Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"The devil's day"

I have to laugh at that statement. He doesn't get any days in my book. However, the world does want to celebrate something so we can go along in our own way. I saw this post over at Bob Franquiz's blog. It certainly makes me rethink this day with some new eyes.

On a different note, I'm trying to prioritize some projects at work right now. Things have gotten almost overwhelming. I had to sit down and talk with my boss about how to get thru all the work. Whew... pray for me.. The list has 19 things on it that I want to get done and soon. And as you know, Sundays come with amazing regularity. Always more to do than can fight into a reasonable schedule.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Weekend Video

I put together a video to support our weekend services. We are doing a series called Contagious Generosity based around Barry Cameron's book of the same title. Pastor Cameron came and started our series a few weeks back. You can listen to the series so far at the CFC webiste.
The video was done using Sony Vegas 6.0. The photos are from our stock photo library and the music was a mix I did with some of the Digital Juice Stacktraxx. If you have never used the Stacktraxx software I highly reccommend it. There are 17 volumes of music that you can buy. Each one comes with up to 40 songs. Each song has been cut in a full version, normally 3 to 4 minutes, and a 60, 30, 15, and 10 second version. Best of all is that every song can be rendered into its separate tracks so you can mix it the way you want.

I do have a very nice Mac G5 dual processor system in my office loaded with OSX 10.4 and Final Cut Studio HD. I've spent probably 80-100 hours working in FC using some of the Apple training materials and a couple of small projects. In general it is a good editor as everyone in the world will tell you, however, Vegas is much faster, way easier to use, has a simplier effects system, full scale real time color correction, and better real time processing. I do understand that the new version has added many of these features and I did actually order it this week. I will certainly give it more time, but honestly, I don't see what the fuss is about. Anyway, not trying to bash here, just letting you know where I am with video.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Words don't do it justice. They can't describe how blessed I feel to work with the volunteer team God put in place around me. These are some great people! Yesterday was one of those days. We had a number of technical cues, more than our usual Sunday. We had some computer problems with the video system we use and it just creates a more stressful situation than I want for my team. The team just stepped up to the plate and got things going very fast and with no help from me. Not just our video guys, but the sound guy as well. As I was making my way to the video room to help them, I knew that our sound guy for the morning would keep things running smooth. What relief it is to know I work with such great people. People that are passionate about the technical arts and strive for excellence in what they do. I often say that there is no glory in what we do. And yet, the team shows up each week and does such a great job. Thanks guys, you make me look better than I am.

Where in the world is Dave?

I've been reading Dave Rat's blog this year as he travels the world as the FOH engineer for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Its a great read with lots of fun stuff and cool tricks that Dave uses on the road. I have a lot of respect for Dave and his skills. He does some very innovative stuff with both speaker design and system design.
He is now selling some advertising space on Ebay. If you could get the space what would you say?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wireless systems

In the words of Bruce Smith, the brilliant former Tech Director at Willow Creek and the founder of Church Solutions Group, "Wireless is hard." These days the old VHF systems are basically useless in many areas due to TV broadcasts. Even some of the older UHF frequencies that have been used for years by wireless systems are being eaten by HDTV broadcasts. Its becoming increasing difficult to get good systems and stay away from the barrage of RF that invades all of us.
I mentioned before about completing an addition to our building. In that project we completly renovated a room that was being used by our hispanic ministry for their services and turned it into a formal chapel, stained glass and all. I upgraded the main speakers and monitor systems in the room using Nexo PS10's and Renkus Heinz boxes. Unfortunately, I was unable to purchase new wireless for that room. They were still using some VERY old VHF systems that had certainly seen better days. Since completion I have discovered that the old systems are getting interference and are just plain not working well anymore. Since we now use that room as a wedding chapel I managed to procure funds from the wedding income account and bought 3 new Shure SLX combo systems. Each one has a lapel mic (WL185) with a body pack and a handheld SM58. They are the basic middle of the road type of systems, but more than enough for that room. One of the really cool features is the built in frequency scanner. A couple of button pushes on each receiver and it finds the first available frequency in its set. Now just hold the belt pack or handheld up to the front of the receiver and press the Sync button and it programs the tranmitter side. SWEET! No more spending HOURS finding the open frequencies and then pushing, often tiny, buttons to make everything work. Thanks Shure, for making my life easier.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Joe Gibbs

For the non-sportsfan, Joe Gibbs is the head coach of the Washington Redskins football team. He is, more importantly, a man of God. Coach Gibbs has a weekly "spiritual gameplan" that he does on his website. They are available in audio, video, and hard copy pdf formats. Its a real privillage to be able to work with him on these. Even in the tough times, Coach Gibbs has a great perspective on his work and life. Check them out and pass it along to someone that might be struggling. Even Dallas Cowboys fans need Jesus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Aviom troubles

Tonight, as our rehearsal was starting, I discovered a problem with our Aviom system. Half of the boxes had no audio. Hmm..a network problem I guess. working my way thru the system I find the last one that is working and get a new cable to the next one in the chain, still no audio. I finally put in a new box in the spot where the network seems to stop and snap, it all works. Best I can determine I have a bad output on the network side of the Aviom box. Considering these boxes never move and the network has been stable, I have no idea why one would just not output correctly. Now here is the oddest part, the little network light on each unit would light up when I plugged in the cable like it was seeing the network, but there was no audio. Looks like I will have to send it back to Aviom for repair.

I'll post some pictures of an easy way to add some punch to your stage with just a few lights and a projector.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Making a good impression

In case you dont know, I'm BIG into making a good impression. In particular the first impression. It is from this perspective that I share this experience.
We have recently finished expanding our facility. As a part of this project I am moving to a new office. I had hoped to be able to buy some new office furniture but my budget at the church nor my personal one would allow that at this time. No big deal really, I've never had new office funiture, ever. Its always been used. It just so happened that one of my friends at church wanted to do something nice for me and knew I was moving to the new office and got me a wonderful gift of a gift card from IKEA, you know the swedish funiture people. I was so excited! Actually getting new funiture for my new office, awesome!
I look up the nearest IKEA store and make plans to go. The nearest one was still about an hour away on the other side of DC. No problem, I decide, I like driving around DC. (sarcasm, please). Honestly, given the quality of the gift I really didn't mind the drive. I spent a few minutes looking online to see what might interest me and then off I go.
Upon my arrival I notice the store is reasonably busy but only about half of the parking lot was full so I figure it wont be a difficult purchase. I spent a good bit of time looking at and sitting behind several different desks and decide which would work best for me. The saleswoman was friendly and helpful and things were looking good. As I talked with her, I began to wonder about getting this large item in my little car. It comes in several pieces but still the desktop is one large piece. I discuss the matter with the saleswoman and express my concerns. She tells me I can get basically the same desk without the nice corner design in a standard straight desk and I decide that it would be better in terms of getting it in my vehicle. She places the order and off I go to find the cashiers and pay for it all.
I was confronted with the maze of the store to get back to the front where the stairs are located, since the showroom for funiture was upstairs. After going down the steps I don't see a way to get to the registers easily. I soon discover I must walk all the way to the back of the store again to get thru to the other side of the wall and then walk all the way back to the front to get to the registers. Herein begins some frustration on my part and a major ding on the bell of poor customer service. I understand they want you to walk thru the store in hopes of you purchasing something else, but I want to get to what I want and get out quickly. Think Walmart here.
After making my purchase, I'm told I need to make my way to the furniture pickup area where they will call my number when it is brought out. There is a convenient loading area near the doors so I take the few items I have in hand and take them out to my car and move up to the doors hoping by that time they will have gotten my furniture ready for pickup. I inquire at the counter about my order and am told it will be about 30-40 minutes before its ready. WHAT?!? Wow, well not much I can do I guess. Its about this time that I notice a sign nearby stating they have a delievery service. GREAT, I think, but I sure wish the saleswoman would have mentioned that earlier given my angst over getting the larger desk in my car! /sigh. At this point I'm ready to just pay a few dollars and have all the stuff delievered. I grab the form to fill out with all the information about where I want it taken and notice a tiny sign stating that I must have the funiture I wish to be delievered with me before I can proceed. Now I'm thinking, "You must be kidding!" I have to sit and wait, then wait again while you take my money again for it to be brought to me? I just have to shake my head and wonder what person thought this was a great way to serve their customers.
Eventually I get my furniture, manage to get it all in my car and get home. I am very pleased with my new office, and am eternally thankful to the kindness of friends for the gift, but I am doubtful as to ever darkening the door of an IKEA store again.

If you want to learn how you and your church can make great impressions on people, read First Impressions by Mark Waltz. It will be an eye opening experience for you.