How to ruin your life

Evgeny Lepekhin wrote an anti-thread on how to ruin your life:

I added my two pennies worth to the wisdom:

  • When starting a project, always shoot for the moon — because if you’re not the best at what you do, you don’t matter.
  • Dream of an ideal world. Every time the reality turns out to be different, be sure to get overly emotional.
  • Don’t appreciate yourself for anything you’ve done. Remember: it’s never enough. Never.
  • Deprive yourself of things (and people) you love because you don’t deserve them.
  • Finally, stay where you’ve been born: it defines you now and has to define you for the rest of your life. Also, nobody needs you where you will go.

If I’m honest, these are the mistakes I myself have been making for the most of my life. Don’t think my life’s already ruined, though: at least, I can see them.

Five Preludes for Piano

I have composed five preludes for piano:

Composing them was a way of getting away from a complex project of an indefinite period: this second-order uncertainty (when not only do you not know what the future holds, but also how far are you from the desired resolution) was eating my insides, and I needed something to get distracted by. I couldn’t work productively; I couldn’t do anything demanding or implying any sort of responsibility.

Composing music came as a perfect solution. I used to be taught that as a kid by Tatiana Chudova, the prof. of the Moscow Conservatory (although she taught rather avant-garde, atonal composing than tonal, but still), and the experience seemed just enough to allow myself to try again.

These preludes are undoubtedly worse than they would be if supervised by an experienced composer, but I’m glad I tried composing them myself and learned a lot in the process.

I present them as a set, but there’s nothing really binding them together except the time of creating—summer and fall of 2021. Nevertheless, each of them has something I was proud of myself I came up with:

  • No. 1. A melody (at creating which I’ve never really been good at) not developing so much but at least methodically turning up throughout the whole piece. Also some good contrasting in terms of tempo and dynamics. I really like the modulation in 3, and the beginning of 6 very much resembles a passage from the Mvt. III of Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto (I copied it unwittingly and decided to leave the part for the sake of history when realized that).
  • No. 2. While listening to that, I resent not recording a live performance and posting a MIDI recording instead: it is absolutely impossible to get any expression needed here from a sheet music editor (Musescore in my case). A romantic piece as it should be. Composed and refined in three evenings.
  • No. 3. A trite melody at the beginning, but I really like the obscure modulation from C-moll to D-moll and then to E-moll, and a try to induce some counterpoint at the end of 2. 3 is where real music shows up (it must be because I realized at that point that if I don’t play around with tempo and dynamics in MuseScore, I will never get anything respectable). While composing this, I fell in love with Rachmaninoff’s concertos and started to deliberately steal cool moves from them: e.g. 3 and the very end are all built on parallel thirds from 48–49 of the Third Concerto (one of my favourite parts of it), and 5 has a poly-rhythm at the end that the Second features a lot and a chromaticism that the Third is dotted with (I’d never thought I’d love parallel thirds so much before I saw that in the score). The rest of 5 has a lot of this quirky element from the Ballade No. 1 by Chopin. (Also, the sheet music of 4 can be used to scare children; however, this is not checked and not a legal advice.)
  • No. 4. Quite depressing. As No. 2, not perfectly performed by MuseScore, but closer to the ideal performance than No. 2, as the ideal performance of this one would be more rhytmic. Composed in one night.
  • No. 5. Most recently written, so I consider it the best. A simple melody is complicated a bit with grace notes and chromatic modulations. I started really adoring chromaticisms by the time of writing this, so 4 и 5 are almost entirely based on them, and bar 49 (7) features a culmination made of them as well (and here comes a poly-rhythm again).

One of my goals was to write something that I, presumably, could play. I’ve never learnt these preludes (this is the reason why I posted MIDI), but have checked them for theoretical playability. If you play piano and would like to play them—I’d be glad to hear; please email me if that’s the case.

Here is the sheet music in PDF format (13 pages, 350 KB) and the set on MuseScore. The videos and sheet music are distributed under CC-BY-SA-ND. Email me if you’d like to use any of that commercially or make a derivative.

Also, if you spot an error in the sheet music (especially in the accidentals), or some unplayable bars, or just want to leave a reply — do not hesitate to do that in the comments.

One day I may post a live performance, if I have a lot of spare time to learn and record it.

How to subscribe to a YouTube channel via RSS

It turns out YouTube has a hidden feature that allows one to subscribe to a channel via RSS. I can understand why it has to be hidden — it's too easy a way for a user to avoid ever seeing YouTube’s algorithmic feed. However, it hasn't completely gone away (as, e.g., a way to export subscriptions has), so let’s make use of it.

Give your RSS reader this link:

where CHANNEL_ID is a part of the URL of the channel right after /channel/. For example, the link to the RSS feed of Tom Scott’s channel — the first one of those I watch, and the ID is UCBa659QWEk1AI4Tg--mrJ2A.

Sometimes if you come to a channel you will see something completely readable in the address bar instead. Then, to get an ID, you need to click a video and then go back to channel following the link above its description.

Consume content online via RSS — it's far more pleasant than to do so via algorithmic feeds.

What's the fun of Instagram Stories?

Maybe I'm an old lamer but I really don't see. What's so cool in Instagram Stories?

  1. I really don't see why post a photo knowing it's to disappear in 24 hours by default. It just doesn't make sense! You post photos including to be able to look them through whenever after some time. If your photos are not worth living more than a day, why post it?
  2. OK, you can put some text onto it making it more like an announcement. “On next Sat I'll tell the story of Moscow metromarathon in this certain place. Come listen. See ya”. Two days before — another one, to keep people remembering it because they read five such announcements a day on a normal day when it's not the end of the world and no one can afford taking time to give a lecture. OK. But why post photo, not just text?

More of what I don't see →

Use technologies, not services

There's a huge problem about almost every task or notes manager I've ever seen—the most important one, the root of all other ones like being slow, designed badly, or hard to get used to.

They can do too many things.

Say, I need a note-keeping app. The basic set of things I want to do is: open the app, type in some text, hit OK, have my text saved, close the app. I want to note something else, I repeat. Then I open it on another device, read, if unneeded, delete. That's it. Nothing more.

But no! Developers have done everything to make it highly likely that I'd be doing keeping notes but not what I need to keep notes for. I can tag my notes. I can sort them by creating date, date last edited or, certainly, alphabetically. I can make lists out of notes and notebooks out of lists. I can shove images, audio or, for some reason, embed a video from YouTube (not just include a link). I can write my notes in fifteen different fonts or format them with Markdown (or both). I can publish them with a single tap, protect with a passcode or send to a friend who use the app as well. Or, if my friend doesn't know (yet) about how great it is and how much use he can make of it, I can generate a link giving him 10% discount for the first month of use. No doubt, I can do eggs with it, the only reason I can't is I haven't found the doing-eggs button yet.

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