article is a good resource for how to do that. 

  2. If you’re not familiar with Homebrew, the rest of this may not make a lot of sense. There are GUI apps like FlacTunes available in the app store you might try. 

  3. Another good Stack Exchange thread showing how to use metaflac. 

TFW you get three brand new pieces of art from your favorite artist, and the backing for the mailer is a protest sign. Thanks @carolinedraws!