First, an apology. I’ve been inundated with work for the last few months in my new position that have kept me jumping from one fire to the next. I’ve finally managed to get my head above water and things have slowed to a manageable enough level that I can resume my posting.
A couple of issues that arose in a couple of the churches I support bred the title for this post. I realized after these events that it’s sometimes hard for techie types to think outside of the technical box. They sometimes get so focused that they can’t see the forest for the trees. Some of it is due to not having enough technical knowledge and experience. Some of it is due to the exact opposite. I know that doesn’t make much sense but bear with me.
I get a phone call from one of the techs at a church. They’ve been there for a couple of hours checking to ensure that everything is working on the new computer that got installed the week before. Since they use split tracks they were trying to figure out where the balance control was in Media Player 10 to select between the music and the vocal track. Well, it turns out that while it used to be in the Graphic Equalizer plug-in in Media Player 9, Microsoft appears to have taken it out of 10. So I had them load up Winamp which took care of that issue since it does have a balance control. Problem 1 solved.
Then they were attempting to play a video but were only getting the video and not the sound. I had them download and install the K-Lite Mega Codec pack which solved Problem 2. So far so good. I hang up the phone and go about my day.
A couple of hours later I get a call from the tech saying that the monitor that is Y-ed with the rear confidence projector feed is showing everything looking blurry and doubled on the screen. Since I had checked all 3 monitor outs when I set up the desktop the week before I knew that all 3 monitor outs were working correctly on the front and rear projectors and the control monitor when I left. The tech had tried everything he knew. I’m thinking about all the possible permutations of what could cause it, from a bad graphics card, bad Y adapter, bad cable, bad driver, etc. Keep in mind the tech has been trying to get this resolved for the last hour or so. All I’m thinking about is that I hate computers at this point! I ask him if the projector also is showing the bad graphics since I’m figuring if the projector and the monitor are both showing the same bad stuff, chances are good that it’s either the Y adapter or the graphics card. He hadn’t tried the projector so I have him go upstairs to turn it on. No projector. Turns out the pastor had borrowed the projector and didn’t tell anyone that he had borrowed it. As soon as the tech told me the projector wasn’t there I realized that was the problem. Had him go hunt down the pastor and plug the projector in. Viola! Everything is hunky-dory!
Moral of this story: Don’t take for granted that everything is where its supposed to be. He could have saved himself a lot of time had he turned on all the equipment because he would have noticed a missing projector.
This one was at my church. I’m running sound during Thursday night rehearsal and everything sounds good. I even have some fun times seeing just how loud our system can run (105db and yes, the dust was coming off the A/C ducts from the amount of bass that was pumping through the system. Everyone goes home happy. Saturday night service rehearsal starts and after the first song the worship leader asks “Did anyone hear that scratchy, ticking sound?”, to which everyone in the band replied affirmatively. We start diagnosing the problem by muting all the channels and going one by one through each channel attempting to determine what is causing it. We get to the acoustic guitar channel and the musician starts playing. Well waddaya know? There it is! It’s clicking and scratching like crazy. When he stops playing it goes away. The worship leader tells me that the same thing happened the week before and they replaced the instrument cable and that seemed to get rid of it. So I go “Hmm” and start a decision tree in my head about what the cause might be and rule most everything out. I ask the acoustic guitar player to start playing and I notice he’s wearing a long sleeve dress shirt. I stop him and ask him if his shirt has buttons on the cuff and on the cuff opening. He does. I make him roll up his sleeves. No more scratching, no more ticking. Everyone was like, seriously? I said Yup. Problem solved
Moral of the story: Take a step back and observe before you dive headlong into technical problem solving. The time and angst you save just might be your own.
Moral of the post, or as my buddy Chris Huff at www.behindthemixer.com says, the Take Away. Don’t get so focused on finding a technical solution to a problem that you overlook the obvious. Sometimes taking a step back and looking at the environment will help you place the problem in perspective. While a significant number of technical problems can only be solved by technical solutions don’t ignore the non-technical possibilities.