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.

No comments: