1. Who is Tracker Audio?

 

2. What is Tracker Audio?

 

3. Some class recordings are available in mp3-CD or data-DVD formats - what's the difference?

 

4. How are the tracks named / how do I match them up with my notes?

 

5. What equipment do you use for recording?

 

6. My audio download is a compressed .zip or .rar file - what do I do with that?

 

7. Viewing online broadcasts

 

8. Packaging & pricing changes for 2016

 

 

 

 

Who is Tracker Audio?

 

Tracker Audio operates through the effort and commitment of many people. The main office in Ohio is managed by David Ott, who does some audio and video recording in the field in addition to overseeing the general operations of Tracker Audio and producing all of Tom's pre-recorded videos and live internet broadcasts. David is a longtime Tracker student and was a Caretaker at the Primitive Camp from 2001-2002. The onsite class recordings have been engineered by a variey of awesome folks throughout the years, including Conrad Simas, Sandor Jozsa, Cadence Shae, Charlie & Meredith Blackwell, Randy Walker, Nancy Klein, Peter Schmolze, Joshua Weaver, Stephen Gifford, Mike Panella and probably more...

 

Tracker Audio is also indebted to those who worked on transitioning the initial idea into reality. Karl Direske, who worked closely with Tom to get this thing off the ground and whose office and personnel were sort of over-run for awhile by these audio and video projects. Don Baker, who put together the initial field recording gear. Sara, former Tracker office manager. Pamela Averack, the copywriter who worked to condense the enormity of the classes into a single descriptive paragraph. Liz Panke, who did the initial design work for the case covers. Clay Enos, who took the photos for the first covers. Denise, Catherine and Mary Pat who handled assembly and shipping, and Nicole, who did the accounting.

 

There's also the various students, volunteers, externs, interns, caretakers and other Tracker School staff members (especially Kelly - she runs the Tracker School office and is merciless with a nerf gun) who help make Tracker Audio possible - without their aid it just wouldn't be nearly as much fun! And of course Celeste, Tom's wife and the glue that holds the whole thing together!

 

Ultimately Tracker Audio is mainly the recorded vision of Tom and his school - his words and images, those of Grandfather, and of his Tracker School instructors.

 

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What is Tracker Audio?

 

In the past, the Tracker School had allowed students to record the class they were attending, for personal use only. In 2006 it was decided to no longer allow such recording for several reasons. Mainly it was Tom finding out that some of the student's recordings were being sold over the internet, but it was also getting to be a huge mess in front of the lecture area with all the recorders and wires and mics, and a distraction to the class as batteries were changed, cassettes replaced, mics adjusted, etc... so with the help of a few Tracker students, the school began it's own recording and mastering process. The first officially released class recording was of the Philosophy 1 class held in November of 2006.

As the audio recording side of Tracker grew, it came to be referred to as its own entity - Tracker Audio. And the name stuck even as we got into live streaming lectures over the internet and on-demand video. But eventually as the workload increased, it became apparent that Tracker Audio needed some consolidation rather than having operations spread out between 3 different offices. So in September of 2009 Tom & Celeste Brown and Dave Ott sat down to discuss the future of Tracker's audio and video activities, eventually deciding to put them all under one roof as a separate company. Thus was born Tracker Audio LLC, and the post-production office in Ohio was expanded to accomodate the duplication, assembly, mailing and billing for the audio and video products.

 

It's important to mention here that the goal for the class audio recordings is two-fold: One, to archive this stuff for the future. Two, to provide a quality recording at a reasonable price to the students. As such, we are quite willing to barter - yes, we need to make some sort of profit at this or at least break even, but we also realize that times are hard for many and we want to do what we can for those students who are committed to these teachings and this path.

 

 

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Some class recordings are available in either mp3-CD or data-DVD formats - what's the difference?

 

For longer recordings, there are usually 2 formats to choose from: a data-DVD set and an mp3-CD set.  Both are basically just discs containing mp3 files, with 2 major differences:


1) The data-DVD set usually contains from 1 to 2 discs.  To add the files to your media library on your computer or your portable media player you will simply copy & paste or drag & drop the files into the appropriate location.  For example, to import into an iPod you could just copy the files from the disc and paste into your iPod music folder. That's all. You can also listen to the files directly from the disc on your computer by just double-clicking an mp3 file on the disc.
Note that this is not a video-DVD; most DVD players will not know what to do with a disc full of nothing but mp3 files. You basically need a computer for this format.  We use the data-DVD format for some of the longer class recordings because it has a greater storage capacity (4,800 MB vs 700 MB on an mp3-CD).  In practice I usually keep the total files size on a data-DVD under 2048 MB, since some (older) computers have a problem with anything larger on 1 disc.


2) The mp3-CD set contains usually contains from 1 to 6 discs.  There are 2 options to add the files to your media library on your computer or your portable media player.  In most cases your computer will automatically ask you if you want to add these files to your media library.  You may need to have your media player program open (such as Windows Media, iTunes, GOM player, etc) for this to happen.  Your other option is to follow the same procedure as you would with the data-DVD version (see above).  You can also listen to the files directly from the disc by just double-clicking an mp3 file on the disc. Another way to listen to the disc is to use an mp3-CD player - you just pop the disc in and it plays.  Many new CD players will play both audio CD's and mp3-CD's.  You can buy a portable mp3-CD player for about $25 last time I checked.

What do I recommend? Get the digital download. It's the cheapest and the fastest way to get the material. If you have to have a disk, get the data-DVD version. Get a no-frills portable mp3-player with at least 4 GB of memory, load the mp3 tracks onto it through a computer, and you can listen to it anywhere you go.  Get a model with even more memory if you don't want to spend too much time deleting mp3 files to make room for new ones - if you were to have The Standard of Standards, Philosophy 1, Advanced Standard, Adv. Tracking & Awareness, and Scout 1 (the 5 basic Tracker classes) on you portable mp3 player you would need almost 10 GB of memory.

I do most of my listening on a while driving - I have an adapter that sends the media player's output into my radio and through my vehicle's speakers.  Remember that if you are caught driving while wearing headphones you'll probably end up with a ticket. Wearing only one earbud may be okay; check your state laws.

 

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How are the tracks named / how do I match them up with my notes?

When these tracks are played, you will see a title that looks something like this: "001 Opening Lecture". For more information (particularly if you're going through your notes as you listen to the recordings), look at the actual file name. For example, track 001 is titled "001 Opening Lecture", but the actual filename is
"18041501-001 Opening Lecture-TOBJ-10PT". This naming structure equates to this:
YYMMDDLL-### Title-Speaker-Class
So here, YY is 18 as in the year 2018, MM is April (the 4th month of the year), DD is the 15th day of the month, LL is lecture #1 for the day, ### is 001 (the overall track number), Title is Opening Lecture, Speaker is Tom Brown jr, and class is the 10 day Philosophy 1 & Temples. Usually the speaker abbreviation is the first 2 letters of their first and last names - so Macolm Ringwalt becomes MARI and Dan White becomes DAWH.

 

Now if you're looking at these mp3 files through Windows Explorer or Mac's Finder, these are the file names you'll see.

You can sort them according to file name and they will be in the correct chronological order.

 

The other thing to be aware of is something called the id3 tag information. This is the information such as track number, artist, title, album art, etc., that shows when the mp3 track is played through a media player (like Windows Media Player, GOM player, iTunes, etc) or on a portable mp3 music player (like an iPod or similar devices). All of the class' mp3 tracks have this information completed. The class' name is the Album name, the Artist is usually Tracker LLC, the Title is just the lecture name, and all the Track numbers are sequential - so when you call up the album "Philosophy 1" (for instance) on an mp3 player, all the tracks will be displayed automatically in the appropriate order.

 

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What equipment do you use for recording?

 

Depends on where we're recording at, what we're recording and who the on-site audio engineer is...

 

Most of the class recording is done with a Sony PCM-D50 using the built-in stereo microphones recording in 44.1 kHz / 16 bit CD quality mode. Easy to set up, quick to move, light-weight, good mic pre-amps, not terribly expensive - perfect for the recording conditions found at Tracker School! We also use a Zoom H4n and an H1, more often when we're shooting video. If we're shooting with the Canon XA-30 it's sometimes used as a backup audio recorder, generally with track 1 fed from the camera's shotgun mic (Rode NTG-2) and track 2 from a wireless lavalier mic (Sennheiser G3 system with ME4 lav mic), sometimes also using a portable preamp (Sound Design MixPre). Occasionally we'll use a lav mic for a class lecture, but more often we use it for things like the Conversations with Grandfather series or the TBj Live! audio mic.

Tom also uses several different small handheld mp3 recorders (currently an Olympus WS-600S sampling at 256 kbps) for the odd moments when he feels like adding comments to the class recording and no audio engineer is around. He's also been using a Canon XA-10 for video work on his own.

 

We have a small collection of video recording equipment, but it does the job. The Panasonic HVX-200a did most of the video work in the 90's, but since then it's been the Canon XA-10, then the XA-20, and currently the XA-30. For still photography and video recording in a pinch we use a Canon 7D or Canon Rebel T3i. Other stuff used here and there includes:

Edirol m-16DX digital mixing board

Tascam DR-60DmkII 4-Channel Portable Recorder

Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

Rode NT1-A mics

Samson C01 studio condensor mic

Shure SLX wireless mic system

Shure SM57 & SM58 mics

Sennheiser MD 421-II mic

Sennheiser E935 mic

Rode Stereo Video Mic Pro

Edirol UA-25 digital audio capture device

AT Pro-24 stereo condenser mic (oh the abuse that one has suffered... )

Sony MDR-7506 headphones

Sony DSC-H55 camera with HD video capability

Various models of GoPro cameras

JVC GR-D850 MiniDV camcorder (haven't used it in years, but it's what we started off with and I can't bear to part with it)

 

We're always looking for good equipment that's built to last and won't break the bank, so if you have any favorites let us know! Also, we've begun doing seminars on recording audio and video with a tight equipment budget under challenging conditions. Sort of a beginner's guide to understanding how we work with the baseline modern equipment in primitive conditions. Contact info@trackeraudio.com for more information.

 

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My audio download is a compressed .zip or .rar file - what do I do with that?

 

I use TransferBigFiles.com to send compressed files of the mp3 audio recordings along with any artwork, pictures, etc. that are part of the class or the audiobook. You'll need a reasonably fast internet connection for the download; a dial-up connection will probably not work very well. Most cable modem connections will work fine.

Once downloaded, you will need to de-compress the .zip file or the .rar file (I may send either form). 
If you don't know what this means, you can read the Wiki entry here on .rar files or here on .zip files, but it's not essential. Basically, I send compressed files because it's a fast and efficient way (and often the only realistic way) to transfer a lot of data or files over the internet. Only one download is required to obtain all related files, and file transfer is quicker because the files are compressed. Consider that downloading Philosophy II, for example, is roughly equivalent to downloading about 22 full length music albums!

There are many different programs that will enable you to decompress a compressed file.
For any of these operating systems:
Windows 2003, Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux, Unix -
I recommend 7-Zip, which is a free program that can be downloaded here:

http://www.7-zip.org/

DO NOT download 7-zip from any other site - there's many instances (including CNET) of the file having been corrupted with malware like ARO and Babylon junk.


For operating system Mac OS X 10.5 or higher, you can download the Free StuffIt Expander here:
http://www.stuffit.com/mac-expander.html#download
(make sure to choose the free version)

Once you've installed 7-Zip or StuffIt Expander, it should be easy to de-compress the .zip or .rar folder and save the expanded files wherever you choose to on your computer.
If you have any issues, please contact info@trackeraudio.com and I'll help you out.

 

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Viewing online broadcasts

 

The camera (welcome screen) & music will begin streaming live about 1 hr. before Tom begins - use this time to check that all works on your computer.
You'll be asked for a name and a password; please enter the following exactly as it appears (it's case-sensitive, make sure you don't have caps lock on, make sure there's no extra spaces).

Please log in to the chat room - it's the easiest way to get concise feedback quickly to Tom if he requests it, and for you to interact real time with your classmates.  A password will be required to enter the chat room.
To be able to control the scrolling function of the chat room page along with a few other options, you will need to sign into the chat room as a Chatwing user. To set up a profile with Chatwing, please go to http://www.chatwing.com and follow the instructions as we've outlined here:  http://tbf.me/a/BUypLa
Your user name in the chat room should follow this format: LastnameFirstname. For example, John Smith would be SmithJohn.  The chat room will be open by the time you get this email, so please try it out - if you have any questions, let me know. If you don't see the chatroom on the webpage, please review your internet security settings or update your current browser or try it in a different browser.  Chat names such as "guest" or "TheFloatingPlatypus" will not be allowed in the chat room.

It's a good idea to post most comments during the breaks so that you can keep you're attention on Tom while he's speaking. Use you best judgement. 

If there seems to be more than 5 seconds or so of time delay (video lag) between real time and what you see on the computer:
Click the middle of the video player once to stop it, then once more to restart.  This will clear any built-up video lag in your system.

Please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player installed on your computer; you can check that here: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/
This link details how to clear your Flash Player cache if needed: http://forums.adobe.com/message/4278569
To clear out temporary internet files or browser cache, follow the link for your browser:
Firefox Chrome Internet ExplorerOpera Safari
We recommend the internet browser Firefox for viewing this event. You can download it here:
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
Safari and Chrome are also good. ( http://www.apple.com/safari/download/  or https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/
Opera may also work fine. http://www.opera.com/computer/windows
Internet Explorer is not recommended, though it works for some.
Also check your browser's plug-ins for up-to-date status. If you're not sure how, just google the name of your browser plus the words "plug-in update".
iPads, iPhones and any other device that can't play Flash content will not be able to view this event live, though you will of course be able to view the on-demand version the next day.
A workaround for that Apple limitation is to download an app like Photon, CloudBrowse, Puffin, etc that will allow Flash video playback, though it may suffer quality-wise.  I know a few Tracker students that have liked Puffin, the other apps I have no opinion of. You can get it here: http://www.puffinbrowser.com/index.php
If you are having trouble with a slow internet connection during the broadcast, you can try the Audio Only feed (check your login email for the link). Chat room is still available on that page. You'll need to log in with the same username & password. I don't recommend opening both the regular video page and the audio only page at the same time - you'll probably hear an annoying echo.
You can also check hardware acceleration and turn it on or off to see if that helps - right click on the player, choose settings, click on the far left tab that looks like a screen, check or uncheck the box that says "Enable Hardware Acceleration", click close, refresh the page.
If all else fails, try threatening the recalcitrant computer with a hammer. Be ready to follow through with the threat, otherwise the machine will know you don't really mean it.

Please ensure that you're internet connection speed is at least 700 Kbps (or 0.7 Mbps); you can check this here:  http://www.speedtest.net/
This test will tell you if it's at least possible for you to watch the live broadcast, but it does not unequivocally determine whether or not your internet connection can sustain a 400 Kbps download for long periods of time. 
To get an idea of the quality of your internet connection, go here: http://www.pingtest.net/  A high score is usually a pretty good indicator that you'll experience few dropouts during the broadcast.
If you have a lot of dropouts or video freezes, you can try (in order) refreshing the webpage, re-booting your computer (turn off, turn on), re-booting your internet router, or go through the items mentioned previously.
I also recommend highly that you use headphones or powered speakers to listen to the broadcast - many laptop built-in speakers aren't powerful enough to clearly hear the audio.

 

Packaging & pricing

The cost for these recordings changed as we entered 2016. We stopped shipping the class recordings in a DVD plastic case with a full color printed insert. Always bothered me to be responsible for so much plastic... and as the video workload with the online classes has increased, I've often found myself incredibly late in getting the recordings edited, manufactured and shipped out. (Yes, I realize many of you are either groaning or laughing right now...)  So now we'll be sending just the printed disc in some sort of protective sleeve - it'll save me some manufacturing/design time, reduce mailing costs and I'll be using much less plastic. In light of all that, the cost of an onsite week-long class has dropped to $60 if delivered as a digital download; $70 for a single data-DVD. Classes that require more than one disc for the mp3-CD version will be slightly more; the online class recordings price has not changed (still $25, though the online multiple session classes may run up to $60); any other classes which run $25 - $35 will remain the same cost.

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