Video Request: Trapped in 1984

Hey everybody, here’s a track I recently put together called “Trapped in 1984.” I think it would be really cool to have some dystopian animation to go along with it, so consider this my official request for animations/videos/mashups. It’s short and sweet which makes animating easier.

Download the track, see what you can do. Email me back or post it to YouTube (but don’t forget to give me credit for the tune).

Workaholic or just stupid?

I just finished calculating the hours I worked for the past 2 weeks (my pay period at Pantano), and my Pantano total is up to 70 hours, which doesn’t include whatever I’ll be working today. In case you didn’t know, I’m an hourly employee only contracted for 60 hours in a pay period.

Now here’s where you say “big deal, most people work 80 hours in 2 weeks.” Yeah, well, there’s more. The other ministry hours I put in, whether it be through the Refuge Center or through Priority, pushed my grand total up to 103 hours (still not including today, and assuming that Overflow on Friday will be loaded out by 10pm).

So now you’re saying “lots of people work hard and do ministry.” Yeah, well, my work happens to be the same job as my ministry, so it’s easier to feel overloaded. I’ve spent 103+ hours doing sound tech work and playing guitar.

Tomorrow night: Overflow worship concert at the U of A
Saturday: Women of Virtue Conference (and then regular Saturday service)

Next Sunday through Tuesday is an All Staff Retreat for Pantano, so I’m hoping the drive to Prescott and the stay will be relaxing and recovering.

Update Oct 11, 2006: The staff retreat last week was a nice “quick” getaway from such a hectic schedule. More importantly, Jenny and I are leaving Friday for a 5-day retreat to Northern Arizona. We’ll be town-hopping and mostly relaxing. God is good!

Podcasts: Low Bitrates Don’t Like Stereo

I just learned a valuable lesson in life. I was helping my dad troubleshoot a recording problem. (He’s running sound at a church now – the tree doesn’t fall very far from the apple, eh?). His church is providing podcasts of their sermons, and up until two weeks ago, they sounded decent. But the last two sermons sounded like the Devil himself had infiltrated their computer recording system. After some triaging, we figured it was because he, in an attempt to vastly reduce the file size, encoded the file to 16kbps. But not just randomly. He had example audio bytes that were mp3 encoded at 16kbps that did indeed sound decent. So why did those last two podcasts sound like junk?

As it turns out, when encoding to that low of a bitrate, keeping the signal in stereo does bad things to the quality. Technically, it’s splitting the samplerate apart to use on each channel, and 16kpbs encoding just doesn’t leave enough data for both channels. So, in conclusion, always mixdown to mono before encoding that low-bitrate mp3 podcast:

Just select Stereo to Mono, do it for the people, please.

That will certainly be helpful to know now that Pantano is moving towards sermon and newsletter “E-News” podcasts. Here are the apparent “money/awesome” specs for a decent sounding, ridiculously small mp3 podcast:

Mpeg Type 2.5, Layer III
11025Hz samplerate
16kilobits/second encoding

With that you can fit 55 minutes into 6MB! And, it doesn’t sound too bad. It sounds about like the best AM radio you ever heard, but if it’s just speech, than that should be fine in most cases. Just don’t do it in stereo! Otherwise it will sound like a horde of breeding buffaloes.

New Song (well, new recording)

I recorded a song today. I can’t say it is new, because we wrote the acoustic version several years ago. But finally, it has a full complement of instruments. It’s called “Please Tell Me Who You Are.”

UPDATE: Here’s a link to our MySpace Band page, since the direct link stopped working.

UPDATE 2: Someone asked me where I recorded this. Heh! In my home studio! Here’s what I used to make magic:

  • Drums – programmed in Reason using the Redrum and Groovemasters Kit 2
  • Synths/Piano – programmed in Reason (Maelstrom/NN-XT Grand Piano A)
  • Acoustic guitars – Yamaha FG-335 recorded into Sonar using an Audix OM-5 and blended with a little bit of direct (pickup) signal
  • Electric guitars – Gibson Les Paul recorded into Sonar using a PODxt Live with custom patches
  • Vocals – Recorded into Sonar with an Audix OM-5
  • Mixed in Sonar and mastered in T-Racks

California dreaming, racks, WikiTeam

I’m going to be in San Diego for the next few days. I hope my guitars (I’m taking 3) survive the Yuma desert on the way out there. The Priority band (website’s down, so no link) is playing for a camp at Point Loma. I should be excited, but I’ve done this before, and last time I was large and in charge. This time I’m not only playing guitar, but I’ll also be helping run the behind-the-music show.

As in, racks. Or rather, rack – a very large 20 space rack! We just put this together, and it has everything we could ever need (minus recording equipment). Not to mention it is so pretty, it deserves a unique name and recognition as a work of art. In this case, a picture would speak much better than I, but since the rack is stuffed away in a trailer, you’ll have to wait (I promise I’ll post a pic). This new outboard rack consists of (from top to bottom):

  • Furman Pro Power Conditioner
  • 2 Behringer Multicom Compressor / Limiters (8 channels of compression)
  • 2 Behringer Virtualizer Pro Effects units (4 channels of effects)
  • Numark professional dual-deck CD player (with separate controller space)
  • 3 Behringer Ultragraph dual-channel 31-band graphic equalizers (6 channels of eq)
  • 4U rack drawer with lots of toys (microphones, etc.)
  • Furman Pro Power Conditioner (yes, that means 2!!)

On this trip, we also have the privilege of borrowing 8 Sennheiser Wireless units (with Countryman headsets if needed) and 4 Intelligent sound-sensitive stagelights.

At this point you’re wondering about “WikiTeam” in the title. Well, after some discussion on #ubuntu-doc, the next Ubuntu Documentation Team meeting will decide whether or not to form a new subteam (or possibly a separate team entirely) whose sole responsibility would be Wiki janitorial work. Now, that may not sound very elegant, but I’m really good at it, and it can be hacked on from any computer / platform (read: my Windows laptop). The Ubuntu Wiki needs a lot of help, especially now that it has been converted from Plone to MoinMoin. I see the Wiki as being the centrifuge of knowledge, information and documentation between the forums, the DocTeam, and unofficial documentation. I’m working on debugging various Python scripts that can convert HTML to MoinMoin (and back again) and DocBook to MoinMoin (and back again).

mdke (a DocTeam member) and I are interested in creating the WikiTeam. I hope that the rest of the DocTeam will see the need. Of course, once it passes our internal vote, it may then have to go to the Community Council meeting to be approved officially. Perhaps then I’ll nominate myself for Ubuntu membership. :)

Wired

I just found a very promising digital audio workstation for Linux. Wired is beta quality, but the screenshots look great. It is a KDE app, much like Rosegarden, so that makes me happy.

I think that with the right hardware, Linux+Wired+Rosegarden could make a very happy studio. Now, if only they had Reason for Linux. (Yes, I do own a copy of 3.0, and yes , it works on both Windows and Mac OS X).