Choices, Changes and a New Addition

When Courney and I were first engaged we both agreed that we wouldn't start a family until we turned 30. Two and a half years ago I turned 27 less than a month after our son Riley was born. Over these two and half years we've grown as a family in so many ways. We've sold our home, moved to a completely new city, sold our cars and donated most of our possessions to live a simpler life without a robust support system of friends and family like we had in Memphis. Courtney is able to stay at home with Riley and we make it work on half our previous income in a city that's twice as expensive to live in. Every parent out there knows this but parenthood isn't something you come into knowing how to do. You make choices and adjust as you go, constantly monitoring and considering everything. We're really happy with the big choices we've made since Riley was born and not so happy with some smaller ones (but that's for another day). At the end of 2015 we were ready to grow our family and in February we got the great news that we're having a second child. Usually people share this on social media much sooner than I am but we chose not to. It's been fun to tell people individually over the last few months. We're having another boy and we can't wait to meet him in November. The holidays are going to have a new blessing and a new chapter for us as a family. I can confidently say that we're ready for it.

Oh, and Riley is ready to be a big brother!

Riley’s Going to Be A Big Brother!

Halfway Home

When Tweetbot introduced the new Topics feature a few weeks back I didn't see a use case for myself. Last week, that changed. I once wrote I'd be recommending music here and then went on to write a couple of reviews only to find that it takes a better understanding of music theory to properly convey what's good about an album. I spent a lot of time waffling over getting the descriptions of the albums I was recommending just right. I wanted the words to convey the physical and emotional feel I would get from an album but I couldn't articulate it to the degree I wanted in longer form.

Still wanting to recommend music and having a two hour commute via public transit five days a week I realized that I could use the new topics feature to keep an ongoing log of recommendations. I'm always looking for great albums that I can listen to straight through and aren't comprised of a few worthwhile songs with a lot of filler. These are the albums that will make their way to the Halfway Home Twitter Collection. There are also tons of singles that will make their way into the collection. I'm also thinking of sharing podcast episodes that stand out on the commute. Since I'm an Apple Music subscriber, that's where I'm linking to with these recommendations. I've also created an Apple Music playlist that you can subscribe to if you use the service. If this is the absolute worst use case of someone using Twitter to you, just mute #halfhome in your Twitter client of choice.

I'm a week in and the playlist is already over a hundred songs deep. I'm sure I'll slow down eventually but I have a ton of music that I think is worth your time and I have a dedicated time to listen to what's new and scope out great artists as new music is released. You can find links to access everything below. I hope you enjoy it!

Twitter Collection

Apple Music Playlist

Racism is the Bogeyman

Let me lay my "political" views out here for the first time by linking to this intimate piece by Albert McMurry. It presents a fear I can't understand but can damn well prevent from growing. As a father, voter and community member I can do something. As a white male I have no excuse for apathy on the subject of racism. The simple fact that Donald Trump's statements, demeanor and actions towards any race other than caucasian is fueled by hatred is exactly why he won't get my vote.

via John Gruber

Deep Cleaning the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

Courtney and I use our Zojirushi stainless steel mugs every day. I have the 16oz model with SlickSteel interior and use mine for coffee while she has the 20oz model with non-stick interior which she uses for water since we have a professional liquid spiller on duty 24/7. We LOVE these vessels as they keep our drinks hot for hours or cold for days and keep spilling to a minimum. The only complaint I have about the Zojirushi mugs can’t really be registered as a formal complaint as it all has to do with how I care for my mug (or the lack of care in this case). I tend to leave my empty or nearly empty mug in my bag or on the counter overnight during the week more often that I’d like to admit. Recently I noticed that my (artis-anal) coffee was sour and the inside of my mug was coffee stained and was no longer that beautiful polished chrome steel that I originally unpacked. I turned to the internet and found I wasn’t alone. While the image below is 10 stages beyond what the inside of my mug looked like, I was seeing similar staining as the bottom of the mug in this picture.

One heck of a stained Zojirushi mug Source: Tested

“That’s dis-gusting”.

I know you’re thinking it and I couldn’t agree more. With that said there is the issue of how to clean these mugs when they get stained. I started to take a crack at it and found myself getting nowhere when I tried due to two factors.

  1. Washing the center and bottom sections of the inside of these mugs is a major PITA. I broke a spatula handle by applying more pressure than it could handle in my attempts to clean it.
  2. The stain can become partially infused and layered onto the stainless steel of the mug.

After 30 minutes of dish soap, paper towels, elbow grease and scalding hot water I had barely made a dent in the overall staining and wanted to give up on trying. Then I realized I had a cleaner that no stain or dirt is immune to and that it just might be worth a shot to bring out the big guns. Yes, of course I’m referring to an extra strength Mr. Clean Magic Eraser! I gave it a dunk in scalding hot water and forged ahead full strength in my attempt to restore my beloved coffee mug as replacing it isn’t an option due to it’s unique branding.

RelayFM Zojirushi

After another 45 minutes of continual washing, rinsing and repeating I was able to get my mug back to full health and beauty. This worked like a charm and was a mere dollar worth of hardware[1].

So fresh and so clean

As long as you follow up with a dish soap hand wash and multiple rinses you should be golden using this method if your mug has gotten stained from long term use. I’m no longer risking this possibility and am cleaning my mug nightly which takes a mere 60 seconds of my day to do. I’d recommend doing the same.

  1. If you don’t count the spatula that gave it’s life in service of a greater good.  ↩

Live to Love / Only God

Live to Love / Only God

One of the first things I do after moving [1] is find a church. This typically leads to strife when it comes to worship. Before I join a church I want to be able to fall into the worship as that’s where I often am closest and most connected with God. More than that I want my church to take the craft of worship seriously and understand it’s importance in the culture of the world outside the church doors. I’ve been lucky to attend two different churches that do just that and have created two really great albums in doing so.

Live to Love

I can’t remember how long I’d been going to Highpoint Church when Live to Love was released. I know that it was early 2012 and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t long after I’d started visiting. No matter when it was, I was (and am) blown away by it. I’m proud to be friends with people who were able to craft something so original, intimate and distinctly Memphis in it’s texture. If you want to get a sense of the quality that Highpoint Church expects and continually builds upon this album is a great place to look.

Only God

Before moving to Chicago I had my eye on Soul City Church as the main contender for our new church home. I’d asked around at Highpoint and Soul City came up a few times. When I started looking online I found echoes of the same grounded love and culture embracing traits that I’ve come to expect from a church through my years at Highpoint. In my first visit I knew that I’d found a great fit for a new home church that’s literally at the other end of the block from my day job. Earlier this year Soul City Church released their first album of original music titled Only God. Where Live to Love is intimate, Only God is vast and has more of a sheen that leans more towards the aesthetic of Chvrches. My biggest complaint with Only God is that it has some consistency issues with the quality of two or three of the songs.

Wrapping It Up

I’ve been blessed to find church homes that value the investment in their worship. Highpoint Church and Soul City Church are truly home for me and are producing music that’s worthy of your time. I can’t recommend these albums any higher.

  1. I’ve moved so many times in my life that almost a regular thing to me anymore. 18 times by age 28 is the qualifier here.  ↩

Computer Show

Are you a fan of technology?

Do you like art?

Would you like to find others with similar interests?

Using the latest technology and today’s most important minds, Sandwich Video in partnership with The McGarblin Group and Ludlow Ventures bring you these answers and more on Computer Show. Be sure to stay tuned for more episodes soon[0].

[0] - As long as the investment in Intellivision pays off.

Move to Apple Music

Move to Apple Music Logo

When Apple Music launched nearly three months ago there was only one option to move libraries and playlists from Spotify or rdio and it was cumbersome and time constrained at best. Now that we're nearing the end of the three month trial I've needed to embark on migrating my wife's music from Spotify over to Apple Music so we can cancel Spotify. Her Spotify music library is pretty small at about 1,000 songs spread across 5 playlists but manually migrating them was not what I was looking to spend my weekend doing. Last night I checked to see if there were any new solutions to automate this and was pleasantly surprised to find an app simply called Move to Apple Music.

Migrating Songs

Right off the bat I need to note that Move to Apple Music is only available for Mac. You'll also need to ensure you're running iTunes 12.2 or newer. If you meet the system requirements you're all set. You can test the application out with one playlist and up to 15 songs to see how everything works. After that you'll need to purchase a license for $5 that covers a maximum of two computer installs. The application walks you through the process of authenticating Spotify or rdio, hijacking iTunes and then presenting a list of the playlists from your Spotify or rdio account to select what you want to move. That bit about hijacking iTunes is the secret sauce of the application. You're prompted to love a song that's already in your iTunes library and MTAM (using a local proxy that it has running at this point) uses that traffic as the trigger to tap into Apple Music's API and pull songs from the Spotify or rdio playlists you've marked to migrate, matches them with Apple Music's database and adds those songs to your iCloud music library. I find the whole process very clever and surprisingly effective. The main downside is the speed of the process as there is a 30 second delay per song to avoid overloading Apple's API and getting blacklisted. This equated to seven and a half hours for my wife's initial 800 song migration and will likely take a few days for my 5,000 songs across playlists in Spotify. That still beats the weeks of work it would've taken to do this manually.

Playlist Migration and Unmatched Tracks

The playlist migration is the second (and much faster) part of Move to Apple Music. Once the music has migrated you're given the option to export an XML file that can be imported to iTunes to create those playlists containing the songs that were matched. You're also given an option to export a text document with the songs that weren't matched in the process. In my case this included 25 of 800 songs for Courtney's transfer and I was able to find about 10 these songs manually and add them to the Apple Music library.


Move to Apple Music is the simplest set-it-and-forget-it method to migrate Spotify or rdio libraries to Apple Music. While I focused on the technical details of how the application works I'm thoroughly impressed with its ease of use and reliability on first run. In less than 5 minutes you'll be migrating your music with complete ease. At $5, it's a steal and will save almost any switcher more than that in their time.

Buy it here

Simple Eliminates All Fees

Simple Bank Logo

Courtney and I switched to Simple for our primary banking needs almost two years ago. Today's announcement is another reason we haven't looked back since. Simple is a bank that treats it's customers like grown ups (and I'm a fan of these types of companies). They work to build lifelong relationships that enhance their customer's ability to manage their money in a more responsible way using technology with a human touch. Removing the few (and minimal fees) that they previously had is just another action that proves those intentions.

A Dry August

I haven't posted much throughout August and at all thus far in September. Work and personal life both had huge spikes of projects, visits with friends and family and a few posts that got started but were lost in the mix and need rounded out. That doesn't mean the well of creativity has been dry. I'm looking forward to crafting some ones and zeros for you here and getting back to a more regular publishing schedule starting today. Thanks as always for reading!

Out on the Wire

Out on the Wire book cover

Jessica Abel's forthcoming documentary comic looks riveting. From the site for the book:

Every week, millions of devoted fans download or tune in to This American Life, The Moth, Radiolab, Planet Money, Snap Judgment, Radio Diaries, 99% Invisible, and other nonfiction narrative radio shows. The compelling stories they produce are almost cinematic in scope and approach—intricately weaving sound into robust and engaging storytelling. A lot goes into making the shows we love. Anchored by surprising characters and big questions, their stories are tightly structured, edited, and soundtracked, and they introduce us to authentic voices from every walk of life.

Radio and podcasts today are entrepreneurial and DIY; there’s a can-do, collaborative spirit that characterizes people working in this field, fearlessly breaking new artistic ground. And more than ever, given the excellence and explosive popularity of shows like Serial, it’s clear that the creative producers working in this medium hold the key to storytelling secrets that the rest of us must learn.

Out on the Wire, a documentary comic, literally illustrates those secrets, gleaned straight from those on the frontlines of radio’s revolution. With the help of This American Life’s Ira Glass, cartoonist Jessica Abel uncovers just how producers construct a story, spilling some juicy insider details along the way. Jad Abumrad of RadioLab talks about chasing moments of awe with scientists, while Planet Money’s Robert Smith speaks candidly about his slightly embarrassing strategy for putting interviewees at ease. And Abel reveals how mad—really mad—Ira Glass becomes when he receives tough edits from his colleagues. Informative and inventive, Out on the Wire shows us the magic that makes these shows great and why we can’t stop listening to them.

I can't wait to read this. Pre-order it here.

Setup a Faux-301 Redirect on Hover

If you're looking to transfer or buy a domain name I would look no further than Hover to do so. They've built a well designed and function forward platform for managing all aspects of your domain names that doesn't muddle your experience with add-on services and hidden menus. With that said I recently ran into the first snag with Hover that I've ever had.

I transferred a domain into Hover that used Nationbuilder as the CMS for the site. Like a lot of CMSes Nationbuilder uses a www CNAME record to direct traffic to the domain for the site within said CMS. Setting up the www CNAME record for the domain was no problem but setting up a redirect for naked domain ( for example) was something I wasn't able to do within the DNS console. After some initial digging that landed me on this Hover support article I called Hover's no-hold, no-transfer policy-wielding support team and Martin picked up within two rings to help me out. He explained that Hover doesn't currently support 301 redirects but that he'd be able to get me up and running with what I needed. Here's what we did to resolve the issue:

Setup 301 Redirect on Hover - Step 1 1. Navigate to the Domain Details tab for the domain in question.

Setup 301 redirect on Hover - Step 2 2. Click Edit next to the Forward This Domain option and enter the domain with the www host in the URL and click Save.

Setup 301 redirect on Hover - Step 3 3. Navigate to the DNS tab for the domain in question.

Setup 301 redirect on Hover - Step 4 4. Click Add New and add an A record that points to and click Save.

Setup 301 redirect on Hover - Step 5 5. Verify that the new A record is setup within your DNS dashboard.

What we've done above is to setup forwarding if someone enters so it redirects to The additional A record ensures that DNS looks to Hover for any other records to be sure email and other hosts aren't affected. While this isn't a true 301 redirect, I'm sure it will cover the bases for a lot of people that just need the domain to redirect to the www host for their site.

Course Code available on Apple News

Course Code on Apple News

Course Code was added to Apple News on Monday, only 24 hours after I’d submitted it for approval. The application process was very straightforward and only took about a half hour to complete. I’m excited to have the potential to be put in front of millions of people when Apple News goes live with iOS 9 in the fall. I’m really excited that I don’t have to put my content into someone else’s silo in order to gain this potential. Daniel Jalkut wrote about the difference between the approach Apple News is implementing in comparison to other “publishing platforms” after WWDC back in June:

I’m optimistic that Apple’s News app will be a strike against centralized services such as Medium, Twitter, and Facebook. A strike against signing over content to a 3rd party mediator for the sake of a greater chance at connecting to an audience. Apple may not be the world’s best technology company when it comes to either storing data or building a social network around it, but they are damned good at building a captive audience of delighted users who trust the company to provide access to a variety of 3rd party content.

People who used to write prolifically on long-form blogs are facing a similar conundrum with the rise of services such as Medium, which aim for and seem to deliver on the goal of connecting writers with larger audiences of people. Why keep writing for your own, completely owned and controlled site, if contributing your content to a centralized authority such as Medium will yield more feedback, gratitude, and criticism than publishing on your own site?

This was preceded by an excellent analogy between what Apple News can do for independent blogs and what iTunes does for podcasting:

Approximately 0% of the podcasts available to the massive installed base of Apple’s customers are actually hosted on Apple’s servers. Yet a huge number of podcast content providers thrive because of the distribution mechanism, the amplifier, that Apple provides by way of the Podcasts section of its iTunes store, and the Podcasts app on its iOS devices. If Apple decides on a whim to rank a particular podcast lower in the charts, or even to outright remove it from the iTunes directory? It’s definitely bad news for the show, but it’s not a death knell. The content lives on, access to it remains unfettered for those who seek it, and alternative clients for accessing the content are not “permitted,” because they don’t need to be. They are allowed to exist by default, because of the very nature of the web.

I know that everything I write isn’t news with a capital N but I do believe that the community of independent writers deserve a way to distribute their content in a way that respects their ownership of it. I spend my own money on Course Code for the tools to host it, write it and distribute it (via RSS). I don’t recoup those costs because I’m not at the point where advertisers that respect my readers would be willing to advertise to a readership of this size. That’s my choice and I prefer to control the whole stack. Apple News is providing an outlet that may change all of that by putting sites like mine in front of a much wider audience without having to sacrifice (most of) this control[1]. It might not do a thing for writers like me but the potential is enough to have me really excited for the launch of Apple News on iOS 9.

  1. Apple News has been removing some images in my posts and the only pattern I’ve found is that these images contain logos for other companies. I’m guessing this is in the guidelines for acceptable content but I haven’t found that specifically outlined anywhere yet.  ↩

Concerning the Ebb and Flow of “Work”

Shawn Blanc writes:

You have to be inspired first before you can create.

You have to learn before you can teach.

You have to experience before you can share.

There is no shame in taking time “off” of your work, in order to learn something, experience something, and be inspired.

This is the ebb and flow of work. This is having multi-year cycles where we grow in our mastery of creation beyond just mastery of tools and workflows. This is why resting well is so valuable and why learning, thinking, and discovering cannot be underrated.

Over the last two years I've been going through a mental transformation to adapt to a mindfulness that mirrors what Shawn has conveyed in this piece. It's one of the reasons Course Code isn't updated daily and probably won't be for as long as I maintain a day job. I'm happy with that now but two years ago I was a mess between my stressful day job, independent consulting business and expecting myself to write something of any value. It's difficult to find inspiration when that's how you spend your life. It's not that I regret that time in my life, I'm glad I was able to learn from it in my mid-twenties just as we found out Courtney was pregnant with our son. I've been on an interesting road to a more thoughtful investment of my time since. That has included a couple of dramatic changes in our lives and spans of time where I retracted from aspects of life that I needed to let rest (this site included). Overall it's lead me to have longer sprints of inspiration and creativity and has helped me continue to hone in on what's worth my time.

If you're stressed and pulling yourself a hundred different ways, take a break to assess and find what you truly want for your life. What's in the way of letting that be the driver for the decisions you make? If you need to make changes to get there, do it. It will take time (likely more time than you're imagining) but I can tell you that it's worth it. Rest and reflect so you can move forward.

By the Numbers: Jet vs Amazon Subscribe & Save

Jet vs Amazon Subscribe & Save

08/02/2015 Update: Re-framed this post to reflect monthly items without a one off purchase and provide more context as to the potential Jet has to add savings based on how much you buy at once. Thanks to Reddit user pasttense for the feedback that lead to this re-framing.

Last weekend I discovered a new service for shopping online called Jet through this conversation on Twitter. I was intrigued to see if this new service could compete with Amazon on pricing, specifically for Subscribe & Save items. We’ve used Amazon Subscribe & Save for about two years now to have our staple household items delivered to us on a schedule and (primarily) to save between 5% and 20% off of those items in doing so. The biggest downside for us with Amazon Subscribe & Save as of late is that a lot of the offerings that qualify for the program are bulk size quantities and we’ve moved into an apartment that’s a third the size of our previous home[1]. We just don’t have room for all items to come in bulk orders like we used to and I’m sure we’re not alone in that. After perusing Jet’s site I decided to build our monthly cart and see what our cost differences would be. I’m going to share those differences below in the simplest form, by count.

Items Amazon Jet
Pampers Size 5 Diapers $0.29/diaper $0.23/diaper
Pampers Sensitive Wipes $0.02/wipe $0.02/wipe
Charmin Basic Toilet Paper $0.56/roll $0.29/roll
Puffins cereal $3.95/box $2.51/box
Peter Rabbit Organics Pumpkin, Carrot And Apple Packets $1.75/packet $0.73/packet
Barbara's Morning Oat Crunch Cereal $4.30/box $3.91/box
Tide HE Original Scent, 100-Ounce Bottle $11.05/bottle $8.69/bottle
Peter Rabbit Organics Sweet Potato, Corn & Apple Packets $1.92/packet $1.33/packet
Seventh Generation Natural Fabric Softener $4.98/bottle $4.44/bottle
CoffeeSock Chemex Filter $6.16/filter $5.35/filter
Opti-Free Puremoist Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Solution $8.02/bottle $6.67/bottle
Total (when buying one of each item) $42.99 $34.18
Total savings on monthly items alone $8.82 20.5%

While everything above provides a fair representation of a regular month’s order, there is one last item that I ordered which shows where the real power of Jet kicks in. With Jet, the more you buy the more you (can) save. In this case I ordered a hand mixer as I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies more frequently and our literal hand mixer recently broke which has left me using wooden spoons like an animal. With all of the above items in my cart I received a substantial discount on the hand mixer as you can see below. Adding this to the total calculations adds another 12% to the savings Jet may provide compared to Amazon when purchasing items together.

Hamilton Beach SoftScrape 6-Speed Hand Mixer $38.49 $20.72
Total savings on monthly items with the hand mixer $26.59 32.63%

You can find the calculations behind everything above here. I highly recommend you check it out as there are links to each product along with the breakdown. It was compiled in Soulver.

Comparing Code

I wish that the amount of time I spent compiling the breakdown in cost above was able to stand as a solid argument as to which service was cheaper but the truth is that we live in the age of dynamic pricing . The main difference between buying these products from Amazon or Jet is the algorithm used to give me these prices at the time I went to purchase them. Amazon has long been the master of dynamic pricing with the largest product base at their disposal to continue honing the ability to supply us with giant boxes of Nerds at cut throat prices. Jet admits that dyanamic pricing is their competitive advantage while (wisely) bludgeoning the explanation of their algorithm with Kumail Nanjiani as the jester in their video explaining how the service works.

Overall my experience with Jet has at least gotten me interested enough to continue using it during my free 6 month trial[2] to replace my monthly subscribe and save purchases if it comes out ahead in cost. It’s going to take a lot to untangle my Amazon usage but competition is always a good thing.

  1. Thanks cost of living differences! Chicago costs all of the money to live in while Memphis only costs part of the money.  ↩

  2. Use the promo code lessmayo when signing up to get 6 months instead of the standard 3 month free trial.  ↩

Remove VPN Software Before Upgrading to Windows 10

Being that I spend the majority of my days in front of a PC I'm genuinely excited to start using Windows 10. I jumped on board installing the upgrade yesterday. Unfortunately tomorrow will be my first day of using it due to a mis-step on my part.

If you use any VPN clients (I had 4 installed to cover the variations in networks I work with at my day job) you are best off uninstalling them before making the jump to Windows 10. Most VPN clients adjust network settings or create their own network interface when you install them on Windows. Unfortunately you may get stuck in the same situation that I did if you upgrade to Windows 10 before removing (or ((eventually)) updating) the VPN software where you can't remove it once you're on Windows 10. For me the issue was that my network interfaces weren't present in the network settings of Control Panel even though they were registered with proper drivers in Device Manager. After screwing with the registry (and remembering why I prefer OS X) a colleague pointed out that the VPN software was the most likely culprit. If you're already in the same boat I was, read on for the next steps to get things fixed up and get your Windows 10 fix.

Microsoft has implemented a really handy function in Windows 10 that allows you to roll back to the previous version of Windows you had installed. The main caveats of this function are that you have to use it within 30 days of performing your upgrade and that you'll lose any system changes you've made in Windows 10 since upgrading. To roll back, just follow the steps below.

Downgrade from Windows 10 - Step 1 Open the Start menu and click settings

Downgrade Windows 10 - Step 2 Next, click Update & Security.

Downgrade Windows 10 - Step 3 Click Get Started under the Go back to Windows 8.1/Windows 7 option.

Downgrade Windows 10 - Step 4 Provide feedback to Microsoft for why your rolling back and click Next.

Downgrade Windows - Step 5 Be sure to read over the caveats for the roll back. Any system changes you've made in Windows 10 will roll back to the way the system was before you upgraded.

The machine will run through a couple of preparation screens and reboot to a roll back screen. Expect this to take about an hour. When it reboots again you'll need to uninstall the VPN software you're using. The biggest culprit I've found online is the Cisco VPN Client. In my case it was the first VPN client I tried to remove and it failed out stating that it couldn't manage network settings and thus couldn't uninstall the program. I would recommend rolling back to remove any VPN software right now to ensure nothing gets borked with the registry. Once you've got the VPN client(s) uninstalled just re-run the upgrade for Windows 10 and you should be all set. If you run into any snags, let me know in the comments!

Cast Party

Cast Party

If you listen to Radiolab, Invisibilia, Reply All or The Truth then you've likely heard about Cast Party. The podcast festival will be broadcast live from NYU's Skirball Center to theaters nationwide next Tuesday at 7p CST and is sure to be something great for those who enjoy these shows. Much like the live shows that Radiolab and This American Life have done in the past there will be content formatted for the stage that stems from some of the best podcasts you can find. I love that podcasting is just the start for the possibilities of the modern evolution of media and provides a platform for these creative forces to find unique ways to broaden their horizons with different forms of media. Be sure to get your tickets from the Cast Party website and join the party next Tuesday evening.

Apple Music Ain't Perfect

7-24-15 Update: Jim has mostly gotten the issue of the missing music sorted out. Unfortunately it required Apple intervening and explaining the process and even then it's a mess to understand. There's still a lot ahead to make Apple Music the mainstream product it should be.

Apologies for the post title. I'm feeling southern today I guess.

There have been plenty of complaints to go along with the praise for Apple Music over it's first few weeks but yesterday's Apple Music is a nightmare and I'm done with it post by Jim Dalrymple is by far the most damning account that I've read. Here's Jim writing about what I find to be the most offensive and concern worthy part of his whole experience:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

I trusted my data to Apple and they failed. I also failed by not backing up my library before installing Apple Music. I will not make either of those mistakes again.

That part about backing up his library before installing Apple Music is likely to cause most nerds to shrug off Jim's frustration as a one-off issue that he should've planned ahead to avoid. This is where I point to Jason Snell's further elaboration on the issues Apple Music has had as of late:

Yesterday, Apple had a pretty severe cloud-services outage. And with it went my access to Apple Music. Most of my music listening takes place on a Mac without much of an iTunes library, so I’m largely playing music stored in the cloud. Yesterday, the music stopped. My Mac wouldn’t play anything. My iPhone wouldn’t play more than a few saved tracks. I ended up spending most of the day listening to music via Home Sharing from the Mac mini in my house that’s got a copy of my entire music library.

There was also another (shorter) outage last Friday, when I repeatedly received a message informing me that “Cloud Music Library was not responding (503)” and that I should check my firewall software. When your error messages conjure Windows 95-era Microsoft, you’re doing it wrong.

Between outages and data loss I'm thinking the beta label would've been proper for Apple Music thus far. It's not that it's unusable, I actually think it's pretty great, but it comes with a slew of power user pre-reqs to avoid potential catastrophe. I imagine being a Genius at the Apple Store and having to face someone who lost a large chunk of music because they tried Apple's new music service. There's no easy way to explain that it's brand new and these things happen. I doubt they'll be doling out iTunes gift cards to repair the relationship with those who've lost music they (hopefully) paid for. So with that said, please, please, please keep good backups and tread lightly with Apple Music for now.

Gimlet Media Launches Membership Program

Gimlet Media

While StartUp, the podcast that started it all for Gimlet Media ended a few weeks ago, a bonus episode dropped last week. The episode was a status check on the company, specifically in regards to advertising. This episode had exactly the behind-the-scenes coverage of the company that the first season provided when Alex Blumberg set out to launch his new media company. This bonus episode also lead to the announcement of the Gimlet Media membership program.

Joining the new membership program gives you early access to new shows that Gimlet is piloting. You can also pick a shirt if you sign up for an annual subscription. The designs feature the Gimlet logo or the logo of one of the three current shows that Gimlet produces; StartUp, Reply All, and Mystery Show. This is the first iteration of the membership and Gimlet promises to add more value to the program as they figure out exactly what that looks like. I would expect this to include more behind-the-scenes access to the production of Gimlet's podcasts. At $5/mo or $60/yr the membership program is a no-brainer for anyone who enjoys even just one of Gimlet's shows. The early access alone is worth the price.