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I'm Ryan Lowe, a Software Engineering graduate living in Ottawa, Canada. I like agile software development and Ruby on Rails.
I write this blog in Canadian English and don't use a spell checker. Typos happen.
» Full-time Ruby on Rails freelancer
» Full-time with Rails since May 2005
» Former committer for RadRails (now Aptana)
» I also have a few Rails side-projects in development:
1. wheretogoinTO.com Toronto nightlife
2. Hey Heads Up! TODO list and sharing
3. Layered Genealogy family history research
4. foos for foosball scoring
5. fanconcert for music fans (on hold)
Hiring Rails developers? I can telecommute by the hour from Ottawa, Canada
»» Email: rails AT ryanlowe DOT ca
Now hosted on Hey! Heads Up -- check it out!
Derek Lowe's (Ryan's older brother) words at Ryan's funeral
email@example.com no more
Forging Email Headers: Good, Bad or Ugly?
Sarcastic Dictionary (Part 1 of Many)
Twisting Rails is Risky Business
Risky Business? My Take on Early Alphas
Whoa, it's August 2007
A Postscript to "Growth at the grassroots"
»» All Blog Posts
David Heinemeier Hansson
James Duncan Davidson
Signal vs. Noise
Amy Hoy: (24)slash7
Luis de la Rosa
# Podcasting Releases on FanConcert
I've changed how artist Releases - like albums - are done on FanConcert. I think the organization makes more sense now.
It also allows me to cover more types of releases. The newest of those release types available to artists is podcasting and there are already some postcasts on FanConcert.
Check out the list of Thrice's podcasts on Thrice's FanConcert page. Two of the podcasts are available right now and the other two will be available soon.
Thrice has a new album coming out on October 18th in North America called Vheissu and these podcasts contain clips of the new album's tracks.
# FanConcert and Search Engines Early On
Search engines are already being quite friendly to FanConcert. I get a few hits a day from Google and MSN. I'm suspecting that Google doesn't seem to like the page links in the All Artists list though, so it's not indexing all of the artists.
It's interesting that after my blog about the concert I attended last week, FanConcert's rank in Google for Moneen got bumped up to the first page, Rufio on the second and Yellowcard, a more popular band, it's on page 3.
That's pretty amazing -- and one of my goals is to get people to want to link to FanConert when blogging about bands, concerts and albums, just like a lot of people link to IMDb when they blog about movies.
What do I have to do to make that happen? I have a few ideas but I'm hoping my users will tell what it will take.
# Evening the Playing Field
My ultimate goal for FanConcert is for it to be a place where anyone can look up any musical artist for any show, album, information, etc on earth. I don't want FanConcert to be biased towards any certain genre, only North America or to only signed artists.
FanConcert will go where its users go. If a lot of FanConcert users like electronic music then there will be a lot of that information in FanConcert because that's what people are submitting. If a lot of Brazilians use FanConcert, then there will be a lot of Brazilian artists and tour dates.
That's not a bias on FanConcert's part -- it's the users serving themselves and each other. FanConcert just facilitates it but it also facilitates cross-genre and cross-culture user preferences. Someone can keep track of all of the different styles and nationalities of music that they like, all in one place.
I want FanConcert to work for any place on earth. Language is a huge barrier to that, I know. Language/translation will be a big hurdle to get over but it's definitely high on my wishlist. I think it will really differentiate FanConcert from just about any other website out there. Map and venue-wise, there's no reason why FanConcert can't have early support and so it does.
Myself and a few other people have been adding international venues and tour dates and I think it's going pretty well. Google Maps has limited support for anywhere but Canada, US, UK and Japan but I'm betting that will change in the near future ... and FanConcert will benefit.
I expect FanConcert's users to keep me honest about internationalization (I18N) and keep pushing me to include I18N features. I look forward to FanConcert being multilingual and serving as many music fans as possible equally.
# FanConcert Converts Postal or Zip Code to Latitude and Longitude
I bought a rather large geocode database for Canada and the USA for FanConcert. It allows me to take a postal or zip code and get back all sorts of useful information like: country, province, city, approximate latitude and longitude, area code, time zone, etc.
Since I introduced the geocode database the number of Venues has quadrupled in a week. More venues is a good thing because a concert attached to a venue has a GPS location (lat/long) that I can compare against the user's GPS location to see if it's close.
Speaking of the user's location -- I can use their postal code/zip to approximate their location as well. So users don't have to worry about finding their lat/long either and that's a big usability win. If most users don't have to deal directly with GPS coordinates, that's good.
This stuff actually went into FanConcert a week ago but I'm letting people on the mailing list find any early problems before I announce new FanConcert features on this blog. If you'd like to be on FanConcert's bleeding edge you should join the mailing list.
Thanks to everyone for your support!
# By the End of September...
By the End of September I should have the following in FanConcert:
- RSS feeds
- Custom artist tagging
By the end of October, I'd like FanConcert to be open for business. That will be three months ... and there will still be stuff to add after that.
Any feature requests for FanConcert?
# Majority Over Authority
I'm making a music news website called FanConcert that you can go to, select your favourite bands and the website tells you when they are releasing new albums or playing shows in your area.
There's a twist though: The whole idea of FanConcert is that users submit information that others read. It's a bit like Wikipedia or a weblog except that the information is more organized, which makes it easier to manipulate into news pages, email alerts, RSS feeds, etc.
This information is coming from the public so I'm obviously concerned about accuracy. I'm dealing with that by allowing a vote on almost every piece of information in FanConcert.
If a piece of information is wrong, the person that made the mistake can fix it or another person can fix it. The value that's submitted by the most users is the value used until another value beats it. It's collaborative like a wiki except that I'm breaking information down into objects and attributes. The users vote on one particular attribute at a time.
In comparison with Wikipedia, I call this Majority Over Authority because of the way that Wikipedia works: people can "own" articles and monitor them, constantly correcting the article to suit their own interests. That type of person is acting as an authority on the subject, which can lead to bias. Bias is not good in an encyclopedia.
FanConcert will deals with majority opinion. No one person can single-handedly sabotage an attribute value because that requires a majority to agree. Information in FanConcert will be less likely to be suddenly wrong -- like a vandalized Wikipedia article. Information should be more stable.
Don't get me wrong -- authorities still have a place on FanConcert. They'll be the first ones submitting new information and they'll get credit for it.
Anyway, I've just introduced attribute editing into FanConcert. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Moneen and Rufio were great; both of their drummers stood out. Yellowcard just blew my mind -- the show was amazing. I was about 10 people from the stage, just right of center. People were getting me to boost them up to crowd surf, and I was pushing moshers off of me most of the night. Haha, it was fun. The crowd was definitely into it and it got hot in there. By the time it was all over I was drenched but it was worth it!
Now that I know about these concerts, there are definitely more I'd go to ... but I gotta draw the line somewhere. Damn FanConcert! ;)
# Concerts Nearby
I've added an exciting new feature to FanConcert: you can list just the concerts close to you. Since it's a personalized feature, to try this out you need to sign up for a FanConcert account -- don't worry, it's free to sign up and I won't give your information to anyone.
Here's how it works:
1. Tag your favourite bands.
Then check out the list of concerts for your favourites. Only the concerts within the range you put in preferences will be shown. Neat eh?
If you don't see any concerts either (i) you don't have enough favourites or (ii) those favourites aren't playing a concert in your area soon or (iii) the band's concerts haven't been entered into FanConcert yet.
You can enter the band's concerts for others to know about -- that's the whole spirit of FanConcert: Music News by Fans for Fans. Think of FanConcert as a large and organized link blog that everyone can submit to and read. To add concerts for a band, go to the band's page in FanConcert (search for it) and click on the "Add a Concert" link.
If the band/artist isn't in FanConcert yet, you can add it!