Highdive, 1999

Well this is a blast from the past.

I was stumbling through one playlist or another on Spotify today, trying to find a good listen while I worked. One song—I forget which—reminded me a bit of Hum, so I started playing You’d Prefer An Astronaut. That only lasted a few seconds because it was much slower than I needed.

All of a sudden the name Sarge, another Champaign–Urbana band from the late 90s, popped into my head and I went to go find them. Because Spotify now seems to have everything ever recorded, I had a lot of fun listening to The Glass Intact and Charcoal for the first time in years.

The "Dear Josie, Love Robyn" 7" album cover.

For some reason this made me start poking around at my archives, trying to find out which 7″ vinyl I had of theirs from way back when. I never found the exact answer, though I’m fairly confident it’s Dear Josie, Love Robyn (pictured above).

While searching pictures on Google Drive, I ran into a couple ticket stubs that brought back more memories and I decided to write this all here so that they’re easier to remember in the future. 🙂

A ticket stub for a Local H, Sarge, and Dismemberment Plan show at the High Dive in Urbana, IL on November 12, 1999.

On November 12, 1999, we saw Sarge play with Local H at the Highdive in Champaign, IL. I believe I was somewhat familiar with Sarge, but only barely with Local H at the time. Local H’s setlist is available, but I can’t find anything for Sarge.

I don’t remember Dismemberment Plan at all, though I’ve now enjoyed a handful of tracks and I’m happy to have stumbled upon the name for future listening.

The discovery of that first ticket stub was great because I hadn’t thought of that show in a long, long time. I had only ever remembered seeing Veruca Salt at the Highdive with The Cupcakes, which apparently was just a few weeks later.

A ticket stub for a Veruca Salt and The Cupcakes show at the High Dive in Urbana, IL on December 2, 1999.

This show was memorable because it was the first show for Veruca Salt after Nina Gordon left. We were also geeking out on The Cupcakes because their drummer was Matt Walker, who had recently left as Jimmy Chamberlin’s replacement in the Smashing Pumpkins.

What times. The things you could see for $8 in 1999!

P.S. I wrote this while listening to Smoking Popes songs. I’ll save that one for another time.

Adjusting to Firefox

I’m giving Firefox another shot as my default browser.

In December, when Microsoft announced they’d be using Chromium for their future browser, I was partially happy because it meant one less browser engine to worry about.

I was also partially unhappy because it meant one browser engine had that much more power in deciding the future of the web.

In January, when a program manager at Microsoft suggested Mozilla “get down from their philosophical ivory tower” and embrace Chromium, I started thinking more about what it meant to use Firefox rather than Chrome.

So here I am. A Twitter search shows it’s been just over a year since my last attempt, which lasted 2 months. I didn’t write a blog post that time, but instead mentioned two things in a tweet:

  • Chrome’s dev tools are still better (for me).
  • Firefox started off fast, but has been really clunky lately.

How helpful of me.

It looks like I also made attempts in 2012, 2014, and 2017. The frequency seems to be increasing? I should remember that Firefox was my default browser for years before Chrome came out. Maybe it will stick this time. 🤞🏻

My first impression upon opening Firefox 65 was that everything is boxy and feels sluggish. I have to remind myself that I’ve spent thousands of hours in Chrome and need to make time to get used to something new.

My first step was to switch to the light theme, which feels a bit better.

In general, typing feels slower in Firefox than in Chrome. Not a lot slower, but somewhat like walking through a mud. I dunno.

My immediate thoughts are all around look and feel. The spacing between bookmark icons and text in the toolbar is a bit off and the line height doesn’t feel right. Again, using Chrome for thousands of hours has my brain looking for something similar.

I do think the Firefox team would benefit from spending some more time tweaking defaults around text.

The default Firefox interface with the light theme applied.

I was able to immediately remove that “flexible space” to the left of “New Tab” through the “Customize” interface, which provides a nice amount of customization.

At this point I stumbled into the world of customized Firefox and started editing my userChrome.css file to make small adjustments. It was easy enough to tweak the toolbar height and adjust some line coloring. This is a task that could really be a time suck if you aren’t careful.

And then I found MaterialFox!

The Firefox interface with MaterialFox applied.

I replaced my userChrome.css file with the entire chrome directory provided by that project and now Firefox looks almost exactly like Chrome. I’m not sure if that’s a great thing, but it’s at least making my brain feel okay, so I’ll take it.

The look and feel is much better now, I just need to get used to whatever my brain is perceiving as sluggish.

The only other small annoyance right now is that in Chrome I can toggle the bookmarks toolbar with CMD-Shift-b. This toggles the bookmark sidebar in Firefox. There is no keyboard shortcut for toggling the bookmarks toolbar and I don’t think there’s a way to assign one without installing an extension, which I’m hesitant to do right away.

I’ll save that one for later and see how often I really want to toggle it.

That’s it for first impressions. I’m going to do my best at giving it at least a month. I haven’t used the developer tools yet, but I’ll try to stick it out and open Chrome for troubleshooting if I really need to. I’ll plan on keeping a running log of issues to publish if I decide to switch back so that I know what to check for next time. 🙂

Assorted Resources

These came in handy today.

  • Find your profile directory through “Help” -> “Troubleshooting”
  • If you use a custom userChrome.css file, don’t get smart and change the namespace URL to be HTTPS. It won’t work.
  • To inspect the styles for the “chrome” of the browser, enable the Browser Toolbox.

Four short things – January 25, 2019

The last time I started writing this post it turned into a whole post of its own. Luckily I have more things!

Drunkard’s Rock

Drunkard’s Rock is my new favorite page on the internet. Don’t open it on mobile, the HTML alone is 25MB and there’s a list of 100,000 band names.

From the bottom of that page:

This is a computed drunkard’s walk through The Echo Nest’s artist-similarity graph, starting at Black Sabbath because a) that’s where I felt like starting, and b) that’s how Paul Lamere’s Six Degrees of Black Sabbath measures artist-relation distances. Each step here goes from the previous artist to what we believe to be the most similar one which has not yet appeared in the list.

I had so much fun last night searching through the list for different bands and then listening to tracks from bands on either side of them. I would love to see how the list varies depending on the starting band. It’s crazy to see how the genres ebb and flow in certain areas.

The creator of that site, Glenn McDonald, is a Spotify data alchemist, and it’s fun to follow some of the crazy things he builds there and in the playlists on Spotify.

Another new favorite on that site is the Spotify Listening Patterns by Gender.

When listeners play Spotify editorial playlists, they end up streaming 23.5% from female artists, which is 3.0% better than when they choose their music themselves.

It would be fun to play with all of Spotify’s music data.

PNW Fascism, 1936

I’m about two-thirds through Madeleine Albright’s Fascism: A Warning. It’s been really interesting to read her perspective on fascism and on leaders and politics in general. What an entirely full life!

One story that caught my eye was the fascist presidential candidate that was on the ballet in only one state (Washington!) and got 1598 votes. I had to start poking around for more on him immediately.

Sure enough: William Dudley Pelley was a (self-founded) Christian Party candidate in the 1936 election. Crosscut discusses the Northwest’s uneasy relationship with fascism.

This led me to read more about sedition as a crime. It’s crazy that the US enacted the Sedition Act of 1918, which—more than sedition, which was already illegal—banned “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the US government. It was repealed 2 years later, but whoa!

More about recycling

Last year, Oregon recycled 90 percent of the beverage containers covered by its bottle deposit system. The rate has jumped from 64 percent just two years ago and the total number of bottles recycled reached an all-time high of 2 billion in 2018.

As I keep mentioning, I switched to mostly cans for beer last year because of Pullman’s trouble with bottle recycling. This year I’m trying to do more growlers. It’s really cool to see that Oregon is having so much success with bottle deposits and I wish we had the same kind of thing going on in Washington.

And a pair of Resilience

Two small glasses of beer.

Sierra Nevada announced their Resilience Butte County Proud IPA last year during the destruction caused by the Camp Fire. They established the Camp Fire Relief Fund, to which 100% of the proceeds from the Resilience IPA would be donated. At the same time they invited other breweries to make the same beer from the same recipe and donate their proceeds as well.

In the photo above, the Resilience from our local Paradise Creek brewery is on the left and the Sierra Nevada Resilience is on the right. The local brew is a little cloudier, though that could be due to the growler pour. I had a really hard time distinguishing between the two. If I had to pick a difference, I’d guess that the Paradise Creek version has just a touch more of a dry-hopped taste somewhere in there. But really, they are super close.

I kind of wish I lived in a place with a dozen breweries to do a larger taste test, but I’m definitely grateful I had the chance to try both of these! 🍻