Weeknotes: Counting — 2nd April 2022

With a few coursework deadlines this week, last week I skipped both journalling & writing weeknotes. Two weeks flew by! 😬

  • On Monday I took the day off work, barely met said deadlines and successfully didn’t cry. Now the term is finally over, to make time for travel & for other hobbies/learning, I’ve dialled back my class-load next term.
  • Kree! Between the cracks I began watching Stargate SG-1. It’s been over a decade since I saw this show. It hasn’t aged well, but the nostalgia is wonderfully distracting.
  • With the weather improving, I’ve been going on long walks around Putney/Roehampton/Wimbledon. Between the dreary winter lockdown & finals season I’ve been quite sedentary (gaining a few pounds) so long walks through greenery & woods in the sun are a major step-change.

For part of said coursework I had to programmatically detect beats in music.

  • I didn’t need a high level of detail detail, so did the analysis mostly on the fly using a Fast Fourier Transform. These transforms allow working with complex signal-based data (like music) in the far simpler frequency domain. For every playable moment of the song, you get amplitudes as numbers. (Observable<Array<Array<Number>>>)
  • Averaging these numbers gives the current “energy” of the song. Storing that in a buffer lets you track “energy” over time. By counting when the "energy" jumps, you find beats! There’s a bit more to it, and loads of nuance in tuning all explained in this great article on gamedev.
  • Crossing the streams rocks: My hobbyist knowledge of music production really helped - and it’s quite nice branching out into a new area of technology. Maybe a future write-up?

This week I wasn’t accepted into a work-sponsored programme to learn Japanese.

  • Learning Japanese (to the point where I might relocate) has been a major personal goal since briefly working there in 2018 (four years ago to this week!), although without meaningful progress since 2019. The application process stirred up a lot of old feelings by making my goal seem — attainable. Unsurprisingly I was disappointed to be rejected, but, it’s reminded me of how important this goal is to me: каквото, такова / しょうがない.
  • Matt brought me to a Japanese-speaking meetup on Thursday. With many in the room being at N3 level or above, I felt really out of my depth & so I left after an hour. However: Seeing & hearing spoken Japanese (and textbooks!) made the goal feel real & attainable again, so once I can confidently say more than “I don’t speak Japanese” I’ll be going back.
  • Now I’m exploring my options to compile a rough learning plan. Some have suggested that UoL (UCL/SOAS) might be the best class-based options in London, supplemented with independent revision & meetups — but — if you have suggestions or opinions on how best to learn Japanese I would love to hear from you.

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© Alex Wilson 2022