EricSkiff.com Open Source Everything

24Jan/060

BarCamp, SXSW, Texas, and other crazy words

John and me presenting at BarCampTwo weeks ago, I participated in an ad-hoc un-conference called BarCamp (photos). BarCamp was basically my ideal conference: plenty of space (generously donated by CollegeHumor.com), lots of good presentation tracks, brilliant people, and no vendors pushing Schwag and products you don't need. Best of all, it was free - the only rule was that if you came, you had to present.

I decided to present on the same thing I was working on at the time: figuring out how to make MySpace work for the GlitchCast the same way it works for indie bands. I was learning how to "game the system," and I'd written some open source code to do just that and was treating the entire operation as an experiment in marketing.

John Resig was planning on presenting something similar and got in contact with me, and soon we were collaborating via wiki on "Subverting Social Networks." It turns out that John's actually a brilliant coder and had written and studied tons of these little apps, so we'd had a great mix of shared experiences and differing points of view. We worked together at BarCamp to shape the presentation, and I think it came out pretty well. Our talk was pretty well attended, and we got some great discussion and some good laughs.

It turns out that there was a prize for favorite presentation, and in the after-event voting, John's and my presentation won! Considering the caliber of the other presenters and topics, I'm somewhere between surprised, flattered, and ecstatic. The prize is a ticket to the HUGE interactive, film, and music festival South by SouthWest (SXSW Interactive) in Austin, TX. It turns out that Sara was planning to head to Virginia that weekend anyway, so it looks like I'm going. John unfortunately had to decline due to costs (travel to TX and hotel are still factors).

I'm super excited to get to meet more amazing people on the bleeding edge of the internet, music, and culture, and I think it'll be a great venue to talk to people about The GlitchCast and my latest crazy venture (which I'll announce here soon, I promise!)

By crazy circumstance, it turns out that Marianne, Colleen, Carol, and Robin will all be in Austin for "Staple" just a few days before! What are the odds? Looks like we'll be passing in the air unless you guys want to stay in Austin a few extra days.

I just want to take a final moment here to thank the organizers of BarCamp for putting together such a brilliant event. The orchestration of everything from the space to the sponsors was herculean, and I've seen $300 a day conferences that had 1/10th the value that was packed into those 2 days in Tribeca. I'm still going back through and processing everything I learned, and now I get to continue my adventure.

5Jan/065

1000 friends

Well, 1000 people who know about the GlitchCast is certainly not a bad start. I've been getting tons of request to check out artists and play them on our show, and I've already found some great ones including Jonathan Hape, My Little Radio, and Chris Ayer. They'll all be featured in the next GlitchCast.

I think I'll take a break for a few days and get in touch with the people I've friended in this batch, before continuing on the list of people I'd like to add. I've had some great contacts from amazing Americana and bluegrass artists, some really good rock bands, and even a goth band.

I'm actually kind of surprised - after 1000 adds, I haven't had a single person say "who are you and why did you add me?" Everyone's been checking out the info page, clicking "add" and messaging with words of encouragement or requests to be played. It sounds like there's a real demand for music podcasts, especially in the indie music scene. Very cool.

5Jan/060

Nice words about the GlitchCast

Well, MySpace was down this morning, so I did a Technorati search for GlitchCast this morning and found this really nice article by podcast reviewer Al Gritzmacher.

"But if you wanted one podcast for the holidays. One that stands out above all the rest and can be listened to over and over, I recommend the Glitchcast Holiday Special. Eric and Sara Skiff of New York City put out this podcast, which I have only started listening to recently.

Their Christmas Special puts all the essential podsafe songs together in one tastefully arranged and thought out order. Their introductions are low-key, appropriate for the season and heartfelt, making it truly a pleasure to listen to over and over. Burn this one to a CD and give it as a gift to a friend you are trying to explain podcasting to. ItÂ’s a shining example of what podcasting can be.

I hereby declare the Glitchcast Holiday Special #12 the Best Christmas Podcast of 2005!"

Thanks Al - that's the nicest thing anyone could have said. Glad to hear people are enjoying the show!

I'll definitely be checking out Al's live music podcast, if you like our show, give it a listen

4Jan/0610

GlitchCastFriendAdder 1.0 is released

I've just released version 1.0 of the GlitchCastFriendAdder - the Open Source MySpace Friend Adder.

It's a combination friendID scraper and bulk adder for MySpace.

You can find more information here.

3Jan/061

The First Great Coding Binge of 2006

Well, I don't know if it was the fact that I was laid up for a good portion of the past week or just that my brain was rested and ready to churn out something creative, but last night I was struck by inspiration, and couldn't stop coding for hours.

I'll release the results here in the next day or two under the GPL (I'm working out some final bugs right now), but basically I've written an open source myspace friend adder in Perl. At first I was wary of all the steps involved but I've done some web automation before and the WWW::Mechanize library is amazing. It really makes jobs like this easy. I went from concept to working code in about 4 hours.

The script literally logs in as you, goes to the pages you specify in a simple comma separated CSV file, and then adds all of the friend IDs that are on those pages. It's been working amazingly, as there are a lot of great bands that we've played on the GlitchCast. The theory is that if they like the music they're "friends" with, they might also like our show and the other music we feature.

Part of me feels a little grey about the spammy nature of these invites, but I'm not just sending this to users at random, these are people I think genuinely might be interested in our show.

Myspace makes you enter a "captcha" after every few friends you add, so I've added a simple "pause" mechanism to the code, prompting you to go and add a friend by hand so it can continue on it's merry way.

Adding friend 1468183...captcha detected. Go add a friend manually.
Here's the current page:
http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=invite.addfriend_verify&friendID=1468183
Hit enter to continue.

If I had any doubts as to whether this was worth the effort, they've already been put to rest. Four bands have written me just this afternoon, asking to be included in the GlitchCast.

Outstanding.

At the moment, I'm getting hit with the captchas pretty frequently, so I'll have to tweak the "sleep" time between adding friends a bit and see if that helps. I've also got 33 pages of pending friend requests, so that might have me in a higher "penalty bracket" or some such.

It's been fun to play with myspace and hand-craft some of the tools I need. Being that I run on Linux here at home and didn't really want to run this stuff on the work PCs, there were no commercial options available for me anyway.

Once I get this properly cleaned up and released, I'm going to start working on some ways to stay in contact with those on my friends list. It should be fairly easy to modify this script to log in and message those on our friends pages and do things like "thanks for the add" and "Check out the next show, it features Edie Carey" to all the Edie fans that have friended us.

Now, there's a good chance that if you're reading this, you found this page through google looking for a free and open source myspace friend adder. The perl code will be available here soon (either tonight, 2005-01-03, or tomorrow). In the meantime, check out the podcast that got me excited enough to put in all this effort just to promote it: The GlitchCast - bringing great independent and under-appreciated music to the Podsafe Music Network