The major event in November, from my perspective, was the decline and fall of my 2008 iMac computer. My constant work horse for the past three years is now gone, but it has been replaced with a newer model. As a result of this computer disruption I was not able to work on the site for half of this month. I was able to use my PC to read and respond to email, but the software that I use to maintain the web site was on that iMac and so major changes were not possible. Nonetheless, we were able to make some useful additions to the site in November. The 2011 Christmas Jukebox is up and growing. There are already enough songs in it to play for over 2 hours. There were, as usual, new songs added by the PSR Performers and I started a major revision to the PSR Performer pages that provides a tighter link between MP3s and discussions of the songs in the PSR Tutorial Forum. Details provided below.
Songs (MP3 and MIDI)
New songs were added to the 2011 Christmas Jukebox throughout the month. By the end of the month there were 48 songs, contributed by 14 different artists. The Jukebox plays automatically when you go to that page and you will have two and a half hours of holiday music to listen to as you surf other parts of the site of the web. (Just go to the Christmas Jukebox and then open another window or tab in your browser to continue surfing while the songs play.) Songs are listed below the jukebox in an alphabetical list and any of the MP3s can be downloaded from there if desired. The 2011 Christmas page also provides a link to the 2010 Christmas Jukebox from last year. The 2010 jukebox has 188 songs from 40 artists and plays for 10 hours. Remember, if you'd like to have these songs for playing on your home or car stereo, you can order the PSR Tutorial Chr
istmas MP3 CD-ROM, which has songs from 2010 and earlier years and plays in your computer or in any CD player that can handle MP3 CD-ROMs.
James added a number of Christmas MP3s to the jukebox, but he also added two midi volumes (numbers 3 and 4) with 10 Christmas songs each. These were recorded on the Tyros4 and so will sound best on that keyboard.
Tyros 4 owners also have another Christmas treat. Fred Smith, who has been hosting a Christmas Sing-a-long for many years, has given us his entire Christmas program. For each of 60 Christmas songs, he has a registration file, an associated text file that can be used to display lyrics on the screen, an associated pdf file of the sheet music with marks indicating changes in the registration, and, in some cases, a separate style file. These are all packaged together in one zip file. You can get the link to that file in the PSR Tutorial Forum message thread started by Fred for this package.
Other New (and not so new) Songs
In addition to the 48 new Christmas MP3s added this month, there were another 103 MP3 songs (10 hours of music) added to the PSR Performer pages. Some were new songs sent in by the performer's during the month of November. Many more, however, were songs provided by the PSR Performers during the past year on the PSR Tutorial Forum. This month, I started a project of providing links in the alphabetical list of songs on a Performer's page to the forum discussion where that song was first introduced. In doing so, I revised some of the "dates" I had for songs to reflect the date that the song was added to the forum rather than the date the song was added to the Performer's page. Performer's often provide additional information about a song when it is introduced and the date links by the song name will take you to that discussion as well as any other follow-on comments. If you are a forum member, you can add your own comments to the message thread for that song
Needless to say, matching all of the Performer's MP3s with forum discussions does take some time and I am doing this revision to the performer pages one by one. In the process of matching songs with the forum entries, I came across additional songs that were in the forum, but had not been added to the PSR Performer page. Where those songs were still available, I added them to the Performer's page. That's why there were 103 additional songs added this month. As I've redone the Performer's page, I've also increased the number of recent songs in the Jukebox from a maximum of 10 to a maximum of 30 songs. The performers, and the number of MP3 songs on their PSR Performer page, updated in November include: Chico Brazil - 21 songs, Chuck Hunt - 22 songs, Craig (Keyboardist) - 30 songs, Gary Coupe (Anonymizeruk) - 13 songs, Gloria Hanson - 72 songs, James - 31 songs, Judy Short - 40 songs, Lynn Rae - 62 songs, Mark Styles - 32 songs, Torbin Golden - 125 songs. I'll continue this update process in December and January.
Other performers who added songs in November include Del Kay, Jerry Ernst, Patrick Hannequin, Patricia Harmon, Ron Jubenville, Ernie Mulder, and Kieth Osborne. Forum members RoyceM and nhsinger (Dave) also added songs to this year's Christmas jukebox.
Michael Bedesem releases Padmaker-Midi version 1.5.7. This version improves the programs capability to create pads for the T3-4 from existing T3-4 pads, and gives the ability to assign pad names and icons.
Background Maintenance Activities
I would not be able to make all the changes to the site that I do every month if I had not been able to automate the process somewhat. I have built a large database with all the song information, MP3 and MIDI, from all the PSR Performers. Formulas in that database automatically write out the html code needed to update web pages with the appropriate song data and links. This involves some more effort in making sure the information in the database matches exactly the song filenames and other relevant data, but it does make updates easier and less error prone. I built the system using software on my Apple iMac including a powerful web building program called Dreamweaver and a sophisticated database program called FileMakerPro.
So, you can imagine my concern when, out of the blue, the screen on my Apple suddenly went completely black one Saturday morning. The computer was still on, but I couldn't do anything since I could not see anything. I had to simply shut everything down. The Mac had worked flawlessly for three years. What had happened? Turning it back on did not resolve the issue. However, letting the computer cool down a bit by waiting 20 to 30 minutes and then turning it on again and everything was back up and working fine. Unfortunately, it did not stay that way. After working on it for awhile it once again suddenly went black. Repeating this process another couple times convinced me there was real trouble here. In checking my records, I was delighted to discover that the three year warranty I had purchased when the computer was new ran out on in 21 days! Yippee! Still under Warranty. I called AppleCare and the online support could not resolve the issue so I had to pack up everyt
hing and take my computer into the Apple store. I did that on the 7th. I did not hear anything until the 16th when an email said, finally, that my computer was ready. When I went to pick it up the next day, I was dismayed to discover that nothing had been done! They could not replicate the problem! I was not happy. I took the computer home and plugged it in. It worked fine for the rest of that day. It worked fine all the next day. Then, on the third day, it only worked for 20 minutes before black screen once more made its appearance. More calls to AppleCare, another trip to the store, another wait. After about 6 days I called and asked about the repair. I was told somebody would call me back in an hour. It actually took 4 to 5 hours, but someone did call back. They had good news and bad news. They had, in fact, been able to duplicate the problem. But they had not been able to fix it. Swapping out the graphics card didn't work. Even a whole new display screen did not work. So, they were giving up and were going to give me a whole new iMac. Did I mind? No! I certainly did not mind. So, my 2008 24" iMac was replaced with a 2011 27" iMac - bigger hard drive, faster cpu etc. My hard drive worked fine so they were able to transfer all of the data from my old machine and put it on the new machine. I picked up the new machine, brought it home, plugged it in, and there it was, everything working just fine. So, while it was later in the month, I was able to get back to work and finish the updates for this month. My hope is this new computer will work fine for the next three years!
Another, very significant, background activity in November was paying the annual bill to Lunarpages for the PSR Tutorial web site. The bill covers use of a dedicated server for 12 months, all the software required to run and protect that server, server management services to handle daily, weekly, and monthly backups and any required server trouble-shooting, and, this year, additional software to protect the web site, as well as the server, from malicious attacks (which, by the way, happen many times every day). That bill alone is more than the cost of a new PSR-S910 together with a Bose L1 speaker system. However, thanks to the support we have received over the past year with CD-ROM and DVD orders, I was able to pay that bill and we are now funded for another year. Without that support, I certainly could not afford to keep this operation running!
Supporting the PSR Tutorial
The new download option for the available PSR Tutorial CD-ROMs seems to be working fine and was used far more this month than orders for the actual CDs. Remember that this option allows buyers to download the contents of the CD-ROM rather than waiting for a physical CD-ROM disc to arrive via the regular mail. The contents, however, are in several large zip files that you must download and unzip to reconstruct the original CD-ROM. When you order the download option, an email will be sent (usually within 24 hours) with links to the appropriate zip files and instructions on how to reconstruct the CD-ROM. The instructions are not sent immediately since I need to check my email to see that an order has been placed and then record the details of the order and then, finally, send out an email with the appropriate instructions and links. Since the user has to download the contents, unzip, and reconstruct the origin
al CD-ROM, the download versions are less expensive than the CD-ROM versions.
Remember, you can order any of the available CD-ROMs or DVDs, which will give you life-time "Supporter" status on the PSR Tutorial Forum. As a Supporter, you have access to the Charter Members area as well as some other benefits that only "Supporter" and "Senior" members have. "Supporters" will find quite a few useful resources added to the Charter Members area this past month.
-- Joe Waters, ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), 1 December 2011