Entries from July 2008 ↓

User Profiles Are Live!

Site Features

As promised, here‘s the new update with user profiles. Now, you can sign up and have GuitarCardio.com remember your favorite exercise settings. You can also opt to receive a infrequent newsletter from the site, which will likely contain mostly the same material as the blog (though I do have a few ideas for exclusive newsletter content for those loyal users interested enough to sign up).

And just so it is clear: If you give your email address at signup (which you really don’t have to do), I don’t share it with anyone, and I don’t contact you unless you’ve signed up for the newsletter. I hate it when that crap happens to me, and I won’t do it to you.

The other interesting feature is that now when you finish a set of exercises and come back to the main form, it keeps the settings you used to start the last run of exercises – less clicking!

I’ve also made a layout change to the front page that I think gives a more balanced look and takes up less screen space, and fixed a rare crashing bug that nobody complained about so I’ll pretend that nobody noticed it.

I still have a few other things to implement before I call the current iteration done, but it’s mostly under-the-hood stuff. If I do anything visible to you, I’ll post about it here.

Upcoming Review

Right now I’m trying out a set of Fingerweights, because I thought they looked interesting, and I’ll be posting my impressions here after I’ve had a chance to get a feel for them.

And by the way, if you want to suggest something you’d like reviewed, please do so in the comments – I’m always interested in learning about new toys and tools.


Upcoming Features

First, thanks to everyone who visited GuitarCardio, who voted it up on StumbleUpon, who blogged and tweeted about it, and who came and commented here. I’ve had 18,000 new visitors since putting this site on StumbleUpon a few days ago, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It was a complete shock to me that people would respond this way.

If you’d like to keep up with developments on the site, I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed. (If you’re not sure what an RSS feed is or what it’s good for, it’s basically a way of keeping up with what’s going on with your favorite websites without having to visit them every hour. You can learn more here. I recommend Google Reader for tracking RSS feeds.)

On to the business at hand: Upcoming features. The current version of the site was never meant to be more than a first step – the smallest set of features that I would find useful for my own features. I have a long, long backlog of ideas for the site, and they vary a great deal in how useful they are and how hard they are to implement.

Feedback via email and this blog has been extremely helpful in figuring out what to do next. Thanks to everyone who cared enough about this site and saw enough potential in it to contribute their thoughts. (Amazingly, nobody complained about the color scheme. I was so sure I’d hear about that.)

In addition to everyone’s feedback, I have to take into account the difficulty of implementing each proposed feature, how useful it really is, and how it will affect site performance. I also have a demanding day job that has nothing to do with this site, and has to take priority. All that said, over the next few weeks, I think I’ll be able to implement some things people will find very useful, and lay the groundwork for some of the more difficult features. (Please note that I’m not committing to any schedule here – these things will happen as they happen.)

Revision 2 – User Profiles

The next iteration of the site will have user profiles. This is up next both because of requests and because I have it half-coded already. What are the benefits? First off, you’ll be able to set preferences for how the drill selection form is set up when you get to the site. I’ll also allow registered users to opt into a newsletter (which will probably contain mostly the content from this blog, perhaps with a few exclusive goodies).

Down the road, I’d like to hook in a personal practice diary and maybe some social networking functions – but to start, it’ll just be the preferences.

And of course, nobody will have to log in to use the site – casual users can still come by and get a new set of exercises anytime.

On the Blog – Reviews and Lessons

I’d like to put up content that users of GuitarCardio would find interesting. I’m going to start with some product reviews specifically geared toward practice and exercise. I go back and forth on the idea of including lessons, because anyone who can figure out Google can find a lifetime’s worth of lessons, and also because I’m really not qualified to teach (except the most basic theory elements). Still, if you’re a guitar teacher in the NYC area who thinks he can offer something not seen elsewhere, and might like to be a guest blogger here, drop me a line in the comments section and we can discuss it over a beer.

Revision 3 – Modes and Scales

I don’t know if I’m just attracting a lot of theory jocks or what, but I keep hearing modes, modes, modes! These are relatively easy (if a bit time-consuming) for me to implement, so they come next. Expect some other scale types (Harmonic Minor, Jazz and Blues scales) to come along for the ride.

After That: Metronome and Chords

I really want to implement these features, but I need time to either flesh out how they should look, or figure out technical details surrounding them.

I’ve gotten a few requests for an in-page metronome (or alternatively, drum/backing tracks). Keeping a constant rhythm in the exercises is critical, and I’d love to be able to put a metronome right next to the exercises and make the site a real one-stop shop. (You should still have your own metronome for practice, of course.) There are technical questions around this, though, especially regarding how to add multimedia to the site while keeping it fast and responsive for you. I’m looking at options.

One suggestion I’ve had that I particularly like is chord transition/progression exercises. I’m picturing them based mostly around the CAGED shapes to start. I still have thinking to do about what form this will take.

Beyond That

I have a lot of love for the idea of supporting alternate tunings, but it’s tough to implement well. Not impossible, but not easy. I’ll probably get to this, but not for some time.

I’ve had a suggestion for an arpeggio generator; I like this, and will probably get to it at some point.

And there are all kinds of learning tools that could be integrated in: Theory quizzes, chord flash cards, a chord computer, audio of the exercises, et cetera. I’m keeping track of all these ideas, and the ones that people send me. And I’ll be writing about it here every time I decide on a new piece of GuitarCardio’s future.

Thanks for reading.


What Do You Do for Practice?

I wrote GuitarCardio.com to help me with a problem of my own – I wanted faster and more accurate fingering, and as a secondary emphasis I wanted to increase my knowledge of scales.

But scale-based fingering drills are not the only thing I do to practice. I also work on songs, solos, and riffs that I find fun or challenging.

What I’m most interested in right now, though, is what you – the random web surfer or GuitarCardio.com user – do to improve your guitar skills. What keeps your practice sessions fresh? Do you always warm up with the same song? What’s the most useful thing you would share with a new player? If you’re a guitar teacher, what exercises do you recommend/assign to your students?

Leave your answers in the comments, and I’ll highlight popular exercises and variations on them in future posts.