Month: October 2021

Managers need training to manage

We promote people into management and we just hope that they figure it out. And then we stand, mouth agape, when things go sideways. And this isn’t just a problem for our new managers. We are 40 years into this strategy and now the overwhelming majority of the workforce came up through this same form of occupational hazing. Here’s a new job. It’s very high stakes. It’s totally different from what you’ve done to date. And the skill set isn’t intuitive at all. You’re smart. You’ll figure it out. And if not, you’re fired. Good luck.

Anne Helen petersen’s How to Actually Build a Better Boss

I love when one of my favorites writers interviews some of my other favorite writers. I love Raw Signal’s work and when I saw they were being interviewed I was delighted to read more of their work from someone also deeply interested in work and work culture.

Write words. Press publish.

One popular trend is to implement a what I would consider a software development pipeline and not a blogging system. I love technology as much as the next nerd, but I do not understand this trend of increasing the dependencies and technical infrastructure for turning Markdown into HTML.

The Modern Complexity of the Simple Blog – Macdrifter

This is why I still use WordPress despite the block editor being hostile to wanting to type words in Markdown. I look at the plain text options of the world and wonder when it became so hard to turn text into slightly different looking text.

I don’t want to be a developer or install Docker and 15 tools. Hugo, Pelican, Jekyll are all needlessly complex ways to make blog posts out of words. There’s a reason WordPress powers the blogging web outside of walled social mediums.

I want to write words.
I want to style them with Markdown.
I want to add the occasion picture.
I want to publish those words with pictures.
WordPress makes that easy.

Downloading audio from Youtube using youtube-dl

I saw Mike over at Initial Charge link to Listenbox Turns YouTube Channels Into Podcasts. This is a neat idea and something I’ve been doing sparingly with longer-form Youtube content that is mainly audio.

However, I don’t need to pay a subscription for another thing in my life I’ll use on occasion. So I tweaked my Youtube-dl setup to pull audio from Youtube videos instead of the video itself.

First, I have to thank Jason for his youtube-dl setup which I replicated in a container on my server at home. He’s updated his configuration to support M1 Macs and some fancy iPhone shortcuts.

I have mine running on Ubuntu sitting in a container in proxmox in my office.

I’ve created a small shell script called music.sh. The contents are below, which I’ll explain.

# YTDL-Music Playlist - Audio Only - Goes to Music folder
/usr/local/bin/youtube-dl \
--extract-audio  --audio-format mp3  --embed-thumbnail --ignore-errors \
-o "/mnt/Youtube/Music/%(title)s.%(ext)s" \
--download-archive /var/www/video/music.txt \
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9C818BCBDA822A24

The first line is a comment reminding me of what this is and does.

/usr/local/bin/youtube-dl – The location where I have youtube-dl installed.

--extract-audio – Downloads only the audio and discards the video.

--audio-format mp3 – Sets the format to MP3 for compatability.

--embed-thumbnail – Embeds the thumbnail from the Youtube video. Sometimes useful, sometime not. But it’s nice to have some kind of artwork on the file.

--ignore-errors` – Skips errors like if a video is removed or not able to be downloaded for some reason.

-o "/mnt/Youtube/Music/%(title)s.%(ext)s" – The -o stands for output and tells youtube-dl where to save the file. In my case, I have it saved to my NAS mounted through NFS at /mnt/Youtube/Music.

The title and extension are pulled right from an example output. I don’t know what the lowercase s means. I just used it because the examples showed it.

--download-archive /var/www/video/music.txt – I write a log of everything I download so if I delete it after watching it, it doesn’t get pulled back down every single time. The file logs the youtube ID as opposed to the title or something human-readable but it’s better than nothing.

Finally, the URL links to the Youtube playlist where I want to download from. This makes triggering the downloads as simple as adding a file to that playlist and letting youtube-dl do the rest.

How does youtube-dl know to check the list for new videos? I have a cron job set to run the script every 10 minutes. So anything newly added to the playlist will get downloaded.

*/10 * * * * sh /var/www/video/music.sh

Once I download the audio, it gets picked up by Plex. Plex is set to watch that folder and add new content it finds to the library as audio. So I can download music, podcasts uploaded to Youtube, or technical shows where the content is largely audio.

It works well other than the hiccups any self-hosted setup can run into and it costs my nothing additional since I’m already paid for the computer and pay for the electricity/internet anyway at home.

Visiting old friends in the garden

Brookside Gardens will always be a special place. The gardens are always beautiful and every time I visit, there’s always something different in bloom.

This weekend’s visit was special because the indoor garden building was open. It has been closed last year and every time we went this year it was a little too late to go inside.

We were able to see the cacti, orchids, palms, and other beautiful indoor dwellers. It was like revisiting old friends. Such a peaceful place to sit and breathe deeply and take in everything around you.

I struggle not to take a thousand pictures every time we visit. I limited myself to just a few. Including the obligatory proof that I leave the house at times.

A tale of air travel featuring Denver

In Denver, everything stayed in bags. Shoes on. Belt on. No full body scanner. Only a metal detector.

So while it was the sanest security screening I’ve ever had, it was a disaster getting to the security screening. The line was extremely long and disorganized. At one point TSA stopped every single traveler and setup a portion of the line where were we assigned to walk two people across.

There was a TSA dog with about 8 agents. We thought at first it was for distancing. But that seemed silly after we had been smashed together for 25 minutes.

Maybe the dog was sniffing for a specific thing. But why send only a portion of the travelers through the two-by-by gauntlet of dog and agents? And why two people at a time? Two random people.

It was the weird. No one there seemed to know what they were doing or why. But once we were through that portion of the wait, TSA hurried us up to the screening areas.

As if we were holding them up, when they stopped the line entirely.

It was the weirdest airport experience I’ve had and completes my the trip with three separate airports having three separate sets of security protocols.

At BWI we left everything in our bags, but shoes and belt came off. Full body scanner with a spot check.

In Salt Lake City, electronics had to come out of bags. Shoes off. Belt on. Full body scanner. No spot check.

In Denver, everything stayed in bags. Shoes on. Belt on. No full body scanner. Only a metal detector.