Lo-fi Music Is The Perfect Genre To Work & Study To

Whenever I am working I listen to a wide-variety of different genres of music. My dominant genre is metal and other derivatives of heavy music which I enjoy. Then I also listen to blues as well as rap/hip-hop and instrumental music too.

One of my more recent genre additions is Lo-fi. Admittedly, I am late to the party on the Lo-fi music genre, but it has been a game-changer for me and how I work. It’s not a genre of music I would have listened to a couple of years ago.

To me, Lo-fi is like a modernised version of elevator music (only more innovative and not shitty), combined with other elements which make it the perfect background music that sits somewhere in the back of your mind and doesn’t distract you like other forms of music do.

As you can see, interest in Lo-fi music has exploded in the last five years. As more people find themselves working from home and finding ways to relax and concentrate on work, you can see 2020 was a big year for Lo-fi music.

While platforms like Soundcloud have increasingly seen more Lo-fi type tunes added, my goto platform for Lo-fi is surprisingly YouTube. People were uploading Lo-fi to YouTube five years ago before it was even really that popular.

Perhaps one of the most popular mixes on YouTube is the Rainy Days In Tokyo mix.

It was uploaded in 2017, but the majority of comments are far more recent than that which is pretty indicative of recent interest. I would be interested in knowing how many of those 11 million views were in the first year or two of listening (probably not many).

Another popular Lo-fi mix on YouTube is this one titled, 1 A.M Study Session.

And perhaps one of my favourites is this live stream YouTube mix, it just perpetually keeps playing inoffensive Lo-fi tunes. Whenever I do code live streaming on Twitch (follow me here), this is my goto video for background music, playing other forms of music usually results in my videos being muted for copyright matches.

The one thing I find impressive about the video above is that it is relatively new in comparison to other videos and it has 2.1 million thumbs up and 43k thumbs down. That is an insanely good ratio of likes to downvotes for a video. Word of advice, avoid the comments section, it’s a cesspool of the worse the internet has to offer.

To me, the appeal of Lo-fi is how bland it is. When you’re listening to it, you’re not being impressed by any stand out elements. Lo-fi is largely vanilla, it’s the John Smith and Plain Jane of the music world. But, like white noise, it perfectly taps into that part of our brains that craves repetition and calm.

Do you listen to Lo-fi?

How To Make Face Masks

In these uncertain pandemic times, seeing mask shortages and other shortages has our family thinking about self-sustainability. What can we rely on when supply chains fail? Not just food, but things like clothing and the hot topic right now: masks.

A decent mask requires three layers of protection and material. You have the outer layer, the middle layer and then the inner layer. The ear loops are the final step, but they don’t offer protection.

As mask shortages became an urgent topic, the likes of the World Health Organisation as well as numerous governments released guides on how you can make your own face masks during the pandemic.

One of the guides that we found helpful, was one on the Australian Department of Health website here. If that link doesn’t work for you, let me know and I’ll send you the PDF.

While it is possible to make a mask by hand sewing it, I highly recommend getting yourself a sewing machine to not only ensure a neater sew line, but to also ensure the pieces of fabric are correctly joined. The effectiveness of your mask will depend on how well those three layers are joined to one another.

It is surprisingly easy to make your own mask, so if you can’t find one at the shops, making one of your own will be more effective than not wearing a mask whatsoever.

How To Make Slime

COVID-19 has changed how we live and how we work, it has also changed how we parent. As parents have been thrown into the unknown as schools are closed or parents take their kids out over fears of bringing the virus home.

My wife and I have two children; a five-year-old boy and a one-and-a-half-year-old girl. Keeping our active son entertained during moments of quarantine has been very challenging, to put it mildly.

One thing our son loves to do is make slime. It’s one of those simple things that kids love and the slime itself once made will keep them entertained for days.

The basics of slime are simple: glue and borax, with some water and food colouring mixed in.

In terms of glue, you want a PVA based glue and one of the best and perhaps easily accessible glues is Elmer’s School Glue. Office Works has a 3.8l bottle of it for $30 here.

  1. Pour in about 120 millilitres of the glue into a bowl. If you are using the small bottle of Elmer’s glue (the squeezable kind, it’s about this much)
  2. Pour in 120 millilitres of warm water. If you want to add some drops of food dye, add them in here.
  3. Mix 1 teaspoon of Borax with 1/2 cup of warm water and dissolve. Pour it into the glue.

Mix it all together thoroughly and you should see the slime start to form. That’s it. It’s simple and effective, the kids love it and it’s not overly messy either.

GitHub Was Never About Fun

A few days ago I came across an article by Jared Palmer titled GitHub isn’t fun anymore besides the somewhat clickbait-y title he talks about the changes that GitHub has made to the trending section and how GitHub doesn’t feel fun any more.

Sure, the trending page is a cool little gimmick section where you can see popular repositories (or used to be able too), but GitHub was never about fun or non-code features. GitHub is a tool.

Since Microsoft acquired GitHub they have introduced a lot of great new features, one of which I find extremely useful is GitHub Actions. The code review workflow is awesome, protected branches, free private repositories and more.

Why does everything have to be gamified? I am 32 and part of a generation that has short attention spans and inability to do mundane tasks. Like children, my generation seemingly needs instant gratification, karma, scoreboards, points and other features to keep us engaged.

The way that trending used to work was too easily gamed and did not necessarily mean the quality of the repos was good. I am glad they changed how it works, how it works now is properly more indicative of popularity than the previous way it worked.

If you think GitHub isn’t fun, you should try Bitbucket, it is terrible and literally the worst source management platform around. You’ll know what funless really feels like using Bitbucket where projects go to die.

Fixing The Certbot Issue “The client lacks sufficient authorization/404 Not Found…”

I am a huge fan of Let’s Encrypt and their free SSL certificate service using Certbot. However, recently whilst setting up a new domain name and attempting to get a certificate, I encountered an error I had never experienced before.

The client lacks sufficient authorization :: The key authorization file from the server did not match this challenge

It couldn’t access the folder where it stored the secrets and was resulting in a 404 error. I manually created the folder and I could access it, so why Certbot couldn’t was a mystery.

After some investigation and dead-end Googling, I found the problem and fixed it. I use Linode for my hosting and use the default DNS entries option when adding a new domain.

Well, it turns out by default Linode will add IPv6 AAAA entries to the server and if you do not have Nginx configured to handle IPv6, it will not resolve properly.

It looked something like this:

The culprit was the second entry for the domain with the weird value 2400:8902::f03c:91ff:fe59:f74c this is an IPv6 address and unless you have your server configured to support them, it’ll result in an error when trying to create an SSL certificate.

The fix ends up being rather simple. Either update your server to support those types of addresses or remove the IPV6 entries from your DNS settings and make sure you wait a good 10-20 minutes before trying again.

Ditching Travis CI For GitHub Actions

I have been using Travis CI for my continuous workflow needs for a very long time now. It does what it does and it does it well. However, Travis is an additional service you have to configure and login to, it is a bit disjointed from the code itself.

When GitHub announced Actions, it was a game-changer. Essentially, it was Travis CI embedded into GitHub itself. Over time, the community have run with GitHub Actions and now there are numerous “recipes” to do tasks inside of your actions.

When the feature was first announced and released, it had some teething issues. I actually gave up on GitHub Actions after running into issues I just didn’t bother working around and stuck with the tried and tested Travis CI.

Fast forward to now and I have begun switching over my own projects to use GitHub Actions as well as numerous Npm packages and open-source projects I contribute too are also equally making the switch.

To me, one of the biggest drawcards of GitHub Actions is they are coupled to the repository itself. I try and reduce the number of external dependencies in my projects as much as possible (within reason).

In the past, I have run into issues configuring Travis CI. I once struggled getting Travis CI setup to rsync some files via SSH to a remote server, spending hours upon hours trying to use the Travis CLI to generate an encrypted file in the format it expects .enc I eventually got there, but it as painful.

Ironically, I recently was tasked with creating a build in GitHub Actions that deployed via SSH and it was easy, using a script from the marketplace, I had it all working in five minutes. You can store the private key itself inside of a secret (which is not visible to anyone).

I was never doing anything overly complicated in Travis CI, so I doubt I will notice any difference switching over. The speed of GitHub Actions does seem to be faster (in both spin up and build time), so that is a huge plus.

The Australian CovidSafe App Doesn’t Even Work On iOS Properly

And the government wonders why people were sceptical of the CovidSafe rollout (besides the very real safety concerns). It seems the CovidSafe rollout is flawed, with the discovery that the iOS version doesn’t even work properly.

Software developer Joshua Byrd recently posted his findings on Twitter and they’re pretty damning. Basically, the app will only ever work in the foreground with the screen on for iOS users.

On a technical level as explained in further Tweets, the phone will not broadcast UUID’s unless it is open. Coincidentally, the same issue was reported with Singapore’s app which CovidSafe is based upon and seemingly, nobody learned their lesson from.

Basically, unless you are aware of the power saving mode which just makes you leave the app open in your pocket upside down meaning you can’t use any other apps, the app itself is useless for a majority of iOS users.

Apple and Google have been working on their own OS level contact tracing API’s and presumably, it would be in the interest of the Australian government to migrate over to these API’s asap. Not only from a technical perspective, but also to alleviate privacy concerns users have over the app being used in the future as a surveillance tool.

Why Is Voat Still A Thing?

Remember Voat? The non-censored alternative to Reddit that saw an influx of users in 2015 after Reddit started cleaning up its house a bit and claims of censorship became a hot button issue that drove people away from Reddit.

The site has now become an anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist platform that resembles an uncontrollable raging dumpster fire. Although to be fair, the site was always teetering on the edge even in the beginning.

After Reddit started banning subreddits such as those dedicated to PizzaGate, many moved over to Voat. And when the whole QAnon thing came to be and Reddit subsequently banned that community, they also moved to Voat.

As you can see, Voat sure knows how to attract the right people to its platform. I haven’t been to the site in years, so it was an interesting experience to go and see what constitutes front-page material these days and well, the screenshots speak for themselves.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic is a hot button issue right now, it is not unexpected to see a tonne of paranoid conspiracy theories surrounding vaccinations and COVID-19.

My question is, how is Voat even still alive? Many of its subverses (sub communities) seem to be completely dead like /v/javascript and the only ones that seem to be thriving are the conspiracy theory sub communities.

I Am Starting To Lose Respect For Elon Musk; Has He Become Unhinged?

The signs have been there for a while now. Elon Musk is the eccentric real life version of Tony Stark, who some believe is going to save the world with his forward thinking investments and ideas like making electric vehicles cool or making his own rockets.

But, for all of Elon’s great and commendable achievements, come some highly questionable decisions and remarks. Known for his non-corporate approach to communication, he has landed himself into hot water a few times now.

One of the most notable instances is when he called a scuba diva who helped rescue some kids trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo” it landed him in court.

Then there is Elon’s run ins with the SEC for his Tweets which has been perceived as market manipulation.

The Coronavirus panic is dumb, will go down as one of the stupidest things such an intelligent person has ever said. Then he voiced his doubts on the connection between COVID-19 and the deaths in Italy.

And more recently, Musk called for America to be “freed” in a Boomer style all-caps Tweet, FREE AMERICA NOW. The kind of remark that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Trump MAGA rally or pro-gun lobby funded event deriding legislation to take away their guns. You only have to look at some of the responses agreeing with Elon affiliated with the “right” many who are self described patriots according to their bios.

Many would argue that Elon has never been completely hinged to begin with. The awkward genius that seemingly can do no wrong amongst with die-hard fanbase.

The New Imgflip AI Meme Generator Is Fun (and dark)

I love a good meme and when I encountered Imgflip’s AI meme generator recently, even more so. As I cycled through the generator I noticed that it started producing some interesting memes.

The site describes the process for obtaining data to produce some of the AI memes:

The network was trained using public images generated by users of the Imgflip Meme Generator for the top 48 most popular Meme Templates. Beware, no profanity filtering was done on the training data so you may encounter vulgarity.

I have spent a lot of time just randomly generating memes, more than I would like to admit. It produces some questionable memes and some good ones as well.

The Eric Andre “why would” meme perhaps produced some of the darkest memes of all.

One of my favourite of the bunch is this one, which seems quite accurate:

And finally, one of my favourites:

You will never be a good communist.