Tag Archives: Reflexion

The Other Way Round

Today I ran the same track that I’ve been running on for years – the other way round. I have no idea why it has never occurred to me that I could do the bridges clockwise instead of counter-clockwise.

While there is nothing revolutionary about the fact of me running it the other way round, maybe the significance of this finding is that we keep on doing things the exact same way for too long quite often without really knowing why.

Choices, Perfectionism and Photoshopping

Today I stumbled across yet another video

Many people on youtube gave it a like. I disliked it and some people asked why.

To begin with, I’d like to make one thing clear: The video is georgeous. The song is beautiful, the lyrics are convincing, the setup of people making music in a backyard is awesome. It really has everything that justifies it to be called “beautiful”.

What I don’t like about the video is that it is trying to sell the image that this actually was the setup that they used to record the whole thing. You can see mics all over the place and they left some imperfections in the video that probably are supposed to make you think that this was the original way it was recorded. E.g., how the drum pickup at around 1:55 is not perfect, or the imperfect intonation of the brass instruments, which for instance can be heard at around 3:30.

I do still doubt that it was recorded in that backyard, as they try to lead you to believe. There is musical photoshopping going on. If not entirely, at least at quite a few points. Like at 1:32 (“And I”) when you hear Emily sing background vocals while her mouth is not moving.

Again you can still say that the video is beautiful, there is no argument about that. – But so are the photos of those superficial models on the covers of the magazines at your local newspaper kiosk. I would rather prefer it to be a little bit more authentic with less photoshopping. Even if that meant it would turn out to be less perfect.

Pro Scientia

I am part of a network and scholarship program called “Pro Scientia”.

One of the aspects of “Pro Scienta” is that the scholarship students meet once or twice a month. During those meetings one of the students presents his research, art or any other topic that has some scientific, religious, cultural, historical, social and whatnot relevance, which is then open for discussion.

All of the scholarship students are grad students and mostly PhDs. Today we had a presentation from Benjamin, a PhD student in the field of education and psychology, about “Development and learning of leadership skills with a special focus on principals”. Well the actual title was a little shorter, but that’s just my interpretation.

pro_scientia

The discussions are often intense, they are totally worth it. I’ve never found myself having discussions in such an interdisciplinary setup before joining Pro Scientia. In the photo you’ve got a lawyer, an engineer, a priest, an architect, a social scientist, an artist.

So if you are a grad student or artist who happens to be in Austria, are interested in interdisciplinary discussions and are good at what you do, you might want to consider applying for a Pro Scientia Scholarship: http://www.proscientia.at/.

Sarajevo

about 1400 km of travel, 3 days, more than 100 IEEE people from over 60 countries, but less than 15 hours of sleep.

I won’t tell you about that short city visit. Most of what has happened this weekend has actually happened at a place called the Sarajevo Hollywood Hotel, where we (the more than 100 IEEE people) and at least five times as many Wrestlers mingled (http://www.worldveteranwrestling-sarajevo2013.com). – Not that we were there for the same reason.

It was the second IEEE Region 8 committee meeting for me and I feel it was even more intense than my first one in Madrid in April. While IEEE is an engineering association, the truth is, these meetings are mostly political – politics about coming up with solutions and policies to “foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity“. Apart from the matters at hand, these meetings are great opportunities to witness different styles of leadership, different styles of communicating with each other and different approaches to problem solving in general. The best part is you can actively participate if you don’t mind throwing around, being thrown around and having your head go all wild with thinking.

meeting

Here are some notes I made to myself about the process rather than the outcomes during the meeting:

  1. With most of us being engineers in academia, we are having a huge problem thinking outside the box.
  2. Almost everything you propose, someone will have proposed at some point already. (Maybe this is a direct consequence of 1.)
  3. Although it may lead to wasting your and other people’s time, it is still worth proposing stuff, even if this results in wiser and more experienced people stopping you right away. Otherwise you risk missing the few jewels that might be hidden somewhere in people’s heads!
  4. You would probably need at least as much time for preparations (in terms of goals, strategy, background research) as the meeting takes, to make the most out of it.
  5. Not having a clear vision on certain issues (maybe due to a lack of 4.) will make you feel like bouncing between people’s opinions. – Which, then again, might not be that bad after all for getting an idea about things.
  6. If it comes down to making a decision, following 5 think about Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat.
    Alice: “Which way ought I go from here?”
    Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to?”
    Alice: “I don’t much care where–”
    Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”
  7. You were quite slow in understanding what people really meant. “Sorry for that.”
  8. If you are working on one-size-fits-all-solutions (which many things on a Regional level are) be careful when you start statements with things like “From my experience …”. While difficult to implement: You really ought to make decisions based on statistical and scientific analysis rather than on very limited personal experiences.
  9. Even if it gets rough sometimes, don’t forget to grab a beer with people at the end of the day and thank them for their contributions. Be respectful: You need them as much as they need you.

I guess I succeeded and failed at all of them and I am not sure if these notes will help me or you in any way. Still I thought I’ll write them down, just in case I want to revisit them before the next meeting …

Welcome to 2013

Looks like the world has not come to an end on December 21st 2012. With all of the end-of-the-world attitude gone we can not totally focus on 2013! So welcome to all of you who’ve survived New Year’s Eve.

I guess my party was much like yours, eating, drinking, celebrating with friends, watching fireworks. What was a little special for me this year was that the organist of our church invited me to play some trombone / organ tunes that he had composed for me back in 2008. Here’s one of the songs

It’s part of a collection of tunes which he calls “Kleine Partita” – Little Suite. While most of the songs are quite sad, I hope that your new year 2013 will be a happy one! I wish you, your family and friends all the best and I hope we’ll meet again to share some happy hours together!

Getting Ready for Christmas

Advent season has picked up full momentum already. The advent wreath and my new melodica + some christmas tunes did get me into the right mood.

And here’s one of the tunes that I played. I recorded it with my cellphone mic:

What do you do to get yourself into Christmas gear?

My Problem With Tablets

I’ve really been struggling with the question of whether I should get myself a tablet or not. Everybody is talking about them and many people want one. iPads, Surfaces, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Jelly Beans, you-name-them. Having earned a hundred bucks by publishing my own Android app, I finally decided to give it a try. It’s funny how I do understand now, why I was struggling so hard in the first place. But more on that later.

So what did I get: That one’s obvious – a 32GB Nexus 7. It’s got enough horsepower, it’s reasonably priced and software updates are to be expected at least for the next 18 months + I know how to write programs for Android, so I can come up with my own software (Maybe I’ll even write tablet optimized apps someday).

But – you might have guessed that there is going to be a big BUT somewhere – I have one really essential problem with this tablet, which I guess applies to a lot if not to most of the tablets out there. – It even took me to get one to understand this fundamental problem. And here it goes: Tablets and the software they come with right now are designed for content consumption rather than for content creation.

They are perfect for watching movies on the go, for listening to music, for surfing the web, gaming and a lot of other things that involve consuming content. – I did not add reading e-books to the list, because from my own experience I find e-ink e-book readers much more suitable for this purpose. Tablets are also great tools for small tasks, like managing your calendar, reading emails, giving a short reply to e-mails, WiFi calls, as metronome, tuner or for getting public transport information. But truth be told, so are most of today’s smartphones.

However when it comes to me wanting to actively create content, like designing a new T-shirt, writing an article, recording some music, writing sheet music, creating software, designing websites, managing my music and e-book libraries, creating presentations or even just printing stuff, they become pretty much useless or badly broken crutches at most. They suck horribly when compared to the fully featured Linux PC that I am sitting in front of right now.

This realization inevitably brings new questions. Why are these things not possible on a tablet? Would it be possible to implement such software for tablets, given the UI constraints? Would we use these kinds of software? You could say: “Well that’s just not what it was made for” But then: Do the tablet companies see them as sole consumption devices that we should not use for more? And ultimately: Do tablets have a negative impact on society, as they get more and more of us into consumption rather than into creation mode?

What do you think?

Update on the 30 Escapes Project

I recently blogged about me wanting to escape the office for one hour every day. So here’s an update of my progress.

Tuesday, 10/9/2012: That’s when I wrote the original blog article about my 30-day-escape project, in some strange but nice niche at the university library.

Wednesday, 10/10/2012: Coffee with my sister! She’s also a university assistant and PhD student here at JKU. Her office is within walking distance

Thursday, 10/11/2012: I spent with with preparations for the beer tasting experiment.

Friday, 10/12/2012: Lunch with Manuela, a friend from Leoben who is also a Pro Scientia scholarship holder. – By the way Pro Scientia applications for 2012/2013 are still open!

Monday, 10/15/2012: IEEE Student Branch Presentation with Andreas, Ernst and Robert for all first-year mechatronics and information electronics students. As always we showed John Cohn’s great engineering paradise video and our own “I am IEEE” video.

Tuesday, 10/16/2012: IEEE Student Branch Presentation again, now for all second-year mechatronics and information electronics students.

Wednesday, 10/17/2012: Today I went for a run (Click to see my track on Sports Trakcer). I run regularly, but I don’t even remember the last time when I ran before sunset. – Also the first time I’ve used the Science park showers that we are not supposed to use officially. Here’s a nice autumn photo that I shot during my run.

Escape for 30 Days

You know how they say that if you do something for too long, you will get yourself gridlocked? The way you should re-orientate your professional career at least every 7 years because staying in the same position for too long will make you become useless leading to a situation that is unwholesome for you, your profession and the company? So here’s the only logical conclusion: Try to escape everyday routines – at least in some ways. So that’s one part of the idea.

The other part comes from my lack to resist the temptation of trying this new idea, which I got from a TED talk that a friend of mine recommended. Feel free to watch it, it’s really short!

So here’s my resolution plan: Whenever possible I am going to try to escape the office for an hour every day for the next 30 days. Me and my laptop are going to explore the campus and I am going to use this time

  • to work on my thesis,
  • to write for my blog,
  • to just relax,
  • to do whatever comes my way.

What will your next 30-day-project look like?

ACT(A) now!

Everybody is talking about it right now, and I’d like to share a personal story about something that has happened to me recently. But first of all the video:

So here’s my story: I love doing “DIY” projects. I create my own music, I build things (see the projects page), and I also like designing my own cloths. About 4 month ago I created a T-shirt with a piano keyboard and the word “play!” written below it:

I thought it would be fun and tried to have it manufactured by an online shop. My design got rejected – twice! You know why: “Because using the word “play” on any kind of clothing is registered to a company called playtex”: http://register.dpma.de/DPMAregister/marke/register/800248/DE

Yes it is true, you can register a single, common English word, so that nobody, absolutely nobody else, is allowed to put it on any kind of clothing – no matter in what context, no matter in what size or font. Isn’t that horrible. I surely don’t want the same thing to happen in too many other parts of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you have any personal stories? What do you think about ACTA? Post a comment, twitter, chat, talk about it!

By the way: The design slipped through at another online shop ;) So you can order it at http://www.spreadshirt.at/play-C4408A17629509