I just got a friend request from someone who makes vegan guitar straps. Well, technically I was befriended by the vegan guitar strap itself. "I am a very vegan guitar strap," says the description, concluding with "I am cruelty free, I am sweathsop [sic] free, but, most importantly, I rock harder than the strap your brother got you at Guitar Center."
I am not sure I am ready to be friends with inanimate objects, much less ones that are proud of their cruelty-free status. Most of my human friends are not cruelty-free, even just in the interpersonal sense of the word. But I approved the request anyway, because you never know when that kind of thing might come in handy.
This is cool: the Pandora radio guys are doing podcasts, and this time they've taken on a basic guide to guitar effects. You can listen to the podcast, as well as hear samples of songs that use them, here. It's not incredibly in-depth for the mechanics of what each effect is doing, but I like that they're placing the effects into a musical and historical context.
Since (as my ranting on the Who may have revealed) my musical tastes can be this weird mix of hipness and stodgy rock cheesiness, I'm giving Pandora a chance today. It's an Internet radio station recommended by a friend of mine, which will build a playlist composed of similar songs to artists that you pick. So far, so good. At the very least, I can't imagine otherwise finding a station that would play the Darkness, the Talking Heads, and Rilo Kiley within 15 minutes of each other. So it's got that going for it.
The hardest part is forcing myself to listen to some of the sketchier songs it kicks out, just in case they turn into something really good halfway through. But if it works right, I should probably be discouraging it from giving me songs that only rock after 3 minutes of wandering.
I love that it's telling me I want songs based on "extensive vamping."
So I log in to MySpace, as I usually do once a week just to check on it, and I find that there's a note up about the spam bulletins and comments that have been posted in my name--I thought it was just that MySpace security was the equivalent of protecting Fort Knox with a mighty wall of damp Kleenex, but I guess it's more interesting than that. Apparently password phishers have been redirecting people to trojan pages that look like the MySpace login using Flash. Then they take your password and use it to send messages about dating sites to other people. Which is ten kinds of awesome.
But let's make one thing clear: while it is true that most web-based applications are vulnerable to this kind of thing, and while MySpace can't necessarily be blamed for a weakness in Flash, the fact of the matter is that people wouldn't have fallen for this scam nearly as easily if MySpace weren't a buggy hunk of garbage that kicks users out at the slightest provocation. For once, the responsibility for this social engineering falls entirely on the system admins, and not on the users.
Good thing MySpace isn't the vanguard of American youth culture, with a staggering reach into people's home computers, most of whom have no idea how to protect themselves.
On a lighter note, MySpace cannot confirm that Mark Foley's account was cracked this way. So if you are an underage male who has received obscene messages from the ex-Senator, it may be less a security issue, and more your tax dollars at work under the Republican government.
Thomas: So I got a couple of new friends today on the Myspace page.
Belle: I saw that!
Thomas: But you know the worst part? I have yet to see anyone with a page that isn't absolutely hideous.
Belle: Yeah, like mine.
Thomas: Well, yours at least looks somewhat coordinated. But most people, it's like the Internet threw up.
Belle: Actually, you know what it's really like? Remember back when the Internet first got started? All the neon fonts and garish background images and huge titles?
Thomas: Oh no! You're right! When we all had blinking green text on orange backgrounds. I had a scrolling Bad Joke of the Day with the matinee tag, and embedded midi music.
Belle: Exactly. MySpace is the Web from 1992, but more annoying. Because at least we had the excuse that no-one knew what they were doing yet.
Thomas: It's a whole new wave of people discovering animated gifs and Java reflecting pools.
Writing (and playing music) here basically serves two goals: A) practice, and B) steadily lowering the number of people who take me seriously. I count it tremendously successful on both counts. But to accelerate the process, I created a MySpace page for the pretentious solo project* as an experiment. You can find it here.
If you ever needed evidence that the best product is not necessarily the winner, try MySpace. I don't know anything about creating a social networking site, but I know that it's got to be better than that. Comments are handled in a very clumsy way. No-one tells you this, but bands need to sign up in a completely different section from the rest of the site. The default layout is hideous. All in all, it frightens me.
*Please, please, please do not ever take this seriously. People who take themselves seriously on the Internet are rapidly becoming one of my pet peeves. I would like to issue a disclaimer right now that almost all of the Internet, including the parts I didn't write, is most likely a colossal joke.