Making an Iced Latte With an Aeropress

I used to have access to a lovely espresso machine, which which we made many iced lattes. Now that I work from home, reproducing the silky luxury of those iced lattes has been a little difficult. Until now. I use an Aeropress for almost all of my coffee needs and have finally figured out how to make a solid iced latte:

  • Put the Aeropress plunger on the 3 line of the aeropress. You don’t want too much coffee or you’ll never get it cold. Plus, you want it to be strong.
  • 1 scoop of finely ground coffee (if you can’t do fine ground, that’s OK) in the aeropress
  • Pour almost boiling water over the grounds, stir, then set your timer for 4 minutes.
  • Fill your cocktail shaker with four ice cubes, sugar and milk or half and half to taste (I’d guess no more than 1/3 cup of liquid).
  • When the timer goes off, press the coffee into the cocktail shaker, shake the hell out of it and pour.
  • Enjoy.

It’s simple and makes a really good iced latte. And remember, the better your beans, the better your cup (I get all my coffee from Cup to Cup).

Happy coffee-ing!

My Most Played Songs

I can’t remember when I did it, but a few years ago I reset all the play counts in iTunes. That was years ago at this point, and since switching to Rdio for most of my music listening, I only use iTunes for things I can’t get on Rdio, live shows from nyctaper or podcasts. I was looking for something new to choose for This is My Jam, and decided I’d just pick the song I’ve played the most in iTunes. And then I decided I might as well share my “historical” top ten songs as shown by what I actually listened to. So, here they are, followed by the number of times I’ve listened to them according to iTunes. Excuse the profanity, that is really the name of the band (and they’re awesome):

  1. Lovely Allen by Holy Fuck – 153
  2. Pullin Punches by Arkells – 150
  3. Fresh Blood by Eels – 137
  4. Working Full-Time by The Constantines – 122
  5. Happy by The Wrens – 113
  6. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky – 111
  7. Dance Like a Monkey by New York Dolls – 106 (this one’s skewed because I accidentally left it on repeat one day where I had a lot of meetings and I forgot to pause it – still, it’s a great song. The video is killer)
  8. I Play My Kazoo by Grand Analog – 102
  9. Soon Enough by The Constantines – 101
  10. Violet Light by Raised by Swans – 101

I also went ahead and created a playlist in Rdio with Trnsmit with my top 100 songs (Rdio doesn’t have all of them, so it’ll be less than 100, but whatever).

It’s funny that the bands I consider my all-time favorites don’t show up until farther down the list (Massive Attack shows up at number 13 with Paradise Circus and Morphine doesn’t show up until number 26 with Come Along). The Constantines show up a ton in the top 50, but that’s mostly because my “Best of the Constantines” playlist was a constant companion for almost a year when I had to crank out code on a deadline.

Oh well, there you go, my top 10 songs played in iTunes. I wish I could do the same in Rdio. I have a feeling it would be dominated by Library Voices.

And yes, this post is instead of writing one about my time at SxSW this year or my new job at Rails Machine that I start in a few weeks. I might write those blog posts later.

Right Up My Crime-Infested Alley

Grantland has created a tournament to see who the best character was on The Wire. Since I’ve now watched the show all the way through three times now, here are my picks for the final four.

I’ve got a problem right off with Ziggy Sobotka going up against Omar in round one. I love Ziggy, but he’s got no chance against Omar.

  • West Baltimore: Omar Little – No doubt.

  • Hamsterdam: Jimmy McNulty – Clay Davis would win if it was for “most quotable”.

  • The Ports: Bunny Colvin – This one was really close between Bunny and Tommy Carcetti, but I think Bunny is the better character.

  • East Baltimore: Lester Freamon – I know people love Stringer, but Lester is deep, complex and a perfect foil to McNulty.

And your picks?

My Annual SxSW Prep: Listening to Tons of Music!

This is odd because I’ve never stayed for the Music portion of SxSW, but every year for the past five or six, I’ve downloaded the massive torrent of free songs from the artists playing SxSW and tried to listen and rate all of them. To give you some idea of the scale, the 2011 torrent had over 1000 songs in it, released in two parts. That’s a lot of music to listen to, and I usually forget to post my top-rated stuff here, but I think I’ve actually listened to everything for at least the last three years (even when I haven’t gone to SxSW).

I’ve figured out a workflow for getting through and rating everything using iTunes’ Smart Playlists that I figure might help you if you want to do the same thing:

  1. Download the torrent and then put all the songs in a single regular playlist.
  2. Create a new Smart Playlist for the songs you haven’t listened to and haven’t skipped. It took a little while to get this set up correctly, but it should be something like this (and then sorted by artist):
    • Playlist – is – Your SxSW Torrent playlist (mine’s called SxSW 2012)
    • Plays – is less than – 1
    • Skips – is less than – 1
    • Rating – is not – 1 star
    • Rating – is not – 2 stars
  3. Create another Smart Playlist for things you’ve listened to but haven’t rated:
    • Playlist – is – SxSW 2012
    • Rating – is – no stars
    • Plays – is greater than – 0 (this removes any that you skipped, which you can assume you want to leave 0 stars)
  4. I also created one like the unrated, but where the Rating is greater than 3 to find my favorites.

What’s great about the unlistened Smart Playlist is that if I give something a rating of 1 or 2 stars, it automatically skips it and goes on to the next song.

Hopefully this helps you better manage your SxSW torrent listening experience! I’ll try to remember to come back and share my favorites. I’m halfway through the B’s as I write this. Only 686 songs to go (and this is just the “Part 1” torrent)!

Oh, and if you don’t want to bother with any of that, I made an Rdio playlist with the songs Rdio has out of the list (about 380 out of the 771 songs in Part 1).

Kevin’s Favorite Albums of 2011

Hi, my name is Kevin, and I’m a music addict. I used to have a 2-3 album a week buying habit. But that’s all changed, thanks to Rdio. I go through the new releases every Tuesday and try to listen to all the interesting new stuff I can find. The good stuff gets added to my collection and the best stuff gets added to my phone. I now usually only buy one album a month, and that’s only because it’s not available on Rdio or is just that good. You might be saying to yourself, “But Kevin, you work on a music product. Why are you using Rdio?” Why? Because they do two different things. Rdio is good if you know exactly what you want to listen to (same with the other on-demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody). If you don’t, or want to discover new stuff, then radio services like SonicSeeds are what you want to use. I see us as complimentary to the on-demand services, not really completing with them (other than for ear time).

The problem with Rdio is that it’s not easy to find the things you’ve added to your collection that were released in the past year, so this list isn’t complete yet. But, if you’re really eager to get the complete list, check back.

And here it is, selections from my favorite albums of 2011. It was a great year for music, and I had a hard time choosing. I think there are about 20 albums represented here, all of them worth picking up or adding to your collection! Enjoy!

My Favorite British Shows on Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix customer for only a few months, but I’m already in love with all the foreign films and documentaries I can get. The best part, though, has to be all the British TV shows! Because someone asked on Twitter last night, here’s a list of my favorite British stuff on Netflix right now:

  • Luther – One of the best psychological thrillers and cop shows I’ve seen in a long time. Idris Elba is fantastic as John Luther, and the rest of the cast is superb. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Fantastic show.
  • Doctor Who – If you’ve missed the Doctor Who revival of the last six years, what’s wrong with you?! This show is aces. It walks a fine line between serious sci-fi, camp, satire and horror. The great thing about Doctor Who is that it can do pretty much every genre and still be OK for kids (I tell mine that the Doctor always wins and that seems to get them through all the scary stuff).
  • Top Gear – Again, how have you missed this? Don’t be afraid that it’s a car show – it’s basically the Three Stooges with insanely expensive toys. It’s one of the funniest shows ever produced, and there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular shows in the world.
  • The IT Crowd – One of the funniest sitcoms ever, and one of the geekiest. Really, just watch it.
  • Downton Abbey – Kind of an Upstairs Downstairs thing, and a little soapy in spots, but the acting and writing are spectacular, especially the servants.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look – Seriously funny sketch show – smart too.

I’ve got to get to work now, but that should keep you busy. I know I’ve missed a bunch, and some of my favorite UK shows aren’t on yet (Misfits is one of my favorites – think Skins with super powers), but keep an eye out.

I’d love to hear about new stuff if there are things I’m missing!

The Bully Project

I was always a big kid, but that didn’t keep me from getting bullied at school, usually picked on because of my weight or that I was a Mormon (and usually the only one in my grade). Thankfully, it stopped by high school (probably because I was, again, big). I’m glad to see that there’s a documentary out there like The Bully Project. Bullying is horrible, and too often it’s ignored by schools and misunderstood by parents.

I don’t know how to stop it… but talking about it can only help.

May 10 – The New Music That Makes Me Squee

There’s a bumper crop of stuff I can’t wait to listen to today! Hooray! But, before I get into today’s music, it’s time to talk about work for just a sec. For the past several months, we’ve been working on a new product, and I’m really proud of it. It’s a new way to do web radio and it’s coming out later this summer. If you’re interested, and you should be, you can sign up for a beta invite and be one of the first people to experience it. I can’t wait to show it to you!

Now, on to the music! And just like last week, I haven’t actually listened to these yet. I’ll try to come back and update things, but I’m pretty confident in today’s list.

  • The Burning HellFlux Capacitor – These guys are goofy and create some silly music, but it’s so damned good, I can’t help but dance along.
  • The AntlersBurst Apart – Their first album, Hospice was heartbreaking and beautiful. I don’t know what to expect from this one, but I can’t wait to find out.
  • SloanThe Double Cross – These guys are giants of Canadian indie rock and for good reason. They consistently produce tight killer rock songs.
  • Pearl and the BeardPearl and the Beard – I first heard them on nyctaper and quickly went and hunted down everything I could. I have high hopes for this one.
  • Black Moth Super RainbowExtra Flavor – I have a feeling this is mostly outtakes from their last album, but their last album was good enough that these should be pretty darn good.
  • CornershopSupercomputed – And you thought they only did Brimful of Asha. Their recent albums have been solid, and I didn’t even know this one was coming out. Happy surprise!

There you go. If I find anything else, I’ll add it to the list. What are you listening to this week?

May 3 – New Music Tuesday

I haven’t listened to any of these yet, but here’s the list of albums I gleaned from today’s new releases on Rdio. I’ll try to come back and update them once I’ve actually listened to them, but I’m a busy guy, so I’ll probably forget. Here’s the queue as it stands right now:

There are some other things in the queue, but I have to go hop in the shower and get to work. I’ll try to hop back in and add other new stuff I find worth listening to and update the guesses with the results. Happy new music tuesday!

What else should I be listening to?

New Music Tuesday!

Tuesdays are new music day (when all the new releases come out), and for the past several months, I’ve religiously gone through the 20+ pages of new releases looking for the little gems that slip through the cracks or the albums that make my week. I usually post a couple to twitter, but hey, I have a blog, why not keep them for posterity?

So, for 4/12/2011, here are my new release finds:

  • Hit After Hit by Sonny & The Sunsets – Moody surf rock with a touch of Brian Jonestown Massacre (without the self-indulgent drug-fueled stuff – although I can’t guarantee that drugs weren’t involved in the making of the album).
  • Two Against One / Black by Danger Mouse – It’s just two songs, but the maestro is working with Jack White and Norah Jones. These two tracks are great and would be at home on either the next Broken Bells album or a Zero 7 album. Great trippy stuff.
  • Nine Types of Light by TV On The Radio – I’ve always wanted to like this band but they’ve always been more art than rock. But from the first song on this album, the pretense has been replaced by kicked asses and soul. It all comes together in that first song: horns, guitars, and vocals.
  • And it’s not really a new release, but nyctaper released a fantastic show from Explosions in the Sky yesterday that contains a sneak peek at their new album (plus all your favorites). Totally worth downloading and cherishing forever.
  • This one isn’t “new” but it’s new to me (after hearing them a couple times on one of the CBC Radio 3 podcasts), but Hooded Fang are awesome!

I’ll try to update this post as I find more, but these should keep you busy for a while!

PS – Don’t forget, we’re still hiring!