Whole Foods/Amazon delivery excitement

monopoly card reading "bank error in your favor"

I hadn't taken advantage of Amazon Prime's Whole Foods grocery-delivery perk. (When the prices are better at Publix, you are too expensive for me.) They sent me a $5 coupon yesterday, which I took as a sign that they don't feel their system is over-burdened. I really wanted some fresh veggies and a few other things, so I filled a cart with ~$100 worth of stuff.

When I went to check out, the "delivery windows" for the day (and the subsequent day, today), were filled. I couldn't move past the penultimate screen. There was a note suggesting that new "windows" are released periodically throughout the day, so I set a reminder to ding every half-hour. I reloaded the screen 4 or 5 times throughout the morning, and around lunchtime there was suddenly an opening from 2p-4p. I grabbed it and hit "Checkout."

A young woman delivered the goods on-time. Everything seemed fine, except I was missing one item -- a $4 case of seltzer. No big deal at all; I was so pleased with the process I was prepared to just let it slide without mentioning. An hour later I got an email from Amazon apologizing for the "incomplete delivery." They said they'd process a refund in "3 to 5 days." Okay, that's fine, I wasn't even going to mention it!

This morning (18 hours later?), I got an email regarding my refund of $100, and a detailed breakdown of every item, now marked as "returned by customer." Returned? Most of these items are in the freezer or the crisper; what return?

I'd crack a joke about keeping the $100, but who knows what this system will do next?

What I read in February 📚

The New Voices of Science Fiction, Hannu Rajaniemi (ed.) Some good stories, some not as good. A week later, nothing stands out as memorable. Wait, yes. “Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer. Won a Hugo (as did a couple others I think). That one I remember being really fun.

That’s it. I’m mired in an Alistair Reynolds book that I haven’t decided to give up on, yet, and the free copy of Borne I got, which is okay, but requires sort-of slower, closer reading. Feels more like work than fun, so I don’t do it as often.

Messages quit unexpectedly.

It might be the year of Linux on the desktop. Would be hard to leave the family's Apple-app lock-in; Messages becoming useless solves much of that problem.

screenshot of failing app

  • os x
  • messages
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11ty and podcasting

11ty is a static site generator. At the top of this list, they include "eleventy-base-blog", a template that you can fork to start a... basic blog.

It didn't take a huge amount of work to add a podcast template to that base. The result is my extremely-just-a-hobbyist, simple take on a podcast platform -- hc-podcast.

The 'base-blog' has an RSS helper already installed, so most of the work of adding a podcast feed to it comes from this pod.njk template, and data from two sources:

  1. A bunch of one-time data at the top of the feed that comes from _data/metadata.json. Like the RSS helper code, that JSON file was already in the starter; I just added a bunch of podcast-specific key-value pairs. You'd obviously customize these for your own podcast.

  2. Per-episode data from markdown files. I've cleverly saved them in a subfolder called episodes. At the bottom of pod.njk, there's a loop that goes through collections.podcasts. In practice what this means is that 11ty will look for markdown files with a podcasts tag, and create an XML entry for each.

Random notes:

  • I have no idea what industry-standards exist around podcast XML files. Googling the subject results in a cesspool of spam. I created my template after skimming a couple of feeds from well-known podcast studios.

  • My image(s) and audio files are hosted on a $5/mo Linode server (that also does a bunch of other dumb things) and would not likely stand up to high traffic. I'm sure there are a thousand solutions out there, for this issue, but I'm just building a goof for myself with free or nearly-so tools. (If you do a global repo search for, you'll see the files I'm hosting externally. As of this writing, it's just a 1600px square image for the overall feed and an audio file for each markdown episode.)

  • Because I'm not actually a podcaster, I needed some sample audio. I wanted something that I could generate routinely, so I dipped into an older goofy project and found a way to make it even weirder, thanks mostly to ffmpeg and Mac OS's say command. The way I'm creating the episodes might be the subject of a different post; in any event, anyone giving this repo a try would clearly come to it with their own audio files.

  • Which reminds me that the biggest headache here is that you have to create the markdown files more-or-less by hand. Type in all the frontmatter (title, keywords, etc), and get the audio's byte-length and duration from the Finder (or whatever). I've automated this for myself, in connection with the autogenerated content, but I haven't incorporated a more-generic form into this repo, for auto-generating the markdown files and their frontmatter.

  • And which reminds me, if you delete all my markdown files and restart before you add any of your own, 11ty will crash because collections.podcasts is empty. I stubbed my own toe on that, once or twice.