Yesterday was a bit like Christmas morning, I suppose. I got a number of items: an audio interface for my notebook PC, a travel WiFi router/access point, and Elise’s dad got the FTA satellite dish installed and connected.
First off, the audio interface. I got the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8x8 USB 2.0 audio interface. I had originally tried to get the Alesis MultiMix 8 USB 2.0. This is the one where I got the earlier USB 1.1 product (which is still sitting next to me because I still have not received the return shipping label from Alesis and/or inMusic, and I am getting more and more annoyed with both companies. I keep contacting customer service but they don’t seem very responsive. I wasn’t going to name names, but it’s been about a week now and it’s getting ridiculous).
So far I’m fairly pleased with the M-Audio unit. It does what I need, which is to bring in my synth audio and microphone input (has phantom power, so I no longer need to use a battery in the mic) into the PC for recording. It’s able to record 8 separate input tracks at up to 96KHz/24-bits. I like being able to monitor with headphones separately from the main output.
The one thing that I’ve noticed, and not likely the interface’s fault, is that the connection between the synth and the interface is noisy. I think it has to do something with noisy power and/or ground loop with the PC. I suspect both are problems. When I record the synth output, I get occasional clipping noises. I wondered if recording the synth wouldn’t be possible, but then I tried recording a separate take on a new track and cutting/pasting/replacing the clipped measures and it seemed to work well.
The travel WiFi router is the D-Link DWL-G730AP. It’s a tiny device and comes with a nice carrying case. I had to adjust some networking stuff this morning to get everything to function the way I wanted them to. The Vista notebook I was using to configure the router stopped communicating with the Internet after I got done. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I fiddled with the firewall and location settings to no avail. Restarting seemed to clear everything up.
There are two reasons why I chose this device. The first is that some places where I stay when I travel don’t have WiFi but have wired Ethernet connections. I have at least two devices (and there will be three) that would like to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Being able to take a little router with me would be handy. Not only that, but I’m never too sure about the network security provided by hotels and such. A router is another way of isolating my private network from the rest of the world.
The second reason is that the original router doesn’t adequately cover our house. The cable modem and network hubs are located in the garage, which is way off on one extreme corner of the building. The opposing corner of the house has pretty poor coverage. This router, used as an AP, can extend the network coverage. This is important now, because Shelley has a new notebook PC (on loan from IDEA – the distance education school district) and her room is about as far as one can get from the main router. With the D-Link now sitting in my office area, the whole house has pretty good coverage.
Finally, the satellite dish. It receives FTA (Free to Air) channels – primarily for some of the Adventist channels such as Hope and Loma Linda Broadcasting (though reception on this is rather poor due to location). The dish is located just behind the house. A hold was drilled in the office closet outside wall on the second floor (it’s conveniently located under roofs) and then the cable sent down to the dish.
The trick was trying to get Windows Media Center Edition 2005 to recognize the signal. I could get Nero’s video capture utility to see the signal (but no audio), but MCE didn’t like it. I searched the Web for some possible hints. I came across the tip that in order for MCE to recognize the S-Video signal, the IR-blaster has to be connected to the IR-receiver. Fortunately, in recent weeks while going through boxes from our move 2 years ago, I located the small box with the IR accessories. As soon as I connected the IR-blaster and worked through the setup steps, the input was recognized and I was able to get the satellite output showing on the MCE PC.
Now you know what I’ve been up to during the last day.
The last several days have been very rainy. The forecast for today was supposed to be more rain. But the clouds broke apart and some sun is coming through. The early dawn (about 7:00 a.m. now) was quite nice. The sunlight was filtering through the trees to the back of our house, backlighting the leaves. I might have gone out had I not been starting to prepare some waffles for breakfast.