Category Archives: technology

The Sound of Light

I was recently a guest in a classroom (not at APU) and listened to a fantastic composer and beloved professor tell a room full of eager students that the reason florescent lights buzz when they start to go bad is because some of the light is slowing down, and the frequency of the light is getting so slow that it becomes a sound wave instead of a light wave, which is why the buzz is at 60 Hz.

Nobody in the room contradicted him. Nobody. After about 30-second of dumb disbelief, I protested, and the whole class turned on me as if I were an idiot, daring to argue with this obviously brilliant man.

This brought to mind 3 things:

1. An expert in one area is not an expert in all areas. If you are a teacher, be sure you communicate to your students when you are speaking from your area of expertise, and when you are speaking out of your nether regions. If you are a student, become critically aware  of the difference. 
2. Intellectual authority comes from being right, not from being in a position of authority. Don’t be afraid to challenge professors when they are wrong.
3. In a room full of 20 people, I can’t believe nobody knew enough about light, or sound, or electricity to contradict an obviously absurd assertion. I’m worried that we’ve come to just accept general ignorance about how the world works.

So here’s today’s extra credit question. Help me restore my faith in the world. Without heading to wikipedia or google, with just your general knowledge of physics, what would you have said to the man to demonstrate his error?

Client Management

How do you get your creative work to the client when you’re working on a project? Email? iDisk? FTP server?

Most of the time, I hand off to a client via a webpage, where I can jot down some text and link large files for them to download or preview in their browser. For a few years, I’ve been building each page for each client individually.

After messing around with several different options, I finally decided that what I needed was a WordPress website, where each client project was a single post, and could only be accessed by linking directly to that URL (in other words, no “Front Page” to the site listing recent posts). You can check out one of the recent projects that uses this method here:

I think too many people ignore clean client hand-offs. It matters whether or not they feel like their are being handled professionally. If the data gets to them in a sloppy or inefficient way, it’s like cooking a 5-star gourmet meal and serving it in a paper back with a spork.

So, that’s my thought. How do you guys (folks, fools, ustedes) handle it?

Sibelius 6


Just upgraded to Sibelius 6 – I love it! A bunch of fixed, a lot faster, it does some very intelligent things with layout (like making sure your lyrics don’t overlap your stems and dynamics, grouping things together so that when one dynamic moves, the vertical position of all of them in the line move). I have yet to do a big score to parts project, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be great!

Anybody else using it? I’m waiting for the Sibelius / Protools integration to step up a bit more (graphic editing of midi data via score, for example), but when it does, I think APU will switch from Logic to that as our primary music platform.

Blogging Software

I’m building an awesome new blog for our very own June Steckler, and I’m looking around for a design program that won’t cost me $500. When I do my own stuff, I usually just hand-code stuff with CSS and HTML, but that won’t work for what she wants. I need some actually pretty pretty.

I realize that the right thing to do at this point is sub-contract to an actual designer, but I’m working in trade for original awesome artwork, and I’m not sure I can really offer somebody 1/3 of a painting.

Anybody use anything on a mac that they really like for web design, that is either cheap or free?

Hulu and the Mouse


Streaming media has won. The mouse now owns an equity stake in, and will start pushing their content through the portal. I take this as a pretty sure sign that the Hulu model is, at least for now, the clear winner in the race for new distribution models.

Welcome to the new century, Disney. Glad to see you finally made it. Now I can prop my kids up on their stools, tape open their eyelids, and pump HSM3 into their tender little minds 24 hours a day!

Mac Business Software?

Hey, Roadies.

I need a little help. My wife’s awesome floral design business keeps growing (huzzah!) and our current system of accounting (legal pads, hastily scrawled notes, tax records sent in on hello kitty stationary) is no longer sufficient.

I’m looking for a way to manage her business finance that will work on a Mac. Some of the more popular choices (QuickBooks Online, etc.) are for PC only (insert snarky “PC’s are for business” comment here). I know several of you are self-employed, income-producing type persons with several of the same businessy needs that we have, so I’d like to know what you use. I need to find something that does the following:

  • Manages basic cash-method accounting, with no inventory.
  • Sync’s with online backing from World Savings Bank, er Washington Mutual, uh WacoviaOne World Federal Freedom-First OmniBank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the U.S. Treasury.
  • Prints and tracks invoices.
  • Simplifies tax accounting for both self-employed taxes and sales taxes (on a per-county basis would be great, since her weddings take place all over the state).
  • MUST run on Mac! Online version would be great, but install software is fine too.

Any “Huzzah, use this!” or “Stay away, do not go to there” advice to pass along?

Wiki Wiki Waaa?

So, I’m in a quandary.

For the past 6 years, I’ve used this book as the textbook for my Intro to Music Tech. It’s over 10 years old, which is an eternity in music technology, but nobody has really written anything that’s as clear and usable since.

loudspeakersThis morning, I stumbled across the Wikipedia article on loudspeakers. It’s … fantastic. Clear, concise, well organized, contains everything it should. It is, in fact, much better than the chapter on speakers from the textbook I’ve been using. That led me to the entries on microphones, MIDI, digital recording. Some are great, others are written by engineers using inscrutable symbols and mostly made up vocabulary.

But even the one’s that aren’t great are still pretty good. Which really has me considering why I make my students buy a $25 book every semester.

So, I’m considering a switch for the fall. Instead of having a required textbook, I think I might just have a page of assigned links instead, some from Wikipedia, some from other sites that cover the material well. The content is there, I think I can organize it in a way that has some continuity and logical progression. Maybe I’ll put together a few pages of my own on my academic site to cover the gaps.

Anybody think that’s an awful idea? Phil?

ProTip: Phone Interviews

Addison Road proudly presents today’s “Getting Hired” ProTip:

If you respond to an ad for a paid position, and you and person hiring for the position agree to conduct a phone interview at a certain time, and you don’t answer the phone at that agreed upon time, and instead let the phone call go to voicemail, where your outgoing message is mostly just you and your frat buddies belching into the phone, you’re not getting the job.

Today’s ProTip has been brought to you by not one, but TWO of the candidates on my phone interview list for today.