Unsubscribing from all the things

I really miss the heyday of RSS feeds. After running my own installation of Fever for years (which would periodically get bloated and I’d have to nuke it and start over) and then ultimately moving away from Fever after Shaun Inman discontinued support sometime last year, I’ve been using FeedWrangler, which I’m relatively pleased with.

Remember when you could actually find tons of useful options for locally hosted RSS feed readers back before we really cared about mobile phone support and reading the same feeds everywhere and Google Reader spoiled us all and then Google ruined our lives by shit-canning Google Reader? *sigh* Those were the good ole days of RSS. Amirite, Dave?

Anyhoot, my point is: RSS is great and I wish it were still as popular as it used to be with all the appropriate tools to support it. It allows you to subscribe to and be notified by all the things that you’d like to know about and you can easily skim through items you don’t care about in feeds.

This is extremely unlike the recent trend of email lists and subscriptions to emails… Where you have to open each one to mark it read. Where you have to click delete to make it actually go away. Where you have to religiously click UNSUBSCRIBE if you don’t want the emails reproducing like wet Mogwai who you fed after midnight.

Signal to noise ratio. That’s the problem.

There’s too much noise in modern society and not enough signal. Also, the plethora of signals available thanks to the commoditization of the internet mean that too often everyone is surrounded by microcosms of opinions that are just like their own. Everyone is stuck in their own little personally-nuanced echo chambers that distort our reality and make us think things like there is no way that guy could ever be President and tell themselves lies like “Oh he’ll never get sworn in. They’ll realize something illegal about him,” or “He didn’t even want to win. He’ll probably quit,” or “You know, he used to vote Democrat. Maybe this is all a ruse to get the Presidency and then he’ll get in office and actually be very liberal.” Yeah. Right.

So, yes, what I’ve veered into now is beyond just emails, and is actually inclusive of RSS feeds (if one doesn’t diligently subscribe to a variety of different voices to avoid the echo chamber effect), BUT emails are a key part of the commoditization of the internet. When we all first started blogging, it wasn’t about money. It was about having a voice in what was then a wild west of information. Now, it’s become a sea of advertisements. And they are all targeting you and tracking you and the majority of the emails that you receive (that aren’t from grandma or one of your coworkers who can’t convey what they want to in a text) are actually tied to the commoditized internet and are either trying to sell you something or pull you back in to read more things that they already know you like reading specifically so that your eyeballs will continue to see the advertisements they’ve sold alongside that content, which are also now presented based on things that they know that you’ve bought in the past.

And because of that: I highly recommend that we all unsubscribe from as many of the things as you can. Start with email lists. Start with deal sites. Start with Product Hunt. Start with Facebook. Start with your podcasts. Remove everything that reads or sounds too much like the thoughts you already have in your head.

Do that, and then start looking for other voices that are different. Don’t pick a lot of the same sort of different. Choose a variety. Read those for a week. Then add in a few of the ones that are more in line with what you already think. Have a healthy cornucopia of opinions and thoughts coming in. Then start your own blog. Or your own Twitter feed. Or however you think you can best broadcast what new thoughts you’re thinking from all that input and let’s start having some effective discourse again. Like we used to before we let ourselves be commoditized.

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So I bought a mechanical keyboard *clickety clackity*

So after several months of noticing one of my coworkers, Alex, using a Das Keyboard at work, and needing a basic USB connected keyboard that I can switch back and forth between my personal computer (Microsoft Surface Book that I use for things like writing on this blog, creating music in Ableton Live, and drawing doodles and comics in various art programs) and my work computer in my home office, I decided it was time to grab a clickety clackity mechanical keyboard. #oldschool

New mechanical keyboard clickity clacking all day long

A photo posted by C.K. Sample III (@cksample3) on

At first, I was looking at ridiculously priced options like the Das Keyboard line of mechanicals, but ultimately I ended up grabbing the “budget” AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard for about $60. I’ve had it for about a week now and am loving it so far. It’s very loud when I type, which I have found has the added benefit of forcing me to pay attention to people when I’m dialed in to meetings. I’m finding myself less often getting pulled into “Oh, I’ll just reply quickly to this Slack someone just sent me” while I’m having a conversation with a coworker via Hangouts. That’s a definite positive. Also, the RGB functionality of this keyboard is cool. There are several different default settings you can toggle through. I currently have it set to trigger a rainbow pulse of light from each key as it is pressed that spreads out across the keyboard as if you’ve just caused a ripple in a stagnant pool of water. Neat. Also, you can program the keys individually via the keyboard itself, although I have yet to figure out exactly how to do that following the somewhat sparse instructions in the manual that came with the AUKEY.

One other cool thing: I think this is the first time I have used an actual full-sized keyboard in over a decade, but hello highly useful dedicated number keypad! I love you.

Here’s a relatively okay video overview of the AUKEY that I found in a few minutes of searching YouTube, because I’m too lazy and beleaguered with kids to actually attempt recording something to share with you:

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deadmau5 MasterClass

Kristin got me deadmau5’s MasterClass in Electronic Music Production as my gift for Christmas. I’ve already completed the entire class, ahead of the recommended schedule, but I think that’s less on me going to fast, and more about the content lacking substance. Overall I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot of new things, especially from the early sessions in the series, but as the class went on, the subject veered away from a focus on actual electronic music production, and to related topics like the music industry, playing clubs, etc., that really aren’t focused on actually making the music.

Also, there was no return to previously covered topics. It was interesting to hear deadmau5’s take on all these topics, but ultimately it was more like a documentary interview than like an actual class.

The class materials that accompanied each lesson were very sparse one to two page PDFs that read more like the notes you find in Bible Studies than actual class materials: “Think about how Joel talked about resolving and listen to this song and think about how it was constructed.” Also, both deadmau5 himself and the accompanying materials veered far too often into “I’m not going to tell you how to do this, because everyone already talks about this online, so Google it.” Sure, he’s deadmau5 and he’s busy and sort of could give a crap, so it’s fine to a certain extent that that is said multiple times in this celebrity run class by him, but it would have been nice if the people working behind the scenes at MasterClass had actually put the effort in to provide more detailed instructions beyond Google for things he mentioned in passing in class. That’s what happens with actual professors and textbooks, but not here.

All that being said, I’m glad I took the class. I’ll probably continue to “retake” the first 17 classes which were really and truly focused on different parts of producing actual music. However, the last 6 class sessions felt like they could have been covered in one session and we could have had more detailed sessions pulling together all the topics covered in the first 17 classes.

Also, I haven’t yet taken advantage of the offered Office Hours, where I can ask a video question of deadmau5 and he’ll answer. So far, I only see 5 of those from any students and I have no idea what the question to answer ratio may be.

As you can tell from this first rather lame track that I made while taking the class, I have a long way to go:

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On this season of The Apprentice…

Image from @niijimaakiichi

Well, it’s 2017, we have a new President and everyone is surprised and disappointed. I’m disappointed in how surprised everyone is and surprised at how the election of this flawed human being hasn’t entirely shattered the liberal echo chamber many of my very intelligent friends have been trapped in for years.

I am not pro-Trump, nor am I a Republican.

I’m also not a huge fan of Democrats and I voted for Hillary Clinton against my own better judgement. Although, I would love to have a female President, I did not believe she was the right option for that honor. I was not with her; I was just firmly not with him, so I swallowed my ideals and voted for her.

Now I wish I hadn’t, because yet again it was proven to me that my vote doesn’t matter. The system is broken. It’s just getting worse.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Obama. He did lots of good things in his Presidency, was by far the best National Speech Reader that we’ve had in decades, but he never delivered on his campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay, his Presidency was riddled with conflicts with Congress that I felt neither he nor the Republicans involved worked to get around, and he perpetuated a Presidency as Celebrity rhetoric and point of confusion that has been growing in this country since Regan was elected.

His smug disdain for the Republicans locking up Congress, mirrored by so many of my very intelligent friends, had a tone of “oh these children, when will they get with the modern program” that every lower middle class supporter of Republicans heard as yet another judgment on them and their life with no real attempt to understand that life. That is what elected Donald Trump.

Add to that, Obama’s participation in multiple media events, mirroring Clinton’s tendency to play the sax on late night television talk shows, accentuating the happy go lucky Celebrity side of the Presidency, continued our path of confusing the American people with the idea that the President is a Celebrity. So of course, a guy who had a long running series of reality TV shows where he was highlighted as the boss of successful companies won the Presidency thanks to votes from disenfranchised lower middle class individuals that feel like they pay for the poor in this country and no one is looking out for them.

The President is not supposed to be a celebrity. The President is supposed to the ultimate servant to We The People. Obama tried to be that, but unfortunately he also paved the way for this current President.

Our current President, is not by any indication the servant we need. He’s just a celebrity. Here’s hoping that just as Obama was drawn more to celebrity over his career that the reverse happens to Trump. Or he gets impeached swiftly, but then that leaves us with Pence. None of this is good.

So anyway, you may disagree strongly with everything I say and think, but please be polite in your responses. I’d like to start participating in civil discourse again and in a public forum, because I see so little of that modeled for everyone else these days. I’ve re-enabled comments on this post and will begin blogging more regularly again.

Reminder: this is my personal blog. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and no one else’s, and are not reflective of any current or past employers.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

Sample The Web Podcast: The Return

Sample The Web Podcast The Return

just a quick mobile recording on an early Christmas gift from my mom, the Shure MV5 microphone that connects directly to your iPhone, iPad, iPod (?!), or computer.

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Korg Minilogue + Arp Odyssey on iPad Pro + Apple Camera Connector Kit = Pretty Cool

After reading about Korg’s new iOS app that emulates their Arp Odyssey, I decided to pick the app up on sale for $19.99 last night (introductory price). It sounds really good. I was thinking “Man I wish I had a good Bluetooth controller to play it, though” (like this one), when suddenly I thought, “I wonder if the USB out on my Korg Minilogue could let it act as a MIDI controller for my iPad…”

I then spent a few minutes digging through drawers to find the appropriate USB cable and my old school Apple Camera Connector Kit (USB version) attached to a lightning adapter, slapped that onto the iPad and connected the USB to the back of the Minilogue. I then ran a stereo mini cable from the headphone jack of the iPad Pro (remember when all devices had headphone jacks? #nostalgia) out to the audio in on the Minilogue. Then, I turned on the Minilogue and turned down all the Mixer controls to 0, so that the Minilogue itself wasn’t generating any sound.

Since I had the sound out on my iPad Pro going into the audio in on the Minilogue, playing the keyboard then resulted in whatever sound was dialed into the ARP ODYSSEi app coming through the Minilogue and passing through all the filters of the Minilogue, giving me all sorts of extra control over whatever sound the ARP ODYSSEi was pushing through. I could also turn up the mixer volume for VCO1, VCO2, and NOISE on the Minilogue to blend the sounds on it with what was coming out of ARP ODYSSEi. I spent about an hour last night just playing around with this setup and it sounded great.

And now I know I can do this with other music apps on my iPad, so I’m pretty stoked.

Also, I’ve been meaning to mention this forever: if you’re like me and you only have so much room for a “music studio” in the corner of a home office or playroom, then I highly recommend getting a Yamaha THR10C 10-watt amp. It’s got a small footprint but gorgeous loud sound with modelling controls to make it sound like various classic amps and to even dial-in and save your own sets, and it has both a Guitar and AUX in with separate volume controls. I’ve been running my keyboard and drum machines on a sequencer loop through the AUX in and plugging my guitar in and playing over it for lots of cool solo-music-man time. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually record something that sounds cool and share it.

Posted in iPad Apps, Korg Minilogue, Music, Yamaha THR10C | Comments Off on Korg Minilogue + Arp Odyssey on iPad Pro + Apple Camera Connector Kit = Pretty Cool

Specifically how the iPad Pro isn’t a computer replacement


I recently grabbed an iPad Pro 9.7, and the new Logitech Create keyboard case for it. It’s nearly the best little laptop / tablet I’ve ever owned, because the way it handles multitasking both works and keeps you focused on whatever main task you should be focused on. Of course, it works best with apps that have been built with multitasking in mind, but you can still switch between multiple apps easily enough where it just sort of works. However, there are unfortunately a few deal-breakers that prevent it from being my new computer.

The main one is that iOS assumes that you never need to connect to physical media. Apple sells both a USB and SD Card adapter, but they’re really only focused on connecting as a way to import images or movies (although the USB connector can also work for connecting MIDI keyboards and MIDI controller devices for music, which is cool).

Unfortunately, that still leaves tons of use case scenarios on the table where you still need to have a regular computer around and an iPad Pro alone won’t suffice. For example, last Wednesday night, I played some rock and roll with my little jam band of friends in Austin. I recorded the entire 3 hour session on my Zoom H4N audio recorder. The H4N is not a wi-fi capable device and saves all it’s recordings to an SD Card. I can use Apple’s SD Card adapter to connect the SD Card to my iPad Pro, but doing this simply opens up an image import dialog and there is no way to see, hear, playback, or copy over the files on that SD Card.

The only way for me to get that audio onto my iPad is to first upload it to a computer, then either sync it over iTunes or load it onto iCloud or some other cloud service so I can access it via the iPad.

This is just one failed use case, but there are many others. We all have lots of data backed up on multiple storage devices that aren’t in the cloud and aren’t images. Currently there is no way to connect that data to an iPad Pro without going through a computer.

This is stupid. Apple, you need to fix this if you are serious about making iPads the future of computing. If it’s just marketing and you’re too busy thinking about building connected cars, then you can ignore my recommendation that you fix this and allow the ability to access external storage and all data types via some sort of file manager.

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