Voyage into the unknown

Getting older is like a trip to a foreign land. There are moments of joyous celebration, moments of utter confusion, moments of boredom and despair, and at times complex and unpredictable combinations of events that lead to bizarre clarity and insight. Days can drag into months into years, never seeming to change, and then all of a sudden two weeks will pack in a lifetime of experiences.

I think to be lucky is to be open to the unexpected, new experiences, even if they may seem scary or initially unexciting.

I realize I'm being a bit cryptic here, but then again I don't really feel like I can fully articulate my experiences or express myself in a blog post. I guess I write this as a reminder to my future self, and maybe in order to spark some kind of conversation with whomever stumbles across this post.

Spinnerty - Gestures

http://recordbreakin.com/rbm041.html

"RBM followers have long known Spinnerty for his production work behind vocalists like Joy Jones, Miles Bonny, John Robinson and Replife. This time we find Spinnerty collaborating with Chicago-based drummer Farsheed Toosi to create lush jazzy instrumentals that stand alone as full compositions. They mark a giant step forward in Spinnerty's maturity as a producer and jazzer, letting the instrumentation do the talking."

Swimming through time

The perception of time feels elusive. It is probably the strangest part of having a consciousness. How do other animals perceive time? Do they understand the notion of past, present, future? Why do we have this ability?

Launched Zirafaworks.com

I launched zirafaworks.com a couple weeks ago. This past year has been an interesting journey as I started freelancing more regularly, and realized the challenges I face are very different than working a regular gig. The downside to a regular gig is feeling trapped, working on the same thing every day. This is the opposite problem when you freelance, where you have no idea what you will be working on, or if you will able to find a gig fast enough to keep things going.

Applying for jobs, gigs, and generally representing myself has been difficult when dealing with potential folks (especially over the web) because I haven't had a public portfolio site that can complement an initial conversation and a traditional resume. I also feel like I need an outlet for blogging about work things, and I've tried to write a few on this blog but it feels awkward to mix personal and work blog posts. Lastly, I would like to pursue new and more creative opportunities, not just related to web development - things like audio engineering, research, instrument building.

I realize that there is a constant anxiety with freelancing which I have to face everyday. But it is forcing me to make different decisions and be a better advocate for myself, and to accept responsibility for how things pan out, for better or for worse. I am still figuring it all out. Having an official work presence on the web will hopefully allow me to better represent myself when applying for work and land better gigs.

So now I have zirafaworks.com, zirafamusic.com and midnightparking.com. I still plan on meeting my 2 post-per-year quota here and treating it as a journal, but like I said - I'm still figuring things out. :)

Developing habits & questions about spirituality

I've always worked best in short bursts of energy, usually (but not always) accompanied by late nights. I don't think much has changed, but I'm realizing I also need to understand how to do things in a "long haul" sort of way. Not thinking about it as a project or goal with a deadline, but more like learning how to develop a habit. People talk about dropping bad habits all the time, but we don't really talk about how to learn habits, habits we want to keep for life. Well, we sort of do, I think we call it scheduling or time management or something, but that still requires some level of groaning and some sort of reminder or calendar. A habit is an unconscious thing, a compulsion that you only notice when you *don't* do it. Developing life habits can't be a sometimes thing, you really gotta love the habit slowly over time and be patient until it becomes a part of you, establishing a positive feedback cycle that takes place over a few years and continues way beyond.

winter in chicago is a mental game

You are probably thinking - this blog is dead. Blogs are dead. "Where's your twitter fool?" "OMG LOL TWEET DAT!" As much as I try, I can't get into a flow with the twitter/facebook thang. If anything recently I've been trying to restrain myself from posting or commenting on Facebook. Does anybody else do that? I swear I'll have a whole comment all typed out, sometimes even researched and I'll pause for a moment, then close the window. Other times I might post the comment and get all self conscious about it five seconds later and delete it. And then worry that people saw I deleted it. Gawd.

It's similar to when I first got an iPod and despite thinking how awesome it was i never fully embraced it or got into the rhythm of it. It was kinda overwhelming and I didn't like having to interface it with my computer via a dongle (dongle IS as dongle doOooees...). In the end I think I used it a total of 5 times. It's now somewhere in the bottom of a drawer in my room...say anyone want to buy a used iPod Classic Gen 5?

What was I trying to write about here? Oh yea. Winter in Chicago is a mental game. Chicago won the first few years winters when I moved here. These last couple years I developed a strategy and came back. So far this year feels like a tie...but I've got some tricks up my sleeve.

Hello!

This site is due for a refresh soon...

What about the musicians?

The pool of money in the commercial music industry is shrinking.

Here's why:

1) Music listeners don't expect to directly pay for music. These listeners are the source of all music profits.

2) Most of the profits being made off music today is centered around distribution (iTunes, Spotify, etc) or music equipment (iPods, iPhones, headphones, computers, speakers, etc).

3) There are more bands than ever before competing with each other for a relatively small amount of cash that makes it through #1 and #2. Each new distribution service requires selling more "product" for less money.

Music consumption, aside from a few exceptions, has always been managed through a middle entity. That entity might be a record label, radio, a venue, iTunes or Spotify. Consumers expect to interact with music this way.

Emerging solutions for decentralized data storage

Just as a follow up to my previous post. Came across some very interesting projects:

Owncloud
A locally installable intelligent storage server with software to handle sharing your documents, music, and other media with others. Imagine Google's suite of services and more (email, photo sharing, document editing, calendars, music streaming, remote file access) but you can choose how the software runs and how the data is stored and shared with others. I'm still a little fuzzy on how the notion of "identity" and privacy would work with a system like this, but it's very interesting as a local solution.

Unhosted
This project aims to give users the right and freedom to choose where their data is stored when used by SaaS/cloud apps. Right now companies that run apps force you to store data with them. For instance, if this project succeeds you could still use Gmail's interface but choose between hosting your data on their servers, or specify your own.

Freedom Box
Columbia law professor's Eben Moglen's project. The goal is to decentralize the net by creating small, low energy, portable plug in servers that anybody can install anywhere that encrypts all incoming/outgoing web traffic. The long term vision hints at removing the power of client/server architecture of the web and replacing it with a peer-to-peer internet. His ideas also inspired 4 kids who went and started Diaspora.
More: freedomboxfoundation.org

The implications of how iCloud stores your data (and other philosophical ramblings)

Apple's iCloud, Amazon, Google, everyone is pushing for "the cloud". The concept is to centralize data storage remotely and then share/sync that data back across all devices. A lot of current manufacturers will now be using the cloud concept to force vertical integration across all their products, apps and devices - i.e. by shipping hardware devices with no physical memory.

Why should you care? For the majority of people, this is not a big deal. My guess is people will accept the tradeoff because it simplifies data storage and improves their quality of life. However, the issue of data portability and whether or not companies will use the data as leverage to keep you locked in as a customer will eventually pop up. I anticipate that companies that support data portability, as well as gov't intervention will eventually equalize the playing field so that consumers can store their data wherever they like. That debate is probably a few years away though.

Despite how free and open the internet seems, it costs money to power and manage servers and store data (and to backup that data). One alternative to the cloud is to run your own local file server at home - for tech saavy folks this is a great option. These NAS (Network Attached Storage) file servers can be accessed across multiple devices and even prevent data loss if you get one with RAID. I believe some allow you to remotely access your data from the web as well, so its like creating your own local, private cloud*.

*NOTE: It's important to note that cloud storage is not just a hard drive in the sky but part of a new approach to software development. The point is that cloud storage abstracts our data in new ways with metadata...going beyond files and folders with physical memory addresses.

Cloud storage costs money too and right now most offer around 5 GB free with various per-gigabyte subscription models. My guess is that cloud storage will become part of other service costs such as your cell phone or internet bill. But until then, a NAS file server is a cheaper option especially if you have terabytes of data.

But as devices change their design to work with networked storage, will local data storage disappear from the market entirely? Will we be living in a weird abstract world where the entire universe of data lives in a big nebulous redundant network and "our data" is just data tagged with our name?

Such a hyper connected world raises some philosophical questions. The internet, along with advances in genetics and 3D printing challenge our accepted notions of individuality, uniqueness, intelligence and humanity. What does it mean to be different? What does it mean to be connected? If we had the choice to control every single aspect of our environment and universe and experience, would it make our lives better or drive us all to madness? What is the point of all of this stuff? Might be time to review some Dostoevsky and Nietzsche...