Henrik Carlsson's Blog

More progress on the music player for the kids

Slightly simplified the music player for the kids has two jobs:

  1. Scan for QR codes using the camera and identify the ones that contains a Spotify URI (using zbarcam) and
  2. send that URI to the MPD that plays the music from Spotify.

At the moment I am able to set up separate tests for the two jobs and both works, on there own. The problem is that I’m currently not able to set up MPD with Spotify and the zbar tools at the same time. It seems to have something to do with different operating systems and/or other kinds of conflicting requirements that I need to lock into.

For the tests right now, I use standard Raspbian plus zbar for bullet point number one and Pi MusicBox for point number two.

For my own memories sake, this is the very simple (and probably quite brittle) shell script that I’m using for bullet point 1:

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I’m making progress on the music player for my kids. Using Pi MusicBox on the Pi, I can control playback using mpc on my Mac.

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A music player for the kids

My kids, Iris and Ebbe, are four and a half, and two years old respectively. Both of them loves to listen to music and dance. Compared to when I was a kid they have access to tremendous amounts of music. If I wanted to listen to a song as a child, I had to have it on a cassette or later in life a cd. Today’s kids have access to ”all the world’s music” in Spotify, Apple Music or similar.1

The problem with the modern world in this regard is that a cassette deck and a box of cassettes is much more kid friendly than a smart device like a phone or tablet with Spotify and possibly also a smart speaker connected via bluetooth, AirPlay or a Chromecast.

Spotify has a nice solution for this in there Spotify Codes. It wouldn’t be to hard to make a whole box of cards, one for each album and/or playlist that the kids want, and teach them how to scan the cards with Spotify. The problem is that it requires them to use their iPad (or my phone, or their mother’s phone).

Why is that a problem? Because if they use the iPad they will undoubtable be sidetracked by YouTube or something similar. Sometimes having them watching videos is great. I’m certain that the reason Iris know quite a few words in English, despite being a Swede with Swedish parents, is that she’s watched a lot of English videos on YouTube. But sometimes I want them to just listen to music and not having to have a discussion about why they are allowed to use the iPad but not the apps they want.

So I’ve started toying with the idea of building them a music player that works as simple or simpler than Spotify Codes but that is a dedicated hardware device, a Raspberry Pi. The plan is for it to use either QR codes or NFC tags to control what is being played, so that way the kids can have a box of cards with artwork, similar to the box of cassettes that I had as a kid.

I think it will work.

Right now I’m going to test various setups for it and document my progress here on the blog, under the tag The Kid’s Music Player.

Some links to similar projects


  1. Yes, I am being Captain Obvious here, I know. 

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🎞 Watched: True Detective – The Great War and Modern Memory (S3E01)

Season 2 of True Detective was a massive drop in quality compared to season 1 however based on the first episode it seems like season three is a return to form.

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Vilken censurtjänst från ett kommersiellt it-företag ska Dalarnas kommuner köpa in för att särskilja filmen Fifty shades of grey från ett BDSM-klipp på Pornhub?

Antiliberalt censurkrav från Liberala kvinnor Dalarna – Evelyn Schreiber

Bra ledarartikel om hur feltänkt det blir när moralismen ska få styra vad vi får se på internet.

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🔖 Bookmarked Massaman curry- Lättlagad thailändsk gryta – ZEINAS KITCHEN

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🔖 Bookmarked Tikka masala med kyckling eller oumph – ZEINAS KITCHEN

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🔖 Bookmarked Kyckling karahi- Pakistansk gryta – ZEINAS KITCHEN

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Strömstad 2019

Linn och jag är för närvarande i Strömstad, på en semesterresa utan barnen. Ebbe är hos Linns föräldrar och Iris hos min mamma.

Varken Linn eller jag har varit i Strömstad förut. Linn har heller aldrig varit på västkusten förut, undantaget Göteborg och för min del har västkusten mestadels varit synonym med Hunnebostrand. Så därför hamnade vi här, helt enkelt för att ingen av oss varit här förut.

Vi passade på som en del i vår Arvikaresa, så att vi kunde lämna bort barnen några dagar och åka själva. Det är sällan vi kommer iväg på saker utan barnen, så när det väl blir av är det jätteskönt. Tanken var från början att boka ett spahotell här men vi var för sega med att bestämma allt, så när vi väl fick tummen ur så var det fullbokat. Därför hamnade vi på Strömstad Camping, ett äventyr i sig eftersom jag inte varit på en camping sen jag var barn och Linn aldrig har campat. Hur som helst så bokade vi en stuga och det är där jag nu sitter och skrivet det här.

Idag har vi gjort själva resan hit från Arvika och sen har vi flanerat på ett shoppingcenter innan vi åkte till campingen. Sen satt vi länge på altanen i solen och drack vin, prosecco och öl och åt chips innan vi slutligen gick on mot Strömstads centrum, promenade bland pirerna och åt middag på The Dubliner at Skagerack. God mat och väldigt mysigt läge!

Under resans gång har jag meckat lite med att posta platsinformation tillsammans med bilder, så därför har det blivit lite extra blogginlägg vilket är kul. Exakt hur jag ska använda platsinformationen på sikt vet jag inte men det är kul att ha det sparat, särskilt när vi är på nya ställen som nu.

Jag försöker även tagga alla inlägg härifrån med Strömstad 2019.

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Cortex #3: Good for Brain Health – Relay FM

I’ve been relistening to the first episodes of Cortex and it is interesting to do so with hindsight and to see how straight the line is from this monologue by Grey to Project Cyclops.

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Om könsrock 26 november 2015 kl 06.00 – Snedtänkt med Kalle Lind | Sveriges Radio

Det här avsnittet av Snedtänkt kan vara det roligaste någonsin! Just det här citatet är extra intressant idag, bara några år senare när humorlösa personer inte bara finns utan även har möjlighet att styra en nätmobb.

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Accidental Tech Podcast: 331: The Technical Burden of Users

In my opinion, that kind of interaction with a tv device or a watch or something similarly limited is the best kinds of interactions.

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Mulholland Drive movie poster

🎞 Earlier this week I watched Mulholland Drive and now I can’t stop thinking about it. What was it that I saw? What did it mean? And why was I so moved by it?

I’m planning to watch it again soon. Also, I read this great analysis of the movie by Film Crit Hulk Smash.

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If you vote now, you can complain about the result and the way things are run later. If you don’t vote, nobody care about you complaints either.

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Is there anybody out there with experience/knowledge of live streaming audio from MacOS?

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🎞 Watched: Thor: Ragnarok

I totally forgot to write about it when I watched Ragnarok some time ago. Anyway, I loved it. My favourite movie in the MCU so far.

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Tonight seemed like a good time to try out Overcasts new clip sharing functionality and this clip from Upgrade #244 seemed like a good one to share, since I have similar feelings to Jason.

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I never got around to finish watching the second season of Westworld and I’ve been meaning to do so for quite some time now. Today Linn and I decided to give season two a go together, since she’s watched the first season but didn’t join me for the second one on my first attempt. So today we said we’d start with the final episode of season one and then go for season two.

However, as Linn fell asleep on the couch and as I tried to remember as much as I could about the first season I decided to instead go all the way back to the first episode. So I’ve just finished rewatching the very first episode of Westworld and oh my it’s a good show. So cleverly plotted!

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Also, this Alfred workflow seems to be the perfect interface for me to work with Toggl on the Mac.

(Thanks Cortex subreddit user VanillaChief for the tip.)

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I’m back using Alfred

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it was probably some time when I re-installed a computer or set up a new one that I decided to not install Alfred and instead try to get by using just Spotlight.

As far as I could tell it wasn’t a big downgrade, and it saved me one step in setting up a new computer. A few days ago though, I decided to try Alfred again and OH MY GOD.

While going from Alfred to Spotlight didn’t feel like a big downgrade, going from Spotlight to Alfred seems like one of the biggest upgrades ever.

So Alfred, I’m back. Sorry I ever left!

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

🎞 Watched: Spider-Man: Homecoming

This was exactly the kind of movie that I needed to watch right now. Light-hearted and very entertaining. I’d probably say it’s my favourite MCU movie so far. I loved the acting, the way Peter was characterised, the way the classical characters where changed and modernised. I loved the whole thing. Also, the sort-of twist with the identity of The Vulture took me completely by surprise.

My only complaint is that the action scenes themselves where sometimes hard to follow. It seemed like the director was inexperienced when it came to directing action.

I was surprised by the music, which seemed a step up from a lot of other MCU movies.

On a side-note, after the first scenes where we see the lead up to the fight between the heroes in the airport in Civil War, I had to paus this movie and go watch that fight once again. That’s quite amazing considering the fact that before I started watching the MCU movies from start to finish, in sort-of correct story order, that was the scene that I dreaded the most. I was absolutely certain that a scene where our heroes beat the crap out of each other would be just ridiculous in the Batman v Superman kind of way. I was very wrong.

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🎞 Watched: Guardians of the Galaxy

My watching of this one was stretched over way to long time. It was only two sittings but almost two months apart. Why? Well, life got in the way in the most mundane ways.

Anyway, I liked this one. I don’t necessarily think it’s as great as some people seem to think it is but I like it. No, it’s not ”The Star Wars of this generation”.

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First week of The Year of More Fun

First week of 2019 is coming to a close, so I thought it would be a good time for a quick report on my New Year’s Resolutions.

The easy part to report on is the photoblogging. I’ve been doing that every day, except today but I’ll soon get around to posting a picture for today as well. Probably while fulfilling the third bullet on my list, reading at least one evening/night every week.

As for the work stuff, things have not been going as planned but I blamed that on it being i week with only three work days, two of which were booked full with teaching. That means no work from home this week and no three hours for fun stuff.

I did build a ”self-playing ukulele”, but that was used in teaching the very next day so it doesn’t really count as a fun thing without a clear connection to the everyday grind of work.

That’s it for the first week.

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One of my projects at work today has been to make this, a system for playing back a recording of a ukulele through a surface transducer and then have it use an actual ukulele as a resonance cavity.

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A Raspberry Pi and a network switch

My daily photo for January 1st is this partial view of my messy network equipment shelves, in particular the Raspberry Pi that serves as my Plex Media Server for my home media, since that Is something that I’ve dealt with quite a bit today. Now the kids can enjoy a lot of their shows on both tvs and almost all of the iPads.

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2019

Two days ago I took a fairly long walk with Ebbe on the ice of the lake just outside our house. I was rolling him in his stroller so that he could take his daily nap but instead of making as short a trip as possible I decided to keep walking in the beautiful whether and just enjoy myself. During the walk I found out that a few of the very small islands in the lake actually has houses on them, which was news to me. I also started thinking about the year that was almost over, and things to change for 2019. New Year’s resolutions, or Yearly themes if you are C.G.P. Greyish.

More fun at work

One thing that has been quite clear this year, especially during the fall semester is that I’m having less fun at work than I’ve previously had. I think much of it comes down to the fact that this August marked my tenth year as an employee of Dalarna University. I’ve had a lot of fun for those ten years, I’ve learned a ton of stuff and I’ve been able to work on a lot of cool projects. But I’ve also done a lot of the same teaching for most of those years. As I actually started thinking about the fact that it had been ten years, I probably got more sensitive to the daily grind and bore, and the fall are the more dull part of the year at work.

So I feel a strong need to do something about this, to make sure 2019 is a more interesting year at work. The yearly theme, if that’s the way it’s supposed to be framed, is therefore more fun or less bore or something. Please note, not less routine. Routine is important, especially for a one and a half year old and an almost four year old. So it’s not about throwing out routine or make dramatic changes. It’s about making room for fun stuff, even during the boring parts of life.

The first actual thing to do about this is probably also the simplest. It’s something that I’ve done before that I just need to get back into doing and that is making sure I work from home at least ones a week. When I work from home I approach work differently and it’s also very nice having the house to myself for a few hours. Some weeks it won’t be possible scheduling-wise, so it’s not a definitive promise but an important thing to aim for.

Another thing to do to make life, especially at work, more fun is to to make sure I set aside at least three hours every week to do something fun at work. It can be things like making a drum playing robot, making a silly guitar effects video, testing out things for VR/ambisonics, maybe building a midi pedal, fiddling around with our Eurorack synth or any other kind of thing that I have no idea about right now. Things that I technically aren’t payed to do but that tends to benefit my work in one way or another in the long run. I now I can make my schedule work so that I can do this, I just need to actually do it.

Outside of work

I also constantly want to get back into reading, so consider it a resolution that I should read at least once every week, preferable fiction. I am currently reading through Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and am loving it. Hopefully I might get through a few of those books during the year.

Finally I want to get better at posting pictures from my life, so another resolution is that for the month of January I’m going to post a photo every day. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a photo of something that was a big part of the day, but at least it should get me into the habit of posting more photos.

In short

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So if I boot (or reboot) my 15″ MacBook Pro with my Belkin Thunderbolt dock connected, the bluetooth stops working on the computer. Boot again without the dock, bluetooth works fine.

What was that, Jony? Right, an elegance that only Apple could achieve.

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My current workflow for dealing with dvds

As previously stated, when it comes to watching movies I don’t like dvds or blurays. However I also don’t like piracy so back in the dvd days I bought a lot of dvds and these days – even though streaming and digital purchases is a thing – I buy a few important movies as blurays.

I recently had a reason to revisit my workflow for dealing with dvds and turning them into mp4-files. Here’s the new workflow that results in a video file that’s playable in QuickTime, on iDevices and a bunch of other devices and that has subtitles that can be turned on or in QuickTIme and iDevices.


  1. For those who, like me, have a native language with å, ä, ö, ø, æ, ï, etc. in it – make sure to install the proper ”tesseract” for Subler 

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🔖 subler subtitle OCR for languages != English

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Captain America: Civil War

🎞 Watched: Captain America: Civil War

Before getting into the MCU, this was probably the movie that I thought would be the very worst one. Super heroes fighting each other over issues that could be solved be talking is just so boring. Turns out, I was wrong about the movie. I really liked this one!

I think we all can agree that this is an Avengers movie, just as much as a Cap movie. And as such it is the Avengers movie, at least in the sense that this is how I would like more of them to be. The world is not going to end if the heroes fail, but instead there are real personal stakes here. I can understand motivations, I can get invested.

As for the fighting, the Avengers movies have the problem that you have a demigod, an almost invincible rage monster, some really powerful metahumans and a spy/assassin and a guy with a bow and arrow. This imbalance of power amongst them gets more or less silly in both Avengers and Age of Ultron (and I assume in Infinity War as well). In this one, it is much better managed. The airstrip scene, which I kind of dreaded, was really exciting. Everybody had an important role and I could understand the abilities of every character and why the could, or couldn’t, match each other.

It was also interesting that I still don’t really know if I’m on team Tony or team Cap. Philosophically speaking I would like to agree with Steve, but I can also totally see myself acting just like Tony does in the final battle, if I were in his shoes.

Right, I almost forgot. Spider-Man! (I’m looking forward to seeing Homecoming.)

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🎞 Watched: Ant-Man

I’d heard a lot about how this one was different from the earlier MCU movies and while it felt less serious – mostly in a good way – I don’t think it was this radical shift that some made it out to be.

Anyway, it was enjoyable but also a bit forgettable. I probably won’t rush to rewatch this anytime soon.

One interesting thing was the scene in the beginning that was set in the past, where they’d digitally de-aged Michael Douglas. I knew this was going to be a thing and after my negative reaction to Tarkin in Rouge One I expected to dislike this as well. Turns out I was wrong. Technology marches on fast and this digital effect looked really good. Funnily enough I actually though digitally de-aged Douglas looked more real than the real Douglas in the rest of the movie.

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🎞 Watched: Avengers: Age of Ultron

When I first watched this movie a couple of years ago I really didn’t like it. Now, as I’m watching is as part of my MCU watching, it is definitely less terrible but it’s still a mess of a movie.

Even though I’ve watched countless hours of MCU movies, since I haven’t watched the Agents of Shield tv show, I still had to resort to google to understand the stakes of the first scene. Who is Avengers fighting? Why? And why should I care?

The action scenes feels impact-less overall and I can’t really relate to the characters. There are some good things though.

I like the scene with Hawkeye’s family. It humanises all of the characters and gives me some reasons to care about them. Also, Elizabeth Olsen is good as the Scarlet Witch. She is doing some actual acting in the final battle scene, something that no-one else in the cast bothers at this point in the movie.

All in all, a more or less terrible movie.

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🎞 Watched: Iron Man 3

This movie has some serious problem with tone. Sometimes it’s great but sometimes it just can’t juggle its emotions correctly. The result is one of the worst Marvel movies. Though I have a feeling that the one I’ll watch next will be even worse.

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🎧 Listened to: Micro Monday – Episode 33: Aleen Simms aka @aleen

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🎧 Listened to: The Incomparable | Sometimes You Need a Wookiee (Episode 408)

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🎧 Listened to: H.I. #104: Fruitbooting — Hello Internet

I had already listened to this episode when it was first released but at that time I hadn’t watched Solo: A Star Wars Story so I skipped that part of the episode. Now that I have watched the movie I went back and listened to the episode.

I enjoyed Grey and Brady’s discussion about it and I’m glad they more or less liked the movie. I agree with them that it probably is the second best new Star Wars movie.

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🎞 Watched: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Since this is a Star Wars movie and today was the first time I watched it I’m probably contractually obligated to write something long but that’ll have to wait for another day. For now, suffice to say it was a really enjoyable movie and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. Alden Ehrenreich – the guy that plays Han – is just perfect for the role!

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🎞 Watched: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Snoozefest.

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🎞 Watched: Thor: The Dark World

Yet another Marvel movie. This one was definitely or the sillier side and parts of it felt really bad but as a whole still quite entertaining.

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🎧 Listened to: Robot or Not? | Toasters (Episode 142)

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