What will I do?

A few days ago, I lost my job. Long story short, the company for which I worked has ceased all operations. Great!

A hint of sarcasm there, for those who didn’t click.

I recorded a video before and after being told the news – I think we all somewhat saw it coming to an extent based on the events of the 24 hours running up to this.

There’s not much else to say on the matter, for now so, here’s me being coloured everything but impressed:

Hire me? I’m multi-skilled. Yes, a Jack of all trades.

Music Production

Throughout a large chunk of my teenage years I spent a lot of time trying my hand at making music. I spent countless hours with software like eJay (Hip-Hop, Dance, etc.), ProDJ (vague name, not sure who the developer was) and probably a few others, too. I did it all the “cheating way”, using only the supplied bundle of samples. I don’t recall ever creating my own samples. Really, I never really created any music – I was just re-spinning what someone else had probably already tried.

The last few days I’ve been exploring the side of creating my own samples. So far, just a few basic drum loops and percussion instruments exist. I’ve yet to put my voice to anything – take me word for it, it’ll need a lot of skewing to make it sound music worthy.

I’ve been searching for something to replace eJay and ProDJ for their ease of use. For those not familiar with ProDJ – it was a clean interface version of eJay. I’m sure anyone who’s ever used eJay (any version) knows that the user interface was cause for sore eyes. Regardless, both were very easy to use: you set your BPM, the software adjusts all the samples to match, you arrange all your samples on a “sheet”, press play to check it sounds OK and finally, export to MP3.

Through the above process, believe it or not, I managed to create an entire 12-track audio CD’s worth of repetitive drumming, bass lines and synth noises. And yes, I actually put it on a CD to listen to in the car. This was before I could drive, so it was my parents who had the misfortune of having to put up with it.

I digress. I’ve found what I think to be the right software without paying the applicable fees for the likes of FL Studio – it’s called LMMS. I’m not sure what it stands for, but if the front page of their website is to be taken into account, maybe “Let’s Make Music Software”, although, that’s ambiguous.

That screenshot alone is very reminiscent of ProDJ.

As for my sample and loop making, that’ll all be occurring in Audacity. I’ve watched endless tutorials on YouTube for generating realistic drum sounds, clean bass lines and other percussive noises. Synth is one thing I’ve not quite dialled in, yet. That’ll come soon. Everyone loves a good synth track.

Exploring Audio Creation

This morning I started with my usual routine of making a coffee first and foremost. As before I made a little “thing” of it by recording it to practice video editing. Then I stripped the audio audio and put together my own track from scratch.

Here’s the video with my own audio track – but, please be aware: I’m still learning (translation: the quality of composition equates precisely to mud being infused with a broken sitar).

If it’s any consolation, the coffee tasted better than the end result of this video.

In all fairness, given that this was done in the space of about 90 minutes, having never previously created audio from scratch with Audacity (only ever used it for cutting and tweaking existing audio) I’m quite proud of the result. Proud, I say!

A Published Author

Well, it’s official, I am now a published author. Self-published with the help of Amazon’s Kindle service but, published nonetheless.

The book, though fairly short, covers several topics centred around managing your own time with greater efficiency. These include managing time at work and at home, working from home, managing a team, project management and business process development, to name a few.

It is based on personal experiences and lessons learned, stretching a period of around 10 years – although, to be honest, the majority of the lessons were learned in the last 3 to 4 years. That has been the eye-opener and the reason for putting those thoughts and advice into words.

If you are interested and want to find the book, there are two methods – you can search for my name on the Kindle Store (it’s the only result you’ll find) or you can follow the link below:

This really does give me a sense of accomplishment and I’m actively thinking about new ideas to write another, longer book – this one is fairly short, only around 15,000 words, if you include the chapter titles. I’ve always liked the idea of writing a sci-fi or action novel, as well (feel free to pitch me some ideas).

Well, when I do write more books, I’ll be sure to post them here – so check back in a few weeks. Or years. Clearly, I have no idea how long it actually takes to write a book of that description but, as soon I know, you’ll know.

The many faces of “A/V”

“Faces” is probably the wrong word to use here. Although, A/V (audio/video – AV from here on in) is a very ambiguous term. For instance, I work in AV and one of my colleagues was previously in AV and is now also in AV, despite the two being completely different jobs.

The AV I’m referring to (that we work in) is luxury residential audio, video and control installations. But, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I have always wanted to know a little more about and be a little more capable at audio editing and video editing. So, what with my early start today – remember, I’ve been waking up at 04:30 every day for several days now – I wanted to take on the challenge of learning by doing. It’s only a short clip and only involves very few techniques (some cutting and filters on the video plus looping, equalisation and timing on the audio). Not to mention, the subject of the video is somewhat boring.

I recorded the making of a cup of coffee from the perspective of the kitchen door handle. That’s the best I can describe it as. I do have a few other coffee making utensils in my repertoire, perhaps I’ll make a thing of it to occasionally record a different way of making coffee. I can predict that the shortest of that series will be when I settle for same plain old instant.

Making filter coffee doesn’t have to take a long time.

Based on the time it took me to make a very tasty cup of “Cookie Doodle” cafĂ© noir I really don’t know why the queues at Starbucks are so long. Enjoy!

Taking a counter-intuitive break

This morning I felt somewhat overwhelmed with what to do. If anything, perhaps, I just felt a little uninspired. Partly because there’s a dark cloud looming over my sub-conscience about a mounting pile of unread (thus, lacking my response or action) emails from work.

I know, why should I take my newly found, additional personal time to do something other than spend it on self-improvement?

Maybe there’s a little relief once it’s all done. Well, I should hope so – I’ve just gone from 104 unread to zero in the space of an hour! And I feel better for it. I’ve been staring at that number for nearly two weeks while it crept.

Well, it’s Friday today. It won’t be an easy one by any measure as I know what lies ahead as far “tasks required to be completed” is concerned. Maybe the weekend brings fewer stresses. Until then…

Edit: after some consideration, perhaps the title should actually read “Taking a counter-productive break”, although that’s the same as just taking a break. So, I’ll leave it as is.

Stepping outside the comfort zone

This morning started with recording a short “piece to camera”. Actually, it’s more like piece to camera phone that I’m not holding steady enough. This is outside my comfort zone. Any previous video recording of myself by myself or others, where I have to talk, reveals a nervous and half-witted subject.

I figured it best to capture the moment as early as possible, to reflect my state of mind as best I can. If anything, I felt a little annoyed at getting up early this morning. However, as soon as I thought about the prospect of doing something, anything for the sake of self improvement, it didn’t seem that bad.

Without further ado, here is said video clip. I have to apologise for the choppy editing – this soon after waking up and not having drunk anything yet I had terrible dry mouth.

Waking up early is harder on day 2 – I nearly hit the snooze button!

Yes, I realise the video may add very little value to your own life, if anything you have a little chuckle at my coffee selection but, it’s a start for me. My journey has just begun.

Because Life

Ask me why I’ve not done anything great or meaningful so far in my time on this planet and you will get an answer that can essentially be boiled down to “because life …”

Actually, it’s an excuse, not an answer.

I have always used the same excuse to cater to all angles of inquiry. One of my best friends have asked me, time and again, why haven’t you set up your own shop? Another has asked me, why haven’t you bought your dream car? And my wife asks me (frequently) why haven’t we bought a house?

Like everyone living life in the comfort zone, I’ve always had an excuse. It usually goes along the line of, because I’ve just bought x, I can’t afford y. Because I’ve just start doing this, I don’t have time for that. In my mind I’m shaping it as “because life gets in the way”. It is the easy way out of actually answering the question and confronting myself.

A certain Mr. Kiyosaki (Google it, if you’re not familiar) loosely summarises my “problem” quite well with his Rich Dad, Poor Dad analogy.

I am somewhat stuck in poor dad mode.

When faced with a new project, prospect, purchase or proposal I immediately default to: I can’t start that now, I don’t have enough time. Or, I can’t afford that, I don’t have enough money.

Rather than make excuses, I should be asking myself: How can I create more time to start that? Or, how can I afford that?

A new chapter

I’ve read a lot of articles about the most successful people in the world. I’ve watched a lot motivational and inspiring videos and interviews with very successful people. One thing they all have in common is that they have an answer for at least one of the questions above that I should be asking.

We all have 24 hours, every day. How you spend those hours is what distinguishes you.

If you need more sleep, sleep faster.

Last night I made the conscious decision to get up early. In fact, I woke up 3 hours earlier than I normally would on a week day. My wife thinks I’m an idiot, not just because I’m getting up early but, partly because when asked “why?” I couldn’t give a concise answer.

And I’m OK with that. I don’t mind not knowing why I’m getting up early, just yet.

The key is creating a habit, I think. As I view it, once I’m in the habit of getting up early for the sake of creativity and doing something meaningful, it becomes easier. And we all know what happens when something is easy – we stick with it. It becomes the new comfort zone, not that I want to remain in the comfort zone. I want to keep pushing until I can produce some answers, not just excuses.

To be continued.