Free & Legal: SXSW Music’s 2009 5GB download

Daniel Stout2009-02-27T22:07:03+00:00

Each year in March, the SXSW Music conference unfolds down in Austin, Texas. Lots of up-and-coming bands play at the many venues that line 6th Street. It’s a good time. But if you can’t be there, the next best thing is a free MP3 track from each band playing the conference. Since 2005, SXSW has been releasing tracks by the bands before the start of the conference. This year is no different. In prior years, SXSW published an official torrent download, and since last year, others have stepped in as SXSW no longer published a single torrent.

This year’s download was put together into two torrents (with a promised third coming soon), each about 2.5 GB in size. The torrents contain roughly 520 songs each. In prior years, the total download was closer to 750 songs. With over 1,000 this year, one wonders if the conference has grown that much. At any rate, it’s a whole, free heaping of great new music from a lot of new bands. You’ll need a BitTorrent client such as μTorrent or Transmission to download the music. And so, here is the 2009 SXSW Music torrents.

And if five gigabytes of free, legal music is not enough, the torrents from prior years are still available. Greg Hewgill created the 2008 torrent and also updated the old 2005-2007 torrents. Each year has about 3 GBs worth of MP3 files. It’s just an amazing thing.

It bears saying that the music in these downloads is some of the best, freshest stuff out there. I’ve discovered several great bands by listening to the music in these downloads over the past several years. And listening to one awesome track induces one to get the album. It’s a win-win for all.

Movable Type: Maintenance, Dynamic Publishing, Advertising

Daniel Stout2009-02-25T19:58:51+00:00

Movable Type is a great platform for building blogs and websites. I made some changes to and that I wanted to tell you about. The big change is that instead of using static publishing, I’ve switched to dynamic publishing. The dynamic publishing feature of MT uses PHP to craft the pages. The basic difference for me is that I’ll be able to roll-out changes to the templates without having to rebuild the entire blog. That’s a huge time saver because I’m always tinkering.

I had tried MT’s dynamic publishing several years ago and had run into some subtle problems. I don’t exactly remember what wasn’t working, but it didn’t work quite as I expected. Fast forward to 2009 and my knowledge of PHP is solid and bugs have been fixed, and the transition from static HTML pages to virtual PHP pages was quite easy to do.

The biggest change is in the URLs for the individual entries. I switched from using a custom URL-naming scheme to one of the defaults that uses the basename of an entry. The basename is created automatically by MT when you save a new entry with a title. There is a setting in the preferences that specifies how many characters the basename should be. When this feature was introduced in MT, the basename length was set to 40 characters. At some later date the default was changed to 100 characters. But basenames, once set, don’t ever change. So if a basename reflected an older version of the entry title or was set to 40 characters, then it wasn’t all it could be.

I did some Google searching and came across a Perl script that worked wonders. Basically, I changed the basename setting to 100 characters on my blogs. Then I ran the script separately for each blog. What the script did was generate a new basename based on the title as it is currently with the requisite number of characters. Beautiful. That made easy work of the 1,200+ entries I have in Movable Type that had shortened or outdated basenames.

A few pages I kept as static pages but changed the file extensions from HTML to PHP. That’s a great thing about Movable Type. You can combine static publishing for complex pages with dynamic publishing for more easily generated pages. An example of a page I kept static is the archive page. This page does a complete listing of all entries I’ve posted in and It’s a lot of entries, and when I published the page dynamically, the database query took a long time. So I made this page a static page, and there is obviously no delay for the page to display.

While I was making these changes to the blogs, I happened across a maintenance issue that I thought I should describe. For a number of years, I’ve been a vigorous user of blog entry tags. At the bottom of each entry from the past several years, you’ll see a list of links for each tag that I’ve tagged an entry with. I don’t use tags like categories. I use tags to describe the content of the entry, which in my writing varies considerably. If you visit my tag cloud pages, you can see the variety of tags I use. The problem is that the internal links for these tags are a query to Movable Type’s search function. I allow search engines to track my tags (one possible solution would be to put a line in my robots.txt file to exclude search engines from indexing my tags). And each time a tag link is followed that search query is written into the Movable Type activity log.

So I happened across the activity log on the system-wide level. I found that there were 350,000+ entries in my activity log. This seemed extreme. I don’t know of a way to automatically throw away older entries in the MT activity log (like it does for spam comments). I decided to see how much of my database space these search query entries were eating up. Basically, the MySQL database that holds my MT install went from 80 MB to 8 MB. It was a huge reduction in the database size.

Finally, the other tinkering I’ve done with my blogs is with the advertising. I removed the advertising. It was making a little money, but I decided that the annoyance factor for my readers was greater than the money it was bringing in. I have tried various forms of advertising over the years, but what has always worked best for my sites is Google AdSense. It does matter which sizes of ads are used. In my experience, the 300×250 and 160×600 have been most effective. So advertising on each page on and is consistent and limited to one of those ad sizes each. I figure that will minimize the annoyance of the advertising and frequent visitors will hopefully be able to ignore it. The thing I like about AdSense ads is that they are sometimes useful based on the content. That is, I see things advertised that I think my readers would be interested in. The ads are targeted to the content on each page, and I find them to be mostly relevant.

I’m experimenting with other forms of AdSense advertising. I am using the Google sponsored search for searching my blogs. I chose Google search over using MT’s built-in search because it is easy to search across multiple sites and blogs. Movable Type’s search capability gets very resource intensive if you have it searching multiple blogs at one time.

Also, I have added Google’s mobile advertising to my mobile site. So far it has been in place for a week but hasn’t generated any impressions. I’ve tested the mobile site and confirmed that ads aren’t showing. I am also experimenting with advertising in my Atom and RSS feeds. I have been getting some impressions on these, but I haven’t seen an ad myself yet. I’m kind of on the fence about feed advertising. It is definitely becoming more common, but I think it is probably not very effective, at least in its current form. I’m waiting to see the results before I make a judgment, but I’m guessing I will remove that form of advertising fairly soon.

Success Makes Everything OK

Daniel Stout2009-02-22T18:58:49+00:00

Success Makes Everything OK. - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

Our man in Portland, Chris Davis, writes that he has a new t-shirt design on Threadless that needs your vote! His design made it through the initial round, and if he makes it through this next, you could own your very own “Success Makes Everything OK.” t-shirt. It’s quite a handsome design. Click on the graphic to go to the Threadless page for voting. Registration required, but it’s quick & easy. So go check out Chris’ artwork, and vote today. Voting will continue for only a few more days, and then it’s done. Do it now!

The History of Python according to Guido van Rossum

Daniel Stout2009-02-19T18:41:07+00:00

Guido van Rossum, the creator of the computer programming language Python, started a blog last month and has been regularly detailing some of the history and design decisions he’s made with the language over the past 20 years. The blog, which is called The History of Python, is quite an engaging read if language theory interests you. Of course, Python is known for having exceptional documentation and that is due in large part because of van Rossum’s efforts in creating those words.

About the same time as he started writing the blog, I had picked up a book on Python 3, which was released in December, to learn the language. So I’ve been teaching myself Python and enjoying the inside story from the language’s originator himself. Van Rossum is the BDFL of Python (benevolent dictator for life). I was thinking that the term BDFL had been coined for Linus Torvalds, but according to Wikipedia it was van Rossum himself in 1995 who was first given that title.

It’s been a while since I’ve linked to a new, exciting blog. But this one is especially interesting for language theorists. He’s only been posting for a month, so there’s still time to start from the beginning of the blog and get the full story.

The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter

Daniel Stout2009-02-16T05:58:31+00:00

The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter

Hurting Dog was a band I was in during high school in the late ’80s. After a bit of dumpster diving in my personal archives, some old materials came to light. Desktop publishing was new and young at the time, and The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter was my first forays into both music journalism and desktop publishing. All told, eight issues of the newsletter were released. I used a piece of software for my Apple II+ from Springboard Software called Newsroom. It was a rudimentary package by today’s standards, but it was a great piece of software. One of the added benefits of Newsroom was the collection of clip art that came along with the software. As you’ll see from the issues of The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter, I made ample use of the provided clip art, and frequently used a piece of clip art as the starting point for many of the articles.

This wasn’t exactly journalism. It was more like play-journalism. But for me, it was a lot of fun.

So without further ado, here are the original eight issues of The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter. Click the thumbnails to view a larger JPEG image of the page, or download the PDF files for the full, printable effect. These are scans of old dot-matrix printouts. I’ve improved the contrast where necessary, but otherwise these are as they were in the 1980s.

Vol. 1 / No. 1 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 1
Vol. 1 / No. 2 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 2
Vol. 1 / No. 3 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 3 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 3 page 2
Vol. 1 / No. 4 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 4 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 4 page 2
Vol. 1 / No. 5 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 5 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 5 page 2
Vol. 1 / No. 6 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 6 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 1 / No 6 page 2
Vol. 2 / No. 1 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 2 / No 1 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 2 / No 1 page 2
Vol. 2 / No. 2 : complete PDF PDF
The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 2 / No 2 page 1 The Official Hurting Dog Newsletter: Vol 2 / No 2 page 2

Still Excellent: Sound & Motion: Vol. 01

Daniel Stout2009-02-15T20:24:28+00:00

The Prodigy - Poison (video still)Palm Pictures in 2000 released a DVD of music videos from various electronica artists that still shakes the house. It’s called Sound & Motion: Vol. 01. It’s highly recommended, and this is fair warning that it might disappear from existence soon. It’s no longer listed on Palm’s website, and is reporting they have but four copies left.

The DVD came out in 2000 and virtually all of the songs are from 1997. There are some true classics here in video form including Underworld’s “Push Upstairs,” Adam F’s “Circles,” The Prodigy’s “Poison” and Goldie’s “Temper Temper.” The liner notes cover a range of subgenres:

Contained within the disc’s reflective surface of 0’s and 1’s is a collection of forward thinking music and striking visual design. From the famous to the infamous. From the known to the soon-to-be-known. Techno, House, Breaks, Drum’n’Bass, Ambient, Dub all encapsulated within your speakers and on your screens.

The audio mix is good and can be played back in either two-channel stereo or 5.1 Dolby Digital surround audio. This DVD was certainly one of the first to offer such great mixes of music and great visuals. Sound & Motion starts out with three more popular artists and then starts digging deeper. Amazon doesn’t include a track listing so here goes:

  1. The Chemical Brothers • Block Rockin’ Beats
  2. Fatboy Slim • The Rockafeller Skank
  3. Jacknife Lee • Bursting Off the Backbeat
  4. Josh Wink • Simple Man
  5. The Crystal Method • Busy Child
  6. The Prodigy • Poison
  7. Mocean Worker • Detonator
  8. Goldie • Temper Temper
  9. Dieselboy and Technical Itch • Atlantic State
  10. Photek • Ni Ten Ichi Ryu (Two Swords Technique)
  11. Roni Size/Reprazent • Brown Paper Bag
  12. Adam F • Circles
  13. Talvin Singh • Jaan
  14. Sly and Robbie • Superthruster
  15. Underworld • Push Upstairs
  16. Deep Dish (with Everything But The Girl) • The Future of the Future (Stay Gold)

Check it out while you still can. It’s a whole gaggle of great tracks.

D.H.S.’s deep house classic House of God reissued

Daniel Stout2009-02-13T20:53:20+00:00

D.H.S. - House of GodTwenty years after its original release on two slabs of 12″ vinyl, D.H.S. has come out with a re-release of their classic House of God single. D.H.S.’s House of God is minimalist electronica at its very best. It samples a preacher making a call for contributions of “$50 or more” to the “House of God.” Classic.

The new release includes some of the original mixes, plus three brand-new mixes. This has been released as a digital download or on vinyl. Poker Flat Recordings is handling the re-release. Their release includes the Phonique Remix, the Martin Landsky Remix, and the 20 Years DHS Remix. Included with the package are three of the original mixes includes the $50 Mix, the Unholy Version, and the Holy Version. The new mixes are okay, but those three originals are awesome! The $50 Mix and the Unholy Version are especially good. House of God is available from the iTunes Store or from as a digital download. As far as I know, House of God has never been released on CD. Just vinyl and now digital downloads.

DHS (Dimensional Holofonic Sound) is the creation of Ben Stokes, video director, visual artist & musician. His website, is visually stimulating. A discography of his musical releases can be found here. Not surprisingly Stokes has been involved with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto and was on tour with MBM in 2008.

Poker Flat Recordings has a page about D.H.S.

Finally, if you want to see what all the buzz is about, check out this video of the original House of God on YouTube.

Random Shuffle Answers – Predictably Sulking Sara – of Montreal

Daniel Stout2009-02-08T23:01:22+00:00

The memes that people used to do on blogs, people are now doing on Facebook. My blog’s feed comes into Facebook as Notes anyway, so I might as well share this with the world. So here goes. Another one from Facebook, but first the rules:

Put your player/music software on shuffle and hit the ‘Next’ button to get your answer to every question. You must indicate the title and artist, no matter how far-fetched it sounds. Tag people who might be interested in doing this same thing. No cheating.

“That Heat” – The Wolfgang Press

“Mumtaz Khan” – Ratatat

“Lost Message” – Air

“Birmingham” – Drive-By Truckers

“Out On The Tiles” – Led Zeppelin

“Meschugana” – The Durutti Column

“I Love You” – Amir Sulaiman

“Waiting For The 7.18” – Bloc Party

“My Fault” – Eminem

“All The Right Friends” – R.E.M.

“What She Wants” – Felix Da Housecat

“Lakbossa” – Michael Brook

“The Crash” – KOOPA

“It’s The Wine” – Pattern Is Movement

“Speak My Language” – The Cure

“Ghetto Blue” – Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues

“Baseball Cap” – Faithless

“Groundhog’s Day” – Primus

“Paparazzi On Mopeds” – The Cranberries

“Up On The Hill” – Mark Burgess And The Sons Of God

“Flaming Heart” – M. Ward

“Longing/Love” – George Winston

“Predictably Sulking Sara” – of Montreal

Happy Jazz: How to be a Smile Millionaire

Daniel Stout2009-02-08T20:05:25+00:00

Laughing Laura - Today is a Laughing DayFriend of the blog, Laughing Laura has a new CD out. Her last CD was a laughter yoga workout for commuters that kept me laughing all last fall. This new CD is called Today is a Laughing Day. It contains 15 original songs with Laughing Laura and her chorus of Laughketeers backed by a really fabulous jazz trio featuring Tom Bourcier on piano, Karyn Quinn on bass and Rich MacDonald playing the drums.

These are tough times, and it’s more important now than ever to laugh and be merry. Laura’s CD is great fun. The songs are upbeat and immensely pleasurable to listen to. And whatever mood you’re in, after listening to this CD, it feels like a weight has lifted. There are many standout tracks, but I’d especially point you towards Laughter Friends, Turkey The Turtle (which is about her pet turtle), Enthusiastic, and my personal favorite, Smile Millionaire. The music is swinging, upbeat jazz, and the lyrics are ones only Laughing Laura could write. These are totally unique creations that lift the spirit.

Laura Gentry AKA Laughing Laura studied at the American School of Laughter Yoga in California, and later she studied with Dr. Madan Kataria of India, the founder of the Laughter Yoga movement. Laughter yoga as you might guess involves a lot of laughing. Wikipedia says that laughter yoga is “a physically oriented technique that uses a blend of playful, empowering and otherwise ‘tension-releasing’ simple laughter exercises.” Laura has made laughter her life’s mission, and as a recipient of that joy, I can positively state that it absolutely works. I’m happy to know Laura personally, and I can attest to the great happiness that follows in her wake.

Laura says this is an album for “kids and kids at heart,” and frankly, it works for all ages. The lyrics are lighthearted, and the quick tempo of the jazz will get your toe tapping.

Today is a Laughing Day is available from or Laura’s Laughter Shoppe. Check it out! You’ll be glad you did.

The launch of Manufactured Mobile

Daniel Stout2009-02-06T23:11:02+00:00

Someone came up to me at work the other day and said they had been reading my blog in the bathroom on their phone. That may have been more than I wanted to know, but it did result in some discussion of common interests. More importantly though it got me thinking about mobile sites. And tonight I’m pleased to announce the fruits of that thought: Manufactured Mobile has launched!

The mobile site is at

This was a one-evening activity. Research took about 30 minutes. What I quickly discovered is that there is not much information on how to craft a mobile site, and what there is mostly dates back four or five years. Other, more recent, sites claimed to have how-to documentation on how to create mobile sites, but this consisted of little else than a few links to websites that will automatically create a mobile site for you.

The point of this exercise was to learn about mobile sites, so I spent most of my time just looking at actual mobile sites and seeing how they were implemented. I started first with some sites from work such as

Once the implementation details were more or less decided, it took about 30 minutes to craft the initial templates. Somewhat surprisingly, I only ended up adding two templates to my blog in Movable Type. One was for the mobile site frontpage and the other template was for the individual entry archives.

The two templates are basically similar to the main blog’s templates except that they have every non-content piece removed. What remains is a basic text skeleton with little or no formatting.

The process of tuning the templates took about two hours. And then I was done. The pages are using a document type definition called XHTML Mobile Profile 1.0, which is the standard for WAP 2.0. The DOCTYPE on those documents can be validated by the W3C’s XHTML validator. XHTMLMP 1.0 is basically a subset of XHTML.

What really struck me tonight about mobile sites in general is how accessible they are. Looking at the content-forward approach of mobile sites, it would seem that these would work especially well with screen readers and other devices for the vision impaired. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mention that connection, but it was clear to me tonight that mobile sites are also great for accessibility reasons.

While iPhones are good at rendering many types of web content, the mobile site works even better on your iPhone. Stripped away are the too-wide columns and graphical flourishes, and what you end up with is straight content presented in an easily readable format.

So give my new mobile site a whirl, and let me know what you think. Take your BlackBerry, your iPhone, or even your regular web browser and just check it the fuck out. I think you’ll like.