Change (B)log

The Week Off

September 20, 2019

In addition to playing a lot of pedal steel I recently purchased (which I’ll detail more below), I spent a lot of time this past week solving problems on LeetCode.

LeetCode

LeetCode is a site designed to help you get better at acing technical interviews for software engineering jobs. Admittedly, I’m not that fantastic at solving these problems quickly and under pressure. But I know I’ll gradually get better.

My older brother is also brushing up his skills using LeetCode, and so we tried to solve the same problem and race to the solution. Admittedly, he beat me every time. But I know that going up against him will only make me better.

Pedal Steel

I started strong on the pedal steel, but after a few days, I hit a plateau and didn’t push that hard to enter the next tier of ability.

The hardest part of pedal steel is the picking. Not only is your picking hand required to discriminate between 10 different strings (that are closer together than a 6-string guitar), it’s also needed to stop the string’s sound (called “blocking”).

You can block with your fingers or your palm. Pick blocking means stopping the sound of a note with your fingerpick shortly after you have plucked it. Palm blocking is muting the string with the side of your wrist.

Without going into excruciating detail, both of those techniques are very difficult for me with fingerpicks on, so I just stopped using them. By not using them, I could at least leverage some of that residual skill from fingerpicking guitar (without picks). Although the blocking on steel is much more intense, by using a similar technique to the guitar, I can do a lot of basic playing without much investment.

Summary

Overall, I’m happy with the amount that I learned on the steel. It’s enough to start using it as a tool in the studio, which was my primary objective.

I got to stream a lot of my practice. I got raided once and had some cool interactions, but overall I was streaming for myself. I also had a lot of problems with my streaming computer. Some rogue Windows Update royally screwed with drivers for my array of webcams and my capture card. The computer’s performance and consistency are now in shambles. For now, I’m using my laptop(s) to stream, although it’s hard to hookup every attachment without a lot of ports.

PCs suck. Maybe one day I’ll rant about that.


Joseph Weidinger

Written by Joseph Weidinger.