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|Michael 'Bink' Knowles
||Michael Robert Knowles
June 8, 1961
San Bernardino, California
||Bink, Binkster, Binksternet
||University of California, San Diego
||Bink Audio Test CD
I am Michael "Bink" Knowles, also known as Binksternet, a California-based live audio engineer and Wikipedia editor. I have edited Wikipedia since July 2007, starting more than 170 new articles, and I have an edit count of more than 100,000.1 I was the primary editor in the drive to fix the hoaxes created by Legolas2186.
As an audio engineer, I spend a lot of time sitting and listening to the sounds that are coming off of the stage and out of the loudspeakers. When everything is going smoothly, and the show is not complex, I pay attention only if something sounds wrong to me. This sort of light duty work lets my mind wander a bit. As a crew member, I also spend time waiting for the video and lighting people to get done with their adjustments. As well, I often spend time waiting for the people who are supposed to be rehearsing on stage. I like to devote all of this light duty time to editing Wikipedia.
My first home was in Rialto, California; a breezy city swept by clean desert air coming through Cajon Pass. The little city started as orange groves but in the 1960s it was fast changing to tracts of homes. I was raised in a family of six singers and musicians. All the members of the Knowles family were involved in summer stock plays and light opera productions in the Inland Empire. Some unusual people came through our house: Turbaned Korla Pandit played for a living room full of guests, and left long, curving scratches on the Steinway piano because of his oversized rings. People tried ESP experiments, and a medium read the auras of us children. An early version of The Ungame was tested on us.
I was an active child except when I was reading books, which was often. I read the family's World Book Encyclopedia, and I probably annoyed people by quoting facts from it. I learned to sing in harmony with others and as a soloist, and I played clarinet. In 1975, my mother moved us four children to Irvine, California; I was in the first class of students at Irvine High School. I earned a National Merit Scholarship Program grant for college.
At the University of California, San Diego, I began as a biology major but soon swapped major and minor to focus on music. I learned about the physics of sound waves, the characteristics of music perception and psychoacoustics, and about the new field of digital audio. During college, I married my high school sweetheart. The rocky marriage produced a son and a daughter but lasted only four years.
After college, I obtained work with AT&T in San Francisco, training on old 1A2 business telephone systems which were being replaced by digital phones. In the aftermath of the breakup of the Bell System, I was suddenly in demand as a telephone technician for various independent phone companies all around the San Francisco Bay Area. I honed my electronics knowledge as well as my trouble-shooting skills.
Despite some success in the telephone business, I longed for a career in the music industry. In 1987 I enrolled in Leo de Gar Kulka's College for Recording Arts, and joined the Audio Engineering Society (AES). After completing the year-long recording program, I was hired by Harry McCune, Jr., president of McCune Audio Visual. Instead of working in the recording industry, I took up sound for live events—a field with a one-shot, must-get-it-right performance aspect which reminded me of my youth when I was an actor and singer on stage. This characteristic appealed to me more than the thought of sitting in a recording studio, mixing the same pop song over and over, and I settled into my role as live sound engineer. I helped with sound at the Bohemian Club and the Bohemian Grove (both Leo de Gar Kulka and Harry McCune were club members) and I assisted on the main stage at Monterey Jazz Festival. I mixed sound for bands, churches, conventions, corporations and politicians. Notable artists I worked with include Tony Bennett, Rita Rudner, Paul Rodriguez, Carlos Santana, the Peninsula Symphony, Peter Duchin, Graham Nash, Bernie Krause, Michelle Shocked, Ozzy Osbourne, Tito Puente, and Steve Miller with Norton Buffalo.
In 1994, I left McCune to work as an independent audio engineer; a role that has continued to the present. My focus is on corporate events and tech conventions, but I still mix musical acts. I have worked with Joan Baez, Meklit Hadero, Peter Buffett, the California Honeydrops, funkster George Clinton, Quartet San Francisco, Atsuko Hashimoto, Gerald Clayton, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Pamela Z, Patti Labelle, Beardyman, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Charlie Mars, Eric Lewis (ELEW), Julian Lage, Charlie Haden, Ravi Coltrane, Geri Allen, Houston Person, Warren Hellman, Lenny Williams, Kailasa, Manooghi Hi, Ken Peplowski, Wycliffe Gordon, Rosie Flores and Geographer. People who know me have probably heard the funny stories about Slayer, Richard Simmons, Danielle Steele, Andy Grove, Bill Walsh, Larry Ellison and more.
I stumbled into Dave Stevens' online Live Audio Board (LAB) in 2001; it had been serving as a conversation point for live audio engineers since 1994, starting as a Listserv distributed by email. When I encountered LAB it was a bulletin board system at www.roaddog.com, which was Dave's domain. I became a frequent contributor to LAB, and in addition to other live sound mixers, I met some professional design engineers working for audio manufacturers. I announced in late December 2001 that I would mail copies of my "Bink Audio Test CD" to LAB members for free as a Christmas gift and promotion. I created the CD using Cool Edit Pro software; some 50 discs were mailed. In response to continuing demand, in February 2002 the audio test CD was offered online by a LAB member who had available server space. Later, other sites mirrored it. The CD proved to have a lasting effect.
As a member of AES, I have volunteered to lead panel discussions on various live sound topics at AES conventions. I moderated some panels on automixers, and corporate sound mixing practices, in San Francisco, New York and London beginning in 2008.2
I started editing Wikipedia in July 2007 after seeing an incomplete list of films featuring tango dancing.3 My interests are wide-ranging, covering architecture, military history, aviation, film, California, the Bohemian Club, musicians and music, and of course audio engineering. I have taken four articles to the level of Featured Article, showcasing Wikipedia's best work. Three of the four articles were ones that I started from scratch, on topics that I knew nothing about until I began research for the article. I find it stimulating to learn just enough about a certain topic to write a good encyclopedia article—the process of reading new books, and searching online, engages me.
In January 2013, I was named in a Daily Dot article about Wikipedia editors working to uncover and correct a series of internal hoaxes created by User:Legolas2186.4 Legolas2186 had introduced fabricated references and text on a number of articles, the most prominent being Madonna (entertainer), which is in the top 500 Wikipedia articles by volume of internet traffic. The Daily Dot noted that I was the first person to question Legolas2186 about his problematic references. At User talk:Legolas2186/Fixing citation problems, I created a page to serve as a place for the community to investigate and fix the problems.
I live in Oakland with my second wife, a web programmer. We met in early 1996 and married in May 2001. I learned to tango with my wife and we have danced in Washington DC, Berlin, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Puerto Vallarta, Denver and many cities along the West Coast of the US. From my previous marriage I have a son and daughter, and I have five grandchildren. I like to listen to music, to hike, and to drink microbrews, especially ones with a pronounced hops flavor. I roast my own coffee.
The nickname "Bink" comes from a gig I had on May 19, 1989, when I was the junior member of a McCune road crew working an event in Chicago. We flew into town the night before and I said I was going to read and get some sleep rather than go drinking and carousing with the others. They said I was doing it all wrong, that road gigs are for cutting loose. The next morning they announced that they had dubbed me "Binky", and that I must answer to that name whether I liked it or not. I did not like it, and I worked hard the next few years to get people to call me "Bink", which I thought was a better moniker, somewhat more mature-sounding. I had more success with this effort as time progressed. On the positive side, the nickname helped me stand out from all the Mikes and Michaels.