another brick in the wall part 1

as long as i’ve been her victim, i’ve done really well to keep you guys out of it. it’s not something you need to be bothered with and it’s not worth slandering someone over. i learned along time ago don’t sent email out of emotion.  So i’ve gotten to take some time to sit revalue and think for a while.  The typical audience of this blog know me and know the plight that is common with her.  A few weeks ago she suggested that she hire someone to come and fix our sound system.  The worship leader came up to me cautiously telling me what her plan was and I enthusiastically consented.  I figured if she was willing to spend the money to bring in a professional who know what they were doing better than the rest of us, great!  If it was a true professional then they would also be able to more critically assess issues that go beyond the wires and circuits and be hopefully be taken with more authority than coming from me.

So this past thursday she sent me a text message:

– mobile
1/26/12 1:38 PM 4 days ago
Pricilla: (1/2) Hi John… Just wanted to let u know that a sound engineer will b at practice tonight at 6 pm. Thank u so much for being open to the idea! I greatly, 1:36 PM
Pricilla: (2/2) greatly appreciate it! 1:36 PM
So he comes that evening and this is what he finds:
From: Danny 
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012 16:20
Subject: Sound system review

First of all, I would like to thank you for allowing me to visit your facility and trusting me to evaluate your audio equipment. My main goal is to take your system to its full potential thus allowing your services to run as smooth as possible no matter who is sitting behind the desk. Here is a list of problems I found while listening to the system both with my iPod and the praise team (without getting too technical).

1) The overall sound is a bit harsh, lacks body and midrange. The problem is in the equalization (both on the desk and in the DriveRack) and uneven level sends to each speaker component. This can easily be resolved by resetting the equalizer to flat (on the DriveRack) and by correcting output levels (on the DriveRack and the amplifiers).
2) The overall sound was too “restricted”. When the main volume was raised, I could clearly hear the limiter kicking in. Upon looking through the mixer, I could see that most channels are being over-compressed. I would’ve liked to have looked at the DriveRack because I suspect there is a problem with the compressors on there as well. This problem can be solved by adjusting each individual channel  as well as the DriveRack.
3) Problems with gain structure. When I looked at the mix desk, I saw that the main volume was lowered quite a bit. When I heard the band start up, I could tell that the mixer was unbalanced. Vocals were louder than the rest of the instruments, which led to the lowering of the main volume, which reduced the volume of other channels that were already too low. That’s why you can’t hear the choir, violin or sax. This issue can be fixed by resetting the gains on the mix desk.
4) Choir mics sounded “hollow” (in my headphones). The simple explanation is that these mics are too close together. Spacing them a bit further apart will help.
On stage, the only real problem I found was the location and volume of the guitar and bass amplifiers. Relocating the guitar amps (off stage, if possible) would really help bring the overall stage volume down. It will also clean up your stage, which will help when filming for television or internet. You could also reduce the volume (or completely get rid of) the bass amplifier. It is going directly into the mixer, so the tone will not change much. I also recommend your musicians look into getting some in-ear headphones. This will help them hear their mix better at a lower volume, which will encourage them to turn their amps down and play softer. This is another way to help lower stage volume. Quality in-ear headphones aren’t that expensive. carries most brands at a discount. For health purposes, musicians should not share earbuds. This is why they should look into investing in their own set. I will gladly make recommendations of some brands I have personally used in the past, usually under $40.
The last issue I would like to address has to do with John, the head of your A/V department. I didn’t get much cooperation from him. I had some questions about the system in general but before I knew it, he was gone. He made it pretty clear that he did not like the fact that I was there. If I did anything to offend him, I will gladly sit down with John and discuss what bothered him. People on the praise team and volunteers alike stated that they are afraid to ask for anything from him because he is quick to get upset. I have also heard from Priscilla that he does not take constructive criticism well. Everyone that works with John obviously care about him and they feel he has so much potential as a leader and an engineer but his attitude is holding him back. As a fellow engineer who has worked with some of the best and most demanding clients, I know how frustrating this industry can be. You have to be mature both mentally and spiritually to allow good criticism in and let the negative slide right off. There is a lot of give and take. You HAVE to compromise and be patient. Most importantly, you have to be willing to SERVE.
Once again, thank you for trusting me with this evaluation. I look forward to going back soon and working with you and your staff to address the issues stated here. I would also like to schedule a meeting to go over the details of how this will be accomplished. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me via email or telephone. God bless you.
yeah.. So stay tuned tomorrow for my response.
(the previously mentioned email did not have any confidentially clause affixed to it or any contact in place deeming any discovery privilege to the parties involved)

The secret of the easy yoke

The secret of the easy yoke
Pedro the lion

I could hear the church bells ringing
They peeled aloud your praise
The members’ faces were smiling
With their hands outstretched to shake

Its true they did not move me
My heart was hard and tired
The perfect fire anoint me
I could not find you any where

Could someone please tell me the story of sinners ransomed from the fall
I still have never seen you
And some days I don’t love you at all

The devoted were wearing bracelets to remind them why they came
Some concrete motivation and the abstract could not do the same
But if all that’s left is duty
I’m falling on my sword
At least then I would not serve an unseen distant lord

Could someone please tell me the story of sinners ransomed from the fall
I still have never seen you
And some days I don’t love you at all

If this is only a test I hope that I’m passing
’cause I’m losing esteem
But I still want to trust you

Peace, Be still
Peace, Be still
Peace, Be still
Peace, Be still

707-955-3042 Another Credit Card Scam

Photo Jan 26, 12 06 13 PMThe bad guys are limiting themselves here a bit. 


7079553042: Dear H&R Block customer your EmeraldCard has been locked.  Call 7079553042 to unlock it.”

They are hoping that who ever get’s this text message is an H&R Block customer and that they have an EmeraldCard.  So you call back the number and then you have to key in your entire credit card number, expiration date and your PIN. 

The voices are all computer readouts, no actual voice recordings.  the IVR is pretty advanced.  It challenges the number you key with the actual structure of mastercard.  So I threw in a test MC just to see what would happen.  Sure enough they tried to run charges through using the bogus data sent over. 

If your reading this then your part of an audience that is SURELY cleaver enough not to fall for this sort of scam but perhaps someone may “google” that number and be pre-warned of such a silly attempt. 

Chronicles of an upgrade

About a year ago i first got a call that he wanted to get back on television. When i first started here back in 97 they had a weekly 2am tv show, the 11th hour. Then LPTV 57 came online and they began carrying their show on that. The equipment being used was impressive for it’s day.
12 channel component analog switcher. 3 sony 3CC PTZ’s with 17x fujinon lenses. And a Panasonic on a tripod all with CCUs. Mastering could be done on a Sony BetaCAM and a Panasonic DVCPro deck.

When talks first started about this, the TV HD conversion had just been pushed through so with this new directive i knew if we wanted to be back on local broadcast we would also need to be compliant with HD standards. Our existing equipment just wouldn’t cut it.
Things just were getting old. The Cambridge robotic system was only 2/3’s working and the company that manufactured it didn’t even exist anymore. The original EchoLab switcher had already been sent in for repair and wasn’t reliable anymore so all switching was being done on a Panasonic 4 channel mixer. The rear camera was transmitting a single composite feed instead of a multicore.

I had a vision of what a new program would include and now i had an chance to explore it. The biggest problem with the production is that the core portion of the program isn’t the worship portion but the sermon. Typically this is just a single rear camera capturing him on the pulpit. Once in a while a look into the audience, hold it for 10 seconds and the back to the pulpit. The best way to change this would be by putting two rear cameras in the rear. One tight. One wide. And then pushes and pulls between the two to keep motion during the entire show rather than a single static shot for 25 minutes. Also putting in three new PTZ’s mostly for the worship but if used right they could prove useful during the sermons as well.

Another part of the project was choosing a standard. I decided to use 3G HD-SDI, the equipment to produce it is more expensive but it makes the connectivity much cheeper. Instead of needing costly multicore, i could use standard RG6 with BNC connectors. I could make all the cabling myself. And the PTZ and CCU’s all interconnect with Cat5 cabling.

The switcher would be the heart of the entire program. I had looked into a Panasonic multi-format system but all the cards needed would be costly and make upgrades difficult. There really wasn’t any need for a hybrid system and why keep the old technology when we really should be looking forward not backwards. I got to survey a Broadcast Pix slate system a while back and loved the functionality of it but it was a bit more machine that we would need. Now the same company has a Mica machine. Same functions on a scale i could use and continue to grow into. So we are going with the Broadcast Pix Mica 1000 with the PTZ control to allow the director to set macros and run the PTZ’s if a controller isn’t present.

I had been putting together prices and quotes for about a year off and on but finally got the call at the start of the new year about finding a network to carry the new program. I immediately got a hold of the vendor and began putting the final touches on the quotes. When the project first started I had come up with a ball park and the initial solid quote came in really close. The deeper i began solidifying the project, the higher the cost kept getting. I ended up cutting some of the luxuries but now i have a list of a few goals i’d like to incorporate into the future going forward such as
AJA Ki Pro – Digital Recorder for editing linkable to the BroadcastPix
ViewCast Streamer – to offload the current stream from the Mac to a dedicated appliance also controllable from the BroadcastPix
Canon XF305 – 3CC HD-SDI handheld field camera with gunlock. originally this was going to be the stage camera, but i’m going to use one of the 750’s for this for the time being.
Temptest – Wireless Clearcom system..

All of those have been cut from the current proposal but not forever lost. Possibly after selling the old equipment these can be a bonus. The plan is to take ALL of the old equipment and put it on craigslist as a entire package. Maybe get $10k for it or more?

I’m planning on using this category as a means of keeping track of the entire project. Today Pastor sent the first check for the communications system and the deposit for the video equipment. The vendor should get it monday and then start ordering.

I threw in a redesign for the control area and the current media office. I’ll post details on those as soon as i get a solid “go” on that part of the project. Yesterday i made up the visio drawings for that, today i worked on the wiring. Going to need about 15 RG-6’s to the wiring hub, each about 150ft in length. that’s 1500 in cable JUST for the trunks. I found a beldin bundle that would do the trick but they were listing for $14,000 for a spool. I think i found a source that must have misprinted the cost at $13. I paid $13 and we’ll see what actually shows up at my door.

AirPrint for the rest of us..

Collobos SoftwareI’m not normally one to endorse a product but I found something yesterday that just made my life and the life of my coworkers much easier, if not cooler.  We have about 12 network printers here where I work, and a wireless mesh network setup with mobility so that people with wireless devices can logon and use the network from anywhere on campus and roam around keeping their connection.  A lot of people are getting iPads, iPhones, and even some iTouchs.  Back in ios 4.2 Apple released AirPrint, a cool feature where you could print from any of those devices using Bonjour for the transport.  In order to print however, you had to have an AirPrint device.  The list at first was small, and it’s grown by a few dozen but no very much.  I was waiting for HP to release some firmware allowing the existing bonjour service to broadcast to AirPrint but nothing yet.  Then I found FingerPrint by Collobos Software.  I tossed it on our print server and instantly all our idevices had the same network printers that the users had from their desktops and laptops.  The currently download on their website gives you about 7 days to test it out to see if it works with your printer and network.  The license is then $9.99.  The program runs on either PC or Mac, which ever is attached to your printer.  In our case it’s on our windows 2008 R2 server.  The current version runs as an application but beta work is in progress with a version that supports running as a service, and customizing the display names.  I would easily (have our company) pay $100 or more for this product.  Get it while it’s hot. 

Disclosure: I’m not receiving any discount or free products with this endorsement.  For only $10, I still feel like I’m ripping them off. 

iPhone, iPad, iTouch and AirPrint is a registered trademarks of Apple Inc.