Year: 2020

Sacred Bones “Reissuing” the “full” “LP” from “Jeremiah Sand”

Last Spring I got a flyer included with an order from Sacred Bones advertising a “Gathering of the Children”:

Today I got an email from them with the subject line “Uncovering a maniacal cult leader’s lost psych folk gem!,” which got me really excited. But it turns out to be a full album of music from the fictional Jeremiah Sand from Mandy.

It’s even available as an 8-track!

The Children of the New Dawn have also created a website, “last updated September 21, 1999” (the autumnal equinox, I assume?)

Also check out this sweet Boris Vallejo-like painting of Jeremiah Sand from the Bandcamp page:

Leave a Comment

How to have Siri read articles to you

On a drive recently and wanting to listen to a longform article over BlueTooth, I considered my options.

Apple News has a great new human-read audio service, but only for select articles.

There have been a half dozen human-read news apps that came to (and sometimes went from) the App Store in the last few years, but their library of content is often small — Noa and Listle, to name a couple.

Instapaper and Pocket can “read” articles with generated speech, but the quality of the speech isn’t great.

I remembered the impressive demo of the new Siri voice at the iOS 13 keynote and thought it’d be cool if Siri could read an article to me. I said, “Hey Siri, read this article to me,” with no luck.

But there’s an unobtrusive accessibility setting you can activate that will allow you to trigger Siri reading any web content.

In “Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content,” turn on “Speak Screen.” Then in “Voices,” download one of the “Siri” voices, which should be better than the default “Samantha.”

Now, when you’re viewing an article in Safari, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen, and Siri will start reading the article, even with variable speed. It’s not perfect, but it’s better and even easier than the third-party options I’ve found.

Leave a Comment

Observations on Apple’s “The whole working-from-home thing” video

I love these videos, where Apple showcases its fantasies for what a fully Apple-ified life looks like. (I’m reminded of this Martin Scorcese/Siri commercial from 2012.) I’m also fascinated by production design and the small easter eggs hidden in stuff like this. And I like watching people…be productive? It’s weird I know.

I imagine the purpose is to pull all of Apple’s devices and features out of the abstract and into something resembling a real-life context, so that you can more easily say, “Oh that would make things easier/better/faster/cooler for me.”

So here’s some stuff I noticed:

Continue reading “Observations on Apple’s “The whole working-from-home thing” video”

Leave a Comment

On Vim’s being institutionally outdated

I adore Vim, I use it every day, and I wouldn’t dream of switching to anything else, but every once in a while I’m reminded of another thing about it that is just unequivocally bad and indefensible.

I was reading about the “CoC” plugin (“Conqueror of Completion”) this morning when I thought, “Wait, can’t Omni completion do some of that?” So I opened up Vim with a minimal .vimrc and typed:

document.que<C-x><C-o>

<C-x><C-o> opens Vim’s native Omni completion function, which I would expect to be at least somewhat current on JavaScript methods in 2020. Instead, nothing came up.

I had a look at the source of the JavaScript completion function in Vim, and found this: a file that was last updated three years ago, but that hasn’t been meaningfully updated since 2006.

So how have Vim users been getting by?

Continue reading “On Vim’s being institutionally outdated”

Leave a Comment

Chuck Klosterman said in 50 years the only rock musician we remember will be Chuck Berry, but I still think Little Richard will fare better.

Leave a Comment

What if the iPad trackpad is for focus, too?

I’ve been thinking about the rumored iPad trackpad lately, and find myself having thoughts along the same lines as Dieter Bohn, namely that adding a cursor to the iPad would be a step backwards. Not only would it inherently invalidate and derail the current path of the touch computing paradigm, it could lead to lazy development of iPad apps that employ “touch targets” that are at too fine a scale for actual touch. Slapping an arrow cursor onto the iPad is a cop out. The addition of mouse support for accessibility is great, for accessibility, and importantly that addition doesn’t mimic a traditional cursor.

Bohn suggests that the trackpad would be useful even if just for text manipulation, but I think it could go further. Multi-finger gestures, of course, for accessing slideover and expose, for instance; but as I heard Federico Viticci point out that there is no “focus engine” in iPadOS as there is in tvOS, it occurred to me that maybe the trackpad could perform this function, too. Apps on the Apple TV can’t respond to touch, of course, so everything is handled with the remote’s touchpad moving focus around. Would this be a useful addition to iPadOS, giving users the ability to “tap” touch targets without removing their hands from the keyboard?

Leave a Comment

If it’s not an RSS feed, it’s not a podcast

Recently a podcast I like “moved to Spotify,” which is the only place it can now be heard. A couple weeks ago I was recommended a podcast that sounded interesting, but it turned out to be exclusive to the Luminary “podcast network.”

These are not podcasts. It’s not a matter of being behind a paywall (though Spotify’s aren’t, as far as I know); subscription fees aren’t antithetical to podcasting (though they may be technically challenging).

A podcast is a text file, an XML or JSON outline, that points a podcast player to a list of episodes. The podcast is indifferent to the thing downloading it, and the player is indifferent to the thing hosting it. Anything else isn’t a podcast — it’s just an audio show.

The term “podcast” has long outgrown its etymology as “something you play on your iPod,” but it’s nevertheless notable that these new “podcasts” cannot even be played on an iPod, other than an iPod Touch with a WiFi connection.

If I can’t listen to it on my iPod Nano, it’s not a podcast.

Leave a Comment