Mando plAy challenge

So today we’re having an innovation day entitled ‘plAy’ at Mando Group . You can find out all about it on our company blog and a live feed of the day up on the plAy social media feed.

—- lunchtime update —-

I set myself the challenge of writing some music using only digital production, samples and loops rather than my usual guitar and vocals approach.  ‘Making music’ turned into ‘writing a jingle / soundbite’ to herald the opening of the beer fridge….which has since turned into a project to create a sonic style compatible with the mando brand.  By way of example – how iconic is the intel jingle or the nokia ringtone or the windows opening sound????

So yeah, as always with me, the challenge morphs, changes, becomes bigger and then there’s the need to reign it back to a series of steps.  Here’s how I’ve now planned the day since arriving:

Morning – relocate to Costa, load up my new shiny copy of garageband on my ipad and work out what it can do and how to use it.  Hopefully in the process come up with something useful that contributes to where I need to get to but the morning is about learning the software.  At the time of writing it’s been a good few hours and I’ve figured pretty much everything except how to slice up tracks and bounce down (I’m sure this’ll come and I’m just being a thicky) I’m also pretty pleased with the work in progress so far – it’s got potential for a cool background track.  check it here:

Ok, amped on coffee and stoked from the morning’s learning, this afternoon is all about researching how composers go about doing this kind of thing and bringing some stuff back into garage band as samples and/or creating some stuff from scratch with the instrumentation options it gives.

I’m hoping to end up with a few options for:

  • the sound associated with the opening of the beer fridge
  • a mando aural ident

..and a finished version of the piece I started this morning.

Will update this blog again later 🙂

—- afternoon update —-

AAAARGGGGGGRRRRRRR.   So, you can’t bounce in iPad garageband, you have to download another app and record audio.  And thereby fixing your mix on some tracks before the whole lot. Not cool.  So am transferring from iPad to Mac.  This requires buying an update for Mac.  Fine.  Once loaded in via itunes, it then says I need to download an iOS converter….. and thus an hour or so has now been lost in faffage.  All good learning though and in fairness now the music is stubbed out, transferring to my laptop to finesse it and add more tracks and samples makes more sense.

Hopefully I can get on with creating soon rather than fiddling!…


Anyway, game on again!!

—- evening update —-

So….the afternoon carried on being a trial by hardware.  Ended up still needing to transfer everything to my mac, which then took forever….

…and my OCD kicked with the mixdown, with me working on automating all the faders and effects outputting a stupid number of final versions.  Got there though…. on the one project that should have been throw away!!!!!

Never did get to the jingle or sound effects sadly.  Learned loads about garageband and sampling, came up with a tune and am well placed to working some more on the other projects in my own time.

Final version here:

—- final reflection —-

So, final thoughts following the presentations are:

  1. I barely had to write anything from scratch. 
    Application to the day job – reuse everything you can first before starting from scratch
  2. Touch interfaces are the future.
    Garageband was actually very easy to pick up, particularly on the iPad.  Even though I had some issues, it is a good, intuitive, user experience and it’s a delight to use in many ways.  The touch interface on the iPad was actually nicer than the mouse-operated desktop version – less complicated but also better featured in many ways – being able to play the piano directly on screen for example.  It was really a processing-power thing that meant I had to swap.
  3. The 80/20 rule is alive and well.
    The piece of music was 80% there by lunch time (about 2 hours of actual effort) and the last 20% took the remaining 8 hours i had.  Really need to keep this in mind when we’re estimating work and planning resource.
  4. It’s amazing what can be achieved when you pull together with passion and purpose.
    Seeing everyone work together on stuff they’re passionate about has been a massive inspiration.  There are so many ways I’ve seen that we can improve our production process to be more effective, fun and achieve better results.
Posted in Business, Design, Music, play, Social Media, Technology, Web, work | 4 Comments


“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”

How many times did you hear that growing up? It’s also in the bible (Matt 7:12) and I’ve done my level best to action it in life….


In the last few years I’ve realised it doesn’t actually work! (at least on face value)

I’ve been treating people as I’ve wanted to be treated and it’s really upset a good number of them! Some have hated being treated the way i treat myself…

It’s been really puzzling…

Until i’ve thought about it in a bit more of a high level way:

i actually I want to be treated in a way I want to be treated.

This means other people want to be treated in the way they want to be treated.

So to truly act this out one must further develop ones own empathy, insight, understanding and compassion for others so that it’s possible to treat them in a way they want to be treated. This means embracing their value set, vocabulary and world-view…. While somehow still being true to your own!

It’s gonna be hard as so very very few people have this understanding. So it can’t matter what you get in return. It’s got to be pure grace.

This is truly doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

I’ve only ever heard about vigorous, sacrificial, empathy development from the most celebrated authors and psychologists….and, according to the scripture I mentioned before…

…Jesus  (Interesting how often he’s said something it’s taken hundreds of years for mankind to rediscover and write books about it!)

…So just maybe he’s the one who can show us how to live it 🙂

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Never waste a good trial

Recently I was knocked for six by a stomach bug that led to Gastritis and put me out of action for about 10 days.  I had a pretty transformational experience during this time.

I prayed and felt clearly that healing wasn’t going to be instantaneous this time, but rather a process.  So, I set about trying to not waste a good trial and seeing what I could learn. I mulled on my body being a ‘temple’ (and how i hadn’t really been treating it that way for the last..erm…36 years!!!) and what I was going to do with the silver-lining that was losing almost a stone in those 10 days!

A concern was whether I’d be ok to run the Great North Run (in honour of my dad) after I’d been training for 6 months.  I read a couple of books on running (‘Born to Run‘ and ‘Eat and Run‘ and absorbed what I could about technique and food intake. Four things that really struck me while I considered what I was learning:

  1. Learning technique is so important.  Natural talent and/or just dogged determination get you so far but ultimately you need to be rounded if you want to improve.  One must be teachable and learn.
  2. Just how awful fizzy drinks and processed foods are – quick burst of fake energy then leave you feeling worse.   I had to cut them out anyway due to my stomach but even as I’m getting better I have no interest in them now.
  3. The ‘super foods’ you can get that just enhance you and help recovery: Berrys, Chia seeds and the like – I’ve just been augmenting my meals with them and really seeing results in recovery times
  4. How your head really does control the body. If your brain says “I’m a 13mile kinda guy” you will be! If it says “I’m a 20mile kinda guy” you will be!

Anyway, I put it all to the test once I was feeling better. In the last week since getting up from the sick bed I’ve got on with running again.  I’ve averaged a 10k per day and this morning I got up at 5.15am and did the full half marathon 20 minutes faster than I managed 2 months ago! Just amazing! I can’t quite believe the almost instantaneous nature of the turnaround.

So, anyway, I just thought I’d share as the learning is applicable in all areas of life – it’s never too late to think and be different, to reframe what’s happening and turn a negative into a positive.

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everything is going to change. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, in my soul’s core…

Life may look like it’s changed but also may not look like it’s changed. However, even if nothing seems to have changed the fact remains everything will have changed. It’s a given. Inevitable. The train has left the station to an unknown destination

And I am ok with this…looking forward to it in fact.

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Family Pics

We asked the amazing Sarah James to take some pics of our baby girl, Maliha, when she was born. Sarah specialises in new born pics and is a bit of master with babies generally – mother of 5 and a neo-natal nurse too; she knows what she’s doing.  The pics she took weere amazing – I’ve put a selection up on the gallery below along with some pics she took of the rest of us.

I really recommend her and her work – you can find out more at: 

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Training for the Great North Run

I’m running the GNR in honour of my late dad and to raise money for the incredible work done by MacMillan Cancer Support.

You can find out more about what I’m doing at:

Here is a snap shot of my training run – I’m up over 16k now!:

GNR practise route

GNR practise route

Created 05.29.12 by finchleymusic

just need to add another 3.5k to it – maybe head further down menlove and take in another park?

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Still loving Instagram!

Been spending some time going through my thousands of photos over the last few years and started putting them online.  You can check them here

Posted in Design, play, Social Media, Travel, Web | Tagged | Leave a comment


It’s been loving playing with Instagram lately.  A very satisfying mobile, social, creative and webgeekery experience.  It’s a real example of something that’s beautifully executed both in and of itself but as a platform for other apps – I’m loving all the spin-off sites like Statigram.  Check these stats that came through on email when I signed up – again, just a lovely engaging experience:

Posted in Design, play, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web | 1 Comment

‘Teacher’ – my tribute to my dad

shot of dad taken for a local paper on his 25th Anniversary as a minister

My dad died a couple of weeks back. The funeral was last Friday. It was a true celebration of his life. A few people have asked to have a copy of my speech so I thought I’d put it up here on my blog>>>>

Continue reading

Posted in Belief, Faith, family/relationships, People | 4 Comments

Mountains and Valleys

Does this resonate with any one?

When you start your walk in life you seem to quickly develop a concept of mountain top and valley experiences. With it comes an expectation that to make a success of being human it’s about getting to the mountain top and then staying there. Whatever it takes…

You soon realise that it’s actually impossible; but you fall into a mindset that the answer to this ‘lesser’ existence is that life is therefore about accepting there are valleys but striving to get up the mountain again as quick as possible and trying as hard as you can to stay there…

exhausting eh?

Then as time progresses you realise the valleys help you appreciate the mountains more and you don’t get so bent out of shape about it when you stay for a while…but you’re still thinking about the mountain…

However, sometimes you do stay on the mountain top for a little longer… and then it happens – it becomes a plateau – you’re just there with nowhere to go and it’s well, normal…

So, after further time you realise that most of your learning in life takes place in the valley and you start to realise that there’s value and life there too…

so you find yourself making your way back down again…

…and then it dawns on you that the journey up and down the hills from valleys to mountains and mountains to valleys actually introduces you to new people, new (& often shared) experiences, challenges, joys, trials and everything else… and you realise there are numerous routes up and down this thing and even higher peaks and lower depths than you’d realised before…

…and that actually life is all about ups and downs, rises and falls, successes and failures, bursts of energy and times of rest and in all of it you just need to savour the moment…

and be


Posted in Belief, Faith | 3 Comments