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Wednesday, March 7, 2012


This week, on my DeviantArt account, I had a Kiriban. "Kiriban" is a word coined especially and particularly by the user community on DeviantArt, to denote — there is some dispute as to the exact meaning — either, a round (or otherwise remarkable) number of pageviews (in my case, 30 000), or an artwork which is given as a reward to the person whose visit to the page achieves the round (or otherwise remarkable) number of page views, and who can claim the commission by posting a screenshot, to prove that it was indeed them who made the number full (or round).

Etymologically, the word seems to derive from Japanese "kiri", or kilo, meaning 1000, and "ban", which means number (I'm trusting Urbandictionary here, my Japanese is so-so. You should always trust Urbandictionary. You can learn things from Urbandictionary!) —— So this would include numbers like 1000, 10 000, 100 000, 20 000, 30 000 and so on. By extension, a kiriban can be defined at any other remarkable number - such as 123 456, or 55 555, or even say, 477 777. It has become tradition on DeviantArt to announce an approaching round number of pageviews with a journal entry, stating "kiriban", or "kiriban approaching", the number in question, and what kind of commission the artist will undertake for the lucky winner.

This I did, yesterday, when I was still some 120 pageviews away from my 30 000 pageviews kiriban — a number of views which it usually takes a few days to achieve. Checking back some five hours later, my kiriban had already been achieved, and claimed! Evidently I had become subject to a case of kiriban fishing. That day, I clocked in at a whopping 160 pageviews: on average, I am getting somewhere between 16 and 32 pageviews a day, and I'd call 45 pageviews a very busy day indeed. I suspect that about 120 of those pageviews were the same person checking in, checking out, checking in again ... she deserves her commission, then.

It's just good to know that I am not the only one obsessed with pageview stats, and round numbers. On DeviantArt, there is a whole culture emerging around the cult of the Round Number Pageview Stat! Fancy that. Happy kiriban to you!

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Friday, February 17, 2012

Resuming ...

As you might have noticed, I have been taking a creative break from this blog. I've been away traveling, and afterwards, life got hectic: I had to catch up with a mountain of work left lying about while I was away, and I've been trying for the past several months to buy a house! Besides, I've been somewhat running out of topics. I think I have now covered most of the Online Promotion 101 I set out to cover, so time to think about a new format for this blog. I'm still working on it, but I have an idea or two. No, I won't tell. You'll see.

The work never really stops, but the house buying is now accomplished. Since last week, I am the owner of 51 Wakefield St in rural Featherston, an hour out of Wellington: the same house I have been renting for the last two years, and also the location of my business (I work from home. Much nicer that way). This promises to bring some much needed stability to my personal life: I have lost count of the times I have moved house since I moved out from home some 20 odd years ago. It does get very tiring.

Now that I have found the house and garden I have always wanted (I've spent the largest part of my life living in city flats) - in a location that as far as I am concerned, is just about perfect, combining the advantages of living rural, with closeness to a major centre, and with some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches on the planet within easy driving distance, even biking distance! - I would like to stay. And plant some trees. And quietly get on with my work. It's all that really matters in the end, isn't it.

So much for the personal stuff. More importantly, I have also completed another major web design project: Belinda Brown Photography features a variety of image galleries displaying this photographer's portfolios for weddings, portraiture and travel photography. The image galleries are fully searchable - enabling visitors to quickly locate images concerting a particular topic, location, date or other parameter the image has been tagged with (unfortunately, the fanciest technology can do nothing if the client does not tag their images. Just saying.)

The site comes with a complete content management system, enabling the client to create and delete galleries, add or delete individual images, and enter information such as captions, location, date, and relevant keywords. This is the first time I have coded such an extensive, database driven content management system, so this site represents a major step forward in terms of what I have to offer, and I am really proud of how it has turned out.

Here is what the client said: "In terms of the layout, it looks fab and I like the fact the boxes aren't too close together so the images remain strong and not crowded by the one next door. Generally I think it is smart, clean and I like it."

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let the music play!

Times have been pretty busy here at Asni: Multimedia - not just with web design work, but various other projects. I have been working on some illustrations, designing next year's calendars to sell in my online shop, planning my trip to Europe in June, and harvesting large quantities of apples and walnuts from my garden.

In amongst all that, I do occasional still find time to do some work on my own website. The main task at the moment is to bring the old part of my website, which was originally intended to promote my work as a musician, up to scratch. Quite the undertaking, for this part of the website has been growing like a fungus for the past eight or nine years. Weeding is as much part of the job of running a website, as it is in the garden!

The obvious thing to do for a site which is intended to promote a musician, is to put on some music clips. I used to have audio files for download on the site, but these days this seems like a very clumsy and old fashioned way of doing things. So this past month, I've been busy developing my very own flash music player, which enables me to offer music streaming, for instant listening gratification. No more twiddling your fingers until that download finishes!

So far, I have completed the page with music samples from my most recent CD, "Travels in Middle-earth", which you can listen to here. - the other CDs will follow suit eventually.

Please note that this is an application which I have developed from scratch, and if you have ever programmed a computer, you will know that things never quite work the way they were intended, for everyone, in every browser and operating system, instantaneously and without protracted testing. I have already spent a month fixing up things in response to feedback from various people for whom it was not quite working as intended - as far as I am aware, it should be perfectly operational now, but if you do experience a problem, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ABOUT IT. It always surprises me how many people assume that they're probably just to stupid to operate a computer, when something does not work, instead of yelling at the web designer to fix things. We do need to be yelled at. It's the only way we can spot if something doesn't work.

Moreover, I have also just signed a digital distribution contract for this album with - so if you like what you hear, you can download a couple of tracks, or indeed the whole album, for a moderate amount of money, here. I promise to report on how this goes for me, sometime in a future blog post!

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A word on my own behalf

I shall make this a short note today, mainly because I feel a bit cranky. Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the "Online Promotion for Everyone" classes at the Featherston Community Centre, starting on Tuesday (for more information, dates and times please go here )

So far, 2 - in words, two - people have signed up. A third said she was interested, but eventually told me that she thought it was too much money. Now, to state such a thing about a professional training course which, to keep it accessible, is held in a community evening course format and costs 12 dollars a session, quite frankly, I find that a little rude.

Perhaps next time I should book the Grand Mariott Hotel and send out shiny emails with bland promises every thinking person should know no one can keep, and charge a hundred dollars for the two hour session? Would that create more of a perception of value, and attract more people? We have a saying in Germany which comes to mind, something about pearls and where to throw them, but it's not flattering, so I might just want to omit it here.

The secret is, there is no secret. The internet is a tool - and a very powerful tool - but you have to learn how to use it in order to make it work for you. And you have to invest the time to go online and figure things out yourself. Find sites. Get involved in online communities. Meet people. Buy things. Sell things. Share things. Comment on things. Pass things on to others.

There is no "magic formula". But there is a whole new set of social rules, and it helps to be aware of them if one wants to venture out there and make the most of it. There is also a whole grand cyberverse of new opportunities, but if you do not engage, they will pass you by. It's everyone's own choice. Every one of you. But some offers are limited in time, and this will have been the last time I offer my classes at the Featherston Community Centre, for 12 dollars a session

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Content Management: Keeping Things Fresh

So you have a bright and shiny new website, the launch went well, people have complimented you, and everyone is excited. What happens next? Do you just let it sit there for the next couple of years? In that case, you shouldn't wonder if your visitor statistics are disappointing, the search engine ranking goes from poor to non existing, and the site generally doesn't do much for you.

The importance of regular updates cannot be stressed enough. There are the obvious reasons: Information, prices, services, timetables will go out of date. It is frustrating for a client to look up information on the site, then find, when they call you or visit your store, that the model they are after has gone out of production last year, or the class or event they were coming for isn't actually taking place. Do you think it promotes trust in your business if it presents information which has not been updated for the last three years?

The other good reason is that search engines favour fresh content. The principle behind search rankings is, simply put, that the engine tries to find the content which is most likely to be relevant to the person doing the search. The four main factors which play into this are: keyword match, popularity of the page (i.e. the number of previous visitors), number (and reputation) of sites linking to the page, and how recent the content is. So updating your pages regularly already takes care of one quarter of your search engine optimization!

This is one reason for the popularity of blogs: blogging sites allow users to input text and other content themselves, with no need for any web design or programming knowledge. Blogs are, by definition, frequently updated - and it turned out that search engines really liked this! Many people even choose to only set up a blog, not an entire website with their own domain. For some businesses this makes perfect sense - especially if you're only just putting your feelers out in the online realm. Most blogging sites are free to use: some of the most well known are Blogspot (which is hosting this blog), LiveJournal, and more recently, WordPress.

Wordpress even offers the ability to sign up for your own domain name, and a few other features which allow you to set up an easy to manage site yourself. These services are available for a monthly fee. Again, this can be a good solution for a first web site - but as with all out-of-the-box solutions, there are limitations to how well you can adapt this system to your own requirements.

Easy to use online content management systems are quickly becoming the standard for personal websites. They are often built using one of the available content management packages as a backbone - Drupal is one such package, which is popular with website developers. These packages offer a wide range of advanced interactive features: blogs, forums, image galleries, shopping cart solutions, password protected areas, you name them. The capabilities and adaptability of such a system go well beyond a humble Wordpress site - but it still is limited in some ways, particularly in the ways you can lay out and structure your site.

My personal preference is to create my own content management systems for my sites. The last two sites I have built - and - are both fairly small sites, and using a massive online content management system requiring hours and hours of setup or programming, seemed like overkill. Instead, I choose to work with text files, which can be updated by the user in one of the common word processing programmes, without the need for special web authoring software, or being fluent in html. This does require a certain level of feeling comfortable with computers, and a willingness to familiarize yourself with setting up an FTP connection, folder structures, and a minimal amount of html tags. But it helps to keep the cost down - in both cases, adding an online administration area would have doubled the work, and hence the price.

The site I am currently working on is a gallery site for a photographer. Here, one of the main requirements is that the client can easily add new images, and the associated information. This site will have a full featured online content management system - fully flexible, and adapted to this specific client's needs.

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Success Stories

It seems that in my eagerness to spread online knowledge, and promote other people's sites, I have completely failed clap myself on the shoulder and pass on the fantastic feedback I got from a recent client, Margaret Hiley (I've introduced her site in a previous blog post). So here is what she said:

"When I set up my translation and proofreading business, I knew that having a professional-looking website was a must. However, I also wanted it to stand out from the crowd and have a quirky, creative feel to it that would attract my clients, many of whom work in the creative industries themselves.

Astrid has created exactly the kind of website I was hoping for. In fact, she obviously realised exactly what I wanted right from our initial consultation, as the first draft she provided me was so fantastic we decided to go ahead with it! Astrid also provided me with valuable feedback on what to include on the site, and kept me up to date on her work throughout the entire design process, so I felt fully included in the creation of the site.

The website was finished to deadline, and Astrid even gave it a first publicity push through her own blog and website. If you want a professional, individualised and creative web design service (and who wouldn't!), I wholeheartedly recommend Asni Multimedia!"


"Online Promotion for Everyone" kicks off again at the Featherston Community Centre on April 12, through to May 17 - six evening classes, Tuesday nights from 7.30 to 8.30 pm. The classes need to be booked and paid for in advance. The price per class is $ 15 for any individual class, or $ 72 for all six classes - this amounts to $ 12 per class. Please contact me to book your place! The maximum number of participants is 12, on a first come, first served basis.

The course will cover the following topics:

12 April 2011: Planning your website — When planning an online presence, ask yourself: who are my visitors, and what do I want them to do? We will draw up a site map and think about how visitors should navigate through a website. We will also discuss alternative options, such as using a blog, Facebook page, or other online service as your main web presence.

19 April 2011: Internet: how does it work — This session will explain some of the basic technologies used on the web. We will look at some samples of static and dynamic websites built with HTML & CSS, PHP, and Flash. This knowledge will be very helpful when communicating with your web designer. We will also look at security considerations, and what to watch out for when choosing a web hosting service.

26 April 2011: How to be found — SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is only one way to promote your site. Understanding the logic of search engines and optimizing your web presence so it comes up on top in search results is important., but we will also look at other ways to drive traffic to your site: the use of social media, email, offline promotion, and paid advertising such as Google Adwords.

3 May 2011: Content management — There is nothing worse than a website which is hopelessly out of date. This session will introduce ways to keep your site fresh, and interact with your visitors: Content Management Systems which enable advanced interaction, as well as more low key options such as regular news updates and blogs, RSS feeds, and feedback forms.

10 May 2011: Selling things online — E–commerce presents the chance to sell your products to a potentially worldwide market, quite literally from your bedroom. This session will look into some of the available options for trading on the internet: auction sites (Trademe, Ebay), online marketplaces dedicated to a particular kind of goods (e.g. Etsy), using Paypal to process payments, or setting up your very own online shop.

17 May 2011: Getting fancy: Multimedia on the internet — With the increased availability of fast broadband internet connections, videos, podcasts, and other multimedia content on the internet continues to be on the rise. Youtube, anyone? This session will take a look into the future, and introduce some creative options to share your content, which are available even on a modest budget.


Speaking of online promotion, here is a strange thing that happened recently in the weird and wonderful realm which is cyberspace. Some little while ago I posted a drawing of The King of Elfland with the face of David Tennant (he of Doctor Who fame) on my Facebook profile, with a comment along the lines of "wouldn't this face make a great elf king face". As indeed, there are persistent rumours flying around of David Tennant's possible involvement in the Hobbit movie, and I am a great advocate of him being cast as King Thranduil. I mean, David Tennant in a blonde Legolas wig? Who could resist.

A couple of weeks ago, it came to my attention that IMDb now semi-officially lists "The Hobbit" as one of David Tennant's upcoming movie projects ("rumored", it says) – and the part he is supposed to be cast in is King Thranduil ("rumored", it says – mind you, most of the other possible parts are already very officially taken). Well hurray I thought, just what I've always been saying – but I wonder how much substance there is to that rumour. It turned out that there was an article posted on TORN on 11 January, citing an article from, to the effect that there are persistent rumours of a possible involvement of David Tennant in the Hobbit movie, and "he has been linked to the part of Thranduil".

Not to sound paranoid-megalomaniac or anything, but it did seem like a bit of a weird coincidence. I posted that image, and my suggestion that David Tennant has a great Thranduil face, on Facebook on 8 January. The people on my friend list include Michael Regina of TORN, and a few others prominently involved in the fan community, or indeed the making of the movies themselves. Serendipity, or a butterfly fluttering its wings? I guess we'll never know for sure, but I have begun to think that at $12 per class, my online promotion tuition is *REALLY GOOD VALUE*. :D

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ave Christchurch

I've made a new year's resolution to stick to a stricter schedule with this blog in the future, and that means an entry is due today - but at the moment my thoughts, and I am sure everyone else's in New Zealand, go out to the people in Christchurch.

Gone are the days when most of us would be blissfully ignorant of the day's events until after dinner, when it was time to watch the tv news. The first I heard about the earthquake was via a friend on Facebook, about an hour after it struck. He'd been following the news, and he was posting links as the news came in.

Within the space of perhaps another hour, pretty much everyone I know on Facebook who lives in New Zealand - and quite a few people abroad - were aware of the disaster that had struck, and had posted something, thoughts, good vibes, or hard news.

More importantly, messages were being passed on - such as Vodaphone's nationwide appeal to please stay off the mobile networks, so that emergency calls could get through. And not just to organize help and support - at the time, there were people trapped under rubble, and some of them had phones on them. A good priority.

I then jumped on Twitter, and punched "Christchurch earthquake" in the search field. The tweets I found included links to a people finder tool set up by Google at short notice: - incidentally, very much in the spirit of keeping worried friends and relatives off the mobile networks. The count of records they are tracking has gone up from 1600 approximately an hour ago, to 2500 at the time I am writing this paraqraph, to 3400 by the time I am finished with this blog post.

The University of Colorado, of all places, chimed in with a crowd-sourced map of earthquake damage, enabling people to check which parts of town were the most affected, and to post their own observations: - well, at least if they can work out how it works.

I would like to point out that this has been by no means an in-depth search: the Facebook messages came to my attention in the course of my habitual casual internet browsing while doing work on my computer, and looking up the links on the Twitter feed took all of five minutes. ‎

The message Vodaphone has been posting, to request people to stay off the mobile networks, read like this: "Vodafone is requesting no non-essential calls across the whole country - pass it on".

"Pass it on" - three magic words. All this cutting edge modern technology, and it's back to the oldest news spreading mechanism in the world: One person who tells some others, who tell some others, who tell some others. And it's still by far the fastest and most efficient way to spread a piece of news.

I remember well the time, 1985, the big earthquake in Mexico City. My father had been posted on a work stint to Queretaro, ca 200 km north of Mexico City. I remember the date so well, because it was the very week I was writing my final examinations to finish high school. The tv news, in their usual sensationalist way, made it look like not just Mexico City, but half the country was affected, but without being very precise about what exactly where exactly. Phone lines were down due to the damage, and for a week we couldn't get through. There was an information phone number broadcast on the tv news - but when that wasn't overloaded, the info they could give you wasn't very helpful. Eventually, my father made one of his routine calls home. It had never occurred to him that we might be worried sick, because in Queretaro, they'd hardly felt the quake at all.

I remember well the time, September 2001. I was two weeks into a six week internship at ZDF, one of the two public tv stations in Germany. The editorial staff of the programme I was working on was assembled for their weekly meeting, when one of our colleagues burst in to say that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. "Stupid sports plane accident" was the first thought ... then we stood and watched, in real time, as the Twin Towers collapsed and Manhattan disappeared under a thick cloud of dust, leaving everyone in suspense, throughout that whole long afternoon, just how much worse was to come. I remember, most vividly, taking the subway train home that evening, looking at the faces of my fellow passengers and thinking "They don't know yet". Thinking, they'll go home and have dinner and switch on the tv news, and find out that someone has just declared war on the United States of America, and we don't even know who it is.

Though that wasn't quite doing the tv news justice. They were perfectly sure who it was, perhaps an hour after the first White House spokesperson had tentatively mentioned the possibility of Al Qaeda being behind the attack, and well before there had been the remotest chance for anyone to find any actual evidence, let alone analyze it. That I also remember very well, and this is when I stopped watching tv news.

These days, I get my news on the internet. And by that I don't mean online media channels or magazines, or even political blogs. Mostly, I rely on Facebook. If something is so important and earth-shattering that I need to know about it, someone in my online network will be talking about it. Then is the time to do a Google search or jump on Twitter, to find more information. Or I might know someone who lives close by, and might have some more first hand information than what trickles down through the traditional mass media.

What is the point in knowing how many people have died gruesome deaths in the latest war or plane crash or natural disaster, if there is nothing you can do to influence the situation? That's just sensationalist voyeurism and an unhealthy fascination with the gruesome, if you as me. Not to mention a good livelihood for a whole professional caste of media people.

Most of us, most of the time, think of the internet mainly as a tool to promote ourselves - our businesses, our professional expertise, our artwork and music, our ideas and worldview, or even just how cool we look with that new haircut, or what a great time we had on that last holiday. But at times like these, it becomes apparent that the internet can be far more than that.

Passing on information, Tweeter to Tweeter and Facebook friend to Facebook friend, about where to find information about family and friends in an earthquake zone, or where to direct yourself for food and shelter, or finding beds for passengers stuck in an airport unable to travel on to their intended destination, or staying off the mobile networks so that people trapped under rubble can get through with their calls - that on the other hand, might quite literally save lives.

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::