Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PUP, Bike Uglification & The User Is Drunk

Weekly Update 2019-30: Toronto-based punk band PUP, trashing the visual quality of your bicycle to prevent theft and trying to use a website while under the influence of alcohol.

Music: PUP
Toronto-based punk band PUP is taking the world by storm. Originally named Topanga after the character on Boy Meets World, the band changed their name to PUP when they found that the show and character would be getting a 2014 spinoff. PUP stands for Pathetic Use of Potential, possibly aimed at the actor who played Topanga. While a little bit targeted and unnecessarily rude toward the actor, their renaming fits their style well. PUP is comprised of four young Torontonian dudes with a charming wit in their songwriting and an endless amount of homegrown energy. They can make any show of any size seem like a living room, hanging out with a few thousand of one's closest friends.

PUP's 2019 release Morbid Stuff has seen huge reach (I saw its release posters all around Los Angeles in May) and showcases the band's growth and maturity in its more polished sound.

This week was the magical one wherein Natalie came back to visit from the UK! She had one of her many events at a family friend-owned gin distillery in the east end (which I rarely visit) called Reid's Distillery. Their gin-based drinks are really good and the lounge feels like a family living room, complete with heirlooms of the Reid family lining the shelves on the walls.

Of course Natalie's friends were all really awesome and it was great to hang out with everyone. Natalie's sparkling personality draws people from the far corners of the earth. I even got to snap a cute selfie of us before she whisked back across the pond.

This weekend was also the 20th Muhtadi drumming festival. I had never played it with the band before, so it was cool to see all the other drumming bands who play this huge festival. There was also a whole alleyway of Vegan Caribbean food, with some delicious skewers of tofu meat and veggies.

It was a long day including helping my friend Christin to construct her kitchen cabinets in her new house. She and her husband are from Germany so it felt really special to support them in their decision to put down roots in Toronto. They'll be here for a while longer, at least!

Finally, on Sunday Matt and I made our annual trip to Toronto Island. Much of it is underwater because of the water levels being so high this year, but there was still some beach for us to hang out on. I've gotten so many nice hot days to work on my tan this year :D After the beach, I biked over to work to take a quick shower (so lucky my work has a shower!) and headed across the bridge to Echo Beach to see Pup with Eric. As we discussed ahead of time, we hung out for the show during the openers, and then he disappeared into the crowd to mosh for Pup's tour home-opener performance. I admire their true fans (the ones who go into the mosh pit), they have so much energy!

Speaking of summer bucket list items, this week will be my annual Blue Jays game with my family. Other than my dad, none of us are huge sports fans but we all get in the spirit of the game. I traded for a Blue Jays jersey on Bunz at the end of last season and I finally have an opportunity to wear it.

It's my turn at work to make a small slideshow presentation about myself for my teammates. I don't think I've ever done such a complete retelling into the story so far, so it'll be fun to go through all the old photos of my family and recall some good memories.

This weekend I'll be headed to Sudbury for the first time ever. The first of my sister's two engagement parties will be there so that her fiance's family can celebrate with us. I keep hearing that Sudbury has lots of interesting stuff to do, plus it's some good quality time to hang out with my new family by association.

Random Thought: Bike Uglification
In the latest round of victim-blaming in my life, I came across a huge series of YouTube videos on a very specific topic. If you buy a nice bike and don't want it to get stolen, simply follow these easy steps to make your bike look like a rusted-out piece of crap so that no one will want to steal it.

Turning a beautiful Masi frame into a rusted pile of scrap metal.

How sad is it that we feel we have to deface our own property in order to cut down bicycle theft in Toronto and around the world. I know people are starting to have the mentality that in order to counteract theft, they need to make their bike look less appealing than the one that's locked up next to it. Such a backwards notion, why put the onus on the bike owner instead of the people who actually commit the theft!

In a word, this is why we can't have nice things.

Unfortunately, I have dealt with my own little slice of bike theft (only as the victim) two or three times, not to mention hearing about countless stories in the Toronto cycling community. It would seem that no matter what visual state or true condition one's bike is in, it will inevitably eventually be stolen. Due to police apathy toward the situation, thieves know they can run rampant without repercussion. This is why I own three bike locks. Depending what part of town I am visiting and how long I'll be there, I may use all three. Each lock buys me time, not security. With angle grinders making quick work of most U-locks, no bike is truly safe from theft unless it's locked up inside one's living space. And even then, anything can happen.

Inspiration: The User Is Drunk
For better or worse, I live and breathe user experience. Once you understand what makes bad design, you'll see it everywhere even if you aren't looking. Certainly there are lots of people who get drunk and then make questionable purchases on shopping websites, but I found a service that takes it to the next level.

Richard is a user experience designer and developer offering a unique service - for a small fee, he will get drunk and assess the user experience of your website of choice for 20 minutes. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else offering this service, which would put him in pretty high demand if you can get past the absurdity of the situation.

There are lots of ways to stress-test a website for usability, you can have someone try to use it on mobile versus desktop, with a slow internet connection, with only one hand, or perhaps with very little previous digital experience to help them (such as your grandma!) so it makes sense that testing a website while drunk would fall in the same vein.

If your website is simple enough that someone can use it while drunk, odds are that they'll have no problems using it in any situation. I mentioned stress cases last week, and being drunk definitely falls within that realm. It may seem slightly jokey (which it is!) but there are indeed some apps that have to be so simple that they can be used while drunk, like Uber or Lyft.

Heck, even the McDonalds kiosk needs to be idiot-proof (which it definitely isn't - ask someone who lives near a 24-hour McDonalds at a busy downtown intersection).

While googling to see how McDonalds meets the needs of its more intoxicated customers at is self-service kiosks, I found a humorous satirical article about it. Profanity warning, but laughs will ensue.

So, next time you're drunk, I dare you to see if the design of your favourite apps stand up to the test. Just try not to drunk-dial any ex-lovers.

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