Termination: A Plug for Simplicity
A Plug for Simplicity.
Text:/ Graeme Hague
You’ll be impressed to know that as I write this, I’m on a cruise ship sailing the high seas… okay, I’m not. Because my wife and I were yet more victims to the dreaded Beer Virus and, instead, I’m in a caravan park in the idyllic southwest of the countryside. Behind us is a family of at least 14 children, all of them as tattooed as their mother, and none of them trained to do anything except burst noisily into tears and demand things with language that would make Jimmy Barnes blush. To the right is another child who can only communicate by screaming at the top of his voice — incessantly — which apparently doesn’t work because his parents don’t respond.
We are in campervan heaven, compared to being marooned on a quarantined cruise ship full of booze and food (and covid19? — Ed.].
Fortunately I have the AV skills to make most of this go away. We have one of those TVs in the van that would be pathetic in the house, but in a campervan it scrapes by as acceptable. So here’s the clever AV bit: because the TV reception is crap, I can hot-spot my laptop to my smartphone and then cast the Netflix to the TV. Following this, since the TV’s sound is rubbish, I can use Bluetooth to send the Netflix audio to our mega-Bluetooth speaker thingy which is the equivalent of a Turbosound Line array, but no bigger than a packet of fags… umm, if we were to indulge in such a filthy habit. We’ll have primo sound, video and programming at the touch of a… well, perhaps 10 buttons — but it works!
Or we could go down to the beach and with a glass of red watch the sunset, but that wouldn’t be in 5.1 surround sound or high-resolution video. I think. Is nature in high resolution? I’ll have to Google that.
EXOTIC FAULT FINDING
The thing is, most AV technicians are happiest when we fix something. When we solve a problem. It’s kind of boring, or at least less of a challenge, when everything goes right. An unfortunate side effect of that is we tend to look for the most difficult or interesting fault.
Something goes haywire and: “It’ll be the discombobulating processor that’s out of phase with the thingamummy signal splitter”.
Meanwhile, some smart arse might suggest replacing the cable before redesigning the whole rig or perhaps shifting the entire venue 300 metres to the east… but that’s ridiculous because the same cable worked perfectly well the day before. How can it be the cable?
The alternative is for people who supposedly know exactly what they’re doing to replace complete racks of equipment, reset systems to factory default, and even employ — heaven forbid —analytic apps on the phones to decipher precisely what is going wrong.
Don’t bother checking any cables. They all worked brilliantly at the last gig.
Which leads me to introduce an entity who many are not familiar with, if you’re not in tune with the Other Side, but something that surely exists.
It’s known as the Plug Poltergeist. The Plug Poltergeist — or ‘Plugger’ to those unafraid to look under the bed on dark and stormy nights — waits until the small hours of the morning when everyone is still sitting around, drinking beers and defaming everybody who graced their stage the previous show, and it breaks stuff. It floats around between packing cases, drifts under tarpaulined mixing desks, and creeps between effects racks… and mucks around with bits and pieces for evil, supernatural fun. Nothing special — not processors, or rigging points, or by, say, putting 30 litres of Unleaded in your diesel campervan (okay, let’s not go there… anyone can make that mistake), the Plug Poltergeist likes to mess with the little things. The cables that have always worked, the plugs that have always connected, the things that have always been absolutely fine. In fact, we’re talking cables that are like old friends — old faithful. The very last thing you’d expect to be the culprit of a technical issue.
Of course, some of you don’t believe in ghosts or the living dead, to which my immediate response is again — how do you explain Keith Richards?
Mark my words, the Plug Poltergeist exists and it doesn’t discriminate between audio, video or even lighting (oddly, since everyone else does). In particular, Plugger doesn’t care much for equipment. I mean, seriously, anyone can trash the settings on a processor. You’ve only got to open the damned menu on the itty-bitty bloody LCD screen on that weird-arse processor in the amp rack and try to see what time it is — and you can bring an entire festival to an abrupt, silent, somewhat embarrassing halt.
So my firm, holiday-based advice which has nothing to do with the pints of lager I had at lunch, or the bargain-priced whisky I discovered at the local bottle shop, the next time something goes suspiciously wrong — when there’s no obvious reason — check the cable first. It’s a bit hum-drum, and lacks drama and technical expertise, but probably solves the issue.
Sorry, I have to go, the Captain’s Barbecue calls.
Graeme Hague penned this piece prior to the world being put into a lockdown. He’s pleased to have avoided the 6 month ‘holiday’ on the SS Pandemic Princess.