The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.
There are many definitions of qualia, which have changed over time. One of the simpler, broader definitions is: “The ‘what it is like’ character of mental states. The way it feels to have mental states such as pain, seeing red, smelling a rose, etc.”
A polite fiction is a social scenario in which all participants are aware of a truth, but pretend to believe in some alternative version of events to avoid conflict or embarrassment.
RIP Al GoldsteinBy Philip Kaplan
RIP Al Goldstein.
Back in 2000, I was in NYC small claims court because a neighbor sued me for playing the drums too loudly. Sitting next to me in the courtroom was Al Goldstein, famously-outspoken NYC pornographer. He was there to sue airlines, something over frequent flyer miles he felt he was owed.
Al had a TV show on NYC public access (people actually watch that in NYC) called Midnight Blue. It had a segment called “F-ck You” where he vented about people & companies that he didn’t like. I was running a similarly-named (and themed) site called “F-ckedcompany.com” — and needless to say, we hit it off.
Al invited me to be interviewed on his TV show. I was psyched. A few days later I was in his studio, cameras rolling.
His first question to me, “So… when was the last time you ate p-ssy?”
Al, we’ll miss you.
How I deal with users who stealBy Philip Kaplan
I built an online service called DistroKid that makes it easy for musicians to get their music into iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google Play.
It costs $19.99/yr for musicians to use, or is free if you refer 5 new users. The referral system works well, and is responsible for about 30% of daily new users.
Some users fake it though. They “refer” 5 people by making 5 bogus DistroKid accounts using the referral link we give them.
It’s pretty easy for us to detect when a user does this. But we let them get away with it because I love seeing people use the system, whether they’ve paid for it or not. It’s one of the most complex things I’ve ever built and I’m really proud of it. And there’s nothing like telling a musician, “Congrats! Your music is in stores.” Plus we get to send people money (100% of royalties) when someone buys their music. And sending people money they’ve earned is always a nice feeling.
Even when the user thinks they’ve scammed a free account out of us.
What’s more, these sneaky users get the same level of service that legitimate users get. That means we respond to their customer service emails, work with stores if there are any problems with the music they’ve uploaded, and pay royalties monthly (all the accounting and finance happens on our end — it’s a beast.)
But I was recently inspired by a story I saw about a police officer in Florida. She caught a woman shoplifting from a grocery store. Turns out the woman, who had no criminal record, was broke and didn’t have food for her kids. So instead of taking the shoplifter to jail, the officer bought the shoplifter $100 worth of groceries, charged the woman with a minor misdemeanor, and let her go.
It’s possible some of the musicians who want free DistroKid access can’t afford it. Or maybe they’re unable to get a credit card.
I’m happy to give these musicians the opportunity to get their music into stores. And maybe they’ll even earn a living from it — the best art comes from struggle.
So today we’re launching “Scholarship” accounts. When the system detects that you’ve just created 5 bogus referrals, you’ll be presented with a notice that we caught you, but here’s an option: Either pay the $19.99/yr, or sign up for a free Scholarship account if you can’t afford it.
I think musicians will give these options some thought and choose the one that’s right for them.
Group dining restaurants in San FranciscoBy Philip Kaplan
I recently tweeted “What’s a good restaurant in SF where 12 people can have dinner & conversation?”
I got a lot great responses. Here they are (with editorial from me where I have experience):
- Beretta (downstairs room). This was the most suggested location. Upstairs is awesome but too noisy, but downstairs would be great.
- Heirloom Cafe (this used to be Cafe Gratitude, vegan raw restaurant. No longer.)
- Wayfare Tavern (they have some great private rooms)
- Velvet Cantina
- La Traviata
- Uva Enoteca
- E&O Trading Company
- Baby Blues
- Quince (spendy)
- Ozumo (I love the “sake room” here but not the room where you have to take your shoes off)
- Bar Agricole
- Original Joe’s
- Applebees (couldn’t tell if that was a joke but I’d totally do that)
- SFO airport, Penthouse Club, or Outback (you know you you are, jackwad)
Getting user’s IP address if they’re behind an Amazon AWS load balancer in ColdFusion/CFMLBy Philip Kaplan
What I’ve been up to for the past yearBy Philip Kaplan
I just launched DistroKid.
So like a year ago I had this idea that it should be easier for musicians to get their music into stores like iTunes and Amazon.
Currently, it’s impossible to get your music into stores unless you’re signed to a record label, or if you pay (usually $40 per album) distribution services like TuneCore and CD Baby.
Problem is, the concept of an “album” is outdated. Artists used to work all year, record 12 songs, then distribute it on CD. These days, musicians record stuff at home or in the studio — and should be able to release it whenever they want. Kind of like uploading a video to YouTube.
But the online music stores don’t work that way.
So I had this idea for a service where musicians can just upload songs whenever they want, all the time, to stores. Without having to worry about paying each time.
What I thought would be a 4-week project turned out taking me over a year. I had to do separate deals with Apple, Amazon, Spotify and Google. Then I built stuff for their really complex APIs. Then stuff to automatically convert audio & image files to the right formats. Then stuff to detect when music goes live in the stores so artists can be notified. Then stuff to make sense of the stores’ royalty reports. And about a million other little complexities that happen behind-the-scenes.
And I made it really simple to use.
I’m super psyched about the net result: Musicians can now upload 1 song to stores for free. Or pay $19.99 and upload unlimited songs and albums for a year — which, as a musician, I love. It’s super cheap, and really fun to see your music in stores.
Also, artists get 100% of their royalties. I don’t take a cut.
If you know any musicians, let them know about DistroKid. Hopefully they thank you and use it, and we’re all happy!
Thanks for reading.
Ps- Another thing that makes DistroKid different than alternatives is that DistroKid is way faster. Most of the time, DistroKid gets your music live on iTunes within 2-4 hours of uploading it. Compare this to days that the other services take. And of course DistroKid is a lot cheaper and (I think) simpler.
Pps- The founder of TuneCore (who’s no longer with that company) agrees. Check out his tweet where he said “DistroKid is simply the best distributor in the market.” (srsly? rad!)
Update: The founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers, now recommends DistroKid. See his post at the top of this Hacker News thread!
Sonus Silentii By Philip Kaplan
I own a relatively expensive piece of electronic equipment that keeps breaking.
I corresponded with someone who works for the manufacturer. His response to me was (paraphrased), “we’ve sold thousands of these units and nobody else has complained. Therefore, our product must be good.”
His logic is wrong. Though his is a common assumption that companies make.
Just because nobody complained, doesn’t mean they’re happy. It’s entirely possible that 100% of your customers are unhappy, though nobody’s spoken up about it.
I tried searching Wikipedia for a name for this fallacy. I couldn’t find one so from now on I’m calling it “sonus silentii." It means "sounds of silence" in Latin. Which I thought sounded cool and is a pretty accurate description of what’s happening. It sounds kind of pretentious, so I’ll probably get smacked in the head if I ever really say it.
These already-named fallacies are close, but not quite right:
- Modus tollens (not a fallacy but probably the logic he thought he was using) or evidence of absence: Everyone who experiences a problem emails us. Nobody emailed us. Therefore nobody experienced a problem. The problem here is that not everyone who experiences a problem will email you.
- Hasty generalization - We sold 1,000 of these devices. 999 of the devices work fine, therefore yours works fine or is an isolated problem. Problem is, there’s no way to be sure that any or all of the other 999 devices work.
- Argument from ignorance - We don’t have evidence that these things are broken, therefore they must not be broken. It’s possible they’re broken even if you don’t have evidence (and really, I’m giving you evidence by showing you how mine broke).
If this fallacy already has a name, let me know on Twitter (@pud) or something and I’ll update this post.
The duck technique in corporate programming is an applied example of Parkinson’s law of triviality: a programmer expects their corporate office to insist on a change to something (anything at all) on every presentation to show that they’re participating, so a programmer adds an element they expect corporate to remove on purpose. Quoted from Jeff Atwood’s blog, Coding Horror:
This started as a piece of corporate lore at Interplay Entertainment. It was well known that producers (a game industry position roughly equivalent to project manager) had to make a change to everything that was done. The assumption was that subconsciously they felt that if they didn’t, they weren’t adding value.
The artist working on the queen animations for Battle Chess was aware of this tendency, and came up with an innovative solution. He did the animations for the queen the way that he felt would be best, with one addition: he gave the queen a pet duck. He animated this duck through all of the queen’s animations, had it flapping around the corners. He also took great care to make sure that it never overlapped the “actual” animation.
Eventually, it came time for the producer to review the animation set for the queen. The producer sat down and watched all of the animations. When they were done, he turned to the artist and said, “That looks great. Just one thing: get rid of the duck.”