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Advice for a Mac user


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Hi all, this is my first post.  I purchased a 16 channel controller from WowLights 5 years ago and have yet to get it up and running.  Every year I dedicate my time off during the summer to learning the software but I find it so clunky and frustrating that after a couple days I give up.  I come from the Mac world (ProTools, Final Cut Pro, etc) where IMHO everything is so much more intuitive and written for creatives.  Every year I hope someone will write Mac software that will run this hardware, but I don't think that will never happen, so I'm back to square one.  

I'm hoping part of my frustration is that I was using a PC laptop circa 2010. I think it's running Windows XP.   I'm not averse to using Parallels to run the programming software on one of my Macs, but I don't think that will solve anything, in fact, it may even introduce another layer of possible frustration.

I'm wondering if I purchase a new PC laptop running the newest software, that might give me a fresh attitude and renewed energy towards slaying this beast.

Any advice from fellow primary Mac users out there on how you wrapped your head around this software?  Would a newer PC help?

Thanks in advance!

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I too have been a dedicated Mac user for many years.  When I started with LOR 7 years ago, I thought the same thing.  I was running any of my PC software via Parallels and figure LOR would be the same.  Well, it turns out, it may work but usually does not.  Like you say, another layer of complexity is introduced plus I think there are bugs that show up in LOR when running with Parallels.  

I wound up using an older PC I had laying around running windows 7 and used that just for my LOR stuff.  Had to 're-learn' navigating Windows but that didn't take too long.  A few years into it, I decided to buy a new low end PC with faster processing power and newer Windows, couple hundred bucks.  Now I really never have any issues running LOR but I must admit there really is a learning curve on how to use all the various component pieces of the LOR software to create the show and get it running. 

I am currently running v4.4.4 Pro level and am considering now jumping to v5 right after I tear down this years' show.  Reason being, from what I understand v5 is another new 'quantum leap' learning curve from v4.  But have been told that once you get the hang of it, it is much better and more powerful if you ever want to get into running RGB, pixel type items.  My plan is to add a mid size Mega Tree, RGB for next year.  Gives me almost a whole year to learn v5.

If I were you, I would just jump right in with v5 and forget the learning of v4 since you would be doubly frustrated.  No need to basically learn 2 methodologies just to get started.  You may have to pay an incremental cost to get your current license up to v5 but most likely worth it.

Good luck....and don't be afraid to ask questions out here.  There are a lot of very talented, helpful members who will get you going.

Don

 

 

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Thanks Don!

That's probably good advice to jump to v5.  Any thoughts regarding laptop vs tower or Mac mini type thing?  I think some of my frustration might have been with the laptop's keyboard and all those "special" keys.  Of course, I could get a cheap laptop with a full size keyboard I suppose, or even use one of my Mac keyboards.

T

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1 hour ago, Captain Audio said:

I'm wondering if I purchase a new PC laptop running the newest software, that might give me a fresh attitude and renewed energy towards slaying this beast.

Any advice from fellow primary Mac users out there on how you wrapped your head around this software?  Would a newer PC help?

Not a Mac user except for a few months at work when we had a manager who thought that Macs were the salvation to all computer problems (late 90's I think it was).  Go dig up a semi-recent PC.  A couple year old PC is darn near a give away item so they can be had for not much money.  I have bought several refurb computers from either Dell Outlet or https://www.tigerdirect.com/   I have never had any problem with either of those sources.  For a small show such you are looking at, it does not take much of a computer to either sequence or run the show.  If you later go big time, you may want to upgrade the sequencing computer.  One of my standard pieces of advice.  Unless you NEED a laptop, get a desktop.  You get more computer for the money, they are more reliable, and far easier to repair or upgrade.  And if you go bigger with your show, the ability to have multiple monitors is a Godsend (I have four 24 inch monitors on this one).

 

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Unless you need portability, get a desktop. They are more upgradable over time and you can choose your components.. Like most things, the more powerful the machine, the better.

Get a mid range or higher graphics card. At least 8 and preferred 16 GB of ram for Windows. I would consider an SSD essential. The sequencing software can be demanding if you run a lot of channels for pixels etc.

 

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I am a 100% Mac user, except for LOR; I currently have a dedicated Windows computer for that.  I utilize one of our kids old desktops circa 2010 and upgraded it to Windows 10.  Other than it taking a while to load a somewhat more complex sequence into sequencer, I have had no issues.  I do not run the show from this computer; I write it to an SD card and play it via a Director.  As for a laptop, I recently discovered that having one made it a lot easier to diagnose and isolate HW problems out in the yard instead of running a 150' cable to isolate a device (again, a couple year old kid's computer no longer good enough for college).  LOR license allows the software to be loaded on two computers.  I will probably swap this for the desktop and just use the desktop monitor/keyboard/mouse with it.

...and agree with the comment of going straight to S5.

...and Jim has 4 monitors? WOW! 😲

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1 hour ago, Don said:

Just 4? That's cute. :)

I don't have room for any more.  The add in video card will support one more...

 

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1 hour ago, hasslerk said:

As for a laptop, I recently discovered that having one made it a lot easier to diagnose and isolate HW problems out in the yard instead of running a 150' cable to isolate a device

 

Absolutely.  That what remote desktop applications are for.  I can use VNC or TeamViewer from a laptop or even my phone to control the show computer while sitting out in the yard.  A lot easier than moving three LOR network cables, and two Ethernet cables that go with the show computer.

 

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5 hours ago, Captain Audio said:

Hi all, this is my first post.  I purchased a 16 channel controller from WowLights 5 years ago and have yet to get it up and running.  Every year I dedicate my time off during the summer to learning the software but I find it so clunky and frustrating that after a couple days I give up.  I come from the Mac world (ProTools, Final Cut Pro, etc) where IMHO everything is so much more intuitive and written for creatives.  Every year I hope someone will write Mac software that will run this hardware, but I don't think that will never happen, so I'm back to square one.  

Ummm...  xLights runs natively on the Mac.   Definitely different than LOR and might be an even greater learning curve, but if sequencing on a Mac is important, it's something to look into. 

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On 12/23/2020 at 12:51 AM, PhilMassey said:

Actually, you get five seats per license.

It appears we are both right, just depends on where you look.  The EULA says 2 active copies, and the purchased license says "5 seats".  Maybe that is to cover the "backups" covered in the EULA.

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Since it is unlikely you would want or need more than two machines running at the same time, I doubt that it is an issue. I have never known LOR fail to start because it is installed on multiple boxes. The issue happens during the sixth install. Over the years I have had five seats used and have had to request more. They have always allowed it. Computers die or get retired, but the seats do not transfer, so eventually you will need more.

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I have 3 machines all running LOR. Add to it both of my sons inactive computers I could have 5 at once. I installed S4 on 1 and S5 on the other sons for playing around and in case something happens.

But I have had to ask LOR for additional seats due to the many computer failures I have experienced.

JR

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On 12/23/2020 at 11:58 AM, Captain Audio said:

Thanks all!  Since it will be a learning curve regardless, I may go down the xLights route to start off.  Might be exactly what I was hoping for!

Todd

Wish you all the best. 

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Guess I missed the discussion.  

I have run my show on a Mac Mini since my start - about 2007.  Some of it was the Mini as a booting Windows box via "Bootcamp" but most of it via Parallels.  I've only had a couple minor hiccups over the years- mostly with making sure I had the right Windows USB driver (after LOR updates) but otherwise not bad.  It has been nice to have the Windows world in a self contained space so moving from one Mini to the next via hw upgrades was painless.  The show and environment stays in perfect hibernation year to year when you're not running Parallels. I plug in the Mini, boot it up and the software side is ready year after year.   I just got a PixCon 16 starting to work this year and also moved from 4.4.4 to 4.4.6 to 4.4.10 painlessly and the 2020 show just kept going.  

I ordered one of the new Mac Mini's with the new Apple M1 chip and plan on using it as my seq. machine with a big 5k display.  I'll make the move to Windows 10 and S5 all in one fell swoop wrapped in Parallels 16+.   The cost of the Parallels renewal and Windows 10 Pro for a Mac was about $140 this year.  I bought 3 real W10 licenses on sale from PC World for about 39 bucks each- (the cost of a couple strings of lights).  You'll need W10 anyway so it's 99 bucks to give it a try on a Mac.

Yes it's probably (in some minor ways) easier to just pick up a PC or laptop off Woot or something used, but this works well for me and I feel the Mac based benefits are much greater than the 1 or 2 issues I have come across.   I've had things like remote access to my show machine since back in 2007 and I'm just comfortable in this space.  Some choose to solder their show boards, some write Pi sw or build their own coro props that add time and complexity to the hobby.  I've been fortunate this flavor of running a show has worked well and Running on a Mac is something I don't see will be an obstacle when I add thousands of pixels under E1.31 for 2021.

If you're a Mac person, don't be intimidated about running it this way.  All the LOR sw to run a show is waaaay more of a handful to master.  Not much to master doing it on a Mac.

/Infomercial over.   :-)

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Hi again, working my way through xLights.  As in previous years, once the holidays are over the urge to get this underway has wained.  I need to set up a carrot and stick scenario for myself so I don't put it off until November again!

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20 minutes ago, Captain Audio said:

I need to set up a carrot and stick scenario for myself so I don't put it off until November again!

If you find that carrot and stick, end it over here!  That was my 2020.  About the only thing I got done during the middle of the year was a bunch of sequencing while I was recovering from some surgery and couldn't do much of anything else.

I have a fair amount of work planned for 2021 and I need to get moving on it, so send over the carrot and stick.

 

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