Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spoon, Home Screen Icons & Bunz Flea

Weekly Update 2017-13: The talent and awesomeness of Spoon, wondering how to arrange my phone's home screen icons, and trading up a storm at the Bunz Flea.

Music: Spoon
I honestly can't believe I haven't blogged about one of my all-time favourite bands, going on ten years of fandom around this point. Straight outta Austin comes this rock band with a lovely range of sub-sounds within the wide genre, and led by frontman Britt Daniel (who also once sang for a since-deceased supergroup called the Divine Fits - RIP). They have a new album out and with each passing listen, I grow more fond of it. Think, pop music that has enough of an edge not to be a guilty pleasure and makes you feel cool when you belt out the lyrics. Listen:

If you love them as much as me, you can catch them at Massey Hall in July with Cherry Glazerr. How nice!

I've been hard at work on my Chai Mitzvah studies, especially thinking about what Passover means to me. I also enrolled in classes for Chanting Torah, so that I can sing as I read and really do the prayers justice. It's basically the next step in learning Hebrew, which is awesome!

I also went for a run yesterday since the weather was so lovely out. Unfortunately I realized that my running headphones are busted on one side (big surprise - this is always what happens to my headphones) so I'll have to get a new pair.

On a whim, I submitted my personal freelance business card design to a design show celebrating the analog process of exchanging business cards. This is definitely something that appeals to my sensibilities and love of analog processes (even if googling someone is technically easier to do). Business cards are such a fun way to express creativity and provide a nicely structured (and deliciously limited) format for self expression. I only heard about this event on the final submission day, and submitted in a slight panic, but I was accepted!

So feel free to come out on the opening night: Thursday April 6 from 7:00-11:00pm, and see all the wonderful cards! It's even promoted on BlogTO :)

This week, I'm going to take my bike in for a spring tune-up (yay!), drop off my business cards for the show next week, finish the research on Passover for my Chai Mitzvah, play a dodgeball game (finally one early enough that I don't have to miss drumming), book a bonfire for my birthday, and create a Spotify Family account so my five closest friends and I can all save a little money on music.

Random Thought:
You may be familiar (in theory or more likely in practice) with the areas of your smartphone that are easier to reach than others. This is actually a theory that was first researched by Steven Hoober, who came up with a sort of hotspot system to display the best way to use screen real estate when designing apps for the best usability. In other words: don't place highly-used items or touchpoints in areas of the screen that are hard to reach.

Image courtesy of Luke Wroblewski

I was looking at the setup of my friend's iPhone home screen the other day, wondering how much thought he'd put into the placement of all his app icons. It seems that from user to user, I haven't been able to find much consistency in app icon placement beyond that of the dock at the bottom. Of course, I could test out a bunch of different arrangements for myself, but I feel like there is so much data of iPhone users already that if only Apple would scrape that data to find the best placements, life would be so much easier. Yes, I know this is such a seemingly arbitrary thing, but it's really the design of the little things in life that make it joyful. And who doesn't want more joy?

Inspiration: Bunz Flea
It's no secret that I have an unending love for Bunz Trading Zone. They host some organized events from time to time, just to further ease the process of getting rid of your old crap in favour of lovely new (if gently used) things. The Bunz Flea is one of those events, held at the Gladstone every so often. Artistic and craft vendors come to set up booths of their lovely handmade things, and will even post about items they'd like to trade for ahead of time so that you can be the owner of these items in exchange for your own random crap! So it's just like Bunz, but all centralized to one location and with cute artisanal items. And a bar.

To my extreme joy, a man who makes lovely handmade earrings and pendants was in search of NES games in exchange for his wares. I had been having some emotional trouble in parting with my extra copy of M.C. Kids due to its rarity and general special-ness to my heart, but as soon as I met him I knew he would be the right person to trade it to. He told me about how his mother at home in Newfoundland keeps his NES console so that when he goes to visit in the summer, he can relive his childhood much like my (somewhat shorter) pilgrimmage to Richmond Hill to do the same.

And so, Gavin and I made the trade. He gave me some lovely handmade earrings in exchange.

I also traded a beer for a lovely vintage ombre plant pot, a bag of loose tea leaves for a vintage letterman sweater, a pair of Apple Earbuds for two excellent enamel pins, and some tokens for a “Nasty Woman” patch. Because everyone has to know.

I would recommend the next instalment of this event to everyone! I don't know the exact date but you can find out more and stay tuned by checking out the Facebook event page.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mount Kimbie, Green Beer & Arcade Games

Weekly Update 2017-12: Mount Kimbie pushes music boundaries with their carbonated electronic sounds while I drink carbonated green beer and try to get a little silver ball through a cartoon beer bubble hole.

Music: Mount Kimbie
I found this band while listening to a Spotify Album Radio for BADBADNOTGOOD's album IV, which is a masterpiece in and of itself but also provides excellent suggestions for other musical discoveries. Mount Kimbie is an electronic duo out of England with an interestingly eerie sound. They have some elements of pop mixed with dance beats, but also some weird ambient stuff and sound really pared down at times. I'd say their music is really experimental but somehow always works really well. They even have a song called Carbonated that samples either the sound of soda fizzing in a glass, or something that sounds exactly like that. But I really want to show you the song that got me into them:

It's been a long time since I've made “chlasserole,” probably the easiest and most delicious thing in my cooking repertoire, so this weekend I pretty much ate an entire casserole to myself. It definitely felt right.

A post shared by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I also played my very first live show with TDot Batu on repique, and I have to say I killed it. I definitely made a lot of mistakes, but the parts that I actually knew how to play were solid. And I found five bucks on the ground at the venue, so technically I got paid! Why do I always seem to find money on the ground when I play shows with this band? It's really weird.

I've actually begun a critique session at work with the other two designers in my department. We take an hour every other Friday afternoon to discuss personal work unrelated to EventMobi. There are many benefits to this (including for EventMobi as well). We already work so well together that I thought it might be nice to see how each other work in other media beyond product design (or even just beyond the constraints of EventMobi). Other than the obvious benefits of taking a refreshed look at design, building our critique skills, and improving the pieces themselves, we learn more about each other as people and grow even closer as a design team. Which, in turn, allows us to produce better work. We are a well-oiled team.

Knowing that this critique session was looming actually gave me the motivation to work on the colours and branding of FriendCanoe. Here's a sampling of what I have right now:

Complete with new face empty states from last week! Still needs some work though...

And finally, I really went outside my comfort zone this week and attended the drumming practice of one of the other Brazilian drumming bands in Toronto (yes, there are at least five that I know of!) to see what that was like. They're all really nice and talented. This band is called Bloco Loco, and they play a Samba style of music which is different from TDot Batu's Bahia-based style of Samba Reggae. There are certainly some similarities, but this music includes my new favourite instrument: the tamborim.

It's kind of like a tiny American-style tamborine, but uses a stick similar to a kit brush to hit it to make sound instead of your palm. And there are no little cymbals. I feel like it almost acts as the repique of the Samba band because it has such a high-pitched sound that works really fast above the low beats of the surdos. But alas, I was not skilled enough to try the tamborim (this band is incredibly skillful) so I played segunda (a big surdo that acts as the base beat for the rest of the band to work over). It was awesome but another difference with this style is that all the drums are played over the shoulder, and my drum is HEAVY so I am feeling the pain today. Better stick to a nice, light repique for the time being.

Other than continually studying the new repique parts for TDot Batu this week, I'd like to get some work done for my Chai Mitzvah class. Specifically, I'd like to finish the Shabbat and Passover content of my research into something polished for the book I am making. Eventually, when all the content for all five holidays is done, I'll start thinking about the visuals and layout of the book. Gotta lay the groundwork first!

Random Thought: Green Beer
What is it about St. Patrick's Day that makes us want to drink green beer? I mean, I know the obvious answer: everything has to be green (and sometimes orange) themed for the holiday. Makes sense that far. But for all the beer that some people drink on the holiday, and the amount of food colouring it takes to turn beer the correct emerald shade of green, that's an insane amount of food colouring.

A post shared by Chloe Silver (@chloesil) on

I thought about this as I drank the beer you see above, with so much food colouring in it that it turned my friend's hand green (and he wasn't even drinking green beer – it gets everywhere). There's just something so satisfying about a holiday you can consume, I suppose. I feel much the same way about Passover (which is coming up soon!), a holiday that is closely tied between the story and the foods we eat. I suppose a good way to celebrate a holiday is to internalize it, and what better way to internalize that the literal act of consuming. In any case, let's just say I was reminded of this ONE glass of green beer for many bathroom visits over the weekend. Sorry.

Inspiration: Ice Cold Beer
After a somewhat dizzying first venture to Tilt, Toronto's newest in a slew of arcade-themed bars, I was tricked into a second visit to the place on St. Patrick's Day. I must admit that perhaps the trick is to not become too inebriated before entering the bar, but rather to adjust slowly to all the dazzling lights and sounds so that one can become accustomed to, and perhaps even empowered by all the distraction and finally win that game of Bobby Orr-themed pinball.

But I digress, amogst all the pinball gams and digital arcade games, one reigns supreme over them all. And it's deceptively simple. It's called Ice Cold Beer, and involves two joysticks each controlling one side of a horizontal metal bar. Balancing on the bar is a ball bearing, which two people have to work together to angle properly into the correct hole on the backdrop. As I said before, deceptively simple.

I absolutely love the simplicity of this game. Not only is it deliciously analog, it's so charming I could die. Anyone can understand how it works within the first time playing it, and it's extremely addicting. And, best of all, it's inexplicably art nouveau-themed!

Just after we made it to the 5-hole. When you lose all your lives, the little screen flashes “OOPS”. So charming!

I can't think of a better way to spend my St. Patrick's Day than drinking beer and playing beer-related arcade games with my friends!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Steady Holiday, Forgiveness & Girls

Weekly Update 2017-11: The lovely voice of Steady Holiday, Grace Hopper and her thoughts on forgiveness, and the weird twists and turns of the tv show Girls.

Music: Steady Holiday
I am so lucky to have found such intense lady power in my music in the past little while. Steady Holiday is a delightful band fronted by the lovely Dre Babinski. Her music is dripping with emotion, but somehow restrained. It's spooky, sad, joyful and angry. Sometimes all at the same time. I was lucky enough to see her open for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah this past week at the Horseshoe, and she killed it. She's also really good at power-clashing her clothes. Well done.

As I foreshadowed with a sketch on Instagram last week, I have completed the face empty states for FriendCanoe! Yep, that's what all the little doodles were about. It was nice to take some time to do a bit of illustration. I challenged myself to work with mostly circles and curves to build these faces, and to provide a different emotion for each one. But I'll let you decide what those emotions are. It's more fun that way!
I also finally scanned in some typography from my sketchbook. Just not too sure what I want to do with the sketches. You'll see some of them soon, if all goes well.

Finally, on a health note, I have been feeling a lot of back pain lately. I went to a physiotherapist about a year ago, and recently rediscovered the stretching guide she gave me. It has ten stretches to perform daily to strengthen my back muscles, and by George I'm going to try to do them every day until my back stops hurting. I have realized as I get older that exercise isn't just about vanity, but it keeps your body in check and able to do the things you demand of it every day. Wow, am I getting old?

This week I'd like to start thinking about colours for FriendCanoe, now that I've got some momentum from the faces. I'm also going to finish cleaning out my hard drives.

Perhaps I'll vectorize one of my typography sketches and see what comes of that. 

Random Thought:
I hear the same advice from time to time and never really stopped to think about it, until now. People often tell me that it's easier to do something and ask for forgiveness later rather than asking for permission first.

So who was Grace Hopper? Quite an amazing lady. She coined this and many other common phrases, was the developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language, and at the end of her service she was the oldest serving officer in the United States Navy. Hopper was a glorious lady, always looking for new ways of doing things. She said, “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that. That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

While I am a big fan of Hopper and her lifestyle, I suppose I started off feeling a bit squicky about her quote. If you think that a person may hesistate to give you permission to do something, wouldn't it be disrespectful to do that thing anyway? The chances of them forgiving you seem low enough to risk their feelings being hurt, or worse.

On the topic of forgiveness, it's kind of a difficult concept to put into practice. It seems somewhat unfair to expect forgiveness from someone, as it's not an easy thing to do for a lot of people. Myself, I have been struggling with forgiveness pretty much my whole life. I've only recently come to terms with the reality of true forgiveness of someone who has hurt you.

The more I thought about it, I realized that many people don't have a good concept of what's good for them. I know that some of the best experiences I've had have happened by chance or because someone (who cares about me) has pushed me to do something I was hesitant about. I'm not completely sold on the idea, but I think there's more credibility to this piece of advice than I originally thought.

Inspiration: Girls
Well, this is a weird one. It has been quite the guilty pleasure to absorb myself in all six seasons of HBO's Girls, a show that I often cringe, yell, and tsk my teeth at as I watch. I can't really say what about it has been entertaining to me beyond the clothing and set design (often my favourite part of any television or film), as the characters are quite vapid and in my opinion, give a bad name to hard-working, intelligent and kind young people who happen to be approaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

Yes, the term “millenial” has been made to feel rather dirty in the past decade or so, and I have often wondered whether Lena Dunham has been helping or hurting the stigma associated with people my age. While I certainly don't identify with the characters on the show, in fact I sometimes abhor them, I have come to realize with the episodes of the final season of the show that Dunham is trying to dig deeper than the shallow storylines of the earlier seasons. Where once her character Hannah would cry over being denied an allowance from her parents to bail her out of a stupid decision (you're a grown-ass person now!), she is currently exploring her agency as a female writer and as a feminist. And while I still find many of her antics downright disgusting, I can attest without any spoilers that Dunham is exploring issues that align with my own life at the moment.

For example, Hannah spends an entire ‘bottle episode’ in the apartment of a famous author and one of her personal role models. She takes the half hour exploring whether she could see the side of this author, who has come under fire from young women accusing him of sexual assault. While he appears to be innocent, convincing and bashful, the somewhat shocking end of the episode remains poignant that misogyny is still rampant, even if carefully hidden behind silky words and kind smiles.

In today's world, I see importance in women finding strong role models in other women. We need to see things from a perspective other than the one that's been rammed down our throats our whole lives. And if I have to get it from Lena Dunham, at least I'm getting it somewhere.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nicolas Jaar, Festival Poster Hierarchy & Subway Benches

Weekly Update 2017-10: Hypnotic Chilean-inspired electronic music from Nicolas Jaar, capitalized bands on festival posters, and the beauty of Montreal's subway benches.

Music: Nicolas Jaar
Born in New York but brought up with roots in Chile, you can taste the Latin elements in Jaar's amazing experimental electronic sounds. Using sound bites, sythesized beats and natural tones, he somehow makes even the simplest compositions into hypnotic tunes that I just can't seem to get enough of. I especially like the way he pares down songs, sometimes leaving large gaps of silence for dramatic effect. It works really well. Check out this song off one of his older EPs.

I took another page out of my book of being more open to things, and took a trip to Markham on Friday to see Balé Folclórico da Bahia, an amazing Brazilian Batucada from Bahia (just like my band). It was so inspirational. They had drumming (of course), dancing, some sort of acting-skits, singing, and even (tastefully) topless ladies! There was really something for everyone. I was actually caught a little off guard by the nudity, especially considering most of the people in the audience were old white people. But everyone seemed to enjoy it.

I also organized all my photos, but just need another hard drive or something to back them up twice. Gotta be careful since they're probably the only digital thing I own that is truly irreplaceable.

I've been dragging my feet a while on the FriendCanoe colours, so I think for this week I'd like to take a step back and find some good colour/branding inspiration in other apps. Hopefully that'll be a good starting place to really get the cogs turning. I'll also be working on some original empty states for faces, because the original ones are actually placeholders created by someone else.

I'd also like to clean my main portable hard drive, as it has become a sort of dumping ground without much organization in the past while.

I'd also like to scan in some old typography projects I was working on and create an online resource of them. This is all in the process to get back into hand-lettering and bring some art/craft back into my increasingly digital world.

Random Thought:
I've been noticing lately that some bands have been spelling their names purposefully with all capital letters. I suppose I first noticed it with the onset of MGMT around 2005, but they had good reason because their name is the short form of a real word. Now you've got bands like BANKS, TOKiMONSTA, HOME, EZRA, and more. While I suppose the main benefit of these LOUD band names is that they stand out from others with more conservative use of upper/lowercase, it's really more detrimental than anything.

If all the letters of a name are capitalized, I actually find a word much harder to read. Lowercase letters allow for a more unique shape of a word, which makes it more legible. And now that so many bands are adopting this trend, none of them stand out. This follows the design rules that if everything is given priority, nothing has real priority.

That said, in these days of poor festival hierarchy to begin with, where all the band names are capitalized anyway, I suppose it doesn't matter.

MGMT didn't stand a chance of standing out.

Inspiration: Montreal's Subway Benches
With the excitement of the Osheaga lineup, I began perusing the Montreal Blog website at length for no reason. It's a rabbit hole to the same degree that BlogTO is, and I found some lovely posts articling the culture and art that Montreal exhibits a little more than Toronto. For example, the subway benches at each stop are so individually unique and interesting that someone wrote a post about them. Just what I like to see.

Subway benches feel like a good design item to chronicle for a few reasons. They are easy to identify as successful or not from their image. It's easy to tell if a bench serves its purpose because we all know what a place to put our butts looks like. Of course we can't tell how comfortable a bench will be from a photo, but we can get a good idea. Also, since its one functional goal is somewhat simple, the bench is a great blank canvas upon which industrial designers can experiment and go a little crazy. On top of that, I would argue that designers SHOULD go a little crazy on subway benches because they should be as interesting as they are functional so that people can delight upon them while they wait for the train.

I know that sounds a little weird, but these benches make me feel happy. They're nice to look at, and from what I can see, they get the job done. I have been to some of these subway stations in my short life, and I can attest that my butt is still intact. Let that sentiment speak volumes, if you will.

View all the benches here.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Intelligent Commuter

As a constant commuter, I know the pain of travelling on a slow-moving bus in rush hour. If you're one of the lucky ones to even nab a seat, you're sitting, looking out the window, maybe listening to music...it's all pretty boring. I actually commuted four hours a day to work a 9-5 job for five months in 2015 (do the math - 4 hours x 5 days x 4.5 weeks x 5 months = 450 hours).

For the over-achievers-at-heart, this time can get a little frustrating – there's got to be a good use for this sort of ‘limbo time’. Odds are you can't move around, you can't use a big bulky computer, and you probably don't have reliable internet access. That instantly removes exercise, watching Netflix, doing your taxes, pretty much all the necessary things in life. What should you do to fill the time?

I've developed a list of activities that will make great use of your time if you happen to be in the same sorry situation I was once in. And, as many people experience motion sickness on moving vehicles (yours truly definitely included), all of these options are friendly to those who are easily disturbed by motion. You don't have to focus on your phone screen so you won't get sick, and you won't miss your stop! A bonus of this limitation is that if you happen to be a motorist, your need to concentrate on the road affords you the same situation as someone who is affected by motion sickness: being able to enjoy an activity without looking at your phone screen.

To recap, the parameters for which an activity will be held suitable to be conducted in-transit are as follows:

  • not necessary to concentrate vision on something (phone screen, page, etc.)
  • should not disturb others (loud sound, bulky equipment, brash movements, etc)
  • must be portable (easily continuable while making transfers between vehicles, while standing on buses)
  • should not require constant access to data/internet (download ahead of time, offline mode)
  • and of course, the activity should be mentally fulfilling in some way that will keep your brain from melting into mush on your rush-hour crawl home

1) Podcasts
I must admit, it took me a long time to get into podcasts. I feel I'm not alone in my original (incorrect) assumption of what podcasts were - a boring recorded conversation between two or more people, basically spending half the time laughing at their own inside jokes and the other half being empty silences because the producers don't bother to edit them properly. Who wants to listen to someone else's conversation in such a passive way? Certainly not me.

So, why not listen to a podcast that's well edited, has interesting content and gives you something interesting to talk about at the office water cooler? There are so many amazing podcasts out there, and I'd say that the hard part is finding one that suits your interest. In my research into a sliver of the expansive library of podcasts available online, here are my top picks:

The Moth
The Moth comes up every so often on my blog because I love it so dearly. If you're a fan of honest storytelling from all walks of life, this is the podcast for you. I've laughed, I've cried, I've gasped so loud that I scared an old lady sitting beside me on a crowded streetcar. All episodes are recorded at live events all over the world where anyone (not necessarily but sometimes professional storytellers) can take the stage to share an experience that happened to them. These “storyslams” are competitions where storytellers can compete for victory and the honour of the best story. Think, Humans of New York in podcast form.

If you become really attached to a story as I often do, you can supplement your listening with extra images and content accompanying each story on the Moth's website.

This image accompanied a story called My Life as a Guinea Pig.

99% Invisible
Another favourite and no stranger to my blog is 99% Invisible hosted by the talented Roman Mars. The podcast examines a new topic each week, every one stranger than the one before. Each subject follows a pattern of an extremely interesting and eclectic topic, phenomenon, piece of history or otherwise that you may never have heard of but are glad to know. Excellent fodder for the water cooler right here, covering architecture, infrastructure, design, culture, and more. Past episodes of note have included the best-designed city flags of the world, highway sound barriers and the evolution of noise, and a special episode called “Redesigning for Urban Death: From Flameless Cremation to Digital Afterlives.” How can you not want to know more?

Trampoline Hall
This podcast is the product of my favourite barroom lecture series. Trampoline Hall may have nothing to do with trampolines but it's still one of my favourite things. Each month, a lovely little bar called the Garrison plays host to three lecturers who each speak for ten minutes on a subject in which they must be an amateur. No professional topics here; only hobbies, musings and obsessions. While the talks themselves are wonderful, the true shining moment is the Q&A that follows each talk. The audience heats up, asking all sorts of questions, getting into arguments (sometimes between lecturer and audience member but often between two audience members), booing bad questions, and some excellent entertainment. The live show has been happening for 15 years, but the podcast was just launched in January 2017. For a relative newcomer to the live shows like me, the podcast offers a window into the archive of lectures since the live show's inception in 2001.

Each episode features one talk and its accompanying Q&A, as well as a slice of the delightful live show opening ramble by MC Misha Glouberman.

2) Audiobooks
If you're a bookworm at heart, you may want to check out audiobooks. I remember borrowing audiobooks on cassette tape from my local library when I was a kid. I think it all goes back to the human desire to hear someone tell you a story. To me, it's comforting and reminds me of childhood. Although of course, you can listen to almost any book on any subject so it's definitely not just for kids.

I personally find listening to audiobooks more preferable than reading books for a few reasons. First of all, they can live digitally in your phone so you don't have to worry about carrying a heavy book, especially ruining it with spilled coffee or missing the deadline to return it to the library. Listening to audiobooks also removes the need to actually look at the pages, so it's motion-sick and car-driving friendly.

During my five-month commute, I managed to polish off all five books of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) as read by the AMAZING Roy Dotrice. I really need to give this man a shout-out because he makes the books literally come alive. Dotrice actually holds the Guinness World Record for most character voices for an audio book – at an astounding 224 individual voices. Having watched the HBO series before digging into the audiobooks, it was immediately clear to me that the show's casting was highly based on the imaginative and colourful voices that Dotrice invented. As an old man, I am particularly impressed with his ability to impersonate female characters.

Dotrice was also given a role in the tv series, as Hallyne the Pyromancer

3) Music Ear Training
Thinking back to my high school years of music theory, I have fond memories of ear training courses with my music teacher. If you have an unexplainable hunger for music theory like myself and my coworker who has tried and tested this skill on the subway, why not learn some music ear training? Then, whenever someone asks you what notes make up a song, you'll be able to answer! Not that anyone will ever ask you or be able to tell if your answer is correct.

But all joking aside, you can use this skill to teach yourself you favourite songs on guitar and other instruments. There are many apps for this purpose, many of which work offline. Keep in mind that you'll probably be humming to yourself as you learn, so this activity isn't for people who are self-conscious.

For an app with a good offline experience, try Complete Ear Trainer.

4) Learn a new language
You may have heard of Duolingo as one of the most popular and successful apps for learning a new language. Duolingo provides users with bite-sized challenges to complete each day that involve listening and dictation exercises in your preferred language to learn. Of course, like Ear Training, the downside is that you'll have to be alright with having a conversation with your phone in front of a large number of people on a crowded bus. But that shouldn't be a problem, right?

My friend who uses Duolingo on her subway commute to work says that using it in offline mode works alright, but often the results of her tests are not saved and she has to complete levels more than once. I'd argue that while that is surely a bug that degrades the experience of the app, you could think of it as extra-curricular practice for your language that doesn't count toward your final score. After all, your main goal here is to practice a language, not to become a high scorer in a language-learning app. So really, you're getting the upper hand if you think about it.

Hopefully you find these suggestions useful along your commute. Or, if you begin to find that your commute becomes too stimulating or fruitful, you can always take a break and listen to music, download some television (preferably nothing NSFW in case someone is watching over your shoulder), or just take an old-fashioned nap.