Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Blue Screen of Death - Are Your Assets Covered

Well, it happened. Just like you tell yourself it'll happen...the dreaded Blue Screen of Death! It was a sinking feeling in the belly. A wallop! How could this have happened? I've been so careful. Could everything on that computer be lost? And how thorough has the backup routine been?

Then comes denial as to when the last back-up of the 'essential' files were actually done? Geez, it's been more than a year for some. We kept intending to feed that 32 gig USB gizmo in the back of the machine with updates.

Another phase is acceptance. OK, we're screwed, but by how much? Let's take stock. Well, remember we started with Windows 7 outta the box. Then we upgraded to windows 8.1 running an i7 core with 64 bits and a terabyte of hard drive. Plus, an optical sound card installed to record digitally. This baby was fairly up-to-speed even by today's standards...and lightning fast. But get this - as of December 2020, Microsoft stopped making upgrade service packs for Windows 7 machines. And I also made the mistake of not testing the 'boot-up' software. Truth is, who ever really does. Well...

With the aid of a couple of seasoned techies, we've come up with a possible scenario as to how the Blue Screen may have occurred. As it seems to be a trending practice in today's business acumen, free-rides of any sort, are quickly ending. Case in point, my popular web hoster is no longer supplying free email service. That's like buyin' a hot dog and being charged extra for the bun. "Well, did you expect it to be free forever" was the rebut I got from 3 different rep's. Hummm, that don't sound rehearsed! And they arbitrarily migrated all my emails to Outlook. 

They supplied a link to download a dot-exe assistant. So, I downloaded it and tried installing it. Never saw it appear and then got busy with something else. However, the next day when the machine was turned on, instead of the usual password box, I had the: The Blue Screen of Death. Coincidence; to the install of the assistant...who can tell? But, if anyone out there is thinking about installing migrating assistants or any dot exec's on older machines, they might want to consult your local techy. Or, at the very least, make sure you're in possession of the boot up software.

We tried almost all the remedies and iterations to resurrect the machine. None did the trick. Some came so close that it might just be a matter of finding the correct boot disk sequence. Now - I was startin' to feel the grief. 

Those techy's were invaluable. I was advised to buy a 'Docking Station' for the hard-drive to be read. We were at that stage of acknowledgment. IF the Hard-Drive wasn't corrupted, the station would allow the data to transfer to another machine or disk. 

It W-O-R-K-E-D!

Every bit and zero was salvageable. Less and less loyalty was being placed with the older machine and more and more thoughts were heading towards a Brandy New Machine. I shoulda had a 'docking station' all along and highly recommend them - Twenty dollars at Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon I found a similar machine that was a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor with Super-Speed USB ports. And one that's a type 'C'  USB 3.1 port, AKA Thunderbolt 3  'cause they can transfer big-time gig rates! USB - C type explained

Well, at least if I had to make a major purchase for a somewhat lateral move on a comparable machine (another i7), it's a step up to the 90's with some New & Improved innards. Maybe it's me, but there's little in the way of 'creative designing' about newer machines. By all appearances, it seems the artistic powers have opted for a lot 'less' is more dictum when they designed the towers.

Perhaps, they have it on good authority that these machines sink into oblivion once purchased. Then again, not only do the new desktops seem to be altogether smaller in size, much lighter and noiseless to sit unobtrusively amongst the Rolodex and answer machine, could the manufacturers be signaling a return to having desk-tops actually sit on top of the desk! It certainly would make operations easier. Damn, no bending and it would definitely enable user-friendly usage of the DVD feed and retrieval. It'll also make the operation of all four frontal USB slots much more user-friendly as well. They are way too snug and with the never ending fight over 'which side of a USB is the right side', they would be made much easier to navigate if the machine weren't below. Perhaps it'll become an occupational thing to have the machine intrude on top of the desk after all. BTW, the USB 3.1 does not have a right or wrong side...it's without prejudice. Both sides enable engagement. 

Up..Up...and A-W-A-Y at warp speed, Oh-Chef-of-the-Future ~ 

  

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Music 'Producer Tags'...an Unexplored Voice-Over Frontier

Had the occasion to get involved with voicing a music 'Producer Tag'. Generally speaking producer tags (sometimes called drops) are prerecorded vocal snippets. They often feature all or part of the producers name or signature at the beginning of most of their instrumentals. These tags also serve as artist provenance and act as an important function to an essential, but often overlooked, contributor to the finished song.

 
How it plays into the voice-over game is obvious. Adding a professional voice to add color, nuance and effective engagements could be the difference between a successful tag and artist. With a bit of effortless Googling you'll come up with more than a few contenders...including Fiverr. What makes it worth the trip for voice actors is the challenge to interpret the artists intent and how to make the pairing work. Not-to-mention, it's kinda cool.

 From a VoiceOver standpoint of untapped resources or ones that could at least provide a little creative stretching, it shouldn't be overlooked. Dropping tags at the start of a song has become an inescapable-staple in music. 

Having its roots anchored in the 90's mix-tape culture, when DJs would do name shout-outs over their tracks, tags have become a way to build brand equity in an industry where producers only got credit in album liner notes. These days - liner notes are harder to find than Trump's taxes. Fluctuating CD and digital music sales have many producers developing signature drops to make their presence known. Which in turn has lent credence to tags as an actual component of songwriting.

 I was introduced to producer tags quite by accident as part of a favor for a client's daughter. Always willing to help out the cause as it were, I dived into the genre with both feet, albeit a little wobbly. You see, I was working for grandpa. and supposed to sound like it too. Amos McCoy that is. Walter Brennan, to anyone not born in another millennia. The chief grandpa and producer at grandpa. wanted a specific sound for a short line to be read as an old codger. Something tells me her dad had something to do with Walter. The line was " Well, back in my day" . They did some tweaking here & there plus adding a bit of echo and Viola. You can find grandpa. at Instagram and can check out her new single Distrokid with links to music previews at: Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon.

Signature tags are artistic hooks. The reasoning for younger producers wanting to use a tagline may evolve as their career scales to a certain level of success. Some contend that as technology advances at lightning speeds it's lowered  the barrier for entry that producers often use to make themselves stand out...especially in an industry where over-saturation can lead to musical stagnation. Perhaps it's because it’s a part of the culture now, where sometimes the producer is bigger than the artist and the producer tag helps the artist be heard.

 
Click to Play Producer Tag

Love them or hate them, tags have become so woven into the music scene that it’s pushed producers into the spotlight. Some, even get credited as featured artists on tracks. VoiceOver people can be an integral part of the producer tag process. One more arena to belly up to the microphone and show 'em what you got. 'Course, if the music ain't happenin', tag or no tag ain't gonna matter.

 

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Lebanon's New Year Resolutons in all Shapes and Forms

The year started off with a steady flow of Lebanon related assignments and projects. It seems to be maintaining that pace for February.

From a national awareness campaign to overcome the residual impact of Lebanon's catastrophic blast in the port of Beirut in August of 2020 to a promotion for Healthy Heart Care, Diabetes Control & Prevention and a National Cyber Security roll-out drive. It's all a collaboration of Lebanon's Advertising Association industry to create rallying calls to focus attention on where they're needed most. The blast, nearly six months old, left most of the country devastated from the initial explosion or as collateral economic fallout.

It should be noted that on (Wiki) August 4th, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 7,500 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless. A cargo of 2,750 tonnes of the substance (equivalent to around 1.1 kilotons of TNT) had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years. The explosion was preceded by a fire in the same warehouse, but as of January 2021, the exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation.


The blast was felt in Turkey, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of Europe, and was heard in Cyprus, more than 240 km (150 mi) away. It was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3, and is considered one of the most powerful artificial non-nuclear explosions in history.


Here's a frame from the video to help promote awareness of the hundreds of shipping containers laying idle in the port of Beirut. The Lebanese people wanted to show they could defy their fate and transform that area into a giant structure made out of those containers. Titled: “Beirut The Star Of Hope” and adorned with specialty lights, artistic designs, illustrations and messages of hope featuring several Lebanese artists.

Click to Play Video

 



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