Max MSP project – Open source and the learning curve.

For ages I have MAX/MSP by Cycling 74 installed om my machine and from time to time I am completely obsessed with the endless possibilities which exists in this space. For the ones not familiar with Max, it’s a developing tool for creating anything relating to producing music and integrating visuals. From synthesizers to art installation stuff. And everything in between.

And that’s exactly where my problem manifests itself, it’s just too much. However small I begin, I always get lost. Lost in my own brain to be more exact. And then I stop with pursuing and learning. I have not been able to let it go or start in a direction to try and really push it.

So the idea behind this series is to get more grip on my own learning proces and share everything I learn. I will post it on this blog and I will put stuff in a , yet to put up, GitHub page.

The ultimate goal is to build an interactive looper for live use. A looper which takes the input from my Eurorack synthesizer and takes that input and loops it. Which I can then further manipulate. I will share all my progress (or lack of) , and will share all my notes, first designs and the road when building the patch itself. And ultimately also the music that comes out of the proces.

That’s the main goal , every time I test the patch a series of recordings emerge. I will not share all of them, just the ones at the end of each stage. And that I think are worthwhile sharing.

This might result is a nice collection of useful notes on my own personal learning method, a nice max patch and enough music to compile an album with.

A big project indeed, but by working this way I hope to get into a rhythm and work on it more consistent. On all of it, learning, music and sharing.

Braindamage – Broken memory and remembering things.

Frequently I get asked how I remember things with my broken short term memory. The short answer is , I make a list. In this little article I’m getting into the subject of lists and how to go about them. Not making too much or too few lists and what not.

This is purely my way of getting by with memory disfunction and a lot of the stuff is applicable for people with fully functioning brains as well. Because everyone’s mental energy drops during the day. And in the end only sleep can recharge the brain.

It’s also nog a ‘one size fits all’ solution. There are lot’s of variations within the field of memory and how to memorize stuff. This is just a representation of how I do it. And I hope some of you will get some inspiration for managing ones own memory deficiency. We all have it. We all forget stuff.

I thrive with stability, a good nights sleep, a steady day planning. And my day to day is where my first list comes around the corner. My weekly planning. It’s a weekly representation of what I’m doing that week. The must do’s and how much time a have for other stuff which I can use to plan things. Or not.

I am working with a fairly simply point system. During my recovery period I have experimented with how much an activity costs energy wise. For my daily load balance I derived the number 28 from these experiments. So in order to be able to get on the next day and be my cheery self I don’t want to go over that number.

So I have a maximum points in cognitive energy which is set to 28. My Energon (Transformers reference !) so to speak. I can use these point during my day and must not go over them. For example, reading an easy book for half an hour , minus 1 point, A hard one minus 2. Outdoor appointment 3 points down.

I can also collect points by resting, well not totally, like mediation for 15 minutes 0,5 points added, running for an hour 1 point added. All adding and subtracting towards the 28 total points available.

So that’s the rundown of the first list. It’s not an exact science by the way, it’s my guideline for the week. There are weeks which will be better, or weeks that are worse. But staying near to the 28 points will mean the majority of my weeks should be stable.

But there are more lists, a list for when I set foot outside my door. Which contains of stuff I need to bring. Phone, keys, wallet, headset and so on. That list has been replaced by a ready to go bag which contains most of these items. Basically a list in a different form. Always ready for its purpose.

There is a list for whatever pops in my mind. So stuff that comes to mind and I want to remember. It’s basically the collection of my short term memory.

Within my daily planning there is stuff to do. Which will get on a to do list. I really hate that list as it is the never-ending list of lists. It gives you the feeling that you are never finished. Which you are not. But this can be contained.

I have a small to do list which only contains 3 items , which have the most priority at that time. Ones I completed these 3 I trash the list. Which means I have finished something.

Breaks , my and everyones best friend. It’s impossible for me and the rest of us to be fully cognitively active at a high leven all day long. Yes even for the superstars among us. Cognitive energy declines during the day. And recharging only really occurs when sleeping. Processing the experiences of the day takes place during our sleep. And we have to process it all in order to recharge.

Taking breaks have the function of recharging in between. So in my planning they are there all during the dat. These have 0 in value, so they don’t do anything against the decrease of my cognitive energy. Only meditation and exercise will do that.

The one thing you must remember is not to start the to do list and knowing you cannot finish it. It leaves an open ended task at the end of the day which will haunt the mind during the rest of the day. So quitting earlier sometimes is not a problem.

If you are doing a high cognitive energy task, plan it strict. Make sure there are no distractions. Mail off, phone out of reach, take a break before starting , stop when the planned time is up.

Someone which has trained for doing high cognitive energy tasks has about 4 hours of real energy during the day to do these effectively. So going over that time hardly does the job any good, grinding it out for 8 hours might be fun for the hashtag ‘#alwaysbusy’ but really does not do you any favors. The elimination of distractions does.

The day planning and to do lists are what you can do at the maximum of one day. And very important, leave room for unexpected stuff, You can’t plan a day from dusk till dawn with pre planned activity’s , meetings take longer, so then also do breaks. You must not skip breaks. The day needs to breath , have room to grow or shrink. Otherwise you will loose steam and energy and that all takes away from doing stuff properly , and your day will be run by the unexpected.

Practical lists, or more notes are the final variety in my list repertoire. I write a daily entry in my journal which has all the stuff I did, my mental and physical state and whatever thoughts need writing down.

Besides the journal , I write when I read books. For some just a quick scribble to remember some things so I don’t need te re-read pages and get on reading. And notes when reading books I need for future reference. The things I want to remember I take notes and later I will work these notes out till full blown notes which takes a larger picture into account. I have a lot of summary’s of books I read. Very handy if I want to revisit some of the knowledge.

I used to memorize a lot and could revisit a lot out of the top of my head, nowadays that is very hard, and writing helps me with this proces.

Finally, write the lists and notes on paper, with a pen, or pencil. Not in digital formats. Not in an app, not in words excel or whatever just write it down.
Ok maybe just a format for the weekly planning, but fill it out by hand.

Writing as an activity, etches the writings in the brain. And amazingly enough also in my damaged brain. So buy notebooks in all shapes and sizes and start writing.

This is the first epistle about life with brain damage and the practical side of things all people can benefit from. Nobody has endless amounts of (cognitive) energy. But with some simple methods you can improve some aspects.

Book review – the why axis: Hidden Motives and the undiscovered economics of everyday life

Hidden motives and undiscovered economics of everyday life. Intriguing subtitle isn’t it? But it’s the way the authors discover what motivates people to do things , via field experiments. To see what works if you want to motivate people to behave a certain way.

It seems logical to try stuff out and see what works and what not. But for economy it’s always been more about reasoning and building mathematical stuff to see if it holds up. And changing some parameters and checking what this does with the outcome.

This book is about real world field experiments with control groups. It’s the just trying and seeing what works. It’s about stimulating behavior which is good for people by means of rewards.

Apart from the rewards , it’s also about who you need to motivate and seeing what else is necessary , how to formulate the proposition for instance.

The book covers experiments with discrimination, education, crime and so on. It’s easy to read and understandable for everyone. It’s a book you can read if you don’t want to read a thriller or a heavy scientific book.

It’s nicely sets the argument for more field experiments to really see what happens in real life and what works and what not. In stead of just reasoning everything to the last comma. This goes for everyone, just experiment and do stuff.

Book review – Moonshot

It’s been a while since my last book review, I have been reading some but not that much. This book, Moonshot and the subject really spoke to me. And also confirmed some of the things I was already seeing in broader society.

It’s about the necessity of a strong government in solving the issues we as a society face. And working towards those goals in a goal oriented way. And how the absence of the government has created some of the problems we face today.

It’s about those projects that are of vital importance to society but are way out of reach by any standard in todays possibilities , technological or otherwise. And which needs to be done in a relatively short amount of time. Let’s say a moon landing.

It’s about what it takes to het there and how a government unlike most cooperations isn’t bound by shareholders demanding annual dividends, budgets (in some ways) and innovation.

Innovation as an obstacle ? Yes, most if not all innovation comes out of government programs, stuff like radar, lenses , the internet, all out of government funded research facilities. It’s not your average company that does all the hard innovative work, they come up with the consumer products, and be that much later.

The current belief in the market as a one stop shop for the worlds lager problems is flawed , capitalism as the solution bringer an illusion. Without a strong government who sets out the goals not much is done in the way of true innovation.

Markets don’t magically move in the right direction they need strong guidance and more importantly the government should be running the research and the projects. This book really gets into the importance of this, not just trying to nudge the market towards a goal by subsidizing stuff and watching the show.

The government has to have a strong long term view of the goals to solve the problems in larger society , like climate change , inequality , political stability and so on. This book explains the importance of an active government and society in fixing it’s problem. And in the long run also fixing capitalism.