December Sun – A Web Comic

April 8, 2009

Pandora, Lastfm and free internet radio

Filed under: 3,computers,music — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 2:08 pm

hooray for my free clip art cdI listen to an unnatural amount of music during the day. I have a hard time doing anything computer-related without a steady stream of music to tune out ambient noises (especially so in an office setting…. the white noise generator only does so much to tune out.) Anyhow, after a lot of looking around, I’ve sortof settled on two that I like: Pandora and Lastfm. I had been, for the longest time, a junky of Yahoo! Launchcast radio, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but apparently Yahoo! or AT&T felt the need to pull the plug on this free service, even for those “grandfathered” into this service through AT&T/SBC (it was one of the things I was given when I signed up with AT&T and their DSL/Phone service around 4 years ago. Apparently it wasn’t important enough to continue to offer by Yahoo. That, and Yahoo! Briefcase, which recently was taken away. What’s the deal, Yahoo?)

Anyhow, once Launchcast was cruelly removed (at the time it was dropped, I had rated roughly around 80k albums, artists and songs) I moved over to Pandora more, and started creating some stations.  The concept behind the music genome project is an interesting one, and I’d like to see more exploration in this type of technology: namely, matching up a SOUND of a particular song with other songs like it.  Yet there are times I’ll get one song, and the next song seems like a far cry from the sound and style of the artist I’m currently listening to.  For instance, I built a station based on the song ‘Drive’ by the Cars, a favorite of mine from the 80′s, and I’ve been hit with a successive stream of synth-based 80′s era pop songs (as expected) but at one point, the segue was into a song by… Johnny Mathis?  What?  I think the genome project has a few more bugs to work out.  Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed Pandora, but on my Sony Vaio Crashmaster it tends to be a little bit choppy sometimes.  I’m not sure why this is, because I generally have very few apps open at the time (my Sony has more or less turned into a giant radio player) so the choppiness doesn’t make sense.  

On the other hand, Lastfm runs pretty much without a glitch.  And what’s curious is that, while I don’t believe that LastFM is a genome-style setup, there is a good stream of similar artists recommended.  I’ve been listening to a number of electronic, down-tempo tracks, and there’s a good consistency to the sound so far.  I’m really rather impressed.  Although the lack of a pause button is a HUGE negative!  Perish the thought that someone needs to answer the phone, or go to the bathroom!

But Lastfm trumps Pandora due to the lack of choppiness.  Wonder why Pandora has the problems?  Granted, if I open Photoshop Elements on my Sony, it will bring the PC to it’s knees and any music, Pandora, LastFM, Windows Media Player, whatever, will turn into a choppy, awful nightmare of sound.  Time for a new PC one of these days, but I want to get as much mileage out of this box as I can…

So anyhow, both Pandora and Lastfm are great for free music.  Both do a good job of tracking your likes and dislikes, and both run reasonably even on an aging PC.

And Yahoo! removing Launchcast…. blah.  Breaks my heart.

April 6, 2009

“What computer files to back up — and how to do it”

Filed under: 3,computers — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 4:02 pm

Yahoo! Tech news had a good article on files to backup, and I’d agree with most of the things posted here, especially the content of the blog.  The nice thing about the WordPress install is that, using Wise FTP, doing a full backup of the entire content of the blog is pretty easy via FTP: you just grab the entire content of the site and download it somewhere locally.  1&1 has been hosting my site, and when I signed up with them, they walked me through the steps of installing Wise FTP (it’s actually one of the free software downloads they offer, although I think it was free to begin with) and once you’ve got it working, it makes the uploading/maintenance/downloading of files a breeze.

Anyhow, regarding backup, I’d agree with backing up the “My Folder” stuff, with music, pictures, etc, and definitely backing up the blog content, but as far as backing up links, I think it’s just as easy to just sign up with something like Delicious and keeping all of your links here (and they offer a fairly-easy way to upload all of your stored browser links too).

a totally unrelated goat image from my free clipart cd

I learned firsthand about the importance of backups when my Sony Vaio decided to up and die.  And while I did have a number of things backed up that I needed, there were little odds and ends that I regret losing.  If anything, I think it’s a good idea to keep an inventory of all programs you have installed, so that in the event of a system crash, you know what all you had.  I don’t know about doing full system backups, including the OS.  Personally speaking, having the HD wiped out and then rebuilding it is a good way to force myself to clean house and get rid of unwanted garbage.  I know that there are programs that scrub PC’s and do the same thing, but all the same, starting anew can be a good thing.

And here’s a picture of a goat for no reason whatsoever.

March 29, 2009

The 301 redirect

Filed under: 3,computers,misc,programming,web comics — admin @ 11:05 pm

an image that has nothing whatsoever to do with this post, from DS #5




I’ve been hammering out the woes with this webcomic since December of last year, and one of the things from the beginning that’s puzzled me is the fact that the basic URL is supposed to be: 

…yet all of the actual site content is stored away in

(in and of itself a problem, as what happens to this directory structure if I decide to upgrade WordPress?  Am I going to be stuck in 2.6.3?)  

Anyhow, the problem was that I wanted the primary site to be DSCOMIC.COM, yet I had to redirect the site visitor to the wordpress directory.  What I had been doing originally was an HTTP redirect, using the following logic:

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”1; URL=”>

This worked, I suppose, but never seemed like the right option, since when you’d go to DSCOMIC.COM first, you’d be at a blank white page with the text “December Sun”, then you’d be routed to the index file in the  /wordpress sub-directory with all of the site content and goodness.  I suppose I could have kept doing this, but it seemed like this wasn’t the most efficient way to go (and I seem to recall reading in the “Building Findable Websites” book that these sort of redirects weren’t a good thing for a site, as far as search engine ranking went.

So I dug around a little more, and found a more simpler option: now if the user starts at DSCOMIC.COM, the following springboard kicks into play to shoot the user over to the wordpress subdirectory.  Instead of an index.html file with the meta listed below, it’s just an extremely simple PHP program that quickly does the move…. 


header(“HTTP/1.1 301 Moved!”);




I thought I’d share this here, in case this of any benefit to anyone.  More than likely, though, is that this post will just elicit eye-rolling from readers as to my total naivety with PHP and redirects.  Ah well, I just like drawing funny books…

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