Not a Spotify Wrap-up

Okay, so lots of people are posting their end-of-year Spotify wrap-ups showing off their listening habits. I don’t subscribe to Spotify (they don’t pay their artists nearly enough, and they have a history of supporting podcasters I have issues with, so they don’t get my money), but I do have Apple Music (who, really, should also pay their artists more, but they’re at least better than Spotify), and Apple does an end-of-year “replay” thing.

Of course, even this is a very small peek at my listening habits, because I really don’t use Apple Music all that much. I get it as part of a subscription bundle, and only really use it briefly in the mornings before work, or occasionally in the evenings before bed. Most of the time I listen to songs from my local collection.

That said, though, here’s what Apple says about the, oh, 10% (if that) of my music listening that it knows about….

Top Artists

Top Artists
549 total artists
1
The Orb
137 minutes
2
Nine Inch Nails
136 minutes
3
4
Dolly Parton
128 minutes
Orbital
124 minutes
5
Underworld
89 minutes 6
Bonobo
71 minutes
7
Hooverphonic
69 minutes
8
Imperative Reaction
64 minutes
9
Velvet Acid Christ
61 minutes
10
Apoptygma Berzerk
51 minutes 11
VNV Nation
50 minutes
12
Seabound
50 minutes
13
Front Line Assembly
46 minutes
14
Rotersand
44 minutes
15
Icon of Coil
44 minutes

549 total artists

  1. The Orb 137 minutes
  2. Nine Inch Nails 136 minutes
  3. Dolly Parton 128 minutes
  4. Orbital 124 minutes
  5. Underworld 89 minutes
  6. Bonobo 71 minutes
  7. Hooverphonic 69 minutes
  8. Imperative Reaction 64 minutes
  9. Velvet Acid Christ 61 minutes
  10. Apoptygma Berzerk 51 minutes
  11. VNV Nation 50 minutes
  12. Seabound 50 minutes
  13. Front Line Assembly 46 minutes
  14. Rotersand 44 minutes
  15. Icon of Coil 44 minutes

I’m quite amused that Dolly landed so high on this list, particularly how out of place she looks. But her recent Rock Star album is great, and it has been getting a lot of plays since it came out. Worth it!

Top Songs

Top Songs
872 total songs
1
BAD GUYS
FEELIN' ALRIGHT
ELLE KING
Feelin' Alright (from...
Elle King
8 plays
2
Wide Open
The Crystal Method
6 plays
3
Cuts You Up
Peter Murphy
5 plays
4
Came Back Haunted
Nine Inch Nails
5 plays
5
Dial8
Velvet Acid Christ
5 plays 6
Modern Love
David Bowie
7
5 plays
HOOVERPHONIC
2Wicky
Hooverphonic
5 plays
8
IMMA ATE
Express Yourself (Edi...
Madonna
Madonna
5 plays
9
The Night (feat. Aliso...
Röyksopp
4 plays
10
Underworld
I Exhale
Underworld
4 plays 11
12
13
14
15
SOME NIGHTS
INVNATION
AUTOMATIC
Spock
VCMG
4 plays
Eraser E
Nine Inch Nails
4 plays
Some Nights E
Fun.
4 plays
Gratitude
VNV Nation
4 plays
Funk 4 Peace...
Fort Knox Five
4 plays

Again, I’ve listened to many of these tracks far more times this year than is represented here, and have listed to a lot of other stuff as well, probably far more than the 4-8 times shown in these screenshots. That said, it’s not really that bad of a sampler of what I listen to.

So…it’s a weird list, and only somewhat representative of my tastes. But hey, since I have a limited sample size to work from because I don’t stream much of what I listen to, it’s what we get.

Year 50 Day 207

Screenshot of my DJ broadcast stream. I'm in the center, wearing headphones and looking up. Behind my head is an audio waveform; to either side of my head are album covers as if they were on physical turntables. A green border near the edges of the frame includes my DJ Wüdi name and my social media addresses (djwudi on Twitch, Mixcloud, and Facebook). Behind me is a sci-fi cityscape. Text on the lower part of the screen says 'Difficult Listening Hour 2023.11.25 Who knows? No plan. Just getting back in practice. Now playing: The Chemical Brothers: Where Do I Begin (Copycat)'.

Day 207: In a few months I’ll again be DJing the Thursday night dance at Norwescon 46, so to make sure I’m not entirely rusty when I set up that evening, it’s time for me to start practicing again. Whenever I do this, I broadcast to Twitch, and so this is what I look like when I’m streaming. Obviously, it’s very serious business.

I’m actually rather proud of the look I came up with some time ago, after a few rounds of tweaking and playing with ideas.

The “turntables” to either side of my head display the art for whatever track is playing (and they rotate as if they were physical turntables), and the audio waveforms behind my head are the waveforms of the playing tracks; deck A (the left side) on the top, and deck B below. Those elements are all pulled from the UI of DJay Pro, the DJ software I use.

The sci-fi cityscape behind me is actually a video clip. I have a small library of interesting looping video backgrounds that I can choose from.

The text in the bottom third is pulled from a text file that I keep open on my screen; as I’m mixing, I take a quick moment to update the text file with the name of whatever track I’m playing at the moment. I think there are ways to automatically pull that info from DJay, but I’ve never quite liked the look of the ones I’ve seen, and this works for me.

The caricature of me on the lower right was drawn for me a number of years ago by Sharii Chankhamma. In the original, I’m wearing an “NSFW” t-shirt; for streaming, I’ve created a small library of shirt designs that randomly update every 15 seconds.

Today’s mix is now available on my Mixcloud page if you’d like to give it a listen, along with many, many hours of other mixes I’ve uploaded in the past. And more will come — I may not do this every week, but I will need to make sure to get some more practice in over the coming months, so I’ll be popping up from time to time.

Norwescon 45 Wrap-Up

Norwescon 45 is done, I’m back at home, and have had a day to rest and do the usual day-after duties (unpack, laundry, and various post-con website updates and scheduling social media posts). Our second year back was a good one and went smoothly from everything I could see, and was particularly good for me on a personal level.

On Wednesday, during the evening pre-con volunteer party, I was awarded a Lifetime Member award, given to ConCom members in recognition of years of contributions and hard work. It was a really wonderful surprise — this was something I’d thought I might achieve someday, but certainly hadn’t been expecting it. As many of the existing Lifetime members noted, there’s no escape now! :) Long-time photographer Thom Walls also received Lifetime Status.

Me and Thom holding our Lifetime Member award plaques.

Thursday night marked the return of DJ Wüdi, as I let my alter-ego out for the Thursday night dance. The Thursday night dances may be the most sparsely attended, but I still had what I’d consider a good turnout, and those that were there seemed to be having a good time. I’d also had fun adapting the OBS graphics I’d created for my Twitch streams so that I could throw them up on the video wall behind me on stage, so I had a pretty good-looking setup as well. I snapped a quick pre-dance selfie, and hopefully one of the con photographers got some good shots of me and the full setup as things were going on. As usual, I recorded the full set and have it uploaded it to my MixCloud page.

Me in front of the video wall with my graphics on display.

And Friday, of course, was all about the Philip K. Dick Award ceremony. Two of the nominated authors were able to join us this year, and so the first official-ish (-ish because for this, I was just a member of the audience) part of the day was the “All About the Philip K. Dick Award” panel, where the nominees and award administrator Gordon Van Gelder discussed the award and its namesake. Later that evening, after my inaugural Lifetime Dinner (an annual invite-only event for Lifetime members, Guests of Honor, PKD nominees, and Norwescon Exec Team members; until Wednesday evening, I’d thought my invite was only due to my position as PKD ceremony coordinator) was the award ceremony itself.

Happily, the ceremony went just fine, and I didn’t fall on my face, set anything or anyone on fire, or otherwise embarrass myself or the convention. So I’d say that’s a success! Both attendees read from their works, the other readers read from the works of those nominees who couldn’t attend, and then the winner was announced — and it was one of the two attending authors, which is always a lot of fun. The only downside is that a technical glitch dropped the audio from the first six minutes of the video stream of the ceremony, which was the section where I was talking, so there’s no good recording of my first time doing this. But as far as potential issues go, that’s really not that big, if a little personally disappointing. We’re going to work on using subtitles to approximate what I said, and it’ll do well enough.

Award winner Kimberly Unger holding her award certificate.

Saturday and Sunday, then, were fairly unscheduled days for me…though, somehow, I managed to find a surprising number of things that needed doing or that I could assist with. But even with that, I did make sure to get naps, food, and plenty of time hanging out, socializing, and being silly with friends old and new. And eventually, the closing ceremonies rolled around, and mid-afternoon on Sunday saw me packed up and heading home.

Other highlights: Being gifted some adorable wee little 3D-printed gnomes from one friend and a “LOOTR” (Loyal Order of the Ribbon) pin from Dragoncon from another, seeing a number of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, soaking my feet in the hot tub one evening (must remember my swimsuit next year), dancing a lot at the two dances I wasn’t DJing for, and generally reveling in my annual geek vacation.

Two small gnomes and a dragon hatching from an egg, all 3D printed in grey, but the gnomes have had their hats painted red.A small square purple enamel pin with a stylized black dragon and the letters “LOOTR” in fancy type.

It’s been a good weekend. And now it’s less than a year until Norwescon 46!

Meatloaf Again?

Content warning: Morbid, dark humor.

Seems the Weber grill company sends out regular “recipe of the week” emails, which I’m sure are pre-written and pre-scheduled and just go out automatically.

Today’s was for BBQ meatloaf.

Screenshot of a Weber “recipe of the week” email with a recipe for BBQ meat loaf.
Screenshot of a Weber “recipe of the week” email with a recipe for BBQ meat loaf.

They had to apologize.

Screenshot of a Weber email apologizing for sending the BBQ meatloaf recipe on the same day that recording artist Meat Loaf died.
Screenshot of a Weber email apologizing for sending the BBQ meatloaf recipe on the same day that recording artist Meat Loaf died.

“Meatloaf again?”

Riff-Raff, Frank N. Furter, and Magenta around the dinner table in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Riff-Raff, Frank N. Furter, and Magenta around the dinner table in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Also: I honestly did not know until today that Meat Loaf was a vaccine-denying Trumpublican and (at least according to a lot of online scuttlebut) very likely, and unsurprisingly, died of Covid-related complications.

I can simultaneously be disappointed at the death of a long-time favorite musician, be disappointed that he got sucked into MAGAland, and think that it’s his own damn fault for dying that way — which makes it even more disappointing, because it’s quite likely that it was preventable.

Repairing my Music library after Apple Music Library Sync destroyed the metadata

Today I finally finished repairing my Music (iTunes) library after it got mangled when I signed up for Apple Music (the service) a few months ago.

Apple Music has its benefits, but apparently signing up automatically activated the library sync feature, which started overwriting my local metadata with data from the cloud. I caught it before it got all the way through and figured out how to turn it off, but a large chunk of my music library lost a lot of the edits I’d made over the years. From song titles to artist names to custom artwork, covering tracks that I’d purchased from the iTunes Music Store, purchased from Bandcamp, ripped from my own CDs, or even imported from my vinyl collection. Titles and names were changes, artwork was either replaced or removed…probably somewhere between a third and a half of my 37,416 item, 285 GB music library was affected.

The only reason I was even able to repair it all was that, well, Music (and iTunes before it) has been historically tweaky for long enough that I’ve gotten into the habit of making a manual backup of my music library every so often, separate from the Time Machine backup that’s done automatically, just because I don’t trust Music not to screw something up at some point.

I also discovered that Music reads metadata from two places: the metadata embedded in the individual files, and in the “Music Library” file stored within the /user/Music/ folder. Much of the bad data that was being displayed in Music was actually being read from the “Music Library” file; apparently that was where the data from the cloud had been written. When I opened the info window on a track to fix it, Music would then read the embedded metadata from the actual track file, and the data (some of it, at least) would switch back to the correct information.

Of course, manually going through and loading every one of my 37,416 tracks wasn’t at all realistic — but the Refresh a track from its file’s metadata script from Doug’s Applescrpts allowed me to select a chunk (I was able to do as many as 600 tracks at at time without it timing out) and let the script repair the metadata in the background. There were still some final corrections that needed to be made (this trick didn’t fix the artwork that got lost or replaced, and many of the “Album Artist” fields still needed to be corrected manually), but those were easier to do once the script handled the bulk of the work.

So, a few months after signing up for Apple Music, I finally have my local library back to a useable state.

Hey, Apple? Local data should NEVER be replaced by cloud data without warning, without explanation, and without active affirmative confirmation by the user. That was years of work I could have lost, and months of work repairing it. Get this bit of your system fixed, please. This sucked.

Also, trying to write a post about my music, the application Music, the service Apple Music, and Apple the company, and make it all coherent, is not an easy thing to do. I get that iTunes was a bloated beast and needed to be split up — though, really, Music isn’t that much better, is still missing a lot of features (like a usable in-app search feature) — but did it have to be renamed so generically?

I now have a never ending, ever morphing, randomly generated mishmash of Wellerman, the COVID rewrite, and the Star Trek filk version on loop in my head. Thanks, Internet.

DJ Wüdi in 2020

One of the more personally entertaining bits of 2020 for me was resurrecting–to a certain extent, at least–my DJ Wüdi alter-ego. Aside from a few appearances at some Rodeo City Rollergirls derby matches in 2012, and a couple Thursday night dances for Norwescon, my DJing endeavors have been mostly a fond memory since I moved down to Seattle in 2001.

I’d been missing the DJing, and so at the start of 2020, I’d decided to start playing with using the game streaming service Twitch for broadcasting DJ sets, which I’d seen a few other DJs experimenting with. I got started, got a few weeks in…and then COVID hit. And suddenly there was an explosion of DJs showing up on Twitch, as clubs worldwide shut down and DJs and club goers scrambled to find a way to keep going, even if only from our homes.

So, as it turns out, in a sea of hundreds (at least) of DJs around the world using Twitch to broadcast sets, keep their friends and fans happy, and make a name for themselves…well, I’m one of them, but I can’t really say much more than that. Which is fine, as even pre-pandemic, this whole thing was basically a vanity hobby that I just wanted to do for fun. And in that respect, this project has been a resounding success! Some days it’s just me broadcasting to no-one, but some days there are a few people who pop in, and I even have a few regular listeners, so I’m happy with how it’s going.

In 2020, I posted 38 sets (aiming for one a week, with occasional weeks off when I had other obligations that took priority). Most of the time, I just wing it, with no set plan, just grabbing whatever I feel like at the moment. Some weeks, though, I took the time to play with a particular idea, put a set of tracks together, set them in order, and plan and practice the transitions.

I also had fun working on evolving my Twitch display as the year went on. While I can’t do many of the fancier tricks that many DJs do, with “emote” graphics dancing across the screen (things like that are reserved for streamers who broadcast more regularly and have built up enough of an audience to actually work on earning money; I’m nowhere near that level), I do like where I’ve ended up.

Twitch screenshot

The cute little avatar version of me was originally artwork by Sharii, and I’ve set it so that the graphic on the t-shirt changes every 30 seconds. The background is a motion video loop, and can be swapped out with other loops. The text overlay is just a text file that I keep open and update as I go with whatever track is currently playing. At the top, the waveforms and decks are clipped out of the djay Pro AI window. And finally, of course, there’s that goofy guy in the middle of the screen generally making a fool of himself. :)

I broadcast on my Twitch channel, and then later (usually the next day) upload the audio recording of the mix to my MixCloud account for listening at any time, and organize the mixes into playlists. Once uploaded, I posts links to the mixes along with the final track lists to my DJ Wüdi blog.

Here’s one playlist with all 38 of my 2020 mixes…

…but if you just want to sample some of the highlights, here’s a playlist with just the “theme” weeks:

For 2021? I’m just going to keep going and see how long I can keep this project going. At the very least, I figure I’ll be going until we start emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and actually want to go places and do things with our Saturdays once it’s safe to do so again. In other words, I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.

If you listen, thanks, and I hope you continue to do so, whether live on Twitch or later on MixCloud!