Monday, February 12, 2018

Charly Bliss, Evolving Products & Japanese Mascots

Weekly Update 2018-07: The twee vocals and grungy guitar of Charly Bliss, balancing changes with the needs and wants of users who rely on your digital product, and cute Japanese mascots for pretty much whatever you want from Mondo Mascots.

Music: Charly Bliss
The perfect mixture of catchy pop hooks and grungy garage rock is the essence of Charly Bliss. Lead singer and guitarist Eva Hendricks is blessed with a delightfully high-toned voice that I can't get enough of. I usually don't go for vocals that sound so close to ‘twee,’ but Hendricks' voice mixed with the minor guitar licks and smooth harmonizing from the other band members (Hendricks' brother, ex-boyfriend and BFF – all male, and three different people, of course) come together to create some earworms I just want to sing into my hairbrush until I'm late for work.

Favourite tracks off their debut album Guppy include Westermarck (about an ex-lover of Hendricks who fell for a second cousin he had never met before who came to stay with him), Black Hole and DQ (about peeing on a trampoline).

Catch Charly Bliss at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on May 19.

Finally this week at work I began the wireframing stages of the big project I'm working on. I've done visual design for other projects at work since I started, but this particular project is so large that it's been a bit slow-going. Anyway, I have a feeling this week will go pretty quick because I've laid out a really good thorough grid system in Sketch and have a good idea of what symbols and type styles I want to use. I don't think I've ever been this prepared for an interface design project before.

Literally in the middle of writing this blog post, I achieved the fastest Bunz trade in all my days. From the offer (made by the other bun) to facilitating the pickup and making the trade, about 17 minutes passed. It is truly wonderful to live in the city epicentre of Bunz. I feel like the whole West End is my closet sometimes. By the way, the trade was two of my enamelware pots for her graphic novel - which I am pretty excited to read. Apparently Time Magazine named it #1 graphic novel of its year and #8 of the decade overall.

Blankets by Craig Thompson. It's about 600 pages!

Obviously I'll be nose-deep in Illustrator this week, but that's boring to write about.

I'd also like to make a batch of pulled pork, since Facebook has been reminding me of this time last year when I made one (that I had traded for on Bunz of course), and actually get around to following some cool people on Twitter. If you have any recommendations for who to follow, I'm all ears!

Random Thought:
Should a product try to change to meet the evolving needs of people? Or should it stay in safety within the realm of the service for which it was originally designed? I think about this pretty much every time a popular app or website makes a large design/experience change. Recently, Snapchat came out with an update to their friend feed that changed the order from chronological to algorithm-based (similar to my least favourite update to Instagram).

I don't use Snapchat, but I have seen so many people angrily posting about the change on other social platforms that I decided to research to see what the change was. In my scour of Twitter, I could not find a single person who defended the change. Of course, that doesn't mean the change is bad. And the change itself does not come packaged with a requirement that the Snapchat Product team divulge their research or reasoning for making the change. Heck, if Facebook repealed every change to their Newsfeed that people immediately hated, we wouldn't even have a Newsfeed. We'd still be writing on each other's walls like savages (heh, get it?).

All of that said, I'd argue that it was brave for Snapchat to take a risk since it's one of the only platforms currently giving the big companies in Silicon Valley a run for their money. With Instagram and Facebook coldly stealing all of Snapchat's innovative ideas and throwing money at them until their experiences are better, Snapchat knows it has to stay agile to keep up. What I don't understand is why they would employ a feature that Instagram had previously implemented, which is consistently disliked even to this day. I'm interested to see how this plays out for Snapchat because even though I am too old and crotchety to use their app, I'm still rooting for that weird ghost guy.

Inspiration: Mondo Mascots
In case you want to trade Twitter account recommendations, let me open your eyes to the world of Mondo Mascots. Amongst everything else that's weird and wonderful about Japan is their abundance of cartoon characters that I want to collect and keep in my pocket. It seems like the country contains a mascot for pretty much everything - from sporting events (basic) to food products to hospitals.

By the way, all of these are from the past 48 hours. There is so much content here. Mondo's Twitter account states: “Chronicling the weird and wonderful world of Japanese mascots, from the front lines in Tokyo. ゆるキャラが大好きなイギリス人です。”

I implore you to check out the feed, or at least my favourite one of them all:

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