Feb
26
2011

Hackers steal Facebook Pages – creator loses administrator rights

Come Watson — there is trouble afoot!

I have just learned the hard lesson that hackers can steal your Facebook pages right out from under you.

I manage a number of Facebook Business Pages (formerly termed ‘fan pages’). As of about a week and a half ago, three of these pages somehow got hacked. Somewhere in this this timeframe, the hackers have been able to assert themselves as administrators of these pages. Even worse, on two out of these three pages, the hackers have been able to delete me from the list of administrators of those pages. Read that again, and give it a moment to sink in…

Got it? Now here’s the kicker — so far Facebook seems unwilling to try to rectify the situation.

With the recent page redesign, it took several days before I realized that I had been hacked. I thought I was just caught in some transitional SNAFU. No such luck.

After realizing I’d been hacked, it took several days of concerted effort to try to contact a human within Facebook. After making contact, their reply seems to be a decided unwillingness to assist in the problem.

Now for the sordid tale…

About a week and a half back, the following seemingly innocuous drivel was posted to three of my pages:

Facebook hacker's spam

Facebook hacker's spam

I thought it was kinda insipid. However, not wishing to sadden a foreign fan, who perhaps had some emotional investment, I just left it be. Incidentally, google translates this as Albanian for Give the fans a little like ksaj site because it is a good site sh. Whatever the heck that is supposed to mean.

Later that day, a Usual Suspects ‘Group’ (as opposed to Usual Suspects Business Page, which we have been discussing up to this point) sprung into existence. Curiously, anything posted on the new Group also appeared on our Page, and anything posted on our Page appeared on this new Group. Weird. This factored directly into my assumption that FB was just hosed again, as they were in the midst of re-designing the facilities in the Business Pages.

A couple days later, I went to create a FB Event for a gig the Usual Suspects had coming up, on the Usual Suspects Page. I found that I was unable to do so. Further, I discerned that the reason I could not create an event was due to the fact that I was no longer an administrator for this page. Still thinking it to be a temporary SNAFU related to the Page facility redesign, I shrugged it off.

Eventually, on the 24th of February, the above spam reappeared. A friend of mine pointed out that it appeared nearly simultaneously on three pages I created, and (until I was cast off) administered:

http://www.facebook.com/usualDashSuspectsDotNet – The Usual Suspects
http://www.facebook.com/NovaDashKDotNet – Nova-K
http://www.facebook.com/LeeThomasBand – The Lee Thomas Band

These posts must be annoying at least some of our fans. So I decided to delete them from these pages. It was at this point that I discovered, to my horror, that I had lost administrative privileges to both Usual Suspects and Nova-K.

Interestingly, I still had privileges to Lee Thomas Band (I theorize below as to why this may have escaped the fate of the other pages). This led me to viewing the page as administrator, and viewing the administrators for this page. I noted then that administrative privileges had been granted to 5 people I had never heard of:

  • Ervin Gjurra
  • Argent Metallaj
  • Da Rk THunder
  • Taulant Kocillari
  • Don Kevii Unic

I revoked the administrative privileges of these five. I then started trying to report these people. Unfortunately, FB has no means of reporting that they have hacked my account. The nearest I could find was:

  • Report User > Fake Profile > Impersonating > Joe Bear

as it seemed the closest match.

I spent some time perusing the profiles of these hackers. Interestingly, ‘Taulant’ lists ‘Argent’ as one of his/her over a dozen siblings – may this denote a hacker family?

How did this happen?

I wish I knew. Here is what I think I can deduce. I don’t know how, but it seems clear that one of these five hackers was able somehow to hack my personal profile. Upon doing so, they granted themselves, and their friends, administrative privileges to three of my Business Pages. Why only three, when there are several more they could have hacked? I have no idea. After getting in, they deleted my personal profile’s administrator status for two of these three Biz Pages.

In the case of the third page, I retained my administrator privileges. Did they try to cast me off here too? I don’t know. However, at the time of the attack, I had an active FB Ad running for this page. Perhaps administrators cannot be cast out while running Ads for the page in question?

When I marhall the mental energy, I’ll generate a new post outlining the (rather unhelpful) communication I have so far had with humans at Facebook about this issue. Word of warning- so far, it ain’t pretty.

Jan
26
2011

Facebook basics the right way: Create an Artist Page for your Band

Already the 800 pound gorilla of social media, Facebook is nipping at the heels of Google in an attempt at internet dominance. With over half a billion users, if Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s third most populous.

With stats like these, you know that your band needs a serious presence on Facebook in order to capture listeners, fans, and buyers for your music. But did you know the number one mistake that bands commit in first setting up their Facebook site?

They set up a personal profile for their band, rather than an artist page.

Just this one simple mistake can hamstring your publicity efforts for years. Personal profiles come with severe limitations that can be sidestepped with an Artist Page:

  • max of 5000 friends
  • single administrator
  • inability to tie to other social media sites
  • no universal like button to share elsewhere on the web
  • no stats or analytics
  • violates the Facebook terms of service

All these problems are solved with Facebook Pages. But how does one go about creating a Facebook Page? Rest easy – the answer is a simple one. In fact, it is the subject of my next two-minute tutorial (cue the trumpets…)

  1. you need to log into Facebook as yourself. You will be the initial administrator of the page you are about to create.
  2. Find the ‘Create new Facebook Page’ Page on Facebook. At press time, this was at http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php If it moves by the time you read this article, you can probably find it by typing ‘Create new Facebook Page’ in Facebook’s search bar.
  3. In the right half of the ‘Create Page’ page, there is a header entitled ‘Official Page’. This is where we’ll enter our data
  4. assuming you are a band, select the radio button entitled ‘artist, band, or public figure’
  5. from the resulting dropdown, choose the subcategory that best matches your project
  6. below that is a text box for entering the name of your page (I suggest using your band name)
  7. you need to check the box affirming that you are the official representative of your band
  8. lastly, click the button labeled ‘Create Official Page’

Zoom! You did it!

You should be immediately whisked to the initial administration view of your page. Here you are free to follow the suggested prompts for uploading a logo, inviting friends, adding fans, posting updates, promoting your page… all the stuff that makes your page compelling. However, the most important thing is that your page now exists. You can start using it to spread news of your awesomeness across the web.

This page will be the core of your band’s promotional activities. See our other articles for linking this to your other sites, integrating with other platforms such as ReverbNation and MySpace, effective selling using Facebook ads, and others.

Aug
20
2010

Good overview of RAID storage & backup for musicians

While music is my avocation, I make my daily bread in the data storage industry. As such, I was happy to see this article shared by em magazine.

This gives a good overview of the importance of a regular backup regimen. After a broad overview, it specifically addresses the benefits of employing RAID as a means of eliminating the human limitation of being disciplined enough to stay on a backup regimen. RAID forms an automated backup of sorts, however it does have its limitations.

Limitations of RAID

Perhaps the major limitation of RAID is that it will happily (and immediately) propagate any human error. As an example, have you ever mistakenly deleted a file? Overwrote a file you needed with a blank or incorrect file? Studies over the years have consistently shown that human errors such as these are behind 75% – 85% of all data loss. The RAID will happily overwrite the good data with bad data on all the redundant copies it maintains.

The author of the original article does address this issue at the end in his discussion of progressive backups. I just wanted to stress that this point should not be an afterthought.

Why RAID works

As the author mentions, RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. The key to the reason that RAID can guard against hardware damage leading to data loss is in the word Redundant. All data stored to a RAID is stored in more than one copy on multiple disks.  (I speak here of all but RAID 0, which is not truly RAID, as there is no data redundancy in RAID 0). If a disk breaks, the data from that disk can be algorithmically recreated from the redundant data on the other disks.

What happens when a disk breaks?

It is important, in the case of a disk failure, to replace the failed disk before a second drive fails. Upon adding the new disk, the missing data is then reconstituted and written to the new disk. This process is termed rebuilding a degraded array. If a second drive fails in a degraded array, before the rebuild can complete, data is lost.

It is important to note that a degraded array (one with a failed disk) operates much slower than a healthy array. Users can thereby expect file operations to take longer, and the rebuild time can sometimes be measured in days.

RAID 6 guards against dual failure

This extended rebuild window has given rise to yet another RAID architecture, typically termed RAID 6. This is similar to RAID 5. However, instead of keeping one extra copy in each ‘stripe group’, two algorithmically different copies are kept. A ‘stripe group’ is the set of disks that are managed as a single disk visible to the host computer. Most affordable RAID systems are limited to a single stripe group. The benefit of this RAID 6 over RAID 5 is that you are covered against data loss if a second disk goes down before a degraded array can be rebuilt.

Capacity lost to overhead

While the author claims that RAID 5 can consist of 3-5 disks in each array, it can actually contain any number of three or more. The capacity penalty for RAID 5 is dependent on the number of disks in the array. In RAID 5, the capacity overhead is negligibly larger than one disk’s worth of capacity. This is due to the single redundant data in each stripe group. In RAID 6, the overhead is two disk’s worth of capacity. A RAID 6 can have any number for four or larger in a stripe group.

Part of a good backup plan

To return to an earlier point, RAID cannot guard against human error. If you overwrite a file, RAID does nothing to solve this problem. Similarly, if your house is hit by an asteroid (or if someone steals your RAID unit), you will lose data. Accordingly, it is crucial not to mistake the use of RAID with a complete, well thought out backup regimen. It would serve the user well to regularly back up the RAID system (perhaps to an external hard drive), and store it offsite.

Planned obsolescence of some RAID subsystems?

Last, if in the marketplace for an external RAID subsystem, there is a point of which to be aware. We are currently at a natural inflection point on drive capacity of the larger drives available. Due to the fact that 32-bit processors have dominated system architectures for many years (we’re just making the transition to 64-bit), and almost all drives currently have a 512-byte sector size, a 2TiB drive is the maximum size some systems will ever be able to employ. 2^32 Bytes = 4GiBytes, and 4Gi * 512 Bytes = 2TiBytes. There are systems that employ a 64-bit path for Logical Block Addresses, but others do not. This is somewhat analogous to the Y2K scare of some years back. (or the Unix time epoch issue due to hit in 2038). The upshot of all this is, if you are in the market for a RAID subsystem, it would be wise to ensure it is already compatible with drives larger than 2TiB.

Feb
19
2010

how to stream your music into Second Life — six software source clients compared

In this previous post, I explained how your music can be streamed into Second Life using the same technology as internet radio. I also explained that it required a Shoutcast source client, which sends your music to a streaming server, which subsequently rebroadcasts your music to all the listeners in Second Life.

This post lists the leading choices in Shoutcast/Icecast source clients. This source client is the piece of software that runs on your computer, connecting the music you play with the streaming server.

What it does

The Shoutcast/Icecast streaming source client takes audio input from a program or hardware device, encodes it into a media stream, and sends the media stream on to a streaming server. Each step of this process requires configuration, and each program differs in the specifics of where you may find these settings. However, the settings themselves are fairly universal.

Music source

The input to the source client may come from a media player such as iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Player, or it may also come from a hardware device connected to your computer — such as a mixer connected to a sound card or even an integrated laptop microphone. Your chosen source client will present a list of possible inputs from which you can choose to broadcast.

Encoding

Some source clients may be able to encode into multiple media formats. However, for compatibility with Second Life, you will need to use mp3. The Second Life viewer on your listeners’ end does not support WMA, AAC, Ogg, or other formats. Further, you will find that if you try to use the most pristine mp3 encoding settings, your listeners will experience skips in the stream. It is best not to use anything higher than 44.1 kHz, 64 kbps, stereo. You should be able to find these settings grouped together.

Specifying the stream server

Lastly, you will need to specify the Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server to which the source client will connect. This will be in the form of a URL or an IP Address, a Port number, and a Password. Some streaming clients allow you to build a ‘library’ of servers, each with their own URL, port, and password. This is handy if you regularly perform at a number of venues. Each venue will have its own server. This allows you to, once configured, merely select a given venue’s server from a list, and have all the values set at once. If your source client does not have this feature, you will need to manually enter this data every time for each venue.

Criteria

For each listed software streaming client, I list the price, where you can obtain it, what platform it runs upon, and other attributes. After reading this post, you should be ready to choose a streaming source client that meets your needs.

Before I list the choices, I will first define what the various attributes mean.

Operating System (OS) – This tells you what operating system the streaming source client is compatible with. There are choices for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and other UNIX-like OSs.

Plugin vs. Standalone – Some Shoutcast/Icecast source clients are ‘plugins’ , which operate inside of other programs. An example is the Shoutcast DSP Plugin, which installs ‘into’ Winamp as a host. Other source clients run in their own window, providing all needed functionality themselves.

Record functionality – Some source clients will also record (or ‘archive’) your stream. The stream is not only sent on to the streaming server, but it also is written to disk as an mp3 file. This allows you to play back your stream at a later date.

Presenting the candidates

butt (broadcast using this tool)

This relative newcomer provides all the functionality that you would need or want. The fact that it is free, and runs on almost any computer, makes it a great choice.

Winamp with Shoutcast DSP Plugin

This solution has been the mainstay in the Windows arena, mostly due to its price.

Nicecast

For years, this has been the standard in the Mac arena. Full featured.

Simplecast

This selection comes from a company with a full line of professional internet radio tools.

Reaper with Shoutcast plugin

Reaper is a full-functioned DAW, from a company founded by the guy who first invented Shoutcast technology. Extremely powerful, with complexity to match.

Edcast

Both EdCast and its precursor Oddcast are from the same developer, along with a number of other useful music tools (including a stream recorder).

The envelope, please

If you are just getting started in streaming your music into Second Life, I recommend that you start with butt. Silly name, I know. However, it is free, does everything you want it to do, and runs the same way on any computer you’re likely to have. Plus, it is an open source program, meaning that its future is pretty much assured.

Any of the other choices would be fine as well. They all work pretty much hiccup-free. If your needs are unique, there may be some reason to prefer another over butt.

Myself, I use Reaper with the Shoutcast plugin. Reaper is a full-featured music production DAW like Pro Tools, Logic, Sonar, etc. In fact, it was my DAW before I started streaming into Second Life. The fact that Reaper is from the guy the guy that invented internet radio (as well as Winamp, Gnutella, and other modern necessities) holds strong sway with me.

Get going!

You really can’t go wrong with any of the above. Just grab one, grab the free Second Life viewer, create a free Second Life account, log on, and start performing for the eager Second Life audiences!

Questions? Comments? Let me know if there is any specific aspect of being a Second Life musician that you’d like me to cover!

This is but one article in a series on opportunities for musicians in Second Life. Further articles will cover resources, technical issues, groups and organizations, revenue streams, publicity outlets, and more. Next up, however, will be a step-by-step guide to installing and configuring butt, and testing your stream inworld. I hope you join us in this journey to a strange and wonderful new world. In the meantime, you may wish to do some early exploring on your own — it is free to get started! Just click the link below:

Secondlife.com

Feb
4
2010

increase your visibility by getting a custom username URL for your facebook page: two minute tutorial

With over 350 Million users, facebook is becoming increasingly important as a tool for reaching potential fans.

One frustrating aspect of facebook, however, is its mechanism for assigning a URL to any person’s profile or any public brand’s page. Let us look at Metaverse Musician’s facebook page, for instance. At the instant in time that I am composing this blog, this page is only accessible at the URL http://www.facebook.com/pages/Metaverse-Musician-isjeb/253144691788 . Wouldn’t it be preferable if the URL was simpler? I think http://www.facebook.com/Metaverse-Musician would be just about ideal, don’t you?

This two minute tutorial explains how you can accomplish exactly this URL simplification. This can be done for both personal profiles, and for fan pages.

Personal Profile:

  1. Go to your personal profile
  2. From your Profile, type http://www.facebook.com/username into your browser’s URL bar, and hit enter.
  3. In order to do this, you must have verified your account through your mobile number. If you have not yet done so, facebook will guide you though this at this point.
  4. Facebook will present you with a number of choices for your custom username URL. If you like one that it has preselected, choose it.
  5. If you would rather have a different choice for your custom username URL, click ‘More’ and enter your choice.
  6. Click ‘Check Availablility’. If the username is available, and meets facebook guidelines, facebook will ask you to confirm your choice. Double check your spelling — once confirmed, you’re stuck with this as a custom username URL forever!
  7. Click ‘Confirm’. Facebook tells you that “You can now direct your friends to facebook.com/<whatever-your-choice-was>”.

Fan Pages:

You must first have at least 25 fans. This is an arbitrary limit set by facebook.

  1. Go to your personal profile
  2. From your Profile, type http://www.facebook.com/username into your browser’s URL bar, and hit enter. This should take you to the page for setting your default profile username.
  3. Click ‘Set a username for your Pages’.
  4. A dropdown box will appear – choose the page for which you wish to set a custom username URL.
  5. Facebook will present you with a number of choices for your custom username URL. If you like one that it has preselected, choose it.
  6. If you would rather have a different choice for your custom username URL, click ‘More’ and enter your choice.
  7. Click ‘Check Availablility’. If the username is available, and meets facebook guidelines, facebook will ask you to confirm your choice. Double check your spelling — once confirmed, you’re stuck with this as a custom username URL forever!
  8. Click ‘Confirm’. Facebook tells you that “You can now direct your fans to facebook.com/<whatever-your-choice-was>”.

Now you can publicize your custom username URL outside of the facebook sandbox — on the internet at large — confident your friends and fans will be able to link to your profile and pages from outside the facebook walled garden.

Note: this guide is written mostly from memory. If you encounter any issues or discrepancies while executing this process, please leave me a comment so I can fix the procedure.

Jan
30
2010

How do I send my music to listeners in Second Life? Shoutcast, Icecast, and streaming explained

DJs, karaoke track artists, singer/songwriters, and bands can all find a ready-made, world-wide, paying audience in Second Life. What all is involved in getting your music streamed into Second Life?

Music in Second Life operates on a technology known as Shoutcast. Shoutcast, along with its open source compatible follow-on Icecast, is the same technology that underpins all of internet radio. When you stream your music into Second Life, you are essentially operating your own internet radio station!

Overview

There are several links in the chain between you creating your music and the listener hearing your music.

  1. – you create your music on a computer
  2. – a program known as a source client encodes your music for the server
  3. – a Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server broadcasts the music to multiple Second Life viewers
  4. – the listeners’ Second Life viewer plays your music for their enjoyment

Let’s look a little deeper at each stage of this process.

Music Creation

Again the first step in the chain is that your music must be input to a computer. If you are DJing from WinAmp, iTunes or other music player, this is already taken care of by the music player program. If you are performing in real-time — such as playing a guitar and singing — you will need to input your performance into the computer’s sound card through the use of a microphone and/or a mixer. Many computers have microphones built right into them that would be suitable, though you may notice an increase in sound quality with a more sophisticated microphone.

Source Client

The Source Client is the link between your computer and the internet. This is a program or utility that runs on your computer. It has essentially two responsibilities. It creates and maintains a connection to the Shoutcast/Icecast server, and it encodes your music into the datastream that the server needs. Source Clients are available both as standalone programs, and as plugins that operate with your Music Creation program.

Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server

The Shoutcast or Icecast streaming server is a ‘virtual machine’ that runs on a computer. While you can technically install the server on your own computer — even the one you are using as the Music Creation computer — it is generally inadvisable to do so. The reason for this is that the primary function of the Shoutcast/Icecast server is to take as an input the single stream from your Source Client, and redistribute it as any number of of streams — one for each listener. Each additional listener consumes more bandwidth. A typical home internet connection can accommodate only a few such listeners before all the available or upload/download capacity is exhausted.

As such, a Shoutcast/Icecast server is most typically rented — as one would rent space on a web host. There are numerous companies that rent streaming servers for a few dollars per month. Further, most Second Life venues have already rented such servers. If you are slated to perform at a given venue, they will most often have you employ their existing streaming server.

Second Life viewer

The last link in the chain is up to the Second Life viewer. Each parcel of land in Second Life is associated with a Music URL. When an avatar steps onto a given parcel, the Second Life sim sends the Second Life viewer this Music URL. This URL should be the location of your Shoutcast/Icecast streaming server. The Second Life viewer then sets up a connection to the streaming server. It accepts the stream of your music from the server, decodes it, and outputs it through the audio system of the computer upon which the Second Life viewer is running. In this manner, each listener is able to hear the music you are making. Your listeners may even be on the opposite side of the Earth!

What do I need to get started?

While all the pieces described above are needed to stream your music into Second Life, only a minimum set is required to get up and running. The absolute minimum is that you will need a Music Creation program and a Source Client. There are many options available in these categories, both free and commercial. They are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other platforms.

As mentioned above, there are many venues that supply Shoutcast/Icecast streaming servers for your use. I spent about a year as a Second Life musician before I decided to rent a stream of my own.

The last item is the Second Life viewer. While you do not technically need this to stream into Second Life, you will want it anyhow. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to connect with venues and fans. There really isn’t any downside, as it is free. Plus, Second Life is just a lot of fun!

Is it for you?

After reading the above, you may be eager to delve into Second Life as another marketplace for your musical endeavors. As you can see, the opportunities are nearly endless. Further, it costs nothing to try your hand at it — plus, it’s just a whole lot of fun. No matter what sort of musician you may be, there is another market waiting for you in Second Life.

Questions? Comments? Let me know if there is any specific aspect of being a Second Life musician that you’d like me to cover!

This is but one article in a series on opportunities for musicians in Second Life. Further articles will cover resources, technical issues, groups and organizations, revenue streams, publicity outlets, and more. Next up, however, will be a survey of the software choices for Music Creation and Source Clients required to pipe your music inworld. I hope you join us in this journey to a strange and wonderful new world. In the meantime, you may wish to do some early exploring on your own — it is free to get started! Just click the link below:


Jan
25
2010

secret to convert facebook friends to fans with a Fan Badge on your profile linking to your page

It is hard to underestimate the impact that social networking has had upon the music industry. The entire market is being reinvented with the demise of traditional record companies, and the ascendancy of direct band-to-fan marketing. While a successful marketing campaign would use multiple outlets, it seems clear that the most important social media site at this time is facebook. With over 350 Million active users, and a six month growth of 70% in the first half of 2009, facebook is destined to be the dominant social media site for some time.

Personal Profile vs. Band Page

Individuals register a personal profile with facebook. Publicly-known brands, companies, figures, and most germanely musicians, can also register a Page. A Page is similar to a profile, but comes with some additional benefits. Among these benefits are the ability to advertise the page, and a relatively unrestricted number of fans (as opposed to the hard limit of the number of friends any given profile accommodates). Other benefits of the Page include:

  • info tab tailored to your business type
  • additional widgets such as a music player
  • review section
  • ability to share page administration tasks
  • analytics on page interactions

Making others aware

Most bands and musicians are probably aware of the value of pages as opposed to profiles. Accordingly, most musicians maintain pages in addition to their personal profiles. But facebook does not automatically make others aware that a personal profile may also be related to a fan page. How does one create an awareness of a page’s existence? A person can become a fan of a given page. In doing so, facebook will by default display this linkage upon the Pages section of the Info tab of the profile. However, there is no way to force facebook to display an artist’s own page in preference to the other pages which are displayed therein. What is displayed there is a small random selection from all the pages of which one is a fan. As such, there is no guarantee that the artist’s own page will be selected for display at all.

The process I describe herein will allow the artist to permanently and prominently display a link to a given page from your profile. Further, this link will appear in the profile’s sidebar, so it can be seen whether the Wall tab or the Info tab is currently being displayed. Better yet, the link will also contain the page’s ‘profile’ picture, leading to recognition for your page’s graphical brand. You can see an example of this on the left sidebar of my personal facebook profile.

Two elements

There are two elements to pull together to obtain this benefit. The first is that we need the ability to place arbitrary content on our profile’s sidebar. The second is to create the desired linkage to place in the sidebar. The former we will accomplish with an application called Custom Profile Box. The latter we will accomplish with a native facebook tool called a Fan Badge. The following is a step-by-step tutorial on these objectives.

Custom Profile Box

Our first objective is to add the application ‘Custom Profile Box’. This application will create an element that we can fill with arbitrary content. We will later fill this element with our page link Fan Badge, and then move it to our profile sidebar.

  1. From your personal profile, on the lower left select ‘Applications’, then select ‘Browse More Applications’.
  2. In the ‘Search Applications’ field, enter “Custom Profile Box”.
  3. Click on the desired ‘Custom Profile Box’ application in the search results.
  4. From the application’s Fan page, click ‘Go To Application’.
  5. Click the ‘Allow’ button.
  6. Go back to your profile wall.
  7. Below your status entry box, click ‘Options’, then click ‘Settings’.
  8. Click the link ‘applications settings page’.
  9. On the list of apps, a drop down ‘Show’ menu select ‘Authorized’ to show all the apps authorized to access your profile data.
  10. Click on ‘Edit Settings’ link next to ‘Custom Profile Box’.
  11. In the pop-up window, make sure the ‘Profile’ tab is highlighted. *
  12. Next to the “Box” item is the word ‘Add’. Click on this to add a box to your profile for this app.
  13. Decide and modify the Privacy — I suggest setting this to “Everyone”.

You are done setting up the app.

* There have been reported cases where there is no ‘Profile’ tab on the popup at this point. Further reports indicate that this may be alleviated by editing the Box, and adding some content, then returning to this step of the process. More as it develops.

This problem, and its solution, are now more fully understood. The issue is that the Custom Profile Box application will not have a ‘Profile’ tab on the Edit Application Settings popup until such time that some data (any dummy data is sufficient) has been added. The solution is to place some data in the Custom Profile Box as per steps 1-5 of ‘Place the Fan Badge in the Custom Profile Box’ below. After that, return to this process. Note that any data is sufficient — it does not yet need to be the code for the Fan Badge, and it does not need to be entered in ‘Source’ mode (though it will need to be later, as described below).

This also applies to the sister application ‘HTML Profile Box’.

Generate a Fan Badge

We have so far installed the ‘Custom Profile Box’ into our profile. Next we need to generate a Fan Badge for our page. Later we will place this Fan Badge in our Custom Profile Box and move the Custom Profile Box to our profile sidebar. Oddly, to make a Page Badge, you need to travel through your (personal) Profile’s Profile Badge link. The code for the Fan Badge will be copied and pasted into the Custom Profile Box’s editor. Accordingly, it may be easiest if you open another browser tab for this next bit.

  1. Go to your personal page’s Info tab.
  2. Near bottom left is a link entitled ‘Create  Profile Badge’. Click it to go to the Profile Badge page.
  3. On the Profile Badge screen there is a column where you can choose what type of badge you want. Choose ‘Fan Badges’. This will take you to the Fan Badges Widget screen.
  4. On the Fan Badges Widget screen, find the dropdown entitled ‘Select a Page’. From that dropdown, select the page for which you wish to create a badge. Note that you must first be a fan of that page.
  5. From the 2nd field on the Fan Badges Widget screen, copy the HTML code for your Fan Badge.

Place the Fan Badge in the Custom Profile Box

At this point, we have installed the Custom Profile Box application, and created a Fan Badge for our destination page. The code for the Fan Badge is in out buffer. We next need to paste this into the Custom Profile Box. Later, we will move the Custome Profile Box to our profile’s sidebar. Go back to your earlier browser tab.

  1. Click on the ‘Applications’ status bar menu and select the app from the pop up window.
  2. An editor will load, and takes 30 secs or so on busy connection.
  3. On the editors toolbar, click the button named ‘Source’. This allows you to enter raw FBML code.
  4. In the editor window paste the (FBML) code for the Fan Badge, which should be in your buffer from the earlier objective.
  5. To save your creation to the app box, click on the ‘Update’ button. If all is well your box should appear in the boxes section of your profile.
  6. Click on your profile, and select the boxes tab. See your app box and your creation in it.
  7. You can drag your box to any desired location on the page by left clicking the box and dragging around.

Move it to the profile sidebar

OK, we have added the Custom Profile Box application, generated a Fan Badge for our destination page, and placed the fan badge in the Custom Profile Box. The last step is to move our Custom Profile Box from our profile’s Boxes tab to the sidebar.

  1. Go to your profile
  2. Select the Boxes tab
  3. Locate the Custom Profile Box on the Boxes tab
  4. There is a pencil at the upper right corner of the Custom Profile Box. Click it.
  5. Select ‘Move to Wall tab’.
  6. Go to your wall. You should see the Custom Profile Box, with your Fan Badge linking to your artist page, in the sidebar. You can change the location of this sidebar element by left-clicking and dragging it where you want it. There is however, the restriction that it cannot appear higher in the sidebar than the standard facebook sidebar elements.

Collect more fans!

That’s it. Now all visitors to your personal profile will be met with a graphically branded link to your artist page. By making it easier for people to find your page, you should collect new legions of fans.

Got a facebook topic you would like to see covered? Let me know in the comments section!

Jan
18
2010

Second Life provides musicians with new moneymaking opportunities

There is a burgeoning new online market for musicians of all types. Recording artists, performers, singer/songwriters, turntablists, playlist DJs, karaoke aficionados, and more can find paying audiences in Second Life.

Second Life

So what is Second Life? It is an online 3D virtual world, or Metaverse, where people meet and interact with each other through digital ‘avatars’ in a virtual landscape. Visually, this Metaverse bears a passing resemblance to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft. However, this resemblance carries no further than the ‘look’ of such MMORPGs. Second Life is an alternative universe where avatars (people) are free to carry out whatever activities they wish. In my mind, the three qualities of such a metaverse that distinguish it from an MMORPG are:

  1. There is no previously defined goal or objective by which one may ‘win’. Instead, avatars live the life of their choosing.
  2. Everything inworld is created by the residents. With enough talent and time, you can recreate every thing you would encounter in the metaverse — be it a house, a landform, an article of clothing, a manner of moving, or any other ‘thing’, tangible or intangible, that can be discerned.
  3. Second Life has a freely functioning real economy, with a unit of currency that is freely exchanged to and from US dollars.

Size of the economy

So how big is this potential marketplace? Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, reports that over $1 Billion in resident-to-resident transactions have been made since the inception of the metaverse. In 2010, the projected figure is in excess of $500 Million per year, and growing quickly. As quoted from San Fransisco Business Times:

In 2008, Second Life users spent more than $360 million on virtual goods ranging from land to designer shoes to lavish homes. The Second Life economy almost doubled in size – 94 percent up – between the second quarter of 2009 and the same period in 2008. User-to-user transactions now amount to nearly $50 million per month.

To put this figure in perspective, in 2009, all sales of digital downloads of music combined totaled about $1.9 Billion — barely a little over three times the size of Second Life’s economy. Indeed, Second Life’s economy is larger than the GDP of some real countries.

Music and other economic activity

Of course, not all this money reflects musical purchases. There are many other activities and goods vying for the avatar consumer’s dollar. Again from the aforementioned source:

In total, users around the world have spent roughly 115,000 years in Second Life socializing, attending live concerts, creating, selling and shopping for virtual goods, learning languages, attending business meetings etc. User hours grew 33 percent year-over-year to an all-time high of 126 million in the second quarter of this year….

However, music does represent a significant part of the overall inworld economy. At any moment of the night or day, there are multiple performances occurring across the grid. Rock, country, Hip Hop, or Americana … solos, duos, bands … some completely live, some with backing tracks, some doing mimed ‘role play’ … about any form of music you can imagine can find a worldwide audience on Second Life.

At any given moment, there are dozens of thousands of people logged in as their avatars to the Second Life virtual world, or ‘grid’. And for many of these people, attending musical events is their primary reason for being inworld. They visit virtual venues, hosting musicians on their stages, at virtual concerts. There they can sit and listen, or dance and interact with the other avatars onsite. While partying there, they may converse with the others in text chat about any given topic. As a musician, you are also able to see the local chat, thereby providing you with a direct communication channel between you and your fans. This provides a higher level of interactivity than typically possible in real life.

Dancing to live music

Dancing to live music

Employment in Second Life music

There are several broad categories of musicians performing within Second Life. Linden Labs makes an official distinction between Live performance and other forms of music:

A live performance in Second Life is presented by a person who is represented in-world by an avatar, and is creating the performance in real-time, streaming the audio (or audio and video) portions into Second Life as they are being created.

Playing back a previously recorded performance, whether audio, video or Second Life machinima, is generally not considered to be a live performance if there are no live elements performed while the audience is watching the show.

We do not intend to imply here that either Live or non-live music is superior to another. This is just being pointed out in order to understand how to present your performance consistent with inworld norms. If you are presenting a playlist DJ type performance, it would be a breach of protocol to list this as a Live Music event — however, it would indeed be appropriate to list it under the Nightlife/Entertainment event category.

And the variety of opportunities is quite staggering. I have seen the following types of acts, all paid for their performances:

  • Playlist DJs performing various styles of music for the dancing enjoyment of the venue’s patrons
  • Scratch or BeatMatch DJs creating unique layered performances using prerecorded tracks and synthesizers for real-time creation
  • Singer/songwriter types with a guitar or keyboard and vocals
  • People singing over Karaoke backing tracks of hit songs
  • Solo musicians performing with backing tracks of their own creation
  • Duos, trios, and full groups completely live
  • ‘Tribute’ acts, where the ‘musicians’ construct and animate elaborate imitations of chart-topping groups — to the original recordings by those groups
  • ‘Role Play’ or ‘listening’ sessions where original artists mime performances to their own recordings

Much as in real life, some performances are the main focus of the venue, and others are an adjunct to some other commercial or social venture — such as a mall opening, or a mingler. There are also inworld opportunities to sell digital downloads of your music — either limited to playing inworld or as universal mp3s.

Is it for you?

After reading the above, you may be eager to delve into Second Life as another marketplace for your musical endeavors. As you can see, the opportunities are nearly endless. Further, it costs nothing to try your hand at it — plus, it’s just a whole lot of fun. No matter what sort of musician you may be, there is another market waiting for you in Second Life.

This is but one article in a series on opportunities for musicians in Second Life. Further articles will cover resources, technical issues, groups and organizations, revenue streams, publicity outlets, and more. Next up, however, will be a brief overview of the software required to pipe your music inworld. I hope you join us in this journey to a strange and wonderful new world. In the meantime, you may wish to do some early exploring on your own — it is free to get started! Just click the link below:

Secondlife.com

Jan
18
2010

Second Life for musicians — the series

Hi All!

I am starting a series on Second Life. Second Life is an interactive 3D world where one interacts with others through a digital representation of their selves. This platform has numerous musicmaking opportunities. Plus, it’s just a whole lot of immersive fun!

In this series, I will cover what Second Life is, and how one gets started in it. I will speak to the market for music inworld, and the potential for making real dollars from such. I will cover the technologies involved in piping your music into the virtual world, and how to acquire and configure software for doing so. I will cover the nature of paying gigs available, and speak of various venues that cater to new musicians. I will also cover the various promotional avenues available to garner an attentive audience.

Join me as we discuss all these issues and more. Together, we’ll embark upon a grand adventure in bringing your music to a new and very sizable audience. Best of all, basic participation is completely free — including all you’ll need to be an SL musician.

If you can’t wait for the next installment in this series, you can dive in right now with a free account — just click below!

Travel-Virtual Worlds
Jan
8
2010

flawless digital copy? maybe!

In a previous post, I bemoaned a problem i was encountering with some supposedly identical CDs. I had a pile of CDs from a project, which should have had identical tracks on each — but ripping and comparing the resultant files yielded miscompares.

After collecting further data, it appears that perhaps the miscompares are explainable. As it so happens, one of the people doing the duplication did not understand the differences between .wav, .mp3, .wma, etc. file formats. While all the CDs were audio CDs, they were burned at different times, some having been ripped as mp3, or as wma, or as…

Perhaps the best news is that I was able to locate proper mastered versions of each track that had not been through this rough treatment. I procured copies of each track as they came from the mastering house.

Even better — the process seems very durable. After sequencing the tracks, I uploaded them to our store on BandCamp. This upload was in the form of .wav files. I then downloaded these files in .flac format. Then I used MediaMonkey to convert the .flac files to .wav files. Finally, I used ExactAudioCopy‘s built in .wav file comparison tool to compare the original files to the ones procured from BandCamp. Again, these were uplloaded as .wav, converted to .flac by BandCamp, downloaded as .flac, then converted back to .wav. In each case, the files’ audio portion matched exactly.

So I again believe in the integrity of digital audio. Woo-hoo!