Archive for the ‘Personal-Development’ Category

A YouTube channel I’m subscribed to is doing what I think is an interesting take on showing off your setup; change over time.  I just did a setup tour and had found some old photos of what I started with back in 2009.  So I went ahead and submitted it and maybe it will show up on the channel sometime.  However, it worked out well as a kind of end of year review so I thought I would show that here as well.  Hope you enjoy!

1) This started when my oldest kids moved out (2009) and my wife and I got our own offices.  The most difficult part was finding a desk that I liked, since I am not a fan of desks with drawers on either side.  I keep hitting my legs on them.  But I finally found an Ikea desk that was simple and inexpensive and I started with it in middle of the office.  I had started playing guitar just before I got the space, so a big theme for me was to have a studio space.  Keep in mind I was learning about what would work best.  The PC I had was an HP Pavilion (AMD FX6300) with 10 GB ram. Dual Samsung SyncMaster 205BW panels finished it out along with a Razer Lachesis mouse.
2) The second step wasn’t huge, but involved painting the office/studio, getting my first simple LED lighting rope, and a window covering.  Cable management wasn’t a real consideration at this point but you can see a bit.  I did get the M-Audio studio monitors separated from the desk and roughly pointed in the right direction.
3) Next was some inspirational art work and here you can see a better shot of my lack of cable management.  It makes me cringe now.  You can see some of the studio peripherals as well.  The blue fabric (and some batting) was the beginning of my attempt to get some sound dampening on the cheap.
4) You can see a view from the “front”, check out the flip phone and Zune.  Don’t knock it, that was 80 gigs of music on the go at a much cheaper price than that other brand. You can also see my M-Audio M-Box mini and Line6 Toneport UX1 audio interfaces.
5) I was able to get my hands on a control surface and the desk went against the wall as I tried to get better spacing in the office.  It also made me start thinking about getting my panels off the desk and into a better viewing position.  Turns out beer cans are a great spacer.  I also was still experimenting with sound dampening and  trying to find a comfortable spot for my audio interfaces.  The cables are at least in a clump now.  One of my studio monitors died, so I switched to Alesis Elevate.
6) I was able to get some real acoustic treatment so I got serious about placement of my desk, setting up a real listening station measured out so I was cutting out first reflections and getting bass traps in place.  Here I made a much more concerted effort on cable management.  I also got tired of the Pavilion case, so I ripped out the guts and put it into my Antec NSK 6580 case and was able to get more fans to get positive air pressure (and a start on LED in the case).
7) I had some extra plywood and so built a custom stand for my panels and also created stands for my studio monitors to get them at ear level.  I almost got cable management under control, and also getting more studio equipment in a better position for use.  A Corsair mouse pad helps with a bit of gaming and generally makes the mouse smoother.
8) I finally got rid of the beer cans and built real stands.  I also got an RGB strip to go under the stand as well as behind the panels to get some nice lighting.  I got cables down to just the main power strip and my phone charger (out of space on the power strip). In addition I moved the guitars as it was very awkward to get to them.
9) Lastly (2015), I got a Fractal Design Define S and an MSI motherboard (still with the AMD FX6300) so I could use an EVGA 760 GPU I was given as the HP Pavilion OEM board would not support it.  I also got a hold of two Acer S230HL panels to move to 1080.  I now have a handle on my PC cable management, but not quite with my music gear.
Future wise I am looking to move back to Intel, upgrading the motherboard and processor to get better performance for both gaming and running plug-ins for my recording software.  I also want to upgrade my audio interface to something better than USB 1.0 and to clean up the studio rack so the cable management matches the desk.  I want to continue to be able to just sit and record with less than a minute setup time.  I want creation as easy as possible as well as a space to be inspired.

So I tried my hand at video editing as part of adding to my creative skills (you can see it on my Youtube channel).  I used Lightworks, which has a free version, and my Samsung Galaxy 4S as the video camera.  It took a few false starts as I got used to how long I should take on a shot.  My first attempts were way too short to actually be able to do voice over.  The audio is another thing that changed half-way through.  I was going to originally start by talking on camera for the introduction, but trying to get the audio from the video and then put a cleaner voice over afterwards ended up being a lot of trouble.  I’ll have to work on recording everything to Reaper and synching that up.

For this edit I ended up with a rough script which I read through as I took the various shots.  That allowed me to get pretty close with the timing.  Then I edited those together and used my audio setup to record the voice over.  I then muted the original audio and put in a new audio track with the good audio.  I then put in some stills for the intro and rendered it out.  It seemed like it took a long time and I think I ended up with the audio being a little too quiet but overall it was a good experience and now I’ve gone through the complete process.  Next I’m going to try a short tutorial on how I hooked up my Mackie control surface to the computer for use within Reaper.  That should also be a great learning experience.

My Mission

Posted: October 10, 2014 in Personal-Development

This one is short, but as promised here is my mission. It feels a bit cheesy, but going back to 7 Habits from Covey this is kind of how he outlined it. I will use it for a bit and review as I go forward. I will also use this as I go through the remaining chapters.  Without further ado…

My mission is to live with integrity and create value for others.

To fulfill the mission:

– I will be grateful for what I have earned and will not resent the success of others.
– I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more.
– I believe that all people are created equal, but like me, are made through our daily choices.
– I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it.
– I believe that my safety is my responsibility.
– I will never stop learning, YouTube and library cards are free.

I believe these roles will help me achieve my mission:

Husband – my wife is the most important person in my life. I will dedicate the time to cultivate the best possible relationship.
Father – I help my kids (and their kids) reach their goals.
Son/Brother – I am there to support their endeavors and provide an actual hand when needed.
Neighbor – I will understand the issues so I can make intelligent choices on the issues. I will pitch in and not just watch.
Value Creator – I will work hard at whatever task is assigned and I will look for ways to be useful. I will not whine, I am in control of my reaction and if I’m unhappy I have the power to change my attitude or situation.

And we come to the end.  I have not done anything like this before in terms of serial writing, especially something that is a bit more serious.  It has been interesting to go through both the process and taking a look at myself in a semi public light.
I’ll post my actual mission statement in a few days.
12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
I love this as well.  I know that not everyone has great circumstances when starting out so it is absolutely critical that I keep that in mind as I go through my daily life because there might be a reason someone is grumpy when I talk to them.  It probably has nothing to do with me.  Will it make me want to match moods, probably, but I cannot control them only my reaction to them.  It also goes back to numbers ten and eleven in looking inward to my motivations.  Like the US Constitution it really is the foundation for everything I do.  From how I interact with others to how I form my opinions of people and events.
It is also a realization that I am equal to those who I might look to as role models.  What they do is possible for me as well.  It might not be easy but they had to start at zero just like me.  So it should be motivation to both explore those desires as well as put in the work to bring them to fruition.  Of course, it also means that they have flaws just like I do so I cannot blindly follow everything they do.  I have to look to them for inspiration but make my own way.
It is funny that in going through this it really is keeping to those things you learned in kindergarten.  Play nice, share your toys, and don’t hit.  As adults things get “complicated” when it really is simple set of rules that make everyone nicer.

SWEAT Pledge Part 6

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Personal-Development
Heading down the home stretch.  To me these two are related in that they deal with giving credit where credit is due and looking inward when there are outward forces beyond my control.
10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
I think this one is obvious when I think about it, but at the same time difficult in that it is less work to blame a situation on fate or someone else’s behavior.  That blame allows me to not look into my own reasons for doing the right thing.  Sometimes I am tired and it is easier and sometimes I just do not want to hear the answer.  I get that not every single action during the day requires introspection but even those do add up over time and it is important to reflect on those periodically.  A quick example would be fitness.  For myself, I am well out of shape and while I could blame a desk job and family responsibilities, if I look deeper I can see that even though that is true on the surface there are choices I make every day that reflect my attitude toward it.  Doing the work to get fit is not really that fun and I do have 30 minutes a day where I could be active.  I just watch that next show, YouTube video, see that it is raining, or I do not have enough money for a tennis club membership.  These really should not be enough to stop me but it is easy to allow them to stop me.  It still boils down to my choice.  Other people get fit in the same or worse circumstances so it is worth looking at my own thought process.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
I think for me what comes to mind is what my parents would say to me and that is you cannot control what others do, you can only control your response to it.  What I take from that is that there will always be someone smarter, faster, richer, better looking, etc than you so you have to understand yourself and how you will tackle whatever you do.  If you are looking outward for excuses or motivation for what you can and cannot do, you will spend your time resenting what others are doing.  I know this is not easy because that is how people generally gauge how they are doing and then compare themselves to that measurement.  While some of that is fine, if you use that as the only measurement you will end up jealous and not look at how you can work to achieve those same things.

SWEAT Pledge Part 5

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Personal-Development

More than halfway through!

8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.

This is a fantastic sentiment. I know I find myself getting into this. I have to remind myself I do have control. I am not forced to work for a specific company and if I am unhappy I can work to make the change. Is something like that easy? Of course not, but the point is that rather than complaining about it, I should be figuring out what I want and how to get it done. Which kind of leads to the next one.

9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.

This is probably the one that rings most true for me. With few exceptions in my life, there is not much I did not think I could learn. It boiled down to a desire to learn that specific thing. That is not a knock on whatever that was, but there is only so much time to learn stuff and at some point you have to pare it down. For me it started before I was 10 with my bike. I learned how to deal with a brutal crank system (who uses a two-piece crank with a small bolt?) and as I turned 10 I was tearing it and the other neighborhood kid’s bike to the frame. I wanted to know how it worked. From there it was helping my dad finish our basement. That meant framing, sheetrock, and finishing work. After that it was the next logical step from bikes, cars. I helped my dad tear down a 75 Celica to rebuild the engine (head gasket) and then onto my own vehicle (75 Chevy Luv). That included taking the engine out multiple times. After that came computers, then programming, and on and on. In each of those it involved reading, asking questions, and hands on experimentation. Youtube today makes that a bit easier in the research part, but I find myself doing the same thing today with music (home recording), woodworking, and even a small amount of metal working. None of that was done in official “school”, except for some of the computer stuff.  The programming was almost exclusively my own time at least until I got a job doing it. To me learning is not just the fact of learning new skills, but I feel it keeps my mind sharp and it provides an opportunity for something new.

SWEAT Pledge Part 4

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Personal-Development

This is another post in my continuing my jaunt through the SWEAT pledge from Mike Rowe.

6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.

I like this one in many ways. Mike Rowe was coming from a work safety take and that definitely is important, but I feel this really can go much further. Some examples are personal safety away from the job, making sure you have emergency food and water (earthquakes here in Washington), and doing routine maintenance on vehicles and systems in the home. I am not there yet but it is something I have been going through myself because it is important to be prepared even if I am afraid I’ll seem to be paranoid. I could see this related to financial preparedness as well. Stuff happens and it isn’t anybody’s responsibility but mine. Like the right insurance and savings against the unexpected. Again I am not perfect but it has been the last year or so that I have been thinking about this with my wife.

7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.

This is another one where I mostly agree. In the mindset I absolutely agree. In practice you have to be careful. Be happy as you volunteer, it sets you apart. But make sure you have a goal in mind otherwise you may burn out for no real gain. Should I be taking the “what’s in it for me” mindset? Ultimately you do but you should be thinking win/win. If you are doing crap jobs that just get you more crap jobs then you have to think hard about that. Can doing the jobs nobody else wants be a breakthrough? Of course. But working, being strung along in a dead-end job while being promised a raise and never getting it will not help you achieve your goals. Work hard but have a goal in mind to measure against.