Great career advice just for YOU.

office-worker-low

Tip 1: Make sure you get your email out of the way straight away on arrival. Categorise the contents into act now, later and pass to others.
Tip 2: Don’t look at your email for the first few hours. Follow through your own schedule and don’t get distracted by communications that deflect that schedule.

Tip 3: Plan out every hour of the day, starting at 5.30pm and working backwards.
Tip 4: Don’t plan the day by hours. Allow the larger themes of your job role to determine the proportions of your time load.

Tip 5: Take a break every half hour and switch to another task to keep a fresh mind.
Tip 6: Get yourself into the swing of the task, a mind space, in the zone, without taking breaks.

Tip 7: Visualise yourself in your next role and work at a higher level as if you are preparing to take it on.
Tip 8: Don’t try to anticipate your next role as you will always create it around you when the time comes.

Tip 9: Schedule regular public dialogue with your co-workers and take care to listen.
Tip 10: Avoid meetings unless to address specific needs

Tip 11: Don’t read those ‘life success tip’ list blogs, they are a pack of shit. All of the contradictory advice listed above comes from the same source. You don’t need to take advice from ‘idea puppy mills’.

Tip 123: They see no problem with listing contradictory advice, because the goal is not about actually achieving anything but teaching you to be an efficient component. Contradiction is actually good to keep you open to suggestion.

Tip 12: This kind of writing is an attempt to regiment your thinking so that you remain a useful cog in a system that concentrates wealth and leisure with a few people, and wastes your short life on this earth.

Tip 15: You are going to die. Time is running out. You will become sick and not be able to fulfil those aspirations that matter most to you. That’s the most important item on the schedule, so fuck email tips.

Tip Horse: The best answer to work is to change management to trust. That is, work on the basis of your humanity, not become technology.

Tip toe: And don’t be an arsehole, that’s a cheap diversionary aspiration. There is no need to act like Steve Jobs, just because it gets promoted in popular fiction as a way to exercise power. Kindness is a difficult virtue. We are all in the same tunnel.

T1#262865: But you already knew all of this.

I made an album. Now what?

So I was listening to this album of mine just then and I was thinking, well soon as the vocals are mixed in, that’s done. It’s all there. About 3 years work off and on. When I started this thing, it was all Fruity Loops. Ditched that back in 2012, went hardware. Re-recorded large sections, threw things out, the usual deal. I think the oldest track has been remixed, what, 8 times? It’s all Cubase and MIDI now.

But it’s just tipping into the don’t overdo it stage. The best tracks are the ones you just get right the first time. Could lose something if I don’t … what? Not sure.

This started around the time we’d done our 2011 shows and it was time to retire gracefully, got up to speed around the Adelaide Festival, got bogged down in Gear Acquisition Syndrome and has been slowly burning along since. Actually the G.A.S. has been a great help in revitalising my sounds. Got some nice sounds these days. (I put 30 up for you in the menus!)koala

But OK. Seeing as my current contact with the ‘market’ is to be a stuffed koala in a glass case, all mould and glass eyes… what? This really isn’t a spare-me-my-blushes moment. On one side I feel like the ugliest old hag that ever went for the role of Baby Jane. On the other side look at all those other old fucks. They’re doing it you coward.

This is a fun record, and righteous glammy. It can’t be all self-deprecating. But then, look, it’s this teaching thing, it distorts your placement when everyone you see all day is 20 something. Meh.

And look where I was in 2008.

Somehow I think this is going to happen but I just don’t know how just yet. Be patient. I might have to get this fucking doctorate out of the way.

It’s currently called RHINE. It’s named after this guy.

Straightening Spaghetti

OK let’s get to the point. I apologise. This blog has gone all maudlin and sporadic and is far below the quality that you pay for. The reasons being:

  • I am supposed to be writing my thesis paper, and therefore the act of writing has become one level up from gargling urine in my list of fun things to do.
  • I have turned sevcom.com into a blog to be able to update it more often, with the disastrous effect of me having to update it more often.
  • Tweeting. It’s like when you eat so many peanuts you get a stomach ache and can’t eat a proper dinner.
  • I am a fucking middle manager, what can I possibly write about?

The old blog fell into a routine. There would be have some guff about Kunst Kamp, which no longer exists and besides I am no longer in a position to mock the place. Then I’d put the boot into some fool, which got a bit dull, and then I might write about cybercloud la la bullshit, which hasn’t made the slightest difference to the trash that people in Google Glasses believe. All of it has been done to death, and so old articles now appear at random, which is more effective than me writing essentially the same thing.

I also think I would rather write about things that are creative and positive. The only reason to pick fights with fools and sluggards is to show how it can be done better.

There’s been a bit of time to plan how to sort this fallen empire, so here is the idea.

  • All the antiques go onto sevcom.com. That’s where things get sold and displayed that live in the past.
  • tomellard.com is going to be about making things. I know I’ve spent the last few months rambling on and on about synthesisers, but that’s been my learning process as part of making a whole bunch of music – some heard and some coming real soon. I’m also going to start supplying free samples of all the tools I’ve been collecting to go with the verbiage, and that’s a positive thing.
  • Twitter is for bullshit.

Time travel

Time flexes, distorts, the First World War draws closer, recent history tangles in a coil where 1985 lies a little closer than 2005. WW1 is on the front pages next to news of a Caliphate being carved out of Iraq. Your dreams expect the ghost of 1962 Peter O’Toole to step onto a wide screen and show those 1917 Arabs once again how a decent British officer can banish the Hun. Did WW1 ever stop in the middle east?

lawrence-of-arabia1

Seriously, how does that robe stay so frigging WHITE?

1985 is familiar for all the usual tedious reasons. The other night it got to me when somebody made a large vague offer to my long dead band, but I’ve got my cynical shields raised again.

More interesting is judging how far into the new century we have travelled. Think again, 1914, the intervening years are scarcely mentioned; 20th century, first war, boom tish. Yet, 2000; seems awfully long ago really.

Measured with technology (look, I’m a technocrat, let it be) the difference is quite remarkable. I needed to get files from a computer to an old sampler. The most efficient way turns out to be burning CD-Rs. Not DVD-Rs, which were a bit futuristic in 2000. Little wheels, motors. Carry the wheel to the tray, pop in the disc and read it. Is there a problem? Bin the coaster. Burn another disc. The sound of motors and fans, the physical objects being carried back and forth, may as well be scrolls in the Library of Alexandria for what that has to do with the current day.

I could use cards:

20140630_161852

Smartmedia card, made from disco balls.

On the left is the SD Card that you currently expect will be around forever. On the right is the SmartMedia Card that was expected to be around forever in the year 2000. Took me quite some time and cash to find some. It’s very pretty, but about 8 of the largest would fit on the smallest SD Card. It’s also horribly slow, slower than the CDs I’m burning.

For a short moment I thought maybe I should spend $40 and get all this tasty kit:

$_57

I’m glad to say I’m better now, thanks for asking. (BTW, note the blue coloured translucent plastic. Nothing says late 20th century quite as effectively).

Now…

Bq0DZN2CIAAH4Sh

Only 5 years later the PC card was the go, or a CompactFlash card. The picture shows how get my 2014 microSD to slot into the incredibly antique technology of 2005.

Was there such a distance between 1905 and 1914?

A mental exercise that helps me reach oblivion each night:

  • If an underground label in 2014 is releasing a LP from 1984…
  • In 1984, from 1954…
  • In 1954, from 1924…

Time flexes again – the change in music from 1954 to 1984! And so little from 1984 to now…

Term Break!

Yay! Term break! Long Weekend! Actually sleeping over a whole night!

For a short time I can think straight, without having to warp reality to make opposites true at once:

  • Listen to students! Survey them! Find out what they are thinking!
  • Don’t listen to the students! They say they want skills, but we are not here to teach skills. They can get skills anywhere. No, we are here to guide them into leadship roles. We are about ‘cultural leaders’.
  • But not every student wants to be top of the class. Keep in mind that students have different goals, some are simply there to pass…
  • as leaders.
  • We aspire to be held equal to leading world institutions…
  • …while maintaining 10x the intake.
  • Open more animation and video production classes, they are growing exponentially!
  • Although we should really look at moving on from animation and video classes as they are not what we are about.
  • Besides anyone can do any of that with a mobile phone. Your courses are old thinking.
  • Our new courses are not popular because you don’t support them enough!
  • Any critique of these courses is just reactionary old thinking.
  • Research must take a higher profile. Students should question the meaning of everything and not take it for granted.
  • But not question the meaning of ‘research’.
  • We want you to hold a vision for where the degree is going.
  • We disagree with your vision, here is a better one.
  • Be engaged in creative practice. Come to the meetings. Write more papers. Develop new coursework. Take part in this teaching and learning project. Deliver these lectures. Settle these disputes. Listen to complaints…

robocop2+Orion+joke+2

In some ways it’s easier when you are a casual. You are there to do a job well, and you know what doing it well means. Although casuals are the foot soldiers, fodder for the machine gun. Above that you eventually arrive at a limbo where you have a title and a responsibility and not really enough power to make it work. The days are exhausting not because you are pushing a shovel into the ground, but wading through a quicksand of conflicting ideas in which your own opinions need to be kept guarded. Meh.

Personally I think everyone involved is right, so long as you gauge their point in the framework from which is it put forward. That is, yes research is important, and yes we need more skills, and yes old artforms have to give way, yes new ideas must be tried out (so long as they really are new, and I know most are not). The effort of trying to translate all these frameworks is just miserable. The most difficult part of it is how one side will demand concessions from the other which they themselves do not feel the need to meet.

At least for the next few days I can just enjoy my old-thinking research inactive music making. Good for the soul.

Handbag Spam

Hello ladies and other. There has not been much worth saying, and so I tend my ‘garden’ and only occasionally write about my cables and boxes in the pages menu-ed above. That in itself says all that’s needed, a self-centred thing away from attempts to persuade anyone of anything. Because who cares? Really?

This diary has lasted about six years and it’s enough that I get to laugh at my younger self without anyone giving a damn either way. But if I don’t write something now, what will I get to laugh at six years from now?

Busty Ginger!

Let us begin at the beginning.

Also the outside keeps wanting attention. Just last week the fates decided that I had spent so much time mocking MOOCs and flipped classrooms and all of that cyberdildonica that I needs be punished by being part of a research project in exactly that. Of course I said yes. I will flip the classroom with vim and vigour because either it’s meaningless and therefore it’s right up my alley, or it’s dangerous and I’ll know better how to denounce it, or it actually works and I get to be wrong about something and have a richer universe.

Also the rising number of record labels that are lining up, wishing that I was dead so they can flog my old artworks. I’ve stopped worrying about it, it’s ridiculous and where I would have once complained about it, it’s like complaining about rain. Just take the money and use it on the garden, not try to remould the outside world, which was always an insanity. They want me dead, and in a way so do I.

The Vivid festival is on and I can’t even be bothered punching that, despite some mildly humiliating behind-the-scenes goings-on.

The only thing that needs some intervention right at the moment is the usual bullshit from tenured academics congratulating ‘disruption’ in the music and film industries, cheering on file sharing and telling musicians and film makers they have to ‘embrace change’. As the current Australian government starts destroying the education industry I expect to see a lot of those academics forced out of their positions. I will send each one of them a message congratulating them for ‘embracing disruption’ and see if a tiny morsel of insight has finally reached their lifeless minds.

I might be a tenured academic but by God I can remember life on the outside.

H10X3rQ

Swan Upping

I have the task of digitising my old man’s writings. He was a psychiatrist, working everywhere from the prisons to the air force as well as a private practice. He seems to have written about eleventy billion articles going by the folders still to be copied. I can forgive him, because most of the time he was deflating the pompous.

I invite you to enjoy a little excerpt about medical publishing from 30 years ago which shows not much has changed since then. Please extend the reference to ‘Medicine’ to include ‘The Arts And Social Sciences’.


I would like to consider the proposition , commonly advanced, that the material published in medical journals is scientific. Imagine that I am a scientist, and that the object of my study is swans. As a result of some observation and some thought I have formulated the hypothesis that all swans are black. You will note that it is a good hypothesis, not only be­ cause it can be understood by anyone prepared to listen, but also anyone who takes the trouble to inspect swans will be able to refute it, if indeed it is incorrect. Additionally, it motivates us to make further observations of swans: we have science at its best.

In the course of my enquiries I go to the zoo, and there I observe a white swan. My hypothesis is refuted: I retreat, cogitate and then declare a new one, ‘all swans are achromatic’. Once more it is refutable: discover but one coloured swan, plain, polka dotted or even tartan and I must hypothesise again. This, as I understand it, is scientific activity: the construction of refutable hypotheses which are then tested so that we will be led to better ones. We approach the truth asymptotically, but we never achieve it. Remember that a refuted hypothesis may be most useful nevertheless: think, for example, of those hypotheses of Newton which not only still serve us well, but also caused other great minds to work so hard to produce better ones.

BlackSwan

Now let us change tack a little. My initial paper about swans would have been brief and to the point. ‘Having observed a number of swans, it is my hypothesis that all swans are black. I would be grateful if any observations of swans inconsistent with this hypothesis were forwarded to me at the above address.’ The second paper would be no longer. ‘I refer to my previous hypothesis, namely that all swans are black. This hypothesis has been refuted by my observing a white swan. I now propose that all swans are achromatic. Once more, observations to the contrary would be much appreciated.’ Note, by the way, that I regard refutation of my hypothesis as a step forward, not as the destruction of a cherished possession.

Now, I imagine that as I continue my advance into pure science, other papers might begin to appear. First one might encounter: A Portable Digitalised Tele­colorimeter for Examining the Plumage of Swans at a Distance by A, B and C.

Succeeding papers might be a function of the interests of the day – thus we might confidently anticipate: A Search for Endorphins in the Faeces of Chenopis Atra to by D, E and F, rapidly followed by A Double Blind Controlled Trial of Six Beta Blockers in the Arctic Nesting Whistling Swan by G, H, I, J and K, repeated as many times in as many journals as there are permutations and combinations of the authors’ names. There might be a paper on A Special Apparatus and Wetsuit Combined to Permit the Endoscopy of Swans While Swimming: those of you familiar with current literature will be able to invent further titles of your own. Certainly, after a time the literature would become self generating, able to continue even if all swans in the world were to perish. Under these circumstances we might have A comment on the use of non parametric statistics in Duddle­thorpe’s Analysis of Honking Behaviour in Swans, including Cygnus Dolor, the mute swan. And then, A Reply.

Finally, of course it would spill over into other.literatures. Swan Upping: some radical feminist strategies for introducing new therapeutic modalities into the management of high socio­-economic status zoophiles.

Our literature is launched. We can assume that PhD’s and MD’s are already being won and that a portfolio filled with nonsense of this kind may well lead to rapid academic achievement. Before long I shall receive on my desk prospectus, posted direct from Ruritania, inviting me to subscribe to the new Inter­national Journal of Swanology. The first issue will be of some five hundred pages and contain a distillation of the wisdom revealed at the 1979 International Conference. No doubt by coincidence, the Editorial Board of the journal will bear a remarkable resemblance to the list of contributors.

Every article will have the same conclusion – ‘Under standard experimental conditions X num­bers of Y things were submitted to procedure Z. Using statistical procedure A , and computer programme B, it has been demonstrated that there is reason to believe that further research in this area may be beneficial. The authors wish to express their gratitude to Miss Helga Futt for her typing, and to the Cornucopia Institute for their funding’. Meanwhile, no one has produced a coloured swan.

Now what is all this? Science? I think not – rather it is an industry. We have people count­ing things in the hope that some­ thing will turn up, obsessionals who believe that measurements are worthy ends in themselves, plagiarists, pragmatists who see how to get on, masseurs of data and – mixed up with it all – a handful of scientists and savants – diamonds in porridge.

Needle in a haystack

If you find all that uncon­vincing , then let me come at it another way. A couple of years ago I had an illness which kept me busy for a while, and made it necessary for me to postpone many things, of which one was my scrutiny of the literature relevant to my daily tasks. In the long run I found myself confronted with a year’s journals, which in time were subdued. When I finished dealing with them I asked myself what benefit that rather cheerless exercise had produced – in what way was my practice changed as a result of my labours. The answer came readily enough, for there was only one element in it – I was even more concerned about the lithium – haloperidol interaction than I had been when I started. For one year’s reading this was not much of a yield.

But perhaps all that is but a demonstration of my own per­sonal limitations, so let us try another perspective. Writing about psychiatry is difficult. Some of it cannot be quantified at all, like music. It is difficult for pseudoscientists to get a foothold there, for you have to do your own thinking and measurement doesn’t help. Further, if you do happen to write something intelligent or interesting, those programmed to respond to words like double blind and chi square are not triggered and will pass you by. Promotion does not lie that way. However, there are aspects of psychiatry which can be measured with good relia­bility, (let us not worry too much about validity) reduced to numbers, and then spun into webs of factors, variances and God only knows what else suf­ficient to satisfy anyone. From that point of view one of the simple tasks is to investigate the treatment of depression; there is plenty of it around, its subdivi­sions are manageable, and there are some effective remedies in existence. All systems are go: if you wish to start a career in research, start there.

What has happened? In the last 12 months, as part of a quality assurance project of the RANZCP and the University of New South Wales, researchers at the latter constructed a bibliography of the treatment of depression.

The successful treatment of depression requires patience and much tying up of loose ends, particularly in the case of neu­rotic depression. This in turn requires time and one would be reluctant to be comfortable about outcome with less than three months’ observation. Nevertheless, in the 100 acceptable studies, the median time for the duration of treatment, and for the time from the beginning of treatment to the assessment of its results, was four weeks. Only one study in eight had followed patients for the three months or more which any clinician would regard as necessary. Even when the trial was between two effective treatments, the median duration was still four weeks­ indicating that the researchers were more interested in getting quick answers to pharmacological questions than they were to discovering what happened to depressed people. Few of the studies produced data on compliance, a major issue in all pharmacological treatment in psychiatry. I should mention that the paper which produced the best results of all was impeccable in its design and revealed that two chemicals long since departed into the history of psycho­ pharmacology were much more effective than anything else. The firm producing one of the reme­dies had funded the trial.

Large haystack, small needle

I could go on but let me make my point clear. I do not assert that all medical literature is trivial, incompetent or faked. There are numerous papers of wisdom and perspicacity and without them the various disciplines of medicine would stag­nate. What I do say is that an unfortunately large proportion of the medical literature is re­petitive, uninspired and created more for the advancement of the authors than for the advancement of medicine. Further, much of it has very little to do with science.

Moreover, the relevance of much original medical literature to most medical practice is marginal. The more learned the journal the less its creators will be concerned with discovering the needs of its audience, which is why there is a steady pro­liferation of more and more specialised journals. Eventually one reaches a state in which the only people who read a particular journal are those who write it – we have passed from incest to masturbation.

The gap between what authors write about and what prac­titioners do is more noticeable if one looks back at the journals of say thirty years ago. Indeed, as you read them, you will find it difficult to decide what the practitioners of the day did at all. A friend of mine, eminent as a practitioner as well as an editor, once told me that he enjoyed using the library at Harvard, for there the journals are bound with their advertisements still in them. From the advertisements he managed to get a feeling for what was afoot in those days.

JOURNAL OF GENERAL PRACTICE JANUARY. 1984 pg. 11

The ephemera of physicality or whatta lotta cables.

So you (looks in mirror) have decided to go back to music making with hardware. The new century’s dream of having it all-in-one has given way to the ‘maps’ and ‘systems’ of the new decade. Or you just got an eBay addiction. The motion is one of forgetting and being drawn forceably into the void of not knowing. That sounds good, I’ll use it in a conference. Anyway, there’s been an awful lot of forgetting.

You forgot just how much infrastructure this crap requires. Ouch.

I was fortunate to have some of my old infrastructure still in place – 19 inch rack, patch bays, some cables. But it’s not enough, way not enough. If I was going to advise myself a year ago when I was starting to plan, I’d have some sage advice.

Nowhere near as obsessive as it could be.

Nowhere near as obsessive as it could be.

You need a tape measure.

Right, so the first thing that you’re going to need is a tape measure and you are going to always check how big things are, to ensure that the thing that encloses or holds the other thing is actually bigger. Because the only thing that can be relied on to be bigger is the floor. And that’s not ergonomic.

Ergonomic.

Just because a thing manages to sit on another thing does not mean that you can actually reach it or see it, or in any way make decent use of it. Unlike your software, it won’t come to your face, your face has to go there, and there might be several other things sitting on top of it by this point. I have planned to buy only small things, which I thought would mean most other things would be bigger. But that has problems as we shall see.

Layout.

So you have to get a piece of paper and draw a picture of where you think it’s all going to go. Because you soon find a recursion loop where the former is on the latter which is on the former, or the void is not just in your mind but under the main keyboard. Don’t go to too much trouble because when you buy a new thing everything else will move around in a grand diaspora.

Making do.

I am keen on making do. It was once necessary to mount everything on milk crates and it’s not like I am going to get the carpenters in to bespoke my hobby rig. But you can do yourself a great disfavour by starting with recycled bar stools and cardboard and eventually having no way to reach the toilet. I’ve found some simple tricks, one of which is bathroom trolleys.

trolley

Advantages – you can fit three or four small things on a trolley, the trolley can be rolled to the right spot, and they come in kits that I can carry under my arm, not having a car.

Also this: RAST as 19 inch rack. Many things are 19 inches across. Use your tape measure.

You need a labeller.

Get a DYMO labeller and label everything, especially cables. I know a DYMO is not the best way but they are on special at the supermarket.

Cables and doodads.

Now it surprised me to find that the world has changed in 30 years, it’s true. Some things like guitar cables are timeless. MIDI cables are not timeless – they’re a bit rarer than they used to be. Jaycar denied they had MIDI cables, but had them as DIN Audio cables. Or they did the week after I asked about them and they now stock them constantly as I keep going back for more.

Generally you need two guitar (6.5mm) cables and two MIDI cables per box. If you buy good quality that starts to add up fast. Cheapest is about 7 bucks a cable or $28 per box, but you can easily go way up and be up for $100. Buy bulk.

You need coloured cable ties. Tie cables together in coloured coded stereo pairs. Don’t bother bundling those until your setup is stable which will never happen.

When you start connecting your boxes to your computer you will tempted to buy the readily available USB to MIDI cables, and these do work. I then had to get a larger USB hub so that I had enough slots for each cable. The madness started when I found that some software can’t decide between two of the same USB adaptor and it became a game of finding more cheap and shitty brands to mix up.

So I ordered a multiple output MIDI box. The shop rang back to say that might take a month to deliver. They suggested that I trade up to a more expensive sort that would be only a week or so away. I said OK. It’s now been over a month. Today I ordered another one from another dealer who has 3 in stock. Rule is – almost no one wants MIDI boxes and they are rarely in stock. Available to order is not the same as in stock.

express-128-large-frontGet a big one. I don’t care that I have two, it’ll save grief years from now.

You need a mixer.

Think of how many channels of sound you are expecting to need. Double it. No, it’s not software you just can’t run another copy. Now get the tape measure and figure out size of mixer versus how much you can plug into it. Like an Upworthy post the answer might surprise you. The trick is using auxiliary inputs, effect returns, any damn thing to get more channels. This is what I bought:

QX2222USB_P0AL2_Top_XL

On special for about $270. Note it has a USB connection this is a good thing as now all your boxes are connected to the computer, although not as individual things – but $270. And it fits in a 19″ rack. Tape measure!

Knobs

In my case modesty has lead to my buying small and cheap boxes, and most of it is programmed on the same computer that has all those nice VSTs I could be using. I find myself sitting in the same place more or less. Perhaps all of this should be about moving about, and I have arranged a bit of discomfort to (a) give myself something to complain about while (b) having to shift my arse to make things happen. Part of that is about making to sure have a few knobs scattered about, and that’s a something to keep in mind in the heat of the bidding.