Category Archives: Freebies

A gift from Simpleology

December 20, 2007, by Suzanne

I like to read internet marketing tips as well as the next gal, so here is a little cut & paste test I’m experimenting with. Hope you like it!! 🙂

I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.

ABC Music Notation – How could I have missed it?

October 19, 2007, by Suzanne

If you’re a music fan, as in you play an instrument, play with other people, join jam sessions, and enjoy swapping tunes, I was going to say you’ll love this, but you probably already do, because I seem to be the last person on the planet to have discovered ABC ascii notation for music. This is NOT tablature. This is extremely straight forward music by characters that translates directly into sheet music & midi files, or can just be sight read directly.

I have no clue how I could have missed it all this time – oh wait, yes I do! Reading over the Wikipedia entry for it, I see it was only invented in late 1991, and released for general public consumption in 1993. Of course I missed it. This stuff is younger than some of my children. Like with the web, those were the years I was busy having babies and raising small children!

It is kind of funny how the web was born and grew up in the same years as ABC notation. But I can say I am almost as excited by the world that ABC has opened up to me as I was/am about the web. I can’t see how I’d ever live without either again.

As I have experienced in the last few months since being introduced to it, ABC notation makes it extremely easy to simply copy/paste a tune into an e-mail and shoot it off to a friend. Or, there are web sites now where there are literally hundreds of tunes available, just buckets and buckets of traditional (non-copyrighted) music, where you can go, search on a tune, and take it home with you with mere copy/paste. My favorite site, lets you search and compile a virtual tunebook. Then you can download the ABC file to your hard drive, or print off the sheet music of your personal selections right from the site.

My gosh — the power of this. I used to go to an Irish/American/Old Time jam session, write down a list of what was played, then go home and thumb through my books, feeling very lucky if I found a few of them. Now, as I did this week, I can just hop online, plug in my list, find almost all of them, and print out a tunebook customized to what was played that night, so I can jump quickly into the local repertoire for the next jam session. And of course, for the voyeurs among us, a free membership at TheSesssion allows one to surf other people’s tunebooks and see what they’re playing, say, over in England.

Then there are various softwares available – I like the quirky unusual interface of ABC-Edit, which is also free. With software such as this, you just paste the ABC code into it, and voila! You can play it back through your system’s midi playback and/or print out the standard sheet music score. Some really nice features of ABC-Edit are that if you have a tune with no chords written in it, it will “Calculate Chords” for you. It’s a little hit and miss – sometimes they are nice chords and sometimes they are not. I realize one can’t seriously expect a computer to actually compose music 🙂 If you don’t like the chords it makes, it also has a feature you can try called “Calculate 2nd Voice”. It asks you how far above or below the melody line you want the 2nd voice, and whether you want to reduce the number of notes, like for say, a cello line. You can experiment with that until you find something pleasing.

Here – I’ll pass you a tune I got from TheSession, and added a 2nd voice to with ABC-Edit. It’s a tune I’d been looking for the sheet music for for, since, no kidding, 1987. Today, after 2 decades, I simply found it and took it home by straight copy/paste. I have a little more tweeking to do to make it even closer to what I was looking for, but this is pretty dang close. (Hint – don’t read it. Play it back with some ABC software.)

X: 1
T: Loftus Jones
C: Turlough O’Carolan
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Amajor
|:a4 g2 f2|e2 d2 cd e2|cdBA A2 z2 |cdcB A2B2|
cd e2 de f2|e2 dc dcBA|GAGF E2 z2|ABAG F2 d2|
edec dcdB|A2 E2 F2 G2|A2 F2 G2 A2|B2 G2 A2 B2|c2 A2 B2 c2|
d4 e2 z2|dcBA GA B2|A2 ED C2 E2|A4 A2 z2 \:|
|:e2 G2 A2 F2|G2 E2 F2 G2|A2 B2 G2 c2|F4 G4|
c2 c2 B4|ABcd c2 B2|ABcd edcB|A2 G2 F4|
AcAc AcAc|AcAc AcAc|fg a2 g4|f4 f2 g2|
aAaA gAgA|fAfA eAeA|dBdB cAcA|BAGF EF G2|
A2 ED C2 E2|BAGF E2 e2|dcBA GABG|A4 A2 z2 \:|
|:A4 G2 F2 |E2 D2C2 E2 |C2B,2 A,2 z2 |C2C2 A,2 B,2 |
C2 E2D2 F2 |E2D2D2B,2|G,2G,2 E,2 z2|A,2A,2 F,2 D2 |
E2E2D2D2|A,2 E,2 F,2 G,2 |A,2 F,2 G,2 A,2 |B,2 G,2 A,2 B,2 |C2 A,2 B,2 C2 |
D4 E2 z2|D2B,2G,2 B,2 |A,2E,2 C,2 E,2 |A,4 A,2 z2 \:|
|:E2 G,2 A,2 F,2 |G,2 E,2 F,2 G,2 |A,2 B,2 G,2 C2 |F,4 G,4 |
C2 C2 B,4 |A,2C2 C2 B,2 |A,2C2E2C2|A,2 G,2 F,4 |
A,2A,2A,2A,2|A,2A,2A,2A,2|F2 A2 G4 |F4 F2 G2 |
A2A2G2G2|F2F2E2E2|D2D2C2C2|B,2G,2E,2 G,2 |
A,2E,2 C,2 E,2 |B,2G,2 E,2 E2 |D2B,2G,2B,2|A,4 A,2 z2 \:|


Gawhead! Dive in and try it! I guarantee, you will get hooked on picking, tinkering with (to make them sound like the version you know), & playing back tunes like they were so many pieces of candy, and then passing your favorites around to your friends.

Betcha can’t stop at just one!


AXS, My Favorite Tracking System

October 17, 2007, by Suzanne

When first I wanted to know how many people were coming to my web sites, I found a lot of tracking systems out there, most of them for a nice fee, of course. Or, if "stats" came with a hosting package, it would be just "stats" - that is, aggregate information, how many from this domain, how many from that domain, what browser they were using. But that's not what I wanted. Maybe I'm silly, but I don't really care about how many people are using which browser, or how many come from each major ISP. I wanted individual information, where they were!

I felt strongly too about using server-side code, rather than client-side code, because you never know what hardware and software the visitor is using, and I've been crashed too many times by sites with whiz bang fancy Java or flash that was nothing but ornamental.

What I really wanted in a tracking script was one that would log my visitor's IP addresses, and not arbitrarily scroll the information off after a handful of them. IP addresses won't tell me who somebody is or what their e-mail address is, but if I do an IP Location Lookup through MelissaData, what they do tell me is what country somebody's in, and if I'm lucky what town or city he or she is in. If I'm really really lucky, maybe what organization he/she works for, too. If you're from a maternity & children's hospital I've never heard of, well, then I have a new lead to chase down with my maternity product!

In the end, the script I chose to use is inexpensive to free: AXS from Fluid Dynamics. It gives me both the individual data (including a direct WHOIS link, although I prefer MelissaData), including which search terms people used to find me, and it gives me the aggregate data I hardly ever look at, but I know lots of folks do like to look at. Unlike many generic "stats" offered by hosting providers, it also allows me to turn off and on tracking of my own browser (using a cookie), so that I don't skew my own data. It's a Perl script that installs in your hosting service's cgi space, and comes with instructions as to how to install it on each page of your site. A really nice feature is that you can use it cross-hosts, by installing it in a cgi-enabled web site, and then use it to track visitors on a non-cgi enabled web site that you've got (say on one o' them freebie services).

That is just the coolest thing!

AXS has been out since before Google has had its free and very popular "Analytics" out, and I tried installing them side by side on one of my sites, a Russian music balalaika orchestra site, but you know, I still like AXS. Analytics does give me what countries and cities people are in, but it withholds their IP addresses. Why should they? They're my visitors! Also, AXS doesn't push me with guides or advice for "optimizing" my site for monetization, when it's a non-monetizing site. And AXS is hosted on my own site's server. Relying on someone else's server, such as Google's, is hazardous because it could disappear (or the terms changed) at any time. (Believe me, I've had that happen in the past with a free tracking service hosted elsewhere!)

Happy Webbing!