Old age and technology

Thanks to Marie Anne for her email about downloading backing tracks. She had a few problems initially but fortunately I was quickly able to point her in the right direction. Add to that a further helping hand from her 16 year old daughter, and all was well and she got her download safe and sound…

Hi Kenny,
 
Thanks very much for you prompt reply.  I have successfully (with the assistance of my 16yr old daughter) managed to download the track now.

Shouldn’t allow over 45s to work with computers.  Thanks very much again.

Marie Anne

Oh no Marie Anne, don’t say that….I’m 46 this year (born in 1963)!
 
Looks like you and I are now officially what your daughter would term “silver surfers”
 
I remember many years ago a comedian making a joke about child-proof lids on jars – he said they called them child-proof because children were the only ones who could get the lids off ’em!

My dad laughed his head off at that joke because only a few days before he’d failed to open a plastic pill bottle – he didn’t know that you have to line-up the little arrows on the plastic lid before it opens….but I did, and I opened it for him (I think I was about 10 years old at the time)!
 
Of course now I have nephews and nieces in their teens who take great pleasure in pointing out to me where I’m going wrong and how I’m out of touch with things etc (and I’m embarrassed to say they’re usually right)…
 
Ahhhh, what goes around comes around!
 
It’s an old saying which goes….

“Be nice to your kids ‘cos they’re the ones who’ll choose your nursing home”
 
<sigh>
 
Have a great weekend

Regards

Kenny

Where to position your mp3 player on stage

Thanks to Rich from the good ole’ US of A for this question:

Hi Kenny,

Whats the best location to set up a small MP3 player during the performance?

I’ll be using the small MP3 player for my backing trax and want it to be in an ideal location during the performance. Whats a good set up? Is there a certain stand etc?

Thanks for your help.

Rich

Hi Rich

I like my mp3 player to be right in front of me at all times.

I play keyboards most of the time so have it attached with sticky-back velcro to an area of the keyboard where there are no buttons or controls I need to access so it’s not disturbing the keyboard controls but still within easy reach.

Whenever I play guitar I have a little mini music stand (it’s made of black metal and quite sturdy) which clamps on to my microphone stand. I velcro the player to the music stand.

It does mean using quite a long cable going from the mp3 player to the PA mixing desk, but the benefit of having your mp3 player right in front of you where you can control it at all times far outweighs any inconvenience of running a lengthy cable along the stage in my opinion.

Of course in an ideal world it would be nice to have my very own sound guy just control everything for me from the side of the stage. But until I get that call to play the Carnegie Hall or a summer season at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, I’ll have to continue doing it all myself <sigh> LOL!

Best Regards

Kenny

iPod docking machines for backing tracks

Thanks to Brian for this question about iPod docking gear for playing backing tracks:

Hi Kenny
 
I’m looking to purchase an ipod to play my backing tracks on stage.

I am a singer/acoustic guitarist. Can you recommend a half decent model (nano / touch etc.)

I was also looking at hooking the pod up to either iMultiMix 8 USB or Alesis Jam Dock or Alesis iMultiMix 9R.

Can you give me your professional opinion/advice on which of the above three Alesis models you would consider to be the most suitable for my needs?

Thanks

Brian

Hi Brian
 
I would tend to go for the most up to date model when buying an iPod because it will have the newest firmware installed and any bugs present in previous models will have been detected and ironed out.
 
Probably the iPod Classic or the iPod Touch would be my favourite choice for backing tracks.
 
The size of the hard drive inside the model you opt for is up to you and will depend on how many songs you want your iPod to hold.

The only thing I would suggest though is that you buy the biggest hard drive model you can afford because you’ll be amazed at how quickly you fill it up with music (not just your backing tracks) so bigger is definitely better.
 
For example, I made the mistake of figuring that as long as my iPod could hold a couple of thousand backing tracks, that would be fine for me. I soon found myself giving my partner my almost new 30Gb model and buying a bigger 80Gb model (which I’m now beginning to fill up too, so a 160Gb model will be next)!
 
To be fair, I travel a fair bit so I’ve put a whole load of mp4 movies on it for watching on the aircraft so the movies are taking up a big chunk of space. But still, be aware that you’ll most probably end up using up more space than you intended, so my suggestion is always that you buy an iPod with at least double the space you think you’ll need…
 
Regarding the 3 pdf instruction manuals you sent through for the Alesis iPod products, it’s impossible to tell which is best without actually hearing and testing each one.
 
The most important thing that any iPod dock or interface needs to do is put out a good quality sound and be easy to use on stage. So no matter how good these machines may look on a spec sheet, you really need to hear each one through your PA system and use them at a gig to see how good they sound and perform.
 
I’ve used many Alesis products over the years and like their quality, robustness, and on stage usability. Don’t take that as a recommendation though – I haven’t tested any of these particular models you mentioned so I urge you to try before you buy.
 
From a quick glance, I like the look of both the iMultiMix models, but the JamDock doesn’t appeal to me because it is more a machine for practice rather than a professional product. For example, the JamDock appears to only let you adjust the volume of the iPod and the volume of the guitar and doesn’t give you any control over important stuff like eq etc. The JamDock would be no use on stage at a gig in my opinion.
 
Again though, I must stress that you’d really need to hear all three and try them out before you could make a proper informed decision.
 
Hope this helps…

Regards
 
Kenny

Cleaning up your PC

Thanks to Graham for this email.

Although it was only intended to be just a bit of feedback on a program I recommended called Registry Easy that he was having trouble with, it may just end up saving his whole computer from disaster…

Hi Kenny

Just wanted to give you some feedback on this.

My PC had been running a little slow lately, so was interested in this programme, looked at it, and thought, yes, this could help my PC.

Big Mistake!  I bought it and downloaded, and nothing but problems since.  It deleted all my log in and username addresses to both my profesional websites and personal ones – nothing came up on the site about this when performing the “clean”, and then when I re-booted afteral several times, my system ran slower than before; couldn’t get an internet connection for at least 5 minutes – nightmare!  Have spent over 6 hours trying to restore my PC to the original settings.

Just wanted to let you know, as it seemed such a great programme, but did nothing for my PC – have you had any feedback from anyone else? I’m no computer geek, so welcome programmes that I can simply click and it helps my PC speed up – this one didn’t – and I followed all the instructions….  Waste of £30 odd quid in my mind – now that could have spent on a few backing trax!

Best regards

Graham

Hi Graham

Thanks for emailing me – it’s always good to get feedback, good or bad.

I’ve had a VERY different experience using Registry Easy. It has cleaned a lot of clutter on my PC’s and they are all performing much, much better than before.

Also you’re the only person who has reported any problems to me.

Now, in saying that, this doesn’t mean other people haven’t had problems. Maybe they just haven’t contacted me to tell me about it.

However I’ve had nothing but good results from using the program and all the friends I’ve recommended it to tell me that it has fixed loads of errors and all report faster loading programs and quicker web browsing etc.

Also, the software makers of the program have been selling it since 2003 and have had over 3,500,000 downloads of the program so there’s absolutely no question that the program doesn’t “do what it says on the tin”.

It seems it just hasn’t worked for you…and believe it or not there is a VERY positive side to this for you…

You see if you are experiencing problems cleaning your PC with the program, then that means that your PC has more problems and issues than this program is able to fix.

While this isn’t a good thing, it’s most certainly a good thing to know

To me, what you describe sounds like there may be some virus activity going on inside your PC. Some viruses are cleverly written and designed to protect themselves when something like the Registry Easy program tries to clean your system. The virus will protect itself and “resist” the intrusion, throwing your whole system in to turmoil (which is pretty much what you describe has happened).

Download the latest virus definitions for your antivirus and run a full system scan.

There’s a chance that your antivirus may catch whatever virus was interfering with Registry Easy.

If your antivirus draws a blank though, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no virus lurking in your PC.

It may just mean that the virus has cleverly protected itself from detection (with viruses, prevention is better than cure, because once some viruses get inside your PC they often find ways to hide from detection).

Regarding the clearing of your saved passwords/logins, this is normal for all error fixing/cleaning type programs – I tried a few different error fixing programs before I found Registry Easy and they all delete these (as they should). The reason for this is because home computers, especially Windows computers, can usually be hacked with relative ease. Your computer can be controlled remotely from a hackers machine so having your login details saved allows the hacker to further access everything you have in the password protected areas and login to websites you have supposedly password protected. Just because you are the only person who uses your PC doesn’t mean you’re the only one who has access to it (hackers come in through your internet connection and then remotely control your machine from the other side of the world – you don’t even know they’re doing it because they cloak their activity from your screen).

Inconvenient as it may be, keeping a seperate note of your logins/passwords somewhere outwith your PC is the best defence against hackers.

Whenever you log in to an important website or program or file, you should ALWAYS enter the password manually every time – don’t ever let your PC “remember” any of your logins.

One last thing…

There has been one VERY clever virus doing the rounds lately called the conficker virus which is capable of hiding from antivirus programs. However a guy called Joe Stewart has devised a simple test to see if your PC is infected. It works by displayng a page of images – images which the conficker virus has been known to block. Basically if you see all the images on the page, then you’re most likely free of the conficker virus:

http://www.mp3backingtrax.com/confickertest.htm

Of course this is only one test for one virus (conficker). There are tens of thousands other viruses out there. Your antivirus should perform a thorough test although it’s still worth checking the above link for conficker because a few antivirus programs are not picking up on this one because it can hide from them really well.

If your antivirus picks up nothing and gives you a clean bill of health, that also doesn’t necessarily mean that your system has no viruses.

The problem with antivirus programs is that they are always one step behind the virus makers. For obvious reasons, they can’t come up with a fix for a virus until after the virus has been unleashed to the world and they’ve figured out a protection for it.

This can often mean there’s a few days between a virus getting in to your computer and the antivirus companies bringing out a detection and a fix for it. add to that another few days or weeks if you haven’t downloaded the latest antivirus updates for a while!

If it’s one of the new breed of viruses that gets in to your system then configures itself to hide from antivirus detection, your antivirus may well say your PC is clear of viruses when really it’s not!

In extreme cases you may even need to do a complete hard drive format and re-install Windows again from scratch.

The best way to find out where your PC stands right now is to:

1. Run Registry Easy and let it fix any errors it finds

2. Download the latest updates for your antivirus

3. Run a FULL antivirus system scan

4. Run Registry easy again – it should find no more errors

If after this your PC is still behaving strangely you know for sure that you have more serious problems.

A complete clean out (hard drive format and re-install of Windows) may be all that will sort it.

If you’re not confident doing this yourself, then unfortunately a trip to the computer repair shop is needed..

I hope all this helps, even if it only gets you a bit closer to finding what the real problem inside your PC is.

Regards

Kenny