New music, updated website, MailChimp can’t send mails properly, and Annual Trance List 2015

So… It’s been a while! I have things to share, because there’s certainly been things happening. Yes, the reason I haven’t made an update before now is because I’ve been busy. 😛

 

New music!

Let’s start with the most important part. I’ve been working on a new track for a while now and it’s progressing quite nicely. It’s quite a step up from The Beginning I would say, which is exciting in itself (to see the progress I’m making).

You can check out two examples below. The first one is the intro and build up sections. Second one is a lead melody and sound test.

 

 

Feedback is as always welcome! Hopefully you can hear the progress compared to The Beginning. 🙂

I would also recommend that if you want to stay a bit more up-to-date on new music, go ahead and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter, as I do post new stuff there from time to time (more frequently than here).

 

Photontic website updated

I updated the Photontic website, which took quite some time. I used to work as a web developer, but that’s over 10 years ago – let’s just say a lot has changed since then (luckily things are much easier now). However you do have the added extra work of dealing with mobile devices, which requires a good portion of testing depending on the layout.

Basically what I did was update it to use Ajax if possible (meaning if the browser supports it and the user isn’t using noscript), meaning it only changes the content of the page itself, instead of reloading the entire page.
I did this because I wanted a music player on the page, which wouldn’t work if the page got reloaded as people navigated the pages on the site. Obviously that means I also made a music player.

I also:

  • Added a news slider thing on the front page, to show recent news items (loaded from an XML file).
  • Expanded the use of Google Analytics so I can better track how people use the site.
  • Further improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
  • Added cards and such for Twitter, Facebook and the likes when pages are linked on those networks.
  • Added a detail page (data coming from an XML file) for tracks. Both for SEO reasons, as well as being able to give each track its own little page with relevant information. For instance this is how it looks for The Beginning.
  • Got everything working properly on mobile devices, as well as in the different modern browsers.

Basically a lot of “under the hood” improvements to allow me to make updates more quickly in the future, as well as making sure the site was as viewable as possible across browsers and devices.

 

MailChimp doesn’t send out opt-in mails properly

While I was working on updating the website, I wanted to add a newsletter option as well, so that people could sign up for such a thing. And well, so I did. I decided to use MailChimp as they’re established and seemed solid (and fit my current usage scenario).

I then went ahead and made the respective pages and what not. I used their API instead of their pages, so that I could keep as much of the newsletter functionality on the site itself, to maintain the design and so on. This of course takes a bit longer to do, as you then have to write a lot more code yourself, like for handling errors and so on.

Never the less I got all of that done and it was working. Well, kind of… I spent an entire day trying to figure out why opt-in mails didn’t reach Gmail. I figured I had done something wrong, but nope. I dug deeper and looked at the mail headers, because newsletters did get delivered, just not the opt-in mails.
Now I’m no expert in all of that, but I could see that there was a difference, I just didn’t quite know what to do with all the information. Fortunately I know someone who knows about this kind of stuff, so I got him to help me figure out what the hell was going on.

The cause? MailChimp isn’t sending the opt-in mails correctly. This has to do with domain security (something that’s a bit of a hot topic – basically has been for a few years now).
If you own a domain you can set a DMARC reject policy on it. This basically means that a mail server, when receiving a mail from a domain (actually the domain name of the sender address), will check it against the originating IP of that mail.
On your domain you have it setup so there’s an SPF record that has the IP of your mail server in it, so that when a mail server receiving a mail can check that the server this mail is coming from is allowed to actually send from the domain in the sender’s address.

Why does this matter? It matters because you’ve probably received spam from all kinds of domains and that’s what they do. They find domains that are not setup properly and “fake” the sender address because they can do so. Basically all those domains do not have a DMARC reject policy or they’re setup wrong in some other sense.

With the DMARC reject policy what happens with those spam mails is that they basically get destroyed before you see them. Gmail does this, as I’m sure plenty of other services do too.

Now you might ask: Then how can MailChimp send mails on your behalf? They can because you include the IP’s of their mail servers in your SPF record, which means that when a mail server receives a mail from your domain, but has been sent from MailChimp, it can see that the MailChimp servers are allowed to send on behalf of that domain. If you don’t set this up (the MailChimp IP’s) you would run into the same problem with mails getting eated by the internet void if you have DMARC reject policy (which you should have).

Good stuff all around. However the problem is that the opt-in mails are not sent with proper signing. Basically they don’t adhere to the standards and are sent from entirely different servers than the newsletters. This also means that if your domain is setup properly, as to now allow spam to be sent from it, those mails will fail (depending on the receiving mail server’s setup). Basically the header of the opt-in mails that MailChimp send is completely messed up.

This, in essence, makes MailChimp a completely useless service. Because if people can’t get the opt-in mail, they can’t get the newsletter either. The solution? Open up your domain to be abused for spam. That’s really the only thing you can do if you want to use MailChimp.

MailChimp IS aware of this issue, but they just don’t care.
Now consider that Gmail has 1 billion users. That’s 1 billion potential customers you won’t be able to reach.

My solution is to look for alternatives, and I’ve found some that I will look into at a later date when I feel it’s time to add a newsletter option.

But this is important information if you’re considering using MailChimp as your mail blast service.

In short MailChimp is a service that sends mails – that’s what it does, how it makes its money, yet it fails to actually send out mails properly, despite them boasting about it on their website. It’s great, isn’t it?

 

Annual Trance List 2015

Obviously I’m behind on getting the Annual Trance List for 2015 up. I have not forgotten about it and will do it as soon as possible. I did however post my top 3 on Instagram a while back.

 

So uh, yeah… There you have it! An update finally. Until next time! =)

The silence will end soon – and The Beginning cover art

I’ve been a little silent, but it’s basically because I’ve been busy. The good news? The Beginning is finished and it looks like I will be releasing it as well. This will more than likely happen very soon as I’m in the final stages of getting everything ready to do a release.

I will write a post sort of reflecting on The Beginning at some point after the release. Basically just write down thoughts of where I ended up with the track, things I learned while working on it and so on. Should be interesting, I think.

Likewise I also have another review to post here very soon, so that’s something!

I also need to compile my Annual Trance List for 2015, and I already know what my favourite track of 2015 is.

I might also start writing some tutorials here on the site (or perhaps elsewhere). A lot of them will probably be Studio One specific though, but we’ll see. I do have a few ideas for knowledge I could share (and seems to be otherwise generally missing from the internet).

At any rate I’m happy that I’ve finished The Beginning and I’m looking forward to working on new stuff, putting what I learned to good use and gain more experience, which should hopefully result in even better music in the future. 🙂

I will leave you with the cover art for The Beginning.

The Beginning Cover (1024)

Updated the Annual Trance List 2014 page

I added an embedded YouTube playlist of all the tracks in the Annual Trance List 2014, because that’s a whole lot easier for you than having to click each link for each song… 🙂

The other solution was to embed each track as a video, but that would make the page very long and very slow, because there’d be 19 embedded videos, so embedding a playlist is the way to go. It also means you can just start it and do something else while listening, instead of having to activate the next track each time.

Another new section added: Annual Trance List

I figured why not make a list of some of my favourite trance tracks at the end of each year? So I did and that’s now the Annual Trance List on this site.

Might be nice for other people to see some of my favourites from the past year as well as share their own in the comments, seeing as I haven’t heard every track released this year, so I might have missed some awesome ones. 🙂

You’ll find the link in the menu up top or follow this link straight to it.