A Few Things Every Sound Technician Needs for a Live Gig, Which Fit in Your Backpack

Well, we’ve all been there. Setting up a gig, running a sound check or a show, cabling everything up, but there is always something we misplaced or left at home. It’s those little things, which can be time consuming while you try to hunt it down of somebody else running about. It is disruptive, annoying and slows down your workflow. And time is either you greatest asset or biggest liability before and during a live show.

Of course we are not talking about amps, mics and cables here. We’re talking about the little things, the handy ones that are often overlooked.

So what do you need?

A sharpie or black marker
Those little things are lifesavers and come attached to key chains, slip into your pocket or can even be carried in your mouth.

If you ever need to label some stuff on the fly for further reference, like a new patch, channels on your board, a note for the musicians or cables, it would be a shame to spend minutes trying to track somebody down who’s got one. This one is essential.

White Gaff or Masking Tape
Considering we are working in the entertainment industry where there’s plenty of gaffa tape around, it still makes sense to keep the white variety in close proximity. Much like the sharpie, you are going to need it when it comes to labeling your “analogue” board, a new patch cable or tracer, leaving a note on stage, fixing stuff in a highly dodgy manner, marking placements on stage, keeping a lyric sheet at place and removing your girlfriends leg hair.

A Cable Tester (with tone generator and speaker)
To speed things up when it comes to troubleshooting, a cable tester is worth gold. They are cheap, more suitable for the purpose than a multimeter and you can run a test tone through your signal cables. Essential! Some of them even have a little speaker built in, so you can for example check in the amp room if you are getting signal from the board.

A Multimeter
Another tool which is vital for troubleshooting, checking connectivity and continuity. You will usually find one on site but it can take time to track it down, time you should rather spend on working what you get paid for, running a show.

A 9-Volt Battery
Not only can you check the phase of speakers in a quick manner, you could also be a musician’s best friend if his 600-dollar guitar effect pedal power supply starts to smoke up. Nevertheless, some active DI Boxes require a 9 Volt Battery to run properly, and believe me, phantom power or not, if the battery is dead it sounds awful.

SPL Meter and RTA – the poor mans version
To be completely honest, this is not something I would spend a lot of money on. A laptop with Smaart Live and an Earthworks microphone is just overkill for most gigs. I would rather suggest a nice phone app for your iPhone or Android with some readily available and free apps. Some of them can be calibrated quite professionally and if you ever get your hands on a proper SPL meter you will see the difference can be neglected for most purposes.

The Multi-tool
To be fair, you don’t have to spend your after work drinking money on a top of the line Leatherman. A midrange model will do since you’re going to abuse it anyway. Cut, tighten, file, open beers, throw it at somebodies head, whatever you like. Go get one.

A Flashlight/Torch
Despite of phone apps being available, this time I would suggest getting the proper thing. You don’t want to crawl behind racks where you need both hand with a phone in your mouth.

Visually Impaired, Do not leave your glasses behind
This can bite you in the arse in dim lighting when you’re trying to read the small print on an EQ, compressor, label or phone number the girl next to the booth gave you. Pack’em!

Those are the things every sound technician should have when he goes to work. It is professional and will save you loads of time. Furthermore, some other things to consider:

  • Adapters and Adapter Cables
  • Phase reverse cables
  • Y-Splits
  • Speakon links
  • DeOx or Contact Spray
  • Solder and Soldering Iron
  • Hearing Protection
  • Rubber Gloves, non powdered, to waterproof Belt Packs and Mic Transmitters

Author: Alexander Schoenknecht – Sound-Prospect.com

iPhone Apps Abound for the On-The-Go Marketer

Can you use an iPhone in Internet marketing? If you spend any time on the road, the answer is a resounding yes.

With a mind boggling 140,000 apps that run on the iPhone, the device has gone from being a mere cell phone to “your computer away from the computer.” You can surf the web in brilliant detail using a version of Safari that works much like the Safari on your Mac, check up on your sales totals for the month, create to-do lists for the coming days and weeks, read and send e-mail from the same accounts as you use on your Mac, check up on the success of your current Web campaign, and more.

The iPhone has achieved a stunning success in the smart phone marketplace for a reason: it brings Apple’s  quality of workmanship, smoothness and brilliant interface design to the smart phone.

In fact, millions of people who would never think of purchasing a Mac because they are locked into the PC mindset have giddily embraced the iPhone. The iPhone (and iPod) was Apple’s brilliant “foot in the door” that got many PC users to consider the Apple product line. PC users could enjoy Apple’s quality of engineering without the hassle of learning a new computer system and transferring all their files over. In fact, many PC snobs who looked down on the Macintosh have become some of the foremost proponents of the iPod and iPhone line.

In many ways, the iPhone is like a “Mac in your pocket.” It embodies the same stunning quality of engineering and brilliantly well-thought-out interface of the Macintosh. All in a package you can carry in your pocket or hold in the palm of your hand.

Following is a tiny selection of the available iPhone apps that can be of use to Internet marketers.

Action Lists

Creating to-do lists and goals is an important daily activity for any successful business person. Action Lists is one of many to-do list managers available for the iPhone. It is an app that seems simple at first glance but reveals an impressive amount of depth once you start exploring it.

The main screen contains a list of the current to-do lists that you have set. Tapping any one of these items brings up the task details screen in which you can assign the task to a project, set the context, assign a start and due date, set repeat options, add notes, and more. Buttons visible at the bottom of the screen provide quick links to available options.

Roambi

Roambi (pronounced roam-bee) is the slickest, smoothest app for the iPhone I have found to date. It is essentially a spreadsheet program, but, rather then trying to shrink down a standard computer spreadsheet to the iPhone screen, it instead reconfigures the way the data is displayed. It can display data as a stack of cards in a card file, as a catalog of line charts, as a simple interactive pie chart  or as a detailed “super list” showing bar graphs for an extensive list of items.

Roambi doesn’t simply show a scaled-down subset of your spreadsheet data; instead, it totally reconfigures it to perfectly fit the iPhone screen and capabilities. In a Roambi data view, all of the information in a large spreadsheet is accessible, but reformatted in such a way that it is not only accessible but actually kind of beautiful.

AmbiScience Brain Power

Sometimes when you’re on the road you simply want to drown out the hubbub and noise around you. AmbiScience Brain Power can help. It plays a number of soothing sounds that, with headphones, can help you concentrate. The app claims to “sync your brain waves which leaves you feeling refreshed, peaceful and inspired.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that this app is a good way to drown out extraneous sounds.

Aji Reader

Aji Reader is an app that allows you to-get this-view full-sized PDF files on your iPhone. Simply enter in the URL at which the PDF that you wish to view is found on the Web and it will be downloaded to your device. Viewing a PDF formatted for 8.5 x 11 paper on the 2 x 3″ screen can sometimes be a challenge, but landscape mode and the high-resolution of the iPhone screen helps. The app has quite a bit of depth and itself has a 36-page user manual (in PDF format, of course). 

(Note: Apple’s new iBooks app also lets you view PDFs on your iPhone.)

ThinkingMap

Since we rarely think in a linear fashion, and one thought often leads to another in an (hopefully) endless fashion, the mind map as been developed to help us capture our thoughts.

Most people think of using a mind map on a large screen, but a number of mind map programs have been developed for the iPhone. If you’re on the go and you find yourself with some spare time when a brilliant inspiration hits you, it can be handy to have this in your pocket.

ThinkingMap displays a simple black-and-white mind map that effectively takes advantage of the small screen real estate (but does not allow you to move or rearrange topics once you have created them).

SimpleMind

This mind map app offers a more colorful but somewhat less space efficient interface that does allow you to move subtopics around By dragging them with your finger (but does not seem to let you reconnect a subtopic to a different topic if you decide it fits better somewhere else). Both apps let you export your mind map as an image that can be much larger than the iphone’s screen, although SimpleMind offers higher resolution.

Analytics Agent

If you have a spare moment while on the road, why not check up on how your websites are doing? Analytics Agent allows you to access your Google Analytics data through a slick, easy to use interface; just enter your analytics login information and connect!

This is not merely a web page shrunk down to iPhone size. Instead, the analytics data in the form of lists, bar graphs, pie charts and more is reformatted to smoothly fit the iPhone screen. Buttons at the bottom of the interface allow you to view the total number of visits, the number of unique visitors, the page views, the amount of time visitors spend on the site and the bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who view more than just the home page). This app comes in both a free and a paid version. The free version displays ads while the paid version contains more info. Analytics Agent should not be confused with an inferior app simply called Analytics with which I have experienced intractable login difficulties.

Twitter

Twitter is the micro-blogging platform of the year (or maybe the decade), and it is just as popular with Internet marketers as with the general public. The iPhone is a great vehicle to let you keep in touch with your Twitter followers, as it provides access to the service at any time of day, wherever you may happen to be.

Apple’s app store lists dozens of Twitter apps for the iPhone, including one provided by Twitter itself, called simply “Twitter” (although some screens are labelled “twittermobile.” It offers real-time search, Top Tweets, trending topics and maps that show what’s happening nearby or across the country.

Got a free moment? Update your Twitter feed, or catch up on the general Twitter stream. Your Twitter account need never be stagnant with Twitter installed on your iPhone.

Telematics Insurance – Big Brother Is Going To Be Watching You

Telematics car insurance is still not very well known and yet it is considered by many industry experts that within the next ten years it will have changed the face of the motor insurance landscape for ever.

How It Works

What is telematics insurance? It is essentially a type of mini computer in your car which tells the insurer all about your movements. It is a small device, the size of a cigarette packet and often a small plain black box – hence the common name for such policies being black box insurance. If you are familiar with sat navs, it is essentially the same thing but without the screen. Just like a sat nav, it sends a signal up onto a satellite but instead of bouncing back to plot your position on a map it simply stores the information on the Insurance company’s central database.

Just like the sat nav technology it can plot your position, at any given time, amazingly accurately to five square metres or so. Since the signals are being beamed continuously, the computer can track not just your position but your speed too. This means it can actually calculate your road position, acceleration and braking as well and plot that on a road map, comparing it to the speed restrictions in place.

The Advantages of Telematics Insurance for the Motorist

One of the problems with motor insurance is that drivers tend to get lumped together in groups and labelled. This is fine if it is a ‘positive’ label such as middle-aged and experienced but annoying and, more to the point, expensive if you are a ‘good’ driver but bundled into a group which has a poor reputation. For example young drivers (18-21); night club doormen and comedians (who often drive late at night) or previously convicted drivers.

By choosing to have a telematics insurance policy you are immediately suggesting that you are a responsible driver because you are happy for your driving habits to be monitored. This is why black box insurance quotations tend to attract a discount against comparable policies. Direct Line recently stated that discounts of up to 40% can be earned.

Polices vary in how they work but all work on a similar principle in that they reward responsible driving habits. If you know you are a sensible or experienced driver why should you worry if a computer is tracking your movements? Likewise if you are a law abiding citizen do you really care if the computer tracks you to the staff or station car park, or the local supermarket? It may be different if you are a drug dealer or sleazy politician but most people are not.

One thing that also happens is that drivers ensure they drive more correctly because they know someone is watching them. It is a bit like drivers slowing down when they see speed cameras. If the driver is aware that their actions are being monitored they tend to act a little more judiciously which is a benefit to everyone.

An unrelated benefit is that the black box acts like a tracker device and can provide the insurance company and / or police the exact position of your vehicle should it be stolen.

The Disadvantages of Black Box Insurance

The main objection to such polices are that this is Big Brother personified. This means that ‘The Man’ can see where you are (well at least where your car is) at any given moment. Your privacy is invaded. Consumer action groups rightly protest about privacy concerns, particularly about who can access such personal data but they cannot hold back the proverbial approaching storm.

The other major problem is that should you breach the various driving parameters imposed by the insurer you will be penalised. This may be a simple as breaching a mileage limitation or it could be because the computer has calculated that you are regularly speeding. It is also fair to say the various telematics insurance providers have a different methodology for fines or penalties which can be very confusing when one is trying to compare policies.

Why Do The Motor Underwriters Love This Technology?

The dilemma for insurers is that insurance is based on the old fashioned concept of uberrima fides, or utmost good faith. The problem is that many policy holders are actually ‘economical with the truth’ when it comes to seeking quotations. Whilst this is clearly a breach of contract, not only will such an omission or error need to be spotted, but it will often result in an animated disagreement with the policyholder should their compensation monies be rejected or reduced in light of the fact.

For the motor underwriters, actually the bigger financial loss comes from the many policies issued that contain misrepresentations which reduced the drivers’ premiums but do not come to light because there are no claims. These shortfalls often go undetected and add up to millions of pounds in lost revenue.

Whilst the motorist may consider these as ‘little white lies’ which are justified in reducing unnecessarily expensive premiums. The underwriters and usually the courts too will see them as misrepresentation and breach of contract. Is this a significant factor? A recent poll of nearly one thousand people by Consumer Intelligence on behalf of Lexis Nexis, found that roughly one quarter of them thought that omissions or adjustments of facts was acceptable behaviour when apply for a motor quote.

For the insurer, the little black box means that they can get a really good understanding of the driving habits of the motorist. It might not be able to tell them if the policyholder is ‘fronting’ the policy for their teenage son, who is named as an additional driver but it can prove that the car is being driven to a university car park five days a week, miles away from the office block where the policyholder works.

It can also tell where the car is parked. The declaration may state it is safely tucked away in a garage at night but the increasingly sophisticated and accurate satellites can plot the car as being parked on the street. Likewise the applicant might state they only drive 2,000 mile per year but they will quickly be highlighted should they reach that figure within the first three months.

The policyholder might suggest that the car was stolen and torched the night after a hit and run accident but the movements of the car might suggest otherwise.

The telematics insurance provider may impose limited motorway driving, a curfew on driving after twelve o’clock at night or parking in a particularly dodgy part of town. Now there is the proof when transgressions happen.

When a driver has a good record the insurer can reward them with reduced premiums because they are exactly the sort of policyholder they want. Conversely, ‘bad’ drivers can have their premiums increased and even see their policies cancelled. This transparency is a massive boon for the insurers.

The Future of Car Insurance

Many people in the insurance industry reckon that telematics policies will become the norm in the future, where you may still be able to buy a ‘traditional’ policy without the black box but you will have to pay more for the privilege. You will be opting out of the new standard way of doing things, rather than voluntarily opting in as is the current situation.

This is a bold statement as only about 1% of current British policies are telematics policies and it is only 3% in Italy which is at the forefront of European countries for this concept; but that is because it is new technology. This technology has been around for over ten years now and has been well and truly tried and tested. The cost of the little back boxes has reduced and may even be replaced by newer equipment or ‘apps’. Not only that but the improved results are there to see for all the insurers.

Indeed 2014 has been a watershed with many more motor underwriters offering telematics insurance policies. Undoubtedly there will soon be a greater emphasis on such policies within the marketing and advertising by the providers.

Some commentators even see a future where certain insurers refuse to deal with anyone without a telematics device, a little like the insurers currently refusing to quote for drivers with drink driving records.

Telematics insurance may only be a fledgling concept at the moment but there is every indication that it is going to grow massively in the coming decade and could well become the standard British car insurance operating procedure.

How To Start A Mobile App Development Company

Personal telephones seem to be everything but these days. They surf the Internet, perform banking tasks, track our purchases, and even take photographs. For some people, the one thing they don’t really do with their phone is make voice calls. So what are all these people doing? If these things are incredibly popular without performing their ostensible function, what is going on? Ask a mobile app development company. They will tell you that it isn’t about the telephone, it’s about having a tiny and powerful computer in the palm of your hand.

We all like to imagine that we are productive and useful members of society, and so people are not usually very forthcoming about the amount of gaming they do on their computers. Surely these are sophisticated and powerful tools, not toys, and to suggest otherwise is childish and irresponsible. Why, you wouldn’t do something as foolish as use your new Rolls Royce as a dining surface or a spare bedroom. Even though the vehicle is perfectly able to be used in such a way, it just isn’t proper.

In order to get involved in the smart phone market, at least from a software point of view, it is necessary to acquire certain tools and licenses. From the licensing aspect of things, the various phone platforms are controlled by certain other software giants. These companies are concerned about maintaining high quality services and products, and they are also in a position to be concerned about intellectual property and other trade secrets. Granting independent contractors access to the necessary source code and programming protocols is often a risky proposition.

To this end it is necessary to obtain the proper licensing to program for a specific platform. Depending on factors such as estimated final sale price, actual functionality of the code, and whether or not commercial use is anticipated, the fees for such licensing vary. Because the distribution of these programs is very heavily skewed toward the official channels associated with the particular phone, unlicensed developers are not distributed as widely as they could be.

One of the most popular and obvious ways to contribute to the vast array of smart phone software on the market is to manufacture games. Looking briefly through the catalog of available diversions on the major platforms, it is easy to see that the consumers don’t necessarily demand anything particularly complicated or immersive. In fact, most of the most popular games are very simple, often merely newer versions of classic entertainment.

Creating games for these devices has become both possible and easy for the amateur programmer. The most significant incident in recent years has been the unfettered release of the entire Unreal source code.

Possession of the source code to the Unreal engine, along with the appropriate licensing, essentially confers nearly unlimited potential for the creation of three dimensional shooters, side scrolling platform games, and even physics based entertainment from pool to basketball.

All it really takes is an idea and the tools to realize it. The tools are available freely and easily, and the licensing required to distribute the final product widely can easily prove worth the initial outlay. Given the huge popularity of the phones and the programs that they run, even a fledgling mobile app development company can achieve a measure of success in short order.