Monday, June 30, 2008

The e-mail is coming from inside the in-box!

In what appears to be the next level of Spam horror stories, today, when I was searching my "sent mail" in G-mail, I noticed e-mails I had not generated, addressed to my addresses. In other words, it appeared that I had spammed myself.

Yes, that's right, there was Spam from me, to me. I'm not sure how this is possible, but Gmail had better take a serious look at what's going on here. I can understand a spammer simply putting my address into the "from" field, but what we have here, it would appear, is spam from INSIDE my Gmail account. How is that possible?

It's bad enough that people hijack your e-mail address to send spam, and then you get black listed so that you can't send an e-mail to your grandmother because AOL thinks anything coming from your domain must be spam.


Update, July 1, 2008: After some in-depth examination of the issue, I've found the culprit. It would seem that you can easily use Gmail as an outgoing SMTP server without a password, therefore, someone can use your Gmail account for their outgoing SMTP, and the sent mail will appear in your "sent" box. This seems like a major problem that Gmail needs to look into.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Indie Music and Booking

Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be so hard.
--"The Scientist" by Coldplay
I'm not necessarily the biggest Coldplay fan, but the quote was apropos. And here's the really weird part: as I was typing this, Pandora started playing "The Scientist." It didn't even register at first, because I thought it was in my head for a second, and then it was like, "Oh, that's out loud. What the...?"


It's not exactly CBGB's, but it's a livin' (and I'm making people happy. See? they're clapping and smiling!).
The past couple of days, well, weeks actually, I've been thinking about promotion (and booking) a lot. We just finished driving across the country playing in bars and coffee houses, and it was really interesting seeing how different things worked in different places.

The most frustrating thing was how difficult it was to get gigs in my home towns (namely Indianapolis and Columbus, OH). What the freak? I know: some of you will jump to the obvious joke, "It's 'cause they know you suck!" But that's not it, so bite me.

The one place it wasn't true was Champaign, IL, but then, Champaign has always been a hotbed of musical love and openness. Something about that town... people are more willing to help each other out instead of throwing elbows grasping for the brass ring. It serves the musician community. It serves the venue community. It serves the listener community. Pay attention other towns!

Anyway... back to the issue of cold shoulders in the hometowns. These are towns where I can definitely fill a room. No question. Yet the venue owners and booking agents don't seem to care --or more to the point, return calls and e-mails. It was amazing how much of my time was getting gobbled up writing and calling over and over again just trying to get a response. Ridiculous. A musician works really hard, writing, recording, gigging, etc., so when you have to bang your head against a wall in the roll of booking agent as well, it's that much more frustrating. Not to mention, you feel goofy in the first place, selling yourself (as opposed to a booking agent selling someone else), trying to convince people that you're great and that you can fill a room and deliver a great performance. You really have to put yourself out there, so when that push is met with silence or indifference, it feels like a hole in your chest.

However, in some towns (Salina, KS for instance) while the house wasn't necessarily packed, there were a good number of people there, and they were definitely there to hear the music. It was grand. So how did this come about?

Well, once the show was booked (grrr...), it was a matter of finding people and connecting. Not just blanket spamming a population, but looking for someone who you think might actually like your music, and then striking up conversations. It was surprisingly effective, and we made some great friends! (As a side note: I'll discuss this "targeted promotion" in a future post).

So my point? Though you may think that I just like to whine (which admittedly, I do), it's that I'm trying to help other indie musicians by sharing my experience. If you have the means to hire a booking agent for any sort of tour you might be planning, do it. It is well worth the time and money. And a lot of booking agents will work for a reasonable fee, often a percentage, so convincing one booking agent, opposed to many venue owners, that you are worth their time and effort, is probably a pretty good plan. Once you've got somebody you can trust (important!!!) making those phone calls for you, you can work on what's really important.

What's that you say? Writing music? Haahahahahaahhaha. I was speaking of promotion.

(...on to the next post)

Monday, June 23, 2008

John McCain, Self-Proclaimed Environmentalist, Calls for Off-Shore (California) Oil Drilling

what's playing: "Buddy Holly" by Weezer

They've started running these "John McCain stood up to the President for the environment five years ago" ads in Colorado. Maybe they're running them in your state too (since Republicans are now fighting for states they've never had to throw cash at --incidentally my favorite headline this week).

I'm wondering what exactly he did --scold George W. for not recycling his Dr. Pepper can?

These ads only make me realize that John McCain is even more of a shady liar than I thought.

Just last week McCain called for a lift of the 27 year old moratorium on US off-shore oil drilling. Yes, he thinks the solution to our oil problem is drilling for more oil off California. Not only is it wildly irresponsible, it's point blank stupid. The solution is creating an alternative, not trying to find more oil. Any third grader could tell you that. And if you just want to make trucks go (without much regard to environmental impact) we have the technology NOW. You can make diesel from just about ANYTHING.


Here are just a few credible sources on the subject:

CookiePie Makes Me Happy

what's playing: "The Visitor" by Dan Beahm and The Invisible Three (narcissism rules!)

Lifehacker RSS fed me news this morning that has made me happy all day.

CookiePie is a really stupid name for a really great Firefox plug-in from a company called Nektra that allows you to log into the same site multiple times using different profiles. In other words, I can now log in to ALL my MySpace artist pages in one browser! The program uses multiple cookie caches so that you can use tabs for mutliple log-in instances. Use it for multiple Facebook profiles, Gmail accounts, Flickr pages, etc. Very cool. The program seems rife for hacking opportunities, but what are you gonna do (Mike D, can you look into this)?

While creating this post, I revisited the site, and noted that Nektra has an AKA for CookiePie... "ChocoTorta" (no kidding). Yeah... that's waaaaay better.

Oh, and this morning Lifehacker also let me know that in Firefox 3, the fullscreen F11 toggle is actually FULL screen (try it!).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kucinich Introduces Articles of Impeachment Against Bush

what's playing: Battlestar Galactica (the real one)

Dare we hope?

Yesterday Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush.

Many people think there is a "too little too late" attitude toward such an action, but I think we may be surprised by who gets behind this and to what extent. Simply letting Bush and his cronies get away with 8 years of criminal acts is astoundingly negligent and sets a precedent that I don't want to get used to, especially in regard to the office of the President. It is extremely important to hold the Bush administration accountable for their heinous actions.

Let's hope this one doesn't slip through the cracks.

The video is ten minutes long... frankly I'm surprised that it's that short.



Sunday, June 8, 2008

Crossposting from Blogger to MySpace

[update: be sure to check the comments thread for additional information!]

Lately I've been whining a lot about how much time I spend keeping all the social networks updated with musical news and notes regarding Dan Beahm and The Invisible Three (so here's some more whining, bitches!). I've been exploring various setups, plug-ins, platforms, etc... but there doesn't seem to be any good way to simply create a blog entry and have it cross-post elegantly.

There's a decent plug-in for Wordpress that will automatically post a note or even your whole blog post to your MySpace blog, but nothing for Blogger to do the same. This alone is almost reason enough to port my Blogger-hosted blog to Wordpress, but I feel that I get more exposure using Google's Blogger platform. I've converted two of my Blogger sites to the Wordpress platform, but this one (The Invisible Blog) is staying at Blogger for the time being. Not to mention: the Wordpress plug-in seems to be fairly hinky anyway, as MySpace changes things all the time that prevent the Wordpress crossposting plugin to work consistently or effectively.

I despise most things about MySpace, but there's no denying that the vast majority of my "new fan" traffic comes from there, so though I loathe the beast, I simply cannot abandon MySpace altogether. And as long as I'm getting traffic there, I'd like to utilize the site to my greatest advantage, which means making sure all my brilliant blog musings are posted for those people who don't frequent The Invisible Blog to see.

MySpace released "apps" on May 20, basically a rip-off of all the garbage that you can add to Facebook (super-poke, super-wall, green patch, and all those annoying things that people constantly use to passively maintain friendships or acquaintances), but I don't see any useful things developing there (i.e. a blog crossposting app).

A fairly exhaustive two hour search regarding cross posting turned up a whole lot of nothing, so in an attempt to turn shinola into gold, I've created this post regarding the issue to see how many people find this site searching for a way to get Blogger to auto update to your MySpace blog. I'm sure there are tons of people wishing, longing, yearning for the solution, but coming up empty handed like I did.

Please leave a comment (or better yet buy an album!) if you found this site searching for Blogger-MySpace crossposting solutions.


Hillary Clinton reclaims her sanity

We just watched Hillary's (real) concession speech. It was actually quite good.

I was surprised by how gracious she was, and by how she said what she did. She was finally able to talk about the glass ceiling, and how much she has done to advance women's rights in the past year (a topic that would have likely made her look weak had she addressed it too much during her campaign).

It will be interesting to see how she focuses her energy in the wake of such a devastating loss. She has an incredible opportunity to continue to do good.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cafe Semolino in Hays, KS

So Kansas is my favorite new state to gig in. The people are friendly and attentive, and it's extremely laid back.

Thanks to Brendan of Audio Spaghetti and Tapioca Booking for help setting up the show and making sure everything sounded good and ran smoothly.

Thanks also to the two ladies behind the counter for the delicious sandwiches and for introducing us to the dressing whose name I forget that is apparently only available in Kansas. Whodathunk Kansas had it's own state dressing?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hillary Clinton is Officially Insane

Tonight Obama clinched the number of delegates required to claim the Democratic nomination.

However, Hillary Clinton addressed her fans in New York to state that she would not make her "decision" tonight, that instead she would consult with her people to decide what to do next.

How about letting your party get on with winning the Presidency, you nut?

I would urge you to watch her speech to realize how conniving this person is. While I admit that this might be considered "typical" presidential behaviour, it is exactly the type of thing that Obama is speaking out against (crap politics instead of doing what is right for the people of America).

ps I'm still trying to figure out how she thinks she won a state (MI) that Obama did not even run in. A state that officially was not even authorized to hold a freaking election. Hilarious.