Last.fm, wot is dis?

Holy shit a new post.  Yeah I dunno, the feeling hit me tonight to write some shit so here we are.  And it’s gonna be a pretty awesome post, just a heads up.

Music is great, I think we can all agree.  When we’re feeling like shit, we put on some tunes.  When we’re feeling awesome, we put on some tunes.  Travelling, driving, working, relaxing – it’s always there.  I won’t try to psychoanalyze why our brains like the repetition of beats and sounds, but there’s something to say that we’ve been making music for most of our existence.  From banging on drums and tapping your hand on your desk, to playing a real physical instrument or an electronic software instrument, it’s as old as we are.

Now more than likely, you have a music library of some sort.  It could be a library of CDs, or a meticulously organized folder of tunes on your computer, or a group of playlists hosted by some music streaming service (Spotify I love you).  But one thing most people don’t think about, is how cool it is to analyze your listening habits.  Enter, Last.fm.

I’m a massive sucker for stats and shit like that.  I check in to movies and TV shows I’m watching (see that Twitter feed on the right?  All automatic), but I also record what music I’m listening to as I listen to it.  This is called scrobbling, and it stems back to the mid-2000s when I first got started.  Last.fm is what the service is called now, back in the day I think it used to be Audioscrobbler?  It’s free, and it integrates with most music players out there.

It’s neat because at the end of the year you can see what your listening habits were that year:

Yeah, so I listened to over 10,000 songs in 2017, an average of 28 per day, and a total of 25 days, 5 hours of listening time.  Pretty crazy, and you can go back year by year and get the same info.

It’s interesting because if you’re curious what you listened to on this day sayyyyyy, 3 years ago, you can:

There was a lot of the same shit I listen to today.  But there’s a few gems in there I haven’t listened to since.  It’s pretty cool.  It can also show you some embarrassing shit, like the obscene amount of the Battlefield 4 soundtrack I listened to on this day, January 26, 2015.

Like I said, I’m a sucker for information like this.  It’s fun to look back and see where I was, what I was listening to.  Sometimes it’s depressing, like a song that brings back bad memories or a song that reminds you of better times.  Meanwhile it could be invigorating, like rediscovering a song or an album that you totally forgot exists.

The nice part is Last.fm is free to sign up, and you can immediately link it to your Spotify account here, under settings:

But there’s an even better way, which links Last.fm with Spotify, and works completely agnostically from what client you’re using.  Xbox, Android, iOS, computer, web, even your Amazon Echo.  They will all scrobble if you use the Spotify Scrobbling (Beta) plugin:

https://www.last.fm/settings/applications

Pretty slick shit.  I tried it this evening and it scrobbles everything, you just need to remember to turn off the above mentioned client-based scrobbling.

Check it out audiophiles, you won’t be disappointed.

Shut your damn Pi-hole

At some point in your life, you might have heard about a device called a Raspberry Pi.  It’s a relatively small SoC (System on a Chip) that’s an entire computer.  Processor, memory, network interface, the whole shebang.  Well there’s a project out there called Pi-hole, which is a piece of software that you run on said Raspberry Pi.  What it does is something pretty awesome – it turns your Pi into a hardware-based, network-wide ad blocker.

Yep.  This shit is bonkers.  Now, on Raspberry Pis, the OS they run is called Raspbian, which is just a specialized distro of Debian Linux.  And ya know what that means – Pi-hole can be ran in a VM running a Debian-based distro.  After I did some research, I took the plunge, fired up a CentOS VM, and installed it with a single command:

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

That’s it.

Configuration-wise it’s pretty simple.  Usually when your computer queries a websites DNS information, it does so to your router.  With a Pi-hole in place, you modify your DHCP information to provide the Pi-hole’s IP as your network’s DNS server.  The Pi-hole then, in turn, forwards requests to your router as expected.

All your clients ask the Pi-hole for website IPs, and if it doesn’t have them, it asks your router.

Now from here, the Pi-hole has a list of blacklisted IPs.  If you load a website and any of those sites have an embedded ad that matches one of those blacklisted IPs?  It returns nothing to your browser and doesn’t even load the ad itself.  It’s really quite beautiful.

The absolutely awesome part of this solution running network-wide is that it blankets every single one of your devices.  Your phone, your PC, your Xbox, TV, Roku, anything.  No need for plugins or any of that jazz anymore, and because it doesn’t even load the ad, your network’s bandwidth use is potentially less.

Another plus is it actually blocks YouTube ads from playing.  I was watching some shit on YouTube through my Roku yesterday, and it would spin for a second like it was trying to load an ad, then just cut straight to the video I wanted.  It’s pretty slick.

And if you’re the type that likes to see logs and statistics – there’s a GUI that shows what the Pi-hole has been doing.  Logs for blocked and allowed connections.  Graphs showing forwarded and cached DNS requests.  It’s fantastic, and the ability to run on a relatively slim VM (1 vCPU, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB HDD), how can you beat that kind of functionality?

Link to the good stuff.

My Thoughts on the iPhone X

Apple unveiled the iPhone X yesterday, and I obviously had to do my due diligence since I’m all about that tech shit.

TL;DR – It’s junk.

I know a lot of people will hinge their mental well being on justifying why they want one, or why they’re going to buy one, and argue with me on this point.  So I’ll break down briefly why I think the iPhone X is trash.

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HTML, Javascript, and Telling the Time

Had a fun time tonight doing some really shitty and basic Javascript coding for giggles.  For some background info, we’ve got a bunch of monitors at work that show the status of most of our systems.  One of these monitors had a nice rectangular block with nothing in it, so I decided to add a clock to that block.  Up until this point, we’ve had to check our PCs or our phones to see what time it was down to the minute, and since analog is so last year, the wall clock was useless.

I originally found a sweet script on this website that hosted its own clocks on their server and you just dropped an iframe to link it on your site.  Worked great on my PC, until I found out the monitoring PCs run on super low-privileged accounts (for good reason) that have zero web access rights.  I had to figure out how to script this sumbitch locally.

Figured I’ll show the code first, then break it down.  Bear in mind this is ain’t pretty, I don’t plan on cleaning it up, and since it works I really don’t care about anything else:

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Wow. Much header image. Such doge.

Fucking hell.  I spend like 30 minutes on fixing some WordPress-related shit on here and end up adding some header images.  Then, from there, I decide to actually write a poast.  Insane how things cascade as you work on them.

But yeah!  Fucking doge is up there now.  And Gandalf, because who doesn’t love Gandalf?  Just click the image itself and watch that shit change.

Tuesday is like the most downplayed day of the week, amirite?  Monday is the worst day and we all know it.  Wednesday is HUMP DAY.  Thursday is the day before Friday.  Friday is just a fucking celebration every week.  And Saturday and Sundayfunday are kinda obvious on their awesomeness level.

Today be tuesday.  Ya know, I just thought to myself, “Fuck, is tuesday supposed to be capitalized?  Like, in the middle of a sentence?”  I don’t know, even as I type this.  Too lazy to Google it.  #Lazy.  Not much significant happened today, got some shit squared away at work security-wise, fixed some glaring WordPress bullshit on here, got it up to date, etc, etc.  Normally I’d be watching TV or playing video games, but honestly I’m cool with just dimming the lights and playing music at a slightly-above-normal-listening-volume.  It’s good shit, believe that.

I finally got around to calling Lenovo this afternoon as well.  Mid last week I decided to squander some of my hard earned tax refund and pick up a new laptop.  The MacBook Air is fine and all (I’m using it now, and I’ll explain why in a second) but I’m losing faith in Apple (I’ll explain in a second also, why this is a highly ironic statement for me).

Why am I losing faith in Apple?  Well, my brand new fucking iPhone 6+ had to be replaced a month or two after I got it due to a faulty touch screen.  Vertical lines and lack of input detection.  Fucking great right?  My MacBook Air needed its screen replaced due to a vertical line of dead pixels.  My parent’s new Mac Mini is having the most retarded issue with the monitor – when it goes to sleep and wakes up, it has a weird pink tint to the display.  Like what the fuck Apple?  What are you doing?

Well, because my declining faith in all things Mac, I decided to spring for a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga S1.  Balls to the wall.  Core i7, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, the whole nine.  Touch screen, convertible display with digitizer and stylus/pen.  Fucking awesome computer.  Powerful, useful, and not a Mac oddly enough.  I thought, because of all my Apple woes, I’d just get a Windows-based laptop and my troubles would fall by the wayside.

That is, until I was using the Yoga yesterday at work to take notes on a brand new Barracuda Spam and Virus Firewall install.  While I’m writing down notes (which is epic as fuck with the pen and digitizer) it all of a sudden locks right up.  Cursor moves, nothing else happens.  I’m like “Damnit, I didn’t save anything.”  I power it off and turn it back on.  Black screen.  Dafuq?

I let it sit for a minute or two, and all of a sudden the worst fucking sound in the world.  Beeps.  Shit.  No hard drive detected.  Are you fucking shitting me?

Yeah, I tried to get away from my notion that Apple’s build quality has been slipping, only to fall into another manufacturer’s instance of failed hardware.  In a solid state drive of all things.  Who’da thunk it?

So anyway, I call Lenovo today to see what my options were.  Couple notes to take away from this service experience…

I was impressed.  As fuck.

Right from the get-go, the phone tree said straight up that the call center I was being routed to was in Georgia, good-ole-US-of-A.  Holy fuck, no Indonesian fucktards named Steve?  Impressive.  Once I got someone on the line, her name was “Asia” which I found ironic in and of itself, but she was a fucking pro.

I told her my issue once.  From there she verified all of my information, again – once.  She said “Alright, I’m just going to ship you a replacement drive.  Do you need Windows to be installed on it?”  I go, “Nope, I can handle that part.”

And that was it!  She said a replacement drive was on its way, would be there in two days, and to just send back the faulty drive.  Holy fucking Moses, best service I’ve ever experienced over the phone.

Concise, polite, and quick about the whole ordeal.  Free two-day shipping and a new hard drive.  Perfect.  I should have called yesterday, honestly.  But like I said above, #lazy.