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the eFestivals blog

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Neil

The latest changes to to the website have now gone live, with the re-jigging of the photo albums/galleries now just about complete.

The photo albums pages have now been split into years, and a photo from each photo album added alongside that album. For albums from this year, there's the option to view the album as either traditional galleries or, via a Flash application, as a slideshow.

One result of the changes is that currently the eCards program is a bit messed up. This will be fixed and improved over the coming days.

Neil

getting a bit flash...?

For ages I've wanted to jazz up this website a little, but simply never had the time. With new hands at some of the controls I've finally got some time to start to work thru that horrendously long to-do list. One of the things on the list is a re-jig of the photo-galleries, to make them a little less of the quickly cobbled together mess that they've always been, and hopefully one side result of the re-jig will be a bit more eye-candy from photos thru-out the site.

Anyway, I've wanted to use a Flash application of some sort, where the photos from a festival can be viewed as a slideshow, as well as categorised by band and the like within that. Despite days and days of searching and testing the plenty of in-theory suitable applets I could find, I never found one that was as flexible as I wanted it to be. In the end, I picked the one nearest to my requirements which also came with source code, and bought that. A mate was due to have a quick go at it to make the changes I wanted, and that would be that. Months later, for a variety reasons nothing has happened.

This coming weekend is the first weekend of the year that eFestivals has people out covering a festival, so the deadline is here. I have to get something sorted by Monday, else I may as well forget it for this year.... I guess there could be some late nights coming up. :D

Neil

server tuning 2008 pt 2

Well, today is the first 'busy' day of the year, with T in the Park officially announced in an hour or so. With RATM having already leaked the line-up, traffic has been busy on the site since first thing this morning, and the servers have been coping absolutely fine - no stress at all.

For those who might have been on the site at around 8:30 this morning and experienced difficulties, that was for an entirely different reason - I was doing a little more pruning of non-festie posts, which is very server intensive (and intensive in an entirely different way, hence the problems). I'd meant to do this maintainenmce last night, but it didn't happen for a variety of reasons (whoops).

Anyway, I guess that in around an hour when the official announcement is made the forums will be much busier, and it'll be good to see just how much of a difference there is this year compared to last year - the guesstimate I'd make right now is that the forums will cope (at normal speed) with 3+ times the traffic than they managed last year.

Neil

MyFestivals groups

Many people appreciate the tight moderation of the main forums here, as it keeps the forums focused on the festivals they're about - unlike other forums on other websites, they don't become full of posts about what someone had for lunch and other very-off-topic things.

To give those users here who would like more freedom to chat about their favourite festivals and anything else, we've now added MyFestivals Groups. Anyone can create a group along with a forum for that group, and the leader of a group gets to say who can join the group - if a group is public then a user can apply to join the group and the group leader aproves them as a group member. There's also the ability to create private groups, where the group leader invites people to join.

The groups and the forums are each moderated by the group leader, so groups are free to use their group for whatever they want. The group leader can resign if they wish and pass the mantle onto another group leader.

We hope this will be a popular new feature - have fun. :-)

Neil

rumours

I've just visited the official Download forums for the first time in several years and they're hilarious.

First up was me noticing the forums becoming unusable for a while with a "server busy" message ... which happened to coincide with school's morning break time. :D At a guess - because i've seen it year on year on the eFestivals forums - a large number of the people posting there are not attending the festival and know they're not; they're posting just to pretend to be 'cool'. :)

Anyway, the point of my visit was to look at what people were saying about the news piece that eFestivals published yesterday (here) where we say who we think are the Download headliners this year, and to compare what's being said over there against what people have posted on the efests Download forum.

There's a large number of people on the official forums who don't want to believe what we've said or who think we've guessed at these names, while the occasional person points out that we've got it right in previous years before the bands were officially announced (which may or may not be true ... I can't remember if we've always had it spot on for Download or not, but if not we've had the majority of it right). The people who think we're guessing often suggest that we guess by reading what people are saying on forums such as those and then make a stab at guessing right.

We don't. We rarely take any notice of what people post on forums about which bands are playing, either here on eFestivals or anywhere else (the 'anywhere else' would have us checking other forums, which we don't do unless there's a specific reason to check something). The problem is that too many people like to claim that their grannie's cat's uncle's budgie knows some insider that has told them that so-and-so are playing, and invaribly these turn out to be false.

Over the years eFestivals has built up a number of sources who have proved - via sending us accurate info year-on-year - that they know what's what, and the majority of our info this early in the year (before stuff starts appearing on bands websites) comes from these. We normally can't give any info on who these people are and where they've got their info from, because it will drop them in the shit with wherever they've got the info.

While we have a lot of confidence in what we publish - particularly if done in a news piece such as yesterday's - we only ever state absolute confidence in what we're saying if we have that absolute confidence, and that mostly depends on what exactly we know about the person sending us the info and where they're telling us they got it (and whether we believe all they might tell us ... because of what they're doing, they might be telling us porkies about where it's come from).

Our year-on-year record with rumours is, IMO, very good, and as far as we're aware is far better than anywhere else manages, but that doesn't mean that we guarantee any rumours we give; after all, they're rumours. Only festival organisers are in the position to really know what's what. We do our best including double-checking what we're told via a number of different ways, but they'll never all be 100% perfect as we're using imperfect info.

Neil

server tuning

It's that time of year again when my thoughts start to turn towards the mad ticket on-sale days and the stupid load it puts on the eFestivals servers for just a couple of hours each time.

Last year I came up with a solution that worked reasonably well but not as well as I'd hoped for. So this year a number of steps have already been taken which have improved things substantually, and with some more things still to do I'm reasonably confident of a better result this time around. Fingers crossed!

Neil

confusion

It seems that my 'disappearance' is confusing some people.

After ten years of breathing, eating, sleeping and farting eFestivals I've decided to take a different role. 5co77ie has been appointed as full-time editor of both eFestivals and eGigs, and I'm moving on to develop new projects while still having a little involvement in both of the sites.

In the short-term I'm around to help and advise 5co77ie as necessary, as well as keeping a long-term role in developing and improving both sites, running the business side of things to some extent, and managing the servers.

I'll still be posting as Neil occasionally when I feel there's something worth saying under my own name, and I'm sometimes posting as 'eFestivals' too, tho this account is also being used by others. The 'eFestivals' account will be being used to present eFestivals information.

Neil

:) :) :):D

There's a small handful of people without whom eFestivals wouldn't exist.

Very sadly one of these passed away at the weekend, and she'll be sorely missed by me and her many friends but more importantly by her children and husband.

Neil

The festival scene well and truly has hit the point where anyone and everyone thinks they can put on a successful festival. 2007 has been full of attempts at running new festivals and events, with various success.

There's those who have a good idea as well as the skills to pull what's needed together, and who know how to sell their idea to a paying public. They put in the months of hard work on all the angles needed to pull the event off, and even if they lose money - as long as it's not too much money - if those attending have enjoyed what's on offer they can rightfully consider what they've done a success. They then have something to build on, and provided they build and don't start to think they have it made, the future should bring them better things - to these people, very well done!! We wish you ever-more growing success.

There's also the dreamers. This year saw a lot of planned new events seeing pre-publicity as a way to get off the ground, and in that pre-publicity it was clear that they believed they'd be able to book the sort of acts that would guarantee success merely from their chosen mega-acts being on the bill. Aside from the fact that a successful festival is more than just who's appearing, their dreams of getting those bands exposed their ignorance of the music biz at the most basic level - if it was only as simple as booking your chosen act(s) and then watching the cash roll in, we'd all being doing it. The reality is that the biggest acts want to limit their exposure to leave a feeling of people wanting more (and so ensure a demand for them into the future), and the promoters who they trust to pull off the sorts of shows those bands want to do and who have the bucket loads of cash to afford the bands fees also want to limit the bands exposure, to ensure that the tickets sell for what they've invested their cash into both now and in the future. To you people, haven't you realised that 'Wayne's World' was fiction? There is more to it than "if you book them they will come".

There's also been some attempts at festivals and events which, from where I'm sat, didn't have good intentions. Anything which is using bullshit to create a false interest isn't going to pull off an event that people will be satisfied with. Here at eFestivals we often have the skills to spot this, and you won't find festivals where we've identified that bullshit listed here; on occasions, we even go so far as to pass on our concerns of these to competitors as we feel the integrity of the festivals industry is more important than anything else (sadly, they sometimes chose to ignore such warnings, perhaps influenced by payola cash waved in their direction). Thankfully, these charlatan events only account for a small number each year.

Outside of those above, there's those who have the right ideas and the right skills, but whose plans just didn't capture the imagination of the paying public for a variety of reasons - from one angle it's just unlucky. But these need to review why they failed before trying again, as more of the same is likely to bring more of the same poor luck. Perhaps you simply weren't destined to run a festival after all - maybe it's time to move on?

Neil

ticks on the list

I've been working thru a list of to-do's since the end of the summer, putting in place certain things for the new year for eFestivals. As ever with these sorts of things getting thru the list never quite goes as fast as hoped for, but even so much of the stuff is now sorted.

One of the more important things is sorted, and that's new staff for certain tasks. There's a new full-timer who's going to be having a big role, plus another part-timer who I've been bugging for a while and who is now in place for another important task.

Now, where are those holiday brouchers...? :D

Neil

it's all free

I've just downloaded and installed the latest version of Fedora (Red Hat linux), and it's a dream.

It has everything you could ever want on your computer straight out of the package, all as least as good as anything Bill could ever buy in (it's not like microshit actually come up with anything good themselves), and it all runs far faster than Windoze does on the same hardware.

Why is anyone still enriching Bill? :D:)

Neil

on the blag

Why does the world and their dog think that eFestivals is here to provide their organisation with a special and personal service for free?

Very regularly, eFestivals gets emails from research assistants who want to get us to do their research for them. Very often, the info they're after is easily available and easily findable on the website, but they can't even be bothered to look. Not only that, they are very often offended at being told that us doing work for their commercial benefit will cost them.

Then there's governmental organisations. Just because they're an arm of govt they think the world is at their command, even more so if they're an arm of govt that's used to having people jump on their command (hello old bill! :D). Taxes are paid by individuals and companies so that these arms of govt have a budget with which they're able to operate in the commercial world by buying in services when needed - so cough up or go away.

If we were sat here all day twiddling thumbs then perhaps they'd get what they want. As we're not, we're not going to put down what we're doing that pays the bills to do what you're too lazy to do yourselves.

Alongside our charitable commitment of giving at least 1% of our turnover (turnover, not profit) to charities eFestivals is happy to help many non-governmental and non-profit organisations for free, but to all other organisations the answer is no.

Neil

I get endless press releases about various bands playing a "secret show" - it's so secret that they're sending out press releases. :)

What's the score with this idiot tosh? Is it something that's been made up as a marketing tool in a "oooo, I got tickets to their secret show, I'm such a big fan" kind of way, or are they shows that they thought they didn't need publicity to sell tickets for but then found they couldn't sell the tickets?

Either way, they're generally for bands I wouldn't for a second waste my time on seeing. Does anyone get suckered by these really? :D

Neil

it's a small world

I've just had a PM on here from an old mate, who recognised the name of another old mate in a post I'd made (tho he doesn't remember me, the bastard :D).

edit: a few PMs later with some reminders, and he now knows who I am. :)

Neil

internet archive

I've just dropped by the Internet Archive, trying to find copies of the original webpages that grew into the Glastonbury website I started, which then grew into eFestivals. Those pages aren't in the archive, so I'll have to do some further 'net hunting to try and track them down, or search thru my 500+ CDs of backups. Ho-hum.

Why am I wanting them? Well, it's coming up to ten years since I started the site, so thought it would be good to try and find some very early examples of where it all sprung from for an article on how things grew from a very small comment on just one page, that was put there as a joke. I don't think I'll have any luck on finding a copy of that original page, but you never know. What I did find on my hunt tho was a picture that I thought was lost forever.

This is a genuine photo of a road sign that still exists (I drove past it the other day) in Radstock in Somerset. :D

nrgreenway.jpg

Neil

the scores on the doors

I've just received a Comscore report for hit stats for websites that fall into the "Entertainment - music" category. I knew that eFestivals had a significantly greater amount of traffic than many other better known general music websites, but up until this point I hadn't realised by quite how much!!!!

eFestivals comes in at number 35 in the list, but many of the sites listed above it aren't really in the same market - things like yahoo music, myspace, seeklyrics.com, last.fm, napster, etc. In fact, the only site above eFestivals that is realistically a competitor is nme.com at number 26 (which I knew obviously had much more traffic than efests - but they're actually far far closer than I'd assumed, with nme getting 60% more unique users when I'd previously thought it was around 3 times as many). And in the specific festivals marketplace, eFestivals is so far above any other sites, those other sites must almost be embarrassed by their low traffic.

2008 is going to be bringing some big changes to eFestivals - all for the better of course. Watch this space.... :(

Neil

I've spent most of today updating the system software on the eFestivals servers (which explains why they've gone off-line occasionally today, if you were wondering), and despite my novice knowledge of linux they've all gone exceedingly well. :(

The newer server is all completed, but there's still some stuff to do for the older one. Because its an older installation and hadn't been updated before (whoops :() there's still a little more to do... Back to it.

Neil

burning down the house

I was charging a high powered rechargeable battery for one of my boys toys on Sunday morning, when it exploded - proper fireballs (several!) and everything. Because it went up with such a bang, straightaway it was a biggish fire (18 inches across i guess), and it set light to my toy (:(), and things nearby (books, chest of draws, placcy bags of stuff, etc).

If I hadn't been in the room at the time, within seconds it would have taken proper hold, and I'd now have no house. Very luckily I was, and managed to beat it out, mostly with a newspaper of all things (the newspaper was the nearest thing to hand). But I also somehow (I've no real idea how - it was mad panic) managed to burn my hands quite badly, so after a trip to hospital I now have bandages around five of my fingers (three on right hand, two on left), and typing isn't easy.

Today my fingers aren't hurting too badly, so I'm hoping they're not as badly burnt as I first thought (although with burns it's quite often the more minor burns that hurt the most). I have to go back to the hospital tomorrow for these dressings to come off, and then I get to find out what's what. I'm hoping that at worst only the two most burnt fingers (2nd finger left hand, 3rd finger right hand) might need further dressings.

But why did the battery explode? I guess it's down to a cock-up on my part, plugging leads in wrongly, although as far as a I'm aware I didn't. The other alternative is that the the battery had a fault somehow (as it's now a molten mess no one could ever know). A friend cleared up much of the mess for me while I was at hospital so I'll never know for sure.

And my very expensive and almost unused boys toy? It's a wreck, completely useless now - there's just a few bits that can be salvaged for spare parts. I'm so pissed off about it that I can't decide if it's a hobby I'm going to continue with - if I do, I need to shell out hundreds of pounds again to rebuy what's been destroyed. And the house? Other than a coating of soot just about everywhere I touch, it's mostly fine, tho the nice wooden floor is ruined.

Ho-hum. :(

Neil

my wonderful secretary

I have - apparently :( - a wonderful secretary, who calls festival organisers to arrange access for eFestivals staff. This is the latest scam being tried by some to blag their way into festivals.

Are people really so stupid to think that something like this will work? The answer of course is yes :(. Does it work? Nope - and these people aren't even clever enough to cover their tracks. Scammers are always a few sandwiches short of the full hamper. :(

Neil

signs of the summer

So this year the bubble has well and truly burst. Alongside the new festivals that failed to get off the ground there were also some established names that failed completely or suffered from lower sales. Meanwhile, the better festivals held their own or grew as they were hoping to do.

So what happens when Mean Fiddler's Festival Republic's Melvin Benn gets asked about the trends this summer? He doesn't pick on the festivals that suffered, but instead comments that he's heard that sales were down for two festivals whose sales were better or as good as last year.

What do these two festivals have in common, aside from having been lucky enough to have had good weather in an awful summer? It just so happens that they're the two biggest camping festivals that are outside the Festival Republic / Live Nation / MCD cosy little family group, and one of them is directly up against Melvin's latest project Latitude. Strange that, eh? :(

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