Sunday, June 16, 2019

Raindom


Saturday afternoon is the domain of the Flaneur.

I was sitting down at a pavement table drinking coffee and it was raining. The rain had mostly emptied the street of people and only the puddles and passing cars dared venture under the grey clouds. I, from my canopied vantage point, stared at the ripples in the shallow puddles with my thoughts heading elsewhere when it dawned on me that I was watching a show of random.
No two seconds or portions of a second were the same in the puddles. Drops hitting different places, ripples growing outward and colliding, the amount of drops. Everything was different from millisecond to millisecond. None of it  predictable and nothing had any relation to what had gone before. I was seeing something for the first time that was never going to be repeated.

Although it's obvious once one realises what one is looking at, the act of a rain shower into a puddle is a completely unique experience. Something simple and beautiful and so often overlooked. Rain is often seen as a bad thing. A type of weather event that spoils a day out or a barbecue with family and friends. In large doses it can of course change lives in a devastating way. We build structures to take ourselves away from it and our vehicles offer similar protection. As humans we are programmed to avoid getting wet during a shower. Waterproof clothing and umbrellas remind us that we can cheat a good soaking and yet as the creature we are, we are perfectly waterproof in our own skin. We walk briskly to avoid as much rain dropping on to us as possible. Not many hang around in the rain.
Maybe it's time we did.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Detail. More Detail


When I want something to be as good as it can be I really obsess about the detail.
To me, detail is where the control is. The more I know about something the more control I can have over it and therefore I know the end result is as good as it can be. That can be a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. To me it's very satisfying.
I have 2 projects on the go at the moment which I intend to give a lot of attention to. The first is a manual for a future generation. I want to give people a head start in pencil and paper cryptography. Nothing too challenging but enough to get a message to someone without the use of a computer. With current developments in government invasions of privacy it's looking like there will be a point in the not too distant future when all electronic communications, including end-to-end encrypted messages, will be seen as fair game for any agency and for any reason. There are ways around this, most of them old fashioned and time tested. Sometimes the simplest things like pencil and paper and a little ingenuity are all that is needed. My intention is to document a few of the best ideas and then make my publication accessible to anyone who may be interested.
I've chosen to write the document using LaTeX. It's a language for document preparation and has been around for ages. It can be used fairly simply but it is also complex to learn if you want to go deeper, and I do. Text books on the subject tend to read like manuals. I like manuals. The more I read the more fascinated I become with the possibilities of its options, and there are hundreds.
What's nice is that despite being an old thing it's actively developed. It's also used by countless people who want a professional document that can accurately convey things like mathematical equations.
I'm not sure how long it will take me but at least I'm enjoying the process.

My second project is a track I'm writing at the moment. It was born out of a jam with my Korg Liverpool synth last weekend. It's musically very simple but it'll be the production that makes it. I have lots of ideas for this track. As things pop into my head I add them in Bitwig Studio. The production tips and tricks I've learned over the years and stored in my head are now pouring out. I'm really enjoying the process.
I'm happy theses days to not put a time constraint on things I do. Having fun doing things and being happy with the result is all that matters. I have no interest in the number of people who may read the manual or to how many listen to my music. As usual it'll be out there, free to download and open to criticism, as has always been the case.
I've had no complaints yet.