Starting from today I’ll be using my never updated blog to document new designs I’m coming up with around audio electronics (Both analog and digital)

The aim is not to drum interest (Though that’ll be a great outcome) but to document the thought process behind them.

I was always fascinated with inventors, people who would sit and tinker coming up with new ideas and better solutions to the old mousetrap adage, in the age of the quick and dirty we seem to have forgotten a lot about that despite the abundance of amazing hacks and design, we’ve been dulled to the process because the process is arduous and hard, instead we get to enjoy a Flickr photo set every now and then and a clever youtube video or two.

So why am I doing this in the sea of people who already build stuff? Well, two reasons…

  • It’s a passion of mine and rediscovering these skills leads to enjoying life a bit more
  • No one is building the things that I want or would like
  • I hope this process ends up as a cheap form of gear therapy, sure, I could get myself a piece of gear that almost does what I need, but it’s more fun to build it.

    And I plan on building some…

    Stay tuned!

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    I’ve been walking through the valley of the living dead, rubbing elbows with those unhappy mortals on trains and trams and meeting rooms and offices that are on the same journey… In the words of Jaz Coleman “I have seen tomorrow, I have seen the world to come, I have seen tomorrow, hear the pandemonium”

    I have reached the next station of this journey. Watch this space… It’s going to get interesting soon…

    PS: this photo is a hint πŸ˜‰

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    For all the bad things about this year, music releases hasn’t been one of them… it was ages since I’ve had a year with so many great releases and very little in terms of filler music… this is the list of my top records for 2009…

    My top 10, there’s a 5-way tie for the #1 spot on my list:

    Converge – Axe To Fall
    Baroness – Blue Record
    Love Of Diagrams – Nowhere Forever
    Mastodon – Crack The Skye
    ISIS – Wavering Radiant
    …And You Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Century Of Self
    Voivod – Infini
    KMFDM – Blitz
    Therapy – Crooked Timber
    A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

    The rest of the top 20…

    Goes Cube – Another Day Has Passed
    Disappearer – The Clearing
    Jesu – Infinity
    Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance
    Greymachine – Disconnected
    Bob Mould – Life And Times
    Kylesa – Static Tensions
    Strung Out – Agents Of The Underground
    Narrows – New Distances
    Pelican – What We All Came To Need

    The rest of the top 50…

    Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive
    Gorod – Programers Of A New Decline
    Obscura – Cosmogenesis
    The Red Chord – Fed Through The Teeth Machine
    Silversun Pickups – Swoon
    Gliss – Devotion Implosion
    Burnt By The Sun – Heart Of Darkness
    Callisto – Providence
    Coalesce – Ox
    Doves – Kingdom Of Rust
    Engineers – Three Fact Fader
    Shrinebuilder – Shrinebuilder
    Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
    BATS – Red In Tooth & Claw
    Bloodhorse – Horizoner
    Cave In – Planets Of Old
    My Dying Bride – For Lies I Sire
    Amesoeurs – Amesoeurs
    Clutch – Strange Cousins From The West
    Tombs – Winter Hours
    Final – Reading All The Right Signals Wrong
    Current 93 – Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain
    VNV Nation – Of Faith, Power And Glory
    The Sleepover Disaster – Hover
    Poison The Well – The Tropic Rot
    Hacride – Lazarus
    Tides From Nebula – Aura
    Thursday – Comon Existence
    Constants – The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension
    Between The Buried And Me – The Great Misdirect

    The rest of the top 100…

    If These Trees Could Talk – Above The Earth, Below The Sky
    Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic
    Codes in the Cloud – Paper Canyon
    Rammstein – Liebe Ist FΓΌr Alle Da
    Katatonia – Night Is The New Day
    Ghost Brigade – Isolation Songs
    Early Day Miners – Treatment
    Mission Of Burma – Tho Sound The Speed The Light
    Nachtmahr – Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit
    Cerebrum – Spectrum Extravagance
    Junius – The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist
    Gnaw – This Face
    Animals As Leaders – Animals As Leaders
    Antigama – Warning
    Archive – Controlling Crowds
    Maybeshewill – Sing The Word Hope In Four-Part Harmony
    Brutal Truth – Evolution Through Revolution
    Bloody Panda – Summon
    Eryn Non Dae – Hydra Lernaia
    Echoes Of Yul – Echoes Of Yul
    Keelhaul – Triumphant Return To Obscurity
    Anaal Nathrakh – In The Constellation Of The Black Widow
    Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes Of God
    Krallice – Dimensional Bleedthrough
    Minsk – With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone
    Irepress – Sol Eye Sea I
    Archive – Controlling Crowds
    Samael – Above
    Dysrhythmia – Psychic Maps
    Alcest/Les Discrets – Split
    The Raveonettes – In And Out Of Control
    Lighting Bolt – Earthly Delights
    The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
    Swallow The Sun – New Moon
    The Life And Times – Tragic Boogie
    A Storm of Light – Forgive Us Our Trespasses
    DΓ€lek – Gutter Tactics
    Karnivool – Sound Awake
    Zu – Carboniferous
    Ephel Duath – Through My Dog’s Eyes
    Behemoth – Evangelion
    The Holy Mountain / Black Tusk – split
    Insomnium – Across The Dark
    Khanate – Clean Hands Go Foul
    Napalm Death – Time Waits For No Slave
    Supermachiner – Rust
    Cable – The Failed Convict
    The Qemists – Join The Q
    Mono – Hymn To The Immortal Wind
    Paradise Lost – Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us

    After seeing some of my friends and colleagues struggle during the past year and so months and listening to endless people call for the end of the recession (Really? All I hear is the spark of recovery, it’ll take longer to climb out of recession fully) I’ve been thinking… is everything going wrong at the hiring part of the process?

    Those who know me, know that I’ve always had a foot in the creative and the drab technology sectors, it is who I am and it reflect in my work ethos, I can devise and create, be strategic and long term tactical, find quick solutions for problems and slowly rally up teams. And I know this causes more headaches than it should to prospective employers since I’m not really driven by career growth but by creativity and passion (Yes, this has also led me to choose poorly, we’re not immune to screwing up every now and then, in fact, it is a good thing)

    I check the resumes of friends and colleagues and pick up great core skills, lots of knowledge and good hard working careers, yet they fail to be hired on a regular basis.

    They tend to fall in three distinct groups:

    Group 1 is the generalists: People who have had to constantly rise to the challenge, they excel at leading even if they don’t articulate that skill well, they have a depth of experience that most people wish they had.

    Group 2 is the situation managers: People who have led teams, projects, even companies with different degrees of success, they are great at managing outcomes and deliver value.

    Group 3 is the underqualified overachievers: People who have done much with little in terms of certifications or degrees, experienced but with stunted career paths due to their lack of official qualifications.

    And without fail, they are being rejected in the market…

    People I know in HR tend to put the blame on them, “They should get qualified, get more hands on experience or become specialists” but it’s hard not to notice that the problem is… HR itself.

    If you are hiring an employee (Be it because you created a new role or because someone vacated the role) there’s a profile that HR matches candidates to, the 360 review process that ensues to make sure the candidate fits can be best described as: “4-5 people who only get to know you for 15 minutes making horrible assumptions over you, your experience and your expectations”

    Doesn’t sound fair and certainly, doesn’t sound like either party is getting value out of the experience, for the candidate it’s not an particularly enlightening process, there’s no feedback beyond “Sorry, we found someone that fits the profile better” (Understandable, is it too hard to feed back to the candidate his/hers potential shortcomings for the role, after all, he’s invested time and money into meeting with you) and employers usually end up getting the equivalent of a mule in return, capable of carrying the load, very unremarkable and most of the time unable to jump into action without being prodded (Not always of course, but seems to be happening more and more often).

    What triggers such levels of corporate fright is beyond me, but the state of the economy, a pervasive short-term mentality about how employees should fit (What the hell happened to developing corporate cultures, has it been relegated to an induction and maybe a document folder?) and a culture of thin value vs. long term sustainable value are definitely to blame.

    Experience costs money, but also delivers more value per dollar.

    Great people skills cost money, but they deliver a tighter more cohesive team.

    The drive to succeed costs money, but they deliver constant inspiration and energy to the company.

    I’m not by any means advocating that all hires have to be superstars, the problem I see, is that all companies and recruiters want superstars, end up hiring adequate performers and miss out on increasing value. And if you come to think of it, experienced, high value people will negotiate salary and job title in order to get satisfaction, so shouldn’t you, as a hiring manager evaluate how that satisfaction might benefit your organization?

    If you are comparing a potential life-long partner to a list of requirements, chances are, that union won’t last long, people transform through time and not necessarily in the same way we initially envisioned.

    By grinding people down to listed qualities, we miss out on the bigger picture, we hire for show, not for effect, we de-humanize the candidates and throw them into a bin, alongside 10 other people who are very different, but just happened to have a common listed criteria.

    Recruitment has become a corporate dating site, you ask a lot of questions, put a few scenarios, and then spit out a match rating. Nothing there hints at long term plans or the effect of the past on that person, all domains of someone life are interconnected and it’s presumptuous to believe that we all react the same way to the same problems.

    Can it be fixed? I’m absolutely sure of it, companies are reinventing themselves to emerge from this recession stronger, more humane and most importantly better equipped to create value, HR has to reinvent itself to bring in people who can create that value, not bodies to fill an office.

    Every time I think life can’t give me any pleasant surprises someone comes and proves me wrong… from a band that I’ve worked with finally getting a break to a very good friend doing something incredible on the other side of the world (And something I don’t think I’d have the balls to do if it was up to me)… inspiration is all around.

    So what does it take to move us from being bored and boring into being inspired and inspiring?

    Take Jessica Watson, the 16 year old girl that’s sailing solo around the world and getting told: “You’re too young”. “It’s too dangerous” and “are you insane?”… by a bunch of boring and uninspired “journalists” that only care about pushing opinion, the unfortunate prevalent opinion of the past few decades that doing something dangerous is a no-no…

    Compare that with the following industries in the past 10 years, Technology, Media and Finance… lots of safe bets, few real risks and a lot of greed and rushing to make a quick buck… a true inability to innovate beyond models set forth 70 years ago… which has led us to the current state of affairs, and the woefully inadequate solutions that have taken personal responsibility and innovation out of the market.

    Be inspiring, take a risk, kick ass and take names, whatever you do, don’t let people slow you down with cries of “too hard”, “too risky” or “we do things differently”…

    When was the last time you smiled to a stranger on the bus?

    When was the last time you randomly met a new cool stranger that totally rocked your world?

    When was the last time you sat down to listen to a CD, read the booklet, admired the art, felt that moment, special as it was?

    The answer is probably, a long time ago…

    We have all the tools and gadgets available to ease communication, but we are overloaded by it, to the point that we now use all that technology to isolate ourselves from others, to form digital cliques of people who agree with us and shun anybody who thinks differently… welcome to the age of forced uniformity, a mass of homogeneously assembled heterogenous groups of people.

    And it’s hurting us a lot, the effects in all industries can be seen, take for example recruiters and employees, no longer seeking top talent with top EQ’s (Emotional Quotients for the acronym-impaired) and rather looking for quick and dirty “fits”… in reality, this dehumanization of the employee, of the lover (Hi, I saw your profile at http://www.desperatedatingsite.com and you really seem to have my same tastes, wanna hook up?), of the family, of the friend, that lack of acceptance of the different and the benefits of the opposing point of view, that desire that the world be filled with unique individuals, like yourself of course, is causing enormous ripples.

    Top talent will never ever be an easy fit, the best lover will never ever be the easy hookup that you dissected online, the best friend will never ever be the faceless wall of text that always agrees with you… the sooner you dispel the notion that things will always be the way you want and focus on the things that really make you happy then you’ll start re-humanizing yourself and and others.

    Then you’ll see… the best things in life will come to you…

    Yeah, I’m not, sometimes I stop and ponder how things didn’t turn out the way I planned and of course, the answer isn’t surprising, I didn’t make them happen.

    I fondly remember my teenage years, full of dreams of making it big with my band (As big as you could in the Metal/Hardcore scenes back then) and starting my own company. I was full of hope, I was full of drive and I was full of dreams.

    Of course, things have a way of going off course and one thing leads to another and poof, it’s all gone in a flash… my band disintegrated from the weight of its own talent (And so did band #2 and band #3) while “lesser talented” bands made it big, I turned my back against the dream of making it big as a musician and focused on the dream of being a technologist and eventually own my own company and making it big.

    I struggled through college, my teachers all said that I was well above average, a brilliant thinker, but a lousy student that just worked hard enough to get by, you could see my heart wasn’t in it, but I managed to graduate with a decent GPA, but the fact that I wasn’t playing live anymore and I had become estranged from my musician friends wasn’t helping (Yeah, being the musician in college will make you not fit anywhere, and that in turn will make you quite a misanthrope, a very sociable misanthrope though)

    So I look back and I see that I achieved neither of my lifelong dreams, despite having done much with my life, traveled, enjoyed the highs of love and the pits of loss, the comfort of family and friends and the thrill of strangers… yet…

    It’s fairly simple really, the key to success is squarely in your head, if you’ve got talent and drive alone isn’t enough to guarantee you success, you need to have faith, you need to pick yourself up every time you’re down and you need to take an enormous risk… I know for example my aversion to risk is in fact the main reason why I haven’t achieved the success that I seek (BTW, money/fame are not success, nor even a measure of success, but I don’t want to get dragged down into that argument).

    But risk aversion alone is not the answer, then you realize a second element of success, it comes from leading and influencing others. Many times people have written about success, framing it from the angle of the lone man out fighting against the odds, the truth is, successful people build successful networks and from those successful networks find opportunities for success.

    So, successful people take risks and build networks… looks like a lot of work right?

    Well, it is, and that’s why talent and drive are also required, but the third missing element is faith, you can have blind faith, that’s never going to be enough, you really need to have your heart into it, love what you do, enjoy the struggle because you love the results. For the past 25 years we haven’t encouraged people to follow their hearts, we have encouraged them to fit in at any costs and we’re paying dearly for it. We’ve encouraged safe careers and copycats, we haven’t encouraged pioneering and risk-taking… our current global financial situation is directly related to not having taken the risks of educating consumers with money, savings and investing but instead building ponzi schemes that were copied over and over the world. No pioneering economics, no pioneering arts, just more and more copying.

    So why am I not the man I used to be? Well, for the past 15 years I’ve been doing what I’m good at, not necessarily what I enjoy doing, it has hurt me and those around me, very simple… if you’re not happy, everybody around you won’t have a chance to be truly happy either, this time around I’m chasing my dreams with a ton of knowledge gained from failing to attain them (Or failing to value them when I did attain them), changing my philosophy to bring more success, like exercise, it’s hard work at the beginning, boring and tedious in the middle and very rewarding in the long term, this time around, I have enough faith in myself, a great network of friends, much knowledge gained and the desire to make it happen… and the patience too!

    The whole debate sparked by Lilly Allen’s stance against people pirating her music has been so far, hilarious…

    From some random people posting at the BBC’s website one gets the idea that they believe they are fighting an evil monster called music industry, but their habits speak the actual truth… they just want something for nothing. I wonder if one were to walk to their house and say, take their couch because they have another they’d feel the same way about those “multimillionaire” artists (Where? Or has MTV actually convinced people that the majority of artists have swimming pools filled with money).

    I believe the music industry needs reform and a lot of restructuring, I have been affected by the industry downturn directly, no sales equals no funding for engineers and producers, there’s obvious opportunities for improving distribution and compensation, but those aren’t going to exist if music loses its remunerative angle. And yeah, concerts and live shows can make a band a fair amount of money, just not enough to live on it as a single source of income.

    So sure, it sounds nice on paper, you get the entitlement, you get the rush and the thrill of fighting the man (And of course argue about it while having coffee at starbucks) but in reality, you’re not going to the shows, you’re not buying merchandise and most importantly, you’re not supporting the artist… proof of that are all the mid-tier independent bands that are struggling nowadays.

    Just remember that the next time you jump on your digital high horse to pass judgement on the industry.

    Since deciding to revive the whole blog business the next step is to integrate it with all the social network tools that I use, should be a cinch right?

    It does highlight one major problem with the whole concept of “cloud services”… when you need service A to talk to service B your options are at best spartan and in most cases non-existent or incomplete… forcing you to develop your own integration service.

    If the Palm PrΓ© and the recently announced Motorola CLIQ/DEXT are any indication, the next wave of services will center not just around integrating all those sources of information but also processing them down into a pre-digested feed that you can read and interpret more easily.

    Information overload is no longer king in the 21st century…

    PS: Haven’t spoken about music in a long time… that too is coming…

    Anybody still reading this? If not… news you won’t read, I will pick up the blog idea again and see how we go with it… enjoy!