My Music Listening Habits for April 2020

Well, it finally happened.

After a very long, very strong, 9 month reign as Queen, Sigrid has been dethroned from my top artist for the month. And by a rather huge margin. Funny enough, she has been dethroned by someone she knows, who is also a Norwegian singer, AURORA. It was a one-two punch though, because Sigrid has dropped to number three, not number two, with Tessa Violet sliding in at number two.

I can’t honestly blame the VierLive show entirely for Aurora’s rise here, she has been on sort of a slow bubble for a while now in my listening patterns. It certainly likely helped things along however. I would point to Tessa Violet and say she wasn’t helped by any live shows, but well, that wouldn’t be true. I have not watched all of them but she has been doing two weekly Youtube shows on Youtube. Though those are quite a bit … less structured.

Moving on a bit, Dua Lipa had a new album drop, Future Nostalgia, which is has a pretty nice sort of old school syth-pop feel going on with it. BT has been getting a bit of a resurgence lately, though it’s mostly just listening to These Humble/Hopeful/Whatever Machines again a bit. I can never remember which is which on those albums.

The rest of the top ten isn’t anything particularly exciting or new. The 5×5 is kind of all over the place as well, since I’ve been listening to a lot of random techno music lately so there’s a lot of kooky random stuff on there. The weird thing is, I don’t thing BT is on it either at all, despite being number 4 for the month.

Here is the 5×5 though, for the sake of consistency.

Vi Er Live – Sigrid and Aurora (Somewhere Else, 2020)

Last year when I went to see Sigrid in St. Louis, I told my wife afterwards that I wanted to go to more concerts. That plan clearly isn’t going to pan out to anything with everything going on. What I have done though is watched quite a few virtual concerts. The Somewhere Else Festival (Et Helt Annet Sted) presented at is actually the fourth live show I’ve watched from Sigrid int he past month. The previous being a bit on the Twitch Steam Aid event, a short show on the IGTV from Levis, and one for the opening of an exhibit in KHÅK Kunsthall, on Facebook.

The Somewhere Else show is the first one that’s had any real production behind it, and it’s the first that had the entire bad. The first two were Sigrid playing Piano alone in her parent’s house, the KHÅK Kunsthall show was Sigrid alone playing piano in the museum. The Vierlive show is also different in that it was a paid event. You could buy a festival pass for 500nok (~$50 USD) or individual shows for 100nok (~$10). Super affordable. Most of the shows also included a VOD replay, though sadly (irritatingly), neither the Sigrid nor the Aurora shows have a replay option. I really hope there is some planned release of these shows as both were really stellar.

Despite not actually being live with Sigrid in person, the virtual show was really enjoyable and well done. For one, I am pretty sure it was all one camera shot (the Aurora show had a couple of cuts to alternate cameras). The sound quality was top notch incredible. Most of he songs had a much different tone and feel from normal as well, which really spiced things up a lot.

The show opened with Sigrid chatting in the chat room before going into Level Up on the couch, then moving to Basic in the room, both songs with only Kristina on backup vocals and Sondre on guitar. Then we follow Sigrid alone up to the main stage where the rest of the band (Kasper, drums and Peder, keyboard) were waiting playing a lead in riff before Sucker Punch. One one point they all went and say in the theater seats to play a nice acoustic Plot Twist. We also got a couple of piano tracks (on a nice grand piano and not the usual keyboard) of Dynamite and Home to You. Probably my favorite part was the rock and roll intro for I Don’t Feel Like Crying, with Sondre going all out on the guitar.

I also really liked how each song (11 total) had it’s own feel and set up for how it was presented. Only Dynamite and Home to You were similar, and that’s mostly just because it was Sigrid doing vocals and piano solo, so there isn’t a lot to mix up there.

Of course, being a virtual concert, it’s kind of hard to take photos, so here’s some screen shots instead.

I kind of was worried that these shows were going to be pretty basic, more Sigrid at her Parent’s Piano doing 3 songs, or some sort of funky out of sync Skype conference between the band members. The name is Sigrid, but frankly, I like Sigrid with her band more than I do just Sigrid. They all just mesh so well together. Part of what I really liked about this show was that on some level it amounts to a Studio Quality performance by the band. I am pretty sure a lot of Sigrid’s tracks on the album, don’t involve the band, but more synth. Not all of them, but most of them. I could be totally wrong. I like the live concert videos more than the regular tracks, but you often end up with dodgy audio on concert videos. This show is the best of both, and it was so well produced.

After how impressive the Sigrid Show was, I opted for also watching the Aurora show. I know a lot less about Aurora’s music than Sigrid, but I do like the tracks I’ve been listening to. And I’ve been listening to more and more of them over time. Aurora is arguably more popular than Sigrid though, I mean, she was part of a major Disney Movie (Frozen 2) so that alone kind of pushes her higher.

The point is more, I had less idea of what I was going to be seeing with Aurora. I was a bit disappointed initially, the first three tracks were Aurora singing and dancing in front of the white curtain (below). While it was good, I was a bit disappointed that there was less overall change of scenery between tracks like with Sigrid. A few tracks in that changed.

I can’t tell you all of the songs in this set, but around A Different Kind of Human, she started to move off the stage and a lot more visual effects started to kick in. Unlike Sigrid’s show, Aurora’s band (not sure if it’s her band or a band), was behind the scenes and off camera until the end of the show. There was a real band though. You could see their shadows behind the white curtain and like I mentioned, they showed up at the end for a brief introduction.

The biggest stand out of the performance from Aurora was the level of energy and raw emotion she puts into her music, Especially as the show reached it’s climax with Running with the Wolves. It’s also a crazy level of contrast with when she speaks and her overall small stature. The few times she talks to the camera it’s extremely soft and timid, she almost seems kind of afraid of it. But when performing, she’s something else entirely. She is the Queen of Warriors & Weirdos after all.

Overall the whole experience was well worth it for both shows. The main issue I had was less with Vierlive and more than neither show had a replay option, at the request of the music label. Maybe its something they plan to release later again in some form, but it really feels like kind of a waste of creative effort. Most of the other shows had a VOD option, tough a few others are also now unavailable. There also was a bit of a lack of communication by Vierlive until the last minute if shows would even have VOD options. It feels like there should at least be a 24 hour period or something, most of the shows didn’t happen at a time I could easily watch due to work, and other people mentioned having bandwidth issues. It just seems like it would have been the polite thing to do, even limited, this was a paid event after all.

Helping Myself to Ensure Better Productivity

I find as I get older, I am not so great at remembering everything that I really should be doing regularly. Not just necessary things, but things I want to to. I’ve been working out some better systems to push myself to keep up with all of these sort of little tasks.

Microsoft ToDo

Any ToDo list app works here, I use Microsoft ToDo. I used to use Wonderlist, but Microsoft bought them out and it’s essentially folding into MS ToDo. I try to keep my lists somewhat streamlined down so it doesn’t become a cluttered mess. For example…

The Reminders List. All of my regular reminders go here. Every week I get a reminder to take out the trash after work. The same goes for Recycling. I get daily reminders in the morning for taking my vitamin and just before lunch to take my Acid reducer medicine. I get weekly reminders for other regular tasks as well, such as redeeming my Forza Rewards in the game Forza, checking on the free PDF of the week on Drivethrough RPG, and redeeming the free game of the week on the Epic Game Store. I also have Monthly reminders for checking on several auto-withdraw bill payments, or changing the furnace filter. I’ve got an irregular reminder to change out my pajamas every few days because I can never keep track of how many days I have worn the same pajamas.

The Grocery List. It’s called Grocery, but it’s more of a general list of more pressing things todo or purchase. It is often, just groceries though.

General ToDo Lists. I have lists for movies or TV I want to watch, books I want to read, projects, and I might want to do someday in the future.

The Calendar

I have also started using my calendar a lot more aggressively. I have several sub calendars going on different types of events as well. I do keep some reminder style tasks on the calendar instead of the ToDo List app as well. The general difference is that ToDo List reminders are effectively “never ending”, while Calendar Reminders are more ephemeral and have a set period of time. For example, Hasbro was running a contest on their Instagram for ten days, I used the calendar to schedule ten days of reminders.

The calendar has become extra useful during this COVID-19 time as well. A lot of musical acts are doing online shows. And since my plan to go to more concerts clearly isn’t going to go anywhere at this time, I can at least set up events to remind myself when live shows are going on.

I also use it to mark out generic blocks for work events, so I can better keep track of what I might have going on for scheduling other activities like Doctor’s appointments.

Send To Device

Something else I have been trying to push myself on, is taking care of things *now*. Or at least soon. Often I would come across things I want to download, or little projects to set up and try, often while browsing on my phone. This used to end up in one of two things. I would leave the tab open forever on my phone, or I would book mark it and forget about it.

I use Firefox on my phone and my PCs, so the bookmarks all sync, but I still have to remember to check them.

What I have discovered that I’ve been doing more is the “Send to Device” feature. I can take a tab on my phone and send it to either my Laptop or Desktop, instead of book marking it. This way, when I sit down and open up the appropriate device, that tab will show up, and be in my face as a reminder of “Do this NOW”. It’s really helped with actually taking care of some quick tasks that I may find while on my phone, but aren’t convenient to do immediately.

Track All the Things

I am going to keep this short, because it really needs to be it’s own post, but I have started heaving tracking a lot of aspects of what I do with my time. I don’t really DO anything with this data, but it motivates me in two ways.

The tracking itself is a thing that pops up as a reminder of something that needs done. Not having anything to fill in, makes me feel a little guilty about my productivity. It’s sort of an angle of negative self reinforcement.

Two, I like doing it, even if nothing comes of it.

Like I said, I will probably do a separate post, but I have been tracking:

  • TV I watch
  • Movies I watch
  • Music I Listen To
  • Books I’ve read
  • Online Courses I’ve done
  • My Mood, 2x a day
  • How much Duolingo I do each day
  • Fitness (Steps, Push Ups, Sit Ups)
  • How often I shave or get my hair cut
  • General Health Issues
  • Gas Consumption
  • Basically everything

I use several apps for this and some spreadsheets. But more on all that later.

Code Project: My Home Dashboard

So, this isn’t going to really have any code. I might, sometime int he distant future, publish some code, but this whole thing is very much a “add things as I go, ongoing project. The base code itself isn’t particularly complicated though. It’s a pretty simple HTML/PHP/CSS layout that wraps around various modules I’ve been building. I keep mentioning the Dashboard though when talking about the various projects, so I figure I should do a quick run down on what the Dashboard involves.

I’m actually building a more complex iteration of this project at work as well, to be used internally by my work group. The work one is considerably more complex, for example, it has a much more robust Admin area that is growing with features to manage locations, manage users, manage user teams, etc. The base layout framework is shared between the two dashboards, but the work one has a lot more actual functionality. Because I am the only one using the home version, I generally just code everything in, so it’s less modular. I also have to translate any code I write for one or the other version between the different Database back ends. I use MySQL at home, I use MS SQL at work.

At it’s base, it’s just a webpage on my project webserver that displays information. Some of that information is useful, some is just there to fill space and to practice coding something up. i mentioned above, it’s essentially a Header, sidebar, and Footer that wrap around a variable content box. On the home page, the content box contains what I have been calling “Quick Cards” with bits of information, that sometimes link to larger chunks of data. This is what it looks like, at the moment, on the home page.

I’ll dive in a bit on some of the menus and content but I am going to start with the Quick Card boxes, in order.

The Weather box seemed like an obvious choice for at a glance information. I want to make it link to a sub page with more forecast data, but for now, it just displays the current weather conditions for my location. Unfortunately it’s built on the Dark Sky API, which very recently announced is closing down, so I’ll have to find a new API to use.

Next is the COVID-19 stats widget. This is the other side of the COVID-19 Tracking Python Script I posted recent. It just pulls and displays the most recent information that the script has pulled. I may update this to link to a page with some timeline graphs on it, once I figure out how to put a data graph in a webpage.

Network devices is the most robust of all of the modules I’ve built so far. The Quick Card just shows the current number of active devices on the home network. Clicking it opens the Network Device page I talk about here.

Social Accounts is just link list to the various Twitter Accounts I have. I want to change this to be a modifiable list eventually, but for now it’s just a list. It does do a database pull to build the URLs, but I have not added a configuration page yet.

The next box displays how many unread posts are on each of my TT-RSS accounts. After Google killed Google Reader, I set up TinyTiny-RSS on my webserver and started using it for my feeds. I became overwhelmed so I broke all of my feeds into themed sub accounts. I would link to each sub account, but it’s all the same link, just with a different log in, so the links would be useless. Normally, I just use container tags to keep the different log in instances open.

Lastly is a tracker for Reddit Karma for several Reddit Accounts I have. Like my RSS feeds, I have broken my Reddit subs out into seperate themed accounts. i don’t really care that much about Reddit Karma, but I wanted to play around with APIs and JSON, so I figured this would be an easy project. I will probably post the script used in the future, but it’s essentially identical to the recently posted COVID-19 script. In fact the COVID-19 script was adapted from the Reddit Karma script.

Along the top navigation bar are some drop downs with useful links that don’t really have “At a glance” data. The first two, “My Websites” and “My Hosted Apps” are just drop downs with links to the Blogs I manage and my Webhosted apps for Email and TT-RSS.

The next drop down is similar in nature, in that it’s a list of links, but this one has an admin page so I can maintain the list as it changes. It also hasn’t quite found a home yet. I had it in the sidebar for a while, then I had it in a Quick Card, now it’s int he Navigation menu. It’s a list of links to web services on my internal home network. It’s linkes to Routers, Raspberry Pis, IP Cameras, my NAS, and to various things I have set up on my Project Server.

Next to that is the Gas Tracker, which is very much a WIP page. When I bought my car back in 2014, I decided I wanted to track my Gas consumption for the life of the car. Currently this lives in an Excel Spread Sheet on One Drive. I wanted to see about translating it into my own webpage and using SQL as the back end. Currently it just displays a table of data that I imported from Excel. There isn’t any way to add new data yet and it doesn’t calculate the Price/Gallon or total money paid or anything like that.

Lastly is an old project I did called Tweeter that I got up and running again and embedded into the Dashboard. Tweeter itself is fairly self contained and I will probably do a couple of detailed write ups on it in the future and post the code at that time. I also want to update it to use SQL as the back end so I’ll do a second write up when that happens.

A while back, I was looking for a way to automate posting Tweets, mostly so I could share links to articles, but have them space out over the course of a day. I couldn’t find a decent free service, and thus, Tweeter was born. Tweeter is a two part solution, it’s a PHP page that writes a text file, and some scripts (python and bash) that runs on a schedule and posts the contents of that text file to Twitter, one line at a time, on whatever cron schedule is set. I’m not going to go into anymore here, but I promise to post about it int he future. It’s also a little ugly and probably insecure as hell, but it works well.

The main fun of integrating Tweeter, the box is 140 characters wide, the same as a tweet. So I had to modify my core code framework to have a toggle for pages that don’t display the sidebar. It wasn’t anything complicated, but I hadn’t considered that need, and so I fixed it. That’s kind of part of the fun and point of doing these sort of code projects.