Mammane and His Electronic Organ

Always on the hunt for new music — especially instrumental so I can play music during our IT classes without the distraction of lyrics — I came across Mammane Sani from Sahel Sounds, a music project/record label that focuses on music from Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. Mammane Sani lives in Niamey and his music is like a space lullaby.

Christopher Kirkley from Sahel Sounds:

“It was possibly the first Organ in Niger,” he explained. He began to compose songs on the organ. Many of these songs were interpretations of Niger folkloric classics. “I wanted to make the Wodaabe songs on the keyboard, make the Tuareg tendé with the rhythm,” he said. Some were his own compositions. Salamatu, one his most popular songs, was created for his girlfriend. He stopped as he came across her photo, how he once lay with his head in her lap, and tears came to his eyes. When she asked him why he was crying, he answered “Because I’ve never been so happy as I am in this moment.” He sits quietly, before I asked what happened to Salamatu, and he smiles before shaking his head and turning the page.

Check out Mammane Sani on Sahelsounds or Apple Music.

Jimmy Wales goes after fake news with Wikitribune

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has come out yesterday with a project that meshes journalism and the community-oriented wiki platform named Wikitribune. It will be crowdfunded and regular donors will have a say in what gets covered.

Greg Williams writing at WIRED:

Wales’s belief is that programmatic advertising has intensified “a race to the bottom” and led to some media organisations being unsustainable because of the high costs associated with news gathering. According to the trade association Digital Content Next, 90 per cent of growth in digital ad revenue over 2015 went to Facebook and Google, technology companies that don’t invest in journalism but have played a crucial role in the distribution of wilful misinformation during election cycles in western democracies.

After reading about the fake news industry, it’s obvious something is wrong. I want Wikitribune to succeed. While some are skeptical of this model, we should look into other avenues to correcting this divisive discourse.

Things 3 Is Coming

Werner over at Cultured Code’s Blog:

We’re very excited to report that Things 3 is almost ready for release. After a final round of beta testing, we expect to ship in May.

After years of development and alpha testing, Cultured Code is finally ready to release Things 3, a beautiful and simple task manager for macOS, iOS, and watchOS.1 Things was the first task manager I tried after I realized I needed something more than just Apple Reminders. I moved away from it, first to 2Do and now Todoist, because I needed time due dates rather than just dates. I always did enjoy the simplicity and robustness of Things Cloud, their sync system.

If you’ve been following our efforts, you’ll know that getting here has taken us longer than we originally thought. For Things 3, we ended up completely rewriting the apps on all platforms as well as adding and refining the new features. At the same time, we kept Things 2 up-to-date and added new features there as well (extensions, Watch app, push sync, etc.). We’ve learned a lot through this process, and there’s quite a bit more we could talk about – but for now, we’re focused on the coming release.

It seems through Twitter anecdotes, a lot of their customer base has jumped over to Omnifocus, Todoist, or 2Do. Hopefully with a new feature set, and updated UI2, Cultured Code can bring back some of those users, including yours truly. With or without time due dates, the upcoming changes in my work and life schedules are simplifying dramatically starting this summer and Things 3 could be a great addition.

  1. Task managers can be beautiful, guys. 
  2. Which has held up very well, by the way. Cultured Code also won an Apple Design Award for their macOS application, I believe. 

Vulgar: A Language Generator

Cameron Moore, the creator of Vulgar:

Vulgar is a constructed language (conlang) generator for fantasy fiction writing that creates unique and usable constructed languages in the click of a button. Vulgar’s output models the regularities, irregularities and quirks of real world languages; phonology, grammar, and a 2000 unique word vocabulary.

This tool is incredible. While some people are very interested in the task of creating a language to use in writing or for other uses, others just want a viable language to use in their stories. I think I sit somewhere in the middle; interested in some of the linguistic minutiae of creating a langue but not so much to get bogged down. My primary interest in worldbuilding for a fantasy novel in preparation for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ll probably write more about this project over the summer. In the meantime, I’ll be tinkering with Moore’s Vulgar.

Wiki of the Week: Benito Juárez

While Juárez was president, Napoleon and Mexican conservatives invited Maximilian I to reign as emperor. Juárez fled north to set up a government-in-exile and was granted special powers to combat French forces.


In response to the French invasion and the elevation of Maximilian as emperor of Mexico with the support of Mexican Conservatives, Juárez sent General Plácido Vega y Daza to California to gather Mexican American sympathy for the plight of republican Mexico. Maximilian offered Juárez amnesty and later even the post of prime minister, but Juárez refused to accept a government “imposed by foreigners” or a monarchy. The government of the United States was sympathetic to Juárez, refusing to recognize Maximilian and opposing the French invasion as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, but its attention was entirely taken up by the American Civil War. Juárez’s wife, Margarita Maza, and their children spent the invasion in exile in New York where she met several times with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who received her as the First Lady of Mexico. Although much has been made of a connection between Juárez and Abraham Lincoln, the two presidents who shared humble social origins never met and exchanged no correspondence. Following the end of the war, U.S. President Andrew Johnson demanded the French evacuate Mexico and imposed a naval blockade in February 1866.

Next week, we’ll look more closely into the Mexican Revolution.