Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Perfume Genius, Hand Tutorials & Experimental Features

Weekly Update 2019-01: All about watching others complete tasks to understand their behaviours and goals. It's not creepy, it's design! Necessary sad music from Perfume Genius, learning by watching hand tutorials and Spotify's experimental features.

Music: Perfume Genius
Commonly found on playlists with titles like "Sad Indie" and "Happy Cry Music", Perfume Genius has started to catch a wave with his range of soulful ballads and swaggering glam rock. Also know as Mike Hadreas, the Washington-based singer/songwriter brings forth topics of homophobia, sexuality, and domestic abuse with poetry, artful craft and often brutal honesty. Through pain, I get the feeling that Hadreas shares his catharsis with his audience. It makes for some special music.

I suggest starting with 2017's Grammy nominated No Shape and working backwards to earlier work.

I made a cute little ladder for my hoya!

She's got a lot more vertical energy going now.

I've also been trying to figure out the smart plug equation I mentioned last week. If This Then That actually doesn't support the idea of "two thises" aka two requirements needing to be met to trigger a "that". So I may have to see about a custom system like I've been reading about on Reddit. Yes, sadly my idea is far from original and many have made an attempt at turning on a heater based on location AND outside temperature.

I did manage to get to the IMAX Cinesphere to see Interstellar, and it was just as good as the first time. I've learned my lesson to get there early though because the theatre was PACKED and we had to crane our necks a bit to see.

All in all, it was a great holiday week once Christmas came and went. I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in a while and spent New Years on the 52nd storey of a condo overlooking the Scotiabank Arena (which is how I can tell you they've wasted no time putting two huge LED Scotiabank signs on the roof of the arena.

My New Years Resolution is to talk to more clients at work. I find it so interesting to listen to their processes and flows, and how our product is usually around 80% of the way to being everything they need. These users LOVE our product and honestly want to help us to make it better for them.

I've also set an Official Crafting Day with my sister and our friend Ruth-Ann for this weekend. We haven't had a day like that in a while and there's lots to do. I'm warming up my glue gun as we speak. We're also going to attempt to make one of Wendy Kou's amazing cookie masterpieces. It's really her lovely videos showing her hands breaking open the cookies that make it for me. Watch them here.

Kou often breaks her cookies open on camera to show the surprise fillings.

I am hosting my book club next week (as well as moderating) so I've been reading like mad to finish the book and start piecing together the discussion topics this week. If you haven't heard, we're reading a collection of essays called "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay. I appreciate her tone and take for all sorts of different topics on feminism, especially what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century while also consuming popular culture and loving the colour pink.

Random Thought: Hand Tutorials
Most likely since it's my literal dayjob, I love to creep on people around me on the subway and see how they use their phones. I know I shouldn't be doing it but I'm not retaining any personal information if I can't remember what I ate for breakfast this morning so I think it's a moral wash. I really do love to see how people use apps in their own personal ways, especially when it's an app I use too.

I specifically remember watching a woman use a dating app (highly entertaining) and inadventently show me a feature I had never discovered on my own during a short stint with said app. It was really inspiring - it made me wonder if there might be some kind of following for a YouTube channel that shows you a power use of different apps. Watching and replicating is one of the best ways to learn (certainly one of my favourites) so why not learn the quickest way to do things so you can spend less time on your phone, use less battery power, be more productive with your time, anything. I would definitely be able to make a how-to power user video for Bunz - I have a bunch of replies saved to my keyboard and have the numbers to back up my smooth trades.

The only thing I'm missing is a pretty pair of hands!

Inspiration: Experimental Features
While some people complain that Spotify hasn't released many new features in the past year and certainly doesn't allow the user much access to their listening data beyond a yearly summary, I did manage to stumble across something new (to me) the other day.

Experimental features?!

Don't get too excited; there are only two of them at the time of this publishing. The Affinity Survey allows users to take a short survey to sharpen Spotify's algorithm for providing them new music that aligns with their taste - and you get a new customized playlist out of it too. The other feature, Classical Works, is a tab on artist pages that can be optionally turned on to provide more depth and information (Classical music only). I turned it on in the hopes that Spotify would throw me more Classical music, but no such luck yet. 

Neither of these features are earth-shattering to me (honestly, why can't the Classical Works tab just always be turned on?) but I really do appreciate the experimental nature of development, and while Spotify hasn't been showcasing it too much to the public, this feels like a step in the right direction. 

Back when iTunes wasn't terrible bloatware that updated so often that it corrupted my Music Library (ten years of listening history and playlists down the drain), I did appreciate the flexibility it provided in allowing users to customize their own listening data and manipulate the service in unique and personalized ways. Smart Playlists are just one of the examples of this. 

Spotify's outward stance is arguably the opposite of what iTunes once was, freeing its users of recorded data like how many times they've played or skipped a song. I do like the idea of simplicity, especially in an interface that is the visual representation of a non-visual product (music), but Spotify generally leaves something to be desired in my self-reflection of my music tastes. So when I see something literally labelled as "experimental" inside the Spotify interface, I get pretty excited. I wonder what they've got cooking for 2019.

No comments:

Post a Comment