Tag Archives: Life is Good

There was a time when

… I was a musician. The time when I practice the piano for hours every day and the time I played at least a gig every week. Today I am an engineer with a profound understanding of music but with a lack is practice. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because there’s no pressure, no need to make a living out of music.

Today I had one of those once-or-twice-a-month gigs that I still do with a band called Bojazzl at a small bar, about an hour from Linz. Their piano player had broken his clavicle and they had asked me to jump in, which I really enjoyed. Although I would have needed more rehearsals to really make the most out of it.

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IEEE JKU Linz Stammtisch

While my job as IEEE Region 8 Student Representative involves working two and sometimes three levels higher up in the IEEE geographic hierarchy, I always enjoy staying in touch with the local student branch (SB) at JKU. After all that’s the entity where my IEEE track started.

Being past past past chair is one thing, but what is really rewarding and makes me happy is to see that the SB is even more active than in my days and that they prosper like never before. Apart from many other activities they still have their monthly series of Stammtische, which are social meetings that try to bring students and industry closer together.

That is exactly where I spent today’s evening: The IEEE Stammtisch featuring Commend.

This is how it works: The SB approaches companies that might be interested in giving a presentation. A company representative joins one of those meetings in a local bar and pays for drinks, food and some extra cash for the SB. In return the SB provides the infrastructure (beamer, …) and the students.

What’s in it for the company? To get in touch with potential future employees or customers. What’s in it for the students? To get in touch with potential future employers and to learn about what’s happening outside the academic world.

What’s in it for me apart from that? Grabbing a beer with friends, getting to know the future leaders of the SB and learning about what matters to the current generation of engineering students.

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Another Round of “Try something new for 30 days”

When looking at the last couple of my blog posts, you could think that I spend most of my time around computers. I guess that’s mostly because I rarely blog about other things. That’s about to change for the next 30 days.

A couple of years ago a came across this TED talk entitled “Try something new for 30 days”.

I’ll do it again and this time the challenge is to write a blog post every day, for 30 days. Many of the posts are going to be boring and are not going to be relevant to anyone, so I am not going to push them through facebook, twitter or anything else, but they will be here.

Spotify?!

I am really not exactly sure how it could happen, that I haven’t signed up to Spotify earlier. For 10 € per month they let me stream almost 90% of all the music I’ve ever wanted to hear + I can store music on my mobile for offline use for 30 days. – All of this in 320kbps vorbis quality (= very good)

Spotify

This almost sounds too good to be true: I am aware that there might be problems such as bad compensation for musicians, the possibility that the service might stop some day and that there will be nothing tangible that I will be left with when that moment comes, but the great time I’ve had listening to awesome music.

We are all left to wonder what the future of the music business will bring. Still I believe that this kind of service is the future some way or other.

How do you access your music? CDs from your local store, CDs via amazon or ebay, an online service such as Spotify, sharing with friends, FM or internet radio or – heaven forbid – illegal downloads?

Whatever it is: the most important thing is to not forget to go to concerts and listen to whatever music gets you in the mood: LIVE!

Spotlight: Panzerballett

“Wellness-Death-Jazz” is printed in large letters across the T-shirts of some loyal fans who are head-banging right next to me. It is also what the guys on stage say their musical style is. Let me introduce to you: Panzerballett.

Oddly enough the head-bangers are not the only distinct group that the audience is composed of. There are also those of us who are apparently enjoying the musical fireworks in a more introverted way and who start clapping after each solo, as etiquette dictates. Even without hearing the music, just by looking at the audience, you can tell that Wikipedia is absolutely right by calling their music Jazz-Metal. But then of course you should hear their music!

Seemingly effortless they pump monstrous, rhythmically complex metal and jazz inspired themes, riffs and solos into the auditorium. What can I say: THEY ROCK! They’ve almost made me a heavy metal convert. And the best thing: they ask you to try this at home. From the shop on their website you can get transcriptions (thanks Waschtl for pointing this out to me ;) ), T-Shirts and also their new album CD Tank Goodness.

I am glad they played at the Kulturzentrum Hof in Linz and that I had a chance to be at their concert. And of course I got myself a copy of their brand new album.

Maintenance and Repairs

Today was all about maintenance and repair. It started with me mounting the winter tires. Austrian laws require your car to be equipped with winter tires from November 1st in case of ice or snow, which starting with November is to be expected any time.

And lo and behold, we saw our first snow just hours after I had mounted the winter tires! – The perfect weather to go swimming and do some body maintenance.

That’s just one of the good things about visiting my parents on weekends: They have this great but underrated resort nearby: The Welldorado. Well it’s not as big or luxurious as the huge ones, but on Saturdays there is always enough space in the sports pool for doing some lanes. An hour later or so, I was heading back to Linz. At first I wanted to practice piano, but then I decided to stick to the day’s main theme.

My electric piano is a Yamaha S90 ES, which I really like for it’s great piano voices and all the other things that you can do with it. However it is 7 years old now and some keys started to get sticky and the key response began to become uneven. So I decided to open it up and do some cleaning.

You can actually take out every single key to clean or replace it. What is interesting is that the keys did not get sticky because of me or anybody else pouring something over the keyboard (although not aware of me doing so, I had thought that this was the reason). The real source was exuberant grease that Yamaha had used and that had started to creep between the keys. Anyway now the piano plays as smooth as on the very first day!

All in all not much revolutionary happened today. I mainly spent with maintaining and repairing some of my tools. – But this is important, because they are the things that might help me do more exciting stuff someday!

48

The very first 48 hours of this week. Congratulations to all of us who’ve made it that far.

Just a quick update from my side (all times are CET military time)

Monday 10/22/2012

7:00 – 9:00: Preparation of the presentation for our lab meeting

9:00 – 12:00: Lab meeting. Due to the NDA we are all bound to, just a quick, innocent photo of the new EM simulation setup that we think of buying

12:00 – 12:30 Lunch

12:30 – 18:00 CST simulations

18:00 – 19:00 Quick run + shower. You can see my track here http://www.sports-tracker.com/#/workout/chschmid/3o0ipvuvhlftmuql

19:00 – 20:00 Driving to Wels

20:00 – 22:00 Musikverein Thalheim Big Band Rehearsal: People have often asked me why they don’t read about negative things in my blog. So here’s one: I simply hate this Musikverein Thalheim Big Band Project. If you want my honest opinion about it: there’s no musical value in it and for me it is just a pure waste of time. Why do I not just quit it: Because it is also a social obligation. Here a photo shot from my perspective behind the piano

22:20 – 23:00 Driving back to Linz

Tuesday 10/23/2012

8:00 – 17:00 Work as usual (CST, reading papers, discussing problems, lunch … )

17:00 – 18:00 Going home, showering, commuting.

18:00 – 19:30 Dancing lessons. Please don’t tell her, but I am really grateful that Andrea insisted on taking this dancing class that we go to once a week! – It is really precious quality time that we spend together!

20:00 – 20:30 Reviewing some IEEE public relations articles + sending some e-mails.

20:30 – 22:30 Mechatroniker Stammtisch @ KHG Kellerbar. This is where you meet all the Mechatronics undergrads and a great place for recruiting new members for our research group as well as for the IEEE Student Branch. It is really good to see that there are so many motivated engineering students at JKU! Thank you guys, you’ve made my day.

23:00 – ? Blogging

I’ll log off now, time to go to bed, let’s build a new radar system tomorrow!

Beer Tasting, A Scientific Approach

It all started with a simple question “Is des Zipfa wirklich so a Foazgeschwoabat?” – “Is Zipfer beer really so bad after all”. Having a scientific background there was just no way around setting up an experiment: 8 experts, 12 different kinds of Austrian beer and a blind taste test. Here are some photos before and after I had removed the beer bottle labels

And here’s the panel of internationally acclaimed beer and microwave engineering experts ;)

I had prepared booklets where they could rate the different kinds of beers (#1-#12) by using points and words. It blew me away how many suitable adjectives they found for describing the smell, looks and taste of beer.

 

The results were similarly astonishing. I don’t want to bore you with statistics (that’s what we had LibreOffice Calc for), so here just some major findings:

  1. Zipfer scored the highest number of points from 2/8 testers -> “Zipfer is do koa so a Foazgschwoabat” – Zipfer beer is not so bad after all.
  2. Only one tester (out of 8!!) successfully identified the non-alcoholic beer Schlossgold
  3. The logical conclusion: Marketing really seems to have a huge influence on our favorite beer choices – more than the obvious parameters looks, smell and taste.

I don’t know when, but it was so much fun, I am sure I will do something like this again!!!

Urfahraner Jahrmarkt with Friends

Way to much to do and too little time for blogging during the last week. So here’s just a quick update on Thursday night, which I spent at the Urfahraner Jahrmarkt with some college mates. For those of you who don’t know the Urfahraner Jahrmarkt, think of it as a small Oktoberfest, a fair with lots of amusement rides, foods, drinks …


After some rides, including the obligatory ghost train

we ended up in one of the beer halls.

It was great to see my college mates again and to hear their stories about what they have done since graduation. Hannes for instance told me about the 8000 Liter/Minute water pump that he just finished designing, which is going to be used by fire fighters. After a final location switch to the Herza’l Alm, which if you translate it literally means “alp of hearts”,

I went home, partly using the same way that I had to use on a daily basis to get from the dorm to the university during my time as an undergraduate student. Good to see that all the graffiti on the way are still subject to change!