Monday, December 25, 2017

Final Update for 2017!

Weekly Update 2017-52: I can't believe it's been three whole years of updates. Get ready for my annual best-of post!

Music: Disc Van
One of the pivotal events of my year was definitely my summer trip to Portland. I have a sneaking suspicion that Spotify is somehow tracking my Facebook posts because it happened to produce one of my all-time favourite playlists as the Discover Weekly for the week of my trip. I saved it as "Discover Vancouver" - or Disc Van for short, to sound edgy and include Portland (since I was visiting both cities, and Portland is known for small-space kooky living, such as in a van). Pretty lame, but the music remains really good. I occasionally add to it, but generally come back to it every month or so to reminisce about the cool people and food of that trip. Check it out and relive with me:

Featuring the bands of my summer: Ought, Part Time, Boris, Gonjasufi, Whitney and Preoccupations.

This year, I got a lot of things done. I did a number of things that really scared me like biking in the winter (and taking a fall like a champion), switching jobs (while taking a break in between), and making a lot of changes that I never really had the nerve to do before. I'd say the scariest thing was probably giving myself permission to take a break when I was pretty burnt out earlier this year. I focused on enjoying the summer and regaining my creative spark, and did a lot of other stuff:
  • Went to Osheaga in Montreal
  • Went fishing with my dad
  • Went camping with TDot Batu
  • Went to the nude beach on Toronto island
  • Took a class on communication skills with Erika (How To Talk To People About Things)
  • Wrote my D’var Torah, learned to chant Torah, and had my Bat Mitzvah
  • Celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the synagogue with my family
  • Went to the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at the AGO with my mom
  • Attended a bunch of design meetups
  • Had coffee chats with design people that I met at meetups
  • Visited a bunch of cool offices for interviews
  • Honed my interview skills (a lot)
  • Attended EDIT
  • Went to New York for Open House New York
While I still believe 2017 was a dumpster fire on a global scale, my year was pretty fulfilling and I have high hopes for 2018. I also cooked a lot of stuff, which I hope to continue next year!

Yes, it's an enamel pin by Hella Cool Kids :)

On a smaller scale, this week I have been cleaning the apartment like crazy for Erika's arrival back home (tonight). I've been organizing with some new systems and cooking too. I made a meat pie with a potato crust (it came to me in a dream):

My food pictures never turn out very well but this tasted amaaaazing.

Thinking about next year, I'd like to do a Trampoline Hall talk in 2018. Since I began attending the monthly event in 2016, I've always wanted to. I have been hesitant to ask Misha if he can pull some strings but since we're Facebook friends now, maybe it isn't such a big deal to ask. I think more public speaking ventures would be good for me in terms of honing my communication skills, not to mention the thought of doing it scares me. This means I know it would be a good growing experience.

This week, I'll be updating the typography and user experience of my blog, as much as I can anyway. In terms of the big blog redesign project, I am going to stick with the author-based interface I have for the moment. I don't have the patience or time at the moment to give that up in favour of a better reader-based experience. I would like to eventually tackle the bigger issue, but I'm thinking small and manageable for now.

I'm also going to make a lasagna! Because I make one every six months or so and it's just that time of year again. And yes, hearts of palm are definitely going on top again. Yum yum!

Random Thought:
I generated a word cloud for my most used words in Facebook stati (statuses?) this year. Considering I share all my blog titles as Facebook posts, it's an interesting look into the things I thought and wrote about this year.

This could make a good poem, just reading the words aloud in any random order.

Inspiration: The Art of Crowdsourcing Data
This has become increasingly true as time goes on: using data from real users of a product to influence and enhance its features and capabilities. Sort of like a chicken-and-egg theory, it's always best to use information gathered from users to make product-based decisions. Since it can be difficult to obtain this information via testing and interview procedures for various reasons, I have always loved the way some companies bake the user testing and monitoring into their products. Two birds with one stone: monitor product usage to understand behaviours.

And why do all of this? Because incorporating user data into meaningful product decisions is the difference between a good product and a great product.

Sometimes user data can do what other sources of information can't do with current infrastructure. Take the Transit App for example: inviting users to share their transit journey in real time with other riders so they know when the bus is coming.

And much like Nicolas Felton's annual reports, I'm attempting to catalog my life. I don't have a ton of personal data, but I do use the Moves app to log my cycling time this summer. I biked all the way from April 1 deep into December, pretty much until the first permanent snowfall. After downloading the .CSV files for 2017, I found that I burned 44,110 calories biking this year! And not one bit of it felt like work.

Well, it's been a sort of bumpy year but I think it turned out really nicely in the end. Here's to another year of weekly updates and thanks to you, the reader, for reading!

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