rob.tweed's blog

Behind the podcasts (warning - for audio geeks only!)

Recording the audio for the conference was actually a bit of a return to an old hobby of mine, and has rekindled the recording bug. I'm very much a frustrated recording engineer and used to record musician friends and various bands around London in the 1980s. One interesting recording I made was a demo for the late Mort Shuman, the guy who wrote many of Elvis' hit songs, and I've made numerous recordings of my good buddy Simon Chamberlain, one of London's foremost keyboard session players (though I can't claim credit for the recordings listed in his URL!)

Back in the 80's the gear you had available was pretty crude and a lot more expensive than today, but I still have one of the first Sony PCM processors which allowed you to record audio as a digital PCM steam onto VHS tape! Quite an awesome piece of equipment in its day, but sadly redundant these days where you just record digitally straight to computer.

Unfortunately in the intervening time I'd lost one of my microphone cables so I was only able to record the Out Of The Slipstream conference in mono using a single microphone - it all would have sounded a lot better in binaural stereo but never mind - I knew it would all have to be shrunk down and compressed into MP3 anyway, but hopefully you'll all agree that the sound is nevertheless pretty good. As George has said, my son, Simon, did a great job of laboriously recording the talks and doing the post-production work equalising the sound levels (some speakers in particular had a terrible habit of walking around, so the voice level went up and down quite a bit), splitting the tracks up and compressing them to MP3.

For any like-minded audio geek that's interested, the gear used for the digital recording of the conference was:

1 Calrec CM 652D small diaphragm cardioid capacitor microphone
Mic pre-amping was done using the mixer section of an ancient 4-track Tascam Portastudio
Edirol UA-1EX USB sound card
Recording and post-production software: Audacity 1.2.4, running on a Dell laptop.

Calrec is sadly no longer making microphones - they used to make many of the mics used by the BBC, and the 652s were a relatively low cost but amazing quality microphone, great for crossed-pair stereo recording or instrument mic'ing. Calrec were famous for their revolutionary SoundField microphone which is now manufactured by another company ( - oh how I always wished I could have afforded one!

Well, I've now got the recording bug again and invested in a new, small Behringer mixer which should be much more portable and higher quality than the clapped out Portastudio, and I now have both the Calrecs up and running.

So if you have a conference or other event that you want recording, let me know - I may be able to help out!

PS: listen out for some of the background sounds during the talks. At various times you'll hear the wonderful sound of vintage car amd motor bike engines running outside the conference room!

Maybe I do need 2007.x

I think I've found a reason for moving to Caché's new shiny 2007.x series. But you'll have to listen to my Lightning Talk to discover what it is! :-)

New Website, new EWD!

As part of the lead-up to the conference I've been busy re-designing our web site. It's a case of practising what we preach, so the new web site is totally Ajax-based using the EWD Ajax Framework. It's a work in progress, so some of the tabs will still take you back to old parts of the site, but the eXtc Web Developer (EWD) section is fully re-designed.

The EWD section is worth exploring - the version of EWD you can now download is the very latest one, bringing in many new features including:

- loads of new Ajax capabilities
- some built-in Yahoo YUI widgets
- WebLink Developer integration
- support for WebLink as a compilation target
- GT.M support

Although not a formal documented part of this release, the latest EWD can be used to design and build PHP applications that use mySQL as the back-end database. This is the first step towards making EWD a completely technology-independent web application development and design framework. As another example of practising what we preach, when you download EWD you'll be running an EWD application that is running PHP and mySQL on our new, shiny leased virtual server (which of course came with PHP and mySQL for free, so why not use it!).

The web site is also an example of the use of EWD's Ajax Framework for static pages and fragments, and it's also a "hybrid" EWD Ajax site where a static "container page" is taken over by a dynamic EWD Ajax application (where the EWD application consists of nothing but "parasitic" fragments). The site is a good example, then, of the kind of things I'll be referring to in my talk at the conference.

You'll find that all the information you need to get going with EWD is now available online in the web site including lots of working examples (complete with fully commented source code). I think the multi-tabbed layout lends itself much better to documenting all the potential compilation technology options supported by EWD - do let me have your comments!

I'm always interested in suggestions and if you have or would like more examples, just let me know.

So get onto and start exploring!

Ajax changes everything...

I've been working with customers developing Ajax-style web applications for some time now, and our eXtc Web Developer technology is proving its worth in turning Ajax into something almost trivially easy to use and exploit.

However, there's some difficult and uncomfortable questions looming for our community as a result of Ajax. I've been pondering these lately and I've decided to make use of my slot in the conference to share my thoughts with you. I know it will spark a lot of debate! Check out the abstract for more information.

My advice to everyone - get learning Javascript! It's fast becoming the most important language in the IT industry. Oh and check out Javascript objects - I wish objects had been implemented this way in Caché!

de rigeur viewing: The Douglas Crockford videos on Javascript. You'll never think of Javascript in the same way ever again.

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