A Short Rant about SoundCloud.

SoundCloudFor years SoundCloud’s app for Facebook pages, which enables page owners to effectively embed their soundcloud content, has been … down. Doesn’t work. No resolution timeframe. Oh well.

In 2011, SoundCloud announced a new player for web developers to embed music from their service. With the new player came standards-compliance with HTML5 (hallelujah), and a loss of customizability (we can no longer specify the colours so it coordinates with our sites). The company has been promising a “dark theme” HTML 5 player so that their audio players aren’t ugly on sites like this one. Still nothing. Seriously, I just want a colour scheme suitable for dark sites. Case in point: have a look at those visually jarring white squares on the OM/ORP sets page. It’s so ugly that it’s part of the reason this site still hasn’t come out of beta.

Meanwhile SoundCloud’s own web site still serves many pages in their old theme. The transition to “new SoundCloud” began well over six months ago. This has been going on long enough, guys. It’s time to abandon the old, and bring full functionality to the new.

I still use a free, no-frills SoundCloud account. Until I see issues resolved for webmasters and Facebook page owners, I will remain dubious of their value as an audio hosting service. In fact, SoundCloud’s greatest asset has long been their easily embeddable and customizable player. I’m quite happy to keep my free account and host my own audio, thank you very much. And I will continue to wait for a SoundCloud-style player for WordPress.

SoundCloud: you’re so close to being really great. Please clean up your messes before you try to move forward.

Site Status … When can we launch?

There are only a few things left to finish up before juggernautmusic.com is ready to launch. We could launch today, but I feel that the site isn’t quite feature-complete. Here’s what we still have to do (roughly in order of priority)

  1. Wordpress LogoUpdate to WordPress 3.5.
    The new version offers lots of nice new features. It’s already in place at the test site, and once I test the new version of the twenty eleven theme with the child “jugger” theme we’ve created, and all the plug-ins we’re using, the update will be a go. Of course, in the interest of perfection, this means we must…

  2. Soundcloud "cloud" logoManually fix all existing SoundCloud references on the site to correspond with the new WordPress oEmbed methodology.
    If we want to do something with all that audio en masse in the future, it’s probably for the best if the embedding method is consistent.

  3. Audio WaveformDatabase-driven audio.
    The “Om Sets” page is a manually created table – some custom coding will be required to tag all of the audio resources so that it is automatically delivered and formatted correctly. Also, the “Audio” page is nothing more than posts that are in the “audio” category. We’ve been diligently adding that category to all posts that include music, but the delivery is lackluster.
    I want the “Audio” menu item to bring users to a page, which includes a slick table of all audio, automatically including every snippet that is posted. Sorted by artist for good measure. The plug-ins I’ve been investigating are “File Gallery” and “Media Library Assistant” although “Media Downloader” looks like it could be interesting.
    Including SoundCloud (or other third-party) hosted audio as part of the same schema would be a bit tricky, so we might have to limit this feature to locally-hosted audio. But for an audio-centric site, I maintain that third-party content hosting is generally a bad idea.

  4. Get Info IconFix the awkward handling of category descriptions.
    Presently category descriptions allow for a quick artist bio or sub-blog description. I have installed a plug-in to allow HTML within this field – a must-have for the likes of Boots Boogie’s bio, where I used the “small” tag so that, god willing, there is still room on the page for the first post.
    I’m thinking that this should somehow find its way into the sidebar. This will also call for some custom coding, but the result should be much prettier than the current implementation.

  5. Document IconMake sidebar links look clickable. The coloured text is not enough! Things like “View The Calendar” and “About Us” just don’t look like actual links where they are. Icons or buttons are required.

  6. A more distinctive font for article headers would be nice.
  7. That standard helvetica-ish thing looks just so … vanilla. Should be an easy fix, but I have to research to find either a pretty standard font or else something that can be delivered very quickly.

  8. iPhone IconMake site look acceptable on iPhone which presently looks pretty crappy – also need to check it out on Android and Windows phones. The “WPTouch” plug-in looks like a pretty cool option – need to test. Site looks pretty decent on iPad though.

  9. Tidy up the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. I’d like to have a single “share” button which pops up a little AJAX window with Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Help?


Any ideas / assistance here would really be appreciated. Thanks to all the web developers who have helped me so far, and any further advice would be very much appreciated. I’ll try to provide updates as I make progress.

More on (moron) spam from wowrack

spamAfter this conversation, I decided to register Akismet.  It appears to work astonishingly well – it just made the over 300 spam messages I had to wade through just … disappear.

My web site is receiving crazy amounts of spam from machines registered to wowrack.com

Djan Iffan has joined the chat.
Djan Iffan: Hi Steve,
Welcome to wowrack, my name is Djan Iffan, may I help you?
Steve: Hello, is 74.121.190.77 yours?
Steve: That and 74.121.190.172 are leaving insane amounts of comment spam on my wordpress blog
Steve: I need you to make it stop please
Djan Iffan: Please wait a moment we shall investigate further and back to you shortly.
Steve: OK I will hold on
Djan Iffan: Thank you for your willingness to wait
Can I have much detail information about this?
what is your blog?
Steve: juggernautmusic.com
Steve: I have sent an email to abuse@wowrack.com
Steve: I am getting about 1 spam every 5 minutes
Steve: It has been happening for a week or two, but seems to have really become worse
Djan Iffan: Did you activate your akismet plugin?
Steve: Yes but I will double check
Djan Iffan: But in mean while, I have warn this reseller account
Steve: (still it is a crazy amount coming from your machines – I can normally deal with the 3-4 spam messages I see a day, but I’m getting over a hundred daily from your customer)
Steve: I feel you need to suspend, not warn,
Steve: ,warning will not stop this assault
Djan Iffan: Please sent a proper complain regarding this, because we can not simply take action without proper reason.
Steve: OK, is my email to your “abuse” address (including the actual spam content) sufficient?
Steve: Or what constitutes a “proper complaint”
Djan Iffan: this is one of our reseller client, sent the email to abuse@serverstadium.com
Steve: Well, OK … I have done so, but I am not sure about the ethics behind your inaction. I am likely one of hundreds of victims from your machine at this very moment.
Steve: Good day.
Djan Iffan: Thank you for contacting us, if you require further assistance, please contact us anytime.

Personal Events and Site News

I just got back from a week-long trip to New Brunswick, where my uncle, an accomplished 80-something musician, just had his first heart attack. Details of his prognosis weren’t available when I flew out the door, but it turned out to be a non-event – he went into the hospital standing up, and was already out by the time I arrived! Once again Uncle Jamie, you’ve shown us how it’s done!

I should get back to building gear this weekend. The only thing keeping me from electro-music wizardry is this amazing weather, so we’ll see.

Site Stuff

WordPress 3d logoAfter a week away I had 9 spam comments to delete. That’s still pretty manageable, but I am prepared to install any of a number of anti-spam countermeasures if it gets much worse.

Sadly, still no real comments. (Come on people, I know you’re out there!)

Oh, and the “Social Sharing Toolkit” plugin decided to take a shit and no longer load Facebook’s “Share” button. Apparently it was Facebook’s fault, so I had temporarily told the plug-in to display icons instead of loading custom buttons from [insert your soul-sucking social networking vice here]. Just now I updated the plug-in to its most recent version, re-activated the loading of the “share” button (for now), and added a little Google+ thing. Does anybody actually use Google+? I know I certainly don’t.

The long and short of it: Facebook’s ugly little button loads again. And don’t think I’m not also annoyed that its dimensions are still different from Twitter’s button.

If trends continue, this site will have spat out over 140 gigabytes of (mostly musical) traffic during July 2012. That’s more than I hoped for, but I can’t help wondering if this will raise any red flags with the ol’ ball and chain, my web host. I paid for one of those “unlimited everything” packages, but when numbers start standing out, people start acting funny. I don’t know whether I should expect an email requesting an explanation at the end of the month.

Over the past few months I’ve been fiddling with WordPress plugins, options, child themes, php, css, and all that bullshit. It has been a huge learning experience, but I have now accomplished almost everything I wanted:

  1. The front page displays only “frontpage” posts (thanks to the “Frontpage Category Filter” plugin).
  2. Each category (artist or blog source) can now have its own custom header image, presently visible on nebula, v0ins and The Kids Want Techno. This was done with some PHP hackery, and if I find time maybe I’ll figure out how to make it work for pages (like calendar, videos and OM Sets) as well.
  3. The custom header on the category pages is smaller (less tall) than the huge front page header. Also done with a bit of php re-coding.
  4. The verbage at the top of each category page now only shows the category description, including any embedded html. This is perfect for very small artist bios. (Presently the Boots page is nothing but a long bio, but he will be editing that down)
  5. Heading (i.e. “H1″) text is smaller across the board. I haven’t decided whether to make paragraph text a point smaller. (What do you think? Is this too big?)
  6. The search box is no longer in the page header (it looked really dumb on the iPhone). Took care of that in header.php.
  7. I found a great audio player that seems to work on everything: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, MSIE, Windows, Mac, iPhone, Commodore PET… It’s called “oEmbed HTML5 Audio” if you’re wondering. The Flash player is a bit crashy on Firefox, which is not surprising considering Flash sucks donkey balls.  Of the many players I tried, this is the only one that works pretty good, and it makes embedding an audio player really easy.
  8. After playing around with several “Upcoming Events” calendar plugins, the most stable and predictable one I could find is “My Calendar”. This is most defintely subject to change, but its presentation suits the site’s needs perfectly. The only issue is that there is unfortunately no way, using shortcode, to create an event within a post.

I’m sure I’ve done more than that, but those are the biggies. Please leave a reply below (haha, as if) if you see anything that’s not displaying correctly.

All this stuff needs to settle a bit before I consider upgrading the site to the newest WordPress.

All that’s left for me to do before the site’s official launch:

  1. Finish the contributors’ documentation.
  2. Create some more custom category headers.
  3. Chase down the last few contributors.
  4. Favicon!
  5. Get rid of menus on iPhone
  6. Get subcategory listings when categories “artists” and “news” are viewed

UPDATE:

The Favicon’s done, and I had a little help from the Dynamic Drive Favicon Generator site. Fair is fair, so I share the following link:
Favicon maker- Create a favicon from any image

UPDATE: (2012-06-10)

Just for shits and giggles I’ve been approving the comment spam for this post. I just pull out all the links and email addresses.

Oh, and I almost forgot: “Frontpage Category Filter” (which I mentioned above, and thought was simply awesome) was fucking things up. It scrwes up certain database queries, thus breaking other plug-ins. Support requests are unanswered. I disabled it about a month ago and hard-coded its functionality into my WP theme via PHP, alongside the header customizations.