Feeling the Fiery Darts of the Enemy

Yesterday, with our worship team to Mount Albert to Hillside Evangelical Missionary Church, I can definitely say that I was in the enemy’s line of sight. I could tell that he was focusing in on me, because I was trying to do a lot of preparation to make sure that everything would go smoothly. Sure enough, a crack in my armour was found.

I spend Saturday evening preparing all of the tones in my POD X3 Live unit to ensure that I would be spending more time in worship and less time trying to concentrate on the sounds in my POD, and where everything is. I even made sure that I had the intricacies of Gearbox worked out so I could easily arrange everything into two banks. So far, so good. I have my tones in order. Now, I went to check out all of the relative volumes of my tones on the amp that was taking with me to Mount Albert, and all seemed well, so far. Not to mention that I figured that it was such a great idea in my head to plug everything into the effects return of the amp. Why not? It actually sounded amazing. I thought I did good…

… just waiting for the first fiery dart to fly.

The enemy is smart. He let me believe I did well and it was going to be a great day in worship. He was sitting there waiting for the right moment to lodge his assault on me. He was getting his timing right to then when I would throw the power switches he would start letting loose one by one. I knew he hated the fact that I believe in Jesus, but I never saw this coming. I let own overconfidence in myself become my weakness, and my guard was down. Enter the fiery darts:

Fiery Dart #1: All of the relative volumes of my tones were out of whack. A bug in Gearbox doesn’t clear the temporary memory of the POD properly. Thus, I believed that the volumes were good. I had to re-adjust everything as we went along in rehearsal.

Fiery Dart #2: All of my tones were set way too hot! They were blowing the inputs of the PA system. I was checking things with a low master volume setting on my amp. I should have measured everything up in my audio interface with the Master Volume on full, or better yet, it no Master Volume control at all on the direct side. I wouldn’t have this problem if I checked and calibrated the levels properly. This made it easier for the next couple of darts. As a result, the sound guy was forced to mic my amp for a better sound. This set me up for the next set of fiery darts.

Fiery Dart #3: As a result of the second fiery dart, my amp was driven way too hard. This become evident once I started turning things up to monitor my sound. All of my sounds were sounding way too brittle. They were hard on the ears and I wound up having to change my patches on the fly during rehearsal. Nothing sounded the way I wanted it to. Again, I should have checked all of this against my audio interface without any Master Volume.

Fiery Dart #4: Right in the middle of Rock of Ages, the sound starts dying out on my amp. That was a sorry sight. I had to just keep playing. I was wondering what happened. The sound guy wondered what happened. If anything, it was a result of driving the amp way too hard. I saw this happen on the tiny Fender Amp in the church.

As a result of those darts yesterday, I hooked my POD back up the audio interface and I started lowering volumes. What I am going to do is take off the Master Control and keep the gain at unity. This way, I can bring the volumes right down to the proper levels on full. This should keep the live side sounding proper and hopefully will not burn out the circuits of my amp. We on worship team this next weekend, so this should give me the week to prepare.

And, even though I felt these darts, God still used our worship for His purpose and everything worked out for the greater good!

Easing my worried mind…

Last night, I decided to take matters into my hands to ease my mind about going to the support forums on Line6’s web site. I left my POD hooked up and powered on all night. I wanted to see if there was going to be a problem leaving it on, whether it would crap out like one of the older units. As much as I wanted to go down to the studio and turn it off, I forced myself to stay upstairs and check in the morning.

After an anxious night, I went down to check on the POD. All lights were on and the tap light was blinking normally. Thus, it didn’t crap out on me, which was a good sign. Next test was to hook up my guitar and play it for a few minutes. I put it on a couple of my newly made amp tones (one AC/DC like tone and another Aerosmith like tone) and it played beautifully. Aside from the killer tones that this thing produces, the unit proved to a solid unit and I’m grateful.

If anything, I will feel more relaxed going on the support forums now, having proved to myself that their problems are not my problems.

I really ought to know better!!

It really serves me right for hanging around support forums. If anything, it makes me unsettled reading about people who have the same things I do and
are having problems. The thing is, it’s a support forum. People don’t go there to talk about how much they love their stuff. They go there to whine, bitch and complain about the problems with the product and with the company that makes them.

It’s a known fact that companies will put out a product that may not work once in a while. Of course, when they wind up in customer’s hands, where do they go? To the manufacturer’s site to tell everyone all about their bad experiences and not to buy this product. In the 10 or 12 people that do this, I’m sure that companies sell a ton more of this product to totally happy users and the amount of defects are really small in comparison. Problem is, these defects get amplified because of this concentrated area of people venting their spleen all over the place. And then, you get other people like me going to these places wondering if now if they should buy this thing.

My case in point: I recently purchased a Line 6 POD X3 Live so that I can control my guitar sound in church. I hate the insect-like sound I get from the way the sound crew hook up the amps to the PA. Thus, I get to control my sound from the POD. Which, despite of everything else that happened with worship team, I was rather happy at how the guitar sounded. I could say that I owned the sound coming out the PA, good or bad.

Of course, what do I do once I purchase my X3? I register it and then go right to the support forums. What do I find? Whining, bitching and complaining about defects, design, sound and other problems. Of course, I haven’t been hit with these problems and my X3 is one of the newer designed ones, probably explaining why couldn’t find any for the past 4 months. Sure enough, I get uneasy because of this because it is always going to stick at the back of my mind whether something will go wrong with it. If anything, I am just going to have to learn that just because all of those people on the support forum are having problems, all of the units aren’t having problems.

Heck, I am not going to buy my Toyota by going into their service department. Every car in there has a problem. If something goes wrong, I’ll have to figure out my options from there. However, if I am going to sit here worrying about my X3, thinking that if I never turn it on, then I will never have a problem, then there is a problem… with me! And if I am ever going to keep thinking like this, then I had better stay away from hospitals as well because there are too many sick people there!

Last Two Weeks Passed… Like a KIDNEYSTONE!

I can’t begin to tell you about the last two weeks integrating, testing and releasing my very first project on WebKinz: Pet Vacations. Mind you, this in no way reflects my feelings about working at Ganz, because I have really grown to love working there in the past six months… it just took a while to get used to the transition. And as much as I like them, I think they may have grown to like me too.

But, I will admit that the last two weeks passed like a kidneystone getting the project integrated, QA’d and released live as of yesterday! Yet, if it weren’t for the team that I was so fortunate to lead, it would have been a lot harder. We weathered almost everything that this integration period threw at us, and as much as I felt responsible for my decisions with the team (I made some bad choices along the way), they stuck with me. I wouldn’t let them take a fall either. They were stellar and were everything a team should be for this project.

We endured everything including:

  • Various delays beyond our control
  • A botched merge paving the way for disaster. I was feeling totally bummed about this one because I certainly felt that this was the best way to integrate our project at the time. Of course, one member stood by me on this not only supporting my decision but also figuring out how to get the merge done properly while I was assembled a crack integration team prepared to act on a moment’s notice should things go awry again. Again, everyone on the team rose to action.
  • Various items that got passed over
  • Double time smoke testing… again kudos to the team, and to everyone helping to QA. The co-operative effort between teams was amazing, and I would stop at nothing to ensure that everyone knew what I knew.
  • Preparation to go live, including an early start. Another team member rose to the occasion and brought in the programmer’s favourite breakfast… cold pizza. Honestly, it was fantastic and has been a 25 year fave for breakfast!
  • Me, of course, proving what an ass I can be by not only stepping in it with my big mouth, but sticking the same foot in my mouth… and I openly apologize for that!
  • Last minute fixes to situations no one ever dreamed of, but happened as soon as we were going live.
  • A programmer’s nightmare: modifications to code that was never working right in the first place only to find out after going live killing already released features.

The last two situations were really scary and I was prepared to stick with the one of the other team members to the very end. The pressure was on as we went live. I pair-programmed with him to not only help find the fixes and how we can get things working, but I also dug back a few major revisions to find the code that originally worked so that we can put in our new features and ensure that this never happens again.

It was a rough two weeks, but I endured. I felt challenged down to the core and I accepted. I felt beaten at times, but I wouldn’t let up. I’m totally exhausted, but I love it!

And, as with all kidneystones that pass, I am relieved!

And to be honest… I look forward to the next one!!