First weekend back in the mix

This was one very busy Soundwave weekend. It started with shopping for “Soundwave” clothes on Friday night, a long practice and a photo shoot on Saturday, and a show right after church on Sunday. Each evening, I was left too exhausted to record a new podcast. I’m going to try and give it a shot this evening. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that after the big exam, I’d go back to weekly podcasts but I’ve decided to shoot for every other week for a number of reasons. I think this will help each podcast to be more unique and creative. Stay tuned for podcast #34!

Some huge improvements to the podcast coming…

For the past 2 weeks, study time was cut in half, but I’ve started picking up speed again for the 2 month stretch I have left. During this time off, I spent a bit of time researching the new Yamaha Disklavier Mark 4 System. I even went to the local dealer and played one of the grand pianos that was built with the system. 5 word summary: It completely blew me away! They recorded about a minute of my music, and the playback was exactly what I played – sustain pedal and every meticulous keystroke made. There’s a lot more it will do. The benefits would be huge for my family, the Music To Pray By ministry, and me:

  1. The chance to playback the MIDI from the old Music To Pray By Album on an unbelievably sounding Yamaha 7′ 6″ Acoustic Grand, record it, and make it available to you.
  2. The ability to record MIDI first, not having to worry about the bird, the dogs, or anything, edit out the mistakes, play it back and record the flawless audio.
  3. Huge built-in teaching tools for SanBan. I plan to start teaching him as early as 3.

Needless to say, this is something very exciting to me. Upon further research, I discovered these things aint cheap. They are basically the cost of a new Mercedes ML500. During my research, an opportunity to buy a used one grabbed my attention. It was an S series which are crafted with much finer wood, it was only 2 years old, it was the pro version, which normally costs substantially more, and it was practically half off due to the seller’s circumstance. I came very close to making a very bad decision by going into debt, but thanks to some very wise counsel from my father, I turned down the offer and decided to start saving up for it. In the meantime, I’ve thought about doing the podcast with a keyboard instead of the Yamaha C2 Grand. This way, I could go back and record those podcasts with the Yamaha DC7M4 when I get it. What do you think?

Here’s a picture of it:

Yamaha DC7M4 Accoustic Grand Piano

Life and podcast on pause…

Something unexpected happened last week. I found out that the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam is in for a huge change on October 18th. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Sr. Network Engineer at AT&T WiFi Services. A simple description of my day job is basically building and maintaining the Internet. It’s fun and very complicated. In order to further my career, I’ve committed to passing the CCIE R&S Lab exam. My plan was to take the 8 hour exam sometime in December, but that all changed the day Cisco announced the changes coming in October. I registered the day it was official, and the closest date I could get was October 2nd, which is 2 months earlier than I had planned on taking it. This certification has been compared to a doctorate degree, and is referred to as “the MBA of Networking”. Candidates literally spend hundreds if not thousands of hours studying for the exam, and I have less than 5 months to get prepared. My plan is to spend at least 40 hours a week from now till the day I take the exam which means I will have no social life. This also means that the podcast and any music or recording outside of Sunday morning church will not be possible if I intend to get in the number of hours of study I need to pass. Part of my plan was to spend a few hours a day at work studying but due to the AT&T acquisition, there are a number of projects on my plate that are due over the next few months that will likely reduce if not eliminate any free time I had at work to study. I truly am sorry about this, but I believe that the reward at the end of this journey will be well worth it. As soon as this is over, I will do my best to go back to weekly podcasts. God bless!

MTPB coming tomorrow!

I recorded it yesterday, and I’m about half way through editing and mixing, but I’m falling asleep at the keyboard I’m so exhausted. A really good friend of the family, Don, is helping me build a new fence and patio. Today we actually got quite a bit done. Yesterday, I ripped all the old fence panels off the posts. Today, Don pulled all the old posts with concrete out of the ground, and I broke off the concrete and rounded up all the old stuff while Don set the first row of new posts that are 4×4’s rather than lanscape timbers. I’m not used to all this hard labor! I’ll be sure to blog in more detail about the whole experience once we finish – pictures and all. At any rate, I will use lunch time tomorrow to finish up the podcast and get it posted. I appologize for the delay.

Plans don’t always work out…

Today after church, we had group, left there a little after 3:30, Sanban fell asleep on the way home, so we took a nap for about an hour and a half, then Yoko and I sat down for a while to talk about what to do about our house. We have lots of repairs to do – electrical outlets on the outside of the house are dead, fence was blown down by the strong winds we had the past couple of days, etc., then my dad called me and we chatted for a little over an hour about the beautiful property surrounding the Austin area. Yoko and I came really close to buying a house on a postage stamp lot in Buda, and decided not to because it didn’t make sense financially. My dad did convince me that a better investment would be a home on some acreage. At any rate, we’re putting SanBan to bed right now and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do the podcast today, which kills me. Something else I haven’t blogged about – one of my goals is to get the CCIE certification by November, which is going to require practically every spare moment I have studying. I’ll blog more detail about this sometime in the near future. I know the podcast is eternally important, and I do plan on continuing it, but I feel that it is necessary to cut back to once every 2 weeks since it is a 4-5 hour commitment of my free time on the weekend, and free time is very scarce right now with family, church, studying, and the band. I hope you understand, and I do plan on going back to a weekly podcast as soon as I obtain the CCIE certification later this year. When August hits, I may have to go to monthly podcasts through November or December since my studies will pick up the closer I get to the test date. If all goes well, I’ll start January of ’10 with weekly podcasts. Another personal goal is to compile an album of “The Best of Music to Pray By”, and get it mastered, duplicated, and professionally packaged with album art and everything. I hope to have that album available by the middle of 2010. That will require an enormous amount of time since it will involve listening to hours of the MTPB podcasts, going back to the original uncompressed files, and preparing about an hour’s worth of music for mastering, but I believe it will totally be worth the effort. Please let me know what you think – good decision, bad decision, priorities out of whack? I’d love to hear what ya’ll think! At any rate, This would be my weekend off (involuntary 😉 ) so I will put the podcast at the top of the priority list for next weekend.

10,000 downloads and still counting!


10000Actually, the site hit 10,000 a little over a week ago, I just haven’t had a chance to blog about it till now. Yoko and I have been pretty occupied with house hunting. We’ve decided to wait it out and save as much as possible right now with the current condition of the economy though. Maybe in a few years we’ll look at picking up some land. Anyway, just wanted to shout out a big “Thank You” to everyone who is subscribed to the podcast or uses the website regularly for prayer. There have been over 10,000 plays and downloads of the podcasts since I launched the website late July of ’08. One of these days I’ll have to blog about the different countries all over the world I’ve seen download the podcast. It is truly amazing – they don’t call it the “world wide web” for nothing! I hope and pray the music continues to be a blessing to you – that is reward enough for me. The plan is to have “Week 28″ posted by tomorrow evening. Thanks again, and God bless!

The ultimate clense…

I just finished a 5 day fast that was required for the clense I decided to do, and that is the longest I’ve ever gone without eating. All I had from Wednesday to Sunday afternoon was apple juice, water, some coffee, green tea, and the herbal suplements I purchased from Blessed Herbs. My brother, David suggested it to me. I do feel a lot better today, but felt horrible over the weekend. That is why I was unable to do a MTPB podcast. I think it was worth it though. Sorry for missing last week. I’ll do my best to make this week’s even better!

“Play now” is now working!

First of all, sorry for the downtime today for those of you who couldn’t get the podcast, download, or play from the website. This was due to me attempting to switch hosting providers. I ended up switching back since I couldn’t figure out why the podcast was breaking. I don’t think I’ll be trying to switch again for a while – so much time wasted on this. Since the change involved playing around with DNS, reaching the site may be a little sketchy for the next 24 hours until the proper DNS records get propagated all over the world.

With regards to the “Play Now” feature – I discovered that the problem had to do with the 48k sample rate of the podcast so i had to go through all 19 previous podcasts, convert them back to wav format with a 44.1k sample rate, then back to MP3. It took a while, but it’s been done and the pages and posts have been updated. The good news is the file size will now be a little smaller with no noticeable loss in sound quality. All future podcasts will now be posted with a sample rate of 44.1k. Wow – I had no idea that maintaining a website could be so much work! 🙂

“Play Now” feature broken for some…

flashThis has actually been broken for a while. Some of you may experience garbled audio if you try to use the “Play Now” feature available in the MTPB Blogs, downloads, and archives. This appears to only affect Flash Player 10. A workaround would be to either use the “download” link, subscribe to the podcast, or downgrade to Flash Player 9. I’ve tried this version on both a Mac and a PC and it works fine. I hope to find a solution soon and will let you know when it’s fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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.

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!

Another site update worth mentioning

I’ve added a calendar of all the events I will be playing at throughout the month. As you can see, August is going to be a very busy month for me – probably one of the busiest with regards to playing piano/keyboard. I’ll do my best to keep this calendar updated. There is one event in particular I wanted to bring to your attention. Soundwave will be playing at The Grove in Southpark Meadows at 12:00 PM next Friday, August 15th for an event hosted by 102.3 “The River”. We will be playing for 45 minutes and there is a small chance that some of our show may be on the air so please be sure to listen in if you can’t make it in person. This is going to be a great show!

Podcast now available!

A lot of you probably already know this because the “podcast” link has been in the side bar for the past few days now, but I just wanted to make an official announcement that the podcast of the weekly the Music to Pray by blog is now available here at the site, the iTunes store, and Podcast Alley. If you enjoy the music, please take the time to leave a review at the iTunes Store, or vote at Podcast Alley. It’d be much appreciated and contribute to spreading the word about this new resource. I honestly believe this could be a tool used to encourage and inspire people to pray so the let’s get the word out! Thanks in advance!

iPhone and other mobile devices now supported!

I’ve installed a plug-in for the MTPB blog that has specially designed views for the iPhone and other mobile devices. It has a great look on the iPhone:

I also verified that the MTPB music can be streamed directly to the iPhone so it isn’t necessary to download the audio into iTunes first, although, buffering the most recent audio blog over the Edge network or even 3G for that matter could take quite a bit of time. It only took about 5 seconds over WiFi though. Drop a comment if you were able to stream the music using a mobile device other than the iPhone – I’d love to hear about it. Podcasting will be coming soon! There just aren’t enough hours in the day…

Original MTPB album available for download

Just finished posting the original Music To Pray By album here. Feel free to download all of the tracks and use them however you’d like. The MTPB blog will be similar only an acoustic grand piano will be used, and the recording will not be broken down into tracks. I hope you enjoy the album!