The Ultimate Index v3.0 – The Innerspace Labs Media Exploration Master Workbook is LIVE!

It’s been a magnificently productive day at Innerspace Labs and we’ve reached what is to date our most prestigious milestone. I published a feature last March about the evolution of my life-long list-making of sound works, cinema, and literature that I’ve been meaning to explore. These lists also served to touch upon some of the special collections in my archive.

In the previous article I described how this process began with leather pocket journals, and as the scale of my library grew I began to publish annual print editions itemizing large collections.

Innerspace Labs Archive Index Books 2013

Innerspace Labs 50 Top Artists Book

These efforts were radically transformed several years ago when I migrated to Google Drive. But as the years passed and spreadsheets and documents multiplied, it rapidly became apparent that I needed to consolidate all of these various lists into a single, deep searchable index otherwise countless lists would be forgotten and disappear into the digital void of my Google Drive.

Thus began the Innerspace Labs Master Workbook project this past spring. Though this venture posed several new dilemmas. As the workbook grew to nearly 200 tabs, I received this error stating that Google Workbooks are limited to 5 million or fewer cells.

Google Error 5 Million Cells Spreadsheet Workbook.png

And it quickly became evident that navigation of all those tabs was painfully arduous in the mobile environment, as was its loading time. Thankfully, after careful research into various potential solutions, I’ve implemented a system of scripts and formula expressions which make navigating this large workbook a snap and its interactive response time nearly instantaneous.

By combining over 200 named ranges, and incorporating a primary dynamic drop-down and a dependent secondary drop-down field, along with an “=INDIRECT(CONCATENATE” expression calling named ranges based on user input, I’m now able to hide and lock all but one master sheet and made the entire workbook navigable from that single homepage.

The home sheet offers the user a primary drop-down of LITERATURE, SOUND, or VIDEO, which in turn controls a secondary dependent drop-down to populate and auto-alphabetize a list of all related content for that category.

I’ve also employed a script which is triggered by Google Clock to rescan the entire workbook for newly-added lists and to automatically incorporate them into the search fields alphabetically and by category as the workbook continues to grow.

I understand that it may not have significant value to anyone other than myself, but it’s intended to serve as a reference document along with the over 200-pages of archive summaries I’ve drafted in a companion Google Doc. With this easy-to-reference Workbook, I can pull up a list in seconds and start exploring. My hope is that the project helps introduce me to some spectacular content and that it helps me rediscover forgotten areas of my library.

The next phase of the project is to apply uniform formatting to all lists, as these were drafted independently over the course of nearly a decade, so I apologize for the crudity of its present format. And of course, there may be errors or omissions among the lists. But you know that I’ll work tirelessly to make this project as accurate and accessible as I can.

Here is a link to a copy of the latest version. It showcases and attempts to organize ~26,000 of the most noteworthy elements of my personal library and related subjects of interest. All cells are locked for editing except the two dynamic drop downs, which is sufficient for general users to explore and interact with the document. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a labor of love that I will continue to work on and which I hope will enrich my life as it continues to expose me to some of the greatest works of the ages.

(06.30.2019) The KLF – Welcome To The Past (Unedited) [WAV]

The privilege of hearing exclusive private releases can sometimes be the most rewarding and fulfilling musical experiences in an archivist’s life. And so it is with this brand new edit. The history and context of its composition is cryptic and shrouded in mystery, with very few search results on the internet, (I count three in total at the time of this drafting), which make the honor of receiving a copy all the more exciting.

From the very little information available publicly, it seems that this was originally released in an unknown number of exclusive edit singles, (at least 39 as evidenced by what members have compiled and contributed to theritesofmu wixsite at https://theritesofmu.wixsite.com/klf-kommunications/welcome-to-the-past-puzzle). It appears that the new complete(?) cut titled, “Welcome To The Past (Unedited)” was issued June 30th and distributed directly by the artist via private email in WAV format.

One of the previously-issued segments have been filed on Discogs here:
https://www.discogs.com/The-KLF-Welcome-To-The-Past/release/12381982

But the new complete (?) WAV now has an entry of its own:
https://www.discogs.com/The-KLF-Welcome-To-The-Past/release/13822393

The WAV’s Discogs entry sheds little additional light on this mysteriously wonderful release. It has what appears to be placeholder artwork as I’ve found no record of official art for the track, but the Discogs entry does provide a few other pieces of information.

klf

First, it confirms the total run time of the track to be 41:47 (corroborated by the WAV file I received), and bears the style tags of “ambient,” “synth pop,” and “trance.” It also offers a catalog number as part of the unofficial (but intensely professional) series, with this entry marked as “KLF 000RE.”

Distribution is denoted as UK and Europe, but with my understanding that this was a non-physical digital release issued via email I would say that the UK and Europe designation serves more a point of origin rather than an official region for the release. (I am in the US.)

But on to the track itself. The KLF Recovered & Remastered series is infamous and highly-prized for good reason, with several titles outshining even the original incarnations by Bill and Jimmy, themselves. Live From The Lost Continent is the greatest concert that never was. This Is Not What Space Is About and This Is Not What Chill Out Is About are each a pure triumph of the art of remixing and are powerfully epic listening which transport the listener to new worlds of experience.

Welcome To The Past (Unedited) is no exception to the incredibly high standard of production and musical cut-up artistry maintained consistently throughout the continuing Recovered & Remastered saga. It is frankly astonishing how much dynamic and fresh content its creator has been able to construct from the finite bank of the KLF’s catalog. He effectively breathes new life into their music and meticulously and masterfully assembles an array of seemingly innocuous samples of sirens, trance beats, and train station field recordings into a seamless and transportive opus of provocative proportions.

The final minutes of the mix are evocative and stirring, tugging wistfully at the heartstrings of every KLF devotee who has followed their zenarchistic madness from 1987 to the present day. Perhaps it is silly to romanticize trance music built upon discordian mythos and mayhem, but Welcome To The Past is an exquisite specimen of remix culture and a pure and proper celebration of the legacy of The KLF.

Five stars. Pure joy. “This is what the KLF are about. Over and out.”

Jim Henson Vinyl Collection Cataloged At Last!

It’s been another productive evening! I realized that I’d never cataloged my Jim Henson / Muppet / Sesame Street / Fraggle Rock / Labyrinth / Dark Crystal vinyl collection so I dedicated some time to keying in all their matrix numbers and entered condition details and notes of the media, sleeves, and all included posters into Discogs.com.

I had to photograph and submit all release data for a few 6LP box sets that no one had ever contributed to the site before, entering all track and catalog data in addition to the images so it took some work but I’ve now got all 65 discs neatly organized with complete release data for reference whenever I’m crate digging in the wild.

Revisit your childhood and take a look at them all! Did you have any of these as a kid?

Here are just a few of the albums detailed in the link above:

Jim Henson Record Collection 05-28-18.JPG

 

The Ultimate Index: The Innerspace Labs Media Exploration Master Workbook

February has been a whirlwind of productivity and I’m excited to share the results of my efforts. Thus far I’ve introduced five projects. First I discovered that the disk snapshot solution I’d been employing for my server would no longer work at its current scale, so I had to research and implement a new solution. Once that was a success, I set myself to the task of merging and updating two music database systems I’d created years apart on two different operating systems. That was an incredible challenge.

The next three projects were featured here at Innerspace Labs – first the Nipper RCA “His Master’s Voice” project, then the six-hour drone high-fidelity ambient experiment with Eno’s Music For Airports, followed by the Fred Deakin archive update. But it was the sixth subsequent undertaking which would consume countless late night hours as the latest project continuously exploded in scope and scale, each time introducing new challenges to test my problem-solving skills.

For as long as I’ve been breathing, I’ve been compiling and organizing lists of all manners of subjects. I thrive creating order from chaos – chronicling and curating media of the 20th-century. As a young man, I penned lists in leather pocket journals but was frustrated by the fixed and static state of the data one committed to the page. I quickly graduated to Microsoft Office and then to LibreOffice, and by 2013 began self-publishing books of collected lists and spreadsheets to document the progress of my archive.

Innerspace Labs Archive Index Books 2013

Innerspace Labs 50 Top Artists Book

But the true game-changer came when I adopted the Google suite of apps, most notably Google Docs, Sheets, and the Google Keep task manager. These applications introduced undo history, increased accessibility, and most importantly, shareability to my list-making efforts.

Still, the seamless convenience of Google Drive came with a caveat – scores of lists once generated were quickly forgotten, and the sheer number of them made Google Keep and Google Calendar reminders cumbersome and an ineffective method of managing them at this scale. What I came to realize was that dozens of quality sets of information were disappearing into the digital black void of a Google Drive overrun with lists.

That’s what inspired this latest project. I decided to survey my entire history of list-making, compiling databases created in a wide array of formats and constructed on multiple platforms over the years, and to merge them all into a single workbook on Google Sheets. It was an incredible challenge, as the formatting of the data varied tremendously from .M3U to .PUB to raw .TXT to .XLS to proprietary database systems built for Windows XP (OrangeCD), to web-based database systems like Discogs and Goodreads which each offered .CSV exports.

To depict folder-structure-based organizational systems, (commonly employed for artists and label discographies), I utilized tree -d list.txt for large libraries. To extract %artist% and %title% metadata from RYM toplist playlists I’d constructed, I developed a spreadsheet combining four formulas to pull nth row values and to truncate “#EXTINF:###,” expressions and file paths from .M3U lists outputting a clean list of tracks.

In October of 2017 I’d authored The Innerspace Labs Journal: A Listener’s Guide to Exploration in Google Docs as a contextual survey of my larger collections. It spans eighty-four pages and includes an active hyperlinked TOC with an X.XX indexing structure and served my needs well for the past two years, but for simple down-and-dirty lists a spreadsheet seemed like a more accessible format.

Screenshot of Innerspace Labs Journal A Listener's Guide to Exploration

And so I constructed this latest effort – The Innerspace Labs Media Exploration Master Workbook – a cloud-based 180-tab set of spreadsheets combining all of my list data into a single, searchable, sharable index with a hyperlinked Table of Contents for easy navigation. The interface is intuitive, it loads lightning fast on even the most modest of systems and across all browsers and platforms, is mobile-friendly, and it will continue to grow as new content is introduced to my library.

The TOC is segmented into four primary themes:

  1. Literature and Essays
  2. Cinema and Television
  3. Sound Pt 1: Music Surveys, Best-Of Lists, and Guides
  4. Sound Pt 2: Artist Discographic Chronologies, Audiobooks, and Old-Time Radio Dramas

While a few of the tabs contain hyperlinks to lists from multi-page sites which do not send themselves well to text extraction, I’ve done my best to embed as much of the information as possible locally in the workbook, itself and to keep the layout consistently uniform to facilitate navigation and clarity.

Screenshot of Innerspace Labs Media Exploration Master Workbook

Unlike the self-published books or the somewhat daunting length of the Journal, this workbook is simple and localizes the data a viewer is most interested in exploring to a single, plaintext sheet for quick and easy reference. The shareability is key to aiding curious listeners/viewers in finding quality content relevant to their interests, and it is simultaneously a tool to empower me to delve into the many areas of my own library which I’ve yet to explore.

This is a milestone for Innerspace Labs, and I will continue to refine and expand the project into the future.

Just Keep Spinning – Reflections on Music Collecting

A friend kindly recommended my latest film screening – So Wrong They’re Right, a low-budget indie VHS documentary on offbeat 8-track collector culture and the 8-Track Mind zine. I’ve been exploring UK hauntological music and art lately so the retro subject matter fit right in. It was great to hear Wally Pleasant’s “Rock n’ Roll Yard Sales” on the soundtrack.

And serendipitously, while watching the film a related short appeared in my social media feed – an informational demo film to educate consumers about the upcoming compact disc format produced in 1982.

And WFMU just shared that Atlas Obscura published a feature yesterday called, “Inside the World’s Best Collection of Unintentionally Funny VHS Tapes” with this hilarious short!

Much like the VHS culture documentaries, Rewind This and Adjust Your Tracking, the 8-track film made me reflect on my own music collector hobby and how in the past year I’ve really put the breaks on my vinyl habit. Unlike vinyl, most 8-tracks are practically given away and as interviewees of the film profess, they’ve had to plead with Goodwill store managers just to get them to put their 8-track stock on the sales floor. (There are exceptions, of course. Discogs currently offers over 8,000 8-tracks in its marketplace, the second-most-expensive of which is a mint tape of Trout Mask Replica presently priced at $1,500.00.)

Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica 8-Track Tape

But conversely, with vinyl, I’ve reached a point in my collecting where all the remaining titles on my wish list command $80-$550 apiece. And the days of scoring elusive original pressings of releases you’re after at your local VoA are long gone after the store’s inventories have been thoroughly picked over by eBayer resellers or by hipster employees who pull all the good stuff before it has a chance to hit the floor. And for my personal tastes, thrift shops have never been a good resource for the kind of content I seek.

Thankfully a lot of the rare early electronic, drone, and import tape music of the last century, and even of the 90s during vinyl’s darkest days, are being remastered and reissued by Dutch, German, and UK specialty labels, but with shipping you’re still looking at $60 minimum per release so I’ve resolved to reel in my habit and to spend more conservatively this past year.

It’s left me to wonder what the future holds for my hobby. I really enjoy the research and the unconventional subcultures surrounding the format, I just don’t know to what degree I can continue to participate in the acquisition and trade of the albums, themselves. And vinyl has been a significant part of my identity for many years, so I question how I’ll continue to occupy myself beyond this bizarre little pastime.

Thankfully, I have more music at present than I could experience in a lifetime, so at the very least I can kick back and enjoy exploring my archives. And I can continue to supplement my web-based research with more contextual studies from books specializing in my favorite genres. My next read will be Mars by 1980: The Story of Electronic Music by David Stubbs and should provide hours of reading enjoyment and hopefully an intimate understanding of a century of electronic sound.

Whether as a collector or just a researcher, this is indeed the finest time to be alive. Sites like Discogs and RYM provide instantaneous access to release data and listener reviews which previously took days or weeks of calls and form submissions to the LoC to obtain, and every day more and more fans upload thousands of hours or rare and exotic content from their collections to YouTube and file-sharing networks. It’s a curious phenomenon because when everything is accessible, nothing is rare. So, arguments for the paradox of choice aside, this is the greatest time in history for the inquiring listener. I plan to keep reading and listening, and maybe one day score a few of my remaining white whales.

Whatever your preferred format, be it 8-track, LP, cylinder, cassette, CD… just keep spinning.

Collectors and Sellers – Your Discogs Wish Is Granted!

Quite recently I came upon an announcement from Andreas Dahl on Reddit about the latest revision of an Android mobile app for Discogs.com which he’d independently developed.  I’d tried a few of the unofficial Discogs apps in the past but had really found little use for them.  Still, I was curious and downloaded his app – Discographer, to check it out.  I am thrilled that I did! The official Discogs app is still in beta on the iOS platform and Android users have not yet received an official release, but I can say with great confidence that the need for such an app has been 100% fulfilled by Dahl’s independent project.

Discographer

The app was initially released in September of 2015 and Dahl has steadily been improving the app, actively responding to the input from his user base.  As of February 14, 2016 the app has reached version 1.3.4 and is stable and fully-functional.  I’ll outline a few of the features below.

The Welcome Panel

The Welcome Panel displays a quick-reference summary of Discogs general statistics.  This includes the total number of releases and catalog percentages of its Most Popular Genres, Styles, and Formats.

Your Collection

Android users have been waiting for a quality and fully-functional mobile means of accessing their album collections.  Discographer’s Collection feature is the solution we’ve been waiting for.  From this menu, you can view your collection as a graphical grid of album covers with artists and titles, or as a list with album cover thumbnails.  A quick menu option beside each entry lets users remove titles, move them to subfolders, add to their seller inventory, and view the artist/label page.  You can also dynamically sort your collection by a wide range of criteria – title, artist, year, format, label, Cat #, newest added, rating, or by a specific collection field such as notes or condition.  Combined with the search function, this makes navigating large collections of thousands of titles a breeze.  I was also happy to see a Manage Folders option to browse and modify the sub-categorization of my collection.  This feature was missing from other independent Discogs apps I’d tried in the past.

TIP: For sellers with particularly large inventories, if you’ve indexed the location of the titles in your library using the Notes field of your Discogs Collection, this app can tell you exactly where to retrieve the album for sale and provides every possible piece of data about your copy, right in the palm of your hand!

BnDcSCa

Vinyl Hub Integration

A most welcome feature, Discographer includes Vinyl Hub’s searchable Google map of user-contributed record stores worldwide.  From within Discographer you can search the globe, tap to call, and open stores’ addresses in Google maps – excellent for the traveling vinyl hound.  For advanced features like the Vinyl Hub forum, there is a View on Vinyl Hub button.  This integration adds excellent value, encapsulating all your album shopping needs into one fantastic app.

Swgw0QV

The Search Feature

The Main Menu’s search function puts all of Discogs.com’s powerful search capabilities in a single, easy-to-use panel.  And as with all of the app’s other functions, Andreas Dahl has done an outstanding job of building every menu into an impressively mobile-friendly layout.  The search feature lets the user easily search by Release, Master, Artist, Label, and Stores without the frustrating interface of a drop down menu or having to open a secondary search config settings cog.  Just tap the arrows at the upper left and right of your screen and the search heading will change to indicate the category of your search query.

Best of all, the search menu includes a camera function so that the user can snapshot album barcodes, making collection-building an absolute snap!

User Summary Panel

Once logged in to your Discogs account, Discographer will display a complete summary of your profile.  Everything is here, from contact info to collection stats to recent activity and Discogs recommendations.  

In earlier versions there was difficulty logging in to a user’s account from multiple mobile devices, but as of the latest release this has been resolved with a pair of in-app security codes which you will be prompted to enter on the second device at login.  This gives users increased accessibility while protecting the security of their account.

Srinn4U

Album Summary Panel

The album summary panel is a stand-out feature of incredible value to Discogs.com users. Below the album art, the panel is divided into a series of organized sections. The first presents all the basic info you’ll need to verify you’ve accessed the correct pressing – the album cover art, title, artist, label and catalog #, release date, genre and style. The next pane displays info about the user’s copy of the album, including rating and condition, folder, and notes.  This is followed by a summary of Discogs suggested pricing based on various states of condition quality, (a fantastic quick-reference for crate diggers in the wild!), and below that, a list of copies currently for sale in the Discogs marketplace.  Further panels provide track listing and album credits, Discogs catalog numbers, and barcode and matrix information.  There are also buttons to view the release on Discogs.com, to share the entry, and to explore user reviews.

Every feature offered from the desktop Discogs.com website appears to be fully accessible from this app, and its clean and well-organized interface make finding the information you need easier than ever from your tablet or smartphone.

zI2u3Zv

The Marketplace

The Marketplace menu is divided into three primary screens with a navigator at the top of each.  The first details all of your Orders, including all related communications and details.  The next screen contains Purchases, and the last a mobile-friendly Inventory of all titles you have listed for sale in the Discogs Marketplace.  A search panel is featured at the top of each of these menus, so any title you need to recall is only a few taps away.

Additional Features

The Main Menu also includes buttons to browse the marketplace, view and modify your Wantlist, and to build public Lists. If there are any other features you’d like to see integrated into this wonderful app, please contact the developer.  Dahl has done an outstanding job and been great at responding to community feedback and requests.  I absolutely recommend supporting future developments by purchasing the ad-free version for just $2 from the Settings menu of the app.

It’s all right, Discogs team.  You don’t have to worry about developing an official app for the Android platform.  Dahl has got us covered!

Download Discographer here!

Published in: on February 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Last.fm Project

My server is down for maintenance for the next 16 hours.  It was a perfect opportunity to begin my next long term music project.

When Innerspace Labs first switched to the cloud, I used the web-based RacksandTags service through my OrangeCD DB to create an index of all track information from my library.  Collections on the service can be searched by artist, album, or track, but lacks support for 2nd level organization like genre clustering, playlists, and other more valuable data points.

RacksandTags Interface

I later switched to Discogs.com.  Discogs offers real time market value assessment of your collection, but only supports physical media.  I was also disappointed to find that user-generated category foldersare not presently shareable with other users.  
Discogs Interface As I prepared for the downtime last night, I realized that I hadn’t given Last.fm a shot since I wiped my account clean in 2014.  That year I scrobbled 30,000 tracks, but was frustrated that there was no way to submit all my library’s data without playing every track in real time.

My goal was to explore the service’s recommendation engine, and my library data would likely produce some valuable results.

So last night, I went to work.  I quickly realized that the best approach would be to queue all 100,000+ tracks and to scrobble them in order of ascending track duration.  I organized the songs into four pools of nearly equal size.  Below is a map of my library based upon these four classes – less than five minutes, less than ten minutes, less than thirty minutes, and up to 24 hours.

Tracks by Duration

As the largest batch was that of the shortest tracks, there would be the greatest (and fastest) return from scrobbling these first.

I charted the play duration of each of these groupings to see what sort of timetable I’d be looking at for project completion.

Project Duration

Graphing the duration of each grouping clearly demonstrates that this was in fact the best course of action.

Projected Sync Progress

I began scrobbling immediately for the first time in a year.  Once the project is complete I’ll share some of the resulting recommendation data Last.fm provides.  I’m looking forward to it!

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

Leaving the Cloud for my own Private Island

I spent the last two years fully-embracing the cloud. And why not? Cloud computing offers many wonderful features. Google’s suite of apps create a seamless user experience from one personal device to another. Sites like Discogs.com empower users to access and share their record catalogs everywhere they go. Goodreads.com networks book-lovers from all around the world and democratized the used book market by facilitating the search and purchase of titles. It created a market where even the tiniest, tucked-away bookshops could compete directly with bookselling giants like Barnes & Noble.

I use Google Docs for drafts of articles I’m writing and really enjoy the flexibility of calling them up on my phone, tablet, or my media workstation throughout my day. And I’ve absolutely lived on Google Calendar for many years now.

Cloud-based archival storage services offer users data redundancy and reliable sync-and-forget-it backup systems with a 99.9% recovery rate – far more reliable that entrusting all your precious data to a single external disk.

But recently, I’ve been rethinking the cloud, particularly about the amount of control and privacy a user relinquishes when their content is no longer stored locally. iTunes was the worst atrocity to come of the cloud, as many users are starting to understand. The DRM fiasco crippled the usability of the software, and as users learned from the U2 incident, their music libraries were really at the mercy of Apple.  Spotify and streaming services are not much better, with drastically-limited media selections and, again, the content is never really yours.

iPod DRM

The entire era of cloud-computing was less about empowering the user and more of an exercise is usury. Let’s face it – storage has become incredibly inexpensive. And the popularity of lossy-compression for casual listening has only made it easier and cheaper for users to have it all. There was no longer a need to up-sell a customer base to a bigger and better device every six months, because the average smartphone suits most users just fine as an all-around media player.

For those with more discerning tastes, a simple and inexpensive home server is sufficient to grant instant-access to terabytes of lossless audio and HD video libraries from our tablets and phones anywhere with 4G service.

The industry had to invent a new way to maintain a steady influx of customer revenue. Enter the streaming service and world of online backups. These subscription-based services keep the customer paying month after month for storage and instant-access. Adobe was perhaps the most curious company to go this route, releasing the latest version of its software suite rebranded as the Creative Cloud. The customer scenario was much the same for Adobe – previous versions were everything their customers needed, so why would they need to upgrade ever again? The solution was clear – monthly subscription fees.

Adobe-survey-CC-pricingCNET Adobe CC Pricing Survey (2012)

The elephant in the room of cloud computing is the compromise of one’s privacy and security. Facebook users know all too well that every minute detail of their publicly-broadcasted lives is being sold and re-sold to advertisers banking on hyper-targeted marketing.

But you know all this – you don’t buy in to cloud archive services. You’ve implemented all the standard privacy tools and ad-blocking plugins and your web experience is fairly secure and advert-free. But what about those who don’t have the luxury of their own media server or truly unlimited data plans for their portable devices? How should they freely access their large libraries of media anywhere they go?

There is a solution. Seagate manufactures a device specifically tailored to meet the needs of this particular niche of customers and to resolve their unique problem. The Wireless Plus 2TB portable HDD (STCV2000100) is surprisingly compact and lightweight. It features an internal 10-hour battery and its own personal WiFi network. Pair it with each of your personal devices and you’ve got 2TB of content with you EVERYWHERE – on or off the grid, with no monthly fees.

Seagate Wireless Plus 1

Currently priced at ~$190, the Wireless Plus offers an incredible amount of freedom for its price point. For users like myself with our own media servers, there really isn’t an urgent need, (save perhaps for taking your entire library with you on a camping trip.) But for those tired of shelling out monthly fees for remotely hosted content – this is the device you’ve been waiting for.

Seagate Wireless Plus 2