Dispersing Acoustical Myths

Today’s post is by a good friend of mine, Greg Jackson. He uses his humor and dry wit to present an otherwise dusty topic… handling acoustical issues in your room.

Cave ArtThe arcane science of acoustic design can be dated back to the earliest cave-dwellers, who have been found, through archeological excavation, to have hung animal pelts from the walls to keep their domiciles from feeling so “live.”

That’s not true. It was an allegory. About a cave. But it sounded good, no? Such is the case with a lot of the information floating around out there relating to acoustics: it sounds great, but it’s malarky. We see it a lot in regards to studio design, but it reaches a lot further than that. I had a guy call once that had a large, noisy piece of machinery in a room, and was wondering how many absorption panels he needed to buy to keep it from being heard outside. Answer? However many you need to stack under it to raise it a foot off the floor.

We’ve all experienced bad acoustics, whether we knew it or not. Gyms are an obvious example, but consider the restaurant that is so reflective, you have to shout to get your wife to hear you over the sound of utensils clanging together, or the doctor’s office where you can hear his conversation with the guy in the next exam room (that’s why the people in the waiting room were snickering when you left). The best way to dispel myth is with a little education, so, armed with the sword of truth, let’s hack to pieces the enemy forces of ignorance and let forth the battle cry “Scientia Potentia Est!!!” (Hey, I didn’t know GI Joe spoke Latin!)

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Choosing a Projector

projectorSee if this scenario sounds familiar to you in any way: Mark needs a new projector for his facility but he’s not sure what to get. To avoid buying the wrong equipment, he talks to one of the people in charge of “tech” at his organization. The suggestion comes back that surely a 3500 lumen projector will be plenty of oomph (a good tech term) for the room. An order is placed and two weeks later, Mark has a new projector. Not only that, they also purchased a shiny new ceiling mount to hang their oomphy projector.

Mark and Mr. Tech get into the facility on a Saturday afternoon to install the projector. The first thing they do is try it on a cart to see where it should be installed. After turning it on and waiting for it to warm up, they begin to wonder how long it will take to get to full brightness. After a few moments, they realize it IS at full brightness, which will be somewhat dim for this room. Ok, they can deal with that. They roll the cart back to the spot where they would like to install the ceiling mount, only to find that they cannot zoom the projector to fill the screen completely (or it is too big and they can’t get it small enough). When they find the spot that actually works, they find they cannot install the ceiling mount because there’s a big (you fill in the bank… light, beam, etc) in the way. So… now what?

This scenario is, unfortunately, all too familiar in churches and businesses everywhere. How do you know what kind of projector to look for? Where do you start?

Considerations

There are many factors that come into play when choosing a projector. Let me address just a few that will get you pointed in the right direction. Here are a few questions you need to consider:

1. What is the intended use or application? Is this for a classroom or boardroom? Maybe it’s a portable church. Is this an established room that needs a permanent install? Each application calls for a different solution and it’s all too easy to grab the wrong projector, pay too much money for too much power, or undershoot your needs.

2. What is your screen size and ratio? Do you need 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen)? While most projectors will adapt to what signal your sending, it’s always best to have a projector that’s native to your ratio. Otherwise you’ll end up with wasted screen space in the form of letter boxing or columns. You’ll also need your actual screen size for calculation as we’ll discuss in a moment.

3. What is your distance available for projection? This will be a major determination for your projector concerning brightness and throw ratio.

4. How much ambient light is present in your room? Do you have a large number of windows? What about projected light? Are your lights suspended from a low ceiling, forcing your lights to be lower than a 45 degree angle and possibly throwing light on your screen?

5. Are you planning front projection or rear projection?

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Melodyne: Tuning Vocals… and Tuning Guitars, Keyboards and Other Things During the Mix

melodyne

This post will most likely find a much smaller interested audience than my last post, which topped half a million readers (craziness!). This time I’m talking to that unique demographic of people who spend countless hours in the engineer’s chair at a recording studio. So, for the 12 people who will read this, I’ve discovered a wonderful program called Melodyne.

For years, I’ve been involved in vocal production for studio projects. I am always striving to get the best sound, as any engineer would do. Some musical styles call for that slightly out of tune floating-around-the-pitch sound. I am not involved in much of that. My stable of projects either have a full band with a lead vocal and background vocals that need tuning, or a complete a capella song where everything needs tuning.

For years, I’ve used a program called Autotune. Most people have heard of this, since it was popularized by its overuse, resulting in robotic voicing. I believe Cher was one of the first to do this back in the 90’s. It’s so popular it has resulted in a slew of iOS apps that achieve the same result for the fun of it. Too much.

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The Secret Behind the “Like” Button

Facebook header

I have long held suspicions that the Like button on Facebook is not your friend.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the pictures floating around Facebook that seem to make no sense. There seems to be no end to the litany of crossword puzzles asking you to “type the first word you see.” Maybe you’ve seen a picture of… well, almost anything that might elicit a reaction, asking you to “share if you agree, Like of you don’t.”

How about the innumerable political posts, calling for impeachment or support? Are all those posts really put out there by people who care? Then, of course, you see a good number of “If I get 100,000 likes, my dad will take me to Disneyland.” It all seems quite innocent, but you need to understand that this is big business, and commenting or liking is not in your best interest.

prism

Here’s a perfect example: have you seen the colorful picture of a prism with the image from the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album in it? It’s accompanied buy the caption: “OMG it really works! Step 1: Click on the Picture. Step 2: Hit Like. Step 3: Comment “MOVE” Then see the Magic!!” The picture has 1000’s of likes and comments, so there MUST be something to this. You make the leap, click and comment, and BOOM… crickets.

While what you expect to happen obviously doesn’t, something else happens. Your activity has now spread this image and the page into the news feed of all your friends.

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What Happens When an iOS Fanboy Buys an Android Tablet

Nexus7I fully admit I am an avid, Kool-aid drinking fanboy of Apple products. I have used 2 different iPads in my past couple of jobs, going from an iPad2 to the 3 with the retina display. I am on my 3rd iPhone. I’m still using my 2008 Macbook Pro and it continues to run like a champ in 2013 and I just recorded a new album on my 2006 Mac Pro Quad and it never even hiccuped. Apple just has great quality products that deliver consistently excellent results.

Since I’ve begun working for myself at Moyers Design, I had to give up my iPad3 and have been without a tablet for over a year. I got to the point that I needed a tablet in order to fully function as a mobile professional. The trouble was, I didn’t have $350 to drop on an iPad mini. After some exposure to the Android operating system (you can read my account of that in this post), I decided to give it a try for about a third less in total cost.

This Apple fanboy bought a Google Nexus 7.

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Hyena Eyes: A Story of North Africa

jumjum

We have some friends who are missionaries in northern Africa, I cannot say where. It amazes me what they go through on a daily basis (with their two small children… one, a baby) in their efforts to serve the Lord and the Muslim population. They have a new post on their blog that came in today and I felt like I needed to share it with my readers. It certainly puts things into perspective. The following is a slightly edited version of a normal daily entry from North Africa.


On Facebook I have seen lots of people refer to “#firstworld problems”; these issues are usually about various technological devices or modern conveniences. I also have some friends who have made jokes of “#thirdworld problems” which usually involve latrines or various animals in unexpected places. But this week I have decided we need a third category, something along the lines of “First-world-people-in-the-third-world problems.” Those problems that only those few first-world people have, but we only have them when we are in the third-world. I have had several lately. They include:

When you read at night, big moths keep turning the pages of your kindle touch.

Or, you can’t fit all the stuff you brought on the chartered airplane in your mud hut.

Or, you don’t have any clean clothes because the ladies who hand wash your clothes all ran off on “Tribal Warfare Day.” (A long story for another time…)

Or, you can only send emails on your laptop because the internet access in the aforementioned mud hut is really crappy.

Because of that last particular problem I have been blogging by sending my mom emails (when we can get them to go out) that she then posts on blogger for me.

It’s been a good week! It still isn’t raining yet but several blustery storms have rumbled through bringing with them the sweet tang of rain that smells dark and leafy green, like the salad I have been craving. Whether our bodies are just adjusting to the heat or it has actually cooled off some, I’m not sure but I have been enjoying those moments that I am not sweating profusely.

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Spring Break

If you follow my blog at all, you may have noticed that I’ve been particularly quiet as of late. I decided, mostly after the fact, to take a sabbatical from blogging during the month of April.

Hello May. Time to get back at it.

I am considering a facelift for the site as well. We’ll see about that. Either way, I’ll have more posts for you soon. Thanks for reading…

Swade’s Big Facebook Fast

Swade MoyersMany of you have wondered where I’ve been and why I’ve posted so little over the past month. The following will explain. On March 2, 2013, my cousin Swade Moyers entered the following status update on Facebook. “I’m taking a break form Facebook! See y’all in a month!” Yes, he said “form.” I felt obliged to keep him up to date during his absence. The following is a mostly day-by-day account of my replies to him on Facebook. I think the day count got a little messed up toward the end, but that’s not the important part. Enjoy…

Day One:

Swade has left Facebook. I think it’s a Facebook fast. I hereby commit to chronicle his absence on a mostly daily basis. On this, the first day of Swade’s Facebook fast, hereafter referred to as the big FF, Obama’s sequester has gone into effect. Facebook is buzzing with stupid graphics talking about how this is or isn’t a fiscal apocalypse. When Swade returns in a month, we will know one way or the other.

Day Four:

I must admit that I forgot days 2 and 3. I guess I need to take a break from Facebook as well because I seem to be way too busy to do any comments. You haven’t missed much, except for the crazy graphics going around saying name a city that doesn’t have an E in it, or name a color without a Q in it. Everyone makes a comment about how stupid it is. Before you know it, it has several thousand comments. Then they sell the page to some company who will use your name in their advertisements because you commented on their page, even though it wasn’t their page when you did it. Its the new golf rush on Facebook. Sell your comments and capitalize on everyone’s stupidity. Enough for today. Enjoy your big FF.

Enough for today except that my autocorrect changed the word gold to the word golf. FOUR!

Day Five:

A major snowstorm is hitting DC. The news is going nuts reporting the storm. But when it hits here with I-27 closed and I-40 closed from Albuquerque to OKC, we only get a passing comment on the national news. In other news, the stock market is pushing an all time high. Probably has something to do with the death of Hugo Chavez yesterday. All in all, the day five post is way too serious. Day six will be better.

Day Six:

Since yesterday was so heavy, today’s bigFF post is a touch lighter. 6 knock knock jokes for day 6.

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Kickstarter Success

follow us on kickstarterIf you have followed me on Facebook or any other social media outlets, you’ve probably seen that the Kickstarter campaign I mentioned a few posts ago has finished. And finished very well. We set our goal at $26,500 and we received $31,660… 120% of our goal. To say we are excited about it is somewhat of an understatement. I’ll have a lot more to say about Chasing David and where we go from here in future posts. For now, I thought I’d address a question I’ve already been asked… “What did you guys do to make sure your Kickstarter campaign was a success?”

I’ve seen several books and e-books on this very subject. Here’s my take on it and I’m not charging a thing.

We relied heavily on the social aspect of Kickstarter. We did several big pushes on Facebook and used the promoted post feature 3 or 4 times. Also, every time we did an update on our campaign we would post a link to the update page on our facebook profile.

We were counseled early on to not be afraid to use the “a” word – Ask. Whenever we would post something on Facebook, we would always ask everyone to please share it on their own personal profile along with a message for support. That got a lot of traction.

Also , the use of videos helped tremendously. We took our time and did a humorous, upbeat and yet serious video for our campaign. You need to make sure that it is embedded into your Kickstarter page. They walk you through that and they make it part of the box at the top of the page. That’s important. You don’t want people to have to leave your Kickstarter page to go watch your video because most of them won’t come back. That’s not a statement on quality, that’s just the way the Internet is.

Also, about halfway through our campaign, my daughter suggested that we do some kind of music video. Up to that point we did not have anything showing our musical style. We got together and shot a video with just a few simple cameras and did a quick mix on it. We posted this on Facebook, YouTube, the Kickstarter page, and just about everywhere we could post it. We noticed a considerable up-tick in pledges after the video went live.

And last but not least, since there are 3 of us, we were able to tell people about it at church and get support there. Thats 3 different churches.

Other than that and copious amounts of prayer, that was pretty much the formula. Kickstarter allows you to tap into social media pretty easily. You have to take advantage of that and get people to share your Kickstarter page. It’s the same concept as the “street team” in concert publicity… just all online.

If you have a Kickstarter campaign coming up or are considering it, let me know. Sound off! For now, I leave you with the music video we recorded with cheap cameras and iPhones. Enjoy…

Make Your Work More Productive in 2013

Results - Productivity

Today’s guest post is from Ray Edwards. This is the kind of thing I really need to hear, since my focus and productivity levels seem to be roughly equivalent to the level of H20 in my town of Shallowater. The original post can be found here, but I have included it in it’s entirety for you.


I took the last few days to contemplate what worked for me, in terms of productivity, over the past year – and what did not work. The result: a new plan for improved productivity in 2013. While you may not wish to duplicate my plan point-for-point, I thought you might find it useful to see my “working blueprint”. Maybe it will serve as a springboard for your own fresh new productivity tweaks.

Productivity Philosophy

I looked at a number of productivity programs and approaches, many of which I have used in the past. After careful consideration, I still can’t find another system that works as well as Getting Things Done. While I find great ideas in the Franklin Covey approach, among others, GTD makes the most sense for me. If you are not familiar with the GTD philosophy, I encourage you to read David Allen’s seminal work on stress-free productivity. A great augmentation to the GTD material is one of my favorite new podcasts and websites, Erik Fisher’s “Beyond the To-Do List”.

Planning

In keeping with my adherence to GTD, my planning is fairly simple. I have a weekly review session on Fridays, during which I collect all the inputs that have accumulated over the past week, and one by one clear them from my inbox. For each item I decide whether to do it, delegate it, or delete it. Simple, but not always easy. In 2012, I reached the mythical “inbox zero” only about 50% of the time. My goal for the new year is to reach inbox zero 80% of the weeks in the year.

Disciplined Tracking

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have never been great at tracking my activities. I am resolved to change that in 2013. In the realm of fitness, I have hired a personal trainer, and invested in a FitBit (this little device tracks my physical activity throughout the day). For business activities, I am developing a dashboard for my company in Excel to keep track of key metrics. For productivity purposes, I have reinstalled RescueTime, to help me evaluate how I’m spending my time on the computer. I am resolved to reduce my computer time in the new year significantly.

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