Filling In The Spaces

Stack of DraftsI’ve been so busy with work and my band that I’ve neglected this blog for a loooong time. I’ve posted gig updates and not much else. However, I have accumulated tons of draft posts and notes over the last 3 years that I never published, just for lack of time and focus to get em done. The longer I waited and further behind I got, the harder it became to commit to doing the work to catch up.

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2 Million Views!


Just catching up on some replies today on my YouTube channel, and was surprised to see this on my channel!

Wow!  It seems like such a short time has passed since my channel reached the first million, but actually it was a year and a half ago.

In that time, I have indeed continued to play guitar every day – my chain is unbroken!  Unfortunately, due to work and band commitments, I haven’t had the necessary free time to produce many new videos and blog posts.  

Estimated Minutes WatchedSo, maybe it’ll be interesting to take a look at some stats for my existing videos.  2.5 million estimated minutes watched- that’s a completely mind-blowing stat! 

Of my 53 videos, the top 5 most viewed videos are:

  1. Potentiometers- How They Work, Disassembly and Exploration   (130,886)
  2. Guitar Ground: Dealing with ground noise problems (118,301)
  3. Guitar Tone Capacitors, part 1: Evaluating Material Types (114,661)
  4. Wiring Up Guitar Electronics 4, Connecting Tone Cap (111,317)
  5. Epiphone Riviera P93 Review (96,960)

Interesting to see the Epi Riviera Review video on that list.  It was my first video on YouTube, and was just a quickie one take low-quality webcam video, with lousy audio.   I’d obviously rather see that video fall to the bottom of the list, while my more well-produced videos get more attention.  But it is what it is!

As I say at the end of most of my videos-  “hope this has been helpful, and thanks for watching.”

Play on,


All my YouTube comments have disappeared!

Comments Deleted

[Update 10/11/2012:  What a relief!  All my old YouTube comments appear to have been restored successfully.  Thanks to the YouTube team for correcting the situation so promptly.]

[Update 10/10/2012: Some news: I received an email from the youtube team saying "A small number of YouTube users may have had their comments deleted as a result of an error on our part". They sent a link to a reinstatement form, which I submitted, and I now wait with fingers crossed for a speedy and successful recovery. Here’s a link to that form, if you feel you’ve also been affected by this issue!]

Today I noticed something completely depressing!  I was looking back at some older comments on one of my videos and I noticed that none of my comments were there. When I clicked on someone’s reply to one of my comments “in reply to John Cooper (Show the comment)”, it popped up a dialog saying “The comment no longer exists”.

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Guitar Girl’d

CaptureRhymes with Guitar World!

Our singer, Laura Whitmore, has been writing a blog at Guitar World for about a year now.  Lately she’s been writing about her transition from playing acoustic guitar to playing electric in our band, The Summer Music Project.

Yesterday, Laura wrote an article for Guitar World about her experience playing and singing at our recent gig.

Funny that, for this brief moment, our little band is on the front page of Guitar World!

She included a video of us playing her song “Don’t Take it Easy”.   The audio is really bad, as we were using the built-in camera mic, from the back of the hall about 50 feet away.   Unfortunately, my Tascam DR-40 digital recorder was sitting in standby for the whole show- gotta press record TWICE damnit!   I of course wish I could hear my guitar better, but the important thing in this video is that we can hear Laura reasonably well.

Here’s that video:

One Millionth Anniversary!

It seems not that long ago, I was celebrating 100,000 views.  Now, I don’t regularly check and obsess over my YouTube channel view-count. But this week, while trying to catch up on my replies to an ever-increasing backlog on my YouTube inbox, I noticed that my view count was in the high nines.    Well, this morning, this is what I saw:

1 Million Views

This is truly a mind-bender.

I recorded a quick video to say thanks to everyone, and to solicit some feedback for my future projects.  I also talk a bit at the end about Jerry Seinfeld’s motivational technique for tricking yourself into getting things done.  Don’t Break The Chain!

Play on!

Copyright or Wrong?

After several emails back and forth with the YouTube Copyright and DMCA compliance team, their primary message was:

Please note that YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes

Thanks very much.  I got that.   I repeatedly asked “What’s my recourse if the copyright claimant has mistakenly confirmed their claim to my content?”  They simply wouldn’t answer my question.  “YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes” is all I could get.

Finally, they sent over an email address of a specific person at Spinnin Records.  I wrote yet another email to this guy, trying to be polite despite my frustration after all the emails and messages I had already sent.  And this morning I was rewarded with a quick mildly apologetic reply that they had released their claim on my video.     Thank you!

Content_ID_FailHowever, seriously, WTF?!     I can understand that false positives are inevitable with an automated content-ID matching system.   However, the official process of disputing the claim on YouTube is obviously deeply flawed if the claimant can simply press a button and now “All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims”.

This took me a week to get resolved, during which time Spinnin Records was earning income from my work.  Both the content-ID matching system, and the official YouTube process for disputing the claim all completely failed.

My copyright:  (c) 2011 John S. CooperAt the end of each of my videos, I have a copyright notice like the one at the right.

Does this actually provide any protection to the content that I create?  Or am I kidding myself?

Goliath as Content Pirate

Astonishingly, the status on my copyright claim dispute now says:

All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:  Entity: Spinnin’ Records Content Type: Visual content

Really?!  Somebody at Spinnin’ Records took the time to watch my video and confirmed that they own some part of my 10 minute production?  That’s preposterous.  More like “Cha-ching, another sucker whose video we can hijack for our monetary gain!”  What motivation do they have to make it right, when YouTube offers no recourse to the creator (me), and all power goes to the copyright claimant (them) who can just sit back, relax, and make money from other people’s efforts.

Spinnin Records Ad on my VideoI’ve emailed Spinnin Records, and sent a message through YouTube to user “SpinningRec”.  No response.   Meanwhile, my video now has an advertisement and link to buy some Guy’s song “Quantum”.    So they’re receiving ad and click income from my work.

On the one hand, we’re not talking about millions of $$$ here.  On the other, it simply feels unbelievably unfair, and that I am being wronged here.  It’s hard not to feel a bit like David vs Goliath.

I found this website run by a law student with an interest in copyright law.  Clearly I’m not alone in this.  I particularly like his paper Why YouTube’s Content ID dispute process does not work the way YouTube says it does.

Attack of the Content-Matching Bots

Last night, I received this rather nefarious “content ID match” email from the youtube content-matching bots:

Dear johnplanetz,

Your video, Simple JFET Preamp for an iDevice guitar Interface, part 2, may have content that is owned or licensed by Spinnin’ Records.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

– The YouTube Team

If I’m reading that right, they’re saying that if I don’t do anything, the guys at Spinnin’ Records can hijack and monetize my video, and start making money from my work.  Niiiiice!

Matched Third Party ContentI’m generally very careful in my videos to avoid copyright issues.  My intro/outro music is all composed and performed by me.  And the guitar riffs I play are usually just improvisations or noodling, or perhaps inspired by another song (as with the riff inspired by Faces’ Had Me  A Real Good Time at the beginning of my K-Tone Travel Guitar review).

Very occasionally, I’ll play a short riff by another artist, but this should be covered under fair use.  For example, I played a bit of Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So in my treble bleed video, and a riff from Oasis’ Champagne Supernova in my AC15 cabinets video.

Visual ContentAs I was initiating the dispute process,

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Anatomy of a Logo

I recently unveiled a new planetz logo in the intro of my AC15 Comparison video.  Here’s the story.

In January 1999, when I launched my original website at planetz, I asked a brilliant digital artist friend, John Weir, to make a logo for me.   He used a Mac and an SGI workstation, with programs like Adobe Photoshop and Fractal Design’s Painter, and produced a really interesting and unique piece of artwork for me:

Old PlanetZ Logo

Years later, when I asked him how he had produced it, he couldn’t really remember all the details other than “massive amounts of layers, filtering, distortion, plugins, etc”.  And unfortunately the original file was lost, so he couldn’t give me a higher resolution version of it.

I really liked the rich colors, the cool “bubbles” and raking effects, and low-fi distortion of the characters making up the word “planet”.  But, I always wished I had a larger, higher resolution version of it, especially as I started to get into high definition video.  Also motivated by the shift to high definition video, I needed an image that didn’t crop so closely to the letters.   And I kinda wished the Z was a bit curvier too.

So I recently set out to reproduce the logo from scratch, in a larger high resolution format.  There’s no way I could make it identical, but I wanted to make something new, inspired by the original.

Using the free open source graphics editor GIMP (which has a lot in common with Photoshop), I spent countless hours experimenting and tweaking.  I learned a lot, and made some interesting discoveries along the way.  Here’s the finished result:

New PlanetZ logo

What follows is a detailed step-by-step guide for making this logo.    Read the rest of this entry

Centennial Millennial

My videos on YouTube have just passed 100,000 views!  Woohoo!

Who woulda thought?!

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