2017 Music Stats

I love looking back on the year to find what music I listened to most. Thanks to last.fm this is all super easy. I was surprised to find that I played more music in 2017 than in any of the previous four years. Go me.

31,323 total plays for the year, from 2,188 different artists, comprising 8,656 unique songs.

My top ten artists of the year have both old favorites and new blood. Apparently I listened to The Jam a lot this year?

Depeche Mode (715)
The Jam (553)
Gary Numan (481)
Rush (414)
Trisomie 21 (401)
The Birthday Massacre (384)
She Past Away (362)
Ultravox (357)
Skeleton Hands (350)
Moby (309)

And the top ten songs had a couple of surprises. I do really like Neil Peart's drumming on Between The Wheels.

Rush – Between The Wheels (59)
Camoflage – That Smiling Face (52)
Skeleton Hands – Dotted Lines (51)
Trisomie 21 – The Last Song (49)
Belong – Never Came Close (46)
Tones On Tail – Performance (46)
Le Cassette – Arms Of Mind (45)
Fad Gadget – Lady Shave (44)
TR/ST – Shoom (42)
Rush – The Body Electric (42)

With the amount of times the kiddo wanted to listen to Sia's Chandelier on the way to school I'm surprised that didn't feature more heavily.

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Stop Reading Facebook

Interesting article making the rounds today detailing the noble 2018 challenge to go back to the internet instead of the walled garden of Facebook. It's good you should read it.

Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read.

Remember the 2008 financial crash? The (dumb, wildly over-simplified) reason it happened was thanks in large part to giant investment banks like Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan. These enormous institutions figured out a way to make money off of home loans people didn't have the means to pay back. As a result, a bunch of people who should've never been given home loans were, of course, given home loans. And of course, they couldn't pay the loans back. The entire thing kept going and going until the financial system fell in on itself.

The big parallel: Those investment banks incentivized the creation of a shitty product.

Which is exactly what Facebook did. Yep. Hi. We're there.

Their goal, as a company, is to keep you on Facebook—and away from everything else—as long as they possibly can. They do that by making Facebook as addictive to you as possible. And they make it addictive by feeding you only the exact stripe of content you want to read, which they know to a precise, camel-eye-needle degree. It's the kind of content, say, that you won't just click on, but will "Like," comment on, and share (not just for others to read, but so you can say something about yourself by sharing it, too). And that's often before you've even read it!

Neither my wife or I have Facebook accounts. A fact that makes the look on our nephews and nieces' faces just a picture. "Uncle, how do you even life right now?". It's tough kid, but somehow we muddle through. The reasons why fall on deaf ears. The creepy tracking factor, the walled garden lock in. Because Facebook is simply convenient in a way that overrides everything else. And they have critical mass, everyone is there.

My Mum loves Facebook. There's nowhere else she can "one stop shop" and see all the goings on with her friend's lives. Facebook is free, it's easy, it's addictive. None of my Mum's friends are technical, they aren't going to buy a domain, a VPS account, install WordPress. They aren't leaving Facebook any time soon. No matter how much you tell them they are the product and Facebook makes money off them, they don't really care much. Where else are they going to go?

But the central premise of the article is still sound, we should all encourage Facebook addicts to wander further afield. To try the real internet, try to break free from the echo chamber so carefully selected by Facebook's algorithms.

And to those who are technically sound, if you have the means to self publish you should. It's liberating and unique to you. Be different than the crowd. It would be amazing if those bloggers we lost to Facebook would come back again. That's what I hope for.

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Let's Talk About The Last Jedi

When you read a post that begins with a "let me just say that I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan…" it usually means that what comes next isn't necessarily complimentary. So I'll get that out of the way now. Let me just say I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan, I have toys in my office, t-shirts, books, you name it.

What J. J. Abrams did with The Force Awakens proved a good Star Wars movie could be made this century. I was so worried it was going to be a let down but came out of the theater grinning from ear to ear. I literally wanted to shake his hand for making a movie that tickled my Star Wars brain. When Rogue One came out I was blown away by the possibilities for movies with new characters set in the Star Wars universe. It was like a Star Wars renaissance.

In the years since The Force Awakens I had unknowingly set myself up for disappointment. I started making episode 8 in my own head. Abrams had setup a lot in TFA and I just couldn't help myself play those things out in my mind. I don't think its wrong to have done that. But where I went astray is how I went into the movie.

Expectations, they're a thing.

So, right off the bat, let me just say that I thought some of the decisions Rian Johnson made were bold and admirable. I didn't mind the throwing away of a light side and dark side of the force. Burn down the Jedi. Ok, I dig it, let's do that. Anyone can be force sensitive. Sure, I'm in. I didn't mind that angle at all. I just don't think Johnson ticks my boxes for making a Star Wars film like Abrams did. And here's where my conflict begins.

Because there were beautiful moments. Some of the individual scenes were utterly amazing. I could watch the Snoke throne room scene 100 times a day. Lovely stuff. And seeing Luke and Yoda on screen together once again, my inner 10 year old was squealing. But a rambling plot with clumsy writing made the whole thing feel disjointed to me. It's like Johnson had a glimpse of a vision of where he wanted it to go, but wasn't very successful in getting it there.

There was an awful lot going on in this movie. With a lot of characters. It's unreasonable to think that we could have enough time with all of them. And yet I did. I expected much more Luke/Rey time than we got. I expected more Snoke time. More Phasma time. Honestly why even introduce them at all if you're going to do nothing with them? In the case of Phasma, what an opportunity to have a female baddie play a big part. But no, a couple lines and she's out.

The casino sub plot interspersed with the space chase really took me out of the moment. There's so many of the Finn/Rose scenes that should have ended on the cutting room floor. Why spend time on that plot when other character arcs got so little time? The sole redeeming thing about the space chase was the lightspeed kamikaze run. But the back and forth between casino & fleet scenes just didn't sit well with me. Oh and awkwardly shot Mary Poppins flying Leia scene was a thing.

I didn't like how Johnson handled Luke either. Not the jaded cynicism, I get that. But muddled writing. He came to the island to die. But totally made a map for others to find him? And the guy who crossed the galaxy to find good in the evil Darth Vader wanted to murder Ben Solo? After Abrams' epic shot of Rey handing the lightsaber to him at the end of TFA, Johnson decides on a sitcom toss over the shoulder. But Hamill was excellent and gave Luke a decent send off. Raising the X-Wing and flying to the base to actually fight might have been more interesting than remotely using the force to death?

Friends have suggested I watch the movie again without expectations. It's telling that I almost don't want to. What Abrams now does with episode 9 will be interesting. Two bookends either side of an awkward middle perhaps?

Let's Talk About That Headphone Jack

Remember Apple's "courage" when the headphone jack was removed in the iPhone 7? Such an old legacy port had no business being in such a new piece of technology we were told. The future lies with the lightning port. And if you have expensive headphones already, a dongle. Which you'll never lose nor forget to bring with you.

Fast forward slightly.

The new Macbook Pro came out. And it had …wait for it… a headphone jack.

Fast forward slightly.

The new iMac Pro became available on Apple's website. And it has …wait for it… a headphone jack.

So I'm not sure where "courage" really fits in here. Is it "courage" by having inconsistent support across devices and thinking that's ok? Or is it "courage" to bet the farm on users buying additional dongles?