Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Studio Setup: the next chapter

I am a firm believer in using things - especially technology - as long as it is practical. That's why I have been using a powerMac 8500 for my writing and transcription work for a good long while.

I bought it off of eBay for $150 to replace a Mac clone that got fried by lightning. I use it for digital audio work, sequencing, and Finale stuff.

I purchased my first ever new Mac in February - a Mini. For a long while it has stayed in the living room, perched on top of a 10 year old IBM 17 inch monitor that was absolutely huge - it was quite funny looking, but very functional.

I don¹t' want to lose what I have with the 8500, so today I moved the mini down to the "outhouse" (it's a 12x16 ft little house out back with my studio and workshop). I'm using a KVM switch (the 8500 has a usb/firewire card installed), and the 2 machines are networked together (with a crossover cable, of course. Why spend $ on a switch when I already have the cable?)

So I'm working with one machine running MacOs 8.6 - running Finale, EZ Vision, and assorted audio utilities (like Soundmaker from Micromat) - and the other running MacOs 10.3.

Gotta love it! A Very functional studio using a blend of the old and new.

Is this a good place to mention the Mac Classic running MacOs 7.1 that I use in the piano studio at the store? (I use it for basic sequencing in my piano lessons). It brings new depths of meaning to the word "slow"!


The MaconMacMusicGuy --------------------------------------

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Training: What it can save

So what could training save a person, department, or organization that would make it worth the moeny spent? Time! One of the things I train on is using the Web effectively - especially search techniques. Teaching a handful of people in a department more effective uses of the Web - especially search techniques - can DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of time wasted looking for some specific piece of information. There is also the matter of the best way to transfer information from one office to another. Developing workflows that fit department member's learning styles can reduce the amount of time spent figuring out how to get file A to person B. Then there's the matter of file formats. Too many people don't really understand them, how they impact their workflow, and how to take advantage of that knowledge to get their work done better. These are several areas in which some basic (i.e. inexpensive) training can make a quick and palpable difference in the bottom line (or at least the frustration level!).

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Training - a little used antidote to problems

I have worked in several organizations now that were heavy computer users, or were trying to be. In every single case there was a dearth of training for the users of the machines. This is (surprisingly, I think) even more true for the educational institutions (both secondary and colleges).

What management - and even the eventual users of the machines often did get, was that comptuers are fundamentally different from anything else we use in business. They are multifunctional things that can perform so many fundamentally different tasks it is mind-boggling if you think on it too long.

Add on the issue that most software has a TON of features, along with the time pressure felt in most businesses ("I don't have time to figure this out, I've got work to do!"), and it is really no surprise that training is a needed item.

Good technology training is the single most advantageous thing an organization can do for it's employees. By "good" I mean training that enables employees to think for themselves, and goes beyond the typical "push this button and the comptuer does that" approach I have seen in way too many textbooks and computer courses.

Good technology training should also take into account the various learning styles that have been delineated by the learning researchers. Some people learn by doing, some by hearing, some by seeing....etc.

A good trainer should also be able to integrate the training into the organization's current workflow - this is something that can produce immediate results.

It's is also amazing that so many organizations purchase equipment, get it installed - and never give a thought as to who will figure out how to work the fool thing. For example - and I realize that this is a minor thing - when a new laser printer shows up at the office, how will anyone figure out how to work it? Especially in terms of what to do when thigns go wrong.

It is critical that there be someone who is [at least partially] technically capable, that has been given the time to figure out the new machine [or has been trained!]. That way the organization loses less time and productivity for small technical glitches.

Obvious statements? Perhaps. But it is interesting how much productiviy and time is wasted becuase people aren't trained and training procedures aren't developed.