Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Florist, The Spotify Limit & Jane's Walks

Weekly Update 2018-19: I hit the upper limit of Spotify's Library feature - did you know such a limit even existed?! New York-based band Florist graces us with tunes as we explore the limit of Spotify's love and a bunch'a Jane's Walks in the glorious sunlight.

A tiny Jane Jacobs doll hanging out with us on our Jane's Walk through the Don Valley River Path.

Music: Florist
I made a last minute decision to see Frankie Cosmos this weekend at the Rec Room. I eventually convinced myself to go, half for the amazing music and half just to see what a big, glorified Dave & Busters could offer as a venue for what I like to call "sad girl music". It was a strange time.

Florist opened the show for Frankie Cosmos, and I really enjoyed their music. They wrote their own bio on Spotify (which I haven't seen before and I read a lot of Spotify bios), so I'll let them do the talking:
Florist is a friendship project that was formed in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate, New York in 2013 by Emily Sprague, Jonnie Baker, and Rick Spataro. Felix Walworth of Told Slant has also been a frequent collaborator.
They're so cute I could die.

Just a trio of friends, making cute music together and putting good feelings out into the world. How can that be anything but awesome?

Favourite tracks include Vacation and Blue Mountain Road.

With much help from my friend Sasha, I dredged through the process of setting up this computer to be able to make updates to my portfolio site. I'd really like to perform an accessibility audit on my website as well, as there are some usability issues with it that could easily be fixed. Now that I know so much about it, I want to put my learnings into practice.

On a whim, I attended a show at Rec Room on Saturday. As mentioned above, Frankie Cosmos headlined with Florist as the opener. I consider it an accomplishment of considerable proportions because:
  1. It was hella far away and raining, and I still biked there and back home
  2. The venue is a bit of a strange one, sort of a glorified Dave & Busters with a music venue in the corner. It was sort of a sensory overload, especially so for the music of Frankie Cosmos. Specifically, the sounds of the arcade and sports bar section of the building were spilling into the room. Really, really bad acoustics.
I'm glad I checked it out, but I don't know if I'll ever see a quiet show there again. The venue seems to lend itself better to shows with more of a party attitude.

That same morning (and the next day) was Toronto's annual weekend for Jane's Walks (free walking tours led by neighbourhood experts in all topics and locations). More on the walks below.

I also completed a huge project at work, one I had been working on since I started this job! This felt really well timed as I was just thirsting after a change, so now I have a bunch of little projects which definitely keeps things interesting. This project's next phase is set to begin at some point in the next few months, so I have some time to pursue other goals like learning CRO from our analytics lead and this really cool international project that just came down the pipeline.

The meetups begin to roll in. On Thursday I am attending one on the upcoming provincial election and issues relating to women's rights at a really cool coworking space down the street from my office. I have been wanting to check it out; it's called Lemonade and they seem to have lemonade on tap or something. Very cute. Check out the event here.

And if that weren't all, this weekend is the very magical annual weekend of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival at the Toronto Reference Library. I have a handful of friends tabling, which is such an intense experience that I will do my best to bring them snacks when I visit on Saturday. Plus lots of money to spend on pretty books and enamel pins (maybe...I have sooooo many).

Of course Sunday is Mother's Day, upon which I will be treating my mother to a walking tour of the western lakeshore/Harbourfront, a trip to the Power Plant art gallery, dinner, and a documentary at Hot Docs cinema. Literally all her favourite things to do downtown, except maybe if the documentary was on the rooftop of an abandoned school or something. I was also going to get her a subscription to Azure Magazine, but oh boy I see our similarities because she bought it for herself before I could do so. So she's gonna have to settle for something from the Harbourfront gift shop.

On Monday, I want to spend some time gathering together all the assets from the project that just completed at work. Not only do I need some time to reflect on my learnings and processes, but I also want to collect some pieces for my files so I can look back on the work. I am really proud of it but I feel like the development agency is going to mess it up so I'd rather keep it the way it is right now.

A stretch goal is to start the accessibility audit of my own website, though that'll probably need to be next week.

Random Thought: Spotify's Limit to your Library (Love)
I have sung praises for Spotify in many ways on this blog, but I seem to have hit an insurmountable wall. I have been copying over iTunes playlists that I made back in the day (for the nostalgia and because the early 2000s was a great time for indie rock, of course), and "saving" old favourite albums to my Spotify library as I come across them. When I was trying to save an Interpol album, I came across this message:

Thanks for the backhanded compliment on my "epic collection", Spotify.

After researching this in the Spotify Help Forum, I found that Spotify does not allow libraries of more than 10,000 songs. A reply from Spotify states:
...less than 1% of users are reaching this Your Music limit. The current limit ensures a great experience for 99% of users instead of an "OK" experience for 100%. 
Spotify doesn't explain exactly how the experience would lessen if users were allowed to surpass the 10,000 song limit, especially considering apparently only 1% of their 140 million users would reach this limit in the first place. Too bad I am one of them. 

I have mixed feeling about this. At first I was really pissed because I have over 10,000 songs in my iTunes library (which I haven't updated since 2015, by the way), and there's no limit that I know of within iTunes. Though of course it's one of the slowest desktop applications I have ever used, so maybe that's saying something. 

On the other hand, I almost never access my Spotify library directly. I access playlists, which can be composed of saved and unsaved music, so I guess I don't really see what the true point of saving music (or my newfound inability to save music) is in the Spotify world. If I search for a song in the global search bar, I'm pretty sure that saved music and "following" artists will appear first, so I'd be missing out on that feature, but it's really not a huge deal when I already know the name of what I am searching for.

I'll also take a quick moment here and mention the copy treatment for this message - since the impact behind it is quite detrimental (I now cannot save any more music to my Spotify library for the rest of my life - a major feature has now been disabled for me), it's interesting that they've chosen to begin the message with a compliment. It reads to me as, "Hey, you've got a big appetite for music and we recognize that! Too bad we can't allow you to collect any more music without removing some". And they call me, the user, their "friend". Well...are we still friends after this squabble? Maybe.

All I can say is that this reminds me that even if I were to think of my usage of Spotify as a meaningful relationship (yes, with an application), then this would be a clear limitation to that relationship. Spotify truly has a limit to its love for me.

Inspiration: Jane's Walks
I attended four walks this year:
  • The Don Valley River Path/Park - a beautiful biking trail along the river that is being continually revitalized in partnership with Evergreen Brickworks
  • The Treasures and history of Ossington Avenue from Queen to Dundas (an area I frequent quite often)
  • Stories of Spadina Kensington Market's Jewish roots
  • The history of buildings within Trinity Bellwoods Park including six bridges, a brewery, a university, and residences for young women and their children (and a 200-year-old tree)
The Don Valley River Path was especially lovely; the weather was nice and I have always wanted to bike that path. One weekend day soon I will do it. I was especially inspired by how the city has been able to reclaim some of its natural landscape with the Brickworks - nestled in the valley between some major highways, there are biking paths and hiking trails and gardens spreading out all around the area.

I really like the undersides of bridges. This is the Bloor Viaduct bridge.

I was also really inspired by the walk through Trinity Bellwoods Park, which I frequent but never knew once housed a university and a brewery (way before Bellwoods Brewery came along). I really enjoyed the way the speaker presented his information as a passing-down of oral history. He implored us to pass along the information orally as well (which I have done, this is just a bonus of course). I love that sort of thing - passing along history through verbal storytelling. It makes me feel like an active part of it, rather than just reading it off a page or screen.

The point of Jane's Walks (at least to me) is to get out into your neighbourhood a brush shoulders with others while enjoying public spaces and nature. And I did all of that. There are a couple more coming up in the next few weekends (even though the official weekend is over), so my fun continues on!

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