An eclectic blog with topics including (but not limited to): Software Engineering, Music, Recipes, as well as random bits of prose and poetry.

Synthwave Album

For the past few months I’ve been learning electronic music production.
In the past, I’ve mostly worked with recorded audio. Drums, guitars, vocals, and the like.
This is something that I haven’t played with since I first started recording. When I was about 21 I lived in a tiny apartment that had a huge walk-in closet. I didn’t have many clothes, but I had a computer with a pirated version of Fruity Loops, an electric guitar with some fuzz pedals, and a cheap microphone.

My routine was this: I would make a beat in Fruity Loops, maybe with some weird synth noises, and then record myself jamming on the guitar. It was mostly pretty formless and experimental, but I also recorded some of my first structured songs as well. Most of that stuff ended up on my first 3 albums, which are mostly available on My Soundcloud.

After that I mainly stuck with human drummers, most of whom had much richer rhythms than I could compose in that little closet with a stolen sequencer program. Life was good, and so were the beats. I always considered my electronic production to be making do with the resources available. Settling for something substandard rather than exploring something new.

Fast forward to 2020. I’ve been out of the music game for a long time, but at the beginning of the year I had pledged to publish some creative work. Then coronavirus hit, and we were all in lockdown (still are, at the time of this writing). I had been saving money for studio time because I’d been sitting on 10-15 songs that had mature lyrics and compositions, but didn’t trust myself to record them correctly. This didn’t seem like the right year to schedule time with new people in a new space, so instead I invested in a better audio interface, my first really nice vocal microphone (Townsend labs, y’all!), upgraded my DAW, and bought a bunch of awesome plugins that modeled classic studio gear.

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Resumé Tips

A lot of people ask me for advice on finding a new job. One of the more common issues people face is the resumé and cover letter.
Here’s a buncha stuff I’ve learned during my most recent job search. This is the result of 6 months of trial and error. I think it’s all pretty solid, and helped me get some great interviews.

Resumé

My public resumé is here

It’s generic. I change stuff around a little bit depending on what they’re looking for, usually just in the summary section, self-study, and experience bullets.

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Growth and Partnership

We all grow. We all change. Some may prefer to dig into a comfortable rut, watch the shows they like and eat the meals they’re used to - but these aren’t the people I usually find myself spending time with.

No, the people I know are growing. Growing their minds. Growing their relationships. Growing closer, and growing further away. This can be very exciting, interesting, and inspiring. This can also be very frustrating.

I like when things fit into a nice model. Something I know and understand is predictable. Something I know and understand is scriptable. That’s the hacker in me. I guess that’s my comfortable rut. We humans like something we can classify and categorize. We coders like finding ways to automate things to reduce our cognitive load. Sometimes even our interactions.

I’ve been told that I can be very understanding and accepting. This is usually true. I take my time getting to know someone. Some people get close by opening up wide when they meet people. Others forcibly tear down walls until they get to the person hiding behind them. My style has always just been to relax and let people open in their own way, in their own time. Like when you want a cat’s attention - you just let it come to you. This is a slow, but rewarding process.

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This Blog

I’ve been meaning to do a blog for a while now. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and I’ve been wanting to put together a platform to share it. I didn’t want to get distracted by technology choices, which had been an obstacle in the past so I kept it simple.

I didn’t think much of it, but my brother noted that the tech sounded pretty cool and others might enjoy the details. This is a tech blog, so I guess it makes sense to share that story here, as meta as that may be.

Planning / Design

There were a few decisions I made up front. Here’s how I got there.

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AWS Certified!

Yesterday I passed my AWS Associate Solution Architect Certification exam with 83%!
I was really excited about this result because two weeks ago I knew almost nothing about AWS.

Backstory

With my current employer, we do all our own hosting in Linux LXC containers. There hasn’t been much need to do anything beyond that. As a result, everyone on the team has some level of DevOps knowledge and will practice it nearly every day.

I’ve always been pretty curious, though, and it’s hard to ignore something as huge as AWS, which some say might be one of the catalysts of the startup boom we’ve been living in for the last 10 years.

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Spicy Black Beans

I’ve been making this one for a couple years now, and I finally decided to write it down when a Vegan buddy of mine asked if I had any good recipes for Black Beans.

This is a Caribbean-inspired vegetarian(vegan) dish meant to supply the eater with a decent amount of protein and some spicy sweetness. Most of the veggies are interchangeable, so play around with it some. Pair with some brown rice to hit that nice black-bean and whole-grain rice combo that our bodies dig.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

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DataCamp

So I’ve been developing an interest in Machine Learning recently, and I decided to start getting my feet wet. It didn’t take me long to figure out that most of it boils down to Data Science and Statistical analysis. At least most of the words I had too look up led me to those subjects.

It’s been a few years since I toyed around with Python, but it’s pretty much the De facto language for Data Science and Machine Learning right now. If not for the sake of capability, but for the sheer number or libraries available. There’s NumPy, Pandas, and others for helping you manage and visualize large datasets. Keras and TensorFlow’s Python API are both wonderful for developing neural networks.

So I started seeking out resources for learning a bit more about using Python for Data Science applications.

Dataquest

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The Heroes' Respite (trapped)

It came to be that the travellers discovered a calm pond, surrounded by strange new trees. Dipping in the water and drinking their fill was a welcome reprieve from the miles of desert and its desiccating winds.

The trees dampened the wind to a gentle breeze and shaded the harsh sun. The temperate air was matched by a carpet of soft grass. They laid and napped, lulled sweetly to slumber by the song of the wind through the branches and the swaying shadows of the leaves.

The sun had not yet completed it’s diurnal arc when they awoke, but they felt well rested. They felt the growl of hunger, and began to forage for what nourishment might exist in the oasis.

Most trees offered a hearty nut that could be easily shelled. It’s flavor was akin to raw oats, and it was both hearty and nourishing. A wild ground leaf with a bitter flavor was also abundant in the grove. A small number of trees bore a delightful fruit that was plump and golden, tasting of sweet grapes and nectarines. These trees were too smooth and slender to scale, however, and only one or two of these ambrosial nuggets might fall in a week.

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