Mobile - Web - Media
Tuesday, Sep 18, 2007 1:38:07 PM
AritstServer and ToneThis Serve Up Indie Ringtones
ToneThis is a desktop application for delivering personalized and third-party content to your phone. Unlike traditional content stores (ringtones, wallpapers, videos, games), ToneThis sits on your desktop enabling you the freedom to select and personalize your own content for delivery to your cellphone.
ToneThis desktop software allows you to create MP3 ringtones, truetones, realtones, cellphone wallpaper and mobile video ringtones using your CD, MP3, WAV, iTunes, image (JPEG, GIF, BMP), and video (AVI, MPEG) collection. Create an unlimited number of cellphone ringtones, wallpapers, and videos. Access to mobile music, image, and video content. Access to mobile games. Almost all US/Canada/EU/AU carriers supported.
For an overview of ToneThis, watch this interview and demo with Raj Singh, founder of ToneThis:
When you first see the demo of the software, take note of the right side panel.
ArtistServer has partnered with ToneThis to provide music with Creative Commons licensing and currently loads as the default content provider when you launch ToneThis. The mp3 used in the demo is by an artist on ArtistServer - very cool! Check out the screenshot below:
This is a great opportunity for artists to gain more exposure and take advantage of a great marketing tool - ringtones. We are serving over 110,000 page views to more than 60,000 unique visitors per month within the ToneThis application alone!
Not all songs are available through ToneThis, only those with one of the following Creative Commons licenses:
If you are an artist on ArtistServer, and want your music available on ToneThis, make sure you have selected one of the previous licenses, and make your song available for download. http://www.artistserver.com
- Attribution Share Alike
- Attribution Non-Commercial
- Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
- Public Domain
The ToneThis panel also provides an 'artist' view, which lists artists who have music with the proper Creative Commons license. Only artists with upgraded accounts are listed.
ArtistServer also supports ToneThis as a ringtone transfer method for the ringtones artists upload with their songs. When using the ToneThis transfer method, the mp3 will first be downloaded to your local copy of ToneThis, then you send it to your phone. While the final download step is similar to what ArtistServer already offers, ToneThis has gone several steps further by providing detailed support for mobile networks around the world, and for 100's of phones.
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Mobile - Web - Media
Tuesday, Sep 11, 2007 6:44:17 PM
Running LightTPD and PHP on Windows
While I honestly feel ColdFusion is a great platform for Web Applications, it turns out there's some things it's not so great at, one of which is serving of a lot of files, and in my case, it's the streaming and downloading of mp3s. ColdFusion has a max thread count setting, and if you are serving an mp3 file via CFContent (to hide the file's location, and handle tracking it's use), this max number becomes a serious limitation.
This has now become a problem because ArtistServer is seeing more traffic and more listeners, which means more streaming and downloads. We've started hitting that max thread count, and need to move the mp3 streaming and downloading to another solution. My goals for the new solution include:
After some research, I decided to try a relatively new Web server called LightTPD and PHP, a Web standard. For the OS, I'll use Windows 2000 Advanced Server. The process takes a few steps, so I thought I'd outline them and post the process so that other's can save time and use this as reference.
- High availability – Able to support a large number of simultaneous users
- Free – I can't afford to purchase solutions, and I'd like to move more into open source solutions
- Stable – While I am looking for mature solutions, I will try newer options if they look promising, but they need to be stable
- Focus on serving files – If possible, the soltuions will need to be ideal for serving files and supporting byte ranges (ffwd an mp3)
- Can Run on Windows – I'd like to move to linux, but I'm hesitant to change everything at once.
From the lighttpd Web site: http://www.lighttpd.net/
lighttpd is used by many well-known sites. The typical scenario is using lighttpd as off-load server to push out static content and leave to complex work to another server. One example is YouTube. They have a farm of servers which push out the thumbnails you see before you see the movies.
Security, speed, compliance, and flexibility--all of these describe LightTPD which is rapidly redefining efficiency of a webserver; as it is designed and optimized for high performance environments. With a small memory footprint compared to other web-servers, effective management of the cpu-load, and advanced feature set (FastCGI, CGI, Auth, Output-Compression, URL-Rewriting and many more) LightTPD is the perfect solution for every server that is suffering load problems. And best of all it's Open Source licensed under the revised BSD license.
light footprint + httpd = LightTPD (pronounced lighty)
For my specific case, I now have a test server setup with lighttPD and PHP, and have started working on a translation of my file serving/streaming/tracking code. Once I have the code up and running, I can start testing on linux server and consider removing Windows from the equation. Making a platform change would provide even better performance and a higher number of concurrent users. Why not do it now? Because I'm new to PHP and don't want to change all the elements at once. After I gain a comfort level with PHP, I can start working with it on linux.
Windows + LightTPD + PHP
- Install Windows Server: I'm using Win2000 Adv Server. Remove all the items from the installer that you won't need on a server, like games, etc. Uncheck everything that deals with IIS, the mail server, and ftp. I suggest using other options for FTP. I don't know of a mail server to use, so if you must, install Microsoft's mail server.
Once Windows is installed, run Windows update and reboot accordingly. Do this until you finally do not see any more updates. With Win2000 Server, I had to upadate 'Windows Update' then do a few updates, then about 54 updates, then another 9, then a few more... so it takes awhile.
- Download: Now download all the software you'll need to run the server. In my case, this will include:
- Install: VNC Server – for remote access, Notepad++ for editing config files, and FileZilla as your FTP server
- Install LightTPD: I suggest installing to the root: C:\lighttpd
- Install PHP: I suggest installing to the root: C:\PHP - during installation, you will be asked to select your server, select 'other CGI' as 'lighttpd' is not a listed option.
- LigHTTPd Configuration – I'm using version: 1.4.18
- Open the configuration file: C:\LightTPD\conf\lighttpd-inc.conf
- Uncomment mod-cgi – just delete the '#' in front of it.
- Uncomment mod-rewrite - same method, unless you don't need it
- edit "index-file.names" leaving only: "index.php", "index.htm"
- consider trimming the mimetypes down to what you would be serving
- edit "static-file.exclude-extensions" - set to ".php" only
- be sure to create a file for catching errors – uncomment this line after you create the file and save it at the root.:
server.error-handler-404 = "/error-handler.php"
- Uncomment cgi.assign, delete all but php, and add a slash:
(".php" => "PHP/php-cgi.exe") to this: (".php" => "/PHP/php-cgi.exe")
- Set LighTTPD up as a service – first, click on this exe file: C:\LightTPD\bin\Service-Install.exe
When I tried this, the registry entries fail, so the next step is to edit the registry and add the keys by hand (or a .reg file). Be sure to replace the lighttpd installation directory with your own. Save the following as a .reg file and double click on it to merge these keys with your registry (if the service installer did not show an error, skip this step):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
"Description"="A fast, secure and flexible webserver - WLMP Project"
"AppParameters"="-f conf\\lighttpd-srv.conf -m lib -D"
"C:\\LighTTPD\\lighttpd.exe"="C:\\LightTPD\\lighttpd.exe:*:Enabled:LightTPD (WLMP Project)"
- At this point, you may need to stop/start the lighttpd server service – I use the Computer Management Console – and navigate to the Services icon, then the actual service.
- In your browser's address bar, type: localhost – you should now see the default index page for lightTPD. If not, possibly the registry keys were not added correctly, or you made a mistake when editing the lightTPD configuration file.
- PHP Configuration – I'm using version: 5.2.4
- open the php.ini file: C:\php\php.ini
- move the upload temp and session directories, and changed their references in the php.ini file:
- locate and set: doc_root ="C:\lighttpd\htdocs"
- Test the server
- create a new text file in the web root called index.php
- type this into it:
- in your browser's address bar, type: localhost
- you should see the php info specs in your browser
- Alternate Setup: Unfortunately, fastCGI on Windows either doesn't work, or doesn't work very well (at this point in time), which means it won't work with lightTPD. There are many other options for you to tweak and try in the configuration file, my only suggestion is to save a copy of this first version of your configuration file as a backup.
This information is offered for free and does not imply any responsibility nor consultation. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer, but I think the best thing to do is to post to the lighttpd forums.
Good luck in your developments, I'll post again once I have made some progress.
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Mobile - Web - Media
Thursday, Sep 06, 2007 11:07:09 AM
Compete.com -vs- Alexa.com - Comparing Website Rank
In the past, I've expressed my views about Alexa.com's data and the Web site stats they make available. While I'm sure they've worked to improve their data processing, and have hopefully dealt with the 'gaming' issues (where people would drive their rank up), I'm still unsure that the data is anything more than a generalized indicator for the Web. Sites like AdBrite use your Alexa rank as a means to show advertisers your site's worth, and many top bloggers quote these same numbers when talking about sites. Why? Because it's been around for five years, and it was the only option for such data.
Fortunately, good ideas spread, start-ups come to life, and usually improve the overall market by raising the bar. In the Web stats and comparison market, Alexa was joined by Compete.com (last year?), and we can at least compare data between the two services.
I'll leave it to you to visit compete.com to learn how they get their data. Alexa gets their from their browser toolbars. Attention Firefox users... Alexa now has a toolbar for you too.
I think the best way to compare data between the two services is to look at a specific collection of sites which are in competition with each other - a single vertical market. Since I run a social music site (ArtistServer.com), I selected to compare my vertical as an example. Below, you'll see a table which lists most of my competitors, there are many more than this, although these are what I consider "music hosting services" that cater to artists/musicians, which is ArtistServer's focus.
|Site Ranking Comparison
|Data from: 9/6/07
What do you think? At first it would seems that as you move down in rank, that the numbers would have a greater variance, but that's not the case. The numbers simply jump around - for example, look at ReverbNation or Funender, how is it that their rankings are so different between Alexa and Compete?
I think if we can gain access to a third or fourth dataset from another service, the best thing to do would be to average their rankings together to give us a single ranking. While the results would continue to just be an 'indicator' and not a real ranking, it might be a step in the right direction.
So - who is going to build the first Web Rank Aggregator? Or does it already exist?
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Mobile - Web - Media
Wednesday, Aug 29, 2007 9:35:26 AM
HostMySite.com Limits ColdFusion, Does Not Tell Customers
Are you considering HostMySite.com as a Web host for your ColdFusion site?
If you are, please read the following, because you won't find this
information out on the the HostMySite.com Website - in particular, this
post refers to their "Builder" package.
Two months ago, a new client of mine wanted their site hosted with a
'more established' ISP as opposed to hosting with my current ISP - who
is great, very responsive, honest, etc. - but they are small, have less
resources, etc. While they aren't 'big,' my host is at a great facility and we have a lot of bandwidth available. I definitely recommend them. HostMySite.com on the other hand... is a company you may want to avoid.
The issues I'm going to cover here came up because I ran into a problem
when trying to upload a 1.2mb zip file using a very simple file upload
script. The upload failed, so I checked my code - no problems there -
then I run though some tests and find that smaller files 'do' upload. I
found the largest file that would upload was 550k - anything larger,
and the server would not respond. No error message... just no response at all.
After wasting 30 minutes trying to find the problem, I contacted their support team over chat.
My description of the problem was not enough - the staff at HostMySite
would not do anything unless I would give him the URL so he could see
the issue happen for himself. My question to him was, "How many sites
are you placing on each server?" Over the period of 30min that we were
on chat, I asked the same question 5 times - finally, asking, "Why will
you not tell me how many sites are on that server?" then backing up my
request with the following, "This is key information for me as a
customer - I need to know how overloaded this server is that you have
us on." He replied that it's not their policy - in other words, they do
not feel it is important to let their customers know what they are
paying for. Here is a direct quote from Julius F., the second support
person who responded by email:
We are not allowed to disclose how many sites are assigned to each
server however I can say we do allocate a set number of sites based on
the specifications of the server and each configuration has been
time/stress tested before it is deployed as a production server.
Interesting wording... they are not "allowed." What are they afraid of?
Another thing to point out here... this stress test they do... doesn't
mean much when you place the same number of applications and users on a
box who are amateur developers. Although, they do have a 'safety
measure' in place, which brings us to the second issue with
HostMySite.com that you should know about.
"All ColdFusion processes must complete in under 50 seconds. If a
process takes 50 seconds or longer, the process gets cancelled."
The support person I was chatting with had no idea this was put in
place. He hit our site, tried the form, and uploaded a 10mb file (he's
on the same network) with no problem. I then had to waste another 30 minutes doing
more tests, uploading files from remote servers, etc. In the end - the
support person said they would respond to me in email once they figured
it out. Here's the email:
This is not written on their site.
This is not listed as a feature of their hosting packages.
This is not listed in the Admin area where you manage your site.
Apparently, not even the general support staff know about this limitation.
- If they kill off your processes, they don't inform you - you would have to discover that it is happening either on your own or if you are lucky, a user would inform you
I wrote back, and explained that what they were doing was enforcing a
limitation on my hosting package that I was never told existed. If I
would have known this before I signed my client up, I would most likely
have selected a different host. While you may not agree with me, I tend
to feel that HostMySite.com is misleading customers. I also told them
that this is a "feature" of the hosting package, and that they need to
list it on the package page: http://www.hostmysite.com/hosting/builder/
- as you can imagine... they probably don't put it there because it
will not help with sales.
The timeout error that you are receiving is from a program that we run
on our ColdFusion servers called SeeFusion. It is set to kill any cf
process that runs longer then 50 seconds. SeeFusion was implemented to
increase the stability of our ColdFusion servers, which it has done.
The only way to avoid this timeout on a shared server would be to use a
different method of uploading, like ASPupload. Alternately, you could
go to a VPS.
If you have any other questions feel free to contact us.
What do you think? Is not telling a customer about a limitation of a
service the same thing as lying about what you've sold a customer?
Would you be happy if you bought a car, and then find that it could
only go 60mph for 50 seconds before the engine would turn off?
HostMySite.com - I thought you were going to be a great host, instead,
I'm quite disappointed at your lack of openness with customers about
the number of sites per server, and the lack of informing customers
what you've really sold them. I will not set another client up on your service and will continue to tell others to look elsewhere until your policy changes.
What am I going to do? Well, we are past the 30 day money back
guarantee and the client already paid for the first year - so it looks
like I have to create a hybrid solution for them that uses ASPupload
for all the file uploads. Hopefully I can integrate it without having
to spend much time in ASP rewriting portions of my application. Thanks HostMySite - I was almost done with this project - now you've added more work AND wasted an afternoon spent discovering your 'features.'
How about you? Do you host a site there? Did you know of these issues? Are you experiencing any other problems with HostMySite.com?
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Mobile - Web - Media
Friday, Aug 03, 2007 8:49:17 AM
If You Use Open Source, Leave the License and Credit
What percentage of Web developers and site owners are cool? Have you ever stopped to wonder? We're talking about a population that designs and builds the foundation of our digital existence. The people who provide the sites, the services, and the means for everyone to explore and experience this "World Wide Web."
Personally, I've judged it all based on my experiences, which have mostly been very positive. Fortunately, I got on this train back in 1996, back when the Web was battleship grey, and developers were hard to come by. Eleven years later, I'm now in a sea of developers and site owners, and yes, my experiences have remained very positive... until recently.
About two weeks ago, I rolled out a new version of my AddToBookmarks script, which is an easy to use solution for adding social bookmarking buttons to your pages or posts. I released the script with an open source license, and some credit/info in the files.
I wanted to see how many sites were using my script, so I do a search at Google that would locate my script: "Del.icio.us Digg Google Spurl Blink Furl Simpy Y! MyWeb," out of the first 25 results, 16 of these sites had stripped out the license and my credit/info from the script, and only 9 had left the license and credit.
Wow - Apparently, only 36% of developers and site owners are cool?!?
Actually, that's not true, as you can't conclude much from a 25 person study, although, these results are not very positive. It seems a lot of people either don't understand or don't care about open source licensing and giving people credit.
It's all very simple, if you use someone's work, and that work has a license and/or credit listed, you leave it. If you create a variation of the item, most likely the license and credit must stay with the variation.
Here are the results from my search:
Has License/Credit: 9
Removed License/Credit: 16
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