A quick update – the huge improvements I talked about in this post are finally here and more! I’m trading the old piano in for the 7′ 6″ I was originally looking at back in 2009. This also comes with the latest offering by Disklavier, which affords higher resolution MIDI recording as well as a number of extremely helpful technical improvements.
Also, I did not pass my CCIE Security Lab on April 23rd, but I have scheduled again for June 4th and truly hope this will be the end of the journey as I am ready to get back to recording podcasts on a regular basis. Please keep me in your prayers between now and then.
There are a number of changes coming and I truly appreciate your patience and support. I’ve got quite a bit recorded so it’s a matter of doing some MIDI editing, tracking, and mixing. I hope to post one last podcast using the DC3M4 before the new piano gets here, which should be early July. I’ll also update you on the latest setup once it’s up and running. Hopefully Podcast 70 will follow shortly after – can’t wait!
It is often times difficult to find balance in life is it not? This year has been the most challenging yet, and I feel as though I have grown closer to God more than ever! He has been so faithful! I am so excited about 2013. The goals I hope to reach next year seem impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible. (Matt. 9:26) Here they are in no particular order:
Start and finish the next Soundwave album – We will start recording our next album after DCYC in January. Jeremy has enough songs written and so far what I’ve heard has been amazing. I am truly excited about God’s plans for us!
Retake the new CCIE Security Version 4 lab exam – In order to avoid taking the written exam again, I will need to attempt the lab exam by November 14th. For those who don’t know, I attempted version 3 of the lab last month and did not pass. The new version has a huge amount of new technology so I have hundreds of hours of preparation to undertake before November.
Finish the Music To Pray By Album – This is a difficult one since we plan to release the Soundwave album early 2014, a large amount of my spare time will be dedicated to Soundwave in the studio.
Post quarterly Music To Pray By podcasts – I believe part of the reason it has been difficult to be consistent in the podcasts is I’ve had unrealistic goals. A podcast every 3 months should be an attainable goal. This means podcast 67 should be posted in February.
Remain faithful to the Worship Team, the Ministry Leadership Team, and our small group at The Connection Church – This has become almost second nature, but does require time and is a very important goal. Our church has continued to grow and reach the lost for Christ and it is truly exciting and inspiring to be a part of it!
With my “day job” of IT consulting absorbing around 50 hours of my week, there are two remaining parts of my life that I know have to take priority over everything. My time with God and my time with my family. 2013 will truly be a great year, but I believe above all, seeking first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33) and trusting in The LORD with all of my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6) is my true goal as I try to find a balance.
One more thing – I made a minor change to Podcast 66 about 4 days after it was posted to bring down the midrange a little since it was a bit much so if you’d like the update, just unsubscribe, delete the old podcast 66, resubscribe, and you should be prompted to download it again.
So much has happened since my last blog post almost 2 months ago! Soundwave has played at over 8 concerts/events across the state of Texas as part of “The Start” tour. Please check out our new album here if you haven’t already. Our drummer got married this past weekend. Of course, Soundwave played, which made us seriously think about doing wedding gigs for a living. 🙂 We have our first out-of-state concert in Kansas in a couple of weeks. It’s gonna be off the chain!
Things have been full throttle at The Connection Church. We are now serving for 3 services on Sunday, and ministry is happening! Rene is doing an amazing job leading worship, and Cole has been delivering powerful, applicable messages with passion 3 times every Sunday. It is truly an honor to be a part of that ministry, and if you live in the Austin area and don’t have a home church, I promise you it will be worth your time to come check it out!
Yoko and my two precious children went to Okinawa, Japan to visit her side of the family. They have been gone for a week and a half with a little over a week to go. I miss them so much. Please keep them in your prayers.
I also made the decision to leave AT&T after 8 years and accepted an opportunity at Accudata Systems as a Senior Consultant. It’s been almost 3 weeks now and I have to say that I love it and can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in this role. Adjusting to this new world has been a welcomed challenge. I also committed 10 hours a week to AT&T temporarily to help in the transition so I’ve had no time to devote to the MTPB album. Thankfully, this is only for a season.
One last thing – some of you may remember when I put everything on pause to focus on obtaining my CCIE. Well, I’ve decided to go for a second CCIE in Security. This time the plan is to spread it over a year in order to have more of a balance between family, ministry, and work. I am still planning to have the MTPB album out in Q1 of 2013. Please keep me in your prayers as I go through this very challenging time.
Unfortunately, there has been no progress made on the new website. I am still working with the developers to correct issues with the “contact” form, translation, and the e-mail subscription so those of you who are subscribed have probably noticed you’re not receiving e-mails when I post. I hope to have all these issues resolved soon.
Secondly, I’ve been hard at work the past year on the new Soundwave album, and it’s crunch time. We’ve committed release the album by early January at the latest which means I need to have all the songs ready for mastering by early to mid-October. Soundwave is a ministry near and dear to my heart, and the commitment I’ve made to the group is taking priority over the podcast at this moment in time. I will post updates on the website, album, and podcast as they come. Thank you in advance for your understanding and prayers.
UPDATE: The contact form, translation, subscription, and some other issues have been resolved but there are still a few things outstanding. Hopefully they’ll be resolved within the next few days. I plan to send out an official announcement as soon is everything’s 100%.
For those who are curious, here’s an update on the grand piano mic placement along with the types of microphones and hardware used to record the Music To Pray By podcast.
This has changed quite a bit since the R09HR days. At the low end of the piano, an EV RE320 mic is angled in parallel with the strings. At the high end, an AudioTechnica AT4033a is aimed almost perpendicular to the strings. Completing the 3 foot triangle is an XY pair of Neuman KM184’s. These mics run into a Focusrite ISA428 pre amp, which has an ADAT connection into a Motu 896HD firewire audio interface. Logic Studio 9 running on a MacBook Pro completes the DAW solution. Here’s a quick video of it as well:
I left out all the boring technical stuff for the most part. The event was an unbelievably amazing experience! Hope you enjoy the video – all of it was taken from my iPhone except for the last bit. I chose the song “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train mostly because they performed a concert at the Cisco Customer Appreciation Party towards the end. It was outstanding!
Every year since 2008, Cisco has spammed me constantly the months leading up to the event, and every year I have asked to go and have been denied the privilege. I was certain the same would happen this year. In fact, my manager told me last Wednesday he was unable to make it happen, which was no surprise, but the following day, a reservation within our company became available! God is good!
For those of you who don’t know, Cisco Live! is one of the largest technical conferences out there, and is by far the largest in regards to the technologies I work with on a daily basis as a Network Engineer for AT&T WiFi Services. Not only will I have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry, I will get to see and possibly play with some of the latest and greatest network technologies out there. The conference will be held at one of the hottest tourist destinations in the U.S. – Las Vegas, NV. With that in mind, I think of Psalm 119:11 – “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee…” might I add, “…while in the heart of Sin City for the first time” 😕
Please keep me and the family in your prayers this week – it breaks my heart to leave them for 5 days straight. It also breaks my heart to miss Sunday Morning service at TCC – especially with Jeremy, lead singer of Soundwave, leading worship.
For the techies, here are some of the seminars I’ll have the opportunity to attend:
– Enterprise Network Virtualization using IP and MPLS Technologies – Advanced Enterprise Campus Design: VSS, Routed Access, and Resilient Campus Networks – Advanced Scaling for Core and Edge Networks – CCIE Service Provider Operations – Data Center Town Hall: Enabling Cloud Adoption – Cisco NX-OS Software Architecture
For the non-techies – I also get to hear William Shatner give the closing keynote, and Train will be performing one evening as well. Another huge bonus is I’ll have the opportunity to attend an AT&T VIP event as well as a CCIE-only VIP party.
* On a side note, as the audience for Music to Pray By grows, I have considered moving these personal posts to a different blog. If any of you subscribers are annoyed by them, please send me a message using the contact form and I’ll make this a priority.
God bless, and stay tuned for Podcast 61 coming early August. It was recorded over a month ago, but I remember it being special with a new original starting it off.
I worked tirelessly last night well into this morning in efforts to move the website to a different hosting provider, and when I woke up today, discovered a pretty bad DNS issue which has basically taken the website down over the past 12 hours. Everything should be good to go now – it’s just a matter of DNS proprogation across the Internet which can take up to 48 hours. The good news is it should be completely fixed in time for podcast 59. I’m a little behind in the editing – still have about 23 minutes to go, but have no other plans with the exception of church stuff tomorrow and Sunday. Stay tuned!
I used only one song this podcast. It’s by Robbie Seay, and it’s called “Crazy Love”. The rest is original. This podcast is actually a second take since the first didn’t record properly. I always thought recording to MIDI would eliminate having to re-record podcasts, but not true. I did learn that the Disklavier does not like any kind of MIDI signal coming into it when recording so hopefully this will be the last time this happens. I do believe the second take turned out better than the first – thank you Holy Spirit. Draw near to Him and He WILL draw near to you. Not only is that in the Bible, but I have witnessed it first-hand.
Yesterday, I was able to work with a technician over the phone and he walked me through some calibration steps that resolved the sustain pedal issue I was having. I’ve also got a tuning appointment scheduled for Monday of next week so I will be posting the next podcast on the 16th. Thank you for listening and God bless!
Podcast 51 is recorded, edited, and ready to go. Unfortunately, the new piano isn’t cooperating. There’s some kind of technical issue with the sustain pedal – it stops listening to MIDI signals 5-6 minutes into playback. There were signs of this last week, but Yamaha Support was unavailable so I’ll be calling them first thing in the morning and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible. Once it’s fixed, I’ll be able to get podcast 51 dumped to audio and posted. Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later. I’ll be sure to post updates as they come. God bless, and happy new year!
Some of you may remember when I posted this about a year and a half ago. Recently, someone living in a part of the world where you can be killed for preaching Jesus reached out to me. They shared with me how they duplicate and hand out CD copies of the podcast in hopes the Truth would be revealed by the Holy Spirit through the music since they’re forbidden to share God’s Word. This really brought home to me the importance of this ministry. I firmly believe this is a big reason God put me here.
I didn’t go all out with a DC7M4, which would have been too big for the studio anyway. Instead, I went with the DC3M4 which is only about 5 inches bigger than the C2, but it does have the Disklavier system and allows for me to edit MIDI rather than audio. It is taking time to get used to playing in a manner that makes it easier to edit, but I’m getting there, and I think the results are pretty noticeable. Last week, I spent over 16 hours working on podcast 49, and though the difference may not be huge, there are certainly no more sour notes. A stroke of the “delete” key now takes care of those. I’ve also been able to improve timing issues through the editing process, which was impossible most of the time when I was editing audio. This is going to make a huge difference in the quality of each podcast. No more distractions from what this is all about – drawing near to God. If you’ve been blessed by this ministry, and if the Holy Spirit leads you, please:
The first donation was given today – thank you! Every bit of money donated will go directly into the cost of this huge investment. I will also be moving forward with producing a CD of all the best original melodies God has given me over the years. It’s going to be awesome! I hope to finish this before 2012. Pre-order will be available a month or two prior to the release. Thanks again to all you faithful listeners – I pray for you almost daily. Here’s a sample of the piano in action playing back last week’s edited podcast:
I used the following songs: “Your Grace is Enough”, “King of Glory”, and sort of used the chord progressions of ”Own Little World”. Once again, there ended up being a lot of timing issues in this podcast. Can’t wait to get the Disklavier. That will make timing much less of an issue. This podcast is actually a second take. My first take got botched for some strange reason. The left channel kept fading in and out. I tried to use automation to correct it, but it was so random it was easier to just record again. It could be the pre-amps in the audio interface, or an issue with phantom power. Hopefully it’s isolated to inputs 7 and 8. I moved the mics to 3 and 4, played a sine wave for about 10 minutes, and there was no variation in amplitude. The Motu 896HD is almost 7 years old so I guess it may be time to look into upgrading.
The past few days, I’ve been working tirelessly to get the podcast back up. There have been a number of changes. The first is podpress is gone forever. I discovered this podcasting service called Blubrry PowerPress, and it seems to be way more stable and functional. It took forever because I had to modify every podcast that’s ever been posted since the import from podpress didn’t work. Also, I added ID3 tagging to all the posts so artwork shows up now. There are still some issues to work out. First, in order to add a podcast description, our webserver needs to be upgraded to php5. Not sure why, but I’m working on getting that done soon hopefully. Also, I’m working on updating the artwork for the iTunes store and for the ID3 tagging. We’ll see how that goes. Please use the “contact” link to report any issues you might have.
Unfortunately, the WordPress 3.0 upgrade has broken quite a few things on the site including podpress, which is the plugin I use to post MTPB. I’ve been working on it for a while now and I can’t figure it out, and since this version of WordPress hasn’t been out for very long, there isn’t really any information out there on this problem. I’ll likely have to figure out a way to downgrade to the previous version. I have Soundwave practice tomorrow so it will likely stay broken through Thursday or Friday depending on how long it takes me to fix it. I’ve got the new MTPB podcast ready to post too! Please pray for me that I’ll find a fix quick.
I mentioned in the last podcast that I would blog about the new method of recording used in the last podcast. Instead of the Roland R-09HR, I used a balanced pair of Rode NT5’s with the Apogee Duet as an audio interface. The results were pretty surprising. Normally the EQ I use will have massive peaks and valleys throughout, but with the NT5’s, very little EQ or anything else for that matter was needed.
This is a good shot from the front. You can see the XY pattern used.
This shows the XY pattern from the back, and the placement inside the piano. I actually used Westone in-ear monitors, which completely block out any sound and listened to what the mics picked up using various positions over the piano strings and soundboard. This is what I came up with.
Here’s the MacBook Pro running Logic Studio 9 with the Apogee Duet ready to go. This thing is so quiet!
A shot of the whole setup.
Because of Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll be taking this week off from the podcast to spend some time with the family. Next Saturday, Soundwave is going to record one of our new songs here at the Maestro Music studio, but I’ll try to get another podcast recorded next Sunday after church. Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks to everyone for their support. Below is the story of my journey I posted on one of the CCIE study groups I followed for years while preparing:
My journey began a little over 5 years ago. I had already obtained some Cisco professional level certs and figured the CCIE couldn’t be much harder so I booked a lab and a bootcamp with IPexpert. I had some experience, but nowhere near the skills necessary for a CCIE candidate, which I realized the first day of Scott Morris’s bootcamp back in 2005. That was back when ATM and ISDN were still on the exam. At any rate, I barely made it through layer 2, and got stuck on layer 3. I knew I didn’t have a chance.
3 years later after gaining some valuable experience on the job, and putting together a lab of 7x 2811’s, 5x 2600 series (2 of them XM’s), 3x 3560’s, and a 3550, I started hitting the books. I purchased the IPexpert Blended Learning Solution, and worked through all 3 volumes (Volume 1 I worked through twice), watched the videos and listened to the audio throughout my study time, and read the following Cisco Press books:
Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide
CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Quick Reference Sheets
Routing TCP/IP, Volumes 1 and 2
Internet Routing Architectures
CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide
Developing IP Multicast Networks
I started studying on a regular basis after I passed the written back in October of 2008, but really started hitting it hard the day they announced the change and I scheduled my lab date. For the OEQ’s, I used the IPexpert as well as the Internetwork Expert Core Knowledge sims. I’ve studied for more than 500 hours since May. I put everything on hold – the band, my “music to pray by” blog (http://musictoprayby.com), and my wife and 1 year old child. The only thing that didn’t go on hold was God and serving at the church. Yoko and I sacrificed celebrating our 10 year anniversary on September 25th so that I could wrap up preparing for the lab. My wife is awesome – she did this without complaining once. I couldn’t have done this without her support.
I just want to thank my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ for being my inspiration and giving me the abilities I have. I also would like to thank IPexpert for putting together some of the most challenging material I’ve ever put myself through. After working through all the labs and understanding the solutions, I actually felt a little over-prepared, which is certainly not a bad thing. I would also like to thank everyone in groupstudy for helping me out with the questions I posted. I didn’t participate much compared to a lot of the other professionals who are a part of this awesome community, but I’ve been reading religiously for over a year now, and that knowledge gained from yall has been a tremendous help!
Here’s a little bit about my lab experience:
I flew into San Jose from Austin on Wednesday just so that I’d have Thursday to relax and get mentally prepared for the big day. On Friday morning, we met the proctor. I actually remembered him from my last lab date over 4 years ago. He showed us to the lab, and to my surprise, there were these really nice Dell 24″ displays at each station. I remember them being junky CRT’s the last time I was there. The OEQ’s were not super easy, and if I would have relied solely on my lab experiences, I probably would not have passed. I think the reading I did certainly prepared me for these more than anything else. The irritating things were my keyboard’s space bar made this squeaky sound that was really annoying and the guy next to me had this habit of humming, but once I started my lab, I zoned in and finished in a little over 4 hours. At this point, I’m freaking out thinking there has to be a page missing or something. So I took a little over 2 hours going over everything again very carefully and found a few mistakes. At 3:15, I figured it was pointless to stay any longer so I did another round of tclsh pings and write mems and left.
Thanks again to everyone who has already congratulated me. Now, it’s on to the SP track before they add OEQ’s!
Well, I just got the piano tuned yesterday, and I can’t wait to do the next MTPB podcast! Look for it to be posted sometime on Sunday.
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!
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 MTPBpodcasts, 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.