Some say it’s dead, I beg to differ (Hi-MD)

Sony MZ-M100 back in action

Hey Crew….

Hope this post finds you well. Lately I’ve been more “tech’d” up than usual and decided to share a little bit of a personal tech reunion story, if you will.

I’ve been a proud owner of a Sony MZ-R55 Walkman MiniDisc (MD) recorder (who remembers the original cassette Walkman?), and currently own a Sony MZ-M100, the Hi-MD recorder you see above.. Over the years I primarily used both MD recorders to record live music, specifically rehearsals of various bands I’ve played in. I’ve mostly had great results using a Sony ECM-DS70P mic with both.

Last year, I got my second iPod Touch, the 2G model that allows for recording through its headphone jack. Using a Thumbtacks mic, an app called iTalkLite, and having 8GB of hard disk space to record to (vice 1GB on a HI-MD disk), I basically ceased using my Hi-MD recorder (the only downside to getting the recorded audio off of the iPod Touch 2G was to have the paired app, iTalkSync, on my Mac AND have a wi-fi connection to sync the audio to my Mac’s HD).

Prior to the iPod Touch 2G, my MD recorders were perfect for capturing some great bloopers and out takes from our CD project recording sessions and other discussions, etc. I first saw the MD recorder in action at a CD release concert I played for. The bass player had one perched near the piano, with the same mic I am now using. Afterwards, I asked him if I could take a listen. The sound quality (not even Hi-MD) was phenomenal, definitely CD quality almost, and that was even over the air. At that point I was hooked and said goodbye to cassette recorders forever. Mind you this was in the late 90s, and minidisc was the latest recording format out. In 2004, the Hi-MD format was introduced (for all the details, a good description is here). So, as said, it was MD all the way for all my live recording needs. I even persuaded my band members to purchase MD recorders, after they, too, heard the amazing sound quality, not to mention the ability to erase and re-record over a MD hundreds of times. Around that time, the band was part of a 25th Anniversary concert at my church, and the sound engineer recorded a feed of our set straight from the DAT system – the mix was pristine sounding.

Fast forward to last spring when I got the iPod Touch. I began using it to record musician and choir rehearsals at church, comedy bits off the car stereo etc. As said, all I needed was my wi-fi connection at home to sync the audio wirelessly to my computer, drop it into iTunes or burn it to CD. The turning point came late in the summer when the musicians setup at church started using an Aviom headphone system for each musician, which meant any over-the-air recording through floor monitors virtually disappeared. I thought, “No problem, I’ll just line the headphone feed into the iPod Touch and voila!” Turns out I found that it won’t work at all. The Thumbtack mic has three separate connector rings on it’s jack, just like the combination headphone/earpiece jacks for mobile phones, whereas the headphone jack in is stereo…two connector rings. This equals incompatibility which, in turn, means no recording the headphone mix from the Aviom.

My Sony MZ-M100 to the rescue, line out of the headphone system works great! I’m able to mix all the other instruments coming into my system, as well as set the best record mode on the MD recorder and master volume of the headphone system to get a nice clean recording on to Hi-MD.

I began to remember all the uses and reasons why this device and the technology makes it great. Many of the user articles I read mentioned using the recorder to capture nature sounds, concert recordings, lectures, etc, all in crisp clear digital format. There are (just like other older technologies) avid, die hard fans of the MD, and YouTube has a fair number of videos these fans have uploaded…some which I tend to greatly agree with. While there are many different digital recorders on the market today, with far greater storage capacity. there is just something about the MD recorder that makes it stand out. I submit to you, that you’d have to had used it to really understand what I mean. A good friend of mine, DarrenKeith has been a long time MD user as well. I caught up with him this evening, and after letting him now about this post, asked to share a few things about why he still likes this technology as well. Here’s what we chatted about:

darrenkeith:  I love the fact that it’s portable, the sound quality is excellent, person could use that for a voice over if they wanted to. I just love the sound quality and wish I had a dozen of them. Sony makes really quality audio for the price.  I just truly dig them and I am blessed I found out about them before they stop selling them here in the US…well Sony no longer carries them here. I carry on with me at all times in my backpack. really cool for recording lectures and one day I may try and use it to interview.

Though I have AND love my 160GB iPod Classic and my iPod Touch, I like the fact that a 1 GB Hi-MD disk holds a lot of audio media and the device itself records 16-bit PCM uncompressed audio – crystal clear CD quality digital sound. Some argue that it’s ATRAC3 compression is sonically better than mp3. Getting the audio into my Mac? No problem via Sony’s Hi-MD Transfer software and a USB cable…drag and drop wav files, which I later edit in my choice of audio editor and save to mp3…no wi-fi needed! Another good aspect is that it can work on either rechargeable Li-Ion batteries or regular AAs. We all know that if your iPod’s battery is dead, you have to recharge it before it becomes useful.

I like mostof this guy’s points (I, for one, have plenty of full CDs vs only singles on my iPod). While I am not here to champion one format over the other, he does speak some truth.

As said, it’s just something about almost retro coolness of MD, that will cause me to find uses for the recording technology. Needless to say, It’s a Hi-MD love affair all over again!

Thanks for the read….


Faster Performance from your Windows OS computer

Greetings readers.

You’ve seen the commercial – I’m a Mac, I’m a PC. Well, I’m a Mac…frankly, a Mac user since 1991. I do own a Toshiba Satellite laptop loaded with Vista that I bought brand new some years ago for family usage. Since my wife’s work VPN operates on XP, I ended up buying her a very reliable, but used Dell laptop which fits the bill, functionally, for what she needs to do.

Over the years, I’ve been increasingly frustrated with Vista on this laptop, because it works sooooo slowly. Enter stage left, my super computer geek coworker with some great, but common information to share about getting better performance out of a Windows Vista or XP machine. While I know about streamlining the Mac OS to do this, I never gave thought on how to similarly do this for Windows. That being said, I thought I’d share the information with you, should you care to try the same process I will finally embark on this weekend.

Windows XP Setup
— to get some decent speed from Windows.

Clean-up, after Installation,
1. Remove the Trial and Extra Software that is part of a (e.g., Toshiba) Recovery Disk
(Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add or Remove Software)
All AOL stuff
Google Desktop
Google Toolbar
Microsoft Office (30-day trial version)
Microsoft Works
Yahoo Music Engine
Any other trial software

2. Disable unused Windows components
(Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add or Remove Software, left-column Remove Windows Components)
MSN (microsoft network)
Messenger (microsofts built-in)
Outlook or Outlook Express (e-mail)
Expand Accessories, remove Internet Games

(you get about 10% to 15% speed-up on WinXP)

3. Update Internet Exporer and Media Player from Windows site

4. Get the latest WinXP Service Pack (SP3 is old from Jan 2008)

5. Free Software to download and install
Microsoft Security Essentials (anti-virus)\
Windows Defender (anti-spyware)
Firefox web browser (safer and faster than Internet Explorer)
Open Office
Adobe Reader
Adobe Flash
Adobe Shockwave
VLC Player (the DVD player that includes foreign DVD formats)
Windows dot-Net Framework 3.5
Paint.Net (requires .Net Framework, free photoshop program)
Google Picasa (maybe, if you want a photo organizer)

6. Check-out Blackviper’s website about turning off unnecessary Services
(Start, Programs, Administration Tool, Services
Or Start Settings, Admnistration Tools, Services)

Hope you find this helpful!


Ten Tips To Better Tweeting

Greetings readers.

Hope this post finds you in good spirits. I thought I’d take a moment to do a post about my favorite social media/networking site of all time, Twitter. November 21, 2010 will mark my fifth anniversary of tweeting, so I can safely say I am an early adopter and have seen the evolution of this micro-blogging site. I’m pretty much still subscribe to the original reasoning behind the creation of Twitter, though I’ve read more than enough times that some feel tweeting about the oatmeal you just ate is inane and boring. I beg to differ, in that it gives insight to one’s everyday activities (how’s that for “reality”?).

In any event, Twitter 2.0 (if you will) has evolved to be a major force in content and social branding. I simply love it for the info-push that I receive in various areas of technology, music production, and yes, those everyday so-called “boring” aspects of daily activities some tweet about. That being said are *my* ten tips for better tweeting.

1. Acknowledge new followers with a tweet of thanks.

2. Pay attention to the interests of your followers. If you come across information that they may be of interest to a follower, tweet it directly to that follower (or followers).

3. Follow Friday: If you’re going to suggest to your users why they should follow someone, give a reason why. A large list of IDs followed by #FF = #FAIL..

4. Retweeting someone else’s large list of #FF = #DOUBLE FAIL. Personally to see entire list of folks that I have no idea who they are is annoying. Call it a pet peeve, but hey….

5. Be courteous. Despite the origins of Twitter. It’s a social network.

6. Airing dirty laundry, twitter rage complete with expletives = #FAIL. (Yeah, yeah I know, unfollow the person – I do when it gets excessive).

7. Retweet info that you think would be beneficial to most, if not all, of your followers. If it’s just a few, try using list for that. I doubt all my followers would be interested in a retweet of how long a Shuttle EVA event lasted on an ISS mission.

8. Twitter is not a chat client (contrary to popular belief) . Though it can be done, I’ve found it difficult to carry on an ongoing conversation. The mechanism of Twitter is too dynamic (update-wise) to meaningfully keep track of one. Yahoo IM, Google Talk, AIM, MSN Messenger, BBM…you get the picture.

9. Relentless arguing on Twitter = #FAIL. You unnecessarily subject your entire list of followers to something they could possibly care less about. Doing it in real life is ridiculous enough.

10. When using URL shortners (, etc), ensure that they point to the intended page before tweeting. Sometimes they dont always work properly.

That’s it. Have a great weekend. Oh, and if you like….retweet this (see 7). (wink)