Blog of me. I’m Alexander Jones.

19 August 2010

All Grown Up

It's been a while since I blogged about anything, so I thought I'd fill the void with some personal updates.

I've finished my degree at Imperial College London. Those of you who are close to me will know that the few months leading up to my final exams were some very difficult times for me, least because of the pressure to do well in exams. Turns out I made it through OK, but I owe a lot to the very good friends who lent me their support. You know who you are, and I love you all. Anyway, my mum is now in possession of a certificate saying that I'm an absolutely first class master at physics, or something. Graduation is in October and she can't wait. Super.

After my massive snowboarding credit card binge this year (two holidays in the Alps and countless trips to the Milton Keynes Sno!Zone adds up to a lot), I didn't waste any time after exams finding a source of income. Since the beginning of June I'm very proud to say I've been working for one of the major players in the world of CG visual effects - Soho-based Double Negative.

DNeg have worked on many major titles of recent times including my own personal favourites Inception, Cloverfield, The Dark Knight, The Bourne Ultimatum and Hot Fuzz. I work as a Research & Development Programmer, and hack on the software that we use to make sweet shiz like this happen. I learn so much every single day and it's awesome to be given the opportunity to solve such unique and interesting problems. Still getting used to the whole "waking up in the morning" thing, though - in fact, I'm lucky to be there before eleven. It's a good job they are flexible on working hours else I would have been P45'd a long time ago. (For our US friends, that's a "pink slip", not some kind of submachine gun.)

I think, without question, the best thing about working for DNeg is that I get to sit on this beast. I have not fussed about a chair so much in my life and I doubt I ever will again. You could probably buy a house in Darlo for the price of one of these, but believe me when I say it is worth every last penny. I actually get a bit of a semi just thinking about it. If there's one office chair you save up for all your life, make this it.

Music is still on a break. I banned myself from producing till my exams were over and then when I've tried to get back into it I'm still not making anything good, so it's time to shake it up a bit. I'm going to get hold of a pair of BeyerDynamic DT 880s (probably), Ableton Live, a few new synths (Sylenth, V-Station, Massive?) and some sample packs (probably get VEC3 because my drums feel somewhat outdated), and actually make a real effort to learn some theory and produce something good. I cannot actually believe I've let four years go by since my LXJ remix of Dan Stone - Road Test was released. While there have been a few tracks in the pipeline since, most of them have admittedly been pretty sub-par. Hopefully things will change if I get my act together. Wish me luck.

kthxbye!

01 March 2010

PHP wart of the day

Just spent about a half hour debugging this. It's such a shame that if you try to do anything neat in PHP, stupid behaviour foils your plan:

php > $n = NULL;
php > var_dump($n['something']);
NULL
php > var_dump($n[0]);
NULL

How this makes any sense is beyond me. It even happens if $n is FALSE...

Python, for comparison, throws an exception sanely:

In [1]: n = None
In [2]: n['something']
TypeError: 'NoneType' object is unsubscriptable

24 February 2010

Python tip: enumerate(list) vs. xrange(len(list))

For a long time, when wanting a counting variable with which to index some list in a Python loop, I've used for i in xrange(len(some_list)). However, I've since discovered the built-in enumerate function, so you can instead do for i, item in enumerate(some_list). This has the benefit of already giving you effectively item = some_list[i] for each iteration of the loop, and also working on iterators that don't necessarily have a length. (enumerate simply gives you an iterator that returns each item of the input collection back together with a counting number. Far too simple!)

Hopefully this will help someone, but if not, it’ll remind me later!

About Me

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You may know me as Weej, LXJ, or Charlie Sheen