Saturday, 29 December 2012

Studio revamp

Feeling a lot better after the festive trotts, it did knock me sideways for a day or 2 but 100% back to normal now.

Next week, even though I'm still on holiday, I plan to do some work related stuff to keep myself on top of shit in the new year so I only really have this weekend for some music fun and games, and I'm probably not going to get much of those since its clear the studio needs a bit of a revamp.

New equipment and recording software has been purchased and I need to jig things around to make it a bit more effective and usable.

I'm sure there are a few people out there with really cool professional music production systems, mine is 100% amateur ebay bought crap but I still want to get the best out if it for the little money I spend on it.

A few big purchases though, the Voice Live units and a new(used..ebay bargain) Mackie Unversal control surface to control my logic pro 9software will take pride of place so must be set up to deliver the best results..The VoiceLive2 will be my "studio" unit on the fixed board (which also needs re-jigging as my Zoom unit has been untouched since getting my adrenalinn III) and the VoiceLive Touch will be used for band practice and performance stuff when I do some backing singing.
I will put the old Digitech Vocal Live 4 unit on or a dutch site in a few weeks

I've finally solved some of my wiring issues with a proper wireless mic I got a few months ago but couldnt' quite get in the right place, and a XLR switch to allow me to switch it between the normal mixer desk and the RC300 looper, much better than having 2 mics with different signal chains.

It does mean the super duper (but of course budger) condenser mic I have can't be used generally, since the XLR switch is not a big fan of 48v Phantom power but as anyone who has heard my recordings can testify its good that I don't try too hard to sing :D But if I do find I need to add some singing to a project it I can plug it in to one of the VL units easy enough.

We are also going to be doing a bit more band rehearsal stuff upstairs with both bands, which I love doing, though it does need wires for various intruments and  mics...fortunately my Jamhub takes care of that and I can keep the wiring mostly hidden for that ...yipeee

The ultimate aim is to keep everything contained, not have wires everywhere but sitll have a nice carpet rug sized area that will be my recording area and still have the playroom aspect with movies and emergency guest room (not that anyone ever visits me now....Mum..Danni....take note!!)

Logic pro 9 is a mega bit of software though, it is supposed to be an easy upgrade from Garage Band but the learning curve is actually pretty steep, especially trying to work though online manuals. So many options its quite painful and my now getting old, Mac Mini, is struggling just wee bit to run it, though so far only the 64track demo's have caused it to have panic fits, my few track experiments are all fine, I doubt I'll get to 64 tracks worth of anything so nothing to worry about for now.

A small Mac may be needed later in the year for some IOS conversion projects in which case I can justify the purchase of a new mac, otherwise the mini does for me just fine.

I'll post pics of the new setup when its all up and running......knowing me, sometime in 2015


Thursday, 27 December 2012

So long 2012

I know, still a few days left but am not in the mood to sit in front of  tempremental computers typing things, but find myself here due to having no energy to do anything else having been hit with a dose of Diarrhea which is not nice...didn't get a lot of sleep last night , running to the bathroom every 30 mins or so and am weak as a kitten.. But I seem to be empty now so will start topping up with more water and some fruit juices. Hopefully it'll only be a day or 2 till I'm back on my feet.

Had a lovely surprise when Brenda got back from her trip to Kenya on Boxing day. I wasn't expecting to see her till Friday but she's nursing me back to health..kinda.  We'll hopefully do something fun for new year together.

So 2012...pretty shit year overall...but you can't really say that can you? While its true, 1 relationship smashed into pieces and my life was turned totally upside down resulting in some dramatic changes in lifestyle there's more to life than that.
 I've picked myself up, fixed most of my finances, and started out on a new relationship , so the positives outweight the negatives or at least balance them up. I end the year on a high..diarrhea notwithstanding.

Work has been hard...bloody hard at times, but I think thats my own doing, I need to try to be better organised and prepare things in advance...Especially I have to work out a way to do marking quicker...I've hopefully secured the aid of one of my collegues which might help next time I get snowed under.

Overall I don't think I can be too upset with 2012 like most years it had ups and downs, and we just have to muddle through them as best we can.

So...byebye was ...interesting..but 2013 better be fun or I will want a refund!


Monday, 24 December 2012

Technology is not my friend

I've noted before that as I get older my once cutting edge tech savvy has been deserting me, so much so that pretty much anything tech based I touch these days is sure to fail, especially when needed.

I've had this recently with my home internet system, which was happily working with a ebay bought powerline router supplying a wireless router upstairs, giving me full coverage in the the house.

That is until the lounge master unit decided to blow up.. I still had internet but the loft has been intermittent and I have had trouble finding a working system to replace the old Sqeenix unit.

Enter Shitecom (yes I did spell it that way) and thier home plug system.

Its crap...utter total shite... complex, and very unreliable and needed the PC to do a troubleshoot on it to get 2 of the 3 units I bought to work...the 3rd unit hooked up to a Mac in the loft couldn't self repair so I had to resort to the Shitecom Homeplug utility....oh my god, what a crap bit of software.

Its taken me weeks, mainly becuase after my 1st attempt to get it to work wasted a day, I boxed it up ready to take it back, but fate and schedules stopped me getting back to Media Markt...

I tried again tonight using so,e new cables which did actually get a connection going a bit at a time....4 hours later. 4 FRUSTRATING FUCKING HOURS, I finally have it where near the promised 200MBS (39 and 29 reporting on the utility in fact) but at lest its exceeding the interet bandwidth so I'm ok for now.

Oh and to add icing to the cake, the PC upstairs is fucked too, it refuses to display an image after completing boot up. I think its missing the 32" mega screen, it worked fine on teh 22" until today...I can't be bothered messing with it.. I'll probably be bringing it down to the office  soon anyway. Since this current PC is not a bit dated and keeps throwing up a warning I'm not using genuine windows...even though I am!!!



Sunday, 23 December 2012

1 take...ok so its crap...

but not really had any chance to play with my new VoiceLive touch unit so this is not that bad.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Covering ears is now optional

Something a bit different this time, I got myself a new toy for my Birthday, a TC Helicon Voice Live Touch, such a cool gadget...I heard this sung on one of the demo vids for it, and discovered the amazing version by Sinead O'Conner who wrote it. I thought I'd see what the little box could do
I don't have pitch correction on properly so I do wobble a bit but still, this took 5 or 6 takes to get right , not bad with a brand new toy I'm still playing with.

Hope you like it, I hate my voice normally but it sounds quite nice though headphones or decent speakers....
if the widget does not work here's a link.

In This Heart

Now that I am on holiday at last I will be doing a few more recordings, and probably some more singing with my new toy....god help you all. Ahthankyew

Sunday, 16 December 2012

New shoes

Feeling a little flush now that Xmas bonus and invoice payments are in the works...I decided to do something about my aching sore feet...I am not one who generally buys lots of shoes, or expensive ones but the last few months wearing my expensive running shoes every day has apparently given me really really sore achy feet. I mean really sore....hobbling at times sore...not good.

Time to buy some "proper" shoes....none of your bargain bin shit..

Still painful spending more than 20quid, but let see. If it works.

Also had a bit of a splurge on my toys..not guitars but I've updated my vocal processoes, my VL4 is very good but a bit hard to use well I need something simpler, so plumped for a couple of TC-Helicon voicelive units a portable Touch and a fixed Voicelive2 Extreme, a couple of mega ebay bargains. These should help improve my backing singing in the band and home recodings....Will try to sell the VL4 locally, if not I'll put it on ebay, hoping one of my  band singers might want it, though I know Britta (the Gadgets) hates all tech so probably not for her.

Birthday tomorrow, Monday....49... Seems everyone is keen on this, except me...meh...I have a band practice to do tomorrow so no chance for a nice meal with Brenda, my new g/f but we'll do something nice on Tuesday/


Sunday, 9 December 2012

PA is loud and music is fun.

Though not quite as loud as I thought, which is good. I was expecting my ears to bleed at full volume, but no just a bit of a ringing sensation!!!

I have a small Yamaha Stagepas portable PA system I bought for the bands. Between gigs (which are not often) its sits in the spare room...bit of a waste.

So I hooked it up in the studio, Although I have a decent set of studio monitors, they don't do bass well and are not that loud...and when the bands are here, we can't hear ourselves so well..but tbh we tend to use the Jamhub when there's a full set, for the neighbours benefit, but its still nice to blast things out sometimes, within reason.

The PA blows the little monitors away :D lots of volume and no problems at all with buzzy distorted bass and since I can hook up my Ipod/pad to it and play backing tracks...its my new favourite thing for practicing.
But I am going to have to buy a CD player, I find that I have many many more backing CD's than I can store on my 32GB small further investment, assuming you can still buy CD players :D.
Though I am giving some thought to retiring my old Pod, due to a cracked screen, so perhaps loading it up with nothing but the backing tracks is the way to go. Its still working for now though, and damn a new 64G is expensive...not sure I want to invest that much. My Pad is also on the verge of retirement...its a 1st gen, and no longer gets updates for IOS..I suspect it might be time to put it to use as a full time Ampkit setup and buy a new one with a bit more memory...hmmm I think thats probably a better idea...use the old Pod for a while and retire the pad. I have a couple of Sony Android pads I can use for mail and websurfing, with occasional gaming, which is after all the Pad's main use now.

The Studio is undergoing a bit of a reshuffle as I now do most of my school and coding work downstairs in the boxroom office now. I've got a bit more space on the big desk for music toys which is better. I want to try to keep everything contained and tidy for when friends and band members come to play.

Still have to deal with the ever present curse of cables dreams of a wireless set up, seem to be fraught with technical challenges....and the curse of short battery life.

I'm sure there has to be a solution somewhere.....that or I need to work out some way to place junction boxes at strategic points to plug in..Even quite simple band setups seem to need miles of cables, and my own wireless systems always seem to fail at key points when others are here so out come the cables again, and the inevitable tripping.

I also need to do something in the upcoming holidays...catalogue all my guitars...which is no mean feat. I might even thin the herd a bit..though I'm always reluctant to..Going to photograph and itemise them with as many secific details as I can remember.

I have found myself these last few months, more and more playing just 2 guitars, Marge my vintage Patrick Eggle Berlin and Libby, the Gibson Blueshawk. Maybe it because they are they nicest ones to practice on, easiest to play and always to hand.
I know I get different tones from my Lucille and Strats etc, when I want to do recording, but I'm finding I love the tones of these main two more and more....hmmmm decisions..I'll think on it for a year or 2. Marge does need to go in for a bit of a setup though, her high notes are buzzing ever so slightly. I'll do that after Mondays band practice, the StarrCase crew are quite taken with Marge's tone on certain songs, so don't want to be without her.

I was over in London last week for a meeting at Sony regarding our Academic status, and got a chance to discuss PSM with the chief tech guy...very interesting overall, but I have to say the St Giles 3* hotel in town was a major let down...crap tiny room, transport cafe restaurant for brekkie and overall not very nice. I did sleep well though, despite noisy party people in the streets.

But of course London means Denmark St :D. I dithered about going since I needed to use any spare cash this month to finalise the mortgage transfer, but I went, saw, played and walked away....nothing really took my fancy, apart from a very old and battered 1962 Fender Mustang for around 2K...a bargain, cos someone had painted the back of it.....but no..tempted as I was, as an investment, I'm sure restored properly it would be worth double, but I decided looking was better than buying, no telling what else might be wrong with it, and sourcing vintage parts would be expensive.

Besides if I am going to buy anything that old, it needs to be a 1963..the year of my birth. I'm keeping an eye open for a flying V from that year. Then I can pretend to be Albert King. (yes I know his was a bit earlier..but...)


Done and done.

The game passed Sony approval, despite having 1 major crash bug, though since it only seems to happen at the 40th level before restarting at the 1st, they've let it slide.

strange...but still...yippee..

I can reveal the name of the project now that its done. Cosmic Clean-up. Its an old school arcadey game, hard to describe, but a simple game mechanic taken to an extreme...sometimes too much I think but hey ho.

Ripstone are the UK publisher for it, and it goes on sale any time now on the Sony App if you have a psm certified device, please give it a go..the crash won't worry you. I'm going to fix it and supply a new version in case they get a chance to do an update/patch, but apprently thats another submission process which no one wants to do.

There is going to be an IOS version of it in a few months, I was originally slated to do it, but I really didn't enjoy the Agile Development style of project managment by the Dutch developers and opted out as soon as I was able, I'll help out whoever is doing it but I'm not in a rush to put myself through that again. I won't bitch about it here..but its no secret I had many issues with the way the project was managed.

Its not uncommon though, I spent a lot of time learning project management in an effort to improve the production process, I was pretty good at it, none of my projects were ever late and no one ever crunched. But I didn't like the lack of acknowledgement that being good at it returned.  Its an old PM complaint, no one ever notices the PM when the jobs are going well, so it must be some kind of magic that makes it go so well, but if it goes bad...well the PM's the 1st on the line to get fired.

But equally, trying to explain to other project managers using different methods that their methods are not well suited to small projects is tilting at windmills. Agile makes no real allowance for coder fatigue, slippage, lack of others to pick up slack or re-iterrate after 1 too many iterrations. 

It frankly seems more like a constant state of panic trying to continually add new stuff and rework  old working stuff based on client feedback over and over again with no real regard to risk or planning..
Fine if you have a team of people able to pick up and redo things, but utterly useless when you have 1 coder who occasionally needs some time to figure out wtf is the problem with the code that isn't doing what its supposed to do.

I'll need to add a 3rd Brians Law of self fuckery...

Brians 1st Law of Self Fuckery: If your code is not doing what you expect it to do, you fucked up.
Brian's 2nd Law of Self Fuckery: same as the 1st.
and now.
Brian's 3rd Law of Self Fuckery: If your SDK is buggy and the client keeps changing the code requirements , 1st and 2nd laws don't apply, just try not to kill anyone.

In the end there was a lot of very unpleasent crunch, which I detest. I saw it through and now will move on, a little wiser, and a lot less interested in Agile development. So much so that if anyone ever offers me a job where they use AD, and its just me..I will walk away.

I am going to have a crack at doing a couple of small PSM projects though, I bought a couple of tablets to help me do the project, which I probably won't use for anything else, so might as well get a game or 2 out and see if I can recoup the costs.
PSM market, is currently very undersupported, and though the Vita isn't selling all that well there's still a sizable market of people out there looking for games....might as well...once I've have a chance to recover.

On a related games note.. the Wii U is out...I quite like the idea of this, I've always been a big fan of interactive controllers, and this is of course the ultimate.
Unusually for Nintendo the launch seems to be quite low key, barely any coverage on mainstream media...I suspect a lack of titles is to blame...I decided to buy one though and went shopping. Sure enough there was some available at my local game stores and I picked one off the shelf, then went looking for games.

hmmm I think I found 4....not great...but wait...€60 ...are you fucking kidding me...€60???

I put the unit back on the shelves..

Sorry..but I do know that games are expensive to produce, I do know that there are overheads, etc..
But at what point are we going to get the idea that people have a limit on how much they want to spend of a few days (at most) entertainment on a GAMES console.
I might consider 40...I could even be tempted to spend 50 on a must have title...but 60 ...sorry its too much.

I guess I no longer am that interested in console games.