Looking back and forth

A short timeline of my programming career:

  • 03/2006: Started this blog, with the title being a combination of “bass”, and “assitance”, theme is built of photos from my Peavey Cirrus
  • 03/2006: Finished my 2-year apprenticeship as “staatlich geprüfter Informatiker, Multimedia” (eg. computer science lite with focus on multimedia)
  • 04/2006: Started my first job at TIMETOACT in Cologne, as a Java Developer for Eclipse RCP and Portlet Applications
  • 06/2006: Started contributing to the jQuery project, at first tests, later an ajax testsuite and a lot of code for the core
  • around 12/2006: Contributions to jQuery core decreased to nearly zero, while working on more and more jQuery plugins
  • 02/2007: Quit job at TIMETOACT, due to a severe lack of (appropiate) projects, started at maxence integration technologies, still in Cologne but a bit harder to reach; This time employed just as “Consultant”, but still with focus on portlet development (IBM WebSphere Portal 5/6); First project to work on: Reportal, an interactive reporting platform (we still need to work on the marketing)
  • 03/2007: Started working on a new project, which may be able to use Reportal; I’m building the architecture, interaction design and implementation, at first together with another colleague; Open-source Java stack (Jetty, Wicket, Spring) on server (DB not yet decided) and jQuery on client

So all in all I managed it to make it from mere programmer to technical lead/architect/system designer (pick one) within less than a year. Not too bad at age 23, eh?

Still, something is missing. I’m not exactly sure what it is: Maybe the lack of any of those applications getting sold/productive. Maybe not. Maybe I spend too much time programming (eg. reading programming blogs/books, helping people on the jQuery list, chatting with developers, reading tons of code, now and then writing a few lines…) and too less time on other things.

So, there are other things I spend time on: Watching heroes, reading Neuromance, playing role-playing games at weekends (at most once a month, currently) or other games like Arkham Horror or Descent or Illuminati. Or playing the Wii, preferably with multiple players. But all those lack one thing in common: The dedication necessary. I can sit down and read a book, play a game, whatever, it hardly needs dedication. It’ll hardly hurt if I just stop it and never think about again.

But there actually is one hobby of mine which requires dedication, actually lots of it: Music, in the form of playing the bass. Thats the “bass” part from “bassistance”, where “assistance” is referring to the programming part.

So, in parallel to the above timeline, a timeline of my carrer as a musician:

  • 06/2003: Started playing the bass by buying a used one from a relative of a friend, practicing at home
  • 09/2003: Started taking bass lessons with Michael Fastenrath
  • 10/2003: Joined a Bon Jovi Cover band which dissolved three weeks later (to reunion instantly without me and the guitarist that got me in), sweared to never play Bon Jovi again; Continued practicing at home without a band
  • 06/2004: Joined a band that wrote their own stuff (sort-of Tool or something), got kicked 2 months later by the guitarist that got me in; I asked to get me in touch with someone who may be looking for a bass player
  • 09/2004: The previous asking-to-get-me-in-touch worked, the singer got me in touch with his previous band, Remaining, where I replaced the bass player (not my idea)
  • 11/2004: First gig with Remaining (my first gig ever!) at a youth centre (in german Jugendzentrum) for two euro entry fee, went quite well without producing any notable buzz
  • 02/2005: Another youth center gig, even smaller this time
  • 05/2005: Remaining at the WISPA Open Air, most likely the biggest gig for Remaining for far, and a great weekend overall; it was frickin’ hot, and most people were still hiding in the shadows when we played before dusk – also my first multi-day open air festival that I visited
  • 09/2005 to 11/2005: Five more gigs, though indoor and rather small, not too bad, but not too spectacular either; different locations each time, different bands to share equipment with
  • 10/2005: Joined another band, found through Remaining’s guestbook (please ignore, its totally spammed these days); the drummer and location is actually the same as the one mentioned above (06/2004), but a new guitarist; goal is to make “progressive prog” (progrock, you know, King Crimson and stuff, or maybe Dream Theater, great varies between participants)
  • 01/2006: Sort-of reunion with that previous band, same location as above, but singer and the guitarist-that-invited-and-later-kicked-me gone, partly still the same material, but now with better equipment on my side, so I can actually hear myself
  • 02/2006: Another gig in Hagen, again I had to drive
  • 03/2006: The last gig with Remaining (until now), first time with my new Hartke half-stack (way better then the crappy Behringer or other people’s stuff I dunno about); organization was a bit frustrating in the end – Guitar Hero III contains a few jokes like “Don’t expect that drinks are paid” (or something, got the german version), this was so true
  • 07/2006: Canceled gig due to other reasons, and our singer and one guitarist being away for a foreign semster
  • 06/2007: Sort-of reunion with Remaining at my birthday, no instruments though, just beer
  • 07/2007: Moved with the other one and a half (you know, one drummer, two guitarists, one and a half band?) band to a new, much much better location, much easier to reach, includes frickin’ daylight (at day); we keep practicising and writing songs without finding a singer, so no gig anywhere in sight
  • 09/2007: First practicing with Remaining after the birthday reunion – haven’t played any of those songs for one and a half years, forgot almost everything
  • around 10/2007: The 10/2005 band dissolved, Remaining moved into the location out of the cellar – all in all a good move, I could use the same equipment for both bands in a much bigger room, and the two bands worked both quite well, though no gig in sight at all, for once for the lack of pratice, for the other for the lack of a singer, not good enough for instrumental band either
  • 02/2008: Got kicked out of that great location due to neighbours can’t standing the noise (doh, why does he even rent the room if it isn’t isolated enough?), back into the cellar with Remaining (taking both the Hartke 4×10 and my new Ampeg box with me) and into the void with the other band
  • 03/2008, well, today: Haven’t practive with the other band for weeks now, darn. Haven’t practiced at home either for some time, last time I touched my bass was two weeks ago (after moving back into the cellar).

Since then, I’ve touched the bass for the first time this evening, after returning from the table soccer turnament the company organized (which was great fun). I had some interesting ideas to play with, but got frustrated by being unable to write them down with a reasonable effort (it takes me ages to note any music in a form that I can read later, I usually end up using some midi application like Guitar Pro, which gets it quite precise, but takes decades to get it right). Also playing the bass alone gets frustrating very fast, too.

And all that lead me to writing this post. And thinking about how I could find the focus and motivation to play some music again, at home, and elsewhere, beyong practicing in the cellar.

So, I thought, why not trying to share a bit of music with the rest of the internets, via my blog, or whatever web application can help with that. I can lend the necessary equipment from Remaing (microphones, cables, external soundcard) and maybe go to the musicstore tomorrow and look for a loop effect. Then try to create a small riff or lick, loop it, overdub it a few times, throw it away and redo it, record and upload it, share with t3h internets.

Also, writing all this done may help me focus on what is important to me, while making them more enjoyable. It also gives the reader quite a good idea of what I’ve done in the last years, something I’ve never directly written about since starting this blog (which is now nearly 2 years old).

Your comments here or via email or IM or whatever you prefer are very welcome. Be it on focusing your life, on music, on playing music, or just a discussion about the best bass equipment. I’m all ears.