April 25, 2005

Business End

Okay, this is what we in the industry call scope creep. Unfortunately in this instance, I’m both the client and the contractor, so I get the business end of both sticks.

So. Music is, like, a hugely important thing to me, and while packing I realized that I still have the jewel cases for all the discs I’ve purchased since moving out to Oregon. So, I thought, how nice would it be to provide ya’ll with a list of these albums, so you can puruse them and write me off as a complete wanker because not only did I buy N’Sync’s No Strings Attached, I listened to it last night and actually enjoyed it?

All I wanted was to do was publish a list of CDs, but the project quickly grew out of my control. Compiling the list alone took an hour, as there were 46 albums to paw through. Then I got to thinking that a list would be of little use for ya’ll… what I need are links to a place where you can hear and/or purchase the album!

After isolating an alternative to a leading online retailer who I refuse to do business with, I set up links. Then I realized I wanted money. Great big wads of money, that I can rub all over my body or use to insulate my house.

So I joined the Barnes and Noble affiliate program. Now, if you were follow a link from my site to their site, and if you were to complete a transaction after following that link, the wheels of the mighty Brainside Out juggarnaut would be oiled just that much more.

At least, that’s how it would work if I were one to follow instructions. You see, Barnes and Noble offers a handy little link tool that will automatically generate the correct link code for any product I want to reference. The problem is, this link code is a tortured mass of HTML that harkens from 1995, complete with unencoded special characters, meaningless one-pixel spacer images, deprecated attributes and everything.

I refuse to add this ugly bloat to my website. I also refuse to add third-party HTML code that would unquestionably invalidate my XHTML 1.0 Strict validation. Now, me screwing up my own code is something I can deal with. I know that even though this kid is a total screw-up, with women and kiting and everything but valid code on his brain, he’s trying as hard as he can. But third parties? Trying to give me money? Pul-leeze. Get your act together, guys, and then maybe we’ll talk.

So I wrote my own valid link code, which Barnes and Noble has assured me will not work. But we don’t know this, at least not yet. The only way to find out is if you guys buy lots and lots of things on Barnes and Noble by clicking through via my site. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what you buy from those guys, or when, just so long as you make a layover here on your way over there.***

So. After coding all the album links, I coded them again. And again. Finally, after writing and testing the links, and having found them to be working to my desires, I decided that a list of cds was the dumbest idea in the world if I didn’t add some comment about whether or not I thought a disc was worth a damn. So I started writing personal responses for each album, and found that I am unable to say everything I ever wanted to say in five words or less. Words became sentences, sentences became paragraphs, and paragraphs became pictures in my mind.

By the time I had written a dozen responses I was completely burned out, and I knew I had no desire to finish with the 34 discs that remained. What’s more, I didn’t pace myself at all. I worked backwards chronologically, writing descriptions for mediocre albums while leaving complete jewels out in the cold, just because they were early to the party. An album with a detailed reaction seems to imply that it held more interest than one without, when really in this case it signifies nothing more than a lack of committment on the part of the reviewer.

Screw it all. I’ll share the reviewed albums and then I’ll share the remainders, using a state-of-the-art processing tool to fill in the gaps far more efficiently than you can imagine. It will be so efficient it will blow your freakin’ mind. BLOW YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND, MAN.



…did I mention I went kiting tonight? That I nearly got blown off the water on my 9 meter kite? That it was so incredibly amazing I could hardly breathe as I left the beach?

* It was in the 3/$10 bargain bin at Ranch Records. I needed it to round out Built to Spill and Ultimate Fakebook.

** As for this, I really have no excuse for this.

*** This paragraph has probably violated my affiliate agreement on so many levels. I’ll let you know when my court date is set.