Monday, June 30, 2008

My First Video

Lark in the Morning, a music store with locations in San Francisco, Mendocino and Seattle, ran a video contest this month which ends today, June 30. Of course, I waited until the last day when I had only a few hours between watching Klara's show and going to Obama campaign event. I have a bowed psaltery I got from Lark in the Morning in Seattle.

My Canon Powershot S3 IS takes reasonably decent movies, so I decided to use it for the contest. The video was limited to one minute. I chose to play a song I wrote around 1991 called "The Old Songs Waltz."

The song used to have a different title. When I wrote it, I named it after the woman I was seeing at the time. We went to the Old Songs Festival near Albany, NY (the latest one was just this past weekend) in '90 and '91. The relationship didn't last, of course, and I figured I'd just not play the tune any more. Then in '92 when I went to Old Songs, I heard a woman singer/songwriter say from the stage, "No relationship is a total loss if you get a good tune out of it." So I decided to rename the tune "The Old Songs Waltz."

The harp on the back of the sofa was a gift from that woman, and it went with us to Old Songs in '91. I haven't played it much in several years, but it looks nice.

I got more than the tune from that relationship. It served as the basis for my story "The Coming of Winter."

The video is also on my MobyD46 YouTube channel and it shows up as a video response on Lark in the Morning's video about the contest.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Celtic Music Web Pages Caught Up

I just finished the last of the conversions of Celtic Music lenses on Squidoo over to Celtic Music pages on Have Pun Will Travel. That doesn't rule out future lenses and pages on the subject, of course, and I'm sure there will be more.

On Squidoo, they have lenses called video showcases. A lensmaster can put together a collection of videos on a topic, and I decided to create some lenses to go along with the Celtic Music lenses. I've done two so far - one for Alasdair Fraser, one for Altan. There probably will not be one showcase lens for every artists as some simply don't have very many videos online. Also, some of the ones that are online aren't the greatest quality, some are short, some both. They make an interesting addition to the topic, though, so that'll be my next focus with Squidoo.

A tip I saw from Squidoo's "the fluffanutta" was for making the primary tag for a lens better, and that usually means avoiding using the lens title as the tag, which of course is what many people, myself included, do. Following his tip, I modified all the primary tags in my Celtic Music group to "Celtic Music." This should lead to better relationships between these lenses, and perhaps better search results.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Celtic Music Pages, Squidoo stuff

I created pages for Altan and Enya on and updated the Squidoo lenses. They went fairly quickly, and I took time to make sure I was linking the right stuff. The published pages look like what I was expecting, which is always a good thing. If I can do one or two lenses a day, I'll be caught up in a week or so. There's 10 Squidoo lenses that don't have web page counterparts yet. At least I'm more than halfway there.

When I checked my email earlier, I had one that said a Squidoo person known as "the fluffanutta" was now following me on Twitter. He's the guy that developed some SquidUtils, and I've used one of those to create links to Amazon that gives me more of the commission than I'd get otherwise. His cut is that one in five of those links redirects commissions to him. I suppose that's fair, and it's not like tons of people have been ordering from my lenses. Even though the email said he's following me, I don't see him in my list (it's short!) of followers. And since it's the wee hours of the morning in the UK, it'll probably be tomorrow before I see any of his tweets now I've decided to follow him.

When I looked him up, I read some of his recent Tweets, and he mentioned a Greasemonkey script that enhances use of the Squidoo Lensmaster Workshop, which is what everyone on Squidoo uses to develop new lenses. I'm familiar with Greasemonkey because it's used on Delphi Forums for an editor developed by Whitemare, who runs the Go Firefox! forum. That editor, btw, is fantastic, much better than the standard one. So I installed that script, and it appears to be working.

One of the features of the script is that I can check to see what sites are linking to a lens. I pulled up Spider Robinson's lens, and saw that there were 138 links from Clicking on that, I found that 136 of them are from one blog, Thehouseai. I scrolled down looking for the link, and found she has a category called "Squidoo Lenses - Top Hard SF Authors." Not only is she linking to my Spider Robinson lens, she's also linking to my Allen Steele lens. So I linked back on those lenses. She's got some interesting info about SF shows, movies, books, etc. It's well worth a look. [Edited 6/30 after discovering a comment from the blog author, who is not a male.]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Celtic Music Web Pages

Over the past few days I've transformed 10 of my Squidoo Celtic music lenses into web pages. The Squidoo lenses are still there, of course, but now there are web pages on HavePun-WillTravel which are pretty much the same. The difference, aside from formatting is that if someone orders something from Amazon off my HPWT pages, I don't have to split the commission. Also I was able to add a widget for MP3s which I'll write about further down this page.

I started by doing pages that were highest-ranked Squidoo lenses, and got about six done. Then I decided to do a couple of short ones, and also figured it would be good to get the LiveIreland and Thistle & Shamrock pages done, so I ended up with 10.

In Squidoo, I have a "Celtic Music - Lenses" lens to tie them all together. But for my website, I decided instead to create a page with an article that discusses what Celtic music is. Of course, having done 22 lenses plus the tie-in lens on the topic, it wasn't too hard. I read a lot of stuff online from performers' websites and, Fiona Ritchie's site for her show. I created the page in two columns - one for the article itself, and one for photos, all of which I sized to a bit less than half the width of the page. It looked very even when I created the page, but now that it's uploaded, it could use another photo.

One thing I was able to do for the web pages that isn't possible with lenses is using Amazon's MP3 widget that allows people looking at the page to play sound samples from the albums. Not all performers' work is available as MP3s. It's not too surprising since some of the albums aren't big sellers compared to albums put out by pop stars, but I tried to include all I could find. It's a neat little thing that adds some interest to the pages.

I found, though, that the tool for putting together a widget didn't always find every album available in MP3 format. So I ended up checking every album's CD page, and several times saw MP3 versions available that the search failed to turn up. That meant following the link from Amazon's CD page to the MP3 page, copying the ASIN (Amazon's ID number, much like a book's ISBN) and pasting it into the search box for the widget.

One interesting thing turned up with a CD called Tunes by Sharon Shannon, Frankie Gavin, Michael McGoldrick and Jim Murray. The correct music was found, but the CD cover was for someone else's CD. There was a way to comment on images, so I let them know about it. The CD page shows the correct cover, the MP3 pages shows the cover of Altan fiddler Ciaran Tourish's Down the Line.

I didn't get this part done as quickly as I first thought I would, partly because of the extra searching around for stuff that didn't come up in the MP3 widget searches, partly because I did some extra stuff, like the new web page with the article and photos, but also because I got sidetracked to something that also turned out to eat up more time.

I hadn't done much with the website for months, and the idea occurred that Amazon has what they call a chicklet for the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader device that can be used in book descriptions to direct people to the Kindle editions of books. It looked pretty simple and fast to set up, so on Saturday I started looking for Kindle editions for the authors on my website. I found out Spider Robinson has no Kindle editions, which made things simpler, although I think he's missing the boat on that. And other authors turned out to not have all that many Kindle editions either. Mostly it's an author's most recent books likely to be Kindlized, such as Nevada Barr's books. Her four latest Anna Pigeon books are converted, then going back to her fourth book, we find another one.

Again, as with the MP3 widget search function, I found there were Kindle editions that didn't show up in a search using Amazon's chicklet maker, so I ended up checking all of an author's books by searching on an author's name and seeing if "Kindle edition" was listed. For Barr, Amazon reported there's a Kindle edition of her book Flashback, but it turns out not to be the case, or at least I don't think it is. Clicking on the Kindle edition link led to another author's book by the same name. I let Amazon know about this as well. Maybe it's Barr's book with the wrong cover photo, but I didn't include it. When the widget search didn't find a Kindle edition, I had to use another book's chicklet, then go into the HTML code and substitute the proper ASIN in three places. It's good that I know enough basic HTML because there's a lot of tweaking needed in doing these pages.

The inclusion of Kindle chicklets took more time when I realized a couple of authors, John Varley and Allen Steele, had recently had a book apiece come out, so I needed to revamp their pages and Squidoo lenses to include them. It meant writing blurbs, too. And now I realize I still have to go into Spider's page and add in his latest book, Very Hard Choices.

Once I get web pages done for all the Celtic music lenses I currently have, then it'll be time to see what other artists should get lenses and pages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Release Day is Today

The latest official release of Firefox, Firefox 3 was released today at 10 a.m. Pacific time. I couldn't get into a site for downloading at first, so I went back to making a web page for Clannad to be uploaded later to my HavePun-WillTravel website.

Just for kicks, I decided to try again. First I Googled "download firefox 3" which gave several choices. One which caught my eye was a link to a page on ZDNet called "Don't download Firefox 3 yet." I decided to see why some computer writer was raining on the parade, but found the page had been updated, and rather than just rewrite the page, the author used strikeouts and put in the updates. Apparently things were a bit rocky right at the start - not something I find surprising - but it appears Mozilla fixed things up quickly.

I got my download from and installed it after closing down all the Firefox pages I had open for working on the web page, and I closed Dreamweaver and Winamp (I was listening to

I'll admit I haven't tried out much yet, but when I fired up Firefox 3, my favorite theme, Walnut, was working, and I went to the Go Firefox! forum on Delphi and posted.

So if you're one of those folks who wants to try something out right away, go to and download. My download seemed to go along quite quickly, and installation was very quick.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've signed up for Twitter, the social networking site where you can post what they call "tweets" - short messages of 140 characters or less about what you're doing. People can sign up to follow your tweets if they like, just as you can follow others.

I imagine some people spend a lot of time posting tweets. Seems like it would be something teens would get into so their friends can follow their every move. I'll be using it now and then. One reason I signed up is so I can put out brief messages about my Squidoo lenses and other things like updates to my website (which I haven't updated in a while). I don't plan to be one of those people who feels others need to know my every move, but it might be a handy way to just note interesting stuff like books I'm reading, interesting websites, etc. But I really doubt anyone cares what I had for lunch or where I've just gone shopping.

My Twitter page is:

I haven't really figured it all out yet, but I'll be looking into it more. So far I've only elected to follow Fortunalee, host of Fortuna's Favor on Delphi Forums, and liveireland, the Twitter page for the Internet radio station Now that I've signed up, I'll probably become more aware of other people/sites to follow.