Unnecessary meetings are a $100 million mistake ($) at big companies, according to a new survey that shows workers probably don’t need to be in nearly a third of the appointments they attend.

Via Bloomberg

Taking Things Internal, Part ichi:

One thing the cloud does well is sync things so they are accessible and up-to-date. I have two simple, non-critical use cases – insecure email for newsletters and Real Simple Syndication (RSS) for articles – I will bring in house.

The RSS bit is relatively trivial, as is the insecure email for newsletters that are free. The complicated bit is the email for newsletters where it needs to be at least a bit secure as I need the email for a paid subscription, sometimes to a magazine or newspaper.

The other bit is that I want it all, RSS and the various newsletters, in a single app that is reading first. My RSS reader of choice right now is NetNewsWire on various Apple platforms, but if I move off of Apple whatever system I set up should serve Linux/BSD/Android as well.

The closest service is FeedBin, which offers a unique email address to which one can forward free newsletters. Its API connects to a bunch of readers. However, managing paid subscriptions through it is difficult to impossible. Also, some of my subscriptions have to go through my student email address. Anti-SPAM measures means forwarding or redirecting emails from various email accounts is a spotty endeavor.

Which is all to say that I don’t yet know precisely how I will achieve this end. This is not the first time I’ve traversed this path nor the first time I’ve written about it here.

September Media Diet

TV

Evil (Paramount+; 5/5) – still great. The show is equal measure funny, scary, topical, sincere, fun, earnest, skeptical, and then above all totally bonkers. Get the free trial if you don’t already have it to watch this and …

The Good Fight (Paramount+; 4.5/5) – in its final season, I’m only two episodes in of the three released so far but am as on board with it as I ever was. I marvel at the leads in the show and the quality writing by the same crew as do Evil.

What We Do In The Shadows (Hulu; 4/5) – Still funny. Not everything worked this season but the story of the creature that clawed its way out of the torso of the corpse of Collin Robinson made for a comedically brilliant through line.

She-Hulk (Disney+; 4/5) – Tatiana Maslany. I’m not too into Marvel, especially compared with some I know, and as such a lot of the fan service goes right over my head. I’d watch her read the proverbial phone book, so I’m in for the humor and the satire of both super hero and lawyer tropes.

Maggie (Hulu; 3/5) – I looked for a light sitcom and took a flyer on it. Not mentally or emotionally taxing, just a show about people I’d like to hang out with. The episodes I did not care about were the ones the show was meant to be built on. Thus, canceled by Hulu before I even watched it.

Reboot (Hulu; 2.5/5) – I should like this show better than I do. Great cast for the most part. Judy Greer is a treasure. It has its moments, but I don’t think I’ll see this through.

I watched other things like Only Murders In The Building. I’m finding I need a new calculus for the various shows as the commercials offered, especially by Hulu, actively take me out of enjoying the content. We cut the cord from cable to streaming to end up with something far worse.

Movies

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Netflix) – Somehow I missed this or forgot about seeing it. I loved the clothes and locales. The movie lost me when it hit me over the head with the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters, well acted though they were, and didn’t actually care about what happened to them.

I might have watched other movies, but they made little impact.

Music

So much music! Check out Papa Jojo Radio for more info.

Books & Audiobooks

The Ministry For The Future, Kim Stanley Robinson – still making my way through it. It gets too heavy after an hour or two, as much as I’m enjoying it and learning from it.

Rat Girl, Kristen Hersh – reading up for a Throwing Muses piece I’ll do on Papa Jojo Radio soon.

I don’t get the band The National

※ Some people like The National. Others do not. If The National gives you joy, excellent! Stop reading here. Go do good in the world.

I’ve been listening to The National (TN) for a couple of weeks. They are headlining the Moon River festival Saturday night here in Chattanooga. Many of the acts I don’t know well, so wanted to boost my familiarity. Most of what I’ve heard I can get behind, but sadly I don’t get The National.

Somehow they never hit my radar until the Pandemic. I’m into music. I like artists that seem to be associated with TN. TN gets categorized into the “dad rock” category, presumably my wheelhouse. And yet, they never did, as I said, hit my radar. I often assume acts I don’t know hit it big in the U.S. when I was working and living overseas. It was pointed out to me that TN’s peak was well before my foreign travels began in earnest.

I’m sure I heard them as I was out and about in the world. I’m fairly certain that, when I did, I wrote each song off as coming from Crash Test Dummies (“Oh, isn’t it nice those guys are still going.”) or Coldplay (“Oh, isn’t it nice those guys are still going.”). If I heard the band’s name I’m sure I thought it was something about the nightly CBC news show hosted by Peter Mansbridge. Actually, I know I thought that at least a few times in retrospect.

Here I was these last few weeks, giving TN concerted attention. I started with asking Apple Music to play TN. Presumably, Apple Music starts with the biggest hit and goes form there. I struggled to differentiate one song from the next. I went to Reddit to see what r/TheNational had to say for newbies. The answers all boiled down to the albums Alligator, Boxer, and High Violet with other albums as the forth. Maybe they’re an album band and I need to disregard the singles, I thought.

I made it through most of Alligator, but fast forwarded through a lot of songs. Boxer wasn’t much better, but it was better. The lead song, “Fake Empire”, musically works but the lyrics and singing are bland. I got a few tracks into High Violet and gave up.

It occurred to me that maybe TN needs to be appreciated without looking at the lyrics, like early R.E.M. It helps in that the lyrics are mostly … not my taste. They’re like something Dave Matthews would write and then discard.

But the singer, Matt Berninger, seems to only have one vocal gear – dragging his baritone across the equivalent of a shopping mall parking lot. There is no change between songs and between albums. Mr. Berninger always offers the same static performance, eating the microphone while competing with the bass guitar.

I thought a comparison with the previously mentioned Coldplay or Crash Test Dummies, or Bauhaus, or Wilco, or Joy Division, or someone else would help me figure this band out. They don’t. Based on my cursory glance, the members of TN seem to be decent people who collaborate with others and help aspiring artists get noticed. I hope that’s true and wish TN all the best, not that they need my good wishes.

They’re not my jam. And that is OK. I wish I could give my pass to someone who would appreciate the show, but sadly the festival organizers forbid such things … and I want back in for Sunday.

Office renovation

I revamped my office on Labor Day.

The essential elements are still here – the two tables, the many computers, the turntable, and sundry tech office things. Essentially the office doesn’t function significantly differently than before. It even has roughly the same layout. So, what changed?

Trash, first off. I got rid of 2 bag worth of recyclable detritus like empty tech boxes. Actually, it was mostly empty tech boxes.

Next came my main desk, the bigger of the two tables. I ad to replace a dying monitor a few weeks ago. Instead of ordering the same size (27”) or bigger and replacing the other one my son absconded with (which I gifted him) with the same, I got two smaller and lighter matching displays (24”). Between an on-line sale and some credits I got the pair for a song. Now, instead of my desk as the landing zone for a hodgepodge of various bits it houses the displays, the DSLR I use as a webcam, the microphone on a boom, and my coffee mug warmer.

Oh, and the sit/stand desk riser. I can use this for the first time this calendar year.

IMG 0030

Layout wise, I moved the main desk back so I have more space & can see out my office door. The window is better positioned so I can look out and see the woods instead of my neighbor’s house. The ceiling fan and light are now above me instead of in front of me. This is far more comfortable.

However, perhaps the biggest change for my mental well being is the vast reduction in clutter. I carefully ran cables and tied them together with straps. Most of the piles of paper are out of view (until I process them).

The best thing about it, if you include the new monitors, the cost to do this was about $150 with the balance going to some screws, an extension cord, and some other bits ’n bobs. More of the cost went into time – about 5½ hours – with a but more to come to hang white boards (another part of the cost) and tidy my book shelves.

Well worth the effort!

The Secret Lives of Flight Numbers.

The Secret Lives of Flight Numbers.:

WHERE DO flight numbers come from? Do they hold some hidden meaning?

Yes and no. Ordinarily, flights going eastbound are assigned even numbers; those headed westbound get odd numbers. Another habit is giving lower, one- or two-digit numbers to more prestigious, long-distance routes. If there’s a flight 1 in an airline’s timetable, it’s the stuff of London–New York.

Numbers might also be grouped geographically. At United, transpacific flights use three-digit numbers beginning with 8, which is considered a lucky number in some Asian cultures. Four-digit sequences starting with a 3 or higher are, most of the time, indications of a code-share flight.

Along the lines of US highways and Interstates have a numbering scheme to help drivers (except when Congress get’s involved), this is some useful information.

↪ Apple’s missing “augmented” intelligence

Apple’s missing “augmented” intelligence:

As part of writing a review, I have been using Apple’s 2022 version of the 13-inch MacBook Air. I am not the first one to say it  — many others have said before — it is a great device. It is a great testimonial of Apple’s hardware excellence and knowledge crammed into this thin sliver of engineering marvel. The new M2 chip, the longer battery life, improved webcam, keyboard, and speakers — everything is of exceptional quality. Apple does know how to build good premium hardware at scale. 

Sadly, you can’t say the same when it comes to its software & services that rely on machine learning and augmented intelligence. The obvious deficiencies, whether on the Mac, the iPhone, or the iPad, are quite annoying

Om pretty much nails my experience and thoughts.

There’s also something to be said about power users needing to install additional tools like Apple’s Command Line Utilities and HomeBrew to fill in the gaps Apple chose to leave.

Anniversary Edition

Remember, when an artist puts out an anniversary edition of an album you paid for 10 or 20 or 30 years, that new edition might mean the one you paid for goes away.

If what the artist puts out in their anniversary edition sucks, there is little recourse.

If you have the original LP, cassette, CD, MiniDisc, MP3 files, or whatever, you #OwnYourMedia

REQ: Local music media library organization app

Status

Dear Lazyweb,

What app is best to help me organize my far flung music files? My music library is a mess, and I need it to be less of one. This is very much a 90’s to early 10’s question, yet here I am.

Requirements:

  • Not reliant on Apple iTunes/Music or Amazon Music or Google or similar
  • Not reliant on Spotify or Pandora or similar streamer
  • Handles open and closed (but DRM-free) formats (mp3, ogg, FLAC, ALAC, etc.)
  • Properly tags files
  • Actually organizes (moves files into a file structure)
  • When uncertain, asks or leaves files to be reviewed (non-destructive)

I buy music media – LPs, CDs, cassettes. Some are new; some are used. New stuff I source from Bandcamp or artist sites or local stores.

※ I host a live radio show on WAWL.org every Thursday from 18:00-21:00 Eastern US Time (America/Detroit). There’s a story to it, one I will tell another day. I’ll also make a bigger deal about the show.

I want Stanly Tucci to write and narrate the audiobook of a science fiction book where he describes alien elements like he describes food.