Podcast Problem resolved!

I was able to search through the text of a database backup from a month ago and replace the PodPress settings record in the corrupted database! I don’t know why I didn’t think to try this last night/this morning. At any rate, the iTunes Store has the podcast cached from when things were broken so if you try to subscribe through iTunes right now, it probably won’t work until they update the podcast, but things should be good to go by tomorrow. The “play” and “download” links on the website are working, and if you use anything other than iTunes for podcasting, you should be good to go as well.

On a side note – you might be wondering what kind of vacation could possibly be had in Sonora, TX. Well, I’ll be sure to blog all about it when I get back. 🙂 God bless!

MTPB Podcast is broken for now…

Last night around 8:00 PM, I was trying to fix the MTPB WordPress Stats. It hasn’t been working since I updated to 2.6.5 a few days ago. I read something about modifying the theme to fix it. When I did this, Podpress broke and began complaining about the same thing. I worked on it until 4:00 AM this morning and tried everything I could think of including restoring the website completely from a backup. I’m pretty sure it has to do with a corrupt database entry which I do not have a recent backup of. At any rate, I am completely exhausted and fed up with Podpress. I have totally run out of ideas so I will ask around and try to get some help on this. Unfortunately, I leave tomorrow with my brothers out to Sonora on vacation and will have very little time to work on this till I get back next week. In the meantime, the podcast directory where you can manually play and/or download the audio files is here. I’m really sorry about this. Also, there won’t be a podcast this week since I’ll be out of town.

Ever deep fry a turkey?

Today at small group, I had my first experience witnessing the deep frying of an 18 pound turkey. Jason Hooton did the honors. I learned a lot from him today. First, the best type of oil to use is peanut oil because it has a flash point that is much higher than other oil – 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Second, the oil should be at around 350 degrees before putting the turkey in the deep fryer, but no hotter than 375. Lastly, and most importantly, you lower the turkey into the oil as slowly as possible. If you don’t, things can get messy I’ve learned. Also, the formula for how long to cook is 3-4 minutes per pound. We cooked ours for about an hour and it came out beautifully.

This week was strictly to an audience of One.

Here’s what happened:

It’s Saturday noonish, and I have a Soundwave gig in a few hours and need to get the podcast done before then. So, is the microphone positioned perfectly in the sweet spot with input levels properly adjusted on the R-09HR?

Check.

Music picked out to play in case a song is needed?

Check check…

Ice maker turned off?

Chiggidy check…

A/C turned off?

That would be a….. CHECK!

Cell phone on vibrate?

Big Phat Check!

Dogs outside?

Diggidy dog check!

Parrot upstairs in the study?

….that would be affirmative

Yoko and SanBan upstairs in the bedroom keeping quiet for the next 30-40 minutes?

ccchhhhheeeeeaaaaaakkkkkkk!

Everything is ready to go so, I hit record on the R-09HR remote and begin to worship with music. I just had the piano tuned and it’s sounding beautiful! I feel the Holy Spirit fill the room and find myself thinking, this is going to be the best podcast yet! I finish the last song thinking that has to be right at 30 minutes excited about mixing since this was going to be the first podcast right after a tuning, and I look at the R-09HR and see this:

I know it’s blurry, but it says “standby”, which means the entire time I was playing, the recorder was waiting for me to press “record” one more time! DOPE! In the past, I’ve always checked to make sure it was recording before starting. This time, I was so excited about getting started that this was the ONE thing I completely forgot to CHECK! As you can imagine, I hadn’t been that frustrated in a very long time. But after a few minutes of banging my head against the wall, I realized that it was by no means a waste since my LORD heard every note played, and that made all the time spent in preparation and playing totally worth it. I pray next week will be even better!

Pray with Passion!

My brother, David, called me yesterday morning and left me a very inspiring message and with his permission, I’d like to share it with you all. It’s regarding the verse James 5:16: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” I hope David’s message inspires you as much as it inspired me. We need to pray with passion, and sometimes the right environment, the right setting, and the right music can help.

David’s Voicemail:

See you at the pole: young students praying for this country.

Last night, Soundwave played at a “See you at the pole” rally at the First Assembly of God church of Lockhart, and the place was packed! As we ministered with music, you could almost see the life change happen right before your eyes. This is why even with my family, work, church, this blog, and everything else going on in my crazy busy life right now I cannot turn down the opportunity to be a part of Soundwave. God put me on this planet to use my gift to glorify Him and bring people closer to Him through music, and I will jump at any opportunity to do just this. There is nothing like being amongst hundreds of youth on fire for God!

Please excuse the quality of this pic. It was provided by Micah, who is the official “Soundwave” sound dude, and all he had was his Motorola Q. Lighting wasn’t very good either.

1,000 downloads and counting!

Just wanted to shout out a big “Thank You” to all of you who have subscribed to the podcast or use the website regularly for prayer. There have been over 1,000 plays and downloads of the MTPB blog since it was started less than 2 months ago. Watching as people all over the world download and play the podcasts has been very encouraging, and I plan to continue providing music to pray by for as long as I’m able!

God bless!

About the gig rig:

Last night at practice for church, there was a fellow keyboardist there who showed a bit of interest in my setup and was impressed with some of the sounds, so I thought a blog about the “gig rig” might be interesting to some of you.

The guts: I do something very few live keyboard performers do, but more and more are moving toward. I trust a standard computer to produce live, real time sounds as I play. I use a program called Main Stage by Apple. It is bundled with Logic Studio 8, and has literally changed the way I think about keyboards. It is fully customizable based on the controller hardware you have and comes with a huge selection of software synthesizers and samplers. You also have the ability to add 3rd party software synths for even more sounds. I was given IKMultimedia’s Philharmonik which has some beautiful orchestral sounds as well as some very real grand piano samples. The install is almost 50 Gig, but the sounds that are produced are the closest to the “real thing” I’ve ever heard to date.

The computer: A very solid Apple MacBook Pro with a 2.4 Ghz Intel Dual Core proc, 4 Gig of RAM, 160 GB 7200 RPM HD, and a high res 1920×1200 display. Even with this much power, Main Stage can still buckle if too many sounds or effect plugins are layered so there is still a balance to maintain. Part of the problem with processing power is the USB audio interface built into my VX8. If I were to move to firewire, this would help substancially, but so far I’ve been able to work within the constraints.

The Bottom Stack: My main controller is the CME VX8 88-key controller with a lot of nice features, but it weighs a ton! This doesn’t really make it ideal for a gig rig, but it does help me stay in shape. The weighted action has a good feel, but it makes a clicking metal-on-metal sound when certain black and white keys are played in sequence which can be annoying. I swapped this keyboard out 3 times and every one of them did the same thing so it appears to be a manufacturing defect. Another problem is the USB ports. I’ve only been using this keyboard for about 6 months and I can already tell that the USB ports are going to wear out eventually and I’ll be forced to move to another audio interface, which will likely be the Apogee Duet. Other than these flaws, this keyboard has served me well so far.

The top stack: A Korg Triton Extreme. Ever since Korg came out with the Triton over 7 years ago, I’ve owned one. It started with the standard Triton Pro x, then to the Trinity, then the Triton Studio Pro, and now the Triton Extreme. This keyboard makes up for the heaviness of the VX8 weighing much less, but only providing 61 keys – enough to play organ riffs all night long! My favorite thing about this product line is the synth pads you can create. This also can be used as a backup if my laptop decides to stop working, which has happened once or twice when I first made the move to this rig back in December of ’07. It also has a USB midi out so I have it configured it as a controller in Main Stage as well.

The Sound: I prefer to use my Westone ES2 in-ear monitors if the venue permits, but if not, I use some Yamaha MSR100’s. I run everything through a Mackie 802-VLZ3 mixer which opens up a number of options. One of the options is to restrict the output to only my keyboards if I have an overall mix being fed into the mixer or if I feed the output of my R-09HR to hear the “room” when I use the Westones. The mixer also has XLR outs which eliminate the need for direct boxes.

The stands: For the keyboards, I use the Ultimate V-Stand. I do have the laptop attachment, but the vibration was a bit much so I moved the MacBook Pro over to an insTand, which has worked out nicely. For the Yamahas, when I use them, I have some standard 45 degree angled guitar amp stands. They’ve held up pretty well so far. The one thing that hasn’t held up well is the second tier of the V-Stand. The adapter to attach the second tier stripped out after about 6 months of use.

Well, that about covers it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them. I’d be happy to answer any questions or discuss any of the parts that make up the gig rig with you.

Tech update

After waiting over 2 weeks, I finally received confirmation from (ISC)2 that I passed the CISSP exam! Thank you for your prayers and support.

The iPhone 2.1 update came out today. I’ve upgraded but haven’t had a chance to see if there’s an improvement in 3G performance. Apple said this update is supposed to fix the 3G signal problems as well as the following:

– decrease in call set-up failures and call drops
– significantly improve battery life for most users
– dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes
– improve email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts
– faster installation of 3rd party applications
– fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes if you have lots of 3rd party applications
– improved performance in text messaging
– faster loading and searching of contacts
– improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
– repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
– option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts
– Genius playlist creation

I went ahead and got the Roland Edirol R-09HR for recording the Music To Pray By blog. I’ll also be using it as a stereo mic when I use in-ear monitors during live performance in order to hear the room since the Westones block out everything. I currently do this with the R-09’s and it works really well. I’ve already recorded some of this week’s posting with the R-09HR, but haven’t had a chance to compare yet. I hope it’s an improvement in sound quality over the R-09. According to Roland, the mic pre’s are supposed to be better, and it records at 24 bit 96k, which is double the sample over the older version. I’ll be listing the R-09 on eBay this Tuesday to recoup some of the costs. Why Tuesday you might ask? Ask me in a comment and I’ll elaborate…

Because of hurricane Ike, I decided to pull my antenna that was mounted on the side of my house and move it inside, and surprisingly enough, Windows Vista Media Center is reporting better signals inside at a lower altitude than what I was getting outside with it mounted much higher. It must have been the attenuation of the added cable and grounding required. On a side note, my family is in the path of this hurricane so please be in prayer for them as they ride it out.

Week 8’s podcast will be posted sometime tomorrow as long as we don’t loose power. Based on the current Ike forecast, that shouldn’t be an issue – just a bunch of much needed rain.

This morning was amazing!

I enjoyed service so much this morning I just had to blog about it! It is truly amazing what can happen when a few people who are serious about their faith get together and worship. My former pastor in Okinawa used to say that you can have all the talent in the world, but without commitment, your talent is worthless. I also belive this is true in part when it comes to your heart and your attitude. EVERYBODY that was part of worship this morning has a good heart and a GREAT attitude, and I honestly believe that this morning’s service was probably the best we’ve ever had at The Connection Church because of this very reason. Renee, our drummer, has grown into an amazing player. The beat this morning was rock steady, and the tempos were not too fast or too slow – they were just right! It is also so wonderful to have our new bass player – Shel on board. He has a true heart for God and worship has just been awesome with him playing. And… Chris… oh man… That dude is amazing. It is truly an honor to have him as part of the team. He has to be one of the best sax players I know. I am continually blown away how God provides for The Connection Church musicians with bucket loads of talent. God gives us the talent, but it is up to us as individuals to make the commitment and keep our attitudes in check. It is really nice to see the beginnings of that within the worship team. I am just so excited to see where God takes us from here! If you live in the Kyle/Buda area and aren’t in a church, you have NO idea what you’re missing out on! Oh, and I have to give Micah a shoutout. He sung his heart out this morning. Dude – you rock! Bryan and Pam were singing their hearts out as well. I LOVE IT! On a side note – it totally stinks that I have to miss next Sunday because of an exam I have to take… My week just won’t be the same without TCC service on Sunday morning…

Song suggestions anybody?

Just in case anybody would like to submit a request this week – here is the blog to use. Just so you know – I’m not holding my breath since we’re 0 for 2 now ;-). The same disclaimer applies this week as the previous weeks. Because of the way this week is shaping up, I probably won’t be able to record this week’s podcast till Saturday around noon so there is some time to post a request or suggestion if you’d like, and I’ll do my best to work it in.

Let’s try this again…

Last week, I blogged asking if anyone had any praise and/or worship songs they would like to hear incorporated in the next recording I do. The response was OVERWHELMING! Ok, so I’m exaggerating just a ‘lil bit, but I figured I’d give ya’ll another chance to put in song requests for this week’s posting.

The usual disclaimer: I cannot promise to use every request since there were SO many last week :-), but if there are any, I will print out a list and place it somewhere I can see while I play.

Tech talk…

I just wanted to talk about the recent music post and bring a couple of things to your attention. There are a few things that are different between week 1 and week 2’s recording. On the Roland R-09, I used the auto gain control with a low mic gain setting for week 2 whereas with week 1, AGC was off, and I had the mic gain set to high. This resulted in a more balanced recording with much less overhead to work with so a lot of noise was induced when I normalized the track. Thanks to Micah Petrea‘s hookup last night, we were able to reduce the noise a little. I also used 24 bit 48k during week 2 vs. 16 bit 44.1k for week 1. Of course, I compress to mp3 at 192kbps using VBR after touching up a little, but some would argue starting with a higher quality signal can make a difference. Next week, I’ll try AGC with the mic gain up and see what happens. If you’d like, comment here which week sounds better in your opinion.

Are there any songs you’d like to hear?

Well, there are 4 days left before the next audio blog will be recorded and posted, and I’ve been trying to think of ways to keep this idea fresh. Something I came up with was to see if anyone had any praise and/or worship songs they would like to hear incorporated in the next recording I do which will be posted sometime this Saturday. If you have any ideas, please comment and I will work it in IF I can. I can’t make any promises, but if there are any requests, I will print out a list and place it somewhere I can see while I play. I believe this could add something to the whole MTPB experience. Sometimes hearing a familiar song during prayer can just create an environment for worship!

Welcome!

This is my first official post on the Music To Pray By blog. I still have quite a bit of work to do on this site. I only purchased the domain names (.org, .net, and .info as well) a couple of days ago. Starting this blog has been an objective of mine now for over 2 years. I’m truly glad I’ve taken the plunge! I hope to post my first true music blog on Saturday. There is quite a bit happening so I’m not sure if I’ll get to it or not. I have a gig with Soundwave that afternoon in Driftwood, and my brother, David, is bringing us a puppy in the morning. Keep a look out though – if it doesn’t happen this Saturday, it will happen soon!

God bless!