Friday, July 26, 2013

This Is More For Me Than You

I got this laptop today with a really weird problem.  No matter what wireless network it connected to it would always get a 169 address.  Usually when a computer gets a 169 address it means it's having trouble communicating with the network's DHCP service (that stands for Dynamic Host Control Protocol).  I tried all the usual tricks.  First checking for malware.  Then releasing and renewing the IP address.  Then uninstalling the wireless network driver and letting it reinstall.  Then assigning a static address.  That last step is where it got weird and lead me to the answer I was looking for.  You see even with all those tricks I tried assigning a static address is supposed to at least grant me Internet access regardless of the "outside influences".

Finally I stumbled on to a solution for the problem and it was this.  I needed to open up an elevated CMD shell and enter the following:

netsh winsock reset catalog

Winsock (an abbreviation for Windows Sockets API) controls how Windows network software should access network services.  In short, it was broken so I reset it.  Good to know if it happens again in the future.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Budget WebSite

In another life I used to be a web designer.  I was decent enough at it, but the business was changing rapidly and I found that I didn't have the artistic skills to keep up with it.  That and it proved to be high maintenance and low yield.  I did learn a whole lot in my tenure though.  About what makes a good website, what they should include, how they should fit the business, and the basics.

This entry is about the basics.  You need three things to build a website on your own.

1.  Designing Skills

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language.  It used to be back in the day you needed to know the basics of how this language worked to design a basic site.  It's still good to know but it's 2013, there are easier ways now.  There are a number of free web design programs out there to help you out.  Personally I'm a fan of WYSIWYG editors (that's What You See Is What You Get) and one that I've recommended time and again is Coffeecup HTML Editor.  It used to be totally free, but you can still get the trial (good for 28 days).

2.  A Domain Name

This part can actually be pretty fun.  I don't want to get into the complexities of what a domain name actually is, but it's simply the site address.  Like or  There are ton of sites out there where you can search for and purchase a domain name.  Another thing that might surprise you: you're not limited to .com.  You can get .net, .org, .info, .xxx (3 guess what that's for), and even ones that represent the state (in the US) or the country you live in.  You should probably stick with the basics though because when you start going into state and country domains things can get pricey. 

The trick to shopping for domain names is all about timing.  Typically you can get a .com for maybe $10 - $20 a year., one of the biggest web retailers, currently lists their .com's for $10.99.  If you're willing to wait though that price can go way down and some retailers will lower the prices if you bundle it with hosting.  That brings me to...

3.  A Web Host
Forgive me.  I'm currently watching Buffy and Angel on Netflix.  I really like this guy. :)

Ignore the pic.  That's The Host and if you never watched Angel you have no idea who he is.  I just thought I'd stick in some geek humor.  A web host is where your website is physically located.  You could be your own host with your own computer and Internet service, but trust me you don't want the hassle.  We're talking about companies that keep their computers on all day everyday while guaranteeing your website will stay up most of the time (the best offer 99.99% uptime, but lower isn't so bad for a casual site).  The good news is hosting these days is remarkably inexpensive.  You can expect around $10 a month for some pretty decent bells and whistles.  I find most people don't need to invest that much into hosting.  Fortunately for them, there are actually hosts that will charge you nothing.  One that I recommend is  1 gig of storage, unlimited traffic and even an email address; you can't go wrong with that.

But If You're Willing To Spend A Few Bucks...

Now that we've covered the 3 basics this is where I ask you if you really want to do all this on the cheap.  I'm going to go back to Godaddy on this one as an example but if you're willing to spend a little time on Google you'll find more online companies that offer this service: Website Builders.  What these guys do is basically lay out thousands of templates for you to use and you just customize.  It's really easy and it gives you a professional feel.  The only really danger is uniqueness.  Chances are you'll stumble on a page where someone is using the exact same template as you.  But he with thousands to choose from the changes are small.  I figure if you invest in a builder along with hosting and a domain name  you wouldn't spend more that $50 to get your site rolling.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Business Like Show Business

It's been a while since I did a karaoke-esque post.  My experiences last night led me to reflect on some of the special circumstances that folks in the entertainment business have to deal with that would really be considered unusual or a double standard if applied elsewhere.  So I'm working on a Top list.  Let's see how far I get.

5 Annoying Personalities You Meet In Show Business

1.  The Spokesman/Spokeswoman

Think lawyer...just not as adept at lying.

Where he/she appears: Anywhere there's music being played.

The Spokesman/Spokeswoman is a person people like me are very familiar with.  I'm going to shift into DJ mode for this one.  I'm playing a set when out of nowhere Spokesman/Spokeswoman appears and tries to convince you to play a certain song or even switch your genre.

Typical lines: "Everybody in hear wants to hear this.", "All my friends are here and they'd go NUTS if you played this.", "The girls in here would go crazy if you played this." (You get the picture by now)

Why they're lame: Because they have absolutely NO idea how to read a crowd and see where the music takes them.  Give them what they want and they'll be the only person jamming in the middle of the dance floor while a confused crowd stares at you wondering exactly what just happened.  Also because they put forth no effort to get such song played (i.e. bribery).  And if the crowd is really hype it's going to take a damn good bribe to put that song up.

2.  The Creep

Where he/she appears: Typically the owner or the manager of the establishment

When I say 'creep' I'm actually referring to scope creep.  But yeah, given what The Creep does the definition you were thinking of works too.  Everyone in the business has had to deal with The Creep at one point or another.  What The Creep does is attempt to change the scope of your agreement  based on what events transpired over the night.  It usually results in them trying to pay you less for the gig.  It's a weird double standard because The Creep treats live entertainment like an odd job.  It's like hiring security for a night and deciding  you shouldn't pay them because nobody showed up.

Typical lines: "If I paid what you asked for you'd be making more than I made tonight.", "You brought in less people than you said you would."

Why they're lame: Because they want the big score but they aren't willing to pay for it.  Live entertainment is not cheap to provide.  People who do live entertainment generally make very little for their services.  What's more, The Creep eventually gets blackballed by the rest of the local entertainment so he/she has to start bringing in more out of town acts eventually costing THEM more.

3.  The Memory Hog
C'mon, you know you were thinking it.

Where he/she appears:  Mostly at karaoke, but may also appear at live bands

I have a confession to make. I'm horrible with names.  I recognize faces very well but names come and go.  Hey I have to work with dozens of people a night for karaoke.  Just gimme a break and I'll get your name right all night long.  The Memory Hog doesn't like to play this.  They expect me to remember who they are every time they see me...and are genuinely offended if I don't.  Even worse some of them want me to remember what they sing.  Yeah, good luck with that buddy. 

Typical lines: "I was here last week!", "I was here last month!", "I was here last year!".

Why they're lame: Because they expect me to have eidetic memory.  True some singers stand out more than others.  True I do remember some names to a T.  But I'm only human and if you're the average visitor to karaoke I have very little incentive to remember who you are beyond the night you actually visit.  Maybe if you dropped something into my tip jar every now and again I'd have an easier time remember you. ;)

4.  The Backup or The Collaborator

Where he/she appears: Anywhere there's access to a microphone

So you've got your formula for how things should progress for the night when into your life walks The Backup (or The Collaborator...pick your favorite).  What this person wants is to do what you do without actually knowing any of the technical particulars.  If you have a spare microphone, you'll be forced to hide it or turn it off because this person will insist on being your frontman/frontwoman ALL NIGHT LONG.

Typical lines: "Let me get on the mic man, I'll hype up this crowd for you!", "Yo, just let me hold on to this mic.  I'll blow you up!"

Why they're lame: Because you're not part of the show.  You'll never be part of the show.  In fact, with you as part of the show now you're not part of the show.  What you are is annoying and killing my timetable.  Now I'm not a dick.  I'll humor you for a couple sets.  But a back and forth dynamic doesn't just happen.  It takes practice and seeing as you're not here every night and I won't be paying you to maybe you should just go practice and home.

5.  The Fifth Wheel
Some kinds of trucks are referred to as fifth wheel trucks.  This is absolutely useless trivia that I stuck in here so I could put in a picture.

Where he/she appears: Mostly at band events, but can also show up at karaoke

From what I hear this rides a fine line between awesome and lame.  We're going with the lame angle here.  The Fifth Wheel  is the aspiring musician who inexplicably produces and instrument during your event and insists and playing with you.  The key word here is 'aspiring'.

Typical lines: "Hey, I brought my *instrument*.  Can I jam with you?", *says nothing and starts playing on the side*

Why they're lame: Because they're horning in on your paying gig to express what for them at this point is a hobby.  Not to mention it's kinda rude.  If you want to jam with the band, ask them if you can come over to their studio when they're practicing.  And for pete's sake don't bring an instrument to karaoke.  It makes you look like a douche and you're taking time from people who want to sing badly.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Good Thing I Did Research

Guys, I'm a sucker for a good deal.  So when I stopped into RadioShack this afternoon and saw the big CLEARANCE sign that's where I made my beeline.  One item in particular drew my attention.  This thing:
That's the Ion Discover DJ.  I'm not going to tell you how much it was going for, but I will tell you I held that thing in my hands for a good 10 minutes contemplating buying it.  I even ran the UPC using Price Rhythm.  Technically for a retail sale the price was good (even though I saw it for $20 less on eBay).

After arguing with the angel and devil on my shoulder I finally put it down and decided I'd go do some research first and if I like it I'll go back on the way home.  Good thing I did.  I found this handy video on YouTube that pretty much confirmed the one thing I was worried about in buying this.  Here's the video:

Did you catch it?  My problem was did it have a headphone port so I could listen to cued songs.  The answer was no.  I could have easily made that assumption because the freakin' thing has a crossfader but thanks to the video it pretty much confirmed that I'd have to add another sound card to do that...and that's way too much work when there's already units that do that for me.  Guess I'll be sticking with my Numark DJ IO for a while.