Power and Your PC

The power coming into a computer is the most critical component, and it may be one of the most overlooked. It is just taken for granted that it will always be there and working properly. A top of the line processor and ultra powerful video card do nothing if a system does not receive the ample, stable power it demands. Having quality components providing and regulating the power supplied to a computer is critical, and this brief overview looks at a few areas worth consideration.

Power Supplies

Computer power supplies take the high (110V or 220V) DC voltages from an electrical outlet and convert it to the various lower AC voltages required for a system to operate. The typical voltages required inside a computer are 3.3V, 5V, and 12V, where the 3.3V and 5V lines are generally used to power circuitry, and the 12V line provides power to run items such as hard drives, optical drives, and cooling fans.

Power supplies are sold in terms of their total power output, in terms of wattage. Choosing the correct power supply means not only finding one that will provide enough power for all of the components connected to the system, but also one that is the correct size physically, has enough connections for typical drives and fans, and if necessary, that also has special connections for things such as Serial ATA drives and modern video cards.

Choosing a power supply with enough power shouldn’t be much of a problem, as having more power than you need is never a bad thing. Just because a power supply is rated for 400W, or perhaps 600W, does not imply that it is drawing that at any given time. It just indicates the total power available to the various lines inside the computer. For those interested in getting a good idea of their minimum power requirements, this Power Wattage Calculator is a convenient reference. In addition to checking out the total wattage of a power supply, looking for strong amperage ratings on the 3.3V, 5V, and 12V lines is also recommended, as power supplies with identical total power ratings may distribute the power to the various lines in different quantities.

Power supplies come in a few different physical sizes, but the most common are designed to fit the standard ATX and micro ATX (mATX) form factor cases. A typical ATX power supply, such as this Echo-Star 680W unit, measures 3.25″ x 6″ x 5.5″ and features two cooling fans to not only cool the power supply, but to also help draw hot air out of the computer. A typical mATX power supply, such as this A-Power 320W unit, measures 2.5″ x 5″ x 4″ and due to the smaller size features just one cooling fan. mATX cases are generally much smaller than ATX cases, and therefore have smaller power supplies, with generally lower power ratings, and fewer connectors.

The connectors on a power supply also deserve consideration. Most power supplies come with what looks to be an electric octopus of wires hanging off the back surface, and you need to make sure that somewhere in that tangled bundle are all of the connectors you need. The power supply should at least have as many connections as the number of drives, cooling fans, and other items found in the case. Up until recently power supplies had a fixed number of connections, and if you needed more, you needed to use splitters to distribute the power to all the components. Modular power supplies, such as the Ultra X-Connect 500W unit, are now available that eliminate that “electric octopus” all together, and allow the end user to connect just the cables they need. The flexibility of a modular power supply design not only lets you customize the connections to your needs, it also makes for a simple and tidy installation, since there are no extra wires dangling inside the case.

The selection of a high quality power supply may cost more money up front, but down the road it could wind up saving money. Many manufacturers now offer power supplies that consume less energy thanks to high quality internal components, advanced designs, and active power factor correction. These units are now able to provide the same power to the components in a computer, but due to increased efficiency, draw less power from the electrical outlet.

Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are intended to protect your electronics from a brief increase in voltage caused by such things as lightning, rolling blackouts, and heavy drawing electrical equipment. A surge protector reacts to divert the extra electricity to ground, and thus protects your expensive computer equipment from damage. A surge is any increase lasting three nanoseconds or longer, so a surge protector needs to react quickly. Most surge protectors also include a fuse (or breaker), and if the surge is too great to be handled without interruption, the fuse will blow. Although the fuse may be destroyed, it’s a small loss compared to what it may have saved.

Surge protectors come in all shapes and styles. Some basic models can even be found at your local dollar store, but offer no more than a few outlets connected to a breaker. No serious protection is obtained, but many people just want more outlets, not protection.

More serious surge protectors will probably cost a bit more than a dollar, but will offer some peace of mind that your equipment is actually being protected. In addition to protecting from electrical surges, some devices include extra features such as conditioning to filter out line noise and ports to protect other lines such as cable television, telephone, and networking.

The Fellowes Smart Surge Power Strip protects up to 10 devices from surges, as well as offering line conditioning and ports to protect your phone line. A highly appealing feature of such a surge protector is that 4 of the ports are designed to accept bulky AC adaptors. For those with surge protectors that weren’t designed to be this user friendly, there is still hope in the form of Power Strip Saver Cables. Basically just 7 inch long extension cords, these items can come in very handy when trying to connect multiple AC adaptors to a more traditional surge protector.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Many people familiar with Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) know that they can keep a computer up and running during a total power failure, but don’t know what else they do. Most UPSes will also provide protection from voltage surges and sags (when the voltage drops below normal), as well as protection from the possibility of a shift in the electricity’s frequency.

UPSes come in two varieties, standby and continuous, although standby versions are far more common and less expensive. A standby UPS allows the devices connected to it to run from the normal electrical connection until a loss of power is detected, at which point it quickly (in a matter of milliseconds) switches to the battery backup of the UPS. A continuous UPS always has the devices connected to it running off of battery power, while the batteries are recharged by the normal electrical connection.

UPSes are sold in terms of their capacity, in terms of VA (voltage multiplied by amperage). This implies that devices connected to the UPS can draw a maximum of so much amperage at a specific voltage. A run time after a power failure is also generally specified for a UPS based on a full load being placed on the device.

Selecting a UPS needs to be based on the intended use… A smaller unit, such as the Fenton 600VA, would be adequate for powering a typical desktop computer, monitor, and smaller peripherals such as a printer and lighting for what they rate as 15-23 minutes at full load. If multiple systems need to be powered, or perhaps there are plans for future expansion that will add to the power demands, a larger unit such as the Tripp Lite 1500VA may be more appropriate. The first two units are intended to be set in close proximity to the devices to be powered, perhaps on the floor behind a desk, but if you are seeking to add a UPS to a server, there are also rackmount solutions such as the Opti-UPS 1100VA.

No matter the application, sizing a UPS may seem overwhelming. One manufacturer, APC, has created a handy UPS Selector Application which will take some of the guess work out of choosing the right UPS for any particular application.

Final Words

A computer system is only as strong as its weakest feature, and many times that distinction falls on the power supply and related components. By choosing a quality power supply, surge protector, and perhaps a UPS, one can make sure that they have adequately strong and stable power to keep their system running now, as well as down the road when upgrades may increase the demand on their system.

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Practice Prior to the Race

What does it take to have a great RC car race? I give you one word – practice. Of course, there are other factors (such as equipment, overall set up) which contribute to a racer’s victory or loss but it all boils down to a good practice run.

Go ahead and check other reading materials focused on RC related topics. You’d realize that practice does make a difference to how your RC car performs during the actual competition.

When you get to the venue, you can start practicing (that is if you have already signed up for the registration) on the track. Don’t get too excited though, your first practice run should be all about getting the feeling of the track, familiarizing it which means there’s no need to go running on top speed just yet. Learn how the track is laid out and master it if you can. Also, during this time, use an old and worn battery pack since running the track for the first time isn’t going to be pleasing at all.

On your next run, focus on your car and how you can best handle it. During your second run, try to see or feel anything that you think isn’t going to work out for you on the actual race. If everything seems to work okay don’t change any of your settings. After completing this run, you’re ready to go on your last and final run for practice. This time though, you need to shift your focus from all the other elements on the track to just your car and nothing else.

You have to realize that by this time, you can make any last adjustments you desire but then, don’t attempt in doing so if you’re not comfortable with it. To make sure that your settings is going to work accordingly, try to setup your car to the nearest setup ideal for the track. Though you may not set it up accurately, (since there’s no such thing as perfect) you’d at least get it working efficiently on the track during the race.

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Film Review: The Prestige

Director Christopher Nolan has handed himself a difficult task of tackling a complicated story about two cold, central figures. Indeed, the complex premise of the film ‘The Prestige’ becomes a good escalating battle of wits presented the ‘Nolan way.’ A dazzingly interesting narrative about two rival magicians from turn of the century London, ‘The Prestige’ revolves around the lives of Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale). They start a friendship that eventually turns into a rivalry after Rupert’s wife gets killed in a magic trick that has gone wrong. Since then, they start trying to discover each other’s secrets, and ruin each other’s tricks along the way. The story escalates further when Alfred discovers the ultimate trick of the ‘Transported Man,’ a trick that will make Rupert lose his mind just to decipher Alfred’s ultimate secret.

Dark, increasingly elaborate, complex, convoluted, contrived, and full of twists and turns, Nolan’s dark vision for ‘The Prestige’ becomes a workout for the audience’s mind. Filled with its labyrinth of conflicting ideas amidst the sincerest human emotions coming from the characters, the film is a mind-tickler that makes the viewer engaged with the story as s/he tries to penetrate its elegantly Victorian noir presentation to find out the film’s own ultimate trick. Underneath the film’s physicality lies some mundane truths about love, life, career, sacrifice, and revenge. The film may be set during the Victorian days, but the universal issues it exposes about rivalry and obsession make people relate to it very well. The film’s plot-heavy story and striking moments either leaves the viewer exhilarated or disturbed for many possible reasons.

Technically, the film is nothing less than brilliant. The time period portrayed is taken to perfection. The costumes and art direction are splendid. The effects look believable and seamless. The cinematography is stunning and validating. Indeed, the auteur in Nolan really surfaces in every film he makes.

Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan have collaborated on a powerful script with its non-linear pace complemented by the film’s impressive visual and aural composition. Many films become under-written or half-developed, but ‘The Prestige’ is the opposite – it’s almost too clever, that consequently, some people do not get to appreciate its entirety anymore. This film has its own audience really. Some may find it a cult classic of impressive cinematic magic; and yet, some may find it a ponderous tale that promises much, but in the end, delivers surprisingly little.

Those who find fulfillment in this kind of film can enjoy a great deal from it being a twisty thriller presented in a not so common ground – the dark and intelligent treatment Nolan is known for. They see an exemplary story with multi-faceted levels of artistry. From its sheer finery and elegant details both inside and out, it reaps value out of the question, ‘How did they do that?’ – figuring out how Nolan has done the rare magic trick to come up with the compulsively absorbing ‘The Prestige.’

Meanwhile, those who want light and easy stories may find a bit of a grind to it. They may tend to feel that the story loses its target with a wobbly second half and a grand finale not able to compensate. And others might think that despite the good acting and direction, the film’s ending seems feeble that it tends to render the entire movie losing much of its value – it entertains for a while, but it grows increasingly desperate as it reaches the third-act explanations.

The script is tough and filled with stunning twists. However, some people may criticize its ending. It’s not that the film is bad, it’s just that it doesn’t entertain in a completely feel good way. Some may find it not entirely or ultimately amusing and entertaining as many classic cinematic favorites, but basing it from a number of film theories, along with the film’s thematic and stylistic presentation, and technical style and treatment, it actually delivers well. But then again, ‘The Prestige” is not a film for everyone. It is either ‘to be loved/enjoyed’ or ‘to be hated/unvalidated.’

The main weakness of the film is that the key characters seem too single-minded. It seems to lack a bit of gray areas. The said concern may be just toned to a minimum, but it’s still a weakness to be noticed on such an intelligent film about deception and rivalry. Uplifting the characters a bit further towards perfection could have avoided the barrage of half-baked revelations – that could have been more satisfying for both those seeking for deep and artsy values and those who are seeking for purely light entertainment.

Personally speaking, though I am a Nolan fan and I have seen a fairly good deal for this film, I have not completely looked up to it mainly because of one thing: I was able to predict its last two twists. I have related a bit of it with a French film I have seen a couple of months ago entitled ‘The Perfume of the Lady in Black’ (Le Parfum de la Dame en Noir) directed by Bruno Podalydes – a film based from the novel of Gaston Leroux about concealed identities and the mysteries of finding one’s identity and belongingness.

The performances are largely good. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman give out powerful performances. One man is confident and cool amidst the hustle and bustle of his struggling family and career life, while the other one is just losing his senses for his career, his only life. Getting into the lighter side of things, one may jokingly ask this question: ‘Who would win in a fight between Batman and Wolverine?’ But seriously, the great thing about ‘The Prestige’ is that it builds the characters Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden as the rival magicians and not the superhero images tattooed on the actors personas. Moreover, the entire cast delivers very well, too. The film features a solid performance from Michael Caine as Cutter. So goes with Andy Serkis as Alley and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe provides another stellar performance as well. So goes with Rebecca Hall as Sarah. The short screen time of Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough also works well. And Samantha Mahurin is effective with her little girl character as Jess.

When you are watching this film, you’d better be watching really closely. As the movie has reiterated both in its dialogues and its actual form, every magic trick consists of three acts: ‘The Pledge,’ ‘The Turn,’ and the ‘Prestige.’ And if you’re taking the film’s first words to your heart – Are You Watching Closely?’ – you’ll probably get to appreciate the film, and probably get really rewarded by it.

Are you watching closely?

By: Rianne Hill Soriano
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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Self Defense Weapons – What Is The Best Weapon For Self Defense?

If you are thinking of purchasing a gun, or other “self-protection” device such as pepper spray or an alarm, then you are obviously concerned about your personal safety. You know it is essential to learn how to defend yourself, now more than ever! Today, not only do you have to worry about criminals, but now terrorists as well! What is this world coming to? Would you know what to do?

You may be thinking, “Well, I’ll just get a gun!” Unfortunately, real-world tests have shown that overall , weapons (or other “self-defense” products) are often ineffective when it comes to self-defense. Why?

There are many factors that contribute, but the main reason weapons are ineffective is, if the weapon is not in your hand at the moment of attack, you will never get the chance to use it! But, the law does not allow you to walk around with a gun in your hand, and most studies show that people soon forget to carry the various types of self-protection devices they purchase.

Even if you have a stun gun or pepper spray in your purse or pocket, if caught by surprise, you won’t have a chance to get it out before you get decked! Mace does you no good if it is still in the purse that just got snatched out of your hand! Tests prove that 90% of the time, you will never get the chance to reach for your weapon before you are hurt too severely to use it.

FBI statistics and Police reports from all over the country show that in more than half of all instances where the victim was able to get to a “weapon” (usually sprays are mentioned), the attacker knocked it out of their hand before they could use it. Police files are filled with tens of thousands of incidents of weapons taken away from the victim and used against them! It is estimated that almost one third of all gunshot victims are shot with their own gun! The figures are even higher when it comes to stun-guns and sprays.

This doesn’t even include all of the incidences where the victim shoots themselves! Accidental discharge is the leading cause of gunshot wounds in both crime and non-crime reports. You may think that wouldn’t happen to you, but the reports prove that it happens to even experienced gun owners.

I know of a Police officer, even after extensive training , the first time he tried to use Mace against an unruly suspect, ended up spraying himself.

Unfortunately, most people have little or no training as to the safe and proper use of the weapons in their possession. Inadequate, or even improper training is the leading cause of accidental discharge involving guns, stun-guns and sprays. What do you think will happen when they attempt to use that weapon under the stress of a real attack?

There are literally millions of incidents reported where the victim couldn’t get the weapon to work at all, mainly because of inadequate training! Even the most basic principles of weapon usage are often overlooked by owners. The figures are stunning (pun intended) of the number of incidents of stun guns that didn’t work when needed because of dead batteries!

There are thousands upon thousands of reports of guns that wouldn’t fire because the safety was on, and the user didn’t know, forgot, or was too panicked to figure it out in time. In at least one incident I am aware of, the victim couldn’t get his weapon to fire before the criminal took it away from him. Lucky for him, the criminal couldn’t figure it out either.

Defective or Fraudulent Products

I’m sure you have purchased products that didn’t quite work as advertised. How can you be sure that the pepper spray you buy will work as well as advertised, if at all? How will you test it? Spray yourself? Spray a friend? We’re not talking about perfume! I doubt you will get any volunteers to help you.

When the criminal attacks, it is too late to find out that the pepper spray is really just vinegar, or that the 10 million volt stun-gun doesn’t deliver much more of a shock than shuffling across the carpet and touching a doorknob.

If you buy a police radar detector that is guaranteed to work, but doesn’t, the result is a speeding ticket. If you buy “self-protection weapons” that don’t work, the result can be severe injury or even death. Relying on someone else’s guarantee is only a false sense of security that will only have bad results!

If you are serious about Self-Protection, your best self defense weapon is your mind . If you think about what has just been discussed, you will realize that ‘weapons’ will only help you in ideal situations, and even then, you need to keep a clear head to be able to use them properly.

But, crime doesn’t happen in ideal situations!

Being able to think clearly, and knowing what to do, is your best weapon when it comes to self-defense. Second best is being able to use your feet. Now, that doesn’t mean to start kicking! It means that at the first sign of trouble, you need to RUN! Escape is always a much better self-defense tactic than getting into a struggle or a fight.

However, if you can’t get away, your body is your best self-defense weapon! Since you cannot always have a weapon in your hand, it is essential that you know how to defend yourself without weapons. But mindless flailing against an attacker does you no good at all. You need to learn the most vulnerable points on the human body. But even that isn’t enough if you don’t know the most effective ways to strike them. You need to learn how to kick, not just where to kick.

Everyone should at least take a basic self-defense course .

What about Martial Arts?

Traditional Martial Arts are great for disciple, self-confidence, and exercise. They can help to produce the correct mindset needed when faced with a self-defense situation. But it usually takes several years to become proficient in the more complex techniques.

If you have the time to commit to a long-term training program, by all means, a martial art will provide the most comprehensive training. However, just as in choosing a self-defense weapon, you must do your homework before choosing a martial arts program. Many don’t deliver the comprehensive training they promise, and most don’t train you for realistic self-defense.

Far too many martial arts programs focus greatly on sports and competition. Sports and competition oriented martial arts are worthless as self-defense. They teach you to follow rules, and for the most part, there are no rules in a street fight. If you are conditioned to follow the rules, you can’t do what is necessary in a dangerous situation. In fact, you will probably do the wrong thing, and get yourself hurt or even killed.

Seek out a training program that focuses almost exclusively on realistic self-defense scenario training.

Knowing how to handle yourself when confronted with violence is your only insurance against becoming a victim, or just another statistic in a police report. You have car insurance, home-owner’s insurance, life insurance, health insurance…

What insurance do you have against being the victim of a violent crime? That type of insurance is only available through proper training. A long-term self-defense program offers the most comprehensive training, and therefore, the best opportunity to learn to handle almost any situation that may occur. However, if you don’t have the time to commit to a long-term program, at least some form of weaponless self-defense training is better than none.

Summary

If you are serious about self-protection, your best bet is to first learn weaponless self-defense. Then, if you still want to purchase a weapon, do your homework before choosing the best weapon for you, and don’t just read the instructions that come with it and think you are ready to use it.

  • Take a class on how to use it effectively, how to handle it safely, and how to maintain it so it works when you need it.
  • Take regular refresher courses so you don’t forget anything about the weapon.
  • Follow all maintenance procedures on a regular basis.

Your best bet is to learn weaponless self-defense and get the best weapon for you. Remember, you will never feel safe until you have all the tools necessary for self-protection. And the most important weapon of all is your own mind and body!

Resources:

Strong, Sanford – Strong on Defense ; Simon & Shuster, Inc.; 1996

Federal Bureau of Investigation – Uniform Crime Report ; 2000

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Voice Over Microphones – How to Choose the Best One For You and Your Budget

The biggest mistake voice over artists make – and that includes some professionals – is using the wrong microphone. It can wreck your work. If you market yourself on Voice123.com or Voices.com, the wrong microphone will insure you do not get hired, or if you do, that you will not get hired by that same person again.

Here we'll look at the three types of microphones most often used, their strengths and weaknesses, cost, and how to determine which one (s) to go for.

We'll talk about the types, then look at specific brands, models, and prices.

Before we start, the most important thing I can say to you is that your microphone is the most important part of your entire audio chain, no exceptions. You can have the most fabulous gear in the world downstream from the mic, but if the mic does not cut it, it does not really matter about the rest of that gear. On the other hand, a terrific microphone followed by average-priced gear will give you a superior audio product.

What are you looking to do? Are you looking for a mic that's smooth and sweet, or hard-edged and in-your-face? Are you male or female? If you want to do movie trailers and screaming car dealer ads, you need a different mic than if you're doing "guy or girl next door" – realistic – voice work, or standard announce voice work. Here are the types of mics to consider:

Dynamic

Dynamic microphones are what you see in radio stations and are what live vocalists (singers) most often use. They're rugged, reasonably good-sounding, and okay for most voices, meaning one might not sound absolutely fabulous on your particular voice, but it will not sound awful, which is not true of other types, including some very expensive microphones. A dynamic also is not nuanced. The part that pics up your voice, the diaphragm, is connected to a coil of wire; air movement from sound makes the coil move between the poles of a magnet. The sound has to overcome the mass of the coil, and very small sounds do not get through.

This does not make them bad. Rush Limbaugh's Golden EIB microphone is a dynamic, and, again, most radio stations use them. They are good general-purpose mics, and many voice over pros use them. They are equally good for male and female voices, and you can do most any type of style with them.

If you're on a budget, a dynamic is the only choice, because the other two cost a lot more for ones that are worth it. There are cheap versions of the other two, and you do not want one!

So if dynamics are so useful, why spend more for a condenser or ribbon?

Condenser

A condenser microphone, of which there are two types, transistor and tube ("valve" in Europe), does not have the moving coil of wire attached to its diaphragm. It modifies an electrical current generated by an external power supply (found in most computer interfaces or with an external power supply, see your dealer for info, or internal batteries). Without the mechanical resistance of a dynamic mic's coil to overcome, a condenser is far more sensitive to nuance, and therefore sounds much more intimate.

Condensers come in two flavors: transistor and tube. A tube condenser, which is an expensive instrument (there are cheap ones and they make good paperweights but not microphones), is almost always the very best way to go. They sound very intimate and full, and have a great up-front sound without being aggressive. They are quite subject to problems from non-vocal speech components – 'f', 's', 'p' – and require a pop screen (see your dealer). Tube mics also produce what's called harmonic distortion, which we do not consciously hear but is responsible for what's called "tube warmth" (nothing to do with temperature!) And sounds quite intimate.

Condensers come in two other flavors: large diaphragm and small diaphragm. Large diaphragms are for when you want a big, intimate sound. Small diaphragms are said to be more accurate. However, the right one for you is the one that sounds best after making several-minute recordings with each and seeing if one is more fatiguing or if one just plain sounds better to you than the other. There are no rules. Both kinds are used for voiceover.

Many voice over artists prefert tube condensers over transistorized ones, but in all cases, what sounds best on your particular voice is what you should get. How to choose a mic? We'll get to that in a minute.

Ribbon

Here's the third type, in a class by itself: the ribbon microphone. While dynamics and condensers 'hear' with diaphragms, a ribbon microphone "hears" with a short, narrow, and very thin piece of corrugated aluminum suspended between two poles of a strong magnet.

You've seen the big, pickle-shaped microphones on Letterman's and Larry King's desks. They are RCA Model 77 ribbon microphones (used as props in this case), invented, I believe, in the 1930's. They were found everywhere for half a century. RCA quit making ribbons in the 1970's, and an enterprising genius named Wes Dooley bought all of RCA's stock ribbons (the ribbons themselves) and probably single-handedly re-introduced the ribbon microphone to the US market. His company is called AEA, and even the AEA logo is so designed as to closely resembled RCA's logo.

Ribbon mics are warm and smooth, jazz guys like to record with them, they're very nice for ladies' voices, and for certain male voices they add a nice satisfing depth. They also have a low output, which means that you have to crank up the input on your system to get a decent level from them. But raising the input results what's called the noise floor, and you can end up with a recording where you can hear hiss in the background. Wes and other ribbon mic manufacturers deal with this problem well, however, and some companies are making preamplifiers (talk with your dealer about this) designed specifically for ribbon mics.

Whether a ribbon – or any mic, for that matter – will sound good on your voice can not be known without actually trying one out. Ribbons are quite sensitive to moving air; if you blow into one to test to see if it's on, there's an excellent chance you'll destroy the ribbon. When ribbons were in common studio use, they were 'bagged' – a fitted bag was put over them – just to move them from place to place in the studio, to avoid ribbon damage from the air passing across them as they were moved .

Brands

Dynamics

There are a million brands, which of course goes for condensers, but not that many ribbon brands.

Not to worry, because there are several industry standards with which it's hard to go wrong. Here are the three most popular dynamics, and they probably outsell all the rest put together:

Electro-Voice RE20
Sennheiser 421U (see dealer about the specific one for your purpose)
Shure SM7
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Shure SM57 / SM58 – less expensive and can be used if you do not have the money for the others

These mics, except for the last two, are in the $ 350- $ 700 range. Although each has a characteristic 'sound,' they are pretty close together in that respect. Each is well-made and dependable over the long haul, as in decades.

The Sennheiser, and, I believe, the SM7, have what are called proximate effects: if you get right on top of them they accentuate the lows. Many announcers in radio stations like to eat them; they want that deep "Voice of God" sound. They're better used at a distance of 6-10. "The RE20 is known for its lack of the procurement effect. etc. The RE20 was also made under a different model name, PL20. instruments and is no longer in production. I found a PL20 for $ 150 and am still jumping up and down, for the average used price of a PL20 or RE20 is double that.

For price-to-quality, none of these mics can be beat.

Condensers

Two flavors, here: transistorized and tube. As mentioned above, a tube condenser, like any well-designed tube device, generates overtones, which our ears perceive as "warmth." I say well-designed, because ever since tubes were "rediscovered" about 25 years ago, a lot of low-priced gear with a tube or two in them has hit the market, but they are not necessarily designed by people who understand exactly what they do nor how to design a tube circuit for best effect. This section deals with condensers in general.

Probably the most-recognized condenser mic name in the world is Neumann (pronounced NOI-man), and its most popular model is called a U-87. They sell new for around $ 3500, around $ 2000 or less used. A Neumann either sounds incredible on your voice or it sounds honky. It is the microphone National Public Radio uses exclusively.

It is found in just about every recording studio of any size. It will love your voice or hate it.

There are more expensive Neumanns, and a series of low-priced models prefixed with the letters TLM. A good number of voiceover artists use TLMs (<$ 1000); in my opinion they are not nearly as natural-sounding as the U-87 or a good dynamic. I had one but sold it after a few months. It could sound really good to your particular ear, however. I make this point because tastes different, and it is surely true that one voice can sound bad on a certain mic and superb on the next voice. So how does one choose? We'll get to that in a sec.

First, you must use a pop screen on a condenser. This device stops those blasts of air from non-vocal speech components, most notably "P" sounds, which which condensers are especially sensitive. Put your hand in front of your mouth and say "P." Feel the air? If that blast hits a condenser, let's just say you do not want to be wearing headphones at the time. Now, it's a good idea to talk across (at 45 degrees) not straight into, any microphone, because all of them will react badly to P pops; it is just that condensers REALLY react to them. Many RE20 users put pop screens in front of their mics even though most people do not use pop screens with dynamics.

Cheap condensers: a big no-no.

Cheap condensers are all over the market. You can buy a microphone with a nice spider shock mount and in a beautiful aluminum flight case all for $ 75. Um, I do not thin 'so, Looooxy. They are unnaturally bright at the top end and boomy at the bottom.

The really nefarious part of this is that, if you're just starting out, your ear is easily fooled into thinking that this sounds good. It does sound sort of exciting, but it is extremely fatiguing to listen to a recording made on one. As Phil Spector famously put it, "It's all in the middle." Americans like to crank up the treble and bass. If you have a mic delivering lots of highs and lows, and someone boosts the highs and lows on their music system, your work will sound worse than awful. Expensive microphones have rolled-off low ends and smooth high ends. Upon first using one you may even think, "Wow, what's the big deal about this thing? It's boring." No, it's natural. Unboosted highs and lows. In other words, it sounds like you, not you-through-a-microphone. That's as it should be.

Remember, you are competing with people who own high-end condensers, and that's how they sound. I'll take a $ 400 dynamic over a $ 400 condenser just about every time.

Ribbon microphones

I have experience with exactly one ribbon: an AEA R84. It sounds really good. It's an updated version of an industry-standard RCA ribbon, the Model 44, invented long ago and used forever, like the 77. It's tres cool-looking, and comes with a snarky-looking padded, fitted maroon bag for transport and protection. It's about $ 990.

There are other ribbons that have excellent reputations, more hitting the market all the time, see your dealer. I'm not aware of ribbons being used that much for voiceover, but I think it's because a great number of people do not know about them. I think it's also due as much to inertia as anything – everyone learns what everyone else is using and continues suit. Also, ribbons do not have the in-your-face sound that dynamics and especially condensers have.

How to choose the right mic for you

The really best way is to call a professional recording studio and book an hour or so of their time, and have them set up an array of mics around you and test read you, each mic going to a different track of a recording. It's infinitely better to match the mic to your particular (and unique) voice than to get just anything and try to make it fit using equalization (Google "equalization for voiceover" and read it!). I recommend you test no fewer than five mics, making sure to include all the ones listed above except the Shure SM57 / 58. When you listen to yourself recorded on each one, the best one will usually make itself plain, and it's a good idea to ask the recording engineer's opinion, for s / he knows what to listen for. My method is to listen to the records of the first two, choose a winner, compare it to the third one, choose a winner, compare it to the fourth, and so on. Then do it again, only have the engineer mix up the playback order.

Do not try this test in an amateur home studio. They almost certainly will not have the mics you need to make the test meaningful, and the person recording you will almost certainly not be competent to evaluate which mic to use for voiceover; most home studios exist for the purpose of recording music and sung vocal, not voice acting and voiceover.

What if you do not have a studio within 50 or 100 miles, or their rates are too high (although I think paying $ 100 to test several thousand dollars' worth of microphones will save you unbelievable heads, sending mics back, etc.)?

Here's what to do: if your budget allows, buy either a Neumann U-87 or a Lawson L-47 MPII. The Lawson is around $ 2000, or $ 1500 bucks less than the Neumann. The Lawson is the mic I have used for nearly 10 years. It sounds like Disney, but even more importantly, I have yet to record a voice on it that has not sounded really good.

It is sold factory-direct through a fella named Gene Lawson in Nashville, at Lawsonmicrophones.com. If you call them, you can talk right to Gene. He's a great guy.

Absent that kind of budget, get an Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U (they come with a couple of variations so tell your dealer that you're using it for VO.

If you're not sure whether you really want to be a VO artist but would like to give it a trial shot, get a Shure SM57 or 58. They are $ 100 dynamics. As I said before, they are okay, and never sound bad on anyone's voice.

Where to get it?

If you're going to get an RE20 or Sennheiser or Shure, get it from your local music store (the best choice because service is right there, no mailorder hassles). If you do not have one, go online to one of the big catalog outlets such as Sweetwater, Full Compass, Zzounds, or Guitar Center. They have fairly liberal return policies and are easy to work with. They sell a lot of stuff and have competitive reputations to maintain. Plus, their prices are usually identical from piece to piece so they have to make up for it with really good service, all to our advantage.

If you've got the bucks for a $ 1500 – $ 2000 + condenser, go online to SoundPure.com. (Lawson are sold factory-direct only at Lawsonmicrophones.com) Sound Pure has professional sound recordists to talk to, and at those prices you need to talk to pros. Not that the catalog stores do not have pros, but their level of expertise varies. I've talked to guys who knew nothing about what I wanted and guys who knew a lot; at Sound Pure they're all pros and they are really interested in getting you what you need and not a penny more.

Tell them everything you want to do, what other gear you have, what to buy if you do not have any gear yet. They really give a great big rip about their customers and about the pro audio business in general. I can not say enough good about them. In case you're wondering about all this nice stuff I'm saying about Lawson and Sound Pure: not only am I not getting paid by them, they do not know I'm writing this article!

To sum up: If there's a pro studio near you, book an hour and test their dynamics and condensers using the method above.

When you're ready to buy, if you want to spend $ 200- $ 700, get a dynamic: Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U. Check your local music store first – everything's so much easier that way. From $ 1500 and above (which your local store probably will not have) get a tube condenser: Lawson L-47 MPII from Lawsonmicrophones.com, or for others, go to SoundPure.com and call them. Re the RE20, EV also makes an RE27. Some people really like them, some people really do not. I'd go with the RE20.

I've worked for years to get a good sound and am writing this to try to save you some time in finding your great sound.

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Car Parts and Automotive Equipment – How the Oil Pump Works

Automotive enthusiasts are well aware of the importance of each specific car part as it pertains to the overall working vehicle. However, men and women who are new to the world of automotive equipment may be curious as to how some of these important automotive parts pertain to the automobile’s inner workings.

One of the most important car parts in circulation is the oil pump. In most cases, the oil pump is located above the oil pan inside the engine. The oil pump is actuated by gears located on the end of the crankshaft or on the end of the distributor. As the engine turns, the gears inside the oil pump rotate and the pump cycles oil.

One of the most important components of this all encompassing automotive equipment is the pickup tube. In most cars, the pickup tube is located at the end of the oil pump and sits in the oil pan. As the pump operates, the spinning of the gears creates a vacuum that lifts oil out of the oil pan and distributes it throughout the engine.

The oil in the car’s engine is designed to both cool and lubricate the automobile’s inner workings. However, if the oil of the oil pan is too low, the pickup tube will be unable to distribute oil, thereby causing the engine to overheat and bind.

Another vital component in the automotive arsenal, as it pertains to the oil pump, is the screen filter. The screen filter is one of those all-important car parts designed to keep the engine running smoothly without contamination. In simple terms, a screen filter is a mesh screen designed to filter contaminants in sludge out of the oil before they can reach the engine and cause harm to the automobile. The screen filter is important for maintaining valid oil pressure. Over time, automotive screen filters can become clogged with debris and sludge. For this reason, regular oil changes are important for maintaining a healthy engine.

Mechanics and enthusiast seeking automotive equipment and car parts to complete oil pump installation will find it beneficial to shop online for some of the best prices and highest quality equipment on the market. Shopping online for automotive equipment is simple. All one needs is the year and model of the car in question and a list of each of the required car parts. Not only will you save money and time, but you will also find the convenience of “at your door delivery” to be a huge bonus.

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Why Use Illuminated Reticle Scopes?

The word ‘illuminated’ speaks volumes for a reticle rifle scope. If you are a shooter or hunter then you know what is being discussed. An illuminated reticle rifle scope features a light source that is integrated internally. This light source illuminates the reticle or crosshair so that shooting becomes easier in low light conditions. However, there is always this stupendous debate about Illuminated vs. Non-illuminated reticle scopes. The only reason why illuminated reticles are recommended is because they are of great help in shooting in low light conditions or in the dark. If you use a non-illuminated reticle scope in the dark, shooting will become a nuisance for you. In this regard, Nightforce illuminated reticles are suggested by hunters and shooters across the world. But you can also look out for other brands, like, Leupold.

These rifle scopes can be categorized into 2 types: general purpose scopes for hunting or recreational shooting and tactical sights used in self defence, military, and police applications. And it is the light source that differentiates the two types. The tactical sights utilize radioactive tritium lamps or a passive light gathering fibre optics. On the other hand, the hunting scopes make use of the battery enabled LED (light emitting diode). There are several benefits that the illuminated reticle scopes offer over the traditional iron sights.

Firstly, the scopes used by the hunters have a better magnification that the iron sights. When you view through the illuminated ones, they are able to bring in the targets closer to even though they are at pretty long distances. Normally, an iron sight would produce blurred images for such long distances. The tactical sights, on the other hand, offer a wide view picture that makes instinctive shooting possible even under pressure.

Secondly, the usual glass sights are not packed with adequate light gathering facilities. This makes the aiming point or the reticle disappear during low light conditions. In this regard, the illuminated reticle rifle scopes are of tremendous help for the shooters and hunters who want to use it for low visibility conditions.

As far as their design is concerned, the Nightforce illuminated reticles follow the similar basic design patterns as the traditional optical devices. There is an additional mechanism associated with these kinds of scopes. A separate light source is integrated within these scopes. In any standard retilce scopes the illumination is switchable and is placed behind the reticle. The LED works with one or more flat batteries used in a watch. These are also available with various power settings for the illumination. You can choose as per your requirement in the low light conditions.

As far as the color of reticles is concerned, then red is the most common one used. This is because it is the easiest color to trace in low light conditions. However, there are various sights that are available with green, yellow and amber hues.

However, there is one problem that you can face with this kind of a scope and that is over-illumination. In such a condition the reticle glows so brightly that you have difficulties is placing the target. Thus, it is recommended that you do your research well about the brands offering these products. It will help you to choose a suitable illuminated reticle.

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Real vs. Virtual

“Humpty dumpty sat on a wall;

Humpty dumpty had a great fall…”

BANG! And little Rimi cuts her knee.

The four-year-old was jumping from the stairs to the landing with those lines on her lips-one of the little ways she has invented to keep herself busy-when the accident occurred.

“Granny! Granny!” cries poor Rimi. With both her parents busy at work, she is the only one at home who the child can call her own.

But her S.O.S doesn’t reach her grandmother who’s watching her favourite serial on the television now, too enthralled by its unthinkably intelligent dialogues to be able to hear anything else…

No. This is not a true story. But not too exaggerated a version of the truth either. The television has changed our characters. The typical Indian grandmother of yesterday prepared pickles, looked after her grandchildren as much as her age and health allowed and engaged in spiritual activities. Today, the aged person, be it a man or a woman, without an addiction to the television is an endangered species.

The box has made us get rid of courtesies. When we have a guest, we cannot even conceal our lack of interest and attention in what they are saying or desist from turning to the TV every two minutes (’cause the TV is on virtually 24×7), leave alone turning the volume down or switching it off altogether.

We never think twice before turning the TV on at about 12:30 in the morning at a high volume.

The half-literate domestic help devours TV serials when she is free, whereas she would try hard to read the newspapers had it been a few years ago…And the list can go on.

In earlier times women spent their idle afternoons visiting their neighbours and men socialised with their friends and colleagues. In today’s competitive world people are willing to work for longer hours for a better future. It’s already hard for the modern urban Indian to spend time even with their family. But in spite of that, the television eats up from the few hours one gets to stay at home. Such meager interaction increases the distance between spouses, and more importantly, between children and their parents, which has been found to harm the way they grow up and form relationships.

As the TRP ratings of the various channels spiral, the number of sponsorships it bags keeps pace. And the dreamland of advertisements (it must be admitted that most of them offer real entertainment, thanks to our ad gurus) succeeds in giving rise to strong materialistic wants in people, which must be one of the reasons why our society is becoming increasingly consumerist.

The poor uneducated people-whose mental faculties never got the chance to get developed enough as to be able to appreciate the forms of entertainment that makes one exercise one’s brains, like reading, listening to good music etc. – are the worst hit by the lure of the television. Even the households in the slum areas, struggling to make the ends meet, cannot but own TVs. I know a family who didn’t have the connection of electricity in their village a few years ago, but had a battery operated TV.

The people of rural Bengal previously were entertained by snake-charmers and ‘Chhou’ (a type of dance from Bengal) performances. The other day somebody was mourning the fact that these have become rare in their village, while I was observing the young girl from the same village (widely known as a TV freak) whose face seemed to say, “Who needs Chhou, now that we have our Jeet and Koel?”

And these devotees of the television would never watch the news channels or the wildlife shows. Anything distantly related to reality is an absolute no-no for them. The brainless serials featuring the sacrifice of the ideal daughter-in-law, the villainous manoeuvres of her sister-in-law to harass her-all set in the framework of an unrealistically ‘ideal’ and opulent traditional family-are their favourites. But after all that is what the television is for- offering you temporary escapism in your fantasies from your bitingly real and persistent woes.

The enchanted audience of these serials consists mainly of housewives, elderly women and young girls, among whom, some have religious inclinations also. This becomes evident from their visiting temples and worshipping the gods! Thakur Sri Ramakrishna despised too much concern about anything material, even if it was your daily bread, since in His opinion one should perform all the essential functions in one’s life as mere obligations, and one’s only real purpose in life should be to be united with God. Also, one should devote as much time as one could to meditation and other spiritual activities. I wonder what He would say of these ‘devotees’!

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Dent Repair – The Secrets

Does your new car have a dent in the door? Has hailed damaged the Roof or Boot? If so, dent repair is probably your best option. In the past few years, paintless dent repair has offered an alternative to the traditional dent fix. Paintless dent repair does not damage the paint on your vehicle and it is much cheaper than the usual methods of dent removal.

The secret behind dent repair is that there is not "beating out" of the dents, nor removing parts of your car. This is one of the reasons it's much cheaper than some of the older methods for dent repair. A normal dent repair will cost only a fraction of a traditional repair that is completed within a repair shop.

Paintless dent repair is a very skilled procedure. In order to achieve the best results, the process requires experience, patience, and the right tools. Since there is no painting involved, the job is completed much faster and can be done as a mobile business. This means the dent repair professional can come to the customer.

The process requires the repair specialist to gradually push the metal back to where it's supposed to be. This is done a small section at a time and depending upon the size of the dent, may require a few hours to complete. There are several tools that are needed to complete the job properly.

The tools are long, flat, and very rigid in order to allow the correct amount of pressure to be applied, without the tool bending. These tools are slid into the gap found behind the panel. Pressure is applied to the dent from behind, but it's done slowly to move the metal back into its original shape, a little bit at a time. If done correctly, there should be no damage to the paint on the other side of the panel.

Many companies are providing mobile services for dent repair. The secret to a great dent removal job is to provide the specialist with enough room to work. This will help the repair specialist to provide the amount of pressure needed to correctly push the metal back into place.

You'll now find many paintless dent repair tools are sold to the public. However, without the proper training, you can easily cause a ripple in the metal or the paint to crack or chip. This will require a much more expensive repair bill and even a repair shop may not be able to completely remove the dent. It's best to leave it to the professionals.

Paintless dent removal is recommended as an alternative to the more conventional methods. However, you need to be certain you have a trained, qualified professional to achieve the best results. There are many companies that do not provide enough training to their employees and the results can be rather costly.

For those people that have two or three dents, it's often much easier on the wallet to have them all fixed at once. Understand that not all dents may be removed by paintless dent repair. The location of the dent is the determining factor, as well as if there is a crease in the metal. Paintless dent removal can work on some creases, but it depends on how deep it is, as well as how long it is. Consult with a professional dent removal specialist to find out how they can help you.

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Diabetic Food List – Foods a Diabetic Can Eat

If you or those you love are affected by diabetes, healthy foods are so vital in sustaining your sugar level. Yes, it is true that you will need enormous self-control to comply with what a Registered Dietitian instructed you to eat but in the event you want a healthy living and quality life, sticking with diabetic food list is a must.

What’s the recommended daily food percentage?

Carbohydrates – about 50% to 60%

Carbs are divided into the simplest forms of sugar and glycemic index throughout the digestive procedure. If glycemic index turned out to be high this will cause blood sugar degree to rise quickly and will develop insulin resistant, diabetes and hypertension.

Checklist of Carbs Food Diabetic Can Eat

– Wheat bran, Barley, oats porridge.

– Fruits – apple, berries, citrus, pears, peaches, rubard, and plum.

– Vegetables – avocados, broccoli, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, celery, lettuce, onions, mushrooms, peas, olives, pepper, tomatoes and spinach.

Checklist of Carbs Food Diabetic Should Avoid.

– Breakfast cereals -such as sugar coated cereals and cornflakes, white bread, biscuits, cakes, bagels, pancakes, doughnuts, bun muffins, white and brown rice.

– Fruit – Prunes, dates, watermelon.

– Vegetables – potatoes, broad beans, parsnip, Swede

Protein – about 12% to 20%

Protein is made up of compounds known as amino acids, the building blocks of all body tissue.

List of protein food that diabetic can eat

– Vegetables – millet, beans, lentils, soybeans

– Nuts – pine nuts, peanuts and Brazil

– Free range chicken and turkey (skin to be removed)

– Non-intensively reared – beef lamb, pork and veal

– Chicken eggs (NOT goose and duck eggs)

Fat – If you are diabetic, type of fat is important to control cholesterol level.

Fatty food that diabetic can eat

– Vegetables oils – sesame, pure olive, sunflower, soybean, Avocados

– Oily Fish – Tuna, salmon, mackerel, herrings

– Nuts and seed

– Spreadable Unsaturated Margarine

Fatty food list that you can consume sparingly

– Whole fat milk but skimmed milk is preferable

– Butter, cheese, cream, full fat yoghurt, frozen goodies

– Meat – pork and beef lamb

– Poultry – battery-framed chicken, goose, duck and turkey

– Eggs – particularly from battery farmed chickens

– Coconut oil.

Fatty food diabetic ought to avoid

– All processed foods like scotch eggs, sausage pies, and the likes

– Commercial foods that are fried like crisps, chips and battered fish

– Margarine especially the tough one

– Ready-made commercial foods such as biscuits, cakes and snack foods.

Fiber Our bodies cannot absorb a few of the food we eat if dietary fiber is absent in our system. Diabetic should also improve their intake of fiber rich foods. Fiber is a great defense from intestines disorders as well as colon cancer as well as for better bowel function. It’s usually recommended to have five portions of fiber-rich fruit and veggies a day.

Fiber food diebetic ought to eat

– Oats, oat bran, oatmeal, peas, fruit and beans barley

Diabetic food list can eat and by no means exhaustive. They are here to help you to decide what and just how much you can consume to manage your diabetes condition.

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