Tabs Interface Added

Frankie Big Face wanted to be able to add guitar tabs to his song listings, so I added an interface to song creation and editing that allows optional uploading of tabs for each song.

The tabs are available at a link next to the "download" and "lyrics" links on the song pages.

I also hardwired the font size for these links so that you can increase or decrease your overall page text size without messing up the song listings.

Updated files are available at the download page.

Site Management Upgrades

Several new upgrades were uploaded today, all suggested, more or less, by Jim of Seattle. You can now control the size of the Title, Subtitle, and Body Text Fonts. There is an option to display your email contact info at the bottom of every page in addition to the existing link at the bottom of the front page. Each album page has a link back to the Album List.

Finally, you can have a separate foreground image for the front page (News) only, to give the introductory page a little more splash.

Jim has more ideas, but I only have so much time, and I need to balance out the need for features with the need for simplicity. I gotta keep it within BLT's grasp!

Updated files are available at the download page.

New Feature for Batch Loaders

Jim of Seattle came on board recently, and he came up with an idea while uploading his albums. Instead of uploading them one by one through the "Upload a New Song" interface, he first made the albums, then he uploaded the songs by ftp. Now, he thought, "how do I add these songs to my album?"

Well, he couldn't. But now he can. There's a new feature on the Album Editing page (go to Manage Music and select an album name), called "Add Uploaded Songs". It lists all of the songs in the album folder, but without names, because it doesn't know them yet. If you type song names, select whether or not you want to make the songs downloadable (on and individual basis), and click "Add Songs to Album", voila! The songs will automatically be added to the album and also to that album's playlist.

This feature is in testing now, and I can think of a few more features that might be helpful. Did you upload lyrics too? Art? Currently, you still have to add these manually. Also, currently all files in your album folder are shown, even the ones that are already in your album. Gotta fix that.

Updated files are available at the download page.

Distribution Cleanup

Jim of Seattle and Frankie Big Face have been asking me to release the Machine to them, so I have gone through the distribution files, updated them, and added a "lyrics" folder to the distribution for optional song lyrics. It's been almost two years, and we are due for a BIG update one of these days, don't you think?

Free GIF Animator

I am the webmaster for John Ambrosavage's "Cartoon of the Word" The animated cartoons on this site are created in our own .gif animator, because we couldn't find one that had the features that we needed, and we thought that you might like it too, if you're into that sort of thing. You can find it here: www.cartoonoftheword.com/ambromator.php

Specifically, it is the individual frame timing that proved problematic. Most .gif animators only let you set a single frame speed parameter, even though the .gif file format allows for each frame to be individually timed. Everyone knows that the secret to comedy is timing, so for us, this was a must.

For a while, we used Adobe ImageReady, because it had this feature, but it stopped running under Windows Vista. We didn't upgrade our Photoshop to get this feature, because, well, Photoshop is expensive and we already paid for it once.

Another thing that our Animator does is that it stores full frames instead of just the changes that occur between frames that is common in most .gif animations. This was helpful back when everyone was on dial-up and connections were slow, but makes less difference today. Besides, our animations don't generally have very many frames. The reason that we want to store every frame is so that you can view them that way, using our "view Frame by Frame" feature.

File Upload Bug Fixed

A bug has been fixed which caused file upload errors in new albums created. You can download the fix at the download page. You will only need the most recent "Code Update" .zip or .rar. Upload the included files to the appropriate folders on your server, replacing the files that are there already.

If Spud manages your site, I have already uploaded the fix for you (Jon Eric, Wannabees, Octothorpe, Paco, BLT, Whispered Candles). I guess this means that this update is for you, Ross.

Now with Windows Server Compatibility

We had our first Windows server installation this week, and it was a doozy. Every time the user tried to configure something or add content, it seemed another configuration file got wiped out. Emptied. Zero bytes.

Turns out I was using the wrong file lock when writing these files, and Windows apparently cares, so I was locking myself out of writing to these files.

Well, it's all fixed now.

Blogger Template Update

Jon Eric discovered that if you have a really long subject (two lines or more), there would be a collision of the subject with the text below. The fix will be in the next update. In the meanwhile, if you are also having this problem, contact me, and I will show you how to fix it.

Ross is Live

Our first true do-it-yourselfer, Ross Durand, has gone live. Ross downloaded the machine, uploaded it to his server, customized it, and today, went live. Check out Ross's site at http://www.rossdurand.com


The machine has cranked out it's first dollar(s) for the unemployed Spud. Thanks so much to power tester Ross for pitching a little coin into the fountain. He's found his share of bugs as well, and contributed a few feature requests (optional downloads and full-blown html in the bio and misc areas), too.

HTML support more robust

You can now use full-blown html in the Bio and Misc areas.

Previously, a break tag was automatically inserted at every hard return entered by the user, so that the user didn't have to work about coding them and could just type normally. However, this will mess up html tags that break over a line. There is now an option to interpret the input as either text or code(html). If the latter option is used, the user is responsible for coding their own hard breaks.


More New Features!

Two additional features were added after the big code update yesterday, so if you already got that one, you just need to grab the update.

Move Songs Between Albums

When you are editing a song, you can now select the album from a drop-down list. This allows you to move songs from one album to another. The playlists for the albums are adjusted accordingly.

Optional Download Link

When you are submitting a song or editing one, there is a checkbox on the form that lets you choose whether there will be a download link on the music page for that song. If you uncheck this box, the song will only by playable through the flash player.


When you update, be sure to follow the instructions in the important release note on the download page.

Code Update Issued

Ross is a real tester. He tried a lot of weird stuff (like deleting all the news, moving an item up and down the list when it was the only item on the list, etc.), and he broke it.

Consequently, I have made a major sweep through the code and cleaned up a lot of edge condition stuff, rechecked form validation, made sure that files exist before reading, and dealt with situations in which a user might delete all their content and start over. Update on the download page.


Ross is on the Case

Since max couldn't get php to run on his servers, I have taken on another tester, Ross Durand. He is the first one to successfully install on his own! Yay! However, he has found a number of interesting bugs, most of which I have fixed, which means that there is an update on the way.


Spud's Machine Foiled by Comcast

Well, I learned something tonight from Max's experience trying to install the machine on his server.

Who would have figured, but Comcast doesn't support php for residential accounts. Spud's Amazing Website Machine is built in php, so it was a no-go.

I must say, this is a bit non-standard. I haven't run into a server in many years that didn't support php, so although I am sad to say goodbye to Max for now, I will just have to chalk it up to a learning experience and put a note on the download page.

New Features!

OK, I said I wasn't going to do it until version 1.0 was out the door, but I got tired of waiting for the four installation testers to get back to me, so I added some new features instead.

Now, when you are editing the news, bio, or misc, there is a row of buttons at the top of the text window that allows you to format the text you are typing. You just select some text, press the appropriate button, and it adds the html for you.

Slick, huh? The new version is available on the download page, and has been automatically installed at all Spud-installed sites.

Latest Test Site

Frankie Big Face has signed on. OK guys, I am going to close the door for a bit while I work with this new group to get the installation running smoothly. After that, the download button will be activated!

Bug Fix Issued

A bug related to sorting songs on an album an another related to editing links were fixed today and the code archives updated. If I installed your site, I have also installed the updates. If not, you should get the update from the download site.

Two New Users!

Niveous and Max (Albatross) both contacted me today about using the machine on their websites. Both already have web space, existing sites, and ftp access, so I am making them into installation testers. Links to follow. Hey Irwin, don't let these guys lap you!

New User!

Irwin from SongFight! has downloaded the Machine, as has agreed to contribute some additional music features. Now we have a dev team! I'll add his link to the users page once he's up and running.

Backward Compatibility

Based on a request from the Pathetic Wannabees, I have made the Machine compatible with IE6 by removing the semi-transparent elements (shadows and background panel) if IE6 is detected. Also, the flash player has been downsized by a few pixels to be compatible with IE7.

Still, part of it is up to you. If you want to be backward compatible, don't use a transparent .png for your foreground image. At the PWs' site, I replaced it with a .jpg with the background already rendered in.

Folder Installation Now Supported

Up until now, Spud's Amazing Website Machine had to be installed a the root of a domain's webspace. Since we don't have our own index.html, a user could have a separate front page and other parts of the site that didn't use the Machine, so it wasn't a killer, but you couldn't isolate the Machine into it's own folder. Now you can. See SongFight! Live Rock and Rocker for an example.

Beta Feature Set Complete

There are currently no significant items left on the basic feature to-do list. Blogger archive integration was the last item on the list. That means that I can now work on the delivery and update system, so that I can get some installation testers on board before moving on to the second generation of features.

Preliminary Documentation Available

I have written some preliminary documentation, which is currently on line in the DOWNLOADS section. If you have any comments or corrections, please let me know.

Oh, and you can donate there, too, if you like.

Playlists Automated

Playlists (.m3u format) are now generated automatically, and updated whenever you upload new songs, change song order, delete songs, etc.
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