Music

This is how I handle music.

Streaming

For a long time, I bought CDs, and after that, albums and songs through iTunes. Last year I switched over to Spotify premium. It costs ten bucks a month and you can listen to as much music as you want. It doesn’t have every song in the world — it’s missing the Beatles catalog; Taylor Swift, famously; and odd things, like that Hootie and Blowfish album — but it’s pretty comprehensive.

I use the Spotify app on my Windows desktop computer at work. I feel like this app is a bit of a resource hog, but it does the job.

Generally, when I find a song I like, I click the check mark next to it to save it to “My Music”. Then when I’m feeling like listening to music, I go to my list of songs and just play at random. This means I usually get a really crazy mix of songs. For example, the songs playing as I’m writing this are Victory, by the Walkmen; I Get Around, by 2Pac; The Naming of Things, by Andrew Bird; Believe Me, by Lil Wayne and Drake; Can’t Find My Way Home, by Blind Faith; In Summer from the Frozen soundtrack; The Next Movement by the Roots; Girl, by Beck; A Tale of 2 Citiez by J. Cole; Hurricane, by Bob Dylan; and Barry Bonds, by Kanye West and Lil Wayne. You can create your own playlists, and follow Spotify-created playlists, but generally I just listen to my big stack of music on random.

On the go

Spotify also has an iOS app. It works the same as the desktop app. Generally I just play songs at random, like I do with the desktop app.

When connected to the Internet, you can stream any song on Spotify. You can also sync certain songs to your phone so that they’re available even if you don’t have an Internet connection. I do this so I can listen to My Music anytime.

My favorite headphones are these simple ones from Monoprice. They sound good, and they’re not bulky. When I’m not using them, I can wrap them around my phone and they fit in my pocket without taking up too much space. Also, they stay in my ears. The default Apple earbuds are always falling out of my ears.

In the car, a 2007 Honda Accord, we hacked into the CD changer system using an Enfig car stereo. So basically, we can plug in an iPhone and play Spotify. Sometimes we play from an old iPod. The Enfig is a bit fiddly, and required some installation, but it’s better than dealing with CDs.

Home speakers

A while back, we got Sonos speakers, which are controlled over Wi-Fi. We have a speaker in the kitchen, one in the dining room (connected to some cool old Hi-Fi speakers), and one in the living room. The setup is really easy and you can play music in all the rooms at once, or just a subset of speakers if you want to. You control the music through the Sonos app, which works on your phone and/or on the computer.

One drawback of Sonos is the app isn’t that great. It works okay, but I find it confusing to navigate. It works with Spotify Premium, so you can play any song you want, but you can’t access Spotify’s My Music song list, which is a bummer. Mostly, we play Pandora radio stations, which are free (ad-supported) and easy to access.

Old song files

We had a bunch of old song files that we ripped from CDs years ago, as well as everything we bought on iTunes over the years. I can’t quite take the leap of faith to delete all those files, but to save space, I subscribe to iTunes Match. It takes a snapshot of every song in your library and uploads it to “the cloud”, i.e. an Apple server somewhere. This allows you to delete all the songs from your computer and phone.

If you are connected to the Internet, you can still play these songs anytime from iTunes on your computer, or from your iOS devices. You can also download the songs back to your computer / device as desired. I don’t play these songs much, but for $25 a year it’s useful to know all my music is stored somewhere.

Watches

I haven’t worn a watch since first getting a cell phone, which happened in about 1999 I guess. I got used to checking the time on my phone and it seemed unnecessary to have a watch.

Recently all the ads for the Apple Watch made me a bit nostalgic for watches. Also I realized that, with the advent of iPhones, it’s hard to just check the time on my phone — I get sucked into the phone, and forget to even check the time.

So, I got myself a watch. I went with this simple Timex guy:

timex

So far I’ve been really happy with my new wristwatch lifestyle.

What I’m Writing With

I was randomly inspired to write a blog post about the writing implements sitting on my desk. That seems like a pretty weird topic but I had a strong impulse to do it, so here we go:

My favorite pen used to be BIC Round Sticks in blue. They were my go-to pen for YEARS. To me they’re just sort of the perfect disposable plastic pen. I like to spin my pens, and these have great balance and length. The problem is I have a tendency to gnaw them, which means they fall apart after a few months.

So I decided to switch to a pen that I would not chew. Bring on the Zebra G-301 Gel. It puts down a smooth, consistent line of black ink. It also has a satisfying clicker. It’s made of stainless steel, which means I don’t chew them. The only problem with these pens is they’re not great for spinning; they’re just not long enough.

I also use Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils. Sometimes, I just want to be able to erase. These are also nice and long, and great for spinning. The only problem is when I drop them, the point will often break.

Speaking of breaking your pencil, I highly recommend the Staedtler pencil manual sharpener. It’s worth spending the 3 bucks to get a dope pencil sharpener that makes a nice, sharp point every time.

Passive Income Success

In November I made a total of $326.92 in passive income, beating my passive income goal of $300 per month! Yippee!

Originally I’d set a goal of generating $300 per month by September 30th, which I failed to meet, but I was able to push past that mark only two months later.

I didn’t do much differently to meet the goal. I pretty much just kept posting and had a good month of traffic on my squash site, which provided $238 worth of the revenue through a combination of ads and affiliate sales. My WordPress consulting gig provided $60. My BrickBreaker site provided $25. And this site contributed $4.

I suppose I have a couple quibbles with my success:

  • I’m only counting revenue. I’m not counting some expenses, such as hosting, or the Keyword Strategy tool I use to help with search engine optimization. I figure my expenses are about $40 per month total.
  • The WordPress gig is only semi-passive. If I died today, that passive income stream would continue for a couple months since it gets charged automatically on a monthly basis, but soon enough my clients would cancel their service.

You know what though? Who cares! That’s THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS (minus expenses) OUT OF THIN AIR (except for lots of work)! Make it rain!

It’s taken me a while to write this post, so I now know that in December my total income dropped to $283, below the three hundred mark. Oh well, that’s only SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS in total. Wooooooooooot!

Of course it’s a bit funny to get excited about $300 per month. That’s not exactly change-the-world money. But I have had fun learning a new skill that, over time, will add to my bank account. That doesn’t suck. So, I’ll take this moment to celebrate.

What now?

My plan now is to keep working until the squash site brings in $300 per month all by itself. I’ll just leave my goal the same ($300 per month) but make the goal a bit harder by restricting myself only to revenue from the squash site.

‘Til next time!