Saturday, May 7, 2016

Shut up and take my money

New idea: post when I've actually got something done. To paraphrase Blaise Pascal, I'd be writing shorter blog posts, but I just haven't had time.

Opened another minimal show. Borrowed lights running on eBay dimmers, video projector on the end of 100' of cheap Amazon VGA, borrowed Yamaha powered speakers on OnStage stands. USB to DMX converter box, HDMI to VGA converter cable, and everything is running off my little laptop. Which is a bit painful. I'm using QLab for audio and some of the video playback, QLC+ for lighting control, and VLC to play back the movies at the end of the show.

The last wrinkle is a Korg nanokey wired as a QLab "Go" button so I can have QLC+ in the foreground to adjust lighting looks while controlling sound and video in the background; as I've mentioned before, MIDI control bypasses the desktop "focus" problem and is always live.

(No -- resizing the windows isn't enough for this setup. Not to get the cues happening smoothly and simultaneously.)

The one thing I really should have done earlier was the Cue Sheets I finally printed up. Those are a lot easier to read than the crabbed notes I made during the hurried, harried tech (confused clients who kept changing their minds, equipment I hadn't quite gotten working yet, and only twenty minutes for each of a large number of different groups with different needs).

The other thing I wanted for this show was a Video license for QLab. Back when I started using QLab 1.0 I purchased the Pro Audio and MIDI licenses but not, alas, the Video. Factor 53 won't sell those any more. They are even deprecating QLab 2.0 -- they want everyone to use QLab 3.0 (Which is a much larger footprint, only runs on the latest OS, and costs approx 30x as much).

Well, QLab 2.0 wouldn't recognize my video hardware, and QLab 3.0 didn't even recognize my audio hardware. It did offer that perhaps if I bought yet another license on top of the two I had already I might able to open the menu that would allow me to try to select my USB audio interface, but there was no assurance it would handle the video any better than 2.0 had.

So I contacted the company for a refund and dropped back to QLab 1.0  Seriously, I don't care what new functionality the new software offers, if it can't smoothly handle the basics then I'd much rather they'd just the heck let me pay for the version that can.

In a somewhat similar mode, I've been using a free government phone. Try as I might I couldn't figure out how to tell them I now had a full-time job, wasn't eligible, and wanted to switch to paying for it. So I sat on the renewal applications, let the current service term run out, and the next time I tried to use the phone it sent me to a menu that gave me the option to "top off" from credit card. Good enough!

Collapsed in exhaustion after the first tech and took one and a half days off work. And got yelled at, but not for that. But now is the weekend and show is up and aside from needing to put aside an hour or two to try to transcribe more of my notes from Tech into human-readable output, I have a free day, I've had some sleep, and I have quixotic hopes of actually getting some work done on my CAD.

Oh, yes, and I did spare the CPU cycles to put a new Tomb Raider/SG1 chapter up. Teal'c explores Croft Manor, Alister turns up at the indoor shooting range with a load of peculiar historical guns from Lord Croft's collection, Zip flirts with Carter over Skype...and Daniel and Alister have a marathon bull session touching on everything from the Narmer Pallet to the Kon-Tiki expedition.

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