Music Tech Class

This blog reflects my personal feelings and opinions toward my class assignments, class projects, and technology in general.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Celebration! My Meta Data Works!

My website comes up when I google search my name! Yay!

Culmination of Tech Class

After consulting with the "road map" and presentation requirements I would just like to organize what I have done this semester.

1. Blog - this is my course blog. I have tried to be inspirational and reflective. In addition to blogging about assignments, I have extended it to include articles about technology in the NY Times or Yahoo. I enjoy reading news headlines and articles with my morning coffee, so I just took it a step further by blogging a synopsis and attaching a link in case anyone else was interesed.

Additionally, I created a commercial blog, an mp3 blog, and a newsfeed blog. The commercial blog hasn't really gone anywhere because I haven't put the time into really developing it yet, but it did give me the chance to sign up for google adsense and figure out where to paste it in the blogger template. My mp3 blog was for the purpose of adding my own mp3s to my classical music digest blog. The mp3 blog is special because I edited the html to embed the sound clips. The feed digest blog I will discuss later.

2. Flash Creations - I created two animations, start/stop buttons, and a movie. Additionally, I experimented with the action script examples that Chianan sent us, but did not save or publish them.

3. RSS Feed Digest - I wanted to create an mp3 digest out of syndicated podcasts and mp3 blogs, so I first created my own mp3 blog. Then I created a feed digest blog, created a feed digest, added the urls of podcasts/mp3 blogs, and edited the keywords so that items more specific to classical music and flute would appear.

4. Dreamweaver - this has been my main program for web design. It is relatively simple to use, yet I had trouble with the very beginning steps (like the opening menu....which is really confusing!) so I bought a book which helped me get over my minor "new computer program that I don't know anything about" fear. I can't say that the book taught me all that much (since the program is so straightforeward) but it did help me with the important steps of creating folders and always saving files to those specific folders. In addition, I have used Photoshop a great deal with creating and importing images, and taken advantage of the "import flash" method, since I used flash animations on my website.

5. I have not really experimented with wikis (although, I have definitely looked up things on wikipedia before!). I did create a swicki and place it on my commerical blog. Again, quite simple to do, the only moderately challenging part was placing it in the right place of the blogger template. However, I'm getting pretty good at editing the template and putting things where I want them to go on the first attempt these days. I have not created anything on Moodle, however, last semester my flute teacher Keith Underwood had a student who created a flute website for Keith's students using Moodle. The idea of it was really good because flute pictures, mp3, movies, or whatever could be shared. However, groups like these need active participation to be successful, and the members became somewhat disinterested after a month or two.

6. Domain and server - I am using Startlogic because, when I did a google search on web hosts, Startlogic was in the top 10 on more than one ranking chart. Another motivating factor was that Startlogic advertised 1 year and a free domain for a flat rate of $50. That was the cheapest one I saw, particularly since I plan to use my website after this class. And the nice thing is - I don't have to worry about paying for it again until January. I don't remember the particulars about the web server perks, just that it gives me more memory than I would ever need and it promises a fast upload time.

7. Web design, etc. - That is all discussed in the post below.

This sums up everything I have learned this semester. I feel like I have accomplished a lot by developing a website with my own domain name. We touched on a lot of ideas in class, and even though I didn't use all of them for my website, perhaps I will in the future. Speaking about the future, I definitely plan to expand my knowledge further when I have the time. I would love to become more fluent in Flash language and once day rebuild my website completely using Flash. For now though, my website is pretty cool and definitely effective for advertising purposes. Thank you Dr. Gilbert and Chianan for teaching this class and giving me the opportunity to enhance my technological abilities!

Friday, April 28, 2006

New and Improved Website

Earlier this week I spent about 3 days revamping my website. It needed it - the first idea I had wasn't going anywhere and it was kinda lame. It, however, did give me a chance to learn how to use Dreamweaver. I'm also really glad we at least touched on a couple different website formats in class because it helped me to become more aware of options available in Dreamweaver.

I chose to use a table in both versions of my website because I really like the format of websites in which all the pages are the same template through the use of tables or CSS. Like I explained in class, the table doesn't start on the top of the page because I wanted the fun music background to show up, and my table is 600 pixels wide because it's a good size on the screen.

I seriously think the best part of my website is the picture of my flute. I cannot believe how well that turned out! I think that it was a combination of a lot of things. First, i put my flute on a white background, and that led to the sparkly, clear picture. I also put it on a black background.... but for whatever reason the pictures keep ending up really blurry. I'm not sure if the backgound or the amount of light in the room was to blame. I took the pic with no flash, and I think that my apartment was on the dark side when I took the pic with the white background. Too much light on an already shiny flute surely would cause blurriness, so maybe that's why the black background didn't work.

I had originally planned to have a flash movie somewhere on my page, but I thought that a scrolling gif animation would be perfect. I'm not anti-flash, I just haven't had a chance to fully immerse myself in it yet and feel more comfortable making a text animation than a text movie.

The buttons I love as well. I made them (and their mouse overs) all in Photoshop. It was really time consuming, but I like them a lot.

The only other real challenge was creating the template for the pages, but the nice thing was that once I created one I could just delete the info, write something different for a different site and "save as". The content is no different than in the first version of my website, so I didn't really have to think about what I was writing this time.

So, all in all, I'm really proud of my website. I think it's a great reflexion of my personality and what I want to present to the world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Issues with MySpace

I can honestly say that I don't know much about MySpace - Online friend networking things aren't really an interest for me. Technically I am a member on facebook and friendster, but that's only because on both occasions I wanted to look at pictures on someone's specific site. I know that's it's addictive for some people though. My little sister (who is a college freshman) is absolutely obsessed with Facebook.

Although these sites are not an interest for me (I'd rather call someone up, send them an individual email, or work on improving my own website) I can see the benefits for advertising purposes. I actually went to a concert a couple weeks ago with a friend who learned about the particular band's performance date on their MySpace site. Many musicians use it as their personal website instead of developing one with their domain name, and it kind of makes sense. MySpace is considered "cool" and it allows you to upload sound clips - it's perfect!

However, in their naiveness, many people don't realize that everything they (and their guests) write in their MySpace account comes up in google searches. Actually, so does everything that we write on blogger. Clearly, this is not an issue for us, because, as an educational blog, we WANT our journal entries to extend as far as possible. However, we just need to know that nothing on the internet is completely private. Therefore, personal blogs, which, among young people, ends up being mostly gossip about classes, teachers, and other people, are actually open for the world to read. Therefore, people may want to exercise caution when writing blogs to make sure that all material is appropriate for presentation to the world.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Swicki mania!

I created a swicki and placed it on my commercial blog, Music Accessories that Rock!

The entire concept Swickis is still quite new to me, but a specially designed search engine is a great idea. It can lead you to the exact sources that you want to look at sooner than a google search can. Actually, it would be awesome is if there were a swicki directory so that people could use other people's swikis on particular topics. In fact, something like swicki could lead to the downfall of google or yahoo as the big search engines. There could be something like, which would act like a regular search engine, then the results would be links to swickis on that topic. Then you'd get the direct search results you wanted. However, the downside to that is the "extra step" or doing a search to find the swiki before getting results. People might lack the patience to do the extra step.

Regardless, creating and using a swicki is quite simple and it may be the search engine of the future!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dreamweaver as a Web Builder

I am very excited about CAI now that we're into the setting up domains/web design part of the class. I purchased my domain and a host back in January, but was previously too confused about the process of designing webpages in a format other than hand written HTML on the NYU Homepage to do anything with it.

The truth is, I already knew how to do 95% of what was necessary to start using my web host, and Dreamweaver is relatively simple to use, but what was completely dumbfounding me was that 5% that I didn't know. Mostly that's because that 5% included precisely HOW to start using Dreamweaver and SAVING FILES to the right folders (both on my own computer and on my web host's folders), and UPLOADING the files to my web host.

Uploading my pages from my computer to the web host actually turned out to be quite the trial and error process. Things would "look" like they loaded onto my web host's directory, but they'd be blank when I looked at them. Have you ever wanted to scream at your computer? I did!!!!! But then I calmed it turns out, those "5% mystery" items turned out to be the things necessary to have absolutely correct to upload my files to the web. I basically had done a combination of things wrong as far as saving files goes, and on top of that I didn't have the correct information saved in Dreamweaver regarding my FTP connection information. Once I figured that out though - it's smooth sailing from there!

So, I have successfully used Dreamweaver to create the first draft of It's not the coolest website ever (yet, anyway) but it's the general information that I want to make available and it's the general format I would like to use. My index page is temporary because I want to have a really cool flash movie and music and stuff, but for now at least I have something up. Check it out if you're bored!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My Website Ideas

Over spring break I made an investment in my computer education - I purchased two books. One is on Dreamweaver 8, the other is on Flash 8. Why purchase a paperback book when I can probably find all my answers online in tutorials, you ask? Well..... I've tried to do some tutorials, and I find it a little frustrating to continually switch computer program windows, especially if I don't immediately "get" the concept at hand. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but to me, the book is easier.

I'm really excited about my books because they seem like they will take me far in developing a website. My goal is to have a really cool Flash based index page including a cool Flash movie, then develop the rest of the pages using Dreamweaver. This will allow me to learn the webpage development process using both programs. Watch out - is underway!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blogging for Performers, Part 1

I get the impression that we're supposed to find ways to tie blogging to music education in this setting. Although I am a music student in an educational institution, my mind does not instantly associate those things together. Maybe it's because we're trying to tie it to the academic side of music rather than the performance aspect. The majority of my day consists of either playing the flute, thinking about my practice/rehearsal sessions and ways to improve them, or studying music (either visually or aurally). Right now I see blogging only as a course requirement and I want to find a way that it can directly help me as a performer so that it might become more meaningful to me.

I suppose that one way blogging can help performers is by acting as a practice journal. Personally, I've always hated practice journals. The idea that I am supposed make up a schedule for what I want to do and follow it directly is a pain because often times it means that I don't spend enough time on things I really need to work on and I spend too much time to the point of boredom on other skills/pieces. I think practice should be based more on internal motivation, and I would rather work on music in order of significance or preference.

As much as I dislike the thought of keeping a practice journal blog, I do think that it could be beneficial for other musicians/flutists to read about my daily practice schedule. People might be curious about how other people spend their practice time. I know that I always find it interesting when famous flutists talk about their daily warm up patterns. I wouldn't say that it influences me too much with regard to my own - it's just interesting information to let my brain feast on for a bit.

With that same thought it mind, I would not be interested in hearing other people's comments about my own practice schedule. Maybe that's closed minded, but I think that practice is kind of personal and (assuming the person knows productive ways to practice) what is effective for one person can be completely counterproductive for another. I'm not really interested in someone else directly critiquing me about that. Maybe that's just me though. There's several highly educated musicians in this class (and 4 flute players nonetheless!), maybe you have something more to offer.

The concept of blogging as a practice journal is my only idea for now, but I plan to continue with this thread for at least one more post after I gather more ideas. I am definitely open to comments.