The nice thing about digital books is that they are easily stored and accessible in very little space. The bad thing about digital books is that it can be hard to find things in a virtual shelf where you can’t easily see covers and authors and topics. There is something to be said for covers, when you can easily glance at a row of books and see the color combination that sticks out as “This is the book that I like”.
Tech books present a different problem, since it’s less easy to make notes or stick papers in important bits of code that you want to reference later. I usually resort to screen shots, but they become hard to sift through later the more screen shots there are. Especially since you usually can’t name files with useful names on a tablet or phone where you may be reading a tech book.
Despite a few tools out there to organize your files for you, probably most notable and easy to use is Calibre, I still prefer to sort things by a basic directory structure.
This is useful for a few reasons, one, if an organizing program ever breaks or I want to upgrade, things are still sorted at a base level. For the most part everything is sorted by base type, though in a few cases they are sorted by source. For example, the Packt eBooks are almost all tech books and almost all of them include zip files of code, so I’ve given them their own directory. Also a lot of them aren’t super great, so, while I like to have them around, I don’t need the clutter in my actual Tech books folders. Most were freebies from when Packt used to give away books daily.
Most of these folders have their own internal structure, For example, the image above is for Tech books. The comics folder has folders for series and publishers, the Foreign Language folder has folders for languages, the Fiction folder is sorted by series and genre. Etc. Etc. Etc.
This whole ball is the core archive. Most of the time I keep working folders with copies of these various books on my laptop or on a portable drive. The comics I am currently reading or the tech books that are actually useful, that sort of thing. All of the books in the archive are DRM free, so I can copy and read them as I want. I prefer to buy DRM Free books, Humble Bundle, O’Reilly, Packt, StoryBundle, Leanpub, Project Gutenberg, probably some others I’m forgetting are all pretty good for DRM free ebooks.
What complicates things are Nook and Kindle, which are both more proprietary. I had an early generation of the Nook for a while, but Amazon tends to have better deals on books, so I ultimately dropped buying from Nook. I hate having my library fractured across platforms. If I am going to buy DRM locked down books, it’s going to be one storefront, and Amazon has better sales. There are way to strip out the DRM but it’s a hassle to do regularly. Occasionally I update a backup archive of Nook and Kindle books to DRM free versions, in bulk, but it’s not worth bothering with on a single book by book case every time I buy a book.
I did a sort of prototyped this sort of post briefly on JoshMiller.net but deleted it because I kind of want to keep that site just being a landing page and not a blog. I also originally considered doing it weekly but that feels too frequent so instead I’m thinking monthly. Anyway, Last.fm, the music tracking app/service. I’ve been using this when I can, since 2005. It’s one of my favorite services out there because I love tracking my music listening habits. I have not been able to use it all the time. For a while I listened to music on devices that weren’t supported, or via apps that weren’t supported. I do always come back to it.
I want to start with last months’ top album Scrobbles.
Most of the bottom half are low number listens but the top half in the top ten or so are the real bulk of listens. Number 1, Number 5, Number 8, and Number 23 are all Sigrid. Sigrid has been my current music obsession. She has quickly risen to like number 3 or 4 in my overall by artist since I started listening to her a few months ago. As part of my music blogging, I want to explore individual artists some so I won’t go into a ton of detail. There actually would be more Sigrid scrobbles but some of my tracks don’t have proper Info attached so they don’t scrobble as anything.
Notable though with Sigrid, this month I went and saw her live, in St. Louis. And it was awesome. The opener at the live show was Number 2 on this list, Raffaella. I bought her 6 track EP, Ballerina, after the show and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit as well.
Number 3 and Number 14 are both Alice Merton. I’ve listened to Alive Merton longer than Sigrid, but I’ve been adding a few more tracks of hers ot my playlist recently. She’s put out a new extended version of her album Mint, so I expect her to continue to show up for a while. Another artists I really enjoy that I’ve been trying to add more of is Kiesza at Number 6 on this list. Kiesza has a pretty amazing voice that I really can’t get enough of.
Number 4 is a bit more mainstream, with Kesha, or is it still Ke$ha? I don’t know. I had been listeneing to the newer single Praying for a while and recently decided to give the rest of the album a listen. There’s some pretty good stuff in there. I particularly like the one about Godzilla.
Anyway, I’m sure I will have the chance to talk about more of these albums in more detail in the future. I want to switch a bit, since this is the first post in this (hopefully) series and touch a bit on my overall 5×5 listing. Mostly to give a bit more overview on my overall listening habits over the past, 14 years.
Like I said above, Sigrid has already jumped way up there, with Sucker Punch coming in at Number 2. The spread here also includes a lot of my other favorites. Taylor Swift gets three albums in this top 25, as does BT. Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry have several appearances, though Katy ranks quite a bit lower. Technically Daft Punk has 3 as well, since they did the two Tron sountracks.
Anyway, like I mentioned above, I kind of want to talk more about music I listen to, both more mainstream and not. Hopefully with some monthly summaries, but also with some intermixed spotlight moments along the way.
I don’t go to a lot of concerts, and of the 7 total I’ve been to of any merit, 4 of them weren’t really anything I would have necesarilly chosen. Three of them were country music that my wife and daughter wanted to see (Toby Kieth & Kip Moore, Lee Brice, Travis Tritt). Though the shows were enjoyable, country music isn’t my first choice in music genre. The main issue honestly is most of the artists I would want to see tend to be at huge venues and cost a few hundred dollars a ticket, so it’s just not really affordable.
So when I was watching some Sigrid on Youtube and there was a little notice below about a show “nearby” in St Louis, I figured, why not let’s see what’s up. It turns out, it was super affordable, and it’s close enough that I could always drive there and back in one round trip, even if it meant a late night. I asked my wife if she wanted to go, and mentioned that it was cheap enough that even if she ended up not being able to, because of her various come and go health issues, the extra ticket wouldn’t be a huge bust or anything. Fortunately, she came along as well.
We opted to make a little mini vacation of it, and I took a couple of days off work. I joked that we were having a Scandinavian vacation, since we went to IKEA (Sweedish-ish) during the day before seeing Sigrid, who is Norwegian, that evening. The day after we also went to the St Louis Zoo.
The show itself was at a little club called The Ready Room. I couldn’t find a ton about the place online before the show so I wasn’t super sure what to expect. It wasn’t a particularly large venue, and the maximum capacity listed was 750 people, so at the very least, it was going to be a fairly small crowd. We arrived around an hour early, plenty of parking available ont he street too which was nice. The excitement of the show kind of got ramped up here as we walked past the tour bus parked on the side of the building. There were a dozen or so people lined up outside, so we walked next door to a sort of open space pizza spot called Pie Guy Pizza for a quick bite to eat.
Doors opened shortly after we had arrived, and the line hadn’t grown much, if any, so we headed on in. The stage area was a mostly black room, but it was also much wider than it was deep, so there was a lot of width to the stage. I ended up standing right up front next to the rail, though off to one side. After a bit more wait, it was time for the show.
So, in addition to Sigrid, there was also an opening act, Raffaella, as part of the show. I’d never heard anything from Raffaella, so in the weeks leading up to the show, I added some of her tracks to my Amazon playlist. Probably my favorite song of the half dozen songs she has out is Balaclava, though in general, I rather enjoy all of her tracks.
I didn’t take any video of Raffaella, so you’ll have to settle for this iteration from Youtube. Funny enough, I had listened to this track enough that I was able to sing along for quite a bit of it during the performance. Her show was decent as well, though due to the wide nature of the stage, it felt a little crowded, since her band was set up in front of Sigrid’s Band’s gear.
Unfortunately, I only ended up with one sort of OK photo from Raffaella’s set. I wasn’t super satisfied with a lot of my photos from this event. My camera’s phone sucks, and I had inquired before hand about the camera policy of the club and got a sort of boiler plate reply that suggested I would not be able to bring my DSLR to the show. I had brought my daughter’s fixed lens midrange Nikon, but in the end, left it int he car, because I didn’t want to deal with if I would be allowed to bring it in or not.
After Raffaella’s set, there was a short intermission while the crew broke down the extra instruments and cleaned up the stage before the main act. I’ve watched a lot of videos of Sigrid’s Sucker Punch tour, so I had a pretty good idea of how the set would go. But still, it was quite exciting to actually be there as Peder, Kristina, Sondre and Kasper came out in the dark to take positions on stage. Then the familiar sort of ambient build up to the opening of Sucker Punch as Sigrid rushes out and starts singing the song.
I just want to say, it’s really something else to go see an artist that you really like, and get to be “right there”. Later, after the show, I commented to my wife that the whole thing made me really want to go see more live shows, but I’m spoiled now because I’ll probably never end up with this perfect combo again.
Having listened to all of these tracks really helped the whole experience as well, there’s something really fun about a crowd of people all singing along with each other all just in the moment. Sigrid puts on a really great show as well. She is constantly moving and dancing around the stage. She makes little call outs to the crowd. Possibly the best one, at one point she jumped out onto the platform on the backside of the railing in front of the stage and someone int he audience totally lost it. Sigrid commented that she “Didn’t expect you to scream like that.”
The band is great too, and sometimes I feel like they don’t get enough credit. Kasper does some great drum riffs, I particularly love him in the track Go to War. Sondre does some pretty good guitar work on the few times he gets to do his small moments to shine. I’m less familiar with Peder, as he is new to the group after some sort of unknown drama involving the old keyboardist. I also really like Kristina as Sigrid’s backup vocals. I’ve been listening to her album “Revet vekk” some recently. It’s all in Norwegian and has a way different vibe than Sigrid, but I find it pretty relaxing to listen to.
Anyway, I also really enjoy how every track sort of feels different. Some of them are heavy bouncy fast paced songs. Then you get more relaxed moments like in Dynamite, where Sigrid plays solo on the Keyboard, or Level Up where it was just Sigrid, Kristina, and Sondre.
My only complaint, which personally, isn’t a huge one, and I have no idea what the actual “blame” would be for it. Holy shit the show was loud. Like, literally, overwhelmingly loud at times. There were many times when I could basically only hear drums. There was a moment, probably during the heavy drum beats of Go to War, that I had resigned myself that I’d possibly be deaf after the show was over. I don’t know if the sound was cranked up too much, or I just wasn’t expecting it, or (most likely) I was standing 2 feet in front of one of the speakers, but it was LOUD. It was a good thing I was already pretty familiar with the music. Also, I suspect it was where I was standing, because my wife, who was standing behind/beside me, just off tot he side of the speaker, didn’t really mention having the same problem, even when I mentioned it.
Whatever the case, I would definitely go to another Sigrid Show, and I definitely want to go to more concerts in the future, though I may try to stick to smaller venues like this one, even if it’s not a band I am super familiar with. I’m going to wrap up here with the one video I did take, of my favorite Sigrid track, Basic.