discchord v3.4: The Reckoning

This week I rolled out another major site update, but you may not have even noticed it. This was primarily a lot of behind the scenes improvements and optimizations. Frankly the site is already so heavily optimized that I doubt anyone besides me notices this stuff anymore. I'm just shaving milliseconds off load times at this point. However this update should be noticeable on mobile networks, because I focused on bandwidth optimization.

The update also added a few "duh, I should have been doing that all along" features. If you're a registered user, the Contact page it will now populate the name and email address with your name and email address.

Timmeon

A few weeks ago Patreon kicked off a couple of Nazis. These are the kinds of guys that wear "deplorable" as a badge of honor, but they are some truly vile dudes. This is a decision I can understand, because I've had to ban a couple of white nationalists here as well. Having Nazis on your site is embarrassing.

Unfortunately this was another instance of Patreon acting without thinking through the obvious repercussions. First the Nazi sympathizers left Patreon in protest. Then people sympathetic to the Nazi sympathizers also left. By the time Nazi sympathizer-sympathizer-sympathizers left, the protest began to take on a much wider demographic to include many Free Speech advocates.

Shit...

This is the second time Patreon have shot themselves in the foot. In both instances I've lost patrons. I'm not going to wait around for a third time, so I've developed an alternative. If you've ended your Patreon patronage for any reason, please consider becoming a Timmeon Patron! Timmeon Patrons get all of the same benefits as Patreon patrons, without any political baggage.

You'll find Timmeon at the bottom of the Support Discchord page, where you can subscribe via Credit Card or PayPal. I'm using payment processor Braintree by PayPal, so everything is very secure and no Credit Card information is ever stored here. Thanks to Pants of Death and Frozen Lonesome for helping me beta test!

The only benefit to using Timmeon instead of Patreon is that the site will immediately recognize you as a Patron. Patreon Patrons have to wait about an hour before the site picks up a new Patreon subscription. That's it. There's no reason to switch from Patreon to Timmeon unless you have a problem with Patreon.

With the loss of commissions from iTunes, my efforts are now entirely funded by the community. If you can help, please do! If you just feel like, "Hey that Tim guy sure works pretty hard. He should get some money for his time!" then please take this opportunity to join the list of site supporters!

One More Thing...

HotRock SupaJoint brought up a point I forgot to mention! If you want to do a one-time donation to the site without worrying about subscriptions, you can! As soon as you sign up as a Timmeon Patron it takes you to your profile page. This is to show you the controls for changing the amount, or canceling the subscription. So if you just want to do a one-time thing you can instantly and easily cancel the subscription! You will continue to enjoy Patron benefits for the next month, even with the subscription cancelled.

In Memoriam: Toz Bourne

I learned from Doug Woods that long-time Patron and supporter of the site Toz Bourne passed away, after a protracted illness. From his profile page here on discchord you can see his participation in the community has been lengthy and profound. His first comment on the site was in the April Fools post for 2014. Toz's music has been featured here many times in the past, and he was among the people who helped me with the original beta testing for the site.

We've exchanged a lot of emails over the years, and I'm stunned to learn of his passing. Toz will be missed by many in the community. He never brought any drama, just good vibes to all.

His last album, produced entirely on iOS, was a fun one I dubbed Jazz Punk.

Mindless: Name Your Price

New Year's Predictions 2019

2018 was an alright year. It might not have been a spectacular year, but I think 2016 did an excellent job of lowering our expectations. I didn't have to eulogize David Bowie in 2018, so I'm counting it as a win.

For me personally it was a roller coaster... if there was a roller coaster where halfway through the ride Apple comes along to punch you in the dick. I seriously spent most of the year working on the new AppKaiju site, only to learn halfway through that all of my work was never going to pay off. And oh, yeah, discchord was also in jeopardy of becoming financially unsustainable.

At my lowest point in 2018 the community truly stepped up to help me keep this site alive. Thank you so much to every single person who has helped support the site! I am so deeply grateful. You empower me to continue to do what I love here, instead of moving on to some corporate gig. I'm not even sure I'd fit in, in a corporate environment anymore. I've been self-employed since my mid-20's. I'd probably seem feral in an office setting.

Before we look into the future to predict what 2019 holds, let's look back at our predictions for 2018.

Successful Predictions

Ion677 expected more goodies from Bram Bos in 2018 and was not disappointed, with Perforator and Kosmonaut both releasing in 2018.

Dendy successfully predicted a mobile Reason, though he probably feels that Reason Compact is a bit of a fail.

Enkerli took a shotgun approach to his predictions, missing on nearly all of them, but he hit a good one with "Devs will continue to push for subscription models. One of them might succeed." BLEASS has been trying very hard to be that first successful subscription music app, with amusing videos, and community engagement.

Jim Hanks made the most accurate NanoStudio 2 prediction ever. People have been making NanoStudio 2 predictions since I started doing these, but they've all fallen into the failed column. Jim expected we'd see NanoStudio finally release in 2018, and further predicted that it wouldn't have audio tracks by year's end.

Red Sky Lullaby successfully predicted that Bitcoin was going to lose a lot of people a lot of money in 2018. The crypo collapse has been so significant that Todd Smith, an ardent crypto enthusiast, changed his YouTube name from Blockchain Music to Todd Smith Music. I don't even want to know how much he lost this year.

Failed Predictions

Red Sky Lullaby was also trying to keep hope alive for a 2018 Samplr update, but the app remains untouched since 2014 so he gets a fail too. That's two years in a row on this one!

Erik thought I might finally buy a Mac in 2018. He was, and will continue to be, wrong about that. I'm not making that much money from the site that I can go blowing money on a Mac. I did get a new computer in 2018, but it was a self-built PC for about a third of the price of a similarly spec'd Mac.

Erik and TBIRD both thought we might see Ableton iOS, but Ableton remains puzzlingly absent.

Heretik7 got a whole lot of things wrong, including BM3 on iPhone; which was a common theme.

A bunch of folks were expecting Apple to release some of their Pro music apps on iOS, but Apple failed to deliver. Mainstage was mentioned a lot. While Apple didn't bring us Mainstage in 2018, we did get Camelot Pro.

What's Coming in 2019?

One of the most common predictions last year was that Apple would completely collapse, as they have in the past without Steve. They instead became a Trillion Dollar company, but along the way they've made a lot of decisions that have left people perplexed or flat-out angry.

This might be the opportunity Android needs to finally become a competitive alternative for music makers. In late 2018 Android got a low latency audio driver, and Audioroute as an Audiobus equivalent.

My 2019 prediction is once again the vain hope that Android Music Apps will finally be a thing!

Open Mic: New Year's Predictions for 2019!

In the comments here please share your predictions for what we'll see in 2019!

Let's Play with Zero Input Mixing

In the last three Let's Plays, I played around in the granular apps released this year. It occurred to me that it might also be helpful to do a video on how to quickly develop a lot of rich textures for use in them. For that I like to turn to Zero Input Mixing as a fun creative exercise in sound design. I let my freak flag fly on this one!

Video Description:

Apps like Audiobus and AUM have made effects apps a mainstay of iOS music production for years. Let's make some fun textures for our granular synths, using just effects apps and no input!

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!)

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.

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