Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Weekly Update: Google Trips

Music: GUM
Everyone knows one of my all-time favourite bands is Tame Impala. They're the only band I've travelled to another province to see (groupie life). It's pretty common for musicians that talented to have side projects, and this is no exception. Jay Watson, who drums in the band, has an excellent solo project called GUM. Lots more psychedelic stuff, but also mixed with a bit of catchy pop. Listen below:

Honestly, after failing my G test a few weeks ago, I needed a break from lessons. Driving in a car two hours straight sandwiched between three hours of transit to get to the lessons was starting to wear me down. So, my accomplishment of the week was booking another lesson for next week. The next step will actually be getting up to Richmond Hill to do the lesson.

I also teleported all the way to Bathurst and Wilson to check out the orientation class for doing my bat mitzvah. Turns out the class only meets in person once a month, but I also got roped into taking more Hebrew classes so I'll be up there every Thursday evening until December. Ah well, it's all for the best.

I'll be attending Hebrew class this week, so I'd like to take some time to brush up on my Hebrew (let's face it...probably on the subway before class. I'm also playing another drumming show, finally in Kensington Market for Pedestrian Sundays. Wonderful!

I'm also planning some excellent sights to see in Munich in October (read below for more).

Random Thought:
You may remember my first Youtube upload ever (Glass Animals playing Gooey at Wayhome this year – thanks, 4K video capable phone). Every so often I get an email in my inbox telling me that someone has commented on my video. There's not a lot of comments, but it is extremely pleasant because they are usually from fellow Wayhome attendees.

This made me think about when I first uploaded the video. Even though I had seen it through on my computer a few times, my finger kept itching to press the triangular play button in the browser. This would be slow to load and cost me internet bandwidth (which is anything but free), while I had the video stored locally on my computer to watch for free.

I realized that when I upload videos anywhere (including to my blog), I watch the videos online in the way my viewers would watch them, just to get their experience. Even though I could just watch the video on my computer, I'm missing something from the user's experience by viewing it that way. And after all, I need to know that the user-facing view is optimal. Why wouldn't I want that? It's also why I read all my blog posts on the reader interface...even though I still can't catch all the typos!

Inspiration: Google Trips
As I alluded to earlier, I have been planning my trip to Munich, and this app is God's gift to trip planning. You know of my earlier-professed love of pretty much all the standard Google apps that come on the Nexus 5, and this new one is so excellent.

As Google puts it,
Whether you’re juggling work, school, family, or just the demands of daily life, everyone needs a little break and a new adventure sometimes.
But knowing what to do once your vacation starts can turn what’s supposed to be fun into a lot of work. You might get recommendations from friends, professional travel guides, or online reviews — but figuring out how to squeeze everything you want to do into a finite window of time can be stressful, especially when you’re in a new place, often with limited access to the web. In fact, a GoodThink study showed that 74% of travelers feel the most stressful aspect of travel is figuring out the details.
Awesome! This is 100% me. So this app literally plans your trip for you. Just put in all your destinations and the dates through which you'll be there, and shazam. You have a trip planned.


It even tells you how long it'll take to walk between destinations and how long people usually stay. I assume all of this is drawn out of Google searches and Google Maps-type data or something. Great idea!

Probably the best part of it all is that you can save all of your plans offline with the flip of a switch. You literally do not need a shred of internet to get around the city. It's perfect.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Weekly Update: Logo Pizza

Music: Parquet Courts
An American rock band from New York, it's certainly been a while since I've listened to some straight-up rock music. I like their tinge toward country mixed with some...simply, weird stuff. It kind of reminds me of the band Cake, because their lyrics are really strange but clearly sung and rhythmic. One of their songs even has a meditation exercise in the middle of an instrumental break. This song...well, if there's dust everywhere, you gotta sweep!

And the best part  – they'll be in Munich when I'll be visiting. Oh yeah, did I mention I'm going to Munich?

My boss finally approved a conference I showed him, which means I am going to Munich at the end of October! I am so excited. As mentioned above, it would be really nice to see a band play while I am there, such as Parquet Courts or even Digitalism (native to Hamburg), both of whom are playing shows in the city during my stay.

This weekend was a very special one, because I played my first 'big' show with the Brazilian drumming band! Yep, three sets in the sun, surrounded by people visiting the Cabbagetown Street Festival. I only made a couple of mistakes that I don't think anyone even noticed, so I feel pretty accomplished. Check me out below! (Thanks to my roommate for filming it.)


I also got new glasses this weekend, which was a monstrous accomplishment considering I purchased the frames in April in China. Here's my obligatory selfie:

This week, Designer News (the main online source for, well, design news) is hosting a meetup in Toronto. As I always say, if only for the free food and beer, I'll be there. The same night is the only chance I have to go to the Swash and Serif Typography show (which happens to be down the street from the meetup), so I am attempting to go to both on Thursday.

I am also heading up to good ol' Temple Sinai to learn about the course I need to take to do my bat mitzvah. L'chaim!

And at the end of the week, my company is taking us to a camp up north for the weekend! I have marshmallows ready for toasting over the campfire already. Yum!

Random Thought:
I went to another round of Trampoline Hall today. For those only tuning in now, Trampoline Hall has nothing to do with trampolines. It is instead a monthly lecture series in which three people speak for ten minutes each on a topic of their choosing which must not have anything to do with something for which they are paid. In other words, amateurs. But the best part is certainly the Q&A session that comes after each talk. Some of the audience questions are ruthless.

Anyway, the actual random thought of this segment: the last speaker was discussing the feeling of work, and how some people love their job while others don't. She was sort of rambling along, and didn't really come to any point or personal opinion on her notes, but I rather enjoyed her talk nonetheless. She made some good observations on how the work/life balance should really be seen as more of a work/leisure balance. Sometimes we do things for a purpose, whether it be to go to work or to bake a cake. Other things, we do just because we want to. This can include watching TV or going for a walk. The product received from doing these tasks is not tangible. I try to bring a mixture of these sorts of things into my life, and try not to focus too much on an eventual goal or well-founded reason for doing some of the things that I do.

Sometimes, it's nice just to do things because they feel good, kind of like writing this segment of my weekly update. Sometimes it's inane and a tad incoherent, but I actually try not to edit this particular section too much because in the end, it is sort of a random thought.

Inspiration: Logo Pizza
How much would you pay for a logo? Well, it depends on the logo and purpose, right? This insane website sells logos at $20, but the price goes up by $20 with each sale. At the current time of the writing of this post, the price of any of the logos still left is $560. But are they really even logos? Or are these simply illustrations that were created with no intention of being used for a specific purpose (which some might say makes them useless).

Still though, an interesting idea if nothing else. Maybe you want to buy one? Better be quick!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Weekly Update: Camping

As shall be the theme of this week's weekly update of the week, I did something outside of my comfort zone. I went camping. Not only have I never camped before, but I did it with a bunch of people I don't know very well (who are part of my drumming troupe), and with fewer details than I think I've ever had for something lasting three days of my life.

And it was great. Read on for more.

Music: Yellowman
Not a single Dave Matthews song was played on this trip. Throughout our time at the campsite and the beach, I heard all sorts of music like soca, reggae, dancehall, dub, and some other genres that I don't even know how to identify.

As this song below played, everyone started singing these sort of nonsense words along to the song. They sound so good and it's rare that I get a chance to speak a little nonsense, so I really like this song now.

I put up a tent all by myself on Friday! Honestly that was the thing that I was most nervous about. Luckily, it was pretty simple! I was even able to help someone else put their tent up as well. Amazing.

After my brief stint learning about Google Analytics at RED Academy, I decided to sign up for Google Analytics lightning talk at work (5 min). I don't know that much about what I learned, but there are some cool tidbits so maybe I can learn a bit by asking questions as I give the talk. Kind of a weird quasi-talk.

I found an excellent conference to go to this year that looks so exciting. All of the talks look like they'll be so interesting and future-forward, I can't stand it. I really hope my boss approves this one so I can go to Munich at the end of Oktober! Auf wiederseihn!

I also took half an hour and upgraded my work computer to the newest operating system. That means that all of my Apple devices (except the beautiful lil' Nano 3G) are now running some sexy San Francisco as their system font. Yummers.

I guess I have to write a script for a lightning talk on Google Analytics now.

I also want to move my dang files onto my reformatted computer from the external drive. Gotta do that soon.

Random Thought:
I was just looking at my SoundCloud likes by grid view, and thinking that a lot of covers for these songs are still very relevant and even strongly encouraged by the site's user interface, despite the decline of any physical real-world use for them (i.e. these songs are not generally wide-spread enough to be on a physical CD sold in a store, which is going out of style anyway).

All this information is there for the taking, in about 500 likes since I started heavily using SoundCloud about eighteen months ago. I wonder if there is also some sort of pattern that can be found in the procession of the grid view of squares of art, as correlated with my wavering interest in different sub-genres. For example, the following:

One of these songs is extremely different from the others in terms of genre. Do you see a pattern of (almost) all of them? Can you tell which one is the odd one out? (Hint: it's bright red.)

So maybe I can scrape some sort of API to get the information I need in spreadsheet format, and create a static processing sketch that lays them all out? Maybe I could even export it to a PDF format so I could print it.

Inspiration: Singing Bowls
One of the fellow members of our drumming band has Tibetan singing bowls, which produce what is probably my favourite sound in the entire world. He brought all three of them camping with him, and played them on both nights at the fire. It was one of the most relaxing and wonderful things that have ever happened to me.

The crazy thing is that you can find recordings of this stuff on YouTube - nine hours long. Lots of heavy meditation happening there. Here's a particularly long one, don't hesitate to watch the whole thing.