Henrik Carlsson's Blog

All things me.

I bought an Apple Watch

Henrik posted this article on 05 jul 20 and tagged it with Apple Watch

TL/DR I finally bought myself an Apple Watch, it arrived a few days ago and I really like it.

There are few, if any, purchasing decisions that I’ve been sweating for as long time as the Apple Watch. I never really felt the need for one but the want for one has been there since its initial release. However I didn’t like the look of the first aluminum ones and I though the steel ones were too expensive. Eventually I got a Pebble Steel for my thirtieth birthday and I really liked that watch and found it useful.

Pebble Steel

After a few years and the Pebble corporation being ”sunset” it stopped working properly, it’s app started hogging disk space on my phone and so on so I stopped using it and got myself a regular watch. (I could find a photo of that one now and I don’t have it at hand right now for taking a new photo.)

The idea of getting an Apple Watch has been in the back of my mind more and more these past few years as I think the aluminum ones have gotten better looking. So last year I was quite close to buying one but in the end I decided not to, just to change my mind this summer. The reason (more likely excuse) was that it would be nice to track my activity when I go swimming in the lake.

I knew I wanted to silver aluminum one but I did some waffling about which band to get. In the end I decided to get two, the Alaska Blue Sports Band and the Milanese Loop

My Apple Watch with the Milanese Loop

My Watch with the Alaska Blue Sports Band

The watch bands

I’m surprised about how much I like the Sports Band. I mostly got it because I wanted to wear the watch when swimming and I didn’t want to use the Milanese loop for that but right now the Sports Band is my favorite of the two. It looks got and is comfortable.

The Milanese loop is still eligible for a return to Apple but I think I’ll keep it. I will use it some times and if I return it now I’ll definitely not buy it or something similar again because I will get cheap. So having one is probably better than not having one.

The watch itself

As mentioned above I got the silver aluminum watch and I chose the 40 mm one. I have quite small wrists and I’m not a fan of big watches so this smaller one fits me great.

I also decided to go with the cellular version, something I’ve always cheaped out on for my iPads. With the iPads I’ve never really regretted that cheapness since I never, I mean never, carry and iPad with me outside of a place with WiFi without also carrying my iPhone and tethering has always worked perfectly for me. For the watch I wanted to try and see if I decided to leave the phone behind for walks and other potential, though still not actual, exercise. So far I haven’t been able to get the cellular working because of some problem with my carrier that I need to go to a store to sorts of and I just haven’t had the time yet.

The watch-faces and complications

I’ve heard CGP Grey and Marco Arment among others complain about the various watch-faces. So far I don’t agree with them. I do think third-party watch-faces should be a thing, and if that isn’t a thing there should be far more watch-faces by Apple, but the current ones works for me right now.

So far I haven’t really decided on a particular favorite. Instead I have a few that I circle between during the day for various contexts.


The Simple watch-face

First of, there the Simple watch face with a petroleum blue second hand. This is my night time watch. So far I wear the watch at night as well to track my sleep so I think it’s nice to have a fairly clean-looking watch-face for nighttime viewing.

I use four complications, one in each corner:

(Clockwise from top left)

The main one here is Sleep++ by _David Smith. I’m a big fan of David and his work and curiosity about his watch apps are part of the reason why I wanted one. I put the Sleep++ complication there on this face to make sure I activate sleep tracking each night but I gotta say that the automatic tracking works very well as well, so maybe I don’t really need it there. Still, it’s nice to have the crescent moon there as a visual cue that this is the night watch-face and that I’m supposed to sleep when I see it.



I imagine this will be my main work watch-face, the one I turn to on a working day after I’ve woken up and will use until work is done for the day. In that context I love how many complications I can, and have, fill it with, though it does make it quite busy which.

The main complication here is the topmost ”multi function” one that is hosting OmniFocus. This way I can always see what I should be doing next and it’s a great feeling to check off a lot of items and then see the Done text appear, indicating that there’s nothing more I need to do.

However, I would like it even better if I could chose different OmniFocus perspectives for the watch complication and the watch widget. Right now those need to be the same. It’s in no way a big complaint but OmniFocus is this wonderful power tool of choice and settings, so it would be great if this particular thing could be a setting as well.

As for the outer complications, they are (again clockwise from top left)

Pedometer++ is another great tool by David Smith. It was the first app I got for my iPhone 5S that made use of the ”motion co-processor” and the main reason why I’ve worn my iPhone as much as possible ever since. I just love to track my step amount and I think Pedometer++ is a nice app to do it with. On the watch it works equally well and so far I’m more interested in just my steps rather than my ”exercise” and ”standing” so I prefer this one to the Apple Activity Rings.1

Yr is a weather app from Norwegian National(?) weather service. I’ve used their phone app for ages and I find their forecasts better that the Apple ones.

Home is for controlling the IKEA Trådfri lights in my house. If I work at the office that is not going to be very useful but when working from home it’s nice to have quick access to the various lighting scenarios.

Then there’s the inner complications. A time complication from Watchsmith, yet another awesome David Smith creation. It’s an app whose sole purpose is to provide useful and highly customizable complications for the watch. Very geeky, truly amazing!

Then there’s a date complication and finally the Overcast one. Overcast is my podcast player of choice and having quick access to it is great. I’m not 100% sold on the dark mode icon on the watch but I haven’t bothered checking out whether I can change it or not.

Infographic Modular

Infographic Modular, my free time watch-face.

Finally there’s the Infographic Modular face which I use as my free time watch-face, or awake but with with nothing particular to do watch-face.

I like the digital time on this one for precision telling of the time and in combination with the fuzzy time beneath it it’s great. The fuzzy time is another Watchsmith complication.

On the bottom there are three complications (left to right):

All of these feature on watch-faces mentioned above, so look there for more information.

The complication next to the digital time is the battery indicator. This one will probably be changed to something else soon. I find I don’t really care that much about the battery. Maybe it will be replaced by the activity rings, but that would than make the Pedometer++ one fairly redundant so it would need to be changed as well. Or maybe I’ll change the battery to the weather.

There will be lots of fiddling over the summer and hopefully a few blog posts about it

  1. That being said, filling the activity rings has proven to be far more addictive that I though. 

The πFi Music Player

Henrik posted this article on 31 okt 19 and tagged it with ΠiFi Music Player

Every project needs a name and I need to stop referring to the music player I’m building as "The Kid’s Music Player". So, the project name is from now on The πiFi Music Player or πFi for short.

The basic idea is to replicate the very kid friendly1 way of listening to music that a cassette player or CD player was back when I was a kid. Today we can all access pretty much every piece of music ever recorded but to do so you pretty much have to have a smart device of some kind and be able to read and write to find what you are looking for.2

To do this I’m building a device that scans pieces of cardboard with QR codes on them and then uses the information on the QR code to playback the correct track, album or artist from Spotify. (Local play might also be a feature.) The side of the "music card" that doesn’t have a QR code will have album art or similar to make it easy to identify to both adults and kids.

I currently have a soon to be alpha in my hands (or on my bookshelf). I’m using a Raspberry Pi with Mopidy for the playback, a Raspberry Pi Camera module and zbarcam to scan the QR codes, a Python script to actually do something with the information in the QR and then a HiFiBerry Amp2 to DA convert and amplify the audio for a pair of passive speakers.

As you can see in the video the physical/crafty side of the project has a lot of work that needs to be done. I’m currently using some LEGO to keep things in place, but I need a proper enclosure. I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll make something out of wood, metal or whether I’ll 3D print something unapologetically plastic. 3D printing seems like a good idea because it simplifies making more than one device, which I’m planning to do. However, I’m never 3D printed anything. Nor have I built a 3D model of anything, so I’ll have some homework.

Even more important before it can be considered even an alpha is a volume control. Right now, the only way to control the volume is to SSH into the Pi and use mpc volume XX where XX is the percentage of volume I want. Because the amplifier is 2x 30 Watts, it’s quite loud in a normal home setting. As I’m listening while typing now I have it set for 7% volume.

The WAF of SSHing into something to change it’s volume from ear-piercingly loud to tolerable is very low.3

I also think it need some kinds of physical controls, at least for play/pause, stop and next track. Right now those functions are also accessed via QR codes.

Before moving it into beta I also need to build speakers. I have borrowed the ones I’m using now from a friend. I might also build a proper power supply for it, instead of using the wall wart that I use now.

Many things are still uncertain and there are so much I need to learn how to do, but I am really happy to have started this project, and that I actually got back to it after having left it dormant for three mounts.

If you want to follow along everything will be published here on the blog. I’ll try to remember to tag all the posts with πiFi Music Player.

  1. Or "non techy person" friendly.  ↩

  2. Yes, I am aware of "smart speakers", ladies in cans and "AHOY TELEPHONE". Here’s some reasons why that’s not a solution here.  ↩

  3. Yes, "Wife Acceptance Factor" is probably a very problematic term these days. I think we should try to change it to "PAF – Partner(s) Acceptance Factor". The idea itself, that something that appeals to a nerdy person doesn’t necessarily appeal to the other person(s) living with the nerd, still has merits and is worth considering when building and/or purchasing something like this. Regardless of the gender and/or pronoun of the nerd and the other person(s) involved.  ↩

Replying to micro.blog posts, directly from my blog

Henrik posted this note on 19 aug 19 and tagged it with IndieWeb micro.blog

Lately I’ve started to use micro.blog more actively again. As part of that I’ve also started to reply more to posts and have stimulating conversations. That made me realise that those conversations might be of interest to have on my own site, so I should really try to set up my system so that I can reply to micro.blog posts directly from my blog. Yesterday some free time opened up during the evening so I gave it a go and it more or less works.

So first off, here’s my setup. I self host a WordPress blog. It uses a theme that I’ve made myself and quite a few plugins that I didn’t make. The important plugins in this context should be IndieWeb, Post Kinds, Semantic-Linkbacks and probably most important Webmentions.

There’s a help page on micro.blog about called ”Replies and @-mentions” that tells us that:

For an external blog post that is a reply to a specific Micro.blog post, the external blog can send a Webmention to Micro.blog. As long as the sending blog is associated with a Micro.blog user, that post will be copied to Micro.blog as a reply and threaded into the conversation. Micro.blog’s Webmention endpoint is: https://micro.blog/webmention

So that’s what I tried to set up. I created an iOS Shortcut for my iPhone and iPad that I can trigger from the ”Share” menu in the micro.blog app that creates the hyperlink and fills in the @username-part. It then asks me for my reply as input text and finally sends it off to my blog.

On the Mac I don’t have quite such a nice automation workflow yet. Instead I just have a TextExpander snippet to fill in the hyperlink a bit faster.1

I also mark up the hyperlink with class="u-in-reply-to", though from the help text I suspect that’s not fully necessary.

Getting things working

The thing I knew I had to tweak was the part about how ”as long as the sending blog is associated with a Micro.blog user”. I’ve had multiple people reporting to me before that my webmentions shows up as sent by anonymous rather than as me, so I figured I had to sort that out first. To do that I used the Indiewebify.me service and checked how well my blog did the ”Become a citizen of the IndieWeb” and ”Publishing on the IndieWeb Level 2 – 1. Mark up your content (Profile, Notes, Articles, etc…) with microformats2” parts.

They showed that I had some tweaking to do, mostly because I had mistakenly only marked up part of my h-card as such so a lot of things where missing.

When that seemed to work I made a test reply to one of my own posts on my blog and the webmention had my name attached to it, so that seemed like progress.

I then sent out a post asking for people willing to receive some test replies and John (@johnjohnston) and Ron (@ronguest) where kind enough reply. The first proper test almost worked. It did show up a a reply but it identified as sent by blog.henrikcarlsson.se instead of by @MrHenko, so some part of micro.blog identifying me as me didn’t work.

So I dug around some more and realised that I had inputed http://henrikcarlsson.se as my web site in micro.blog’s account settings. While that is technically true, as my blog posts comes from the subdomain http://blog.henrikcarlsson.se, so I tried changing to the latter in micro.blog and that worked. My replies on my blog arrives properly threaded in micro.blog and properly attributed to @MrHenko.

One glaring problem remained though. Every reply from me got double-posted. I assume that is because I technically do send two things to micro.blog. A webmention from the blog post and then the post itself because it shows up in my RSS feed that is used to feed micro.blog.

My solution was to post my replies in a special ”interactions” category that I use the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin to exclude from my main RSS feed. And with that in place things more or less worked as intended.

Some things that still need tweaking

Every time I make a new reply in a thread in a micro.blog conversation, that’s a new post on my blog.2 That is in itself not a big problem but the curious part is that every reply that somebody else makes in the thread results a webmention/comment to multiple of the posts that I’ve made that has been threaded in that particular conversation. So I get duplicate comments, but on differens posts on my blog.

Right now I deal with it by only approving the comment to the earliest post I’ve made in the thread but that doesn’t really quite work since my subsequent comments doesn’t show up as comments on my own first post on my blog. So I’ll need to look more into this.

  1. Litteral sidenote: The prospect of Shortcuts on the Mac is what makes me the most interested in updating macOS this fall. 
  2. I’ve tried to get it to send comment replies as webmentions but that doesn’t seem to work. 

Replies and comments

Rethinking my work tech – Part 1: My backpack

Henrik posted this note on 16 aug 19 and tagged it with Getting work done iPad for work Rethinking my tech 2019

This was originally planned to be a post about me trying out a new tech setup for getting work done, but as I kept on writing I realized that it would need to be broken up into multiple parts, so this is more of a prolog.

My backpack (Nerdy Log Lady for scale)

This is my backpack. (Nerdy Log Lady for scale.)

It’s not fancy or elegant but I like it. A lot.

Mostly I like it because it contains all the things I use to get my work done. Most importantly it contains my computer and its various peripherals.

When it comes to getting my work done, a real computer has always been my tool of choice and for as long as I’ve had my current job, that computer has been a MacBook Pro.

I also like my computer. A lot. It’s the last of its kind, really. It is the 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pro model that was sold up until last summer, which was when I bought this one. It’s the tool that I use for most of the things involved in my job. I do carry a physical notebook and a pen quite often and use it to scribble down my thoughts but it is the computer that is the main work machine.

Pen and notebook

There are other things in the backpack that help me get my work done. In fact, I have a thirty-eight (38) items long checklist in OmniFocus for the things that should ideally be in the backpack. The notebook and pen I just mentioned are two of the items on the list. A charger for the computer is another one. There’s also an external hard drive, adapters for Thunderbolt to Ethernet, Thunderbolt to FireWire 800, a FireWire 800 cable(!), a FireWire 800 to 400 adapter(!?!?), Mini DisplayPort to VGA, Mini DisplayPort to HDMI, an Ethernet cable, all kinds of USB cables, a PowerBank and adapters for camera and microphone mounts. Oh, and an umbrella and various non-prescription medications.

Some of the clutter that I carry around on a daily basis.

(Just some of the stuff is actually in the picture.)

And that’s just the basic configuration of it. Some days I might carry another external hard drive, or maybe a iPad Air. And most days I carry my lunchbox in it as well.

In many ways this is a really good setup. The bag is heavy, but most days I sling it on one shoulder for the twenty steps walk to the car, dump it in the passenger seat next to me where it rests while I drop the kids off at preschool and then drive to work. Arriving at work I take a similar twenty to forty steps walk with the backpack on my back before arriving at my office and dumping it on the floor where it will rest until I walk back to the car and drive home.

The computer is also heavy, but it lives its life mostly either docked to an external display and keyboard and trackpad at my office at work, in a similar arrangement at my home office, or in the backpack being transported between work and home.

This setup is also good for travel, because as long as I have the backpack with me I have everything that I might need to get work done with me. There’s nothing1 that I need to do that I can’t get done.

However, or but,

This setup is also really bad for travel because it’s heavy and, even worse, bulky. It takes up a lot of space in the car. That’s not a problem when commuting to work but when I actually travel somewhere by car it’s often with the family and that always means there are a ton of stuff being packed already. My backpack just adds insult to injury, and for all kind of travel that’s not commuting, it is always just one of my bags. I’ll always need to bring at least one more bag for clothes and toiletries.

Heavy and bulky is also applicable to the computer unfortunately, which is why it is not a solution to get a smaller bag and pack less stuff in it, as long as the computer is part of the stuff being packed. If the computer should be brought, the backpack in question is the best way to bring it because even though it’s heavy and bulky it sits nicely on my back.

But maybe there’s different way to do this…

iPad Mini, Pencil and external keyboard

  1. Almost true. There are off course some special cases that requires that studio at work, or where I need to provide a student with a certain kind of equipment that is only available at work. 

More progress on the music player for the kids

Henrik posted this note on 21 jul 19 and tagged it with The Kid's Music Player ΠiFi Music Player

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:

Replies and comments

A music player for the kids

Henrik posted this note on 16 jul 19 and tagged it with The Kid's Music Player ΠiFi Music Player

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. 

Replies and comments

Strömstad 2019

Henrik posted this note on 10 jul 19 and tagged it with 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.

I’m back using Alfred

Henrik posted this note on 29 apr 19 and tagged it with Productivity

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!

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Henrik posted this note on 21 feb 19 and tagged it with MCU Movies

🎞 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.

OMG, I actually started writing a song today!

api-poster posted this note on 15 jan 19 and tagged it with Daily photo 2019 snapshots

For the first time in a very long time I started writing a song today. Not an ambient chord progression experiment, not some synth fiddling, but an actual alternative rock song with soaring guitars, pounding drums and lyrics about heartbreak.

To be clear, nothing about it is done yet and long time (really long time) readers of the blog will know that the biggest hurdle for me is always the lyrics. My inability to write lyrics have resulted in a lot of thrown away melody lines and riffs, but this time I’ve got a very clear theme for the lyrics and a persona to write them from. I also have a basic melody, some guitar parts and the outline of an arrangement and instrumentation.

I guess this counts as my ”doing something fun at work” this week, since I worked from home today and the song writing happened when I was about to start working.