published Friday, September 10th, 2010

Jenkins: You still can use obsolete computers


by Donnie Jenkins

This week I’d like to answer some recent e-mails from readers:

Q: Every time I consider buying a new computer I get depressed knowing it will soon be obsolete. How in the world can anyone make a purchase on something like this without feeling they are throwing money away?

A: Nothing is obsolete as long as it’s useful. It’s commonly believed that because computers improve so rapidly and become cheaper that older ones become useless or outdated.

Here’s another way to look at this: Isn’t it wonderful that an older Pentium 4 PC or Mac PowerPC G5 will still do most work required by users? If you think about it, this is amazing that these tools can be so useful for so long. While there is no question that older computers do lack the ability to run the “latest and greatest” software, they can still serve as media players, word processors, and even audio and video recorders. In fact I used my Gateway Pentium 4 500 X PC for several years until it crashed, and it was useful for all that time.

Q: I want to buy a keyboard and recording studio equipment. Can you advise me on how to choose among all the options available?

A: That’s actually a very complicated situation these days, mainly because there are so many choices. I don’t have the space to get into great detail, but I’ll describe how I approach recording.

I use an older keyboard workstation called the Roland XP-60 along with my computer running both Cakewalk Sonar and Adobe Audition software. Audition is especially useful for mastering music to CD and stereo file editing. I’ve also begun using Presonus Studio One recording software and like it very much so far.

Also, I use an external mixer and several microphones. Because I play several instruments I like to have an assortment of mikes to choose from.

If you want to avoid using a computer, there are many dedicated recording studio solutions available from vendors such as Tascam, Korg and others. These usually include a built-in mixer to input your instruments and phantom power as well which is a feature that allows you to use high quality condenser microphones.

Bottom line: If your budget is small consider an all-in-one unit with built-in mixer and invest the rest of your money in a quality microphone and instruments. Otherwise, use sites such as emusician.com to study and research your other options. And of course feel free to drop me an e-mail with any specific questions on equipment.

Q: Can you suggest an alternative to YouTube for posting videos?

A: There are dozens of good alternatives. For businesses it’s hard to beat Brightcove, but it’s not cheap. For others, Vimeo is excellent also.

Q: Can you suggest a good Web page creator program?

A: Dreamweaver for the Mac and PC is great but somewhat expensive. One of the best solutions is the free Wordpress blogging software. Many use it to fashion the design of their sites, and it has hundreds of add-ons and plug-ins that can make it do almost anything you need online.

It is especially useful for creating so-called landing pages and squeeze pages. These refer to pages that advise a potential customer on a product, usually using a video, and attempt to gain e-mail addresses and sales.

E-mail Donnie Jenkins at donniejenkins@yahoo.com

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