Top 10 Songs of 2014: It Begins

As I do most years, I’m about to start my top 10 list. It generally runs one song a day through the end of the year, or maybe two if I don’t have time to get a post out one day.

This year, I listened to a lot of music, but the stuff that stuck tended to be from established artists or is sort of indie-dance-pop. I don’t know why, it was just a softer, catchier year for me. Chalk it up to getting old. I just didn’t hear a lot of hip-hop this year, though I liked what I heard of Run the Jewels and the new stuff Kendrick Lamar debuted (but didn’t release) this year.

During this process, I do link off to Amazon via my Amazon Affiliate. If you buy a song (or maybe 10 songs?) I’ll get a little kick back. I don’t get rich off it – I think I’ve made like a couple of bucks over 5 years. When I can’t find a good Amazon link, I’ll probably use Spotify.

So, coming soon (tomorrow, maybe), I’ll have my “didn’t quite make the list” songs from 2014. Which you might call the “Honorable Mentions”.

Quick Instapaper Tip: Have Instapaper Read You Your Saved Articles

I didn’t realize it until today, when I stumbled across the post describing the features in the most recent Instapaper release for iOS. I knew that it was now a system wide share extension (super helpful), but somehow missed that it will now read an article to you using text-to-speech. I thought that was a premium feature (and it might have been), but now it’s free. You just can’t setup a playlist to read back a number of articles in a row without being a premium user.

It’s a pretty awesome feature; the voice does a surprisingly good job. It’s a great little trick when out for a walk or in the car for a short ride.

Prepping for the Year End Music List

I’m starting to prep my year end top 10 songs list, and I realized that I’ve been very, very slow about getting to new music this year. I have a queue about a mile long on Spotify of things I might like that I haven’t tried yet, a bunch of albums that I’ve only listened to once, and a bunch more that I’ve only heard when distracted by work.

Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of listening coming up in the next couple of weeks.

That being said, the 2014 list is shaping up to be a list that might have showed up at various points in the past couple of decades. Delta Spirit put out a really good album this year. Weezer had a sort of comeback album that sounds a lot more like The Blue (or Green) Album. The New Pornographers and Spoon both put out albums that hearken back to their best albums.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that this list may not look all that experimental. It just so happens that a lot of well established artists put out really good pop music this year. And who am I to argue with that.

How Not To Make a Statistic (or The Downfall of Boston.com)

I love Boston Cream Pie. So when I saw an article on Boston.com talking about how Bostonians don’t like Boston Cream Pie, I was intrigued. I bit the link bait.

Massachusetts’ favorite pie is pumpkin, followed closely by apple, then pecan and blueberry, according to Facebook data. Boston crème pie came in dead last.

Well, I’ll be. Dead last. Except, in the next sentence …

Boston.com collected Facebook data on Nov. 20 that reflected 85,900 mentions or likes from Massachusetts residents expressing interest in these types of pies.

Folks are more than 30 times as interested in pumpkin pie (44,000) as they are in Boston crème pie (1,420).

Well, no shit. On a single day, a couple of weeks after Halloween and the week before Thanksgiving, from posters to Facebook, pumpkin pie got more mentions on Facebook. Surely that means it’s true year round. And is not, you know, indicative of the slice of time and audience.

There was a point in time when Boston.com was worth reading.

Where’s This Guy Been?

No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.

No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.

Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.

No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

So, I guess it takes getting your ass kicked in the mid-term elections and realizing you’ve got nothing to lose to go out and fight for the things you campaigned on.

Better late than never.

In need of disruption …

Posts will likely be short for a while. We’re in the process of buying a house and moving. Hooray!


However, over the past 3 months, while house hunting, open housing, making offers, accepting offers, and everything else that goes into the process, nothing has been more clear to me than the fact that the process of buying and selling a home needs to be massively disrupted.

When making what is likely the biggest purchase you’ll have made to that point, you basically see a house for 30 minutes in as optimal a situation as possible. You have to go through agents on both sides because, well, why would you be able to act on your own? That would be cutting out the middle man. The hilarious part of it all is that the least expensive part of the entire thing are the lawyers, who basically have the whole thing covered and end up costing pennies out of the whole process.

Companies like Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are helping with connecting buyers and sellers, but really, they’re now just full of buyer’s agents and seller’s agents. It’s a market where it’s very hard to actually find the real person on the other side. That probably works fine when the market is hopping, but if/when the market comes down, the loads of agents just hanging around the market and acting as gatekeepers will get churned out and replaced by either a) nothing, or b) real, value added agents.

During this process, there are lots of places where I’d happily pay someone to solve a problem with skills I don’t have (a mortgage, legal documents, moving). Those services seem to be priced appropriately. The real estate agent side of things is a place where the price you pay seems to dwarf the services rendered. The interwebs have a tendency to solve that problem over time. I expect that by the next time I buy a home, it’ll be a very different experience.


Post-Script: I did some googling around to see if I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m clearly not. This post resonated so strongly with me. I heard nearly every one of those canards during our buying process.


Post-Post-Script: Our agent was quite nice, and I don’t think doing anything that was deceptive or misleading. It’s really just a case where the goals of the real estate agent are not aligned with the goals of the buyers/sellers. They don’t get paid for their time, just for the sale. Like car dealers, the folks working the floor of your local Home Depot, or the folks calling you to offer you some new phone service, they make money when you buy something. And they don’t, when you don’t.