Monday, December 31, 2018

Song of the Year 2018

I can't say I enjoy contemporary pop music. Every now and then I work my way through someone's top 100 albums, to find that one or two products are listenable. This is not the fault of the internet or GarageBand or MP3s... it's a symptom of late capitalism, where everyone (in our parts of the world) is spoiled and no-one has a compelling reason to do any one thing or the other.

(So, yeah, it is the fault of the internet and GarageBand and MP3s.)
Sunday, August 19, 2018

Today's Music is Crap, Reports Old White Guy

Jon Henschen has just published the article "The Tragic Decline of Music Literacy (and Quality)", an atrocious compendium of well-intentioned ignorance. You can read it here.

This article is full of errors and misconceptions, designed to promote a conservative musical agenda. The author associates the ability to read the Western European stave as indicative of quality music. This instantly ignores traditions from the rest of the world that generate music of extraordinary sophistication. (Coincidentally, the Irish gamelan orchestra is currently performing in Java. I wonder if Henschen is even aware of this music?)
Friday, August 03, 2018

Angst and Beans: How Food Ideology Feeds Despair

We live in the Anthropocene, an epoch named for the decisive changes our species has made to species diversity, biogeochemistry, geomorphology, and climate of the Earth System [Crutzen and Stoermer 2000]. It is long past time that we questioned our assumptions about our place in this system. Each of us needs to start with their own discipline, to perform a radical ("from the root") reappraisal of fundamental beliefs and assumptions.

For myself, this starts with interrogating ideologies of nature. I am currently writing a paper on acoustic ecology that critiques the foundational text of this discipline. It's not easy work, but it's necessary.

So what should arrive in my Facebook stream but an article from The Atlantic, "If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef" [Hamblin 2017]. While I am sympathetic with those who call for a re-appraisal of our diet and land use, it is regrettable to read arguments such as these, which feed the very system they mean to challenge.
Monday, April 30, 2018

A crash course in project management


A project starts as soon as you have a team of people working towards a goal. The naive approach is to start emailing backwards and forwards. This results in a mess of transactions that hides important patterns. Adding in some shared documents, say using Google Docs, only creates greater confusion. This quagmire is avoided by structuring work through project management software.

But which app? There are several overlapping categories of software, and within each category are dozens, if not hundreds, of potential solutions. This article will help simplify, by explaining the core concepts and defining terms. If you are new to project management, this article should save you a few dozen confusing hours.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A short history of development methodologies

Currently in the news is an IT meltdown at TSB. A mega-project to migrate their banking software has ended in complete chaos, with clients unable to access their accounts, deductions from one person being made to another, pay cheques gone missing, etc. It's just about the worst outcome any software development project can have, and proof again that large development projects simply do not work.
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Annihilation: Stalker for dummies

Review of Annihilation (dir. Alex Garland, 2018) in the form of an interrogation.


No, not really. I mean, it's rather conventional.


I don't think so. It takes many shapes, all tantalising, but none substantive.
Monday, February 05, 2018

Join me on Patreon

You might have noticed that I recently posted three articles after a drought of some months. The fact is, I don't always know what to post and who I am posting for. It's great to get feedback, but this doesn't always happen. Without encouragement, the site stagnates.

I have been wondering for some time how to bring together my supporters. How do I give back more, but in a relevant way? I am committing to Patreon as an answer. Please check out my brand new page.

If you are familiar with Patreon, hop over there now. Otherwise, keep reading and I will explain.
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jordan Peterson, demagogue

Recently I was introduced to Jordan Peterson, a charismatic speaker and psychology professor at the University of Toronto. The context was a debate on trans rights and Canadian Bill C-16. What I initially encountered encouraged me to watch hours of video interviews, debate, and lectures. I quickly went from admiring, to suspicious, to deeply dismayed.

Peterson is the latest in a long line of self-help gurus. Their job is to simplify the world, in order to present facile solutions to personal problems. Peterson's technique denies the social realm, instead emphasizing personal development in a political and societal vacuum. In this post, I will critique Peterson's approach and beliefs, demonstrating how badly argued, contradictory, and harmful these are. The topics will be as wide-ranging as his own targets.
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Being professional

Every so often the debate flares up in online communities around a certain audio recorder, microphone, or other piece of equipment. Someone will state that Product A is "not professional". Others will jump to its defence. The debate then focuses on the product and its uses.

All of this is wrong. There is no such thing as professional gear.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Font managers for Windows: 12 products reviewed

Updated 24 November 2021

Organising fonts is a straight-forward task that can be greatly aided if you use the correct tool. This article is a comprehensive survey of font managers for Windows 10, an operating system that historically has had less choice in this arena than macOS.

The 13 packages compared in the original review have been augmented by 3 others. There is a definitive winner, so read on.