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Twenty Fifty-Two

I haven’t mentioned this on my website but on January 1st I began a 52 week long project. The goal? Record one song every seven days. All year.

I talk more of the thought behind this on the website, but it occurred to me that I should check in - with myself - at this halfway point. Unfortunately at week 18 my laptop died and I lost all of the source files. Luckily I had backed up the finished songs, but it felt like starting over at week 19. Even though I was starting each week with a blank Logic file (I never borrowed from previous songs), I couldn’t even look at what I did or didn’t do. I had to listen to what I did and didn’t do. That said, there haven’t been any other technical challenges, just some creative and logistical ones.

This all began before the pandemic really hit, but in mid March when our state was flaring up with COVID, I also had a college class to teach, and my son was still in a weird “distance learning” phase with school. My daughter (1)? Unfazed.

So what I have here is a collection of 26 songs that are all instrumental, mostly ambient/experimental, and under 5 minutes long. I've embedded the song from week 14 on this page. I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to complete it. Luckily my family and friends are all healthy, and even as our state loosens pandemic restrictions, I am happy to stay in and make things. Perks of an introvert, I guess. I also have a supportive wife - who expectedly had her whole summer of work wiped out - so I consider myself lucky.

Oh, and the thing about this album, is I’m releasing all of the songs on GitHub with a Creative Commons license. So as long as you credit me and my song(s), anyone can use them for their personal or commercial projects.

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the year, but hopefully the second half goes a little smoother for everyone. I’ll be in my bedroom, making a song a week until 2021. Stay safe 🤞

2052

Vast

What better way to start a quarantine/lockdown than with semi-ominous instrumental music, right? These six ambient tracks span three years of on-and-off composition and production. They were written after moving from a small city (of 30,000) to a tiny town (of 3000) with lots of space to roam, physically and mentally. Pairs best with isolation, working from home, falling asleep, parenting a toddler, etc.

Vast is available on Spotify, Pandora, Apple, Google, you get the idea.

Best Tech I've Ever Owned

I didn’t think I’d be writing a “love letter” to a certain device today, but here I am. The last time I did this was about my favorite ebook reader, which has since died the saddest of deaths (touchscreen is non-responsive). The Nook had a good run but the throne of “Favorite Device” is vacant. So that gets resolved right now.

OK “Favorite” might not be the most appropriate label. My favorite might be my old Sega Genesis Nomad from the 90s. What I’m talking about now is similar in nature. It’s a portable thing smaller than it has any right to be. It’s my phone. Specifically, my iPhone SE.

size check. screenshot from apple.com/iphone/compare

Side by side with my wife’s iPhone 7, the SE looks and feels tiny. And that validates my affinity for it so perfectly that I could end this post now – I won’t – and feel like I’ve gotten my message across. My SE gets reactions from people when I use it. The comments are usually along the lines of “I looovveed my iPhone 5” or “I miss having a small phone lol” then followed by complaints about how big and bulky their 8, 9, 10 max whatever is. And how expensive they are. Well let me back up a minute.

I bought my SE 2 years ago for $129 from Walmart. That alone is an achievement, since a new iPod Touch is $199. You can still get it for that much from Amazon or a few other places. Anyway, the SE is essentially an iPhone 6 but in a smaller package. And that’s why it is my favorite device and the best piece of tech I have ever owned. I love it in spite of the rose gold/white color combo (it was the only option). I love it because I’ve dropped it a million times and there are no cracks, just some solid dents in the wraparound metal edge. I love it because my thumb can reach the top of the screen without having to readjust my grip. I love it because it lays flat on a surface because the lens is flush with the body. This thing is blazing fast, has plenty of storage, a great battery, and fits comfortably in any pocket. I can wirelessly get photos to it from my camera, and all photos (including yours) look better on it because the screen is so small. The SE is perfect as I write this at the end of 2019.

You can buy a new SE right now AND a full frame digital camera for less than the price of the 11 Pro. I'm impressed that the SE is still listed on Apple's site. So you might think the latest takes amazing photos and it probably does, but will the quality be as good as what you'll get from a Sony A7? Which one are you also more likely to drop? Just sayin.

I don’t even need or want a new model. At three and a half years old this thing is still amazing. Would I buy a new version of this small phone if Apple made one? Absolutely. I’ve thought about picking up another SE to keep around until this one dies but I have no reason to think it will ever die. It will, and break my heart just like my Nook. But I’d like to see what Apple could do with a new phone at the same size. Not the Apple Watch, which I don’t own but am also impressed by. A new SE. This is starting to feel like an Apple ad but I promise it isn’t. I don’t care about a giant screen or multi-lens camera capabilities. Mo pixels mo problems. Stop making things pocketable things bigger. That whole “they don’t make em like they used to” sentiment has never been truer. And cheaper.

State Fair in Photos, 2019

It's been five years since I blogged photos from the New York State Fair, and you know what? We still hit the same spots and eat the same food. Fewer rides and games these days (and even more food).

the new york state fair

Quick intermission ✋ Tired yet? We weren't, because we fueled up with the pig and potato parfait, just like we did back in '14.

Almost there. We didn't eat all of this stuff, trust me.

That's it! See you next year, fair! Please don't use/take these photos without asking permission first. Contact me via one of the methods here.

Open Source Sunday

I'm writing this on a Monday, but the title comes from the fact that I spent many hours yesterday finalizing on improvements made to League Mono and League Spartan. The latter is something I've been updating on and off for the past year (since forking a version to make variable in 2018). League Mono has received few updates as well. So here's what is new.

League Mono

I cleaned up a lot of the curves. There were some sloppy handles, inconsistent widths, and general weirdness. Not bad on the surface, but making loads of structural improvements yesterday obviously helps overall consistency and aesthetics.

I also updated the specimen page with the new version and gave the page some updated styles, too. You can play with it there and see everything that is possible with just one woff2 file.

Details on Github


League Spartan

For the past few weeks I've been expanding on the multiple weights that I designed last year. Basically I redrew almost everything and finalized it yesterday. What's left is a League Spartan that is cleaner, bolder, lighter, and variable.

I enjoy it so much that I've swapped it into the headings here on my site. I think it is a big improvement from my previous improvement, which always felt a bit more usable than the first League version. If I can get some more time – hard to do these days – I would love to make an italic version for League Spartan. And a little microsite for it. Maybe in 2020. But for now, Spartan is solid and ready to go.

Details on Github

Those are the highlights. I love working on open source projects but I also need to pay the bills. Those things are often at odds with one another. If you use these I'd love to see what you make. And if you're making anything for the web you have no excuse to not try out variable fonts. The two in this post here are 100% free for commercial use.

Enjoy ✌️

📍Ithaca, New York

Currently I write and release one open source song every week and make new type on Google Fonts through ETC👍