Puppy Adjustment

Puppy Adjustment

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27 JUNE 2020

written by Mike

puppy adjustment

I’m all about personal freedom. 

It’s not about politics or governments (to a degree), but I’m talking about having control over my day and being the boss of my time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and my goal is to command each one freely.

Yes, I’m a creature of habit, I like the routine. However, I also want to set these routines for myself. Hence why, even though I always wanted a dog, I hesitated because I understood what it means. 

Something out of my control.

My wife Paulina also wanted a pup, and over the years we talked and talked about it. We made pros and cons lists, discussed it and had logical arguments. However, I could always come up with a reason why now it wasn’t the best moment, that it would limit us too much.

Then the pandemic and lockdown happened, and we started to talk about it again.

Ok,’ I said ‘If you can find the one you’d like, let’s do it‘.

She did, and a couple of weeks ago we brought home a little pup named Benji.

So what can I say after these few days?

Well, I was right. My days are fragmented; it’s challenging to stick to my daily routine as the little guy requires constant attention when he is awake. Nights are interrupted for crate and house training, and we have to manage to do work and run a business on top of it all.

He is a smart puppy and no doubt he will be an intelligent dog, but I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts about the whole situation. I worked hard to get my schedule in order, so a sudden change to that didn’t make me as happy.

However, a couple of days ago, there was a moment.

In the evening hours, I went outside with him and looked over as he was slowly exploring the garden. He sat on the ground, listening to nearby sounds of birds chirping, neighbours and distant traffic.

So I sat next to him without a phone, without a Kindle or any other distractions and I looked at clouds turning red, how the leaves are moving in the wind. I focused on my breath and observed the surroundings as we sat there for around 45 minutes.

Meditation and mindfulness helped me a lot in the past. Even though I usually put a guided meditation before sleep and try to find moments of peace throughout a day, I can’t remember last time when I consciously sat down to meditate on my own.

That moment reminded me how important it is to simplify, to pause, to be still.

It’s a difficult task as I like to work, I enjoy being busy and like most people, have a lot to do!

So yes, thank you Benji puppy for reminding me that maybe what I do is not that important, not that serious and how much I enjoy being still. 

I look forward to sitting with you in the years to come.

I reckon we’ll be fine.

 

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Updating My Podcasting System

Updating My Podcasting System

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13 MAY 2020

written by Mike

UPDATING MY

PODCASTING SYSTEM

 

New system updates, new plugins, new software.  Updating your workstation always seems like a good idea, but how is it really?

Today I will be writing a more technical post, detailing my recent adventures with system updates.

My main workstation is a late 2015 27inch iMac, which I purchased in 2016.

I initially bought it with 8GB of original RAM and upgraded to 20GB straight away with 2 x 8GB RAM modules from Crucial. One module of original 4GB RAM and 2 x 8GB RAM from Crucial.

I maxed out the RAM to 32GB a few months ago.

A quick digression – I couldn’t initially max out the RAM because the original memory comes in 2 x 4GB modules and I didn’t have enough cash for four 8GB Crucial modules.

Why didn’t I leave two 4GB modules of original memory which would give me 24GB of RAM?

Well, it seems that the iMac does not like mixing RAM modules from different manufacturers when all the slots are taken. So I had to work with 20GB for a bit which was 1 x 4GB or RAM from Apple plus 2 x 8GB RAM from Crucial.

 

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A year ago or so I bought another 2x8GB RAM from Crucial, got rid of Apple original memory and I now have 4 x 8GB of Crucial RAM, 32GB in total, which is a maximum for my iMac.

For years I’ve worked on the original OS which was El Capitan. I’ve also worked on Pro Tools 12.4 which was the latest version that I could have with my perpetual license (which I purchased with Pro Tools 9 years ago). 

A couple of months ago a few things happened.

I decided to buy a new Macbook Pro as the new 16inch model came out.

I had an old MacBook Pro 15inch early 2011 which I upgraded with RAM and SSD hard drive, but it was now too old to do anything except simple work. Besides that, the graphics chip on the motherboard failed and I had to disable it. The laptop served me well, but it was time to say goodbye and I needed a proper machine to do remote work.

I pulled a plug and got a new Macbook Pro 16inch, which came with the Catalina OS which is fully 64bit OS.

Before the Macbook Pro was delivered I also decided to purchase a subscription to Pro Tools with the latest 2020 version which I knew worked with Catalina OS.

The laptop was delivered and as I was installing the software I realised that RX6 from iZotope which I use every day wasn’t compatible with Catalina OS. 

There was a workaround on their website that I used, but the situation prompted me to start thinking about upgrading to the RX7 version. I wanted to do it for a while but RX6 worked fine and the price for upgrade was around 500 dollars which was a bit too much for not a significant change in my workflow.

What I also noticed was that Pro Tools was running much much smoother on the Macbook Pro. Better than on my iMac in fact, especially during playback.

I knew it was partially to the new hardware but I also knew that the new ProTools and iZotope plugins will work best with Catalina and a fully 64bit system, so it was time to update the software on my iMac.

Another digression – days before the update, iZotope ran a promotion and the upgrade to Post Production Suite 4 was offered for 199 dollars. That included RX7 Advanced, Insight 2 and Stratus reverbs. It was a bargain and given the fact I didn’t want to do the workaround with RX6 and Catalina (just like on the Macbook Pro) – I got the update.

 

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I was ready with the latest Pro Tools and plugins and downloaded Catalina OS on my iMac. It was the evening and the install took around 2 hours. After it finished, everything looked alright so I switched my iMac off and went to bed.

Fresh and early I got to my studio, switched on the iMac as I needed to do some admin tasks and install a few things before I got to work.

The computer started and the initial startup progress bar appeared. It was slow so I thought, ok, it’s the first time so it takes time. But it was bar stuck at 80% in and that’s it. No movement, nothing.

Initial panic ensued. 

I’ve done the hard reboot several times but nothing helped and the boot wasn’t progressing.

What to do, what to do?!

I tried safe mode login – it didn’t work. 

I tried launching the disk repair mode – it didn’t work.

I tried resetting PRAM upon start – nothing helped.

Hopeless.

I thought I was going to punch the screen.

But! I searched how to reset SMC which is a system management controller setting and for iMac it meant unplugging the power cable for 30 seconds and plugging it back.

Lo and behold! 

The disk utility screen launched after connecting to the network!

From there I’ve run the disk repair and initiated the boot from the hard drive rather than from the Catalina OS boot image and the system started.

What I think happened is, I had programs on launch that were 32bit and Catalina could not verify them during the boot (they were verified once I logged into the system) therefore I had to boot from the main hard drive instead.

I hope it makes sense, I’m not an IT professional though!

Mission one completed.

Step two.

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I’ve installed the remaining programs, run the new ProTools 2020 as well as replaced my Eventide reverb with Stratus which came with Post Production Suite 4.

Just as predicted, the software runs much smoother than on El Capitan, it’s like breathing a fresh life into the machine.

I’ve then launched RX7 Spectrogram, and it all looked good.  I’ve imported my presets and had to adjust some of them as the import from RX6 didn’t work perfectly.

I started doing a bit of work and realised that the performance is lagging. The playback and doing on the fly repairs with my keyboard shortcuts were slower than with RX6 on El Capitan OS!

Well, that’s not what I expected at all. 

I played with the performance settings but nothing helped. I’ve emailed iZotope support with the problem.

They’ve emailed back saying that I should reinstall and see if the issue persists, then reset the display to default as it is the most optimised option.

I’ve listened and it didn’t help.

I thought ok, I have a Chrome browser in the background which is CPU heavy. I switched it off – it helped a little but not as much as I hoped.

I have a 27inch screen and working in RX6 I had the Spectrogram on full screen and it worked fine. 

That’s how I was testing RX7 in Catalina OS.

However, when I made the RX7 display smaller, the performance jumped and the shortcut response was much faster! 

So that’s the solution – for some reason RX7 is not optimised on Catalina to have a full screen display on my 27inch screen.

Is my iMac too old? 

Maybe, but RX6 on older OS worked fine. I did email iZotope with my solution and findings but for now, I work in a slightly smaller display window with Chrome browser off and Pro Tools minimised.

It’s not ideal but it’s fine for now. 

I may upgrade my iMac when the new one comes out this year and will update you how that is working for me! 

If you are thinking about upgrading your system, it may sound as easy as just installing new plugins but I find that it’s always a bit of an adventure to get everything in order.

 

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RETHINKING YOUR POSITION

RETHINKING YOUR POSITION

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13 APRIL 2020

written by Mike

Rethinking

your position

It would be quite obvious to say that we are now in the middle of an extraordinary episode. The global pandemic caught everyone by surprise, and also it was a catalyst for an overdue market correction.

It is easy to be smart after the events and discuss what we should and would have done; however, nobody could predict the turn of the events. Not only we are facing unprecedented safety measures set by the governments, but also, the business stopped.

We are stuck at home, not earning, not spending. Many people will lose their jobs, and many companies will fail.

At this moment, I’m one of the lucky ones, as I’ve set up my life to be able to work from home years ago. It was after I read the book called Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb that prompted me to rethink my position in the world.

The one-story that stuck out to me (and I will probably butcher it) was about the global market crash of 2008 and two brothers. One brother was a taxi driver and the other a banker with a highly paid position.

Because taxi drivers must be able to adjust and due to constant change after the 2008 economic collapse, the taxi driver was able to navigate during difficult times.

The other brother lost his job and was unprepared for what happened next.

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My takeaway was to be always prepared but also to challenge myself during good times, get out of my comfort zone, change and pivot so when something unexpected happens, I will be ready.

Well, nothing could prepare me for what is happening now, and it will take a bit longer to see the effects the events had on everyone, but the lessons from Taleb’s book helped.

Which also brings me to a second point which is, now I think is an excellent time to rethink and ponder our position in this world. Is the chase worth it when the unexpected can and often will throw the plans into the bin?

Is there a way to simplify things?

To make events like this more manageable?

Something else did trigger that thought and rethinking my position again.

Just before the pandemic happened and countries around the world shut their borders, for the first time in my life, I travelled to Australia. 

Australia is almost the furthest you can go from the UK, and after a very long flight, it dawned on me how far from home I am and how incredibly lucky I am to be able to travel half the world in such a short time (and relative comfort).

The trip was a success, we were able to do a lot of work, and the flight back went without a hitch. Only just as a couple of weeks later the borders were shut tight.

It was only after when I sat at home and pondered about the whole trip, that two things stayed on my mind and prompted me to rethink my position again.

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One was how detached, during that time, I was from my everyday problems and small issues.

Family stuff, anxieties, stress were gone thousands of miles behind me, and for the first time in my life, I felt free and egoistically happy.

I could see myself staying in this far away country, separating my life from the past and everyone else and just having it for myself. 

The vastness of Australia offered the feeling that I’ve never had experienced in my life.

Was it only because I knew I would be coming back? 

Would that feeling go away after a month, two, six?

Who knows, but it left a mark.

The second thought was about the work. For the past few years, I’ve been lucky to be able to work from home, which has its pros and cons. I have friends and family nearby, but my work is a lonely endeavour. It is just me in front of the computer screen.

The project in Australia involved renting a studio with staff and working with a lot of different people.

I haven’t done something like that in a very long time, and the experience reminded me why we are social creatures and why the best ideas often happen in a group where there is diverse thinking involved.

Every day was a long day, but we were energised and exhilarated at the end of each session.

The project made me rethink my position again. I love my everyday work; however, I think I need to include more people or at least a couple of projects like this during the year.

To keep myself, not only on my toes but also engaged and inspired by others.

Rethinking the position in life, at work, in the world is something that I often do, however thinking itself doesn’t change anything. It is the actions that cause a change in life. Unfortunately, the most recent events will force this on a lot of people, but it is a reminder that we shouldn’t get too comfortable with our ways of life and that it can all change in a matter of seconds.

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My Plans for 2020 (and beyond)

My Plans for 2020 (and beyond)

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17 FEBRUARY 2019

written by Mike

my plans for 2020

 

Long time, no see.

I haven’t been uploading anything for a while. It would be easy to blame it on work, business or life, however looking back I have to admit that it just wasn’t my priority.

Not only that. I was also contemplating why I even keep the website, and what should I do with all of it.

To cut the story short, after a few months of thinking, I’ve decided to change a few things. Before I get into the details, I wanted to talk about what prompted me into further action.

After attending podcasting meetups and workshops here in the UK, I’ve noticed that not only the space is vibrant and exciting, but also there is a massive opportunity for growth and development.

Because in my work, we usually deal with the US market, it seemed that podcasting is a matured industry. With big companies, spending and marketing campaigns.

However, when I looked at the UK and Australia, I noticed that the medium is not where the US partners are, and it is still finding its voice on the global stage.

Having the privilege of my experience in the space, I thought, how can I help and be a part of the evolution?

With that in mind, I developed a plan for this year. It will move me into the direction of growing this website as well as available resources in the podcasting space.

Here are the areas that I will be working on going forward.

 

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WORK

The work on Casefile will still be a priority and the main thing that I do daily. We have a strong team of highly skilled and capable people and are planning on creating more of what we do best – high quality, in-depth true-crime podcast.
Besides that, we also have several projects under Casefile Presents umbrella. All of them being produced by talented and passionate people, from many different backgrounds. With the Casefile Presents projects, I will be taking more of a ‘head of production’ role with the final feedback and say on the content. However, in a couple of the projects, I will be taking an active part in audio producing and possibly music composing.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy and exciting year.

WEBSITE

The website is being redesigned with a new look. More sleek, modern and kind of a Blade Runner vibe. There won’t be many changes in terms of the content here, just a facelift.

BLOG

I don’t have massive plans for the blog. The idea is to (maybe) release a new article per month.
I am keeping with the style that I developed in the past – audio, podcasting and work topics. However, it depends how much time I will have left after the new venture that will be taking a chunk of my day.


YOUTUBE

I thought about starting a Youtube channel for a long time. I’ve even released some video tutorials in the past on Youtube (they are gone now), but it never felt like a good time to start.
Few things aligned lately. Moving to a new house, I finally was able to secure small dedicated working space for myself, where I could see the videos being filmed there.
Two, I finally felt that I was ready to talk about podcasting ideas and problems as I think that my experience taught me a few things over the last four years.
Three, my brother wanted to move from his primary skill, photography, into video making. As we live together, this presented an ideal situation for him to learn the ropes and for me to get the production for a ‘family’ rate.
And four, I thought that if I don’t start now, I will never do it. It seemed that there wasn’t a similar channel about what I want to do and I knew that once the Casefile 2020 schedule kicks off in February, I won’t have time to do the Youtube. So during our break from work, I prepped everything and laid the foundations for the channel, which will make the work streamlined throughout the year.

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BOOK

For a long time, I was bothered about the fact that my book wasn’t properly edited and proofread. I’m not a native English speaker, and I knew my writing wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Therefore I decided to send the manuscript to a proper editing house.
I’ve also added a few updates as the book was written in 2017 and a few things have changed since then.
The book will be updated with a new cover on the Amazon store.

COURSES

The first thing I wanted to do is to take the course off the Udemy platform and move it to my website. I will be doing that in the coming weeks. It will offer me more control and better conditions for future courses.
I’ve written another two courses – both about podcasting. I’m planning on recording and releasing them here this year.
I also have vague plans for another two (on podcasting again) however I will see how I get on with other tasks.

EVENTS

There are quite a few podcasting and true crime events planned in the UK this year. I will try to attend these and in some cases, have a small exhibitor’s table too.
Networking is something that I want to work on and getting out of the house will be in no doubt helpful!

These are my plans when it comes to the professional side of life. There are some changes, but it is more about doubling down on podcasting and my work.
Ultimately we will see how it all develops in the coming years, with the acquisitions, consolidations, rules and maturity of the medium. I am excited for any new challenges that it brings.

That’s it for now!
The first Youtube videos are out now, and there are many more planned. It’s an exciting experiment for me, and we’ll see how it progresses over the year.

Thanks for reading. Speak soon!
Mike

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Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Pros and Cons of Working From Home

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16 JUNE 2019

written by Mike

PROS AND CONS OF

WORKING FROM HOME

 

One of the recent changes in how people work is the focus on flexibility as well as comfort and working from home seems to tick these two boxes.

There aren’t many more comfortable places than our own homes and having an office next to your bedroom (or in your bedroom) offers a lot of flexibility with your day.

In the past, working from home meant running a business and being self-employed; however, this is also changing. More and more companies, especially ones that operate on the internet, allow their employees to do some work from home. It may be an occasional day here and there or a flexible schedule, but, I can see these options available more easily now.

Working from home still seems like a dream come through for many people, and they envy those who have that opportunity. It means having no boss, no schedule and of course no dress code as you can do your task in PJs and no one will mind a thing.

From my personal experience, after 3.5 years of working from the comfort of my home, I can say that I have a good comparison to the standard office environment.

I have had many jobs before, and in different places and even though working from home does have a lot of upside and positives, like, with everything else, it has its downsides too.

Here is a list of good and less ideal things that I found after a few years of having the office less than three steps away from my bed.

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PROS

No schedule

Matthew Walker is a scientist and professor who researches sleep, and in his book Why We Sleep, he demonstrates that we are not all wired in the same way. Naturally, some people prefer to work in the mornings, but there are also those who need a later start. Unfortunately, most companies (and services) favour a morning 9-5 routine, which for many people means a grumpy way to start a day. The obvious positive of working from home is that you can set a schedule that works for you. You can set the hours that you prefer and take as many breaks as you want.

No dress code

Not everyone likes to dress up every day, put on makeup and iron a fresh shirt. No dress code is even better than a casual one, because you can work in your PJs or your robe or wear nothing at all! No one will look at you or comment behind your back.

Services and appointment

Most people work 9-5, which means that necessary services like health appointments are either busy, closed or available for you on weekends. Same goes for gyms, restaurants and cinemas. Having your schedule means that you can book these appointments during day hours when there is little queuing. Gyms and cinemas are empty, and restaurants offer more deals as they want customers during quiet periods. It is honestly one of the best things that you gain when working from home.

 

No unnecessary meetings

Anyone who ever worked in the office understands the pain of pointless meetings, and the time wasted on gossiping near the coffee machine and just general unproductive activities that happen during office hours.

When working from home, there is none of that. When you had enough, you can stop and do what you want to do – go shopping, read a book or watch a movie. There is no need to sit idly in front of the screen staring at the clock.

No pressure

Of course, there is always a bit of pressure when working with clients however when a deadline approaches and you work alongside other people the stress feeds on itself and it is very easy to be consumed by the bubble of pressure, stress and anxiety. I find working from home much more relaxed than the office or any other work environment.

When I’m stressed, I know, it is me who spreads the pressure around, and I can’t blame anyone else.

 

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It would be to easy to list all the good things when you can sit at home and do your work. Like most things in life, working from home isn’t for everyone, and it has some consequences. Here are five things that I noted about having an office at your home that you may not enjoy.

CONS

No schedule

I am a believer that routines help to guide our days and to improve skills, develop projects and make us healthier in the long run. However, with no schedule set by managers, this goes out of the window, and it can have a negative effect on your life.

When you have flexibility with your time, there is always an opportunity to move things to another hour, another day. You can sleep how much you want, take naps, favour pleasure over work and get little done.

To combat that I have my schedule that I stick to every day and in some ways, it is more rigid that schedules I had when I worked somewhere else.

No dress code

Sitting in your robe or PJs all day may seem like a good idea; however, it can also lead to stopping in taking care of yourself. Most of us like to look good in the mirror, but when day after day, there is no reason for it, it can develop in a bad habit. It’s all about balance, I tend to work in regular clothes rather than sweatpants, but my partner likes to work in her PJs in the morning. However, we still dress up when we leave the house.

No reason to leave the house

When working from home, and especially when you are busy with work, there may be days that you spend between your four walls. Even if you live in your perfect place, be it a centre of a bustling city or a quiet residential part, you are still confined to your home office.

Add to that no need to dress up every day, leaving the house may become problematic. It’s great that you can be more productive at home, but it is so easy to sit in front of the screen all day and then watch some TV show in the evening when suddenly realising that last time you opened your front door was two days ago.

 

It gets lonely

The unnecessary meetings are annoying, and you may not like the gossiping near the coffee machine, but with time, you start to miss it. You begin to miss the chitchat with your workmates, meeting new people in person and everyday banter. Working at home gets lonely. I am lucky that my partner also works at home, but it means that we get lonely together.

The crucial bit is to go out of your comfort zone, join some activities and clubs in your area and meet people there. It is much more challenging to do when you do your work from home, and it’s harder to make new friends. 

Feedback and ideas

It is much easier to offer feedback when the person is sitting next to you.

Emails get lost, multiple time zones play their role too and, with time, you forget what you wanted to say in the first place.

Another thing is that creativity can also suffer, having multiple people in the office means bouncing ideas off each other, trying new things, listening to different opinions. When you work from home, even with a team of people over the internet, it is much harder to create that environment.

 

After a few years of working from home, I can now see that it is not for everyone. It requires discipline as well as a proper willingness to leave the house. To meet new people, you have to get out of your comfort zone, join local clubs and pick up new activities.

It is something that I didn’t think of at the beginning of my journey, and it is still something that I am working to fix in my own life. Looking at my sister and friends who lead busy lives in the centre of London, they love their office environment – the hustle and bustle of it.

My current work requires a quiet studio, so I’m glad I can do it from home and even that I’m on a different time zone than my teammates because I can do my job without too many disruptions.

However, it does get lonely, and sometimes I wish that I could attend a meeting or two, even if it were just a waste of time.

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