Daft Punk’s Break-up

I’ve had friends reaching out to me all day today about Daft Punk’s break-up, and there’s a lot to say about it.

Daft Punk is one of the most important bands I’ve ever listened to. They are one of a very small number of groups that defined my relationship with music from the time I branched off from what my parents listened to (Stray Cats and the Ramones), as I started to explore my own tastes. I got into them around the time their Alive 2007 tour was starting, largely consuming them through MySpace. Around the time, Stronger (the Kanye West one, not the Kelly Clarkson one) was really popular on the radio.

I was playing a lot of online games on the computer at this age (and not practicing very much on my instruments), and Daft Punk was the soundtrack for me at the time. I’d load up albums in a World of Warcraft music player add-on, and I remember a small community of shoutcast radio stations popular with my internet friends we’d stream through Winamp, and I’d incessantly request Daft Punk.

It was all magnificent to me. At that age, Discovery was my favorite. Some of Homework’s more abrasive tracks I forced myself to love until I appreciated the whole album. Even Human After All was good to me. I didn’t understand what made Musique a different album, but I remembered listening to the Daft Club album and especially the Aerodynamic remix from Slum Village on my Motorola KRZR in Boy Scouts, thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I put on an image of being really into “Techno” at the time, and while I did branch a bit off into artists like Basshunter, it was always centered on Daft Punk.

Alive 2007 remains to me their masterpiece. It so perfectly synthesizes their entire body of work up to that point, and I spent years wishing I could see that performance. Daft Punk, in all their mystery, set up a pattern: From 1997, it was an album every four years and a tour every ten it seemed. 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2009’s Tron: Legacy (which I never got into very hard, but now that it’s all we’ll ever have, I’m going to be listening to it a lot more).

2013’s Random Access Memories was the “album of the summer” after I finished high school, and what an incredible album to have for that time. While I didn’t expect that I’d have a lot of extra spare change, I was so eager for 2017 to bring the next album and the tour that I’d been waiting for. And it never came.

Four years later, it’s over. It’s not really a painful blow; their silence in 2017 was wholly unexpected, and this is just the answer to the question of “what next” that went unanswered four years ago. It’s hard to imagine them doing a “reunion” tour down the road, or anything of the sort, but this is the final nail in the coffin, and it’s being hammered pretty gently given the relative silence since featuring with The Weeknd on Starboy.

I don’t know what it really is about them that worked so well for me, but it did. I don’t really care for anime, but I enjoyed the heck out of their movie for Discovery, Interstella 5555. I never watched D.A.F.T. and I never had the patience to finish Electroma (their movies for Homework and Human After All respectively).

Daft Punk’s music set me up to connect to music in a whole host of ways. In all honesty, it probably wasn’t anything particular about Daft Punk that did it, but the repetition — especially of those first three albums — feels tangentially related to how much I loved learning about hypermeter and phrase rhythm in college. Maybe another band would’ve filled the place Daft Punk did, but something about their distance from their music, the lack of anything “edgy” or seemingly counter-cultural — while never feeling mainstream to me as a youth — let me make the music mine in a way that I can really appreciate now as an adult.

Would I be a band director if Daft Punk weren’t an honest obsession (for a part of my life) and a continued love (to this day) for me? Sure, maybe. But the fact that Daft Punk was the band for me that they were is one of those “nurture” things that make me the person I am.

To be a bit less navel-gaze-y I wanted to share a cool interview from 2001, shortly after the release of Discovery. The interesting thing in here is their appreciation of Napster from an artist’s standpoint. While I’ve gained a much better appreciation for copyright when it works well than I had as a youth, it’s interesting to see this free of an attitude from such successful artists.

Configuring SSH and rsub Without a Config File

I picked up an AWS Lightsail instance to play with while trying to learn a few things for personal hobbies. I’ve really taken to using Sublime Text, and one of my favorite features may be rsub. rsub piggy-backs off of a technology developed for TextMate called rmate. While BBEdit is able to open an entire FTP directory, and of course FTP clients are able to open whatever editor you please, there are times it’s nice to be able to launch into editing directly from a shell.

I got the basic setup from Keyrus for installing rmate on my Lightsail server. Briefly, it’s:

sudo wget -O /usr/local/bin/rsub https://raw.github.com/aurora/rmate/master/rmate
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/rsub

rsub is installed locally through Package Control for Sublime Text.

Unfortunately, I’ve had some issues with my SSH config file, so I was unable to get rsub to tunnel back. If you follow the instructions on the linked post, you wouldn’t have to deal with this. I, however, needed to establish this in my ssh startup command (loaded into the iTerm profile for my Lightsail instance).

I got the answer on fixing the tunnel from Stack Overflow, using the bind address option. On top of that, I declare the identity file of my private key in the SSH command[1] when I’m loading the server, and I wasn’t sure immediately what order to handle those in.

The final command was:

ssh -R 52698:localhost:52698 -i FILEPATHTOPRIVATEKEY username@instance.url

Loaded in that manner, I can just load text files using rsub with ease.

I wanted to share this just to lay out the solution for anyone dealing with the same thing, and because I haven’t had an excuse to post in awhile. None of this would be hard to figure out for anyone doing this on a serious basis, but that doesn’t describe me at all.

  1. This should also be done in the SSH config file. After trying to configure SSH in Sourcetree with Github, I started having issues SSHing elsewhere through iTerm and deleting the config file solved all of those problems. I have no idea what I’m doing.  ↩

How I’m Consuming my Feeds

I’ve been very occupied lately with the job hunt, but thankfully have found work for the Fall.  I’m excited to follow up with my previous post on using RSS feeds with my progress!

I’ve improved the actual experience of getting news through RSS by organizing my feeds into more specific folders.  I found through some searching that this is what most people do with their RSS feeds, and it was certainly a pain point for me.  I now have separate folders for national/world news, local news, sports news, music notation blogs, and tech sites.  I have a few particularly low-volume/high-interest feeds outside of folders entirely.  This makes my RSS a lot more digestible, but I find myself totally catching up with some folders (mainly the tech news) and barely touching others.  One of the ones that I’m opening less is the national/world news, which was part of the whole goal of switching to RSS.  It’s largely because the feeds in here are a mix of worthwhile content and insightful op-eds buried under content that exists purely to fill quotas.  

Reeder as an app has grown on me.  I’m still manually syncing by OPML (although a Workflow could probably help speed that along down the road).  Discovering how to actually use the “Mercury Reader” feature on iOS was a major improvement.  Most articles only preview ‘before the break’ as you go through them.  Mercury Reader simply pulls everything after the break to read in the app instead of opening in your browser.  It’s must faster than waiting for all the extra elements of most sites to load and closing the ad that blocks the whole screen on most news sites.  I was using it heavily on my Mac (where it’s clearly labeled in a dropdown and a shortcut).  I assumed it wasn’t on iOS until I discovered you can get it by using the zoom-in gesture or tapping the favicon on an article.

Despite RSS improving, I’ve actually found myself drawing more from Twitter and Reddit again, because I’m managed to improve those experiences.  When Twitter announced they were dropping support for their Mac App, I wanted a better way to manage a group chat I was in on Twitter.  I picked up Twitterrific for Mac on sale and really liked the experience.  (Interestingly, the Twitter API doesn’t let 3rd party apps access group messages, so it didn’t solve that need).  After a bit of time using Twitterrific, I decided to switch to Tweetbot which I’m still using on Mac and iOS.  

I was always content to use the official Twitter app, but using a 3rd-party app in 2018 has really improved the experience.  While there are a few features missing (polls, in-app Periscope access, etc.) it is a chronological feed.  I didn’t realize how much I disliked Twitter’s algorithmic feed until I had a chronological feed again.  No matter how many times I told it that I didn’t want to see “what I missed,” I still saw it.  I was using Twitter less, not in protest of this feed, but because I found the content less compelling.  Having my raw feed, I feel the same connection to Twitter I did when I first signed up.

I would wholeheartedly recommend picking up either Twitterrific or Tweetbot if it didn’t seem Twitter is putting another nail in the coffin for 3rd party apps with a change to the APIs.  I hope this doesn’t come to pass, but I’m not optimistic.  I’ve been told that by using Lists, one can get a chronological feed natively on Twitter, but that seems like a lot of extra steps to just check a social media site.  I see my Twitter use basically dropping off again if the APIs break.

I mentioned also using Reddit a bit more than I did.  This is largely due to picking up Apollo for my iPhone on a whim.  I’ve always hated the Reddit mobile site, but always been fine with the desktop site on mobile.  I didn’t think there was a need for Apollo to solve for me, but I’m actually a big fan of the app.

Until (unless?) Twitter kills their API, I see this set-up for my feeds working very well for me.  When that time comes for Twitter, I don’t know how my consumption will change, but I’m sure I’ll post updates here.  I’ve got a few posts cooking, including a “blog roll,” or rather, feeds I’m reading a lot of that I can recommend.

Coffee Setup & My Coffee Story

I started college not drinking coffee and graduated a coffee nut.  I roast, grind, and brew my own coffee.

 Daily Brew

I use a Technivorm Moccamaster Grand (15-cup or 60 fl oz) for my daily brew.  I weigh out 108g of my beans the night before into my Baratza Encore and fill up the water reservoir on my Moccamaster.  In the morning I grind the beans while I take care of something else, put on the pot, and when it’s done take it off the hot pad so it can cool down enough for me to put into my 40 oz Thermos.  I bring a mug upstairs with me which will be cool enough to drink by the time I get out of the shower, and usually have one or two more when I get downstairs.  Then I pour a cup in my travel mug and the rest into my thermos (the thermos is a bear to drink out of while I’m driving).  Throughout the day I’ll drink straight from the thermos (I don’t even know where the mug/lid is anymore).  I probably spent too much on my Escali L600 scale, which I saw recommended on Sweet Maria’s.

 Other Equipment

Every now and then when I have the time and I feel like doing the work, I’ll do a manual brew into my Chemex. I use a fairly standard Bonavita gooseneck with it, and like being able to program the temperature on that.  Because I keep my Moccamaster away from my kitchen sink, I actually use that Bonavita to pour water into the reservoir.  I’ve seen horror stories of Moccamasters where the carafe has been used to pour water into the reservoir.  No matter what coffee maker you use, don’t do this, the oil build up is terrible for your machine.

I roast using a Behmor 1600 Plus, and probably violate all the safety guidelines they included in the manual.  I got a pretty good deal on it from someone on the Home Coffee Roaster’s Facebook group, and definitely recommend a hand vacuum with a Behmor.  I buy my green coffee (i.e. unroasted beans) through Bodhi Leaf who have awesome prices and a newsletter with a weekly deal on one origin of coffee

 My Coffee Story

When I started college, I didn’t like coffee.  I usually tried to drink it when it was too hot and just burnt myself and never tasted it.  I had problem falling asleep in classes even when I got a decent amount of sleep, and taking daily caffeine pills didn’t work.  My sophomore year I started having multiple nights a week where I’d get three hours of sleep, and buying energy drinks on these days was expensive fast (and energy drinks are terrible for your health).  I decided to force myself into liking coffee, picking it up whenever I was at a place it was free (e.g. waiting room at the mechanic’s, church…) and drink as much of it as I could.  I forced myself to do this with black coffee because I didn’t ever want to decline coffee when someone lacked my recipe of cream and sugar.  Looking back, this was a stupid justification, but the health benefits of black vs non-black coffee make me glad I followed this logic.

Eventually I found myself craving the taste of coffee once or twice and I decided I was ready to buy my own coffee equipment.  I actually found the 40-oz thermos first and decided I’d get a coffee maker that I could just fill that thermos up with.  Of course a standard US cup is 8 fl oz, so I got a 5-cup Mr Coffee before I realized that a “coffee cup” was not a standard US cup, and this made 25 fl oz.  Rather than brew two pots a day to fill up one thermos, I got a 12-cup (60 fl oz) Mr Coffee maker (that amazingly still works, a family member uses it) and put pre-ground Dunkin Donuts house blend coffee into it.

As I’ve learned from r/coffee and the Home Roaster facebook group, most people don’t drink 60 fl oz a day.  I did not know this when I started drinking coffee, and felt wasteful pouring out so much coffee.  I forced myself through intense headaches drinking 60 fl oz a day because I was a stupid 20-year-old who did all sorts of terrible things to his body.  Eventually I acclimated to this insane amount of coffee, and I have significantly more energy and attentiveness than I did before I started drinking it.  Maybe it’s an insane amount, but there’s no going back now.

I continued this way for about eight months.  When I was home for winter break my junior year, I went out to Dunkin Donuts to get more coffee and accidentally bought 3 lbs of whole beans.  Rather than go back to the store and admit I was an idiot, I found my great uncle’s hand coffee grinder and brewed a pot that way.  I found – even with store-bought first wave coffee – that it was a much better pot.

It was a wonderful coincidence that same night that I found r/coffee and discovered that there was more to coffee than just using a french press instead of a Mr Coffee.  I poured through all their guides fascinated and started looking into what I could do.  I wanted to keep drinking coffee in the quantity I already did, which eliminated the daily use of something like an Aeropress.  I thought I might really enjoy a Chemex from what I’d read, but wanted to try a cup made from a Chemex before I committed.

In the mean time, I started grinding my Dunkin Donuts coffee with a terrible blade grinder.  I quickly upgraded to my Encore and kept brewing the same beans and the same coffee maker.  Eventually I found a coffee shop in my college town that served coffee brewed in a Chemex and tried it.  I liked it, but I was unconvinced it was the right brew for me every day.  They recommended the Moccamaster and I haven’t looked back.

I started roasting my own beans mostly because of price.  I spend about $5/lb on green coffee and after the loss of weight from roasting, wind up with about 0.83 lb of roasted coffee per lb of green coffee.  Roasted coffee is fresh for 15 days, so getting anything that’s not local is probably not truly fresh, and local roasters sell at $12+ per .75 lb which winds up costing well over twice as much as roasting it myself.  I started roasting with a popcorn popper on my stovetop, which requires you to be cranking it the whole time and maxes out around half a pound per batch.  I picked up the Behmor to make it a more hands off process and allow me to roast a full pound per batch.

I’ve been able to keep this up for two years now, and it’s proved worth it.  Roasting itself has become a bit of a chore, but grinding it fresh every morning is really no trouble.  Coffee snobs are a niche enough market that there will never probably be an awesome smart home/automated solution for this, but it’s really good coffee.