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!

Have a couple hours to kill this Saturday before the evening revelries? Join my DJ alter-ego for Spüki Tünes with DJ Wüdi on Halloween Afternün!

1 p.m. (Pacific time) on my Twitch channel. Old classics, newer goofiness, and some stuff I just thought would fit in.

Happy May Day

You hear that sound, the rain is coming down
It says there’s a ripeness setting in
The children spin around ’til they crash into the ground
Singing “Welcome Home Forever Once Again”

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

You feel that fire lift your body higher
An old, old dance is growing here
Better kiss me soon while the blossoms are in bloom
Or you might just have to wait another year

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

You feel that beet, come on, move your feet
Old man winter’s dead and gone
There’ll be wiggling of the toes, there’ll be taking off of clothes
There’ll be silly naked dancing on the lawn

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

— Jason Webley, “May Day”