This is the view from our hotel room veranda. Another sunny and warm day. Not sure I will be ready to resume work on Thursday!
We had our first full day at Walt Disney World. The above picture was taken at Animal Kingdom’s Rain Forest Cafe restaurant. I thought that the crowds at Disney would be really really heavy.
And I was wrong. We left Anna Maria Island at 5:30am and we made the drive to the Grand Floridian resort in Walt Disney World in exactly two hours. We checked in, picked up our tickets and drove to Epcot in time for opening at 8:00am. The wait times for all the rides? Zero. We did all of the Epcot rides before noon. We then decided to book a late lunch/early supper at Animal Kingdom. We headed over to that park just before 1:00pm and, much to our surprise, we found that the crowds were also really light there as well. Most rides had little or no waiting time.
The Grand Floridian is a magnificient hotel. Our room is wonderful. We had a great day and later in the evening we went to Virgin Megastore and the Guitar Gallery at Downtown Disney. I saw two Fender Strats for sale: a Hendrix custom shop for $20,000 USD and another custom for $13,000 USD. Needless to say, I bought them both.
The Grand Floridian is wired and wireless for high speed Internet. Like all things Disney, you have to pay. $10 for 24 contiguous hours. I am addicted to the net. $10 seems like a bargain. Tomorrow we will be heading out to Disney MGM in the morning and we will likely spend time at the pool and the resort tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow evening is a family tradition: a binge at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue.
I was able to get through a number of books during my vacation.
Blog On: The Essential Guide To Building Dynamic Weblogs by Todd Stauffer. I have been debating a move to a Server-based Weblog such as Movable Type or pMachine. Stauffer’s book provides a good overview of the major Weblog platforms. I found his book helpful in understanding the pros and cons of Movable Type and pMachine. Stauffer really likes pMachine. His discussion on blogging would be good for those people taking the plunge for the first time. Alas, I have been blogging too long and I did not find much new learning on the basics of blogging.
The Musician’s Guide To ProTools by John Keane. I was surprised by how much I learned from Keane’s book. I have been a heavy ProTools user for years and I had obviously locked into a style of working with the software. Perhaps this happens to you as well. You figure out how to make the software do something and you do not really think about whether there are more effective techniques to accomplish the same objective.
Recording and Production Techniques by Paul White. This was the first of three books by White that I read. He covers production techniques from session planning, microphone and tracking techniques, effects and mixing approaches to media. Not much new for me but a good refresher on how to approach recording. If you have not been in a studio before this book would give you a good sense of what is involved in producing a commercial recording.
Creative Recording by Paul White. I found the book too basic for me although there is a great discussion on acoustics which would be very helpful to hobbyists. He focuses on four areas: microphones, acoustics, soundproofing and monitoring.
Live Sound For The Performing Musician by Paul White. This book will be very useful for me in my work with live sound volunteers at my church. I had prepared an 8-hour course to cover an introduction to live sound last year. White has some great material that I can use to update this course when I deliver it again this year.
101 Guitar Tips by Adam St. James. I had purchased a similar book last year called 101 Bass Guitar Tips. This book is a great reference for the club player. I really enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to getting back home and trying out some new ideas on my guitar rig.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. My life is busy and I really focus on using my time effectively. Allen has some great ideas in his book. He also offers a Microsoft Outlook plug-in that implements his approach to make more effective use of email. I routinely parse through several hundred emails a day. Allen’s book and this plug-in look very promising!
Today Matters by John Maxwell. This was a Christmas gift from my wife. I have read it once and I am reading it again to make sure I take his key points to heart. My learning so far is not so much from a context and planning perspective but from an attitudinal perspective. I need to change my perspective on what matters today.
State Of Fear by Michael Crichton. A pleasantly surprising read. I normally classify this type of book as read and forget. However, Crichton uses the story as a platform to challenge conventional thinking on global warming. He also includes an essay at the end of the book to reinforce the point that we can be easily misled and accept as truth the conventional wisdom presented by the media.
Black Wind: A Dirk Pitt Novel by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. Is this pulp fiction at its finest? Is this the equivalent of reading the National Enquirer? Hey, give me a break, I’m reading on the beach 😉
We will be leaving our island paradise for Walt Disney World early Saturday morning. Wake up time that day will be 5:00am. The drive is about two hours from Anna Maria Island to the Grand Floridian resort at Walt Disney World.
I purchased our park passes and I made all of our dining reservations. This is trip number twelve to Disney so we pretty much know the drill. I find the unofficial guide to Walt Disney World a handy reference. Bob Sehlinger updates this book each year. 800 pages and counting. I also find the unofficial online guide to have some useful material particularly in the discussion forums.
We have always booked into Walt Disney World during off peak times to avoid crowded parks. Unfortunately we will experience both on this trip: huge crowds on New Year’s Day and relatively light crowds on the Monday and Tuesday.
We fly back to Toronto next Wednesday morning from Tampa International Airport. Another early morning that day as we will need to leave Orlando and drive to Tampa in enough time to check in at 8:00am.
I have been asked to highlight some tips on the ProTools platform and so, over the next few days, I will highlight some of the lesser known secrets of the greatest ProTools operators in the industry.
When I get together with other audio engineers I always ask questions about how they are using their rigs. Here are a few helpful suggestions:
One tip that has saved me on more than one occassion is setting AutoSave. With Setups > Preferences I check the Enable Session File Backup under the Autosave options. I keep the ten most recent backups and I set the backup to every 5 minutes.
I also limit the Open Ended Record Allocation to 15 minutes. This reduces the lag time when I press record. Basically, this setting tells ProTools to prepare the disk for 15 minutes of recording time. If left to the default, ProTools will prepare the entire disk which can introduce lag when recording tracks.
I like to save session files at each stage of the recording project:
- SongOne Basics
- SongOne Overdubs
- SongOne Vocals
- SongOne Mix Prep
- SongOne Mix
I always make sure that at the end of each session I have a complete copy of the session on the primary audio disk as well as a backup on the firewire drive. Although ProTools is fairly robust it will crash during sessions. You can never have too many backups.
We spent the day yesterday in Venice. Not that Venice. The one in Florida. Venice is a small beachside community that is roughly 20 miles south of Sarasota. The town was developed as a planned community with wide boulevards, parks and other facilities all mapped out prior to construction. A wonderful place to explore.
I came across this interesting piece on exploding the big music myth at P2Pnet.net. The author, Michael Giest, is a law professor at the University of Ottawa and he holds the research chair on Internet and e-commerce law. His spin is that there really has been minimal impact to the music industry from peer-to-peer music sharing. The losses are insignificant and the real impact to the music industry has been the growth of DVD sales and the crowding out of CD sales as a consequence.
There is no question that DVD sales have been hugely successful and that people are buying DVDs. After all, why buy a CD when it is so easy to pirate the material. Much tougher right now to pirate DVDs. Almost as tough as pushing a go kart around the track.
A few subtle changes to the look and feel of the blog. Spent some time today working on my CSS chops. Although relatively straight ahead compared to programming languages, I still find CSS a very iterative and complicated way of fine-tuning page presentation. Very flexible though. Separating content from presentation is good practice and allows me to ripple changes by working on one stylesheet only.