Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Glass Animals, File Types & Oleg Beresnev

2016-01: Welcoming in 2016! This week – my new favourite band Glass Animals, the annoyance of opening files in the wrong application, and the visualization of a hangover, made by Oleg Beresnev.

Music: Glass Animals
Do you ever hear so much about a band that you immediately dismiss them because you're sick of hearing their name? It's petty, I know. But that happened to me with Glass Animals. I completely missed out on their awesome 2014 album Zaba until a friend mentioned them to me the other day. Since I started listening to them, I have become addicted to the album. As my friend says, their sound is like "water droplets went clubbing." And I quote. Listen below.

Beer & Skillshare
Somehow I managed to sit myself down for a few hours and get a first draft done of the Brew Beer, Drink Beer design. Still needs some refinement, but here it is!

I also took advantage of another three months of Skillshare for 99 cents! One great lesson it offered me this time was Illustrator For Lunch, a series of Skillshare videos that are around 30 minutes in length, so you can do them on your lunch hour. I love it. Check out the entire series here.

I'd really like to get into one of those Illustrator For Lunch classes and learn a thing or two on my lunch hour, but the office has been pretty slow here (concentration at work is at an all-time low over Christmas time), so I'll be trying one out next week. I'm also going to start working seriously on more screens for 21 Days and getting them up on my website.

Random Thought:
One grievance I always encounter in my computer life is double-clicking on a file, only to have it open in the wrong program. Upon further thought, I've begun to come to the conclusion. Perhaps this happens more often to computer-based creatives than to non-creatives because the things we create are most commonly enjoyed through a computer. This means that we switch often between enjoying something (in one program, such as iTunes), to editing it (in another program, such as Audacity). See the chart below:

Inspiration: Oleg Beresnev
A condition that awaits us all:

I found this cute animation on Dribbble. It's meant to emulate the feeling of being hungover. I think it's immediately recognizable. Enjoy your holidays...but don't overdo it! :)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Skittles Pawn Shop

You may have seen me post this to Instagram the other day:

A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

Taste the rainbow, indeed! I was walking past this on my way to the Star Wars exhibit (which, by the way, was overrated but cool for free). I didn't bother to look it up again until the other day when it came up in my Facebook newsfeed. When I did, I found that in exchange for unwanted Christmas presents (or pretty much, just junk from around your house), some guy named Deal Dale will make you a deal in Skittles for it.

I got there around 2:00pm, thinking it would be busy. There was a line, but it was only about six people long. As soon as I walked inside, my eyes were berated with weird items. They were all different from each other but similar in some strange way that I couldn't place. Maybe it was the fact that all of them would be terrible Christmas presents.

In my arsenal, I had the following: a rather unimpressed looking emoji pillow with a hole on the chin (do emojis have chins?), a weird tapestry-type forest scene, and a statue of a pig holding a hamburger. Not something you'd want to own.

As I waited in line, I got chatting with the security guard about how this would go down. "Make sure you barter," he told me sagely. "You'll get more Skittles that way." Wow, I thought. If they're going to give me five packages, maybe I'll ask for ten! I decided to see how this played out. I couldn't quite see what items were being traded, but I could see the quantities of Skittles that each person was getting. There were some single-serve packages, like I originally thought, but there were also huge, 36-pack boxes of Skittles. One boy came away with four of those boxes! Whatever he traded in was worth 144 packages of Skittles! I couldn't believe my eyes.

When my turn came up, Deal Dale made up a silly story about how my three items were not to be separated because they were a set. This I found extremely hilarious because that's a real thing people say in pawn shops to get the pawner to buy everything, even if he doesn't want to. Wonderful!

So after what seemed like very little thought, Dale came up with the price of two boxes of packages of Skittles. I looked back at the man who told me to barter, and then at my shoes as I asked for three boxes. Dale accepted right away and sent me to collect my bounty.

All of the items traded in the shop will go to the Goodwill ReUse Centre in Scarborough. Isn't that great! Skittles is singlehandedly providing amazing exposure for their brand, bringing joy to people in an act of trashing unwanted/bad gifts, giving help to those in need, and giving out (basically) FREE CANDY.

Take this man, for example:

Check out more at their official website.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Weekly Update: Time Lapses

Music: The Most Serene Republic
Ever since I came across this Milton band through an iTunes song of the day in 2007, I haven't been able to shake their weird-but-wonderful sound. Can't wait to see them tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern as well. I love the fact that the lead singer also plays trombone, too!

One of the coolest things I found about their new album is that the posted the entire thing to SoundCloud when it released. Hear my favourite song off the new album Mediac below:

Somehow, I managed to make pulled pork and stir fry, go to two parties and an improv show, sign up for Hebrew lessons, go to St. Catharines, and get food poisoning in one weekend. It was a mammoth weekend.

I have a ton of time off coming with which I really have no idea what to do, so by gosh I am going to finish the Brew Beer Drink Beer graphic for my friend. That's it! Gotta get it done.

Random Thought:
I have been really into SoundCloud DJ mixes of late. They give me a showcase into the musical interests of musicians I like, and introduce me to new music. But I realized that what I think I like best about them is the way the producers mix the songs together. While intros and outros of music are certainly necessary, I often feel like they're only part of the song because they have to be. This of course is not the case for all music, but some songs (especially pop) could do without the intro or outro and still be a good song. I guess I like mixes because they eliminate the hellos and goodbyes of music. To put it poetically.

Finally, finally the company where I work moved into a new office. We are now on the 14th floor of a 16-storey building at Bloor and Church and it's really not as bad as I originally thought! I had low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. I don't even have a window seat, but the view is floor to ceiling so it's really amazing. Check out the timelapse video my coworker took yesterday morning (it was a foggy day).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weekly Update: One's Inner Chef

Music: Mason
First discovered by yours truly in a SoundCloud mix, this producer out of Amsterdam has a whole slew of awesome tracks in his Nite Rite Series. I really like listening to artists' progression as their tracks become more developed over time. Similarly to HOME, I think this guy has awesome stuff in store for his listeners. And yet another example of how bedroom DJs can gain traction through SoundCloud. How would I ever have found this guy otherwise?

In keeping with my earlier declaration, I made my first rebound shot on Dribbble! As you may have read last week, I really enjoyed Ryan Duffy's weather app design, and wanted to try it out myself. I learned a ton of stuff from After Effects (which is great considering I haven't touched it in six months). For example, did you know that you can draw a path in Illustrator and literally copy and paste it into the position animation of an object in After Effects? Madness! If there's one thing I love in the world of animation, it's the automatic generation of keyframes.

Anyway, check out my rebound below (or on Dribbble):

I've been meaning to post that animated gif of my face to Dribbble for a week now! I'm going to do that tonight. I'm also going to print my holiday cards tomorrow evening, and work on the Brew Beer, Drink Beer graphic on Saturday. I want to have it finished by the end of next week.

Random Thought: Bulk Cooking
I've been attempting to exercise my inner chef lately, and tried my hand at making some Pork Tonkatsu last night. I highly enjoy the process of bulk cooking, so that I can come home to a dinner that's already ready to heat and eat. It's very gratifying. But one thing that I think is overlooked in the field of bulk prepping/cooking is the amount of resources that are saved. For instance, if I fry garlic for four meals at once, I only have to wash the frying pan once. I've just saved a ton of water and soap (not to mention the time factor). While bulk cooking saves time, I really think that the amazing thing about it is the smaller footprint one can leave on the environment when doing so. And I suppose saved soap and paper towel is also saved money. Works for me. Here's a picture of the food I made:

A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

Inspiration: Muti
While we're on the subject of cooking, I thought I'd share this wee gem I found on Dribbble.

Made by the awesome people at Muti, this card can be printed out from the Dribbble page and used as a gift tag. Way to spread the love.

I also really liked a lot of Muti's other work. Based in Cape Town, even their contact page is awesome. I should really work on my contact page...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Walk in the Neighbourhood

In keeping with my exploratory nature of my Toronto surroundings, I have been recording my walks to work from my new apartment in a 20-day Instagram photo blog. I mentioned it here before, and now it's done! I finished it up last week as I transition into my work's new office (to which I'll be taking the subway).

The blog was pretty popular with my friends and coworkers, so I thought I might chronicle the various interesting happenings of it here. First of all, it was an enormously fun experience to find new things to catch my interest on each weekday, and the weekend wild cards were even better. I got a great chance on the last Saturday of the blog to walk around the western side of my neighbourhood, which I don't get to see much of on my eastward walks to work.


A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I went to this bar for a drink on my first night in my new place, and was almost as pleased with this "closed" sign as I was with the delicious drink they served me. Not to mention, apparently a lot of my friends know about it! Good thing it's literally four doors away, on the same block as me.


A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I walk past this tiger every day and always like to look at it. It's really nice! Nothing like this where I used to live. And now when people ask me where I live, I can tell them it's right by the electric tiger. Nothing wrong with that.


A photo posted by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I was walking past Lee's Palace (which I had never done so early in the day before living here), and I saw men from the Beer Store unloading beer into a secret underground lair of the venue!! And what's even better is that the picture was perfectly timed to show them unloading a case of my favourite beer: Crimmis Beer (otherwise known as Molson Pilsner).


Read the caption. Simply wonderful. I can't wait to get some food shopping done here. They have a great selection of cheese.

20/20 The final day:

Upon sharing this photo, I found out that my friend used to lifeguard at this pool. I can't wait until summer when I can use this slide. But more than that, my neighbourhood is so beautiful in fall/winter that I can't wait until the summer when I am even more aware of my surroundings and can enjoy everything in a nice temperature to be outside. Maybe I'll do another photo blog then!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekly Update: Good Weather All Around

I had literally no idea who or what a TOKiMONSTA was for a long time. I had seen the name in some remixes in my travels about the SoundCloud town, but hadn't really stopped to listen to the Los Angeles-based DJ until the other day. I remember finding one of her songs last Wednesday morning, and then listening to her throughout the entire day. That night I was walking around town and saw that she was playing Toronto that Friday. Too bad I saw Slow Magic the day before, because I kinda wish I had gone to her show now. Also, she is signed to Flying Lotus' record label, Brainfeeder. Anyway, listen to this:

Full disclosure: I didn't complete the goals I set for myself last week. For some reason, I decided to use processing to make an animated gif of my face (which you can see in the post before this one). I also made a christmas card that I plan to give to some coworkers and friends if I can get my butt over to FedEx next week to print it.

It's got kind of a plaid feel to it, which I find akin to the warm and cozy feeling of the holidays :)

This week, I am going to Bahamas, so no goal setting for me except to bask in the sun. This week has been sort of bitterly cold (for someone who hasn't donned her winter coat yet) and I'm ready to get away. I do have tomorrow night, so I'd like to finish writing a blog post I started the other day that compares Seinfeld to Jeopardy. Don't ask me why, it will all become clear tomorrow!

Random Thought:
If you've been updating your iPhone's operating system like a good little boy or girl, you've been keeping abreast of all of the emoji changes that have been happening recently. We've finally got a taco emoji, of which I only half-understand the importance, to be perfectly honest. Here it is in all its crispy glory (with some other new ones)...

This phenomenon reminds me of when the emojis were expanded to provide skin colour options for the people- and hand-based emojis. I am led to understand that the reason for this was to provide more options for people to express emojis more realistically as a portrait of themselves or their friends. This made sense to me, but now I wonder how people are choosing the skin tones of their favour. Personally, I have felt awkward as I shifted through the skin tones to find the one that looked most like me. It's a long brown-haired girl who, to be honest, doesn't really remind me of myself. So which one do I go with, if not that one? I have been choosing the bright Simpsons yellow of late, for reasons I cannot truly explain. It just felt right.

Inspiration: Ryan Duffy
As you and I both know, the infamous design exercise of the weather app has been ridden to death like the sad little donkey it is. I have never even thought to try the challenge myself because I have seen so many badly done weather app designs. But today, I saw a Dribbble shot that inspired me so much, I am now rethinking my opinion.

Ryan Duffy, a designer out of Philadelphia, has created a really cute new weather app design that aims to express time as well as weather with animation and simple layering. Check it out below:

It has sort of a Kirby in Dreamland vibe to it, and shows the placement of the moon and sun in the sky (which can be used as a sort of sundial-esque way of telling the time as well). The only critique I could possible have of this whimsical spin on a tired trend is that the black line-drawing animations in the middle are not even necessary. All of that can be shown through a little more detailing on the top animations. Of course, to draw and animate all of the possible iterations would take a lot of time, but I think it would be worth it. I'd like to rebound this shot with another sort of weather, but unfortunately I don't think I'll have much time between now and going to Bahamas. Maybe I'll do it on the plane! Let's see if I can download After Effects on my work computer tomorrow...

Mixing It Up

I watched a pretty freaky movie last night about an indie rock band whose lead singer is a man with a papier mache face. He doesn't take it off to shower, to sleep, ever. Picture time!

Yeah. Anyway, for a stupid plot, the movie was pretty awesome. The fake band's music was all really genuine, in fact I am downloading it right now. Not to mention, what are most movies but eye and ear candy these days, and it was nice to watch a live-action movie with a cartoonish head floating around on a popsicle-stick body.

But the thing that impressed me most about this film was the end credits. They were seriously off the chain. First, all you can see for at least three minutes is some abstract shapes floating around the screen, revealing and hiding the type that makes up the actors' names. That on its own looks really cool. But I'm not going to tell you, just watch this 20-second video, okay?

Wasn't that awesome?! I never even saw it coming. This movie is excellent. It actually inspired me to make my own little rendition, so here goes.

I had a lot of fun writing this processing sketch! I uploaded it to here. Please note that the sketch won't work unless you upload your own file shapes, so get going!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weekly Update: Fitting In

Music: Gold Panda
I've been all about ambient electronic music lately. Sometimes, you just need some really good simple music to get into the coding zone, and that's exactly what Gold Panda is. I find that music with a steady dance beat is also great for concentration, which is exactly what Gold Panda (aka Derwin Schlecker) has done to make such awesome music.

Based out of London via Japan, the guy hasn't put out a lot as of recently, which gives me some time to catch up. Listen below:

I didn't get the chance to look into more business card ideas or the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" design this week. I've been focusing on meeting new people, and managed to get out of my house and into the night scene in a way that's making me feel more and more like I belong in my new neighbourhood. Specifically, I was amazed at the breadth that is Christie Pits, the huge park right beside my place. Every time I step outside, I find something new to love in my neighbourhood. Check out the crazy twisty slide that (I assume) will be open when the weather gets warmer:

It's been a welcome change of pace to move into the city this month, and I have been finding that my close proximity to all that Toronto's night scene has to offer has left me completing fewer blog-related goals, while feeling more fulfilled by absorbing my new surroundings. For this reason, I am going to be limiting myself to one goal per week. I want to provide ample time for myself to get out and meet new people, while still keeping an achievable balance of personal work going.

So this week, on Sunday, I will be COMPLETING my "Brew Beer Drink Beer" design, so that I can begin to find a place who will cut the vinyl design for me. Nice and simple.

That said, I want to complete a retrospective of my 20-day instagram journey through Dovercourt, so I'll be compiling that into a blog post tomorrow night.

Random Thought:
Humans are naturally unique and obviously come in all shapes and sizes. And yet, for simplicity's sake, we measure our clothes in only a few catch-all sizes like small, medium, large, etc. And even though there can't really be any standardization of exactly what a 'medium' should be, it is possible to tell by look if an article of clothing will fit. That said, there is one item that I will never be able to fathom on look alone, and I'm sure I am not alone in this.

And that item is the bath towel. If there's one luxury that everyone should be able to enjoy, it is that of a properly sized bath towel. Now, all of this has to do with nothing more than two dimensions: length and width. Simple enough! And what's even simpler is the fact that towel width can easily be determined by a person's height. So my random thought is this: why don't we size bath towels by human height? I'll buy the 5'4"-height towel and you buy the one for whatever height you are. I think the world would be a much happier place for it.

Inspiration: Fonts In Use
Ah, context. Designers have so many tools at our disposal, but sometimes it can be hard to garner the vision through which to pick the right tools for each project. And that is why I love Fonts In Use. More context than you could ever need. Here is a font, and this is what it looks like when used in a real project. You can't imagine the joy I find just scrolling through the examples and seeing proper usage of fonts, from the most boring and plain to the craziest and most exciting (and sometimes downright ugly) fonts. Not to mention, it's a great resource for tried-and-true font pairings.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekly Update: Old Pennies

Music: Arms And Sleepers
I don't know what it is about dreamwave/chillwave but the genre keeps reinventing itself and dragging me back into its cloudy clutches. Lately, with the growing popularity of bands like Odesza, many new sounds have been landing on the scene that are reminiscent of the 2011 chillwave movement. I loved it back then, but have since outgrown some of its known motifs. And lately, I have sensed it coming back in a new, more dance-driven way with a technological/spacey feel.

If none of that made sense, check out this band from Baltimore. I found them on a Spotify playlist that Slow Magic released in hype of his upcoming Toronto leg of his current tour. I would love to see him mix one of Arms and Sleepers' songs into his set!

Accomplishment: A Big Estate
I have a first draft of a business card for my dad going. He won't be back in the country until December, but I thought it would be nice to welcome him back with a few designs to choose from. Then I can get them printed for the new year. How nice!

I also put a placeholder page on my website for 21 Days. A good start, I think!

This week, I will be refining some more business card ideas, and working on the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" typographic piece. I found an awesome reference that I want to follow:

Random Thought:
Ah, the binge watch, Is there any better immediate gratification than sitting back and watching eight or ten episodes of something? I love the way that our habits of watching television are changing with advances in technology and design. Once we would wait for a specific timeslot each week, only to be let down by the ever-increasing amount of cliffhangers that leave us feeling mistreated. Now, we download full seasons or series at a time and let the storylines and characters wash over us all at once. Honestly, I much prefer this method. I find I can really connect with characters in stories and follow the plot line much more easily.

Which brings me to my point. If we no longer spread out the episodes of a show from week to week, why do we even need episode recaps? They could be useful if a viewer has taken a break between stints of binge-watching, but I wonder if there is better method than tacking these incessant things onto the beginning of every episode. On services such as Netflix, there could definitely be an area of the screen dedicated to episode recaps, appearing on a needs-basis.

Inspiration: Micah Adams
Personally, I love vintage...stuff. Anything old, especially if it has a story behind it. Old currency certainly falls into this category. Even a coin from five years ago already has wear and tear on it, and has passed through literally countless hands.

Micah Adams, a fellow Canadian, repurposes old currency into beautiful upcycled items like pins, bracelets, and cute little knick knacks that make my heart warm when I look at them. Check out a pair of earrings made from old pennies!

Repurposing old defunct items is such a wonderful thing. Take something that has history but not much functional value, and add functional value. The process of doing so actually adds a layer to its story, and makes the item that much more special.

A photo posted by Micah Adams ( on

Check out more on his instagram, and at City of Craft in a few weekends!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekly Update: Mason Jars

Music: Robotaki
Straight outta Montreal comes another great find on SoundCloud. I first found this electronic artist while performing my favourite pastime, which is to listen to related tracks of a song I am currently digging. I have no idea what SoundCloud's algorithm is for linking these tracks together, but it is spot on every time.

As I have said before, SoundCloud is great for bridging the gap between artists and audiences. For example, I found this on Robotaki's profile:

"To talk about Harry Potter, contact: [email protected]"
In case you aren't familiar with SoundCloud, this is the usual area where the management information goes, as seen above that quote. But Preston, whom I can only assume is Robotaki himself, just wants to chat with you about Harry Potter (and presumably his awesome music). 

I finished the Bahamas logo! I can't express my excitement to get this thing put on a real-life t-shirt. I got slightly ahead of myself and posted the logo to Dribbble, because why not.

I also somehow forgot to add my current position at EventMobi to my Linkedin profile. I've been getting the odd job offer, which I thought was due to having added the position. But it turns out that Linkedin thinks I am unemployed! No longer. I also added my recent win in the Startup Weekend in September.

Speaking of Startup Weekend, I am going to start working on getting the work I did during the hackathon to a polished portfolio piece. I am really proud of the hard work that my team has already done, and I did enough design to get this thing to a final stage for sure. Plus it will be a good exercise in a bit of product thinking/design on my own.

1) Put placeholder page in motion on website - This week.
2) User journey map
3) User stories
4) Identify and create missing screens from flow
5) Invision
6) Upload to website
7) Profit!

I will be making the placeholder page this week, as well as starting to work on my dad's business card and continuing work on the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" project. Not to mention cleaning the apartment for Friday's housewarming. Lots to do!

Random Thought:
As you may recall, I made a delish stew last week and have been portioning it off to eat pretty much every day. Nothing like a good stew. But if I am walking to work every day with a small purse, how am I to transport this wondrous stew? The answer is mason jars. I don't know what it is about walking around with a mason jar full of stew tucked into my purse, but it's a really good feeling. Maybe it makes me feel homey or maybe I feel safe knowing I could crack someone over the head with it if I really had to. I live in a safe neighbourhood but you never really know.

Inspiration: Illuminite
I have been keeping myself abreast of the free events in Toronto, as seen through the lens of Facebook. And boy, there are a lot. Between the city of Toronto, the Drake Hotel, and The Harbourfront Centre, I would never go home. This past Saturday, the city held a non-denominational winter holiday party at Dundas Square, complete with live music, acrobats, lanterns, and a giant white piano. It was awesome to watch a live performance outside in a big group of people before the weather gets too cold (although let's face it, I'm still going to go to these things when the weather gets really Canadian).

The piano was attached to a crane that was pretty high in the air, so naturally you can see how I assumed that the finale would include some mixture of the piano and the air. By the end of the performance, just as I was letting my hopes down, I was able to snap this awesome video:

That's some skill.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Weekly Update: Job Genie

Music: Charles Murdoch
Straight outta Brisbane, Charles Murdoch originally creeped into my SoundCloud with a wee tune called Straws. I think it was reposted by my favourite Australian label Future Classic. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is, this guy has talent. If you ever wanted to get into ethereal down-tempo chillwave whatever, but found it too boring or slow, check this out. I could jam to this while I did the dishes. And maybe I did.

Accomplishment: Moving In
I'm all moved in! The christmas lights have been hung, the side tables have been pushed together into a pseudo-coffee table, and the irregular carpets have been forced together to live in peace with each other. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for how fast I got everything together (with a lot of help), but some of it was all my own. For example:

  • I needed more desk space so I turned a shallow drawer upside down and use it as a pull-out desk extension
  • I made a very extensive Google Doc of cheap recipes
  • I made a slow cooker stew (currently cooking at the time of writing this post)
  • I got a new credit card (and that makes TWO)
  • I bought a storm of spices at Bulk Barn on discount Wednesday (that one was a fluke but will surely be repeated)
  • And the best one: I am currently walking to work every day until my office moves on December 1, so the next 20 days between now and then will feature an instagram photo blog for each day. Seems to be picking up popularity! There is a lot to see in my neighbourhood.

Goal: Bahamas Logo
My office is very kindly springing for a retreat to Bahamas in December, and I have volunteered to make the logo that will live on the shirts in commemoration of the trip. I have always been very inspired by the recent tourism branding of Bahamas (see below), and I'd like to channel some of that wonderful creativity into my logo. But you'll have to wait until next week to see what I cooked up (at this point, I'm as curious as you).

All of the individual logos of the twelve islands are part of a bigger system. So clever.

Random Thought:
While I do love a good DJ, I am quite picky with my beat matching. If a DJ can't slow down or speed up a song to match the speed of the song that came before it, they're honestly no better than the crossfade feature in iTunes. Harsh, but true. I think I have been ruined by learning the basics of DJing, and now my standards are too high. Have you ever been dancing to a song, only to trip as the next song is blended in? That's bad beat matching. Just turn on the crossfade in your iTunes and you'll see what I mean. End rant.

Inspiration: Job Genie
Ever wondered what sort of job you be suited for, based on very minimal input? Job Genie breaks it down into four possible job goals: money, power, impact and freedom. Pick one! Within each of those categories, you can pick up to four specific aspects. I chose impact, and I got social worker! I actually wanted to be a social worker until I realized that I am too empathetic for it. Just can't handle the drama.

There are also some great gifs and animations sprinkled throughout the website. A little bit of great design goes a long way.

The website is pretty low-stress for people considering a new job path, and even offers video interviews with people in the jobs offered. Anything is attainable if you have the right knowledge! I like to think that people who are bored at work might stumble upon this website and realize that they can be more fulfilled in another career. Why not! Life is too short.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekly Update: Rare Books

Music: Chrome Sparks
The more music I find on SoundCloud, the more mesmerized I become by the amount of big sounds that are derived from one person. Today's slice of music is no different. Here I present to you, an electronic act called Chrome Sparks. From the mind of Jeremy Malvin, the guy is 22 years old and spinning some really great trancey stuff. And it turns out, this is good music to listen to in the shower. Take a listen:

As I promised, I managed to find a track listing to Harrison's spin for the Plastic Platform. Which is good, because as I tried to Shazam it, two songs couldn't be found and the third was an incorrect tag. Thank you for documenting your music, Harrison! Check out the track listing here. I can't wait to explore some of these bands, especially Vanilla and Pional. I also find it really cool that he sped up the tracks to a dancey tempo. The slower original versions are more versatile for different occasions.

No goals this week, except to move into my new place! I am literally atwitter with excitement (in that I can't shut up about it). Good times.

Random Thought:
I've been having some especially random thoughts regarding moving into a new place this week. For example, one thing I will be learning about rather rapidly is the social norms of using a laundromat. Yes, my new place doesn't have laundry. But it's not all bad news; apparently the #1 laundromat in all of Toronto is an 8-minute walk from my new place. So what I want to know is, if someone is using a washer, is it rude to use the dryer directly below their washer? Is it assumed that they will want to use that dryer next, instead of having to move their sopping wet clean clothes to the only free dryer across the laundromat? I'm sure I will soon find out.

Inspiration: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
I went on a Jane's Walk way back in May that included a bunch of University of Toronto buildings, during which I snapped a rather brutalist pic of the Toronto Reference Library (and tagged it on Instagram as such). Soon after this feat of social media prowess, a little Instagram account @fisherlibrary liked my photo. This piqued my interest, so I followed the digital breadcrumbs and so fell in love with one of my favourite Instagram accounts.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a wonderful little nook and/or cranny inside the reference library, with, as you may have guessed, rare old books. Their Instagram account is of equal wonder. Check out some pics below.

A photo posted by Fisher Rare Book Library (@fisherlibrary) on

Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekly Update: Busy Bee

As you well know, even when life gets busy, I always make time for a weekly update. This week has been incredibly busy, with a crazy amount of work and social stuff happening. So it's a little late, but at least I didn't hit the Sunday mark! So here goes:

Music: Long Distance Runners
My friend is an avid listener of CBC radio 2 (which is a nasty habit that I think I'm going to pick up soon). It's full of new Canadian indie music, which has been missing from my life as of late. I've been very invested in SoundCloud, which doesn't do well for indie music.

Coming out of Newfoundland, Long Distance Runners are a psychedelic/rock mix that is really unexpected and cool to hear from our east coast. I haven't heard much, but they have three albums under their belt and I hear that they tour Toronto pretty often so I'll be on the lookout for them.

I realized that it's been taking me so long to finish this Skillshare class because I've been losing interest in it as I keep going. So I am making the executive decision to put it on hold and try something else. There are lots of hand-lettering classes, so I might try one of those next.

I also found that you can use squash as an alternative to tomato sauce, which sounds super delicious. My search inspired me to add that and other recipes to an on-going google doc of recipes. I think it will be good to keep them all in one place, and to make shopping lists to prepare for each week.

As I have mentioned before, I love finding new music through DJ mixes on Soundcloud. I posted a link to a great mix by Harrison, but it was unfortunately not accompanied by a track listing. This weekend I'll be Shazamming each track to the best of my ability, and posting it here. If I feel confident enough about it, maybe I'll send the link to Harrison himself to see if I'm right. Oh, the ease of communication that SoundCloud provides.

I'll also be attending the Taves Consumer Electronics Show this weekend! Yep, I finally received my prizes from Startup Weekend in September.

Random Thought:
One of the prizes I also received was a DataWind tablet. Apparently this tablet sells for $35, and is marketed in third-world countries as a cheap way to access the internet. I suppose a lot of people around the world (and at home) opt not to own full computers or laptops, but go with portable and cheaper tablets and smartphones. This is all well and good for browsing the internet or checking your email, but what about people like me, who need full computers to create...well, stuff?

I know that Photoshop has a mobile app, and I haven't used it. I don't know a lot of designers who would opt to use the mobile version instead of the full desktop version, but that may just be a source of familiarity. And as mobile apps and phones develop, maybe designers and other creators will find mobile versions to be their weapon of choice (design on the go!). It's an interesting time that we live in.

Inspiration: Brandon Van Lare
I am surprising myself these days as I become a more active member in the Toronto Rave Community group on Facebook. I originally joined in the hopes of finding cheap concert tickets, and was quickly annoyed by the dumb posts about girls and drugs. Then, as I mentioned last week, there was a big hubbub about the stolen coats at the Disclosure concert, which was followed by a massive act of goodwill as multiple people in the group offered up their old winter coats for free.

This week, I was again inspired. This time, a poster designer named Brandon Van Lare was plying his wares by displaying a work-in-progress of the first poster in his series chronicling the last concerts at the Guvernment (a downtown Toronto venue that is now closed). Check it out below:

It's DeadMaus! The style reminds me of Shepard Fairey mixed with a bit of Alphonse Mucha or something. I can't wait to see how the final turns out.

But the important thing that I want to impart here is that a lot of people in this group (which I previously thought was the dumbest thing ever) are really kind-hearted and very talented. Inspiration truly comes from the weirdest places.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weekly Update: Disclosure

Music: Disclosure
The day finally came. I got to see Disclosure live! And front and center of course. They were so spot on and the acoustics were so good, it was ideal. Not to mention the insane light show. And as you can see below they each had music 'stations' with all of their instruments around them. I had never seen something so crazy. Especially for an electronic act?! Okay, just watch this. It's an excerpt from When A Fire Starts To Burn.

The light show was SO COOL, I have so much inspiration for my Processing stuff. And it looked like it was all very doable in Processing, since it was flat colours and shapes (which Processing loves). Amazing.

I rode my bike to the store and got some groceries on Sunday. It was awesome. I used my bike lock for the first time, so I know I can do that. Now it's just those dang busy Toronto streets I have to contend with. 

And why did I ride my bike to the store, you may ask? Because I made a simple dinner from a recipe from Sobeys. Only five-ish ingredients and one pot! Too bad the main ingredient was tomato sauce. I wish there was an alternative to tomato sauce that was marginally the same. What about, like, mashed squash? Is that a thing? 

Alternatives to tomato sauce will be something to look up this week, along with two more easy recipes. I want to cook on Sunday again. I'd also like to buy a pork shoulder to make some pulled pork. Because it's been a while since I've done that!

I also didn't get a chance to finish Joshua Davis stuff, so I'll be attempting to finish that on Sunday. There's a lot more left than I thought, though, so I may not. But I want to finish it soon or take a break from it and go on to the Processing video stuff.

Random Thought:
Speaking of the Disclosure show, it was at the Direct Energy Centre in the CNE, which I did not know was a music venue. The acoustics were awesome, the floor area was big and airy (probably from the middle backwards, anyway), and the feat of putting on a big light show was definitely more reachable in a space like that, with lots of big doors to fit equipment through quickly.

I really didn't like watching uber-famous musicians play shows before, because you could never get close enough to musicians to really feel their presence (which was still the case here – they were so high up!), but the space was impressive for what it was. Even in spite of the fiasco (read below), I would still probably go there for another show. But only in warmer weather, when I know I can be close to the front. The room is so big that it's probably pretty hard to see the band from the back, especially behind so many girls on their boyfriends' shoulders. 

Another Disclosure one for you: the jacket fiasco. You may have seen on CityNews(!) that for a crowd of 10,000 attendees, only six people were staffing the huge coat check. Bedlam ensued, people broke into the coat check area, and a huge amount of coats were stolen from people who paid $4 for coat check. Not cool.

The Toronto Rave Community Facebook group, usually full of posts about 'hot' girls at shows and how to do drugs, was this time full of posts from people offering their old winter coats to strangers for free. They had heard about what had happened to these poor people and realized that they might not have the money to replace these winter coats. Especially with last winter being so cold, I can understand why they felt that these people were in need.

Of course, it would have been better if the coats had never been stolen in the first place, but I am sure those people will get what's coming to them eventually.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Weekly Update: Not Miniature!

Music: Harrison
As I probably mentioned before, I am in love with SoundCloud. I use it to find so many amazing artists that just aren't big enough to share their sounds anywhere else. One of the many awesome things about the product is the extended DJ mixes. They are an exponential way to find new music (a newfound artist for each track on a mix), and I am currently obsessed with the Harrison's guest mix for Plastic Platform. It has the perfect mix of soul and dance and house music. I love every song. And it ends with a sped-up version of Washed Out's Feel It All Around.

There is no track listing, so I will be Shazam-ing every song and trying my luck that way. I'd also like to find more mixes by Harrison, which is proving harder than I thought. Sometimes, artists are so small that their music is almost impossible to find!

Today, I did the unthinkable and sold my limited-edition Starbucks Barista shirts on Kijiji. As you may know, every once in a while Starbucks will award its baristas with a t-shirt they can wear in place of the uncomfortable collared shirts that are the usual uniform. All the cool shirts seem to have been from pre-2010 (way before my time), so I was happy to sell three shirts for $50, considering I will never wear them again. Now a new barista can gain some street cred with some shirts from 2013 and 2014, even if she was just hired.

I have been riding my bike as much as I can lately, to get used to riding at night, on uneven ground, and going very fast to feign keeping up with traffic. I found a wonderful WikiHow article on riding one-handed (to be able to indicate turning hand signals), and scored a cool red light for the back of my bike that unclips easily (so as not to be stolen).

I've been meaning to do a product analysis of SoundCloud, which will be happening on Saturday. I am also going to do a bit more of the Joshua Davis Skillshare tomorrow night, and since I don't have much left to do, I'll be finishing it on Sunday. I'd also like to take some time to find some simple recipes with fewer than six ingredients, and I'd like to try making one of them for dinner on Sunday.

Random Thought:
It's that time of year again. Halloween is upon us, and events everywhere are littered with 'fun-size' chocolate bars. I was eating a fun-size Kit Kat yesterday and thinking about how it compares to the big version. I am a big fan of miniaturized versions of things, but never really thought of fun-size chocolate bars as miniatures of their bigger counterparts. Is it because these smaller bars have been ubiquitous for so long that we have begun to disassociate them from the big versions?

That may be the truth of it in some part, but I realized that a true miniaturization of a Kit Kat bar would actually still contain four sticks and remain the same shape as the big version. And yet, the fun-size bar is basically just a cut quarter of the full bar. It's not miniaturized, just less. Same with a Snickers. It's actually the same height and width, only not as long. I wonder if this is because mouth feel and texture relate to ratio of size and taste, and if that is something that chocolate bar manufacturers take into account. How about those mini M&M's? The tiny ones. Those are miniaturizations of big M&M's, unlike the smaller packages of M&M's that individually are the same size as the big version.

So here's the true test. Compare a BITE of each fun-size bar with its bigger counterpart. Kit Kat, Snickers, Coffee Crisp, and Smarties are all identical. Therein I give you: not miniature.

Why is it that I am surrounded by people at concerts who are taking crazy long videos in portrait format? I mean, obviously you should be enjoying the show through your own damn eyes, but the video you're producing is going to be terrible because computer and television screens are not portrait layout. They're landscape. Every day I see another dummy filming something without turning their phone 90 degrees. It's so simple and it makes me so mad!

I should note here that it is completely acceptable to film Snapchats in portrait mode. If the final outcome is going to be viewed on a phone, the ONLY device that can be turned to suit its content, you may film in the orientation that is best suited to the content. I even saw an ad for it on the streets of New York this weekend.

I don't know what this ad is for, but it seems like a public service announcement to me. Go90!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekly Update: Battles

Music: Battles
I had the pleasure of seeing a New York-based experimental rock band called Battles on Thursday night. What a show! I had been following the since 2007's Mirrored, and always loved the second track, Atlas. Being able to hear it live was nothing short of wonderous. And even though they're the type of band to use gibberish and made-up words as lyrics, everyone was singing along anyway. My only gripe was that I had arrived early to be at the front and was met with a drum kit right in my face. The earplugs I had with me were decidedly not going to save me from a bass drum being smacked just inches from my nose, so I was forced to move back. But still, a great show with lots of energy. Check out the video I snapped of Ice Cream below:

The bike has been ridden (twice!) and Joshua Davis' second Skillshare has begun. I love his crazy personality, it really makes the lesson all the more watchable. And since this lesson uses Processing to make animations as opposed to static sketches, I am loving the hypnotic patterns I've been creating. Here's a gif!

I'll be doing some more of the Skillshare class tonight and tomorrow, since I'm going to New York on Thursday! I'll also be riding my bike tonight since this is the only chance I'm going to get this week.

I've been thinking that I'd like to at least start some experimental visualizations to music with Processing. It may not be the best tool to use, but at least I know the coding language and it is possible. Then, after that, I might try to find software that is more of an industry standard. All this will be highly related to the Skillshare, so it's coming up after that.

Imagine if the gif above was synchronized to a weird drum beat! So cool.

Random Thought: The New TTC Streetcar

I was riding on one of the new streetcars the other day (how fun!) and I was lucky enough to experience an enlightening social phenomenon. While these new streetcars are quite a bit larger than their old dusty counterparts, rush hour cannot be vanquished so easily. And so the streetcar was packed. As you may or may not know, a rider can enter the streetcar at any door (at least on a proof-of-payment route such as this one), and pay at a machine by inserting their token or tapping their presto card and receiving a paper transfer in return. But as I said, this was a sardine-style streetcar. As people got on, they could not hope to manoeuvre their way to the other side of the streetcar where the payment machine lives.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Why is the payment machine on the opposite side of the streetcar from the door? Everyone without a Metropass has to use it to pay! But it actually alleviates a blockage at the entrances of the streetcars, and allows for the wonderful phenomenon to which I referenced one short paragraph ago. A man got onto this packed streetcar with a token in hand (one of my favourite things to witness – he didn't have to dig into his pockets or man-purse while elbowing other riders), and simply asked the man closest to him to pass the token along to a rider near the machine. I believe about four or five riders assisted the man by passing along the token, and subsequently passing back the transfer. It was a wonder to behold. Everyone was smiling as he got his transfer back, and if there had been room to move our arms, we might have broken out into applause.

Isn't it wonderful when design (intentionally or not) allows for the opportunity to make our lives better by forcing us to interact with each other? Team building exercises on transit! Maybe I'm onto something.

Inspiration: Augmented Reality Colouring Books

Disney has created a new experience in our favourite childhood activity. While kids these days seem to be more interested in screens and digital toys, Disney's team in Zurich notes that colouring books are one of the best ways to ignite a child's creativity at an early age. So, how do we get kids interested in what now seems like a boring, drab activity without any screens or digitization? We add screens and digitization!

From FastCo:
As a child fills in a cartoon character on the page, the app—making use of the camera on a smartphone or tablet—scans the colors and patterns they create to fill in a 3-D animated model of that same character within the app. Since a drawing is 2-D, the algorithm can also intelligently extrapolate patterns and color to parts of the 3-D model otherwise unrepresented in the drawing—for example, by coloring an elephant's back the same color as its front.
What a great idea – and something I would want to use, too! I just wonder what happens if you colour outside the lines. Maybe you want to give the elephant a sword or a lollipop! The technology will have to catch up to our imaginations (which might be impossible).