Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And now I think Pandora is kinda stupid.

Happily Ever After: A Rock Opera
A month or so ago, my wife and I picked up a great docking station at Costco for our iPhones. For a coupla years, all music in the home had been relegated to computer, so if we were doing any cooking or house-cleaning or whatnot and we wanted some tunes, that involved firing up media jukebox, selecting a playlist, and blasting music from the office. A docking station let us quickly dial something in whilst in the kitchen or entertaining, and has proven wonderful. However, the next hurdle was what to listen to. I only have the 8GB iphone, and my carry-around playlist is pretty much my jogging playlist, and my wife can't tolerate Iron Maiden, so there is a rub.

Enter Pandora. Several folks at the office had been using Pandora for a while, but as I had a 450 GB drive on my work computer filled to the brim with music I could organize into whatever playlist I was in the mood for, I never really saw the need to check it out. However, if my wife and I are fixing dinner and we want some quick tunes that we can both agree on, I don't wnat to take the time to build a playlist. Pandora is the perfect solution - pick an artist or genre, and Pandora makes a playlist for you on the fly - quick and easy.

As I have become more accustomed to using Pandora, I have really enjoyed some of new music it has put in my playlists... it is a great discovery tool. To that end, if Pandora was hipping me to new music, I figured it might could hip other folks to my music.. and so began the exploration of how to submit to Pandora.

Originally, I thought this post would be a step by step on how to get your music on pandora. Which went like this:
On its FAQ page (http://blog.pandora.com/faq/) , Pandora gives the following instructions:

Q: How do I submit my music (or my band's music) to be considered for inclusion on Pandora?
We're very excited to announce a brand-new process to submit your music (or your band's music) to Pandora.
You'll need:
* a CD of your music
* a unique UPC code for that CD
* your CD to be available through Amazon (must be a physical CD, not just MP3s for download)
* the legal rights to your music
* MP3 files for two of the songs from your CD
* a free Pandora account, based on a valid email address, which can be associated with your music
Once you have all of these items ready to go, you can submit your music to Pandora here:

So I jumped through the hoops. I established an Amazon reseller account and mailed in my CD to inventory, even though the CD was already available digitally via Amazon. Once completed, I walked through the Pandora submission. At the end, I was told my submission was pending. I did not get an email, I just had to remember to log in to http://submitmusic.pandora.com/submit/status every once in a while.

Finally - after 2 months, I just happened to remember to log in and found that my music has been rejected. No explanation, no chance for appeal, just rejection. This is for a record that is professionally produced, with great players, that is objectively on par with anything on Pandora (http://TheRockOpera.com). Is it because I did not go through a music service like The Orchard? - which is what some services, like Slacker Radio require (http://forums.slacker.com/want-to-get-your-music-on-slacker-radio-check-here%C7%83-p224.html)

I just don't know - a quick search yields no answers, just other frustrated rejects like myself: http://www.jamesclark.com/2009/11/21/pandora-has-closed-her-box/, http://parallel-rose.livejournal.com/13820.html.

And the worst part is the lack of info. If I knew i had to get with an aggregator or work through another channel, I would check that out. But I don't know, I am just rejected. Not only is Pandora not helping me get my music discovered, it has left me rather despondent.

Rejected. Bummer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Great Big Photo Project part II - Slides

Shannon Glee's 4th Birthday - 15
I am closing in on my first box of photos to send off - I have approximately 250 more man-hours in this than originally anticipated. But that is how it always goes. I spent a full day, and Then my sister came over and helped me for a while, and then my wife and I spent another evening grouping things together. Kathleen now has a pretty good idea of how everyone in my family looked through the years.

One of the problems has been that I didn't really stumble upon a good organization theme until late in the game. I was trying to group my mom's family, and then my dad's family, and trying to find some sort of event-type-theme: so putting all of thanksgiving together, or all of my sister's birthdays in one pile. Well, I have been trying to wrap my head around iPhoto at the same time, and in those computer machinations I realized that the only way to do it is the utterly-obvious-group-'em-by-year. Of course, this was complicated by some bad math on my part (my sister was born in 78, not 79), but I now have my stacks from 1973 onwards.

I have also been searching if there is any viable solution other than ScanMyPhotos.com(SMP) - as my mom is not real cool with the idea of sending all of these irreplaceable photos in the mail across the country. I did find a place locally, but it is $1.00/scan vs. the ScanMyPhotos.com $0.05/scan. so that kinda seals the deal.

And besides that, I got my initial batch back from ScanMyPhotos.com and they look great, and the turn around was super quick. In the big photo box was a plastic bag with 50 or so slides. I was immediately psyched, as I actually own a working slide projector - but the lamp decided to blow out around 25 seconds into the experiment. So I sent 'em off to SMP te render them into something I could work with. SMP has two levels of scannin - 2000 dpi, and 4000 dpi. As I am not really sure what is on these, I electerd to go with 2000 which was cheaper and quicker. I figure if I really need higher res, I can do another batch down the road.

The results are good. Not mind-blowingly awesome, but good. there are a coupla instances of weird color-artefacting, and some stuff is a little grainy. Of course, this may have more to do with the original source than anything. Overall, I am incredibly pleased with the price, quality, and turn-around. I know that there are a bunch more slides - particularly from my Dad's side of the family, and I hope this case study will convince my folks to let me send them off. Right now they are probably sitting above the garage and there is a slim chance they will ever be accessed in their current form, as I have dad's slide projector, and the bulb just blew out ;).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A picture postcard from 1912

I can only imagine that this is the oldest photo in this collection that I am working with on my Great Big Photo Project - a picture postcard sent within Arkansas dated August 29, 1912! There is a note with the postcard in my Grandmother's handwriting that states "Front to back - First Date,  Lee Davis, Eva Bowen, J.V. Looney (my great-grandfather), Mollie Davis (my great-grandmother), Will Bailey, Julie Bailey, Lora Davis, Lelia Davis, Lea Davis, George Looney, Elmer Davis (Eva made picture)"

So - I guess this means this documents the first date of my great-grandparents? How cool is that. I guess they really believed in the dating ladder - and starting with group dating. Clearly, as this was sent to Mollie Davis, this predates her getting married when she became Mollie Looney.

I love that the address is a simple name, city, state. Ravenden Springs was never the largest of cities, I 'spose. This would have been sent in the 'golden age of picture postcards, before WWI, and before the telephone replaced them as a quicker way to communicate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Great Big Photo Project

Big Photo ProjectAttempting to bring order to hundreds of loose photos in genre-specific piles on my dining room table
So - I was at my parent's house for Thanksgiving this year, and I had my Mom bring out the 'great big box of photos.' This was a huge rubber-maid container that was full to the rim with family pictures - including originals from 1914 Arkansas, mingled in with wallet-sized school photos, to multiple sleeves of my sisters volleyball team and cars cars cars. You know the sports photos I am sure - shot from the bleachers with a point-and-click camera, there is no focus to the picture - just a bunch of small figures in matching uniforms doing indiscernible things on a gymnasium floor. Each shot is pretty much the same. Each roll generally has 1 redeemable picture - a group shot at the close of the game - where you can actually tell who is who. The others are interchange-ably bad, and no one really needs to ever see them again. Oh, and there are usually double-prints.

Jon Freed, Jane Ann, Glee WrightA great shot of my Dad and Aunt Jane with my Grandmother.
As to the cars, My dad and I went to the 24 hours of Daytona for several years in a row when I was growing up. this was a really wonderful event that involved us camping in the infield, and roaming about the entire racetrack for the entire 24 hrs of the race. To prove I was there, I would lug my point-an-shoot camera around with me, trying to capture the moment a Porsche 956 would belch flame when downshifting around a chicane. I would sidle up to some professional toting a huge rig with a 3 foot long lens, and try and try and duplicate his shot with a small plastic camera that had no hope of focusing on the cars moving at 150 mph. I have rolls and rolls of blurry pics from these events - with nary a worthwhile picture in the bunch.

Martha Ann Byrd Looney
My great-great-grandmother. Written on the back in my grandmother's (paternal) handwriting: "Martha Ann Byrd Looney had 16 brothers and sisters. Married James Isam Looney Sept 8, 1871. They had 10 children 1) WJ, 2) S.A., 3) M.F., 4) Manuel Dodson, 5) M.E., 6) George A., 7) Mollie, 8) John Stubblefield, 9) James Virgle (my great-grandfather), 10) J. Everett. Mar 4 1855 - Nov 17, 1942."
The good stuff is the family photos. there are some great shots of my sister and me, and a number of old pics I have never seen before. I am in the process of trying to organize it all into some sort of cohesion before I attempt to begin the digitization process.  I am looking at http://scanmyphotos.com. To scan these myself would take forever. I am hoping this will work, though it is somewhat scary sending all of these pics out to a 3rd party. To that end I am trying to identify the truly crucial one-of-a-kind pics and scanning those myself. However, to my thinking, if I don't do something to organize and digitize these pics, they are effectively lost anyway, so it is worth the risk of sending them away.