PODful Birthday

My birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, and I’m now having a decision nightmare. Here’s a little background first: the only mp3 player I own is a 512MB iPod Shuffle, and I haven’t bought any guitar gear in almost 4 years!

I can’t decide what I want for my birthday. I really want one of those new 60GB iPods (with video). But, I recently discovered a piece of guitar gear that could potentially retire all of my current pedals, and would prevent me from having to upgrade my horrid practice amp, a 50w solidstate Fender Princeton Chorus. This amazing device is the Line 6 PODxt Live. It models amps, it models the same delays as my DL-4 Delay Modeler, it models cabinets, it models synth and phasing and reverb. It would even retire my tuner and volume pedal.

So – I need help deciding. The funny thing is that I’m deciding between two totally unrelated “pods.”

The Contendors:

Apple iPodhttp://www.apple.com/ipod/ipod.html

GOOD
– I could carry around my 6GB+ of music, instead of only 100 songs with the shuffle
– I could download movies and watch them on the go
– I could bring my entire CD collection on road trips
– I could bring Jenny’s entire photo collection on road trips
– I really feel the need for a portable audio player that has all of my music readily available
– It would help with my career as a recording engineer
– I would be the coolest guy for about 2 weeks

BAD
– It is very expensive for an mp3 player
– I will never have 60GB of music
– I will struggle with not wanting to upgrade it to the next generation iPod, so it could be very expensive

****

Line 6 PODxt Livehttp://line6.com/podxtlive/

GOOD
– One pedalboard, instead of separate delay, distortion, volume and tuner pedals
– I could easily bring excellent effects along for any practice, not just important gigs
– It would work with my Peavey Ultra rig, but also my Fender Princeton combo
– I could plug it directly into a system and not even use an amp
– I could record directly into the computer, via a USB connection
– It would give me the opportunity to bring out my other axes (Yamaha AEX500, Godin SDXT) so I wouldn’t feel bad about owning useless, but expensive guitars
– It is a fair price for a floorboard version of the PODxt, and a fair price for a modeling pedal with that many options
– It would help with my career as a musician
– I would be the coolest guitar player for a while

BAD
– Although I love my Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler, I’m a bit wary of using modeled distortions and amps. In many cases, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
– I might end up using it only for the effects, and not the amp modeling
– Line 6 is a great brandname in the prosumer world, but I prefer to have authentic pro gear (although I do understand that many pro recording artists like John Mayer’s guitarist use Line 6 gear). I might be tempted to put tape over the POD logo. Silly me.
– The sounds would no doubt be great, but will they be usable on each of different setups (live, practice, direct for recording, headphones for personal practice)? The POD is supposed to accomadate and adjust tone for those types of differences, but I would actually need to hear it.

Well, I’ve not made up my mind. You may think I being materialistic, but keep in mind that both gadgets have features that would help my career, as well as help me serve God. (Although I don’t think I’ll go as far as to say that I bought an iPod to serve God – I would be able to say that about the PODxt Live). PLEASE HELP!

New Job and New Chapter in Life

I’ve been hired as the assistant audio engineer at Pantano Christian Church, one of Tucson’s semi-mega-churches. There will be good times ahead. Currently, I’m responsible for running the monitor console, as well as front-of-house when I’m needed. I have a lot of goals for the future of the sound ministry at PCC, and this is one church that will move and jump on changes and improvements.

One major goal I have is to get professional recording equipment installed at the monitor console. Audio recording is my lot in life. And with professional recordings (as in, a MOTU 24i/o system hooked into a PowerMac Dual G5), PCC will be able to distribute videos with much better sound quality, and they will also be able to offer CDs for a nominal fee.

“Sounds” like fun!

What the heck is going on?

Astrodome

I’m sorry, I thought we lived in America. Three cheers for the blogosphere, which has saved us from the censored corporate media.

Media being turned away from Jefferson Parish

FEMA to Reuters: no photos of the dead

Rape, Murder and Beatings in Astrodome (Houston!!), and Emergency Radio broadcast blocked
(caution – I’m not endorsing this website, but the reporter, Xeni, also contributes to Wired News and National Public Radio)

Pictures from inside Astrodome

Katrina Disaster Not Void of Religious Fanatics

From a recent Reuters article I just finished perousing:

“Natural disaster is caused by the sin in the world,” said Maj. John Jones, the group’s area commander. “The acts of God are what happens afterwards … all the good that happens.”

So, then, what was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? What about the Great Flood? Why wasn’t Hurrican Katrina an act of God? And, if Katrina was an act of God, then it was not caused by the sin of the world, but rather it was caused because of the sin of the world. Former Bayou witch doctors, beware.

To say that God is only responsible for the G-Rated relief funds and rescue operations is to be as ignorant as the Pastor who claims that “Jesus is your best friend.

The God of the Bible is a God of Wrath, and while Christ commands compassion towards others, don’t ever think you can slip through life without receiving a final Judgement. Yes that sounds harsh, but Christianity wasn’t meant to be a hippy, friend-loving peachy queen religion. Christianity is about a perfect man who agreed to be brutally murdered so that everyone else could have a chance at eternity.

Please donate to the relief fund. But don’t use a tragic natural disaster as a means to distribute unbiblical commercial-American Jesus-is-safe agenda. Oh, and please DON’T donate to the Southern Baptist Convention. They distributed a film to be shown in churches about how good THEY are, and how much THEY have done for the Katrina disaster. The video forgot to mention how blessed and thankful they are of Christ’s gift to them – the financial support from hard-working Baptists.

“He is not a tame Lion.” – Mr. Beaver

Work Subroutine

Put this little subroutine into your robot worker to make it more human like. Don’t bother me about the fact that it is a hybrid of DOS and BASH scripting. That happened because, well… see for yourself what happened to my /proc/brain.

:START

do work

if work = $good
goto START
fi

if work = $evil
goto END
fi

:END
/proc/brain > /dev/null
shutdown -h now

Usability – Real and Virtual

Alright, fine! I’m back and I should be posting more often, but I’m lazy. Has it ever bothered you that software developers are often terrible at designing interfaces? These guys are, and I am too. But software developers aren’t the only ones…

Microwave Ovens are the worst offenders of keypads on appliances. There is no standard, so it is a free-for-all whenever an appliance maker designs a new oven. Here is the keypad on a 1993 GE SpaceMaker:

Microwave Oven

How do you enter 1:30, judging from this image? You’re thinking “just press 1, 3, 0” but you’d be wrong. Actually, to enter exact cook times on this cooker, you have to press “TIME COOK” first. So for some reason, it is now faster to enter 1:30 by pressing 1 (which gives 1:00) and “ADD 30 SECONDS” (which gives 1:30). A word to GE – number keypads should all work as expected, okay? And we expect them to work when we first press them. Imagine having a cell phone where you had to press a “DIAL NUMBER” button before dialing the number.

I’m a little upset with my microwave, as you can see.

Here’s another useability flaw that I came across today. This is the page shown when you click “Help Center” at buydomains.com, where I have one my domains registered:

BuyDomains.com

As you can see, it presents a FAQ index. But it doesn’t show the most popular FAQs. It does allow for searching the FAQs, but at first glance a user won’t notice that, because it is in a separate box that includes a list of links to other locations. Wonderful. Next you’ll see the “Contact Us” link, which takes you to a webform where you can fill in your name, email, problem description, and “traceroute if it is a connection problem with one of your sites.” Are you kidding me?

They don’t provide any contact email, phone number or IM. A hint to all web startups: make it EASY for the customer to get answers from a real person. FAQs are fun to make, and sometimes fun to read, but are useless when not exhaustive knowledgebases (such as Microsoft’s KB). For a real world metaphor, read on.

You’ve just walked up to the Customer Service desk at your local Walmart SuperCenter. There is no receptionist nor representative. There is no telephone. There is only a 3 ring binder which, upon opening, reveals a list of questions that Walmart customers frequently ask. The top page is an index, and thumbing through it you see answers to all kinds of questions. Not surprisingly, you are unable to find the answer to your question. Now you have noticed that there is a ticket machine. It is tucked away to one corner, so you didn’t even see it when you first approached the desk. You take a ticket, and read the text on the back of the ticket: “Thank you for your inquiry. You should receive a response within the next 48 hours.”

We would never put up with this at Walmart, so why do so many of us put up with it on Customer Support websites?

Internet Everywhere

Captain’s Log: StarDate, er… June 25th, 2005.

Location: the ocean. Technically speaking, Pacific Beach in sunny San Diego.

I’m blogging in the ocean. Oh yeah. Peace out.

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. :)