Weeknotes: Buttons, beeps and bishops — 28th November 2021

This week saw the 2021 edition of the FT's internal conference, EngineRoom...

  • Kara gave an exceptional introduction into modular synthesis (including a live-demo) which was a real stand-out. She had a point-of-view set-up reminiscent of some of my favourite YouTubers, but, much unlike them she had designed something that was much more beginner-friendly - including a smaller rack with fewer modules & colour-coded patch cables, all very nice touches. The slow campaign to persuade more people over to techno, synthesis and production is making steady progress - congrats Kara!
  • There was also a quiz which was definitely rigged. Or, er, at least I lost.
  • I gave a new talk titled “The Magic Button”, reflecting on a difficult time several years ago where my team made some mistakes, what we did about them & what we learned.
  • The final-polish sprint running up to my slot was “fun” as always. I went through all five stages of preparing a talk: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Melodramatic Nervousness and Deliverance. Right before taking the stage, for a second, I actually froze up. Apparently nobody noticed it, but in that moment I felt eternity: That's a first.
  • It's difficult talking openly about difficult times: In the industry there's usually so much success spin in talks where we filter-out or redress our (inevitable!) mistakes. I hope at least one person walked away hearing that it's okay to make large mistakes — what's more important is how we respond to them. With some pacing adjustments, I might try to deliver this to external audiences.

As we approach the end of the year, time feels like it has really sped up!

  • The days are getting shorter - working from home it's now a little harder to catch the sunlight. Not ideal.
  • There's a lot I need to get done both at home & at work over the next few weeks. In giving a talk I seriously worried that I'd overcommitted — so I'm glad I followed through with it, but, the remaining major tasks for the rest of the year are all a little less optional. Please wish me luck.
  • Relatedly, without reflecting on omnicron & the wave of anxiety it's summoned back up, I am suddenly regretting not renewing my passport sooner.
  • This weekend, for the first time ever, I've been watching the FIDE World Championship. It's definitely a different pace to other sporting events I've followed — none of the mayhem of NPB or the energy of FIFA — but the same palpable tension. These chess games are a bit slower yet very deliberate and both the official & chess.com commentaries have helped me really understand what is going on. Somehow it feels like the right level of energy after this week & something I hope to continue following for years to come.

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© Alex Wilson 2022