You may know that I’m a Mac user, and that for my web development I use Coda, which I believe to be the best web development IDE available. I believed this even though it had quite a few niggling flaws and some features I would have loved to see. Yesterday, they added one of them – Subversion, built right in! Before, I used a terminal tab to commit and update my local source, but now I don’t need to! Yay!

Panic do some very cool software other than Coda – Transmit is a very good FTP client, and though I haven’t actually used any of the other software, I’m sure it’s of a brilliantly high standard. Also, they have cool offices.


Home Recording Plus Valve Amp

For a long time we’ve been saying we would record Drongo Sealion Magic, which was a band we put together earlier this year. Due to the complexity of the song, we thought it would be best to record the parts at home in our own time. I did, however, really want to use my Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, which is quite a loud valve amp, something which doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with home recording.

So, I needed a way to record it, at relatively low volume, whilst still getting good tone so that it was worth it over using something like Guitar Rig or my Line6 Pod. And I managed it! This is how:

  • I found the “sweet spot” – I turned the amp on and cranked the volume with nothing plugged in. The sweet spot is the spot on the speaker that hums the most in this situation. For me (on my Engl vertical 2×12) this was on the very edge of the inner cone of the speaker. I placed the main microphone (a Shure PG57 – an SM57 would have given better results, but this was all I had at hand) about a centimeter or two from the grill with the center of the mic pointing at the sweet spot.
  • I built a triangle of duvets and pillows around the cabinet. This stops a lot of the volume coming out, though obviously the bass frequencies still get through quite well. It should, however, keep most neighbours happy in short recording sessions.
  • I placed a condenser mic at the apex of the triangle, however didn’t end up using that feed.

Now that the cab was mic’d up, it was just the task of playing it. This is your big chance to make or break the tone. Some people will double track the guitars to beef up the sound (this, obviously, requires you to play pretty much the exact same thing twice, which shouldn’t be too hard if you know the piece well enough). I took this a little step further, by using two different sounds and two different guitars for the tracks. The incentive for this is that a high gain sound will sound massively beefy, but a lower gain sound will give you the tightness. I had the ability to use two guitars, my Maverick Species 7 String and my Ibanez RG1527 7 String, which have very different sounds. The Maverick, being neck-thru and string-thru with higher gain pickups, gives a very high gain, loose sound. The Ibanez on the other hand gives a tighter sound. So, to find middle ground, I used the Maverick with the lower gain, tighter sound, and the Ibanez with the higher gain, looser sound.

The recordings will be available soon, but in it’s current (unmixed, uneq’d, uncompressed, unmastered) form, it sounds fantastic! I can recommend this technique to anyone wishing to record their valve amps at home.


Bug bug buggy

Those of you that know me will know I very rarely play games. I bought a PS2 last year and hardly used it. I do, however, have a strange obsession with the Tony Hawks series. I was massively obsessed with the original when it first came out, but never got any of the others until I got the PS2 last year.

The other day I bought Tony Hawks Proving Ground. As with the others, it’s much like all the previous games with different skaters, moves and a few extra features. And, of course, a different story line. I must say the game itself seems great. The gameplay is very different, but once you’re used to it it’s really quite nice. I do, however, object to the fact that nothing seems to work. If you’re doing a challenge where you have to complete a certain set of goals, the system will sometimes go haywire, and believe you’ve completed ones you haven’t, and won’t believe you’ve completed ones you have done. That’s an annoying bug, since it can hinder your progress, or allow you to progress when you’re not actually good enough.

As well as this, the menus are really juttery and often don’t respond to touch and cut scenes can skip by randomly. There are a few design issues too, such as in the list of locations, ones you haven’t yet unlocked are the same colour as the one you’re currently in, which is obviously misleading.

These things mean I get frustrated with the game much too easily. My love for the series means I keep going back to it, but I often end up turning off the PlayStation in a fit of anger and sulking on the sofa. Disappointing, Page 44 Studios, disappointing.


Imaginary Roots Lives!

So I’d been putting off renewing the domain because it doesn’t expire until September. I came to renew it today and found that I couldn’t! GoDaddy were wating to expire it, and wouldn’t let me renew it. Apparently, with domains, if you don’t renew them before 20 days BEFORE the expiration date, you can’t renew them. Which seems pretty stupid to me, but there we go. I don’t know if I missed this somewhere or if none of the information actually stated this (I know that none of the expiration notices from GoDaddy stated it at least), but this is definitely something I’m not going to forget again. Be warned, domain holders!
On a related matter, I’m very impressed with GoDaddy’s customer service. The guy I spoke to was brilliant, and got it sorted for me in next to no time. I spent just under 15 minutes on the phone, which is much less than I’ve spent with many UK companies sorting out much more trivial matters. Well done!


Nom nom nom

I wonder how much my kidneys are worth…