Google, lighting the way17 Mar 2021Google, lighting the way I have my techie hat on today.Maybe you feel strongly about all the big-boy/girl tech companies: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google.These giants can make us feel small, and sometimes angry.I've gone through a wide range of emotions towards these companies over the years, but I'm gradually being befriended by Google. I think they are doing some great things for the world.Google's latest invention is called Lighthouse. It tests your website (or any website). I press a button in my Chrome browser, and in a few seconds, it gives me a score for my website page, along with suggestions about how to improve it. Google wrote the browser, and so they know how to write websites that are fast, easy to navigate, and a pleasure to use.We web devs (website developers) have had tools for years; my first tools were self-written and clunky, but did the job. For a while, it was Firefox who led the way, and we used Firebug and stuff to debug our sites. Google's Lighthouse has built on several ideas, seen in several tools, and now it's a breeze to test your site (or someone else's, if you were curious).So why is Google better than, say, Apple or Facebook?Because they are genuinely making it easier for people to do better things. To write great apps. I mean websites. Well, they are nearly the same thing now. The gap has been narrowing, and now I'd wager you that many people have no idea if they're using an app or a website. It really doesn't matter. I see Facebook and Apple as "profit-first" companies. There's so much more that these rich giants could do to improve our world, but they don't.What does this mean for Lemonrock?I've been looking at other sites, and I'm happy to say that Lemonrock is streets ahead. In the next month or so, everyone will notice that Lemonrock is bolder and shinier. Somehow easier to use, and always, well, just always *there*. Many apps get used once and that's it, goodbye forever. Lemonrock has a good chance of being one of your most frequently-used apps, because it's fast, it's interesting, and it's easy to use. And you can't say the same for our rivals. Take a look at Ents24, take a look at Skiddle, take a look at Davy's Rock Page. G'waaahhn, I dare you...Mac Dev-Head
A Spring in our Step1 Mar 2021A Spring in our Step It's been hard. It still is. But as the COVID thaw begins, Lemonrock has been helping bands and venues back on their feet.We are offering hefty discounts for bands and venues who have been unable to do live music because of lockdown.There's no legal requirement that we do this. Lemonrock has had it very hard too. Our business has been ignored by the UK Government, like thousands of other small businesses have been ignored. But we're not passing on the bad feeling. Instead, we're turning the other cheek, and helping our fellow human beings.We're making this gesture because we believe in the good of live music in this world. We want the happiness to continue.Two other items of good news:1. All members can now get instant gig alerts to their phones or PCs, as well as email alerts. Head over to your Favourites page and start adding all your favourite bands and venues, so you'll be the first to get notified about their new gigs. Make sure your 'Instant' alerts are on for maximum benefit.2. Our payment service for bands, called BandPay, is now up and running. Venues initiate online payment by making the band an offer through Lemonrock. More details about BandPay here.--See you out there.Mac, EditorCOVID-19 Discount Policy
Hush16 Feb 2021Hush I know that we're still in lockdown, but I also know that Mr. Johnson is facing increasing pressure to announce a clear roadmap of a return to normality, and that will include how, and when, hospitality returns. You remember hospitality. It's where we used to spend our evenings, seeing amazing musicians play live.Until next week, nobody knows what our roadmap will be, but we all have our hunches. Holiday companies have started to advertise again. Some venues are taking bookings for April; some before.When the live music scene comes back, I hope that my endeavours over the last 12 months will be helpful to lots of people. Here are some of Lemonrock's new features, ready for End of Lockdown and Return to Live Music:* Favourites revampedFavourites are a key part of Lemonrock. Favourites connect bands and venues with their fans and customers. Your favourites section is now just one page. From here, you can add bands and venues that you're interested in following. We'll send you emails for new gigs, like before, but there's a brand new feature - Instant Gigs - which will alert you - on your mobile or PC - within minutes of new gigs being posted. To get this new feature, enable notifications on your device for Lemonrock. No more waiting until tomorrow to find out about new gigs!* Week-by-week menuOne of the things that bugged me about the old design was the gig search. It was too complicated. Some people liked the new design, some preferred the old week-by-week home page, and having both was clumsy. I have now combined the week-by-week page into the main gig guide - look out for the little down-arrow button.* Home tab for bands and venuesAnother thing that annoyed me about the screen layout was that bands and venues didn't have a quick way to get to their own page - this has now been solved with a "Home" tab that's always visible at the top of the screen.* Wide B/V searchesWide or narrow? If you have ever tried searching for "The something Lion" or "somebody and the Wonders", you may have ended up empty-handed. Now, you can find bands and venues by searching for parts of their name, not just the start of the name. Look for the Magnifying Glass. It is Very Powerful.* BandPayBandPay is a helping hand to venues who want to (or have to) pay bands using a debit or credit card, instead of using cash (remember that stuff?). Lemonrock uses Stripe as our payment partner to enable the smooth flow of payments from venues to bands, using online banking.* Finger trouble?I cast a critical eye over the mobile site, and have now improved the usability of many pages by making lots of clickable things bigger, and further apart for those of us with big chunky fingers. Or nails.* Printable text gig guideIf you still *love* paper (and who doesn't), you can print out gig listings and carry a piece of paper with you in your handbag, inside jacket pocket, or wherever feels natural for you in your world. Just remember to recycle, folks, OK? Look for the new 'Print' button at the bottom of the gigs page.And, while we wait for the return of live music, have a shot at QuizMaster, our daily music competition. It's fun, honest. Set a reminder for 7.30pm sharp. Go on, enjoy yourself for 4 minutes.See you soon.MacPhoto by Kristina Flour on Unsplash
Meanwhile, backstage...29 Jan 2021Meanwhile, backstage... You would be forgiven for thinking that nothing is happening on Lemonrock.But, like many good things, most of the work goes unnoticed because it is taking place behind the scenes.So, a quick summary of what's new, and what's coming soon:* January 2020 : Development began of Lemonrock's own payment system for bands, called BandPay. Originally designed in anticipation of the rapidly declining use of cash in venues, BandPay allows venues to pay bands through Lemonrock, using a debit or credit card. This is a fully PCI-compliant scheme, meaning that it is 100% secure. Initially we had hoped to bring this out in Summer 2020, but the COVID-19 lockdown made this pointless.* April - August 2020 : Improvements were made to gig diaries and calendars, including plain text and iCalendar import from existing calendars, to save time when adding gigs to Lemonrock.* August - November 2020 : Lemonrock was modified to become a Progressive Web App (PWA), meaning that you can easily add it to your home screen, and that the icon fits in neatly with the rest of your Apps. This also paves the way for Web Push alerts (see below).* November - December 2020 : Server software was upgraded to the newest version of PHP, our main programming language. This involved hundreds of changes to our own software, including the database interface to MySQL. Development and testing of BandPay continued. We started development of Web Push alerts for gigs, which will mean that our members can get instant alerts on their Lemonrock App about newly posted gigs for their favourites, without having to check their email inbox. A new version of our favourites system was released, making it much simpler to add, remove and track favourite bands and venues. Our password security was strengthened to industry standard.* December 2020 - January 2021 : Development of Web Push continued, with beta testing underway. BandPay is in the final stages of extended testing with our payment partner, Stripe. Both new systems - instant alerts and online band payment - will be ready for deployment by the end of February 2021. Many improvements have been made to the gig guide, including an integrated week-by-week menu that first appeared on the mobile site many years ago. Improvements to the user interface make the Mobile App much easier to use, including gig posting for Band and Venue members, and clearer menu options for everyone.We know that things are still very difficult for bands and venues, so we have continued to run our server with many lapsed pages still active. We have modified our clean-up system so that, until things are back to normal, no data is automatically removed from our site. This means that photos, blogs, audio tracks, as well as band and venue descriptions, contact details and previous gig listings, will remain on the site, and cannot be adopted by anyone else.So, if you don't hear from us, don't worry. We're working hard in the wings of this quiet theatre, to make gig promotion and gig-going easier, more fun, and more effective than ever.And don't forget QuizMaster - Lemonrock's new daily online pop quiz - great fun for 4 minutes, every day at 7.30pm!Mac
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