Monthly Archives: August 2014

Flat Screen UIs make Fumbling Fools of us all

Did the music for a wedding using my PA today. The bride and groom were lovely, friends of ours and at was a great day. A wedding is an odd PA/DJ sort of job, It’s not the same as a party, or even running a mixtape for a party. Most of it can be scheduled up front – to the extent that there are firms that hire out a no-DJ wedding system

The job was made easier for me as the bride had made her selection of classical music, with a section for the getting seated bit and a long stretch for the after the event part. So far so good. The venue was the lovely Christchurch Mansion in the main park in Ipswich, and the weather smiled on the happy couple for the event and afterwards

So all I have to do is run the playlist. Because this is classical music the sequences are long, and you don’t have to do the DJ crossfading thing between tracks. Easy-Peasy, right?

Wrong

Some parts of a wedding are a stage show. Stuff needs to happen in time. Usually there’s the entrance of the Bride, and the signing of the register. Both of these are a performance, and timing is crucial. Whatever you do as the music operator you do not want to screw this up the entrance of of bride, in short you need to know that your music is gonna start on time, every time, and you are going to fade it out at the right point. The bride selected Pachelbel for this

The registrar also has to say various things at various points, and they don’t want the music to be running while they’re talking. With classical, pulling the music is easy as a fade down – it’s a bit more of a drag if you have to fade a pop song just as they are getting into the main part, you probably have to rehearse timings, but this wasn’t a problem I had.

Making the right thing happen, on time, on cue is not easy with an i-anythingwithatouchscreen.. It might be easier with a Nano or something with an old-skool gonzo keypad and LCD, but a touchscreen is a vile UI for this job. Not only is there a little bit too much latency between the press on the screen and something happening, but it’s far too easy to screw up and then you have to pad your way through a series of menu choices to say no that isn’t what you want, you want this to happen instead. Continue reading

Adapting A Makita Universal Charger For Other Nimh Batteries

We standardised on 18V Makita NiMH cordless drills at the farm. NiMH is older tech and heavier than LiIon, but the price/performance seemed to be about right there. We’re not hauling these up ladders or carrying them for miles. The trouble with cordless drills, well the NiMH ones, is that you have to stop using the drill as the battery runs down – when you hear the change in note as the power fades, switch the battery. If it’s you who will be paying for the replacement battery you will do that, but if it’s something used by many people that doesn’t happen, because it’s hassle to go get another battery.

Under the harsh load of a drill, that means as the voltage of a cell falls to 0, soon current gets forced backwards through the weakest cell and it dies. So you get a pack with a few duff cells in them, and have to junk the whole thing. The moral of the story is change the battery as soon as the sound changes and the power drops…

battery pack

battery pack

Continue reading