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Showing posts from July, 2005

Loading the New Shop Database Continues

I was right about slog - more than half way through now - must remember to backup tonight. It is hard to separate visitors from my testing activity but I think I spotted one having a quick look round at lunch time yesterday. Searches for Widor's Toccata continue to outstrip everything else this month - an organ version is freely available so this is a real test of the added value offered by our percussion arrangement. To conclude our HiFi streaming sample week here is our arrangement of the complete Song Without Words Opus 102 by Felix Mendelssohn and very jolly it is to. You can download the MP3 file for this track from our site free of charge from the Mendelssohn page.

A Quiet Opening

We decided to make the new shop available while we carry on with loading the products and fixing the remaining cosmetic niggles. There is a link in the commercial page if your curiosity becomes too much to bear. Fan fare and launch discounts next week all being well. We are not the only ones with a few cosmetic niggles - the PayPal logo material offered for download from their site doesn't seem to work too well with my FireFox browser. They caught one of the London bombers yesterday - three plus who knows how many more to go - it still feels spooky but perhaps that's just the unseasonal mist this morning. Following the HiFi streaming theme this week here is a sample from the first of two short pieces which we make freely available - Tchaikovsky's Russian Dance from the Nutcracker Suite which can be downloaded free of charge from our Tchaikovsky page

Busy Day Yesterday

Building on the previous day's success we added the download controller contribution which makes that more secure and usable for all concerned - thanks to the contributors to the osCommerce community for that. And we added password security to the store admin suite for our own and our customers' protection. Then the slog of loading up the products has begun - this is a rather tedious task there is some potential automation available but I feel that each product deserves the individual care and attention that the manual approach affords - it's just such a lot of fiddly detail. Still a few cosmetics to work on but the store is looking pretty good now. Today's short HiFi streaming sample is the last as the next two are whole pieces - it is our arrangement on steel drums and Mega Moog synthesizer of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - crank up the volume and enjoy!

Un-hack for Success

At the end of the day it was more important to get the new credit card handling facility working than to cut out a page from the ordering process. Hence the un-hack or removal of changes intended to effect that outcome. In the meantime delving into the interstices of the program my respect for and confidence in the osCommerce authors rises yet again. If that wasn't clear - the end to end functional test was successful. There are some cosmetic tweaks to be done and products to be loaded but we should be able to open in a few days. Here is another HiFi streaming sample from our arrangement of Johannes Brahms Variations on a theme from Paganini .

Back to the Grindstone

The level of pages requests has remained at it's new high level for over a week despite the fact that our testing effort on the new shop has been in abeyance over that period. Although requests on the blog directory are very high there is no indication that individual pages, apart from the blog/index, are receiving many hits - so this is still a bit of a mystery. It is also gratifying to see that a few more people are downloading the free hifi samples we offer to demonstrate the full audio quality of all our tracks but it is still not sufficient to make us feel comfortable so we are going to offer them here for a few days. These hifi files are obviously much larger but if you have a broadband connection you will scarcely notice the difference - on narrowband there will be a short intermission. So here is a HiFi streaming sample from our percussion arrangement of Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto . The atmosphere here in London is a bit odd this morning - it is the first day of

Page Requests Jump

In the last few days the volume of page requests on the site has increased by something like 50% and scarcely a clue as to why. The biggest surprise is that the directory for this blog is getting more hits than the root directory. It is spread out pretty evenly round the clock so it looks like a global phenomena. No particular change in search phrases except perhaps a bit more emphasis on 'composer name' + mp3 so it could be the blog wagging the dog I suppose. As it is forecast to be another sunny day here in London after the failed bomb attempts here is a lofi streaming sample from our arrangement of Faure's Barcarolle .

Shop Stalled

We have called a halt for a few days on the shop development front - there can be too much of a good thing. Testing has exposed some more issues so we'll re-group next week and have another go. In the mean time the links shown on some of the sites we monitor have gone berserk in the last couple of days on the Alta Vista, All the Web and Yahoo cluster - not sure what it means in terms of positions on keywords. In the meantime there are reports of another shift in Google's algorithm but no real sign of that for us as yet. Meanwhile hear a lofi streaming sample from our percussion arrangement of a Chopin Mazurka by clicking this link. Enjoy and then buy the full HiFi MP3 rendition from our Chopin page.

Music and Math Article

Given our site's commitment to music for children I thought this article was worthy of inclusion while we struggle with the download code. The Connection Between Music and Math There have been several studies recently that confirm a connection between music and math. There seems to be a strong pattern between math, language, and music. Music is essentially a series of notes played in a pre-established pattern. Math works in a similar way. There is a finite number of ways that you can add, multiply, subtract, and divide numbers, the ultimate combination is still finite. The same is true of music. Notes are combined in a series of groupings (almost and endless variety) but the number of sounds created is finite. It is patterns and combinations such as this that make music and math similar. Our brain seems to process the information from music and math in a different manner than it computes other information. Babies are attracted to the spoken work when it sounds rhythmic and mel

Cracking the Code for Download

Give our site's name and primary purpose it is a bit important that we get the download function working well. One of the benefits of the BitPass set up is that the download function has worked flawlessly from day one just by following the simple instructions. osCommerce is a little more challenging on this front. So far we have got the PayPal credit card payment option going and by interfereing directly in the database we have actually downloaded a product but getting those to things to work together without our intervention has eluded us so far. Further study of the code and some more tests will have to be devised to track down the problem - patience and persistance should do it. In the meantime for your aural entertainment here is our most popular streaming sample this month - our percussion arrangement of Widor's Toccata from his 5th Symphony.

'Collecting Music Memorabilia' Article

I thought I would pass this article on as is seemed to fit well with the content of but before I did I checked the site referred to and found it is just another link scam. So I won't bother you with it. The new shop development made good progress yesterday with the highlight being a test all the way through to PayPal - we'll try for a download today. Looks like we are on track to open next week with some of the content and some extra special offers for early visitors. Here is a lofi streaming sample from our steel drums arrangement of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No 15 - for your aural pleasure!

A Hacker's Minor Triumphs

Hacking other people's code is always a dodgy business and so it pays to go for minor changes, familiarise yourself gradually with the structures and approaches adopted. This is especially true of an application like osCommerce which is a suite of scripts organized in a pretty logical way so that several independent programmers can collaborate on it's development and maintenance. So it was a source of real satisfaction when I got two separate changes to work yesterday. If all goes well I ought to package it up as a contribution to the osCommerce Community - we'll see. They will enable me to take a step out of the purchasing process and emulate the first stages of purchase on our current site as closely as possible. It also minimize the data input task which I am confronting - although it looks as thought there may be a way around that which I'll need to investigate. Here is a lofi streaming sample from our percussion arrangement of Johann Strauss Junior's Perpetu

Building Links

In the beginning Google was started by people who thought that the more links that were made to a site the more it was a respected source. Before too long those of us who try to optimize our so called organic search engine positions tried to maximize the links to their sites. Some people took this to extremes and so began the war of measure and counter measure between Google and the webmasters. The Google search results are probably better than ever but their selection of sites with links to have become exccentric to say the least. In the meantime Yahoo and MSN tried to catch up and emulate the quality of Google's search results but they were always well behind the ball. One of the purposes of this blog is to persuade the Google system that this is an active site which is constantly updated and a relevant and authoritative source in its chosen field of endeavor. Ironically these blog pages are not to be found in the google index and certainly not on the pages with links to

Adjusting the Script

Technically PHP is referred to as a scripting language because it issues instructions that are followed by other program's including browsers and operating systems that were originally designed to be directed by human input. A bit of a nice distinction I'd say because it has such powerful functionality and capacity for complexity just more focused on input and out put than massive number crunching. As an irregular programmer it is always a bit of a strain to return to the analysis and modification of other people's code but we are making progress - a test product selection made it into the shopping cart yesterday. A bit of substitution was required to adapt a program intended for physical products to work well for digital content and a tweak to the database definition. Now we are focusing on tidying up the presentation and making some links work properly so that our customers will have the functionality they need. Here is a LoFi streaming sample from our percussion arr

Building New Shop Content

Most of the presentation issues for the new shop front were resolved last week - just a few images and alignments left but nothing too serious. We now move on to building the content - in many respects this will be a rebuild of our BitPass data plus the current product detail from the existing pages. We will build a copy in the osCommerce database so that we can serve those pages on the fly and manage purchases and fulfillment with Credit Cards and PayPal. Apart from anything else this should improve the resilience of our site while offering additional customer choice. We have yet to define our search engine spider policy for these pages - a preventative measure is promised by osCommerce but it hasn't arrive yet as far as I know. The problem is that some search engines accumulate copies of PHP script pages based on the unique session id generated by that visit - I think it is their problem but it makes data on linked pages almost impossible to interpret and could appear unprofess

Shop sign placed on a trerrible day for London

It should have been a simple case of re-use - we want to keep the same look and feel in the shop as the rest of the site. Our Logo and page template was developed in Webstyle as readers of page source code could readily appreciate. That package integrates well with HTML in Dreamweaver but when you move on to scripting languages like PHP you are expected to sort these things out for yourselves so there was a bit of ducking and diving into style sheets and a lot of trial and error before we got the main header sorted. The terrible events in central London filtered out to us during the day with re- assuring phone calls to and from family members an active distraction - we were alright but it is still too close for comfort. The contrast with the previous day's jubilation over the news about the 2012 Olympics seemed to make it even more poignant - if that is possible. We still have some work to integrate the shop's navigation bar graphical presentation but we're hopeful that

Go Configure!

Configuration is the name of the game at the moment - setting up the osCommerce database and the software features. We were working on the admin side yesterday and today we are going to start work on the page design. We will re-use as much of the current page design as possible and then we will get down to the content and the routing through the new shop pages before we tackle the links from existing pages. Another week's work if all goes smoothly which is unlikely. So far so good! Here is a LoFi streaming sample from the sixth and last Brandenburg Concerto by JS Bach arrange on Marimba and steel drums for your listening pleasure.

osCommerce here we come

osCommerce is another one of those amazing internet collaborative ventures that we have explored and made use of from time to time. It provides a secure open source e-commerce solution that can be implemented on the most commonly available hosting platforms by using PHP and MySQL. Having decided to move in this direction yesterday we now have the basic system set up and now have to populate it and integrate it with our existing pages. This presents quite a few tricky choices - my instinct is to retain the existing simple html site structure and create a separate shop for customers who are uncomfortable with BitPass for whatever reason. The main usability issues relate to movement between the two parts of the site and maintaining session continuity. To start with, I think we will assume that visitors will complete their visit in the shop once they have moved into it and if they return they may have to sign in again. There are also going to be some pricing decisions - low value credi

Adding to the collection or ...

There are more opportunities to add to this collection but we think that it is now time to make some additional payment options available. For low cost items, credit card transactions are rather expensive so we will need to trade the benefits to us of larger orders against a premium for individual track purchases. This means adding shopping cart facilities along side the simple BitPass functionality and is going to be a bit of a programming challenge. More of this anon - in the mean time here is another Brandenburg Concerto LoFi streaming sample - first movement of No3 from Johann Sebastian Bach himself and our arrangement on steel drums and marimba - full HiFi track only 0.99$(US).

JS Bach Brandenburg Concerto Launched!

Friday saw the addition of 7 movements, arranged on Steel Drums and Marimba, from Bach 's Brandenburg Concertos No2,3,4 and 6 to the Download2MP3 Classical Collection. For most of the concertos we have selected the faster movements which respond better to a percussion interpretation but all three movements of the second are included. These are amongst the most complex arrangements we have tackled so far. They were made possible by the use of our new CreamWare sound card which has substantially increased our music processing head room. It is quite remarkable how well baroque music like this responds to a percussion based interpretation. At 0.99$(US) each these tracks are exceptional value for money - try this LoFi streamed sample now to get a measure of the quality.

'remix' Expunged

When we began the site 'remix' came up as a keyword with some competitive possibilities and we used it pretty extensively on our early pages. We were always aware that it has come to have a special meaning but consulting Wikipedia earlier this week it became apparent that our use of it is way out of step with current usage and so we have expunged it from the public parts of our site. It is still present in file names and the description of many of our products on BitPass. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for this change to impact. Many of the references to our site include text from our first month of operation and it can take a very long time i.e. years for this to be eliminated. We have been working with a selection from JS Bach 's Brandenburg Concertos (some of the faster movements) and should publish them later today when you can visit that page and listen to the LoFi streaming samples.