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Step 1 - Create Hit Song, Step 2 - Backup Your Data!

Wd_terabyte Last week I accidentally clobbered three banks of purchased presets for my Vanguard virtual synthesizer. Luckily, I had backups and was able to get the presets back. Are you doing backups? If not you REALLY, REALLY need to start.

To help you get started I'll pass along a list of tools and methods I've come to count on:

Image Backups (OS, Programs, Data) / Off-site Storage
I use ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE HOME V11 (WIN 2000,XP,VISTA) software to make a disk mage backup of my entire hard disc to a Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 1 TB External Hard Drive. I store this in a bank vault. Every month or so, I get the drive from the vault and I update the backup set with a differential backup (backups up just what has changed since the original snapshot). I also place redundant data backups (see next section) on this drive as well then put it back in the vault. Why a vault - uh, break in, fire, flood, comet strike, alien invasion... I mean really you don't want lose your data right?

WdData Backups (Data only, No OS, No Program Settings) / Local Storage / Backup on the Road
I store all my data, including my "Ableton" directory which contains all the songs I'm working under one folder - "My Documents". I backup up this folder every week or so, more often when I'm working on something I really don't want to lose. I use a great app called Goodsync and backup on to a Western Digital WDML3200TN 320GB My Passport Elite 2.0 USB Hard Drive - Titanium.This drive is small, light, and is bus powered so you can also take it anywhere. Once you create a backup with Goodsync, subsequent backups only copy files that have changed. This lets me have a handy backup in case I clobber a data file or want to revert back to an older version without having to go to the vault. Backing up only data - and data that has changed from the last backup means that it only takes a few minutes at most.

Data Sync
If you use more than one computer, your going to want to sync folders. Goodsync handles this nicely and works with flash drives (I highly recommend the Sandisc Cruzer ), or with the small drive I mentioned above. I have also done data sync between systems via the internet with tools like GoToMyPC.

There you have it. No go backup your data.

Revised Feb 13, 2009:
Step 3: Make sure you have data stored in at least two places and one of those places is off site - like a bank vault.

Mark Mosher

ArKaos VJ - Use MIDI and ReWire to Create Video for Live Shows or Rock Videos


If you are looking for a way to use VJ software sync video elements to music for a live show or a rock video check out ArKaos VJ. The software not only responds to MIDI, but also supports ReWire so that you sequence video elements from inside your primary music application ( ex. Ableton Live, FL Studio, Reason...).

If you are familiar with sequencing with software you'll find ArKaos VJ easy to use as it offers a drag-and-drop keyboard interface right within the software. Simply import pictures and movies, drag stills of videos to a key, then drag an effect to the key. Pressing the keyboard within the application using your mouse or sending MIDI data to the application via a hardware controller or from a ReWire host launches the clip.

Flash movies with editable text and live video camera feeds can also be used from within the application. There are plenty of effects to choose from, and you can customize effect parameters. Beat detection is also included. In addition to using this live, you can also export your work to a Quicktime movie.

For me, the only downside was the pricing model . The software runs on both PC and MAC and costs $335 / 279€. While I think this price is more than fair if you are primarily a VJ, I wish they offered an alternative and somewhat stripped down ReWire version for people who are primarily musicians who want to add video elements to their live shows or create rock videos for YouTube.

MP3TAG - Great Windows Shareware Tool for Editing MP3 Tags


I've begun releasing .mp3 singles for my new album REBOOT. Prior to releasing the songs, I spent a fair amount of time researching the the best way to tag my MP3s. I wanted to add information to the .MP3s so that I could "bind" songs together into a virtual album via the tags, make my album art show up in your favorite player, and embed info within the tracks so you could find my web site from within the song info.

One issue with tagging with your favorite media player such as iTunes or Windows Media Player is these applications don't support all the tags all the possible tags and tag formats. Also, media players assume you want import your songs into your music library. Rather than import songs into my music library, I wanted to leave the songs where they were - in their own project folders on my system - and simply edit their tags.

The solution I picked is MP3TAG. Here is the marketing blurb:

Screenshots"Mp3tag is a powerful and yet easy-to-use tool to edit metadata (ID3, Vorbis Comments and APE) of common audio formats. It can rename files based on the tag information, replace characters or words from tags and filenames, import/export tag information, create playlists and more. The program supports online freedb database lookups for selected files, allowing you to automatically gather proper tag information for select files or CDs."

I found the software simple and easy to use and recommend it. Give it a try yourself by downloading the software from here - The software is free, but if you use it and like it I highly encourage you to donate to support their development efforts.

Download the Free Enigma Editor

EnigmaI'm now the proud owner of an M-Audio Axiom 25 controller and will be writing a few posts about this fantastic keyboard in the days to come.

The controller works with the Enigma editor/librarian. Enigma allows you to program, store and load setups for M-Audio and Evolution USB MIDI controllers. In addition to the Axiom 25 other products currently supported includes the Evolution MK-425, MK-449, MK-461, UC-33e and X-Session, as well as the M-Audio Keystation Pro 88, O2, Ozonic and Trigger Finger.

The Enigma editor was not on the installation disc that comes with the Axiom, so if you want to use it, you'll need to download it from here, then install it.

Here are some features listed on the M-Audio site:

• software parameter editor to easily alter and create memory presets
• librarian to store unlimited memory presets on hard disk
• comes with a library of VST instruments and all editable parameters
• fast and easy
• free to registered users of compatible M-Audio and Evolution products