Ripping it Right

A few days back, Jason Snell posted an awesome guide about how to rip DVDs and BluRays. I bought myself a reasonably priced BluRay reader and have started digitizing some of my movie collection.

I wanted to call attention to a part of Jason’s piece that I nearly missed:

If your movie or TV show has occasional subtitles for foreign languages (think Greedo in “Star Wars”), choose the Foreign Audio Search option and HandBrake will try to find any subtitles that are meant to be visible during the movie when it’s being played in its default language.

One of my biggest annoyances is missing subtitles for foreign content in an English-language film. Left to its own devices, Handbrake won’t encode any subtitles — even those used to show what foreigners are saying. The tweak Jason suggested fixes the problem:

Subtitle Selection

The only downside of choosing Foreign Audio Search is that it will require a second full scan of the movie: one to scan for the subtitles, and one to actually encode the movie. It’s worth it, so I don’t have to rely on memory to know what Captain Ramius is saying:

Appearance: Clockwise 72

This week I returned to the no-fillers-included Clockwise to join Jason Snell, Dan Moren, and Jacqui Cheng. On this episode, we discuss Apple’s quarterly results, Kickstarter, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and technology to cure life’s little annoyances.

The beauty of Clockwise is that it’s kept to 30 minutes or less. Needless to say, that’s a time limit I’m not exactly used to; that’s what makes it so fun.

First Snow

Exhaust Ethics

The Washington Post has an article discussing the trend of automakers lately to pipe fake engine noises into the cabin:

Which raises a more existential question: Does it matter if the sound is fake? A driver who didn’t know the difference might enjoy the thrum and thunder of it nonetheless. Is taking the best part of an eight-cylinder rev and cloaking a better engine with it really, for carmakers, so wrong?

As someone who is a self-described car nut, I have complex thoughts about these synthetic noises. As I’ve lamented in the past both on this blog and on Twitter, it’s hard for me to come to terms with advancements in automotive technology.

I don’t like the thought of fake engine noises. It’s disingenuous, silly, and betrays the real soul of the car.

However, I have to admit to myself that I’d probably enjoy it.

I know that my car today may very well be the last car I ever own with a human-operated clutch. I know that it may be the last one I own with a completely authentic exhaust note. I know that my next car, likely with its dual-clutch gearbox and synthetic exhaust, is going to be superior to my car today. Doesn’t mean I have to like those “features” though.

At this very moment, I know I’m getting old.

Link via Scott Hanselman

Remember His Name

I’d like to tell you a story about a musician you’ve never heard of.

Like most people, I would describe my taste in music as "eclectic". Myke and I spoke about this on the latest episode of Analog(ue). I like everything from Mutemath to Enrico Einaudi.

I think my peculiar tastes come from my parents. When we were growing up, music was always on around the house. All kinds of music. For most of my life, I’ve had very similar musical tastes to my parents. I grew up on Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Billy Joel, Phil Collins, Chicago, and so many others. I still love them to this day. Nevertheless, there were a couple years when I was in my early teens where my tastes were dramatically different than those of my parents.

I’ll claim this as the pinnacle of my teenage revolt. I suspect my parents would disagree.

At the time, this was my jam. Seriously. I had the music video on LaserDisc.

One day, Dad put on something new and interesting: Toy Matinee. Specifically, Last Plane Out:

Last Plane Out

All of a sudden, things changed. My Dad and I loved this song, and in fact, this entire album.

Immediately we wanted to see what else was available by Toy Matinee. Unfortunately, this was their only album. Luckily not all hope was lost: there was a duo that were the driving force behind the album — Patrick Leonard and Kevin Gilbert.

Patrick Leonard is, among other things, a producer; his most notable collaboration is with Madonna.

Kevin Gilbert was a prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He had written songs for many artists, and produced for some of the best, including Michael Jackson. By the time Dad and I discovered him, he had already passed away, in a peculiar way. We immediately embarked on a joint mission to collect any of Kevin’s work. A grade schooler with nothing but time on my hands, I was the chief researcher. An adult with a job, Dad was the bankroll.

As we dug deeper, and we found more of Kevin’s material, we loved his work more and more. We also found our musical tastes merging again.

But more than anything else, we found a fascinating story.

Kevin Gilbert initially caught a modicum of fame by winning a music competition with a progressive rock group he fronted. By winning that competition he caught the attention of the aforementioned Patrick Leonard, and Toy Matinee was born.

Toy Matinee was effectively ignored by the record label, and as such, never really got a lot of airplay. Kevin toured with a handful of musicians — without Leonard — in order to try to support it.

Among those musicians was his girlfriend, Sheryl, on keyboards.

Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow

Around that time, Kevin was meeting with a collective of other musicians in Los Angeles on Tuesday nights to talk shop and mess around. This collective, self-titled the Tuesday Night Music Club, met every week to goof off and write songs. Kevin brought Sheryl to these meetings as well.

Over time, the club started working on songs with Sheryl. This resulted in an entire album, which Sheryl released. When choosing the title, she looked back to the club for inspiration. Sheryl named her album Tuesday Night Music Club.

Once Sheryl Crow’s album was released, it was extremely well-received and got tremendous airplay in the mid 1990s. Her single, All I Wanna Do, won Grammies in 1995 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year. Sheryl herself won Best New Artist.

Since Kevin was listed along with several other members of the Tuesday Night Music Club as songwriters for All I Wanna Do, Kevin won a Grammy thanks to Sheryl Crow.

However, over time, Sheryl downplayed the influence of the Tuesday Night Music Club. She presented herself as effectively the creative tour de France force behind the album. This naturally deeply bothered the members of the Tuesday Night Music Club; all of whom were left to wonder where things went so wrong for them.

Soon after, Kevin and Sheryl broke up.

The way Sheryl Crow treated Kevin and the rest of the Tuesday Night Music Club unsurprisingly led to some hurt feelings. The easiest way to describe how Kevin felt is to use his words:

Miss Broadway

And I know that you believe each new invention of the truth
And I know the next five minutes are what you’re trying to get through
The man who really loved you and believed you all along
Has seen the truth and shuddered and is singing you this song…

I saw you on my TV taking credit for my work
And I knew if I said anything that I would be the jerk
There’s always some ex-boyfriend, some jealous has-been clown
Trying to muscle in the spotlight, trying to keep the lady down

As someone who doesn’t usually pay attention to lyrics of songs, I’m surprised to see myself quoting them. And this isn’t the only song of Kevin’s with lyrics I really love.

One of my favorite songs of his is Tea for One. As a lonely high schooler who fancied girls, but didn’t receive much attention from them, Tea For One's lyrics spoke to me. Kevin’s lyrics hit home in a way that most lyrics didn’t, and don’t.

Tea For One

Standing amidst the subway
He spies the lady of his dreams
And catches her stare, long enough to make him care
"Oh my Lord, if beauty has a name,
then hers must be the same . . . "

Kevin was taken from the world at just 29 years old. I am nearly four years older than he was when he passed away. It makes me sad to think of all the amazing music that he would have made if he were still here.

I still listen to Toy Matinee, Thud, The Shaming of the True, and his live albums regularly. Kevin’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir is haunting and powerful. I have had it in heavy rotation for nearly 20 years.

Though I’m sad that I’ll never get any new music from Kevin, I’ll always be thankful for his music bringing the tastes of my father and me back together again.

Neutral Audition Tape

My parents have been going through their old home movies and having them digitized. They’ve come across some real gems.

Among the hours of footage of me sleeping (I’m the eldest), Mom and Dad have found my Neutral audition tape, recorded in August of 1986. I was four.

Ten Years
Baby Casey & Erin
First picture of Erin and me.

“Hey, Casey, I have a couple of friends that go to UVA. You mind if I ask them to go to dinner with us tonight?”

My friend Ben from school is coming down from the DC area to see me. We had already planned to go to dinner; he’s just sprung on me that he would like to bring along a couple of friends. I learn they’re friends of his from high school outside Richmond; as it turns out, they’re both women.

“Sure, Ben, why not?”

A smart guy, Ben presents it as a coincidence that we’re all going out; he just figured he’d see all his local friends at once. I later find out he’s intent on setting me up with one of his friends.

It’s January 2005. I’ve been living in Charlottesville for around 4 months. I’m fresh out of school and am working my first real job. My family lives 400 miles away in Connecticut. I’m, in more ways than ever, alone.

I’m okay with it though. I’m happy to have time to figure out what this new, adult, world is like. I wasn’t looking to meet anyone. Which, if my experience is any indicator, means I was about to embark on something awesome.

I was.

I was about to meet my wife.

Moments after me proposing.
With less flowing water than expected.

Fast forward a year and a half, and it’s June of 2006. I’m nervous as hell, because I’m about to propose to Erin.

I had a grandiose plan, including stopping for our favorite bagels, but as it turns out we were up too early even for the bagel shop. I was trying to get Erin to Richmond — an hour away — by some absurdly early hour. I had arranged for early access to our favorite park, so the only ones in there were us and the maintenance crew.

I had this amazing vision of proposing to Erin at the gazebo next to the waterfall.

Turns out, some waterfalls have off switches.

In a move that I’d come to deeply appreciate, Erin shrugged it off, said “who cares?” and moved on with life. I so deeply admire in her that ability to let things roll off of her.

Just married!
Just married!

A year and change later, Erin is now my wife. It is absurdly, horridly cliché to say so, but it was one of the best days of my life. Planning a wedding, if you haven’t tried it, is one of the most stressful things in the world. However, all our work was worth it. Our wedding went off largely without a hitch.

It rained that morning, and our wedding was intended to be outdoors. Erin’s reaction upon realizing it’s raining? “It’ll be fine.”

It was.

While another cliché, I mean it completely: I cannot imagine my life without Erin in it. Over the last ten years, we’ve been tremendously lucky. We’ve traveled to Europe on three different occasions. We’ve crossed the United States twice to visit California, and traveled to quite a few places in between.

So many memories were made on those trips. Every one of them, I absolutely cherish.

I also cherish the less remarkable memories, too. When I observed Erin teaching in her first year as a full-time teacher. Our trips to Sam’s to buy stuff… and score free samples. Our shared love of crappy food like Cici’s Pizza. Fighting an in-ground bees nest in our front yard by dressing up in as many sweatpants and sweatshirts as we could find, despite it being the middle of the summer.

My family. 😊

Now, ten years on, our lives and our relationship is changing dramatically. We aren’t just in it for ourselves and each other; we now have our son to worry about. While bringing him into this world was almost impossibly difficult, I am so deeply grateful to have had such a great teammate with me on this journey. I can’t imagine having survived this without Erin there to support me.

We still like to recognize our "dating anniversary"; we always have. In some ways, you could argue that it’s even more important than our wedding anniversary. Without this day in 2005, there would have been no wedding.

How do you really describe what your wife means to you? There’s a reason we all land on the same words and phrases.

She is my rock.

She keeps me sane.

She is my partner.

She is my best friend.

She is my everything.

They’re all so overused, but I could (and do!) say every single one of them. I’m not sure how to most effectively describe what Erin has meant to me. To describe, in words, the profound impact she has on my life every single day. To share, in text, how seeing her in the morning brightens even the darkest of days. To relate how it melts my heart to see her taking such good care of Declan — of our son.

In the end, all I can say is that I’m so deeply, deeply lucky to have found you, Erin.

You make me a better man, every day. You have every day since we officially started dating — every day since 16 January, 2005. Every one of those 3,652 days, I’ve found a new thing to love about you. Every one of those days, I’ve looked so forward to coming back home to you and spending time with you.

For these last ten years, and for the many more to come, thank you. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for making me better in every measurable way. Thank you for, as I love to say, cooking us a beautiful baby. Thank you for beating my ridiculous expectations and being an even better mother than I could have dreamed. Thank you for always being by my side, no matter what.

Thank you for being you — for being the only one for me.

I love you.


It’s a week of milestones[1], it appears.

Today we released the 100th episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast.

If you had told me two years ago that I’d do a 12-episode run of a show about cars with my two friends, I would have chuckled, and shrugged it off.

If you had told me two years ago that I’d do a 100-episode run of a tech podcast, without missing a single week since March of 2013, I’d have laughed in your face.

And yet, here we are.

To anyone who has listened to even a few minutes of ATP, my most sincere thanks.

  1. More on that soon.

Camel Changes

Over the last couple months, I’ve made a few changes to Camel. For anyone that may be interested:

All of these changes are over at Github.

  1. Like these.

Chrome Users: Welcome to the Past

Chrome has added emoji support to the latest developer builds. That means it should be coming soon to the real release. Owen Williams reports:

The bug in Chrome was fixed on December 11, which went into testing on Chrome’s Canary track recently. From there, we can expect it to move to the consumer version of Chrome in coming weeks.

I also particularly like the test demonstration/image at the end of the changelog.