Amazon Music Now Sucks Completely

Amazon Echo, probably the easiest and simplest way to listen to music I have, had just completely shat itself and it’s so incredibly frustrating.  I don’t understand why companies are so dead set on ruining every product they make (Oh wait, I do, something something endless growth bull shit, but that’s a rant for elsewhere).  I don’t care for Ala-carte subscription based music at all.  Artists general don’t get paid enough cut, and I like being able to listen to my music years to decades later, without paying monthly, endlessly.  I still own every CD I have ever bought.  Granted, I do buy some of my CDs used so the artist still gets nothing from that so I guess that’s mildly hypocritical.   Here’s an article about the change.

My point is, I buy music digitally.  Hell, I bought a couple of albums just last Friday for #BandCampFriday.  I have literally hundreds of albums and thousands of trcks PURCHASED through Amazon Music.  I’ve been buying music through Amazon for over a decade.  More recently I shifted away a bit because I wanted to get FLAC options but when I can’t find FLAC I still buy from Amazon because the quality offered is still a pretty good MP3.  This made the Echo and Alexa super great because I could just tell it, “Alexa, play Aurora from my library”, and it would play my tracks, or whatever artist or album I wanted.

I even have an echo hooked to my sound system down in the basement so it sounds better.

But this recent change.  This isn’t even an option for music I have purchased.  Like now, as I type this, I played my album, “A Different Kind of Human”.  And it’s just randomly inserted some other random track in.  It’s also playing the tracks out of order.  I even tried playing it from the Alexa App on my phone.  Maybe it works better in the Amazon Music app but I had to dump that because it kept asking EVERY SINGLE TIME I opened it to subscript to Music Unlimited.

Which is the goal with this new Shuffle Play idiocy.  If you subscribe up, you can get all the old features back.  Which I have no interest in.  I own my music, and I already pay too much for Amazon Prime, which is going up AGAIN next year.  I don’t even have it on Auto Renew anymore because it’s like $150/year now and twice as much as when I started subscribing.  I really just want to pay $60/year or whatever for easier shipping.  I don’t care about all this extra nonsense.

I wouldn’t even mind this annoying change as much if it just worked with music I’ve purchased, but it doesn’t.

Looking for some answers or suggestions on fixing this around the web says that a lot of people are upset about this. Not just because of situations like mine where you can’t listen to your own music, but because of things like custom routines and playlists being completely broken as well. A couple that stood out to me were people who had routines set up for their kids to go to sleep listening to particular songs using playlists and timers. Another was how it completely breaks soundtracks to musicals, and I imagine it breaks other similar content with a need for linear tracks that run together like Stand Up Comedy and Dance mixes.

It all feels incredibly poorly thought out and frankly, it doesn’t drive me to upgrade my subscription (which is the point) but makes me want to find a different smart speaker solution that works better with my local network shares. If I were going to subscribe to music, it would be Spotify or Tidal over Amazon.

Saturday 2022-11-05 – Link List

Blogging Intensifies Link List for Saturday 2022-11-05

04-Nov-2022 – Gorillaz have shared a new single, ‘Baby Queen’, from their upcoming LP, ‘Cracker Island’

04-Nov-2022 – Sigrid has released ‘How To Let Go (Special Edition)’ with the brand new track, ‘Everybody Says They’re Fine’

04-Nov-2022 – Paramore have announced a gigantic North American tour for 2023

04-Nov-2022 – Paramore have taken to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform ‘This Is Why’

04-Nov-2022 – Avril Lavigne has teamed up with YUNGBLUD on her new single, ‘I’m A Mess’

03-Nov-2022 – Hasbro unveils Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie tie-in Dicelings action figures

04-Nov-2022 – Studio Ghibli offering reprints of posters from all its anime films made from original plates

04-Nov-2022 – New Cowboy Bebop Comic Revisits the Netflix Remake

04-Nov-2022 – Bill Nye’s VR Science Kit Enhances Classic Experiments with Virtual Reality

FreshRSS and RSS Feed Posts

Keen observers (ha ha ha no one reads this), might have noticed that a few posts of links showed up in the feed.  These are basically, stories I read in my RSS reader that I found interesting, and wanted to share, or at least, keep track of.  The posts as of now are a little ugly, and I’ll probably clean up the formatting over time, but I wanted to go ahead and write a bit about the process.  I’ll have the Code on Github at some point.

As for the factors, firstly, this is something I’ve wanted to have on my blog for a while.  Like a long while.  I might even try to see if there are ways to better slit up the links by topic later.  A fair number of blogs I subscribe to have these sort of link digest posts, and I’ve always just liked the idea.  It’s also good for personal reference to when I may have read something.  It is limited as it only comes from y RSS Reader.

Speaking of my RSS Reader.  I’ve moved on from TinyTinyRSS, for a few reasons.  One, the interface is a little meh, honestly.  Maybe the newer version is better but it’s only available in Docker, and Docker is such a PItA to use.  Also, while looking for alternatives, it sounds like the folks who make TTRSS are kind of a bunch of gatekeeping jerk types, and I’d rather not support that.  I also find the need to keep the update daemon running with Screen to be a pain.  So I’ve moved over to FreshRSS, which I just run locally on a Raspberry Pi.  I may move it to a publicly accessibly machine at some point, but I am not entirely convinced that TT-RSS wasn’t the entry point for my previous server malware woes.

So, like TT-RSS, Fresh RSS has a way to get an RSS feed out of your Favorited posts.  In the past I’ve used tools like IFTTT to automate posting these links around, but I don’t use IFTTT anymore for reasons I’m not going into.  Fortunately, I’ve been working to become a pretty good Python coder for the last month or so.  So instead I wrote a script.  

It’s not even a particularly complicated script.  There are only two things it really needs to do, get new articles, and then post them to WordPress. Since the script runs locally, on the same Raspberry Pi even, it easily can reach and pull the RSS feed.  One nice thing I noticed with Fresh RSS, the feed included a time interval, so just getting new posts was super simple, because the interval is just “24” for “24 hours”.  The script eventually will run on a cronjob at the exact same time daily.  Anyway, after pulling the RSS, the entries are already in an easily usable Dictionary.  which gets fed into the construction of the WordPress Post.

def get_feed(feed_url):
    NewsFeed = feedparser.parse(feed_url)
    return NewsFeed

The posting part was pretty easy as well, WordPress has an API, and Python also has a library that can use that API.  It just needs some log in information and a post payload to send.  

def make_post(NewsFeed):
    wp = Client(f'https://{wp_url}/xmlrpc.php', wp_user, wp_pass)
    post = WordPressPost()
    post.title = f"{cur_date} - Link List"
    post.terms_names = {'category': ['Link List'], 'post_tag': ['links', 'FreshRSS']}
    post.content = f"<p>Blogging Intensifies Link List for {cur_date}</p>"
    for each in NewsFeed.entries:
        post.content += f'{each.published[5:-15].replace(" ", "-")} - <a href="{each.links[0].href}">{each.title}</a></p>'

The trickiest part was formatting the date a bit prettier.  I mentioned cleaning up the formatting a bit, I’m thinking maybe a simple invisible table, so the date and the links don’t wrap oddly like they do now.   i also added a check that if there are no new favorited posts, it will skip making a post.  Otherwise I’ll end up with empty posts on days I forget to check my feed reader

While writing the script, at first I was just outputting a text copy of the post to the console until satisfied.  Eventually, I pushed out a real post, then verified that things worked.  The next day, was just a straight test by opening the project, then running it again.  The third day, I copied the files and installed the lobraries needed, then posted from the Pi.  Phase 4 of this will be to set up Cron to run it automatically.  If that works then it will certainly, “just run” for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday 2022-11-02 – Link List

Blogging Intensifies Link List for Wednesday 2022-11-02

02-Nov-2022 – Gargoyles returns with first-look preview of new comic book series

02-Nov-2022 – [Fanatical]] Internet Cafe Simulator (free)

02-Nov-2022 – Lord of the Rings: What a Rings of Power Prequel Series Set in the First Age Could Look Like

Tuesday 2022-11-01 – Link List

Blogging Intensifies Link List for Tuesday 2022-11-01

01-Nov-2022 – Taylor Swift has announced a huge US stadium tour, with support from Paramore, Phoebe Bridgers, Beabadoobee & more

01-Nov-2022 – Dwarf Fortress headed to Steam with revamped visuals

01-Nov-2022 – Mei temporarily disabled in Overwatch 2 for two weeks

01-Nov-2022 – [Fanatical] Star Wars Collection

01-Nov-2022 – The Last of Us TV series to premiere in January

01-Nov-2022 – Kids Can Have Fun and Feel Good About the Environment with the Curious Kingdom Playset

31-Oct-2022 – It’s faster to earn Overwatch 2 skins through playing WOW than the actual game, players suggest

31-Oct-2022 – Overwatch 2: How to Earn Overwatch League Rewards