THE BLOG

28
Sep

Less Social Media, More Happiness

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”Many of us spend hours every day tethered to our devices, pawing at the screen to see if it will deliver a few more likes or emails, monitoring the world and honing our online presence. Yet our reliance on technology to “see” the social world around us can be a heavy burden.” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Even so, many would find the prospect of living offline worrisome, or simply impossible. That’s why we undertook a small study with 50 people who may seem nothing less than social outcasts in today’s screen saturated environment. None of our participants used social media or had a mobile phone, and most even refused to email.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”We wanted to understand why these people had decided to switch off, and how they managed it. But rather than seeking quick fixes for overuse, we explored the principles and values that drove our participants to live the way they do. Much has already been written about how we can switch off – but that won’t achieve much, unless we really feel the benefits.”][tm_blockquote text=”There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for. ― Milton Glaser”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Part of the problem with social networking platforms is that we don’t just use them for communicating – they also promote a particular way of being connected to and supportive of those around us. These interactions are channelled through the platform to create data, which is ultimately fed back to data brokers and marketers. (Source: thenextweb.com)”]
28
Sep

Microsoft’s New Surface Headphones

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”Microsoft had a jam-packed event today, announcing the Surface Studio 2, Surface Laptop 2, and Surface Pro 6. But it had one more major hardware product to reveal: The $349 Surface Headphones. The company is particularly proud of its headphones‘ noise canceling capabilities.” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”At its most powerful, the headphones can attenuate sound up to 40 dB. Turn the dial all the way around, and they actually provide a slight boost to ambient sound to better hear your environment – say, if you want to listen to music and still be aware of your surroundings.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Another four beam-forming microphones handle your voice during calls – Cortana is on board as well – while a dial on the opposite earcup controls volume. The cups are also touch sensitive for playback control. As for battery, the headphones are rated for 15 hours with Bluetooth and noise cancelling on. There’s a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm jack should the battery run out.”][tm_blockquote text=”You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt… or in front of a piece of graphic design. ― Stefan Sagmeister”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Hopefully all these fancy features translate to sound worth their price tag. Microsoft is using 40mm drivers ‘Free Edge’ drivers – relatively rare in the headphone world – but I’m concerned with the lack of any audiophile-oriented Bluetooth codecs. There’s no AptX, AAC, or LDAC, at least one of which I expect standard on $349 headphones. (Source: thenextweb.com)”]
28
Sep

UX Designers, Stop the Jargon Abuse

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”“On this screen, we have added a photo gallery. You can clearly see how it is inspired by Don Norman’s first level of visceral design, and how it utilizes some foundational Gestalt principles, helping achieve our graceful degradation strategy for pre-webkit browsers. It’s very gestural, intuitive, designed for millennials.”” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”One of the problems of using UX jargon in a conversation is assuming everyone in the room will understand what “graceful degradation” means in that context, or that they have read the same Don Norman book you have. If they don’t understand what you are referring to, they will not always interrupt you to ask. Most people feel embarrassed to confess what they don’t know. And this can bring catastrophic consequences for your project.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”In many cases, the use of jargon is merely accidental — sometimes terms like “UI” or “parallax” will naturally come up as designers present the work to clients who have no idea what that means. In other cases, it’s a defense mechanism. Using complex words make people sound smart; make them sound like the perfect specialist in that topic. Which then enables them to charge more to solve the problem.”][tm_blockquote text=”Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does. ― David Carson”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”As a new technical term comes out, hundreds of courses, talks, e-books and blog posts start to pop up — claiming to teach you everything you need to know about `{`buzzword goes here`}`. You spend tons of money trying to catch up (“early bird tickets for only $999!”). When you finally overcome your impostor syndrome and feel confident enough to repeat that term out loud, the first thing you do is to update your Linkedin profile with that keyword — eventually fueling that same anxiety in other people. (Source: thenextweb.com)”]
08
Sep

An AI can now write indie music

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”Jun Inoue, Gyo Kitagawa and Taishi Fukuyama created Amadeus Code and all have experience in music and music production. Inoue is a renowned Japanese music producer and he has sold 10 million singles. Fukuyama worked at Echo Next and launched the first Music Hack Day in Tokyo. Fukuyama is the director of the Hit Song Research Lab and went to Berklee College of Music.” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”“We have analyzed decades of contemporary songs and classical music, songs of economic and/or social impact, and have created a proprietary songwriting technology that is specialized to create top line melodies of songs. We have recently released Harmony Library, which gives users direct access to the songs that power the songwriting AI for Amadeus Code,” said Inoue. When asked if AI will ever replace his favorite musicians, folks like Michael and Janet Jackson or George Gershwin, Inoue laughed.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Absolutely not. This AI will not tell you about its struggles and illuminate your inner worlds through real human storytelling, which is ultimately what makes music so intimate and compelling. Similarly to how the sampler, drum machine, multitrack recorder and many other creative technologies have done in the past, we see AI to be a creative tool for artists to push the boundaries of popular music.”][tm_blockquote text=”One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. ― Bob Marley”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”We want to prove our words are the right ones, instead of learning to look at what the other’s words are pointing at. Words are seductive, and for all their undeniable usefulness, they also can lead us away from understanding when we focus on them, when we make them more important than the truth they are meant to point at. (Source: techcrunch.com)”]
08
Sep

The 3 Best Indie-rock Bands of All Time

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”What is indie rock? Since evolving out of the American punk scene in the mid-’80s, the term has been applied to everything from aggressive noise bands to pastoral folk singer-songwriters to quirky synthpop producers. For this list, we’ve loosely defined the genre as “guitar music made by people who came out of the rock underground and aren’t afraid to seem brainy or challenging”—indie-rock bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sleater-Kinney, and Pavement.” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”The most ineffably indie-rock band of all time, and not just because pretty much every indie band that picked up a guitar after 1992’s Slanted and Enchanted was copying them on some level. Frontman Stephen Malkmus is like the walking embodiment of indie attitude, wrapping a formidable intellect in a slacker facade and peppering his songs with secret-handshake references to obscure records and snarky commentary about more popular bands.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Sonic Youth was the coolest band when it emerged out of the noisy New York art-rock scene in the early ’80s—and it still was when the group broke up three decades later. In between the band engineered the ’90s alternative rock boom, inspired Kurt Cobain and recorded a vast body of music that touched on hardcore punk and psychedelic folk and elevated guitar abuse to an art form. Classic albums like 1988’s Daydream Nation stand out, but really everything they did was revolutionary.”][tm_blockquote text=”If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. – Albert Einstein”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”With their aggressively angular sound, grad-student looks, and frequent lyrical references to conspiracy theories and surrealist art films from the silent movie era, the Pixies were never going to be rock stars in their own time. That didn’t stop them from recording such near-flawless albums as 1989’s Doolittle, which laid out a blueprint that the entire alternative rock movement would borrow from. Their loud-quiet-loud structure would go from a unique songwriting quirk to a rock staple after Nirvana borrowed it for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” (Source: timeout.com)”]
08
Sep

Indie Rock Music Genre Overview

[tm_heading tag=”h5″ custom_google_font=”” font_weight=”500″ text=”Indie rock takes its name from “independent,“ which describes both the do-it-yourself attitudes of its bands and the small, lower-budget nature of the labels that release the music. The biggest indie labels might strike distribution deals with major corporate labels, but their decision-making processes remain autonomous. As such, indie rock is free to explore sounds, emotions, and lyrical subjects that don’t appeal to large, mainstream audiences — profit isn’t as much of a concern as personal taste (though the labels do, after all, want to stay in business).” font_size=”lg:18″ line_height=”1.94″][tm_spacer size=”lg:45″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”It’s very much rooted in the sound and sensibility of American underground and alternative rock of the ’80s, albeit with a few differences that account for the changes in underground rock since then. In the sense that the term is most widely used, indie rock truly separated itself from alternative rock around the time that Nirvana hit the mainstream. Mainstream tastes gradually reshaped alternative into a new form of serious-minded hard rock, in the process making it more predictable and testosterone-driven.”][tm_spacer size=”lg:50″][tm_image image_size=”custom” align=”center” image=”107″ image_size_width=”770″ image_size_height=”510″][tm_spacer size=”lg:46″][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”Indie rock was a reaction against that phenomenon; not all strains of alternative rock crossed over in Nirvana’s wake, and not all of them wanted to, either. Yet while indie rock definitely shares the punk community’s concerns about commercialism, it isn’t as particular about whether bands remain independent or “sell out“; the general assumption is that it’s virtually impossible to make indie rock’s varying musical approaches compatible with mainstream tastes in the first place.”][tm_blockquote text=”If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. ― William Shakespeare”][tm_heading tag=”div” custom_google_font=”” text=”There are almost as many reasons for that incompatibility as there are indie-rock bands, but following are some of the most common: the music may be too whimsical and innocent; too weird; too sensitive and melancholy; too soft and delicate; too dreamy and hypnotic; too personal and intimately revealing in its lyrics; too low-fidelity and low-budget in its production; too angular in its melodies and riffs; too raw, skronky and abrasive; wrapped in too many sheets of Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr./Pixies/Jesus & Mary Chain-style guitar noise. (Source: allmusic.com)”]
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