Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Soon be back to my banging best

Happy to report that the chap at Traps is sending a new switch. Thats nice to hear, in spite of this little lapse in quality I really do love my drums and want them in full working order asap.  I tried setting up my band hi hats to see if I could still pratice with an acoustic what a noise....I can't do that to the will wait for the new switch.

I hope this one is going to last the duration since it seems I may have to change my role in the band
Robbie our drummer has quit the band...lack of time and some of those famous musical differences...he didn't really find it challenging. Thats a shame as he's been there since the very beginning before we even were a band and we'll miss him, but I think we all knew that he was not happy .

So if we don't find a new drummer soon I may have to step in on some numbers...eek I'm months from being even close to doing anything as a real drummer, unless its silly 4/4 and 12/8 beats with fills....which limits my song choices quite a bit.

Have had a bit of a jippy tum today, never eat luke warm sausage have been warned. The tummy may now be empty but the room is somewhat fragrent....I'll let you work out why!


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Oh c' supposed to be strong!!

I am a bit pissed off...over the last month when things have got a bit stressful, I've discovered a superb way to relax...go bash things. In particular my new drums, A cool Electronic set of Traps e500 with 550 heads, which I got on ebay for a really good price...

I've wanted a cheap but usable set of drums for sometime after catching the bug at our jams...but an acoustic set just isn't an option, and the cheap shitty thing I bought does not help me learn so I wanted to get something with mesh heads that were accurate but quiet representations of a real kit...that sadly meant looking at higher end kits I could not afford, hoping to find a mega bargain on ebay..but nothing came up.
But there is one maker in the UK doing a low cost high spec mesh head kit.

Traps, only very slighly outside my budget price range but far far cheaper than the big boy kits from Roland and Yamaha... So I held out for a Traps kit, waiting for something to come up I could afford....

As luck would have it the prices started to drop as the current range was being cleared out for the next model....And I found a new set from a shop who were offering a pre produciton verison of the new range with a mix of new and old range parts. and boom, ebay was my friend. And I love it

It's really really easy to play, one of my bands drummers thinks its great but didn't like the hihat much, though he managed it...
I guess thats a drummer preference thing. I have had no problems with it, since I don't know better I just got on with learning to deal with the on/off nature of an electronic control system.

The only thing I didn't like were the really cheap single trigger cymbals...a 2nd hand Roland Dual zone however was a great add on, and it turns out I can get a dual Zone from Traps so I've been in touch about that.

But overall its been fantastic fun getting behind them and banging heck out of them. With no real time to spend "learning" I've just been repeating over and over the few patterns I know, and adding fills to them and as days go by my 20min frustration bashes have become more rhythmic. Though my left foot refuses to be independant..for now.

And no neighbours have had any reason to complain.
Fantastic until tonight...

The hihat controller just broke..I was able to take it apart and spotted the problem right off, a small lever on a 50p microswitch had snapped off, it wasn't repairable so for the sake of that tiny switch my hihat controller is buggered.

grrr....I mean it takes a bit of a beating being switched on and off 10000's of times but its meant to cope.
1 month after it breaks..not happy.

I have been in touch with the guy who runs Traps, asking about better cymbals and he seems a decent chap,
I've explained the problem and hopefully a new switch is going to be sent out...I hope so..its a shame if such a nice kit its let down by shoddy parts....I want to get the best out of my Traps kit and continue my frustration bashing learning...soon.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

busy busy Rock/code star

Its been a few weeks...did anyone miss me??



well I am sorry I have been mega busy with coding, fighting an apparently never ending battle with PSM memory limits and SDK bugs and the onslaught of milestones always round the when not coding I was playing with the band or..coding again...and getting a taste for life again :D

Still very busy but a recent design change means I'm no longer trying to fit quite so much stuff in the game at once so memory has beome easier to deal with, my productivity has shot up and I'm enjoying myself

The Band did manage to make the gig at Ed's Birthday Bash without Robbie, and though we struggled a bit with timing with no dummer and lack of practice with some songs, we did a pretty fair job and no one really noticed the mistakes at the time...It was really enjoyable to watch people bobbing away to music I was helping to make...I've pasted a widget in below but it looks like Blogger isn't too happy. so its HERE if you can't see the widget

WSS Ed'sParty by Brian Beuken

Also my bass playing is not getting any better despite help from the amzing Eric Wels who's been giving me lessons...I seem to forget everything I learn on bass the minute I pick up a guitar again..quite embarrassing to listen to me rattle off my homework excersises..and nothing even close comes out despite having it totally perfect a few days before..I need to spend a few weeks doing only bass I think.

Not so drumming..I appear to be a least for the simple stuff, only 3 weeks or so playing and I'm gettig quite good at fundimental rhythms and beats..I just bought a new dual zone cymbal to add to the kit and it works great, as a bonus the old cymbal, still hooked up gives me cowbells :D  It may be a cheap kit but the Traps e500/550 is amazingly easy to play.

I spend 20-30 mins a day drumming in the morning to wake me up and shake myself out of sleep mode and maybe a bit more in the evenings before the kids next door go the bed, and it is paying off.I'll be adding drums to future recordings pretty soon.

Other nice things are happening in real life, lack of time due to work prevents me from fully exploring that, yet but lets just say things are looking up ;)


Monday, 15 October 2012

Fame..escapes 1 more time

Looks like the gig is off, Robbie our drummer pulled out....since Britta, our singer is violently opposed to the use of drum machines,...and tbh they dont' work that well for live stuff, it looks like we have to cancel the debut of the worlds greatest unhead of rockband.

If it was a few months on I'd have a go at standing in for Robbie but with only a week or so of drumming skills I'm no where near good well. I'll call the A&R man and tell him not to bother coming.


Holidays without headaches

We're on autumn break ..yeahhhh and no re-occurance of the scary migraines from last week. I'll still be going to the docs though to get checked out.

Its not exactly a relaxing holiday though, as well as a pile of marking to finish I've got my psm project to work on. Its going very well but as it gets bigger I find myself running into memory issues on a daily basis. The 96M limit Sony have imposed is very restrictive.

lol 96M when I started 16K was considered a lot, 48K almost times change.

But the fact is I need to keep finding ways to maximise the memory and its getting harder and harder to do. There's a limit to how many quarts you can squeeze into that pint pot.
I have 1 more brilliant idea though that might save some memory, at the expense of some processer power but I have no choice but to make the trade.
Its also interesting to see what a dog the Vita is on PSM, its by far the slowest machine and I've not managed to get its threading/multi core stuff to funciton correctly..but it will be the main target machine so somehow I have to get the speed up on that....gulp.

Music news now...WSS are going to do a gig...well I say gig, what I mean is a party, well I say party, what I mean is Ed' our Bassist's, Birthday no income and an hopefully appreciative audience no matter how bad we are, but its still a gig. Its quite exciting but also scary as fuck since its only this weekend??? Ahhh considering he knew when his birthday was, we didn't get a lot of notice..but pressure leads to focus and focus leads to a good set of rehearhals, our last one was excellent.

Fortunately the attic studio is now in good shape, and the recent addition of a good set of electronic drums means the whole band can come together and play upstairs with the Jamhub so we're not stressing out the neighbours.
We plan to do 3 sessions this week ready for the gig on Saturday.

We have to locate a PA from somewhere too...may have to buy one...grrr

Maybe we'll not bother with the PA, and let Britta the singer shout at the top of her lungs to be heard on those quieter songs nah we have to find a low cost small PA from somewhere, I tried to borrow one but no joy. ebay has several options and 1 particularly decent option at a good but not pocket money rate...I might invest....but really want to put the spare cash into the clear the credit card fund so I can get it cleared next month...
I'll have to do some thinking on that, try to locate a PA for hire 1st.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Oh Goodie more hospital visits

So after being suitably shaken by 2 migraines in a row I managed to get in to see my Doc who prompty made clear he wasn't too keen on a man nearing his 50's suddenly developing migraines especially considering my past history....hmm reassuring or what? But he did say that theres lots of reasons to get migraines and he just wants to be sure.

Immediate referral to constultant...which I had to call and make a "very" prompt appointment.

The nice thing about The Netherlands is they way they deal with shit so promptly, one of the not so nice things however is trying to book appointments with hospital staff, which is one of the very very few areas where English is not so widely spoken..

So after calling the number in the referral letter,  to book an appointment at the Neurology dept, I got a receptionist who spoke a little English. I explained my doctor wanted me to book an appointment for neurology, and was then asked a serioues of odd questions to "register me" in the system and my "daughter" ermm no not daughter, fairness they are pronounced almost the same here...ok took a while but so far so good...Then she transfered me to the poli (clinic)

A few minutes of waiting and being bounced on hold and I get someone who speaks quite good English, I explain I need to make an appointment, and once agian get asked a series of odd questions...ending with questions about my wifes medical history...
"ermm sorry what, I'm not married"
" oh sorry your daughter......"
"ermm she's in the UK"
" oh sorry, your mother then"
" also in the UK, why is this relevent?"
" I'm sorry I thought you were a man, please excuse me".
 "I am  man, why do you think I am a women..."

"Oh but you said you wanted an appointment....this is the Gynocology dept!!"

ah....penny dropped, the daughter/doctor thing started a chain reaction which could have ended up with me in stirrups having my migrine checked out in a very odd way.

Anway, after transferring again I get to the right dept,
"Good afternoon, is it possible we can speak in English"
"No!" Comes that horrible reply.

Fortunatley my collegue Nils was around and I asked him to help me out.

So I now have my appointment to se the Neurology consultant next stirrups I hope!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Had and having a migraine

Had my 1st ever migraine yesterday it was a very odd sensation, my vision sort of whited out with ths large flashing white explosion getting bigger... It lasted about 20 mins then went leaving me shaken and feeling a bit confused.. The feeling mutated into a dull headache and general listlessness, a bit like a mega hangover that lasted all day.


But right now I'm having another not quite the same, but growing in intensity, so not sure how much longer I can type..this time instead of a bright white explosion jagged edge graphic, its like space time is warping just to the right of me as though I'm looking through a lens of moving clear liquid.

Its a seriously odd sensation, a mild headache is starting and I feel a little groggy....hmmm not right.

I was going to go to the doctors walk in surgery this morning but overslept, I will call tomorrow to make an appointment and see if I can get a quick check up...2 in 2 days after a lifetime of nothing is not good..

ah its starting to fade....wonder if the hangover thing will happen again..I'll let you know


yeah hangover effect, again not quite so bad, but mild headache and a certain sense of detatchment for the rest of the day..Most certainly going to the docs tomorrow see if we can find whats triggered this.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Getting back to normal

Been a fun filled few months...well not really, work work and work have been getting in the way of pretty much everything, not just school work, which is all encompassing at certain times but the fun home stuff occasionally has reared its ugly side.

SDK bugs, miscommunication and on occasion sheer inability to figure some things out has made a lot of the "fun" work quite frustrating. Of course its a learning processs and I have learned a lot, but still I have spent a lot of time with furrowed brow trying to understand why the cosmos is so against me.

But these things do eventually get overcome, with help from others or realisation of the solutions.
I submitted a delayed but impressive milestone delivery on Friday after a mega effort of coding and SDK bug hunting, and feedback from the clinets is very positive. Having broken the technical back of this project I can now throttle back a bit and focus on polish and content issues which will still take time but I don't expect them to be anything like as intese or frustrating.

As well as a restful weekend, I've had a few chances to engage in one of those social life things again...its been fun going out with old friends and meeting some new ones. I foresee a lot of nice new things happening in the coming months. 2012 will be a turning point for me I think. Lots of big changes in most aspects of my life.

I am now incidently officially a Dutch company or something like that, I had to register with the local Chamber of Commerce or Kamer ven Koophandel as its called here, to sign up with the tax office and get my dutch VAT (BTW here) number so I could invoice for my work.. Within days I had accountants cold calling me after my bookkeeping business...oh dear!!

Thats now done with help from my long time (since I got here) tax advisor and getting a few of those invoices paid will finally let me sort out my credit card which the bank insisted I clear before they will transfer the mortgage into my sole name. That then finally cuts the last of the "legal" ties with Bina which will allow us both to move forward as finanically seperate entities, somethings considered important here...
For me it'll mean a bigger finanical load, well it has done since she left and I've managaged so far, so not going to be able to indulge my GAS quite as much but clearing the decks now means more that adding to my collection.

I don't plan to do a huge amount of freelance work, it really has been quite tiring getting back into it, but then again, the fact I don't really have a decent pension plan might make it something to consider as a tuck things away plan...and of course it is good relevent experience for the day job which may be needed when the subject of getting a masters comes up next time as it will...but thats a rant for another day.

I still find this policy of insisting on a masters to be short sighted and counter productive.. In time, (hopefully a long time)  when the core group of current people from industry have moved on and all that are left are the academics that are now being hired I wonder if the quality we have managed to achieve with so much hard work will ever be the point dwelling on it..not yet.