Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Weekly Update: Self-Driving Cars

Music: Del Sur
Even though summer is coming to an end, I'm always on the hunt for beachy tunes. Listening to this band makes me feel like I'm in California (the twist: they're from Charlotte, NC). (And no, I can't explain the song name or the video.)

I didn't get a chance to check out the business card situation this week, but I did post a bunch of stuff on Bunz, which I'll hopefully be getting rid of this week. It's such a nice feeling to declutter my life. I always seems to acquire too much crap.

This is a weird one, but I feel a sense of accomplishment for doing something that scared me last week. I was at a house party where everyone was using a rickety ladder to climb onto the slanted roof, and while I knew it wasn't really that safe, I had always wanted to see the city skyline at night from a building roof. So I did it too. And what a skyline it was! I had a perfect view of the CN Tower, as well as the AGO and a bunch of colourful condo buildings. Worth it.

I would like to, as last week, finalize the design of the business card for my dad. This really needs to happen before his next sale.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a Google Analytics workshop as well, so I hope that's a bit interesting. I'm also scoping out the company running it because they have a part-time class in UX Design that my friend recommended to me. We'll see what you've got, RED Academy!

I'm also taking my G driving test next Monday! Can't believe the day is finally almost here.

Random Thought:
With the coming onset of self-driving cars, we are approaching this really interesting time where we get to rethink the basic idea of a car. Of course there's the obvious stuff like the fact that they won't have steering wheels (or perhaps some will, to allow a human driver to freedom to take over while this is still allowed), but what about the fact that since no one in the car has to drive, the whole interior could be suited to the purpose of whatever the passengers decide to do. There don't even have to be windows (which might be safer? I don't know anything about cars). A car could be outfitted like a room in a house: bedroom, living room, even kitchen or bathroom (imagine getting ready for work on your way to work).

And even further than that, the impact could be massive. When a two-hour commute was too much for a struggling young couple trying to buy their first home in the suburbs, now that commuting time can be put to something useful. Of course, it's still no replacement for living close by to what you need to be close to, but it's an improvement for sure.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, Uber has announced that they will be rolling out their first self-driving car soon, which obviously means bad news for all of the human drivers making a living off driving people around. Amidst all the positive/negative buzz, one interesting thing has emerged. In light of all the worry of drivers who will soon find themselves out of a job, Uber is now providing a free service called Betterment, which is a free retirement plan for drivers to start saving their cash now. Not the perfect solution, but certainly a step in the right direction. Check out the article on The Verge.

Inspiration: Daz Qu
I was drawn to this Beijing native's work through Panda, and it's delightful. I love the (somewhat trendy) icy gradients and smooth bezier curves. It's just very pleasing to look at, and makes mee feel like I'm floating in the background of the images. See what I mean below:

Lil' Gyrados!

It's probably no surprise that I also think his mashup of Pokemon characters and utilitarian apps is so cute and excellent.

Some beautiful Chinese typography. This is part of the reason I am happy to learn a new alphabet in Hebrew. The letterforms are so mysterious and lovely, and carry entirely different possibilities from Roman characters. It's like having a whole new toolbox to play with.

Check out his work here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Weekly Update: Running & Catching

Music: Allah-Las
Some smooth sixties rock and roll was licking away at my brain as I researched some design conferences and courses this afternoon. I am not at all surprised to find that the band is from California, because they sound like it. I love the Wikipedia genre classifications of the band:
  • garage rock
  • rock and roll
  • psychedelic rock
  • surf rock
  • 60s revival music
All of that together pretty much sums them up. Listen:

I fully compiled and edited the video of all the bands I saw at Wayhome! Unfortunately my trial of Adobe Premiere ended just as the video was rendering. Seriously. So I'll have to render the video at home on another trial, hopefully this week.

I also managed to get more of my preferences back onto my computer last week, including iTunes...which is pushing me closer and closer to using Spotify...and a bunch of Adobe Programs (not Premiere though).

Updates in all things cycle-related: I was biking in the rain (something I do not like to do) and I slipped into a streetcar track. I wobbled back and forth for the scariest ten seconds of my life. Then I worked myself out of it and kept pedalling without even stopping throughout this entire experience. I only really registered what had happened to me about five seconds afterward, and shouted "OH FUCK" really loud. I think people were generally confused about why exactly I had exclaimed, but whatever.

My bike rack also unexpectedly broke in half during a ride to work on Monday – pretty scary. The broken piece was sharp and cutting into my back brake wire, so I had to walk it to work and formulate a plan of how to get it to a bike shop. I ended up walking my bike all the way to the Annex to have it fixed there, at which point I was told that my bike seat is broken beyond repair and needs to be replaced. Fun times.

And if that wasn't enough, the next time I rode it (this morning), I realized the back brakes had come completely "undone", most likely leftover from the repairs made on Monday. After freaking out for a moment, I inspected the way the front wheel brakes were placed and figured out how to get the brake back in. It would be really cool if I actually understood how bikes worked and could repair minor things in the bike myself. But you can't do it all.

Also on Monday, some coworkers and I went to a super secret Nike training session (mostly product placement and a chance to try some of their new shoes). There was a photographer taking pictures as well, including this winner:

The shoes were actually really uncomfortable. Just so you know.

I've been having a bit of a rough go of things, so this week all I want to do is get my dad to take another look at the design for his business cards and call The Printing House to get them printed.

It would also be great if I could get Adobe Premiere and After Effects onto my computer, and sort out/clean all of my files into something remotely manageable.

Random Thought:
There are some great venues in Toronto, like the Danforth Music Hall, Lee's Palace, and the Opera House. I don't even really mind going to the Mod Club or Sneaky Dee's for a show (especially when there's nachos after). I'd say the same thing of bars with excellent outdoor spaces, like Bellwoods Brewery or Northwood's even-more-excellent parkside patio, complete with a fake owl perched over the sudsed-out hipsters.

What I'm really missing in this town of hot, hot summers is a good outdoor (or partially outdoor) music venue (in the sense of the ones mentioned above). And why not? I know it snows here, but we could have such a great venue for indie musicians to play in the warm breeze. I suppose the closest thing I'm going to get is the Bandshell at the CNE at the end of the summer.

Honestly, it took me a while to get into Pokemon Go. I understand why some people still refuse to get on the bandwagon, but for those who are still clinging to their real, non Pokemon-infested lives, I want to point out something really nice about the app (and the original version of the Pokemon-skinned game Ingress) that may be overlooked.

You may know that Pokemon Go has a concept called Pokestops. These Pokestops are real-world landmarks at which players can build up their wares of items to use later. But what's great is that these Pokestops are largely made up of a mixture of tourist landmarks, good restaurants, and hidden public art. So, not only do players unwittingly get a good taste of culture poured down their throats, but tourists in new cities can use the app as a sort of tour guide to see those sorts of things.

Hey, remember this equipment box from my Instagram? The artist even commented on my photo!

And as a bonus, these tourists will already have something in common with the natives who gather around such Pokestops, because they both play the game.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Weekly Update: Ryerson Beach

Music: TOPS
I am in love with this band. I decided to do some last-minute sleuthing into some of the bands playing at TIME Festival (this past Saturday) during times I didn't have anything going on, and this band was a gem. Probably the only band I saw at the main stage that I liked as well. They have a great lo-fi sound that reminds me of the beach.

I finally formatted my computer! I...think it's running faster now. Of course, I'll have to use it for a little while to decide if it's actually better or if I should sell it and buy a new one. Now or later, it'll have to happen sometime.

I also transferred all my Wayhome videos to my work computer (more processing power!) and will be making the compilation video next Tuesday. And how do I know I'll be making it on Tuesday? Read on!

I have finally started to make my goal calendar for the month. I'm posting it in Goals instead of Accomplishments because I obviously haven't done a lot of this stuff yet (and hence the calendar is incomplete), but it's on its way! I already feel better about where my projects will be going.

Things that are notable:
  • having a hack night at work to get my Arduino projects started again
  • taking a day to make the data reporter app (my own personal hack day)
  • getting my dad's business card design done

Random Thought: Bulk Barn
From past mentions and also a whole post about their rebrand, you may know of my undying love for Bulk Barn. So many different kinds of baking goods and snack foods and pastas and soup mixes. And you can buy as little or as much as you want. Also, I like to think that I'm helping the environment by not creating more waste for the landfill, right? It's all good.

Except one thing. When I was last there perusing the muffin mixes, I noted the recipe card on the bin (so cute) and realized that something was wrong. For this particular bran muffin recipe, I would need 2 cups of the flour mixture in the bin. And how exactly would I go about ensuring I had enough to bake the muffins and not too much that would be wasteful? I can weigh my items, but the recipe card called for a dry measure, not a weight measure. Herein lies the problem.

Solution - what if Bulk Barn had scoop measures to conduct such baking business? You would place a bag over the scoop, scoop your stuff, level it out with your hand (also under the bag - gotta keep it clean), invert the bag, take out the scoop and voila! You've got a measured amount of stuffs and a clean scoop for the next item.

The only problem would be getting customers to use the scoops properly - a Herculean task I do not think possible of the unwashed masses (haha).

Inspiration: Ryerson Campus
One thing I neglected to mention was Stop #3-and-a-half on the Izakaya hop I took the other day. I can't even say how it happened, but we were walking by the new Ryerson building on our way to Kinka, and all of a sudden we were inside the building checking it out. The thing is beautiful.

It's a cube that would have one of its sharp corners facing the street (which is terrible feng shui), but it's been lopped off at a very pleasing angle. Love it.

This is the "beach" on the second floor. Amazing. There was even a calming whooshing sound coming from some pipes or something? 

Bean bag chair made of repurposed materials reminded me of lying in sand.

These chairs were pretty comfortable too, and looked like people lounging in the sun from above.

The view from out the window in the corner of the picture above.

I also didn't know Ryerson has such a beautiful set of greenspace and gardens. I am seriously in love with the campus.