New Web Server is Live!

The site swapped to entirely new servers last night! There were some issues, but I've been able to fix them as I find them. Big thanks to pantsofdeath for being my beta tester and alerting me to a big bug. Most people will hit errors and not report them. I'm begging you: Please report any bugs you find! Don't assume I know about it. As of right now I am aware of no bugs on the site. Seriously, please tell me if you find one!

Throughout its life discchord has resided on several hosting platforms. Initially it was just a simple Squarespace v5 blog. When I decided to write my own CMS this meant I had to get proper hosting, but I was pretty spoiled by Squarespace's reliability. I thought I'd find similar reliability on the mighty Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform, especially for the price. I was mistaken. I got a very good deal on the web hosting from PythonAnywhere (a Managed AWS web host), but the database hosting from mLab (a Managed AWS database host) that went with it was quite expensive and not at all reliable. This site has a very large database of comments, articles, apps. It's not quite "Big Data" but it's hefty, and growing.

I'm just about to launch AppKaiju, my AppShopper killer. During its development I needed an even larger database that would include all of the apps on the App Store. mLab was going to charge me a kidney for a database of that size, so I decided to set out on my own. This turns out to have been a great move. I migrated discchord's database on to the new server cluster, along with AppKaiju's insane database size, and still have plenty of space left to grow. That was 7 months ago. It has been much more reliable than mLab/AWS!

For the last few weeks I've noticed some performance issues on the discchord webserver in the morning while I'm trying to write articles. This is simply you guys coming here because you know the schedule and you're coming to see what's new. There are a lot of you, so that was beginning to overwhelm the PythonAnywhere (AWS) server. I had two options: ask you all to stop coming to the site because you're slowing it down, or upgrade the server. Yesterday I went with the latter.

And the new site is so fast! Holy shit! Go click around and see how fast it loads! This new server is running a faster processor from the one I had at PythonAnywhere, and it is in the same room as the DB cluster. I'm so excited! discchord is my baby. Right now my baby is very healthy and I'm 100% responsible for its care. No more managed hosting or middlemen. I am solely responsible for maintaining all the servers that run the site. This is incredible to me, because 4 years ago I couldn't do any of this. I couldn't write backend, I knew nothing about databases, and I definitely wouldn't know the first thing about running a cluster of Linux servers.

Now I'm a full-fledged DevOp. As with music making, it was simply a matter of dedicating the time to practice.

discchord v3.3: I fixed it this time, guys!

I haven't released an official major update to the site in a year. In fact, and completely by coincidence, the last major update was exactly one year ago tomorrow. I've been preoccupied with my other coding projects, but that does not mean that I've been neglecting discchord. I've learned a lot from the other projects, and I've been applying what I learn here.

This 3.3 update to the site includes a lot of fixes that I've been slowly trickling into the code base, along with a number of performance improvements. Some of these fixes include some boneheaded mistakes on my part. I had to unban over 50 IPs today because I found my anti-hacking code was being a bit agro if you approached the login page at a weird angle.

There are also some substantive changes I wanted to get done ahead of Black Friday Week.

Music App Sales

Astute readers will note that the side menu now includes Music App Sales under the Music App Guide. This is a feature the site could always do, but hasn't out of respect for other sites. A lot of other sites in the music app community have given me space here to cover the news. A few of them have been covering app sales exclusively. They were deliberately avoiding my toes, so I tried not to step on theirs and their app sale commissions. Since Apple has ended app sale commissions I've decided to include that service here.

Here you can quickly find the latest app sales, because they're all sorted in order of most recent. As in the Music App Guide, you can further sort by device and category. If you are looking for a DAW on iPad you can find just those sales here!

What you will not find on this list is Price Bouncers!

Bounce Out

I've hated Price Bouncers since the very early days of the site. These are the guys that are constantly jumping around in price because sites like AppShopper would list their "sales" in among the recently updated apps. It is a lazy way of getting attention for your app, without having to do all that tedious updating. This is unfair to other developers who get pushed out of the way by their antics. It is unfair to consumers who might purchase it at the high point of the price bounce. And it really really pissed me off because I have to double-check every single sale I've ever posted here to make sure it is a genuine sale and not this nonsense.

The App History pictured on the right here is from StompBox, which has been price bouncing for months now. It spends most of its time at $8, but if you're unlucky you could buy it on a day it is $15. To help prevent people from making this sort of mistake I've been tracking all the apps on the App Store to develop an algorithm that will flag these apps. Now when you see a link here for an app, it might have a Price Bouncer tag added to it. Like this:

If you hover your mouse over the words Price Bouncer you get a short description explaining that the app has a lot of frequent price fluctuations.

I'm still tweaking the algorithm so if anyone feels it is being too aggressive in flagging apps, you can let me know. It seems good so far. In the last 3 months it has only flagged a few... most of them from 4Pockets.

I tried to make the algorithm fairly conservative. Apps like Scythe have had a lot of price activity, but that's mostly them just trying to find the right price for their app. That's fine. The algorithm has not flagged it yet, so developers shouldn't worry too much about this! As long as you're not bouncing every month you'll probably avoid being flagged.

Apps that are flagged as Bouncers can become unflagged over time, simply by cutting that shit out. All Price Bouncers are omitted from the new Music App Sales page.

Pretty Emails

One of the many new things I've learned in the last year is how to make emails show up nicely on most email clients. If you've used the Wishlist feature of the site you've probably had a 50/50 chance of getting an oddly formatted email. I've finally fixed that so that most email clients will render them nicely. Except Outlook, which uses an insane HTML renderer from Microsoft Word, so fuck those guys.

I really wanted to get this done ahead of all the sales that will be happening next week! And I did. So now we can both rest easily knowing that all of the sales emails you get from here will look pretty!

Halloween 2018: The Parent Trap

Halloween has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was a kid there were a few houses in my neighborhood that really put in an effort to make it creepy for the kids. I try to do the same for children today.

Our house has developed a reputation in the neighborhood. In the last couple of months I've heard from a few parents wondering if we were going to do anything. Naturally we were, but with all of this enthusiasm from parents we decided to change things up a bit. We wanted something that would give the parents a scare too!

Video Description:

Halloween is our favorite holiday so we always try to make it something memorable for the kids. This year we changed things up a bit to also make it something for the parents, with a "Parent Trap" to catch them off guard! Audio was recorded on the new iPhone XR, using Audioshare.

Last year's video: https://youtu.be/stB5jMaWnHc

Apple iPad Event 2018: Attack of the Dongles

Today's iPad and Mac event included a new Mac Book Air, a new Mac Mini, and the long awaited "X" iPad.

iPad Pro X

While not officially dubbed with an X, the new models of iPad Pro are definitely the iPad Pro X. Available in 11" and 12.9", both models sport a beefed up A12X processor. The A12, which appears in this year's iPhone models, has 6 CPU cores and 4 GPU cores. The A12X brings those totals up to 8 CPUs and 7 GPUs, to accommodate the larger screen. The new iPads also include FaceID, without the iPhone screen notch, so they've dropped the home button.

Moist Dongles

All in all this is an excellent looking iPad, but for musicians there are two big annoyances.

The new design removes the 3.5mm headphone jack. The excuse for doing so on the phones was to make them waterproof, because apparently a lot of people have been dropping their phones in the toilet. Apple did not indicate whether or not the new iPad Pros are also toilet safe. Either way, you'll need a dongle just to plug in your headphones now.

All of your Lightning peripherals will also need a dongle, because Apple have changed specs again. The new iPad Pros come with USB-C connectors. While this will be super annoying for some peripherals that were designed with the Lightning port in mind, it is something we should have all seen coming eventually after they dropped 30-pin. Switching from their proprietary Lightning connector to USB-C will probably be a good thing in the long-run, at least until Apple changes again.

You can order one of these new devices today, shipping on the 7th, but you better be prepared to spend over $1,000. The 11" model starts at $800 for just 64GB of storage, so realistically you'll need to go one more SKU up to 265GB. The price then jumps up to $950! If you want to top out at the maximum 1TB you'll need to pay a comical $1,550. Plus tax. Remember to add at least $100-200 to all of these prices for sales tax.

God help you if you want the 12.9" model, which starts at $1,000 for the paltry 64GB model. $1,150 gets you into the 256GB, while the illusory 1TB iPad will run you $1,750. If you think the new Apple Pencil is worth grabbing that'll be an extra $130, and the Keyboard Folio is priced between $180-$200. A grand total of $2,080 buys you the biggest iPad with all of the accessories... plus tax, which takes it to $2,206.81.

Here is the full iPad portion of today's event, as posted by Digital Trends.

Let's Play with SpaceCraft

SpaceCraft is one of those apps that just looks like it would be fun to touch. The synthwave interface is bright and inviting, but not terribly obvious. In this Let's Play I tweak all the panels and explain what they do!

Video Description:

This week I wrap up my look at the recent iOS granular synth apps with a video for SpaceCraft. SpaceCraft is capable of some very pretty textures, but it can also get nasty. I try to show off both sides in this Let's Play! SpaceCraft is available on iTunes: https://goo.gl/3JvXr5

If you've enjoyed this series please consider supporting it by becoming a Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/discchord If you'd prefer to help on a monthly basis, instead of per video, there is a monthly Patreon campaign: https://www.patreon.com/discchord_com (Patrons of both campaigns get the same benefits, including Ad Free viewing on the site!)

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