Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Idol The Best Top 24 Ever Or Pure Marketing Hype

By: Rajdeep Brar

There will be no end in talking about American Idol. The buzz started sometime during the televised portion of the auditions - you must watch "the best top 24 ever." While I didn't completely buy it, after last year's disappointing group, I was somewhat inclined to want to believe it.

After these past two weeks of having the "best top 24 ever" crammed down my throat I finally had to stop and think about it. The final straw may have been when Ryan Seacrest announced Sony/ATV Music Publishing (a merger of Sony and ATV, which was owned by Michael Jackson) had given the go ahead for a Beatles night based on the "strength" of this year's contestants.

Are we really supposed to believe this? It's only the second week. Are we really supposed to buy that it's possible this all happened after the first week of performances? I'm sure these negotiations have been going on for a while. In fact I know they have because there was a Beatles medley in last the finale last year, and The Beatles were the catalyst for the British Invasion theme last season. Though we didn't actually get to hear any Beatles songs then.

I'm sure whoever was doing the negotiating with Sony crammed "the best top 24 ever" down their throats too.

So do we really have the best top 24 ever? Not in my opinion. It's true that this is only the third season of the show I have watched, but I can say just going off that limited knowledge that season 5 had an all around better group of contestants. I will also venture to say that there is no one this season that can touch Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

So why are they saying it? Why do they have to say it so much? The answer to the second question is probably because it's not true, but if they say it enough people will believe it. I have heard people repeat it around my office and message boards about the show, as if it's true. That's how marketing works.

The top 24 is already down to 16 and is anyone lamenting the loss of Colton Berry or Amy Davis? In two weeks most people probably won't remember who they are. Simon even told poor Colton that he should give up singing and get a real job. So if he's one of the best singers the show has ever had, then why would Simon say that?

In fact Simon's comments have been the same, if not more cruel, as they always have been. "That was ghastly," "you're boring," "that was like some horrible wedding performance," "it's old fashioned," etc etc. Simon certainly doesn't seem to believe it's the best ever, so why should we?

Simon has only shown real enthusiasm for one contestant. He seems to like Carly Smithson a little, but not as much as David. Simon says David is the one to beat, and he doesn't seem to care about anyone else even being in the competition. As David White from The Advocate writes - David Archuleta is the only male contestant I have any reason to be writing about. And unfortunately that seems to be true.

It's like the show is already gearing up for a Carly Smithson/David Archuleta finale and the rest of the contestants can slowly get eliminated one by one without a second thought. Maybe the rest of the contestants aren't really as strong as the show purports them to be, and perhaps the "best top 24 ever" is just a smokescreen to get the show to it's final intended destination.

Am I saying the show is fixed? No. But marketing is a powerful tool, and it can be hard to see around it. The viewers have the ultimate power, but Simon knows whose word matters the most. His.

Source : http://www.floweradvisor.com.sg/lifestyle/technology/television/30712/american_idol_the_best_top____ever_or_pure_marketing_hype/

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Monday, August 30, 2010

A Career In Heavy Equipment Repairs

By: Kris Koonar
There are a lot of career choice we can struggle on. The heavy equipment industry is fast booming and thus is in need of skilled and knowledgeable work force. An industry that was once not considered to make a career for people has become one of the hot favorites to open the doors of opportunities to make a career today. This industry is here to stay as the construction; mining and automotive companies are on the rise. This professional career is not for everyone and needs challenging people, who can think logically and work under any circumstances.

Unlike humans, the machines need technical professionals to maintain or get them back in their original working condition. There is a tremendous use of all these heavy equipments, which could cause them to break down. The heavy equipments could pose a problem both outdoor on the site or in the labs. A technical professional need to understand the problem that has caused the machine to break down and instantly come out with solutions to set it right. As a professional, he needs to work under any weather conditions and any situation as far as the heavy equipment is positioned.

Today with the advancement in technology, there are certain new tools that are available to carry out the repair works. There are various types of heavy equipments, which could cover and handle different type of repair works. There are several institutes that teach you, how to execute the technical repair works and guide you to a career even with job placements. With the industry facing shortage of skilled personnel, you will always have a big market to choose from. There are also some professionals and experts in some fields, who can train you and make you an expert in the repair department. All you need to do is get in touch with the right person. A trainer with the industry knowledge is the best, who can place you in an actual situation and train you in that direction.

To repair heavy equipment is a challenging task and not everyone can survive in this heavy equipment industry. Apart from being well qualified, you also need to have analytical thinking and thorough knowledge about the various parts of the equipments. To work on heavy equipments may require you to travel outdoors or even out of state, if some heavy equipment has faced a problem, while on a project that is still running in another state. Due to the work urgency, you may not get the chance to sit back in rains or stormy weather, but you would be needed to continue with the repair work. At times you may also need to draft a report about the work done or submit a requirement sheet, if you find the need to replace any part of the equipment.

The various heavy equipments that you could deal with are bulldozers, electrical systems, engines, construction machinery, cranes and so on. To deal with these equipments, you need to be physically strong, as you may need to lift the equipments at times. This profession needs readiness from a person to complete the work in any given condition. Due to certain challenges, the industry prefers well-trained and experienced persons for the repair works. A totally new person in the industry may find the task hectic and tough to survive.

Ideally this job best suits the person, who loves to spend time among huge and heavy engines and other equipments and who can bear the deafening sounds.

Source : http://www.floweradvisor.com.sg/lifestyle/business/careers/43668/a_career_in_heavy_equipment_repairs/

See Also : Mooncake, Mid autumn festival

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recording Tips How To Make Better Mixes

Recording and mixing audio is truly an art form unto itself. Like playing bass, it's the type of thing most people can pickup quickly and without much effort. Getting good at it can take years, however.

I've been recording in my home studio since 1995. When I go back and listen to my early demos, I am appalled. They sound horrific. The EQ is terrible, they are overly compressed, they're muddy, and all of the tracks blend together into a massive "wall of sound" where no single instrument stands out. But I like to think my current work sounds infinitely better. Take a listen to the tracks on my Demos page. I mixed these in 2006 on a shoestring budget. My entire recording "studio" cost me $500. I used budget mics, budget preamps, and budget PC audio interfaces. (One interesting note: In the song Confession, I used a $400 mic on the words "Am I going crazy? Could you ever turn your eyes my way?" The rest of the song was recorded with a $65 microphone. To this day I can't hear any difference in quality.)

What was the secret to making better mixes? It was simple. I listened.

I would listen to my mixes over, and over, and over, and then do it again. I listened to my songs on headphones, in my car, in my girlfriend's car, on my home stereo system, on a portable CD player, etc. During every listening session I would find something that could be improved. Over time, I figured out the fundamental principles of good mixing. I also read plenty of industry magazines, online articles, Internet forums, and whatever else I could find that would enlighten a novice like me. In the end, I was able to produce mixes I was very happy with.

Here, then, are the biggest nuggets of wisdom I wish someone had preached to me in my early days:

You don't need expensive gear. That's right. Despite what manufacturers and retailers may say, the secret to good sound is not in the equipment. Using poor recording and mixing techniques on expensive gear will still result in a bad final product. It doesn't matter how nice your API preamp or LA-2A compressor is. If you don't know what you're doing, the results will be garbage. Just like buying a custom Les Paul won't make you sound like Jimmy Page! Once you're able to produce good mixes on budget gear, you can justify a gear upgrade.
A little processing goes a long way. The abundance of VST and RTAS plugins is both a blessing and a curse. We musicians now have access to an endless collection of software compressors, equalizers, limiters, enhancers, reverbs, etc. But with this power comes responsibility. Use them sparingly! I once held the opinion that because I had tons of plugins at my disposal, I needed to use all of them as much as possible. I was wrong. Excessive plugin use can ruin a mix. These days I use very light compression and very subtle EQ adjustments, and the results sound much more natural.
Create "space" for each track. Every instrument should have its own "space" in the mix. By "space" I'm referring to track identity…the things that separate each track from the others, so they can be heard properly. Think of this way: When you take a big family photo, how is everyone positioned? Does everyone clump together randomly? Or does everyone organize according to height and spread out evenly? Your mixes are like musical photographs. Think of each track as an individual that should be noticed in some way. Track "space" can be created by using proper EQ techniques, stereo field placement, volume, compression, and reverb/delay settings. For example, bass guitar and kick drum occupy much of the same frequency range. If each is not EQ'd intelligently, they will step all over each other, and neither will be identifiable. There are tons of good Internet articles on this subject, so read up. I may even write one myself.
Understand how EQ and Compression works. You'll be amazed at how much better your mixes will sound if you use proper EQ and Compression techniques. Each has its own set of rules, and the rules are specific for each type of instrument. For instance, electric guitar requires different EQ and Compressor settings than do vocals. Drums usually need a fast attack and quick release on the Compressor, while the opposite is true for bass. Again, there are plenty of online articles dedicated to this subject alone.
Carefully evaluate the mixes of your favorite artists. Everyone has their own taste. Whatever artist(s) inspire you with their sound, pay attention to the mix. Is it heavy on bass? Are the drums super compressed? Are the vocals subdued, or way out front? Study the sound carefully and try to emulate it. I've spent almost as much time listening to the sound of professional CD mixes as I have listening to my own. It's very educational.
Last, but not least: DO NOT OVERCOMPRESS YOUR MASTER. You may not be aware, but there is a current trend in the recording industry to make every CD louder than its competitors. This is known as the "loudness war" and it is getting out of hand. Using insane levels of compression destroys the dynamics (the change between quiet and loud parts) of a mix. The end result is a song that stays at exactly the same levelâ€"insanely loudâ€"the entire time. Not only does it sound unnatural, it causes listener "fatigue". The human ear wants to hear natural changes in volume. It helps create more emotion in the listener. Your heavy and energetic chorus will have much more impact if it's actually louder than your verse! Be a part of the solution: Use your compressor and limiter wisely during the mastering stage! Even for rock music, you probably don't want more than 3db of compression during your mastering.

That's it for this article. I plan to write follow up articles that examine these topics, and more, in more detail. I hope this has been helpful.

Make music,

Source : http://www.floweradvisor.com.sg/lifestyle/interests/music/14787/recording_tips_how_to_make_better_mixes/

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