New Music : January 2016

January has been a month overshadowed by the death of David Bowie (amongst others), but has also seen the release of some outstanding records, including a few my long-time musical heroes of mine. The new records by Tortoise and Shearwater did not disappoint, and the Jesu/Sun Kil Moon record is a particular treat that reminds me a little of the Sun Kil Moon/Album Leaf collaboration from a couple of years ago.

The full list for January is:

Hinds – Leave me Alone
Bill Baird – Earth into Ether
David Bowie – Blackstar
Daughter – Not to Disappear
Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow
Howes – 3.5 Degrees
Eleanor Friedberger – New View
Tortoise – The Catastrophist
Jesu & Sun Kil Moon – Jesu/Sun Kil Moon

Innovation and Change

I’ve just started studying for the ILM level 5 in Leadership and Management, which is likely to take up a fair bit of my time over the next six months. One of the things I’ve been asked to submit is a learning log, which details everything I’ve learned (and want to learn) and how it feeds into the work I’m doing. I also have to write reflections on each module in the program; starting with the Change & Innovation module I studied in December.

Innovation is a straightforward one for me. It’s my natural way of thinking, I value innovative ideas, and I tend not to discount ideas just because they don’t fit into the established order. It probably helps that I’m not the greatest fan of blindly accepting the status quo, and am always looking for ways to be more efficient, more effective, and just better at things. Based on this I suppose it could be surmised that I’m also good at dealing with change. For after all, isn’t change is just the end product of innovation; the idea given form and unleashed into the world?

The fact is I’m a lot less comfortable with change than I am with innovation. I like my changes to be incremental and subtle, and while I’m quite happy to find myself doing almost wholly different work five years after starting my current job, the thought of changing everything that I do in one fell swoop scares me (and would have scared me even more five years ago). Yes, it’s exciting, but it also means devising new routines, new patterns of activity, and new workarounds for things that I find sufficiently uncomfortable that they affect my productivity and general happiness if I’m forced to do them too often.

2016 is going to be a year of change, and I’m going to be documenting as much of it as I can. I actually think it’s going to help the change process, as well as forming part of what I’m being assessed on.

Creating static websites with Pancake

I’m always looking for new ways to make web content available easily, and Pancake is one of the best (and easiest) I’ve found.

The basic concept is that the application creates a directory in Dropbox, and anything in that directory is hosted as a website. It can handle Markdown, HTMl, plain text and a few other things as well, and has a decent default CSS that makes it easy to get a decent looking website online without having to code anything. There is also a web-based editor which looks useful.

I’ve made a few web pages using this technology, all of which have been written in Markdown using Atom as a text editor. So far I’ve created a basic home page, an example of a blog post (using content copied from this blog), and a page I made as part of the /now movement.

It’s straightforward to do, and all you really need is a Dropbox account.