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Oct. 16th, 2015

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A customer asks

Is the attached file “normal” for what you expect to see in the \listserv\main folder?
The attachment contains a list of around 4,000 files. My response:
I don’t see anything obviously out of place, though, since I wasn’t looking for anything specific, and the folder contains a large number of files, it’s hard to be certain. Are you encountering a specific problem, or do you have a particular concern about its contents?

Sep. 4th, 2013

Mr. Nip

Podcasting notes

Hey, a public post! I figured I'd post this here, so if someone else runs into some of the same problems I did they would be able to google it and find this information.

(Oh, and also, my podcast has been launched, though I am holding off on making the big push to tell people about it until it is accepted into the iTunes music store, which might take a couple of weeks. Information on how to subscribe to it is behind this link.)

  • Creating the files

    If you use GarageBand's podcast functionality, you have the option of exporting either mp3 or m4a files. If you use m4a then you have the option of including things like chapter markers, while mp3 is more bare bones.

    In theory mp3 would be more widely supported, but as far as I can tell in practice pretty much every podcast reader can handle both, so I decided to use m4a in the podcast, but also have mp3s available in case anyone couldn't use the m4a version. This ended up complicating things slightly.

  • Hosting the files

    I used Amazon S3 to host the audio files. There were a few tricky things about this.

    1. It took me a while to figure out where it was. To save you some time, here's a direct link:


    2. S3 doesn't automatically detect the MIME type for m4a files correctly, so if you use this type of file, after uploading it you will have to select it, click on 'Properties', click on 'Metadata', and change the 'Content-Type' key's value to 'audio/mp4'.
    3. To give public access to a file, you select it and go under 'Actions' to 'Make Public'.
    4. If you select a file, it will show you the URL to get to it, for instance:


      However, if you actually use this URL, then feedburner won't be able to see it, because feedburner doesn't like https links for some reason. Fortunately, you can just change this to an http link and it still works fine:


  • Making blog posts

    I used tumblr for this, but you can use any blogging platform that will provide an rss feed.

    Each blog post should contain a link to the audio. Things to know here:

    1. The blog's title should be the name of the podcast. I originally named my blog 'Tell Me About Your Song episodes', and feedburner later decided that that was what I wanted the podcast's title to be, and my attempts to override this completely failed to work until I just renamed the blog to 'Tell Me About Your Song'.
    2. As noted previously, it should be an http link, not an https link, or else feedburner will choke on it.
    3. If you have multiple links in a blog post and you want to make sure that feedburner will know which one is pointing to the podcast audio, then add 'rel="enclosure"' to that link, e.g.

      <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/TellMeAboutYourSong/Tracie+Potochnik+-+Tell+Me+About+Your+Song.m4a" rel="enclosure">Download This Episode</a>

    4. I ended up decided to create two separate blogs, one that would be the basis for the podcast feed, and the other of which would contain the show notes. I think that will work well for my podcast, but if you use the 'rel=enclosure' trick cited above then you can probably make do with just one.
    5. On tumblr, the rss feed for a given blog is http://theblogname.tumblr.com/rss (e.g. http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ for my podcast's blog) - this is what you'll need when you're setting up the podcast feed.
  • Setting up the podcast feed

    I used feedburner for this. It can be accessed here: http://feedburner.google.com/ This will use the same login as your gmail account.

    Getting the podcast to work in feedburner was super frustrating, but hopefully if you've followed the guidelines above (setting the content-type of the file correctly, changing the URL from https to http, using 'rel=enclosure' if you have multiple links in your blog post, setting the name of the blog to the name of the podcast) then it will be pretty straightforward:

    1. You paste in the URL of your blog's rss feed (http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ in my case) and select the 'I am a podcaster!' option.
    2. It asks you for the feed title (though I don't know why, since it will just use your blog's title even if you specify something different here) and will ask you what to use in the feedburner URL (I specified TellMeAboutYourSong, so my feedburner URL is http://feeds.feedburner.com/TellMeAboutYourSong).
    3. You then have the option of specifying additional information -- the location of an image that will serve as your podcasts icon, what category of podcast it is, whether it's got adult content, etc. -- which will be useful if you want to submit the podcast to iTunes; I believe Apple will accept podcasts that don't have, say, a high-resolution icon, but they generally won't consider featuring podcasts on the iTunes home page if they don't have these things. (I am also told that the icon must be a jpeg with the extension '.jpg'; '.jpeg' won't cut it, according to this information, for mystical reasons known only to Apple.)

      Actually it may be useful at this stage to link to Apple's podcasting specs.

    4. Once all that is set up, you should be able to go to http://feedburner.google.com/ and see your podcast listed. Click on it and check the following things to make sure that all is well:
      • On the 'Troubleshootize' tab, click on 'PodMedic' and make sure that it finds your blog post ('Content Item') and that it found the podcast link within that post (it should say 'Yay! Media enclosure created for: [the filename of the episode's mp3 or m4a file]').
      • On the 'Optimize' tab, click on 'Your Feed' and verify that the title is correct and everything basically looks fine. Note that if there are any double quotes or other characters that feedburner had to translate so they would work in its feed then you'll see the encoded version; that's normal and nothing to worry about.
      • If you are particularly detail-orented, you can click on 'XML Source', also on the 'Optimize' tab, and see the actual RSS for the feed. The main thing that you want to make sure is there is the '<enclosure url="...' tag for each episode, which should point to the media file. (But if PodMedic found the media enclosure then this should not be a problem.)
      • If you find some things are not quite what they should be, and you have to go back and edit the blog post, feedburner will not immediately reflect the changes. You can try to get it to speed up the process by going to the 'Troubleshootize' tab and clicking on the 'pinging FeedBurner' link. Give it the link to your blog and it should rescan it. This mostly worked, but there was also a period of a half hour or so where it didn't seem to, and where even deleting and recreating the feed didn't make a difference; I'm not sure if this was a problem on feedburner's end or if tumblr was serving up cached information for some reason. Anyway, pinging feedburner is worth a try.
    5. At this point you can try plugging the feed's URL into iTunes ('File'->'Subscribe to Podcast') and see if it works. Hopefully, it will!
  • Submitting to iTunes

    If you go to https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast, Apple will ask you to sign in with your Apple ID, and you'll then be able to submit the Feedburner URL of your podcast. You should then get an email telling you they've received your submission and you'll hear from them once it's approved (or disapproved).

    Searching around indicates that it can take a couple of weeks for new podcasts to get approved, though some people report shorter times. In retrospect, submitting it on a Saturday night during a three-day weekend might not have been my smartest strategy.

    After a podcast is approved, I gather it takes about a day for it to become indexed; so initially you'll be able to share the link to subscribe to it in iTunes, but searching for the podcast in iTunes won't find it.

May. 11th, 2012

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Why I think the Christopher Eccleston season of Doctor Who is great

Spoilers ahoy!

The first series of the new Doctor Who had an arc to it which, in my opinion, has not really been duplicated in the series since. That is not to say that every individual was great -- I would say three single-episode stories and two two-parters are quite noteworthy, with the rest being either somewhat forgettable or seriously flawed -- but the overall sweep of the season, combined with the fact that this was a fresh approach to the series, made it add up to greater than the sum of its parts.
Cut for spoilers and for lengthCollapse )

May. 2nd, 2012

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Pentametron is almost making sense

Pentametron is a script that creates sonnets using recently-posted iambic tweets. Usually the sonnets don't make a whole lot of sense, but this one is pretty good, partly because of the 'I have a very short attention span' excuse.
RT @jjongcum
about 20 minutes ago
i bought a pencil case and pencils yay
RT @ashLEE_____
about 20 minutes ago
i took a 20 minute nap today "/
RT @Cyanide_doll92
about 46 minutes ago
My girlfriends mother is a lunatic
about 46 minutes ago
this has become annoying very quick
RT @MyVoiceWetPants
about 1 hour ago
I wanna be a singing porno star
RT @Hold_meh_TIGHT
about 1 hour ago
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar
about 2 hours ago
I have a very short attention span !
RT @nicoo_suaveee
about 2 hours ago
John Mayer will forever be the man.
RT @superapplejuice
about 2 hours ago
This morning seems a little cooler no?
RT @khiness
about 2 hours ago
i need a texting buddy... ready? go.
RT @ellienovack
about 3 hours ago
So late and haven't even showered yet
RT @isighalot
about 3 hours ago
I am a product of the Internet
about 4 hours ago
Her kisses sweeter than a cherry PIE .
RT @benroperrr
about 9 hours ago
Looks like another boring night in #sigh

Jan. 16th, 2012

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OK, this has been bugging me.

Past tense of plead?

plead (pronounced 'plĕd')

Does it matter if the word is used in a legal setting vs. a non-legal setting?

Not sure

I'm using radio buttons instead of checkboxes because I want people to take a stand.

Jun. 22nd, 2011

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How to cancel your Myspace account

I decided to cancel my myspace account today and decided to take notes on the procedure in case any of my friends wanted to know how to do it. Here are my notes:

1. Log into Myspace. Click on 'Profile' on the top.

2. Under your name, click on 'Customize Profile'.

3. On the left, under 'Account Settings & Privacy', the last item (just above the 'Messaging Settings' section) is 'Cancel Account'. Click on that.

4. Myspace will ask you: "Want to cancel your Myspace account?' Click 'Cancel account'.

5. It will ask you why you're canceling your account. Pick whatever reason you want.

6. Myspace will explain why that's a dumb reason to cancel your account and will give you the option to reconsider. Steel your heart against its entreaties and click on 'Cancel Account'.

7. This will return you to the 'Want to cancel your Myspace account?' page. Do not be fooled! Click 'Cancel account' again.

8. It will warn you of the dire consequences of canceling your account and will give you another chance to reconsider, and will also allow you to enter an explanation of your actions if you want. Fill in the text box if you feel like it, then click on 'Cancel Account'.

9. You will be taken to a screen that says:
Your request to cancel your Myspace account has been sent. You will receive an email shortly with instructions for confirming that you wish to cancel.

You must follow the instructions in that email to complete cancellation of your account. Thank you.

10. Myspace will then email you a plea to reconsider that begins:
You're… leaving us?

Sure you're ready to let go of your friends, music, and that profile design you spent so much time creating? Canceling your account means your profile and all your content will be removed from Myspace and you can't get it back!

Scroll down until you find this section:
If you're sure you want to let go, confirm the cancelation of your account by clicking the link below. Once clicked, we will schedule your account deletion, which may take up to 48 hours.

and click on the link that follows.

11. This will take you to a page that says:
Cancelling your Myspace account will permanently remove all of your profile information from Myspace, including your photos, comments, blog entries, videos, and your personal network of friends. This information cannot be restored.

You may re-register your current email address after cancelling, but you will need to rebuild your personal network from scratch.

Confirm email address:

Type in the email address that the notification was sent to, making sure not to make any typos, and click on 'Cancel account'. It will then tell you that cancellation of your account has been scheduled.

And that's it! It's as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11!

(I am assuming that they will actually cancel my account.)

Mar. 10th, 2011

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Hey people near Southington CT, Irvington NY, Brooklyn NY, Washington DC, Richmond VA, Philadelphia

Starting one week from today, me and my friend Chris Monti will be on tour. Full details (and music examples, etc.) can be found at http://killdevils.com/2011tour/.

Here's the rundown:

Date Time Location
Thu 17 Mar 7-9:30 pm Link to facebook event Jitters Cafe
1273 Queen Street (Route 10), Southington, CT 06489
Jake & Chris's East Coast Tour kicks off at Jitters!
Tips accepted.
Fri 18 Mar 6-8 pm Link to facebook event Black Cat Cafe
45 Main Street, Irvington, NY 10533
No cover, tips welcomed.
Sat 19 Mar 6-8 pm Link to facebook event The Sycamore Bar & Flowershop
1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY
We will be sharing the bill with other acts TBA.
$10 cover.
Sun 20 Mar 5-8 pm Link to facebook event House Concert
Washington, DC
Email for details.
Mon 21 Mar 9 pm Link to facebook event The Triple
3306 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA
Scott Billings and friends will also perform.
$5 cover
Tue 22 Mar 9 pm The Fire
412 W Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123
Other acts TBA.
$7 cover
Wed 23 Mar 10-11 pm Link to facebook event Banjo Jim's
9th Street and Avenue C, Manhattan, NY
There will be musicians performing starting at 7 pm. We will go on around 10 pm and do a 45 minute set.
No cover, 1 drink/set minimum, tips welcomed.

Mar. 1st, 2011

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Some good episodes of 'The Sound of Young America'

Two things are going on that resulted in this post. One is that MaximumFun.org (home of The Sound of Young America and other podcasts) is having its annual fund drive, and the other is that I'm about to go on a tour (aka road trip) with my friend Chris Monti and I need to burn stuff to CDs that we'll want to listen to on the trip.

So I've been re-downloading some old TSoYA episodes that I think Chris will find enjoyable and I thought I would list them here too.

Swamp Dogg. Soul writer and singer Swamp Dogg's general philosophy towards musical projects seems to be that if someone asks him to do something he'll give it a try, a philosophy that I identify with. (This might explain Swamp Dogg's country album, for instance.) It's great hearing an interview with an interesting person when both he and the interviewer are clearly just having a great time, and I bought one of Swamp Dogg's greatest hits collections on the strength of this interview, a move I have not regretted.

Nellie McKay. I gather that this interview with singer/songwriter Nellie McKay is a bit controversial, with some TSoYA regular listeners finding her wry attitude incredibly annoying, but I found the interview and the live performances (she sings and plays the ukulele) both really enjoyable. Hearing her talk about playing on Garrison Keillor's show was particularly interesting to me.

Bill Withers. Bill Withers was a great soul writer and singer who got sick of the music industry and has been mostly retired and reclusive since the 80s, but Jesse Thorn (host of TSoYA) managed to catch him while he was promoting the documentary 'Soul Power', and it's a really interesting interview. (Jesse reports that this interview was extremely terrifying for him, particularly as Withers didn't hesitate to let him know if Jesse said something Withers disagreed with.)

The vocoder. Dave Tompkins talks about his book 'How To Wreck A Nice Beach' [the title is a mangled version of the phrase 'How To Recognize Speech'] which describes the history of the vocoder, which had its roots in technology designed to protect phone conversations from codebreakers during WWII.

Mavis Staples. Mavis Staples is a really friendly and engaging speaker, and this might be the best interview I've heard with her. The bit about Randy Newman at the end of the podcast is a particular highlight for me.

I should note that Jesse doesn't just interview musicians -- I was just thinking along those lines because of the tours. He also interviews authors, actors, comedians, and other interesting people. I could keep listing episodes but maybe it's simpler to link to one of Jesse's posts where he lists some audience favorites.

Feb. 14th, 2011

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Current batch of ginger ale

might be the best yet. I think that's probably mostly because I've let it mellow a few days. (It is important to occasionally let out some of the CO2 to prevent explosions!) But anyway here are the main changes from the recipe that I tried this time:

(1) 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey.
(2) 3-4 tablespoons of ginger.
(3) 1 dried chili pepper.
(4) 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
(5) 1 tsp vanilla.

Very gingery. A little bite but not too much. Not too sweet. I may stick with this variant the next time I make ginger ale.

Jan. 19th, 2011

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Root beer update

This morning the bottle of root beer was hard so I put it in the fridge for a few hours and then, after a lengthy period of bleeding off excess carbon dioxide, gave it a try. I think it turned out quite well!

No video this time but some photos are behind the cutCollapse )

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