Issue: July-September 2011
Bandworld Magazine Page

 

HeadThe Tool Maker (part 1)

Part 2–Quickly the Drum Assigner

Part 3–Ultimate Pursuit

 Part 4–The Partial Worker


by M. Max McKee

A Short History

Between 1979 and 2005 I created special tools (on the original Apple II computer and then on the early Macintosh using Hypercard) for the development of what became Western International Band Clinic, Bandworld Magazine and the American Band College. As web tools began to emerge in the mid-90s, I did a lot of elementary online programming using simple HTML editors. By 2003, we had hired a company on the East Coast to start building the Bandworld Magazine site. Their work was anything but professional, but fortunately for us, a conversation with my oldest son, Randy, turned the tide in amazing ways.

This series of articles will, in part, detail the development of our web site and tools but mostly will provide you as the reader easy ways to try each of our new tools to see if they can be useful to you and your band program. Some are totally free and all of the others have very reasonable cost attached to their purchase or subscription cost.

The Beginning

In late 2005 Randy was working full time on web-based programming for Hersey Technologies in San Diego. His job entailed extensive work in graphic storage systems as well as project programming for the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Navy. One afternoon I called him and asked if he’d consider becoming the replacement programmer for the company doing our web development. He said, “Let me look at the code and I’ll get back to you.” The next day he called and said, “Sorry. Their programming is such terrible spaghetti, I wouldn’t even want to deal with it.”

The following day I called him back and asked if he’d consider taking the job if he could start from scratch and program everything from the bottom up. Though we had tens of thousands of dollars committed to the current system, when he said “yes,” almost instantly I knew it was the best decision we ever made!

Using some of the graphics and layouts that were already in place, he went to work on Bandworld Online (which had just begun its transformation from print to web the year before) and the creation of our online store. Within weeks, we could see the difference. Over the past 6 years, he has built literally hundreds of important tools to streamline our operations while also developing huge programs designed to help our 200-plus American Band College candidates and the nearly 1000 high school students who audition each year for participation in the Western International Band Clinic Honor Bands.

The Tools (with links)

1 – Bandworld Magazine (Online access to read, interact with and download music, video, special charts)
2 – Quickly, The Drum Assigner (Containing over 1500 analyzed percussion usage lists in band compositions)
3 – Ultimate Pursuit (Director Training database system covering nearly 30 areas)
4 – WIBC Publishing Store (Books and DVDs useful to bands and band members)
5 – Cadenze! (A student database system that handles uniforms, fundraising, instruments, library, etc.)
6 – Auditions Made Easy (System for distance auditioning for regional or state-level honor groups)
7 – The Partial Worker (An online training system to master the power of overtone series knowledge)
8 – The Rehearsal Tech Tool (A real-instrument-sound chord tuning tool based incorporating pitch tendencies)

In the series of articles that follow, I will cover the various assets that Randy McKee, A Tool Maker, has created. My idea is to give you some instruction coupled with graphic examples that will help use and/or decide to purchase. As a band director since 1965, I was continually frustrated by the lack of tools that would simplify my job. Initially I wanted a way to create mailing label sets without hand-typing (on a manual typewriter) every address each time I needed a set. Even the use of ditto masters and mimeograph machines couldn’t help with elimination of unwanted addresses for the next mailing, as there were no digital management tools of any kind.

In the mid-60s, there were no word processors, batch letter-generating systems, etc. at the consumer level. So, in 1979 when home computers became available, I purchased one and began creating tools to make my operations efficient by writing a program in Basic to serve as an address database. Our Cadenze! product is Randy’s amazing rewrite of my original Band Manager program for the Apple II which had found great success nationwide. The other 7 tools mentioned above now enjoy a similar maturation and power I could not even have imagined in the 70s.

continued

 

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