2012: The Year in Dicks

I did one of these things for 2011 and 2010, so why the hell not do one for 2012.

This year I moved music stuff around to a couple of places, so that caused music traffic here – already pretty close to zero – to collapse into a singularity. Here’s the most traffic I got here this year:

Post Title Views
Modify an Arduino for DebugWIRE 8,015
Hardware Debugging the Arduino using Eclipse and the AVR Dragon 5,606
A Minimal Arduino Library for Processing Serial Commands 3,871
(Yet Another) Sparkfun SerLCD library for Arduino 1,902
So, now you want to move to OSX Mountain Lion. 1,097
The Arduino Duemilanove with ATMega328 and that Reset Line 1,087
A Too-Simple Arduino Library for Handling the Seeeduino Relay Shield (and Generic Relays) 986
Using the Sparkfun Speakjet Voicebox Shield with an Arduino in Passthrough mode 719
An Arduino-Based MIDI Wah Controller for Logic Pro 690
An Arduino Library for the ADT7310 SPI Temperature Sensor 679

Only the Eclipse post is from 2012. The OSX one doesn’t count since it’s a blatant re-edit of a previous one.

It’s not surprising the “do my homework for me” post remains my all-time most poopular thing. 15,757 of 51,935 total views for that one post. Pop off that capacitor and be done with it. Arduino electronics remains poopular, with my new post on how to put all the existing tools together making a strong showing.

You have go down to The Halting Problem (Feb 12) to find a music post in the chart (33 views), which I suspect people are looking for details on the the real halting problem. Behind Why iBooks Sucks from 2010. “Real World Haskell” is still $41.99 on iBooks, $22.79 in Kindle, and $41.16 in paper. Still don’t know why you’d want a Haskell book.

Search terms are as always, people looking for “arduino jtag” (you can’t do jtag on an arduino, end of story), people for some reason looking for “iphone 3g schematic” (why?), people trying to find a pirated OSX [Mountain] Lion (pay $20 you cheap bastards) and run it on their G5 (you can’t), and people looking for my old boss (I don’t know where he is, if you see him he still owes me money).

Most views came from the USA (28%), Germany (10%), the UK (6%), and one guy from Ethiopia (0.0035%). Hope that guy has a soldering iron to remove that capacitor.

The top link on this blawg is once again this annotated picture of a capacitor to remove. The most popular download is my arduino library for processing serial commands. My serial library got appropriated by someone and posted on Github, and that’s fine with me. I get a few complaints that the library “doesn’t work” (it works for me, and that’s who I wrote it for), and they can never give me test code to show how it doesn’t work – so I just point them at the github one and say “eh, try this one then.”

This year I gave up on hosting music on wordpress. Primarily because despite all my efforts people would still complain they couldn’t figure it out. How do these people get through the day? Also the wordpress.com audio player frequently gives “file not found” errors when trying to play, and no stats on plays.

I started off moving over to Soundcloud, which has worked out not so bad. The biggest issue is that soundcloud really isn’t made for my circumstances. I have a lot of material (22 hours of released stuff), and that pushes me up into the expensive-as-fuck tier for Soundcloud. Eventually I gave up and did start paying for the expensive-as-fuck tier (€250/yr which is about CAD$350, one step down from the holy-shit-that’s-a-lot tier, €500/yr), so I could push all of 2009-2012 into it. I didn’t put the pre-2009 stuff there, as that’s really a waste of money. With that tier I get lots of features that I have zero interest in like dropbox support (who cares), groups (what?), and pro support (I’ve filed one ticket in history, and that was with the awful redesign). Also soundcloud is really based around “I downloaded this Skrillex thing and put the sound of a fire engine behind it I’m a DJ” culture. A lot of “remixes”, unoriginal material and people commenting “HUGE DROPPP!” Most commenters on soundcloud seem to be the “wow this track is great huge drop join my facebook group” spammers. This is the stuff people on soundcloud actually want to listen to: 1,675,134 plays, 312,057 plays, and 18,206 plays.

Okay, having said that let’s talk about some soundcloud stats for 2012. According to the stats I had 2376 total plays and 190 downloads.

Title Plays Year
Booze ‘n Snooze 236 2011
Euclidean Space 85 2010
Double Oh Zero 81 2010
Oh Noes Teh Economies 58 2012
THEY SUCK 55 2010
The Ox Heart Does Not 41 2012
Ving Commando 40 2010
Lament for a Cyborg 39 2010
Destination Waxbase 36 2010

Top downloads were Booze ‘n Snooze (16), Double Oh Zero (7), and DRINK DRINK (6). Most plays come from the USA (43%), Canada (12%), the UK (7%), and Japan (6%). For some reason Booze ‘n Snooze is really poopular in Poland. In fact, I have no clue why some pieces are as poopular as they are. Why are people so interested in Booze ‘n Snooze? I have another (unrelated) piece called Booze which gets no traffic, so it’s not keyword searching.

Now, the problem is that soundcloud’s stats overall are a lot of bunk. The stats themselves are confusing as fuck, number of plays don’t correlate with what gets played, and despite being in the expensive-as-fuck tier with the extra stats they don’t really make any sense. Near as I can figure some people use “exfm” and someone shared it on facebook once. The biggest issue I have is what soundcloud counts as a “play.” If you load up soundcloud, find a track, bang on the play button and immediately stop it (< 5 seconds), it counts as a play. (This is your “how to game soundcloud” tip for the year). I figure probably 95% of my “plays” are people who clicked on the play button by accident. Given that most people here on the blawg can’t figure out how to use the wordpress audio player I wouldn’t be surprised. The downloads are probably more realistic because you have to find that tiny download button to actually start it.

Late in 2012 soundcloud went through a redesign, which in a rare departure for this blawg I commented on. Seems to me soundcloud wants to be the new tumblr, with people having the repost ability without having to create anything themselves. I didn’t hear that Skrillex-with-the-fire-engine piece enough already, thanks.

Soundcloud doesn’t have “album” downloads (soundcloud doesn’t even have albums, it has ‘sets’), so I still had to have a place to keep the year-collection stuff. I started out hosting stuff over on mobileme, which went away. Google Drive started up and started out okay, but then the interface for archive zip files changed. Previously I could put a public link and people would click it and it would download – easy. With the change, clicking on the link brought up an inside-the-zip archive view with a download button off to the menu on the side, which nobody could figure out (c.f. unable to figure out how to push buttons called “play”), and then a warning that my archive full of music might actually be full of viruses that they don’t scan for. Way to scare people off. Dropbox also works, but dropbox has a nebulous policy regarding cutting off downloads of poopular public links. Not that I even really ran into that (no actual downloads of the music from dropbox, but lots of arduino library code), but it was a factor. I could have bought “real” web storage with S3 or some other hosting, but if I was going to do that I’d probably end up moving the entire blawg to someplace else and that was way too much effort. I tried out Squarespace and the much-touted blawg import from wordpress was terrible. I didn’t want to go in and edit 250 previous posts to remove all the errors from the import, and besides I couldn’t host the archive files on squarespace anyway (max 20MB file size, despite what people who advertise for squarespace tell you). Use the coupon code “expensiveasfuck” to get 0% off.

The “collection” downloads were: four for the 2011 collection, and zero for 2010’s and 2009’s. I did get one request for the free dvd, which I’ve always offered, but that was from Boz. Boz is a nice guy but he has better internet than I have postal service.

So between soundcloud’s stats fubar and nutbar sets redesign, I started looking for alternatives to this. I ended up starting to use Bandcamp. Bandcamp is cheaper ($120/year instead of $350/year for soundcloud), lets me do complete album downloads (I don’t have to do secondary web hosting), and have players I can post into the wordpress.com blawg posts. I shouldn’t have any problem running into the free download limit, since my number of downloads is actually pretty low. Bandcamp takes a cut of the sales, but I haven’t been charging anything previously so who cares. I put the “name your price, $0.00 accepted” for the albums, just in case some sucker wants to pay for it – but otherwise you can download it for free, and I don’t collect email addresses or other information in order to get it for free. I was once told “you should sell your music” and my response has always been “you won’t listen to it for free, why do you think anyone would pay?” If I wanted a real shit-tonne of plays probably the best thing to do would be to charge a shitload for it and then just put it all on the pirate bay myself. People will always download something for free if they think they’re stickin’ it to the man.

The difficulty starting out with Bandcamp is that Bandcamp accepts only lossless format. That’s not a problem, but all my previous material (made with Garageband, then Logic Pro starting late 2009) I had generated as MP3 format. I didn’t want to be one of those douches that just converts the MP3 to lossless and uploads that, so I had to go and regenerate all the previous material. 2011’s stuff was really just a case of loading up the projects and re-bouncing to lossless, but I was unhappy enough with the 2010 material that I went back and “re-mastered” a lot of the stuff. Some I added new parts into, most I fixed some parts that aggravated me, and all of them I ended up changing the mix. That took a few weeks. As of this writing I haven’t started on the 2009 material yet, as that’s going to be an even bigger job. I sold my 4-track years ago, so I’ll likely never do anything with the pre-2009 stuff, thank fuck. In summary: bandcamp cheaper, solves hosting problem.

The uploading to Bandcamp is hampered by the fact that I have wonderful 1Mbps DSL service from my ISP, which likes to cut off mysteriously during big uploads even though they swear they don’t throttle me. The lossless thing means it’s about 45 minutes to upload one piece, assuming it doesn’t fail. That just means more patience on my part.

I signed up with Bandcamp at the start of December, so it’s only been a month at this point. I’ve still been pushing stuff into Soundcloud as well as Bandcamp in order to see if there’s a preference. I put a poll on this blawg, but since nobody actually listens to music on this blawg I got exactly two responses: one for bandcamp and one for soundcloud. So in typical fashion I do something to save money and end up paying even more, c.f. – everything in my life.

I do like the bandcamp stats. Bandcamp resolves the issue of “what counts as a play” by breaking plays into “skips” (listened to less than 10%), “partials” (10%-90%), and “complete” (listened to more than 90%).

Here’s the all-time (which is actually just a month) of stats from Bandcamp:
bandcamp plays

More useless math: 56% of the people hitting play give up (skips), 29% get somewhere, and 14% actaully were able to finish. Bandcamp reports how many “visits” my stuff gets. For december-is-all-time, that was 489 (408 coming directly from somewhere else – things like links on twitter and facebook, two people searching for “chiptune”, and 4 from the discover-new-releases). So for 489 visits I got 9 plays (1.8%) and 15 downloads. I figure that’s the same ratio of results I get over on soundcloud, just that soundcloud counts everything as a play. The same period (Dec 2012) on soundcloud I had 301 plays / 25 downloads. Discovery of music by random people on seems more prominent on Soundcloud than Bandcamp, but I suspect that’s because Bandcamp doesn’t have as many Skrillex-fire-engine remixes.

In dollars I pay per play I received (a totally useless stat, since I don’t “pay for plays”, this is just how many plays I’m getting in relation to how much I pay for the service), I pay about $0.14/play on soundcloud, and about $1.11/play on bandcamp ($0.15 if you count partials). Of course my only fan Scott Redman and his compatriot The Admiral actually paid for an album they could download for free (wat), so bandcamp actually has like infinity dollars ratio.

Speaking of services with no plays, I might as well bring up Radio Reddit. “Member for 2 years 20 weeks”, almost no listeners, nobody will submit material, and they rejected AWXMASFY, so of 2012’s material I only uploaded DRINK DRINK (18 plays), On the Uncertainly of Tesselation (29 plays), Orbital Insertion (30 plays), and Pressure Treat (15 plays). Of course with how few listeners Radio Reddit has I’m sure the actual number of “ears” is much less than the number of plays – most of my plays have “0 listeners.” One piece got actually submitted to reddit, which was by my only fan Scott Redman and got immediately “downvoted into oblivion.” I actually like the Radio Reddit idea, just that 99% of the material (like everything) is crap. Of course, I barely listen to music myself anymore, I’m not into Skrillex or fire engines, so I’m not a good judge. The top song of all time on Radio Reddit is a bit sucking up to Keanu Reeves for cheap upvotes.

So that’s the math out of the way. Musically, I managed to go the whole year without doing any covers (except my own material). I did a poll that was pretty inconclusive (two votes for “DRINK DRINK”, one each for Mephistopheles, Overland and Brohamulus). What do you people smoke? My own stats say I listened to “Pressure Treat” and “Orbital Insertion” the most. I was pretty happy with how “Xmas at the End of the World” turned out.

I only did one theme for someone else this year, Pod of Horrors, which I think may have put out an episode in 2012. I purposely didn’t do any reverse-covers of my own themes-I-made-for-others this year, which I like to think kept the number of claims of me ripping off other people (which happen to be myself) to a minimum. Even with that, 2012 was the year that confirmed that there really are dicks, dicks everywhere, a contributing reason to why I didn’t make more material this year.

Apple continued to push out updates but thankfully no paid upgrades for Logic Pro. I did everything with Logic, as I have since 2010. I’m pretty happy with Logic, but I’m sure when they eventually come out with Logic X or whatever’s next I’ll be first in line to buy it. This year I spent my money on some new software instruments and effects instead. Native Instruments and IK Multimedia occasionally have sales and I’m very thankful that they do, as that shit is expensive, yo. I resisted buying EWQL because that was really, really expensive. Logic’s built-in stuff is pretty nice, but spending the extra bucks for dedicated sample sets with lots of articulation was worth it. You don’t get any bonus points for figuring out which tracks have new instruments, but I think it’s pretty obvious. I think “Xmas at the End of the World” is much better orchestrated using the Miroslav Philharmonik stuff.

I bought a new guitar (Ibanez S420) in late December 2011, bidding a fond farewell to the Dean of Science, who went back to his native land, thanks Scott. I have no stats for it but my perception is I did more guitar pieces this year. Some of the guitar work is done with NI’s Guitar Rig (free version), but IK’s Amplitube (definitely not free version) is the one that went on sale first so it’s the one I bought. In retrospect, I probably should have bought Guitar Rig as well when it was on sale. Both of those suffer from the embarrassment of riches issue: lots and lots and lots (and lots) of options to try and go through. By the time I get knowledgeable about the settings, they’ll probably have a new version out.

I’m still using the same computer from 2008, and the Presonus Firestudio Mobile audio interface, which I still really like and I have had zero problems with it. For some effects control I’ve been using my custom arduino interface which I actually figured out how to control Amplitube inside Logic with. At one point, probably in 2011, I bought a bunch of those little Korg nano controllers (nanokey, nanopad, nanocontrol), but I’ve not been very ambitious to try and work them into my midi setup.

I did get a new ukulele, a tenor to go with my soprano. It’s only on one track though (“Hey Man Do You Know Anything Else?” which actually features both of them). Cheap ukulele’s are cheap and are still better than my ability to play them.

I put out more material this year (5.5 hours) than Jonathan Coulton did, but I don’t tour. I have no agenda planned for 2013.

I also didn’t break any major bones this year, that’s three years in a row now.