Max MSP project – The idea , a looper

In order to learn Max/MSP and give the proces more focus , I have opted for a simple idea. Making a Looper. Think the hardware loopers like the Boss RC-505 and more on the experimental side, the Soma Cosmos.

It’s a looper aimed at live use and jam sessions, with the Eurorack as the input. The sound source.

The Looper needs to take care of recording loops from the modular. In order to have more control about the end result and what you heard in a live set. Adding loops , editing then and adding effects to it.

The interface between the Eurorack and the computer is an Expert Sleepers ES-9. Which is an audio interface for Eurorack. It has 8 audio inputs. So the looper will be one with 8 channels. The looper will be a buffer between the Eurorack and the music coming out of the speakers.

I am starting with a basic patch and will expand on it as I learn more. I will divide the project into little steps so I can keep control. And don’t get list and get finished results.

I have found a number of YouTube video’s on making a looper, first order of business will be simply building these. And later on changing them and building the functionality I want in them. And then I will release the first version.

The first version will be the basis for all future additions and built out on this.

video list :

Dearjohnreed – Four track looper part one
Dearjohnreed – Four track looper part two
Dearjohnreed – Four track looper part three

Soria box – Loop pedal from Scratch

I will share it on my Github when I have my first version. This can be found here :

Cornerman – Github Max/MSP

 

Cooperation , beautiful, simple and necessary

Nowadays, and for some time now , your succes is portrait as being of ones own doing. Whether it be work , study, personal life, everything is achieved by the individual. You work hard therefore it’s your succes, and we don’t need anyone else to be successful. This misconception is widespread.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, we can achieve nothing without our fellow man. Everything stands or falls with cooperation in society as a whole. Nothing is achieved as an individual. Yet a lot of people seem to think so. But nothing is just the fruit of ones own labour. It ‘s always a collaborate effort.

You didn’t just study hard for example, somebody teached there , someone cleaned there, someone thought long and hard about the curriculum. Somehow nowadays al these efforts seem to get lost in the narrative. Let’s call them the invisibles of the individual succes. Which then by default is not an individual succes. But a collaborate effort.

This type of thinking comes in all shapes and sizes. Got sick and didn’t fully recover ? You should have worked harder, studying went sideways, you should have worked harder. Missed out on buying a house, worked harder and saved more. And so on. But most of these failures are because of the lack of common goals as a society.

A lot of people think this way because they made it and worked hard , you see I did it, so can you. But in the meantime all the infrastructure that makes the individual thrive has budgets cut and or left to the marketplace. From healthcare , education to the job market , everything had to be flexible and cost effective. With growing uncertainty and loss of function.

Simple example , too long in a flexible job contract and you miss out on the opportunity to buy a house. But yet you did everything ‘right’, worked hard and saved harder. Yet there are no more hours in a day and the paychecks keep getting smaller , thanks too inflation. Lot’s more examples out there , but what pains me most is the beauty that’s in working together is dismissed so easily. We get things done together, working on common goals for the common good. And you learn a lot from each other. Faster and more than as an individual. Everyone benefits.

So talk about your goals, ideas and other things you enjoy and find people to work with, who knows what might be the result, in the meantime we all learn. En start appreciating other peoples work as part of your succes.

Brain damage , 5 years on.

It’s hard too believe it’s been 5 years , although 2020 has been a very strange year where time stood still and flew by all at the same time. 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of my brain injury , resulting in permanent brain damage. It is the fifth anniversary of the new me.

For people new to this blog and who missed my earlier writings on the subject , a small summary. 5 years ago I had an inflammatory reaction in my brain and after a recovery period this resulted in permanent damage.

What does that entail. Problems with my speech, as in putting strange words in sentences and incoherent speech. Short and long term memory problems. My brain doesn’t make the distinction between useful and unuseful information anymore so everything comes all at ones. Reading is sometimes an issue and movement as well.

After a period of recovery and trying to regain as much of the old me as possible I am now at the point of acceptance , knowing that improvements will probably not be there anymore.

Despite it being pretty obvious from the start that a full recovery wasn’t in the cards for me. I have always been trying to find a way to do just that. Consciously or subconsciously.

And where planning and resting are very important pieces of the puzzle and they work for most of the time there are periods that nothing works. Whatever you do you will be fully confronted with the brain damage. And the only thing left to do is take rest and ride it out. The good news is better days will come. There will be a moment when the system and rhythm will do their work again. I used to try and stretch the limits as soon as such a run was over I now just enjoy the benefits of having a good run.

That said it’s will always be hard not functioning on a ‘normal’ level , whatever that is, and admit that your wheels simply spin slower that the rest of the world. It has given me great inside in what I can and cannot do. How far I can push things and know when to stop. It’s not an exact science , believe me I have tried making it one, so planning and resting a certain way does not always give a steady result. It comes and goes in waves. The limit is not a clear line in the sand and sometimes I find myself on the other side of it. And it can be frustrating at times. You can go overboard and do to little and just do laps in your head.

I am very happy with all the things I still do, work that suits me and hobby’s I can practice. I fully realize how fortunate I am , as one doesn’t get a second run after such a run in with your health , it’s not everyone’s fortune.

It’s a strange place we all find ourselves in at the moment, and knowingly or unknowingly we all run into our limits. And like many others , I was not in the habbit of talking a lot about my state of mind. But talking really helps, someone who listens is helping. So if you find yourself in a bind, mentally or otherwise, find someone to talk to , ask for help. Or write , get it out, and maybe share it later. It really helps.

Book review – Creative Quest

Another book review. Since the whole Corona crisis thing I have been focussing more on reading. Which has been paying out big time. My reading skills are getting better which after my brain damage wasn’t a guarantee that It would become better again.

I still get tired easily when reading but reading now goes faster and I remember somewhat more. It’s also something I can easily cut into small segments.

So yeah, been reading more. And reading some cool stuff as well. This review is on a book written by Questlove which deals with creativity and how you can set your mind in a way your creativity flows. And how to deal with distractions , and make it more of a framework. 

Every chapter deals with a topic which creative people are faced with, building your art, managing tasks surrounding making art, getting your art out there and sell it. Networking , staying in touch with people. And so on. 

I have music as a hobby and I know this won’t turn into a career anytime some. But everything in the book is applicable to the creative side of other professions whether it be as a software developer, product manager , journalist. Most professions have a creative side to them. And need a mindset and framework to fit that creative process.  It’s making sure all the conditions are set for being at your best creative wise. 

So I highly recommend this book for basically everyone that feels the need to be creative as a hobby or in parts of their job. 

Book review – Good economics for hard times

This is one of those books I am not going to indulge in giving away some parts or examples of the books greatness. So no subjects , conclusions of problems discussed in the book. Not doing it. Which makes this a bit hard. Here I go.

What I am saying is anyone with just a slight interest in the reasons for the current state of the world should absolutely read this book. Especially if you have some affinity with economics. But the good news is, it’s not about economics. It’s about assumptions , which we all know are…. , anyway these assumptions have been drafted into policy. And these policies have inflicted permanent damage and made the problems they were designed too solve much worse.

The book touches on most of the main problems of our time , and all is explained in a clear and very understandable way. Without cutting corners in it’s due diligence.

It’s pretty remarkable how long some of these assumptions on social structures, money, taxes , income , human values have come back over a long period of time. While most of these assumptions were proven to be wrong or have changed over time. Nevertheless most measures to counter the problems have been intensified because there is nog change in our assumptions. Which made the problems even worse , and a downward spiral. Nobody thought about checking if what we were doing was in fact pointless.

Maybe I am being a bit cryptic in my review of this book. But hopefully you get some direction on what the book is about.

And forget what I said about it being interesting for people which want to know about why we are in a world we are in. This book should be mandatory for everyone. It should be mandatory in all schools , universities what have you.

It teaches a very valuable lesson , a problem can never be solved with just one field of expertise, not even when it’s the dominant field. It’s very much a necessity to counter our current problems with multidisciplinair teams , creativity and looking at the problem from different perspectives.

We can only solve our problems together, no-one can do it alone.

Mindset – How to get things done.

Mindset, how to get things done. Whatever that may be! Well I have done a lot of experiments with what works for me and what I should improve when I want to get stuff done. It consist of a few key ingredients. First and foremost is planning. Have a goal , break it down into steps and plan the time, resources and order and start stepping.

Well that’s easy. No it’s very hard. When I first started using weekly planning sheets it was out of sheer necessity because I would otherwise forget everything. It was in place for me to get by on a day to day bases.

Then after a lot of trial and error I got my day to day in order and got myself thinking what do I want challenge myself with. And make a plan. Then I started falling into some traps. First and foremost I planned way too much , too much tasks and too much goals.

Which brings me to ‘rule’ rather recommendation number 2. Plan too little. There will always be something that takes up more time or an unplanned event will destroy your carefully set to do list.

Have no more than 1 great goal at any time in 3 categories. Max, why ? Well otherwise it will get muddy and stuff starts drifting. You can only focus on so much. For example , set a work or learning related goal, one physical fitness and one personal life goal. Learn how to program , run a 10K race and plan a trip. Or whatever you want. There will be lots of other stuff needs doing besides those goals.

It’s also divided into 3 categories for a reason, one is demanding on the brain, one on the body. You can keep those two nicely balanced , your brain needs time to digest newly learned stuff and exercise helps a lot (as does sleep) , the third must be less of a braindrain and more in the way of relaxing.

You have only about 4 hours worth of intens brain work a day anyway. If you trained yourself right.

So keep to do lists small, and allow yourself much needed rest in between. Recovery is key. Only make new to to lists when old ones are fully done. Don’t put notes and reminders for future tasks on existing to do lists , it will distract.

Makes a nice bridge to the last tip for today, when doing work that needs a of your brain power , make sure you get rid of any distractions. Put away your phone, disconnect the internet, don’t open your mailbox. Make sure you fully focus on the task at hand. Make sure everyone knows you cannot be disturbed. Make sure you have a way of letting people know they cannot disturb you during those hours , only for emergencies. And let them know what an emergency looks like.

Make sure you don’t stretch yourself too much in those intensive brainpower consuming sessions. Set an alarm after an hour or two and take a real break. Jus eat something or enjoy a good coffee. Do not let your distractions in, no phone no email no internet. Just time for recovery. Limit the total amount of time to a max of 4 hours or so per day. Start with a half an hour and build from there. It’s hard focusing with such intensity.

I have made all the mistakes having way to many goals , too much on the to do list and every distraction possible at hand. It leads to frustration and anger because nothing gets done within the time frame you planned for it. Not even close. It’s not easy getting razorsharp focus. It needs a lot of training. The mindset isn’t just there the moment you decide it is. It needs training , consistency and rhythm to cement itself.

And for now , rule or recommendation 3, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be days when everything goes easy , and there will be days, weeks even when nothing works. Just trust yourself and stick to it. You will get there and it will get easier to get your focus back. Make sure you evaluate your goals over time, is it still the right goal and does it need adjusting. Are the steps still the right ones. Have no fear of throwing goals in the bin if it’s not achievable for you. Just start a new one. I have trashed more than I finished. But made sure I learned from my mistakes. That’s why it’s important to evaluate.

And have fun, it’s not always fun, nor should it be. Some goals will be a necessity in order too get forward. But make sure you have fun along the way. And set fun goals, stuff that you know is fun from the beginning. And never give up on yourself and the process.

Zero

Back to zero, this lockdown for me is a forced rethink of what I need to do, or love to do. I have had a forced reset after my brain injury and after a few years I have a pretty solid base. And I got into a rhythm again. I sometimes forget to focus on the goals I have set after my return to the ‘real world’.

After adjusting to the lockdown and getting my head around it, I have spent some time going tru my notes and thoughts just after my revalidation. It was very much focussed around learning and getting some old ideas done. Mostly focussed around creativity and music. It’s has been hard getting started on those things for some reason. This part of my goals has been overshadowed by the day to day stuff I need to do. So I am now need to set some time for it.

This new crisis has also made me think we as a society need a reset, a bold start from scratch, back to zero.

It has also shown the fragility of our system and the need to rethink a large part of it. For me a lot needs to get back to zero. Start to rethink the whole idea of how we need to organize society and how we do things.

The focus on economic growth and keeping big business happy is long overdue. The metrics we use for calculating our output is one of the past. The cost of every crisis lands on the weakest shoulders. Most people haven’t really recovered from the financial crisis of 2008 and are now here. It might seem as if there was a recovery but most people just got back to a level of were they were in 2008.

The main problem is the inability for most people to get there financial situation more stable, workers rights have steadily been downgraded, the gig economy is not one that benefits most workers. And thus most people. Combining this with the every growing privatizing of healthcare , utilities and so on it’s a risk cocktail that has again landed on the same group of people.

The risk for society as a whole has gone up as well, the governments around the world have stepped in at an enormous cost for the future , all in a all in bet for quick recovery. Which might not happen.

So while this is all pretty gloomy it also gives us as a opportunity to force a few long overdue changes. The most important is the mindset about how we measure the wealth in our society. It needs to be a new mix of economic growth , health and happiness of the people and nature. A focus more on the quality of life and things rather than just things and masses of them.

It’s just a thought but these levels of leverage on financial , environmental and human risk our current system is very much unsustainable. Hopefully this new crisis will give way to forward thinking and real problem solving. I for one hope for the best.

November 2019 – Dividend

11 months in 2019 dividend wise, so another update is due. Not an extraordinary one but slow and steady is the name of the dividend growing game. November always is a month with just a few dividend paying company’s. At least in my portfolio it is. And this time it’s no different. Just a few but still a nice bump if you look at last year. Passive income is simply fun to watch. So here are the November numbers !

DateStockCurrencyAmount
15-11-2019ASMLEUR10,50
14-11-2019Apple EUR10,31
12-11-2019ASMIEUR30,00
TotalEUR50,81

Brain damage , experiences and everyday life

Brain damage , for most people something they can’t really get grips with. It’s hard too imagine one day waking up and being unable performing even the most basic of tasks without these simple things being incredibly difficult. And in most cases it’s ‘ invisible’ . Nearly 3 years in too my recovery I have learned a lot. Maybe I have written about some aspects in earlier posts but it helps putting my thought in order, so bare with me.

After my revalidation process where I learned how to handle the most mundane daily tasks, comprehending my place in the larger world began. Where the first steps were about not forgetting putting out the stove when going outside, taking your keys when going out, and more of the sorts. It was now about issues much bigger. What is my place in society , what can I still offer in terms of work, helping people and what are achievable goals for me?

These questions were much harder too awnser than expected. During the second year keeping the routines as learned during my recovery had the priority. Creating a stable day to day environment was one thing I underestimated greatly. Easy weeks give a false notion of being able to do more or a lot more the following week or weeks.

All too soon the I found this to be a mistake , your efforts need to be in balance , creating a tension between rest and activity good enough to keep you going. An excess week in efforts will cause weeks of instability.

After the second year and getting a rhythm going, it was time looking ahead. My internal optimist was still thinking in terms of careers , and being ‘normal’ again. The first difficulty came when looking for sorts of an internship where I could experiment with how far I could go and what I could still do within a working environment.

Everybody I had been speaking with was full of admiration with my commitment and tenacity but ultimately most didn’t see a possibility for me working with them. Doubts about risk and the practical issues with providing me with the right support were dealbreakers.

Fortunately you just need 1 person taking a leap of faith. Which in my case someone did. It is of the utmost importance to be joining society again, in any way, in this case being back in a work environment. I have the freedom setting my own limits , have a group of very friendly colleagues, there are coffee machines (you miss those when not around). And most importantly I have work at my own level and in my old profession.

These seem small things but very important in terms of your self esteem. It’s also useful with planning your weekly activities , parts of it are filled with work and I don’t need to fill in my own. You get out the door and there is a rhythm.

Getting back in my area of expertise was very important , where learning new things doesn’t come easy if it’s related too older knowledge which I had before my brain damage it’s much easier. I am a lot slower and I can manage far shorter hours of focussing and need a lot of rest. But by relying on some basics from the past it’s easier to maintain. It takes less energy than totally new stuff.

I have tried learning something new. Working with my hands for example. Fixing bikes, soldering and the like. Fun as a hobby maybe, but it took me ages and lot’s of energy getting the most basic routines under my belt. My motor skills were simply not good enough anymore. This way proved to be a dead end.

Returning in my old profession, albeit at a slower pace and less demanding, proved vital in my succes in the workplace. A lot of people try different professions after a serious accident and recovery, and for me this was a first reaction, let’s learn something ‘easier’ than I was used to. This turned out to be the wrong way. At least for me. Maybe there should be a bit more room for exploring the stuff people already know before doing new things. For one I am not less intelligent , just a lot slower. A full time job is hard but it doesn’t make you a complete ‘write-off’

So all in all getting back in my old ways is a good thing, and has resulted in a parttime job. I have left the idea of full time employment. It’s still in the back of my head though. And I will try and bent it a bit further in the future. For now it’s been a boost in self confidence and gives back a bit of independence. Very important indeed.

Society is equipped for people who can run at full speed within the society. Preferably a bit faster. As soon as you get to an abrupt hold , for whatever reason, it’s very hard getting back in. In theory there are guidelines, programs and projects aimed at letting people with a disability being part of society again.

All good intentions and efforts aside, theory and practice are far apart. I have been lucky, met the right people willing to help at the right time. Others are not as fortunate and have daily hindrance on top of their usual problems. It takes an extra toll on these people. Because I know they would love to find a place to make a positive impact on society.

October 2019 – Dividend

October again, and it’s time for my monthly dividend statement. Yet again a steady growth. It’s considering the current interest rate climate all too easy to praise dividends.

But there is a but, the risk is significantly higher. So always invest for the long term, at least with a 20 year horizon. And with money you absolutely don’t need for the foreseeable future. Don’t chase the next hot thing. Make a plan, and stick to it consistently. And let time do its job.

Maybe these warnings albeit a repetition are still worth mentioning. A lot of people talk very casually about investing as if they are as secure as an ‘old fashioned’ savings account. Well they are not. Be sure too understand the basics of finance, money and time before doing anything. Read a few books on money and finance in general. And then start reading up on investing. And make sure you read even more on risk. Not just financial risk, but risk in general. There are numerous non financial risks in your life which will impact you personally and financially. Such as job and income loss, divorce , illness. Read about how to cover those risks. Life is 90% other stuff rather than money. Albeit a lot of people feel otherwise. Think about what you want in life first and foremost. Think hard. And then make a plan on how to get there.

Well after this short intermezzo, it’s numbers time.

DateStockCurrencyAmount
23-10-2019Cisco systemsEUR8,83
16-10-2019W.P. Carey EUR9,33
09-10-2019Vanguard FTSE All-world UCITS ETFEUR101,18
01-10-2019Coca ColaEUR5,41
01-10-2019NikeEUR1,98
TotalEUR126,73