The Mark Ledden Blog

…audio, video, web and general tech ramblings.

Celebrating The Physical Music Format


For those of you who didn’t know it, last Saturday (the 16th April) was Record Store Day. This is celebrated across the world and aims to promote and support the independent record stores so many of us rely on.

The main focus of the day is centred around the special release from participating artists. Last year was the first year I took part and was the first I’d ever heard of the event. Being in Manchester I was well aware of Piccadilly Records, being an essential music hub and also one of the major stores participating in the UK.

On my first Record Store Day in 2010, I was queing up outside Piccadilly Records at 7AM. It was 6:30AM this year, who knows what it’ll be next year and the following year! Fair play to these hardy people below who queued up from as early as midnight and brought sleeping bags and picnics. That’s dedication.

I came down to show my support and bag myself some collectables. For me and I’m sure almost everyone there, it’s purely about the music and more specifically the physical format. The iTunes users are at the other end of the scale here and were presumably absent from the queue. There was even a specially made bag on sale which proves my point. Lovely 😉

I still feel listening to the sound generated from the grooves in a record is one of the best listening experiences you can have. And it’s about the collect-ability, you get to hold your music. Here’s what I managed to grab this year. Luckily, as I was so close to the front of the queue I  managed to get everything I wanted.

Last year there was a huge amount of hype over the new Blur single, with it being the first thing they’d released for over ten years. I managed to bag one of those too 🙂 Here’s some other pieces I picked up.

MP3’s and iPods might hold all the convenience needed for today’s way of life but there’s something about records which is understood by their die-hard fans which will never see them fade away. I’m already looking forward to what next year brings. Keep hold of the physical format, keep those records spinning and support your local independant record store 🙂

Test Post (Kind Of)



This post is coming straight from OpenOffice, via the Sun Weblog Publisher extension. I’m giving it a try because I really don’t like the WordPress editor anymore. Well, I never did really! I find using a dedicated word processor helps me focus, having less things to distract me. I’ve also recently suffered from less-than-ideal internet connectivity and this will help prevent any loss of work.

So here it is, a test post with a little extra. Lets see if this thing actually makes it out to you 🙂

Happy Twitter Birthday To Me!


Today is the second anniversary of the creation of my Twitter account. Whoop!

It seems like a long time but for the first nine months or so I never actually used it. So, basically I’ve only really been a Twitter user for one year 😉

I got my account purely to bookmark my name as I though I’d need it some day. The question of whether I actually ‘need it’ is still open, but I like to think I do.

In the early days, before I got going I protected my tweets and had really gotten into the platform at all. It wasn’t until my social media work at university where things really took off.

In that class, for me, Twitter was the easiest things to get to grips with. I grew to use it more and more and still find myself learning things every day.

So here we are, one two years later and I’ve just managed to pass the 400 followers mark!

Happy Birthday to my 140 character self 🙂

“Seesmic Is The Best App For Managing Your Facebook Page On Your Android Phone, But It Still Isn’t Quite There”


I’ve recently found Seesmic for Android to be the best solution for managing my Facebook pages on my phone. Saying that, even though it is the ‘best’ solution, it’s still not perfect.

In this post I went through my journey to find a way of managing my page, from interacting through comments to uploading media. Before finding out about the update to Seesmic for Android I was using a combination of Hootsuite.

The problems I’m having with Seesmic remind me of the previous problems with Hootsuite except this time is with video. With Hootsuite, you can only upload photos with a Twitter account. If you only have a Facebook page selected, it wont work. And with Seesmic, you can happily upload photos to Facebook pages but not videos.

When I tried to upload a video straight from my SD card it wouldn’t work, there was an ‘issue’ with the file. Then I recorded a video from within the app, it was low quality and the length was limited. Then at the final point of uploading it threw back and error saying a Twitter account needed to be selected. Hopeless.

So, Seesmic is the best all-in-one solution, allowing you to interact with your page and upload photos. But If you desperately need to get video on your page from your phone then Pixelpipe is the way to go at the moment. Hopefully either Hootsuite or Seesmic can offer us this functionality or maybe even Facebook can get their act together.

Revising My Dlvr.it & Google Reader Combo


As you may know from this post I have automated the process of sharing items from my Google Reader account to my Twitter account. I made a point that I would closely monitor it to make sure it doesn’t seem too spammy or overwhelming for other users.

I had the feed set to check and post new items, one at a time every 15 minutes between the hours of 8am and 10pm. I also let it guess the appropriate hashtags and drop them in too. I’ve already reduced the number of hashtags from three to two.

Here’s an overview of the activity since the start of my little experiment.

You can see how the zero marks on the graph reflect the lack of activity on the weekends. Monday’s are the most active because any spare time I have over the weekend I may still read and share items but they wont reach Twitter until Monday. On a Monday I’m generally getting over 300 clicks from around 20 posts. As you can see below, the number of clicks over time closely matches with the number of posts over the same period of time.

For me, I think it’s been working quite well but there are ocassions when I look at my Twitter profile and see the ammount of hashtags and it just seems a bit gareish.

Will I be making any changes?

Yes, I’ll make a few tweaks and will continue to keep any eye on things. In the feed settings I’m going to increase the update from 15 to 30 minutes. And in the Twitter settings I’m going to remove the hastag placement completely.

Tweet Power, Grateful Mentions & Yet More Stats!


So last week I wrote yet another post about SoundCloud. This time though it was a nice and compact ‘quick tip’ on how to use it to incorporate a demo reel of your work into your portfolio. Something which I thought was a bit more original than the millions of SoundCloud reviews out there. (Yes I know I wrote a SoundCloud review, but it’s time to think outside the box/cloud!) Anyway, take a look here if you missed it.

The next day the lovely people of SoundCloud were good enough to thank me for the post. See, look.. 🙂

It’s always amazing to hear back from things like this and it is a great way of demonstrating what social media is all about. What made this message all the more powerful though was the ‘Hey’ at the start of the mention. As you knowledgeable people will know, if the tweet had simply started with @MarkLedden (making it a reply), the reach of that tweet would’ve (generally) been restricted to those who follow both SoundCloud and myself. I say generally because it will still turn up in searches and would show up on their profile. But the fact that it was styled more like a mention then everyone who followed SoundCloud would’ve instantly seen it. Which is nearly 60,000 people! ..or robots 😉

Now it would’ve been nice if all those followers had rushed over to read my post but let’s be realistic, the yield was a mere fraction of that. You can see how many people actually followed the link by clicking here. Yeah, not that impressive, right? But hey, I only get very modest traffic as it is. I’m no prolific writer and I don’t offer anything special so this was actually a massive boost for my blog stats. Cue the graph…

A big spike for little old me. But as you can see, after all the excitement, things have now returned to what they should be. *Sigh* Ah well, the next post will have to be even better!! And I’ll need more of them!!!

Anyone out there should keep writing as it’s these little victories which give you the motivation to crank out another blog post, just like I have done here 😉

Quick Tip: Use a SoundCloud Set as a Demo Reel


Here’s a cool use of SoundCloud that I came across. One of my all time favourite bass players, Ryan Monro of The Cat Empire (one of the best bands in existence!) has created a SoundCloud set on his profile. This set contains clips of his bass playing and takes the form a demo reel. The set has then been embeded in his portfolio on his personal website. Pretty useful and a good way to share your skills, just share the set with whoever you need to. This obviously Isn’t restricted to musicians, it could be used by sound designers, voiceover artists or anything else you can think of.

QuickTip: Share Items From Google Reader To Twitter (Or Virtually Anywhere) Automatically


Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, so anywhere we can make efficiencies in the time we spend on things (no matter how minimal) will always help. This is a quick tip I’m using to share all the great articles I come across with a little less effort.

I usually do most of my browsing on Google Reader on my phone. Sharing an item generally means opening a new window in the browser or switching to another app. This takes up valuable time!

Wouldn’t it be better if you could share it with a single click that didn’t interrupt your reading experience? Read more of this post

The Struggle To Manage Facebook Pages From Your Android


Facebook pages are becoming increasingly important in the social world and the business world in general. Anyone who does virtually anything should have one. So that’s a lot of people! What frustrates me to no end is the pain I’ve been through to try and get a solution to managing my Facebook pages on my Android device. I’m not after anything complex, I don’t want Insights or anything (it would be nice though 😉 ). Just the ability to post (including media), comment and view other comments, that should do it. Is it so much to ask? This search was filled with dead-ends and compromise and what I’ve come up with is something to make do for now. Here’s what I did. Read more of this post

SoundCloud Mashups From SoundGarage At Music Hack Day


The new official SoundCloud app for Android might look amazing and have one significant feature over the rest (audio recording) but my favourite app of them all is SoundGarage. If you’ve kept up to date with what’s been happening at Music Hack Day you might have already heard about this but if not then you might find them very cool.

Both hacks are clever mash-ups of the SoundCloud API and other API’s, which allow for new ways to interact using the SoundGarage Android app.

SoundBump

The first is SoundBump. This uses the BUMP API which allows users to share information by simply bumping their phones together. In the pictures below you’ll see the option to BUMP with other users and the ability to share a number of things.

This could be a really useful application and helps bring things back into the real world, If only just for a moment.

SoundNest

SoundNest taps into EchoNest’s API to give you artist recommendations. It uses the SoundCloud users you follow to come up with recommendations tailored for you then searches SoundCloud for these users and gives you the option to follow them.

This just makes the whole process of music discovery even easier and pushes it a little closer to being the go-to app when you want to listen to some new music.

 

 

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