Monthly Archives: September 2017

Discernment and Decisions

“It shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is. I just want to make the right decision. What should I do when there are so many options? Every choice I make, it has its consequences and affects so many people. I don’t know if I can do this. What do I even stand for?”

We make about 35000 at day; some choices may not have the same effect as others, but discernment is still hard.

I found myself in a position of discernment recently when I was given the option to step down from an executive position with InterVarsity Undergraduate at SFU. I was first offer this position back in May and at the time, had no idea what the role would require of me. During the summer, I continued to contemplate whether I made the right decision to join the leadership team in the first place. What concerned my the most while contemplating was the fact that I would be entering a very busy stage in my academic career starting in September, when I more difficult courses and applying for co-op positions. I had a feeling that if I managed my time correctly, I would be able to make time to be on leadership as well.

When September arrived, I met with the InterVarsity SFU staff worker and was given a briefing of what was discussed on a leadership retreat that I was unable to attend. Hearing what was planned for the upcoming year overwhelmed me as there was a lot that was planned. At the end of the meeting, my staff worker, knowing that I may be feeling overwhelmed, reminded me that I was told me that if felt that it was too much for me to handle, he wants me to feel free to step down without any guilt. This was the beginning of my discernment process.

During the process of discernment, I took time to think through many things such as my schedule, my feelings, my desires, and what I feel my calling is. What I realized most about myself in this process is that what I need was not to be in a leadership position. What I really needed was rest. After stepping down from being a leader in the youth ministry at my church for the past two years, I have not found the time to truly slow down my life. I also believe that if I were to join the leadership team in InterVarsity, I would soon find myself leading out of obligation and not out of joy, which will end up causing me to burn out.

What I realized soon after was that I truly wanted to use my time at the SFU Downtown campus in a valuable way. Being located in a unique place where you are located next to the beauty of Vancouver Harbour as well as next the brokenness of Downtown Eastside, it gives me an opportunity to rest and reflect in a beautiful place or break barriers and talk to the broken and the vulnerable.

Although I do not fully know the implications of this nor do I know what discernment is all about. I have to go with my heart. Maybe I will regret the decision of stepping down from leadership in a few weeks, or a few months, or maybe I won’t regret it at all. But all I can do is continue on with what I feel called to.

Charles Spurgeon once said “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

As for my process of discernment, I have found myself caught between beauty and brokenness. What I feel called to do however, is to find the beauty in the brokenness.

How I edit my Instagram Photos

 

Once in awhile, I’ll get questions about how I maintain my ‘Instagram theme’ and how I edit my photos. I have to admit: it does take some time and effort but I like to try and maintain a certain branding style to my instagram feed. Yes, I strive to live the #aesthetic life — it’s a part of who I am.

This may not work for everyone and people have different preferences and different tastes, so adjust accordingly to your liking! To keep a theme, I find that editing the same way (using the same filter) helps to keep all your photos consistent.
For reference, I work from an iPhone 7. In my photos, I tend to stick to bright whites, decently contrasted, soft shadows and less saturated photos. It works best when there’s natural lighting going on. Overcast days are the best days for outdoor photos. Bright sunlight creates darker and harsher shadows that takeaway from the photo and is also a cause of over-exposure.

First, I use the Photos in-app editor (found on all iOS devices) and put on the “Fade” filter. I’ll always have to adjust the brilliance, shadows, brightness, contrast, highlights and saturation until I’m more satisfied with it. If there’s any unnecessary distractions along the edge of the photo, I’ll just crop it out here.

Next, I’ll go into my app: Facetune. I really only use it for whitening light backgrounds that aren’t completely white and to de-saturate certain areas. I’ll bring that photo into the app and use their “whiten” tool to go over certain areas that are still too saturated.

After I’ve saved that photo, I bring it into UNUM, a very helpful app that organizes and helps me plan how a photo will look in my feed. Some may think it’s excessive, but I find that it is so useful to ensuring that your photos are cohesive with one another before you post it! Once I’ve planted my photo in there, I adjust it accordingly, using the UNUM in-app editor. And that’s about it!

 

Learn to Lie #3: Pretty Little Liars

You Are Here

From experience, I’ve learned that people are more likely to believe you if you look a certain way. Now, it’s not like I’m telling you that if you have a pretty face and wear makeup and dress like you shop at high end stores then people will automatically think you’re telling the truth, but that’s basically what’s going to happen.

You don’t need to dress like you get paid $30+ an hour and live in the most expensive complex in downtown, you don’t even need to start caking your face with foundation and lipstick, but if you at least present the best version of yourself (clean, neat, and in order) to the public, you’ll find people will be more willing to listen to you.

Of course, this brings up the question of keeping true to yourself and presenting your honest self to society. I’m going to be frank with you, no one really cares if you’re being true to yourself. Sure, you can say finding your true self will make you a better person, but what even is a personality when everything has turned to technology and everything online is pretty much fabricated and nothing you see through a screen is really ever personal. Why bother with finding your true self in this day and age when you can merely come across as having discovered who you really are and fool people into thinking you are being honest with yourself.

This is key; putting on a mask to fool society into categorizing you as a genuine personality. You only have to show this ‘better’ side of you when you face the public, even just posting a perfect selfie of your made up face in the sun will fool people into thinking you’re not just sitting on your ass all day staring at your computer screen. Hiding your true self is sometimes the best way to present yourself.

 

Keeping these steps in mind so far, no one will even detect a hint of falseness in your actions or words.

Picnic at Chilliwack Lake

There was only a few more weeks of summer left. Shoot.

Leeza and I were realizing that the our opportunities for summer adventures were coming to an end. I was going to school in the fall and she was going to be starting a new job opportunity. We had to act fast. We both love getting out and adventuring so we decided on Saturday that we would drive out to Chilliwack Lake and take the canoe.

It was decided that I would get the canoe ready and Leeza would pack up our lunch (she is the picky eater so it only makes sense). We met up and took to the road. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any moments until we were out on the water because my camera was zipped up in our waterproof backpack, but we enjoyed a nice paddle along the lake and stopped halfway across the lake on a nice rock.

I saw some pictures recently that were framing their subjects in an interesting way, so I tried it out and I really liked it. Using the trees branches and foliage as a blurry foreground added some cool moody depth to the photo. And don’t worry, Leeza was just cold so she was wearing my plaid, she had shorts on weirdo.

I was trying out some different angles when Leeza noticed something. I actually captured the moment by accident (the picture on the right above). There was a huge pile of white bird feathers just behind where we were sitting and eating where a bird either was killed or got into a scuffle. Don’t worry I won’t show you the picture, but there wasn’t anything gross about it (there was no blood or anything) it was just weird.

After we ate and chilled out a bit, we decided to head back on to the lake and paddle across it so we could check out the other side of the lake.

I really wanted this picture of her wearing the life jacket because I thought it would be funny. You always see the canoe shots of a girl on a lake and she is NEVER wearing a life jacket.

Of course I told her to take the life jacket off too 😉

After snapping a couple more cool pics of us paddling, we started paddling across the lake. This was a big mistake….

There are some hefty afternoon winds on the lake and we got caught up in them. To make a long and stressful story short; what took us 30 min to get to where we were took us an hour and a half to paddle back. It was stressful and it definitely tested our strength physically and mentally. There were times when I was quite scared but I couldn’t let Leeza know, she was scared enough. I had to keep fighting and I don’t think I stopped paddling for an hour straight.

Eventually, we made it back to shore, packed up, loaded the boat, and headed back home. It was an adventurous day for sure and good story to tell.

¯\_()_/¯

@jessefinkle

Wiring my Website

A website that I really admire because of its design along with the content that fills it is wired.com.

What I really like about wired is it’s minimalist design. For the most part it is easy on the color and intuitive to navigate. If there is something that immediately turns me off of a website when I hit it is when I am bombarded with a million menus and links to click. I need things to be organized and easy to navigate in seconds. Wired does a great job of sizing their logo so that it stands out, but does not take over the page. The menu is right there below it and I can quickly find the topic or category that interests me. When you scroll down further, you can see the posts separated and spaced evenly. It all works really well together.

There are a couple things about the website that I personally would change however. I think that the top bar with the logo and the menu is a little on the thin side. Adding some negative space above it all or between the logo and the categories would give some more breathing room to lighten things up. Although I love the way that the content is layout out on the home page, I think that it could be spaced out a bit more to allow for some better readability.

Pictured below is what I have been talking about….

This week I made some small tweaks to my website. I changed the banner image on the home/about page of my website. I was always meaning to change it because I was using the stock image, but I just hadn’t found the right one yet. When Gillian did her peer review of my site and mentioned that the image was misleading, I decided to search harder for an image that worked. Looking through my own archives, I couldn’t find a photo that I have taken that represented what I wanted it to. So I took to thinkstock and found an image that I really think represents the visual art and story theme that I am going for. This image will work for now and maybe in the future I will take a photo I think encapsulates what I want this website to be about.

Another thing that I was thinking about changing was the ‘Hello Peeps’ tagline that is the first thing you read when you go on my site. To be honest, I put it there as a joke when I was building the site to fill space and I never changed it. After leaving it for a while I just thought it was funny and have decided that it fits the vibe I am going for while displaying my personality a little bit. This is kind of a non-update, but I thought it was still worth reflecting on.

One thing that consistently bugs me is that I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make the about me section on my homepage narrower. On mobile and narrow web browsers it looks good, but when the website spans the entirety of my 13″ screen the readability sucks. I will continue to try and figure out how to put a maximum on how wide it gets, but for now I will suck it up.

Another thing that Gillian mentioned in her peer review of my site was that she didn’t want to click right through to my instagram via the green button without knowing what she would be getting into. I added a page to my site that is a preview of what my Instagram feed would look like, hopefully this is clear and people can check that out if they want a sense of what is on my feed.

¯\_()_/¯

@jessefinkle

Quarry Rock

This last surge of summer weather has inspired me to get outside. Haha just kidding, I wanted to stay in my pjs and watch movies, but thank god I have active friends that drag me on hikes with them. And you should thank them too because this review of North Vancouver’s Quarry Rock is brought to you by the extremely rude text from miss emily that forced me out into the elements.

For those of you who swore you would have a rockin summer body for 2017 but failed to go to the gym and are still madly out of shape, well first, join the club, and second, this hike is for you! As someone who loses her breath while walking up a flight of stairs, I can personally vouch that this hike is 110% doable. The round trip takes just under 2 hours and has a mild 100 metres elevation gain. And oh boy is that view worth it. You look out on the deep blue waters of the Indian Arm and get to see the picturesque mountains around Belcarra. If these views don’t stir up all sorts of nostalgia for our beautiful city then move away because we don’t want you. But on a serious note, the view you’ll look out on is everything that comes to mind when someone says beautiful British Colombia. Take your time and lounge in the sun on massive rock faces, bring a lunch, make a day of it! The only sweat you’ll work up will be from the sun beating down on you. That being said, do be careful and wear proper shoes, the hike isn’t difficult but the terrain gets rocky in some places and I saw not one but several abandoned sandals. Please don’t add to the graveyard of cute flip flops!

John Lennon Millennial Remix

Yes, I have a smartphone, but it’s an iPhone. This translate to the battery goes from 100-0% in 2.7 seconds (approximately). So thank god I have a Mac Book, which oddly enough lasts almost 8 hours on a full charge-get it together Apple. This means that I spend most of my time on my laptop and less time on my phone, and being part of the millennial generation, classically characterized by a social media addiction, the Instagram website is an always open tab.

As you can see, the website is very similar to how it is displayed on any given smartphone. However, I would argue that the format is better suited for tablet/smartphone viewing. The website is well balanced with equal empty space on either side and the content heavily weighted in the centre, but this leaves the page with an abundance of negative white space.

 

Instagram underwent a makeover several years back, most of us will remember it as the time the logo went from the little brown camera to the bright pink icon. Instagram also removed background colouring and replaced it with predominately white blank backings. They claimed their reasons were to create less distractions for viewers by draw less attention away from the photos being posted. This concept did not translate well to their website. Instead it has left a washed out and boring screen to stare at, thank god the photos being posted are interesting because otherwise I would have ditched this platform a while ago.

 

In terms of proportion, the photos posted by users are clearly emphasized as their sizing outweighs any other aspect of the website. That being said, in the profile page, some more attention should be placed on the user’s information such as their profile picture, username etc. Instead the first point of focus is the posted photos in the middle of the page. Arguably the last point of focus is the Instagram name in the top left corner. I mean it’s understandable that if you’re on that page you obviously know you’re using the Instagram platform but come’on, it’s just bad branding on their part, cease the opportunity.

 

At the end of the day, I can complain all I want about the misused design principles Instagram has implemented but it will still be my number 1 tab, guaranteed to be open at any time of the day.

You may say I’m addicted, but I’m not the only one.

 

And oh my how convenient, my Instagram is linked right there to your right, toss me a follow.

 

Process Post #3 – Website Design

Website design decisions can be make or break for a website’s traffic of readers, and over the next five or so minutes it takes for you to read this post, I’ll be talking about a website I frequent, and one we all hold near and dear to us.

Source: http://www.posiel.com

Now, if you weren’t already already aware of Posiel, I’d suggest you sit down and think to yourself for a bit. Posiel is a website for students taking Publishing 101 at SFU, serving to inform its students (and potential ones) about what the course is really about, and what is to be expected. It is safe to say for a fact that Posiel sees to about roughly around forty-five different users on a consistent basis over the course of three months, with the numbers dropping every fourth month, according to my sources.

Source: SFU’s course scheduling center: http://go.sfu.ca/

You might ask: “What makes you want to visit a site like this?”

Well, let’s just say I conduct personal business on this website and leave it at that. So getting down to the design aspects of Posiel, I get kind of a feeling of ‘hypocrisy’ when looking upon its simplistic design, given that I am going to have to put in more effort into my own website. All things considered, my opinion is subjective, and I could be wrong (and certainly have been before). Granted, Posiel is a resource used by individuals for only a limited amount of time, it shouldn’t be lazy just because of the fact. But because it is simplistic, it makes the content very easy to read and navigate. In terms of balance, it certainly does its job, but could do away with a lot of the white space present on the page.

The website’s design is very uniform in the sense that all the navigation is available when sifting through different pages, allowing for easy access from one point to another. But one thing that bothers me, is the layout of the “Course Outline”. With the large amount of content on the page being in close proximity of just about everything else, it would be certainly easier to divide the content into different pages based on the week, or at least add a table of contents that allows the user to jump to the week of their choosing. These are just little nitpicks, and could easily be remedied by the above suggestions or CTRL + F, but who wants to do the extra work, right?

Each piece of content is spaced out properly, with each topic fitting nicely in the user’s screen without having to scroll. As mentioned earlier, the large amount of white space on the website makes it feel empty as a whole, and lacks “emphasis/importance, but also tension and emotions.” Pagé, M. (2017). Some Considerations on Web Design and Type on Screen. Retrieved from http://jones.uvm.edu/ppt/40hrenv/index.html. The same could be said of contrast, with the color scheme (while consistent), is used without variance. And consistency goes in hand with unity, making all the elements feel like they work together.

Overall, not a bad site per se, but would benefit from improvement. It establishes its own identity, and while it doesn’t make the greatest impression, would probably still be memorable if you asked someone who used the site about it. That’s all for now, so if you’d like to check out Posiel, I’d recommend doing so at http://www.posiel.com/


 

Overall, I was pretty happy with my website’s design as is, but decided to go the extra mile and draw my own background to better suit my website and give it a little personality. I’m no Michelangelo, but it’ll have to do. Because of how background images work, some of it got covered by my social media bar, which is a long giant rectangle that went along the bottom. So I just moved the social media buttons to the right sidebar. The website title being black, also got absorbed into the background, so that required me to go in and tweak the CSS a little to a different color to make it more visible. I decided to leave the default font on, not only due to laziness, but my experiences with game design having taught me that you can’t get stuck on all the minor details, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.

 

 

Designing for Encounters

I define encounters being conflict point that can be resolved through the in-mechanics. If you don’t already know, I am working on my own game in the same ‘style’ as a JRPG. The reason I word it like that is because I’m not actually sure how to define genres like that, with myself not being Japanese nor is this game being made and released in Japan. I simply refer to it in the sense that storytelling is the main focus (but not always) of the game. This can involve battle mechanics to function as gameplay, but like before, doesn’t necessarily have to.

Now that the definition is out the way, I’m going to be talking about some of the kinds of battle encounters that occur in JRPGs, most specifically, the random encounter. I’ll be using the popular franchise, Pokémon. I grew up on Pokémon, having started with the very first game in black and white visuals, Pokémon Red version. If you’ve ever played or watched 20 minutes of any of the main Pokémon games, you’ll know how the encounter system works. Given that you walk into an encounter zone, there is a random chance a Pokémon will appear. Seems like pretty standard fare.

But random encounters are the bane of my existence. I hate them with a passion like you would not even imagine. Let’s look at the next image as an example.

+

These critters known as Zubat is probably one of the most common Pokémon in the game, Now, in any Pokémon game, at one point or another, the player will have to traverse through a mountain or a cave with no exception (where else would Rock Pokémon live, right?). Now the thing is, instead of your typical grass tiles that signify that there are little critters hiding, the entirety of the map is a giant encounter zone. That means you can take literally two steps and bam, you’ve run into a Pokémon. The scenario that especially bothered me, was Pokémon Red’s Mt. Moon, the first cave the player HAS to traverse to get to a neighbouring town. And that’s where the Zubats come in. The cave itself fundamentally isn’t all that big, but when you’re being interrupted by Zubats every five seconds, it’s going to feel like a journey of a lifetime. Granted, there are items called “Repels” in the game which deter these random Pokémon encounters, but they don’t show up early enough in Pokémon Red to save you the heartache.

So why all the hub-bub about random encounters? Well the take-away here is that they break the flow of the game. Let’s imagine if you were building up to the climax of the story, and you’re about to face the villain for the battle of a lifetime. Alright, the exit’s right there, I’ll just- ‘A Wild Zubat appeared!’. No- just get out of here, I’m busy. Where was I? Right. The exit-  ‘A Wild Zubat appeared!’. rrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

So I swear to Arceus, if I have to run into ONE more Zubat, I will take my Nintendo handheld, and launch it into the bloody sun.

Now, there are a TON of great games have used random encounters as a way for the player to fight things outside of scripted events. But just because I’ve played through a game and enjoyed the game, doesn’t really make random encounters okay. It’s just that the game probably had other aspects that entice me more than the game play itself. So let’s take a look at Zeboyd Games’ Cthulhu Saves the World, a JRPG-styled game with random encounters- AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH- wait, after a certain amount of random encounters, I can turn them off?

Oh.

One of the great things that Cthulhu Saves the World does, is empower the player with choice. If players like me hate random encounters, the game allows you to adjust the encounter rate from anywhere between always and nothing at all. Given, you DO have to fight a set amount of them before you have the option to do so for that particular area. But it’s better than most, and I’ll take it. So am I going to implement a similar system in my own JRPG that I’m making? Hell no. But I can take away from Cthulhu Saves the World, that I can empower my players to have a choice. So, while the majority of combat is just going to be scripted events (you’re going to fight when it’s necessary), I will provide the players out there who do enjoy a little grinding, with some repeatable battles spread throughout the world. I just don’t want to subject my players to the horrors of Zubat encounters, nor the necessity of grinding. I should really do a piece about player choice.

Zeboyd Games’ Cthulhu Saves the World is a really neat game that I’d recommend, with a rather amusing premise if you haven’t already noticed from the title. If you don’t know who/what Cthulhu is, he’s sort of a horror-esque entity with the idea that he’s more of a concept of something so much beyond the player’s control or understanding rather than being a big baddie that you have to fight. And you get to play as him. For three dollars, I’d recommend it if you want some humor and some JRPG experience in your life.

Until next time.

Insert Coin(s) to Continue

design decisions

Website design has got to be one of the most complicated things ever. There’s so much you have to account for and when you’re not necessarily very tech savvy in terms of customizing the design yourself, it’s really hard. There are so many things I wish I could implement, but because of my lack of knowledge on the how-to, to a certain extent, I’m limited to the capabilities of the theme I chose. 

If I could, I would totally try to code a website website with similar design elements as one of my favourite Canadian bloggers, The August Diaries. Jill’s blog uses a theme created by pipdig, a very popular (and I mean like every fashion blogger uses one of their themes) and for good reason – their themes are user friendly, have a nice minimal aesthetic and integrate social platforms really well.

Just strictly speaking about the landing home page, there are so many design elements that I love. The front-page slider for starters is absolutely stunning. It’s full width, and using featured images, it does an incredible job of displaying recent posts in a really captivating way. The fact that it’s a really large visual piece that is constantly changing as well keeps it very visually interesting and engaging. Even on mobile, though obviously smaller, the slider still functions well.

I’m serious about the social platform integration. Right under the slider is a grid of 16 of her most recent Instagram images. It helps give a quick snapshot into her visual style by showcasing 16 different images all in one place. It also provides a thorough overview of her Instagram account including the engagement statistics on each of the images when you hover over. If you click on any of them, they lead you straight to the photo on Instagram. Furthermore, every photo in her blog posts, including the feature image, is Pinterest “pinning” friendly. All you have to do is hover over the image, and there’s a little Pinterest icon you can click to pin. The design really maximizes the potential of readers sharing your post on Pinterest when it is just so easy to do.

Unfortunately, the theme I chose does not have these capabilities and I don’t have the skills to code these into my blog. But nevertheless, I am still incredibly happy with how my blog design is turning out.

This week, I dove into the CSS files of my theme (even though WordPress gives me a warning not to tamper with code every time I open the files). I started to play with different fonts and I settled with two main fonts, one for headings and one for paragraphs – both of which are sans-serif styled. I much prefer the two I chose in comparison with the default fonts the theme came with as I think the minimalistic and “clean” cut of a sans-serif font matches my overall aesthetic a lot more than the default serif fonts did.

My blog also had certain elements that used colour, which were most of the buttons like “continue reading” or “post comment”, as well as links and other hoverable items. The original colour was a dark yellow colour, but I felt as though this didn’t match the colour palette I had envisioned for the site. The colour scheme I was aiming for was neutral toned – sticking with blacks, whites, greys and browns with hints of green and blue. Thus, I decided to change the dark yellow to a soft light blue. Looking at my overall site now, the blue ties things together a lot better than the yellow did and I’m very happy with my decision to alter the colour. It also adds a nice personal touch as the shade of blue I chose doesn’t look like a generic default one.

Design decisions are hard, but I think I’m starting to get a better grip on it all!

The Tim Game

There are few things more satisfying, to me, as a GM than having a tight knit group that will end up providing you and the other players at the table with content to play with. What that means is small things that bind the group together, or lines that may be said in jest that can be made into a running gag, or little tidbits of information that reveal more about the character than race and class.

Sometimes it takes a long time to get this information out. One group I had took nearly 6 months of playing every Sunday, other groups in the past never had more than one or two of these moments in the few months we played. So i decided to come up with a way to promote and facilitate that style of play. The first group I used it on called it “The Tim Game” and the name stuck.

After we go around the table and do the usual introductions: Character Name, Race, Class, and any relevant major points (a sentence or two) I make the players go around a second time. This time however, they are not talking about their character, they are creating a connection between their character and the one next to them. I also give them a single question to ask. They have to answer that question and both players will have a bond between their characters.

For a short version, take a d6 and roll as you go around the table, (or ask without rolling if you don’t want to have doubles)

  • Tell us about the FIRST time you met x and what were they doing?
  • What was that thing x did that made you laugh so hard milk came out of your nose?
  • Where was that place x took you to that you were nervous about, but had a really good time?
  • Can you keep that secret x told you, and do they remember telling you?
  • When did you realise this was not the first time you met x and when was that first time?
  • What’s that one thing that x did that makes you trust them with your life?

This works for almost any RPG I have ever played. I have other questions and I am going to compile a full list for a patreon (not too much) later down the road.

I love this for team building. In a world of make believe we can often get lost in the setting: I’m a fighter – I bash things, I am a smuggler – I sneak things around, I am a parent – I worry about my kids, too often we forget that these characters, like ourselves, likely have different masks or presented selves. Rarely does a game start with a character starting at age 1. So what happened during the rest of your time until the moment the character started in the game story?

We as people have many different layers to us. We present different masks or aspects of ourselves to different people at different times be it online or in person, depending on where we are, who we are with, and what we are doing. Everything from our language, to behaviour, to outward personality it all changes. So why don’t we think that way for our characters? The Tim Game helps with that, and it does so with the whole group. By having it come from another player it creates a shared experience, which is what the biggest part or roleplaying games is about. A shared fun experience.

Life Itself — Peer Review 1

Austin Lee Blog Review (http://austinl33.ca/)

I immediately see a gorgeous Beagle doggo. I am already starting to smile and get super excited for dog pictures. I guess all of us dog-lovers are the same. I love how the description under the title is a different font than the rest of the page. The tabs are nicely spaced, and the search bar is discreet. The colour theme so far is eye-pleasing and natural. I almost feel at home. All before I even scroll down!

As I scroll down past the fold, however, the pictures of macaroons and food in a pan seem a little contrary to what the blog is supposed to be about. The search bar widget also seems a little repetitive and unnecessary, as there is already one at the top. Further scrolling leads to another picture of a backpack. I think if you changed up the pictures to something a little more relevant to the specific post Austin, I would get that same homey, excited feeling like I did at the top of the page! The rest of the widgets look fine and organized. I find they are very similar to the setup of mine.

I click on the first post, PBP#2 – Lecture: Chris Kluew. I have to say, I was really looking forward to pictures! I have already mentioned this, and we are still developing our blogs so I’m sure the pictures will come (especially the doggo ones…) I think it would help with the white space a lot with each post I’m seeing and make it aesthetically pleasing to see. Also, I know these posts are filed under PUB 101, but as an outside reader, they might not know what your title for the post means.

Ah, more beagle pictures. I am so happy! I think as her owner, you are the best person to even imitate what she’s seeing, or thinking, if you ever think of doing something more along a first-person (as the dog) point of view. I’m so excited to see how this page, “nature walks with Koby” develops a little more. Would you ever attach a GoPro to her and post the video? Maybe do some narration as her? Just an idea. Also, definitely just followed your beagle’s Instagram page. And you have her point of view in the description too. Love it! This gives her such a cool online identity and I feel like I know her.

So now, in summary, I should say I am very excited to keep up with your blog and Instagram. I think using the two sites can really enhance your online presence, and the use of pictures, video, or whatever other media you end up using will enhance the reader’s online attendance to your site. Like Matthew Stadler (2010) said, you are creating and writing on something you are a fan of, and I can feel that already in your posts and pictures (http://vimeo.com/14888791). I aspire to have my blog and Instagram interact the way yours does!

Unlike how Craig Mod (https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/#.djqfcpajo) wants his attention back from the digital world, I don’t mind giving mine to your blog. I feel like I am experiencing the good ol’ dog life, not just consuming it. Keep it up!

AWOT: I Own My Attention

A response to “How I Got My Attention Back” by Craig Mod, which can be found here: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/#.djqfcpajo

I love being online as much as I love being offline. I think I am at a point in my life where I know how to balance the two. As this page says, I am always Finding Balance, I think there will always be consistencies and ways to be better, but I guess I am just coming from a perspective where I have already taken a step back and checked myself and my online consumption habits.

I got the sense that Craig Mod got a little unsettled and frustrated with how much time he was spending on a phone game. Clash of Clans? How was the addiction to CC any different to people’s addictions to FarmVille? Some find addictions in other sources of media, besides their phones or besides their computers, and instead to TV’s and video games. Obviously, addictions span more than just the digital, but what I can see from his article is that he got addicted to a game with no end, and then wrote about it.

Maybe that’s too harsh. I know people who went through the same thing. My dad, for instance. He had to delete the game as well, and it’s one of the hardest things to do. I have played similar games on my phone, but find that I never had enough data to keep up with the games away from wifi, and just end up deleting them. In this sense, I may not completely understand the struggle of working tireless hours on a game with no benefits in real life, but I can try to understand the parts in which he relates our attention being battled for in the marketing world.

You’ve always had control of your attention. What ends up happening is people use free services that aren’t really ‘free’, use your information to advertise to you, and then profit off of the data and content you produce. This is online work. Lots of companies will be using this information to try and get your attention, and you can learn to tune them out.

This article romanticizes the past. The past where we weren’t “addicted to our phones” because the dopamine released in our brains said so, where we could wander nature freely, or where we profited off of slave work. The past wasn’t that great either. Trump does it all the time: “Make America great again!” But… when was America ever great? Because of the money it made during war? Terrible wars that are never fully covered in history books because of the horrors and terrible acts committed during those times? I admit, this is a bit of an extremist example. But this is a dramatic response to a dramatic article. Humans have always strived to learn more and more information. I don’t see why having information available to us is so bad. It can drive an educated community. With proper education, you can teach people how to differ between fake news and real news. You can learn to tune out what won’t help you and what will.

My bias is: if you want to be successful, you must be available. You miss opportunities if you don’t. People have been rejected from jobs for not replying to an email fast enough. In Mod’s defence, he does acknowledge this; “it’s important to emphasize that for certain members of certain groups, online non-negotiable”. And as is the point of my website in the first place, he does try to put people’s health first. Organization’s use and sell our eyeballs in more ways than he even stated, but it won’t be the end of the world. First, we must bring the issue to attention. Then, we can work on fixing it. This is no small feat, this is your typical you vs the man. The system is pretty big, and you must own your attention in this day and age. I think more people own their attention than you may think.

Mod’s issue of stolen attention talks about the struggle to be focused on something more productive than endless games. For students, and possibly others, it’s trying to study when you have multiple social media apps demanding your attention. How do we combat this? I believe this is more of a habit to build. When you are trying to do something, such as studying, reading, or writing, turn your phone and computer on silent. Your brain even works better without music or with little music. The notifications and the sounds trying to steal your attention will only succeed if you can hear or see them. Create a specific space where you do this as well. Sitting in your bed will signal your body to get ready to sleep, for example.

One-month vacations completely offline is unrealistic in our world. My generation has been thrown into a world where we must work longer hours to even afford a dirty shared space with people we don’t even know or like. There is more expected from us, with less returned to us. We have had to adapt; just imagine where the future generations will have to be doing.

I implore the community to hold on to the things that are productive to themselves and to their work. Find time to balance your work, your social life, and your personal life. If you have to, record how much time you spend and see if you can be more productive if you have something you love to do after you are done. Set goals, even small ones for the day every morning as you wake up. Find your balance.

Week 4: Design Decisions

We are all familiar with Buzzfeed, the social news and entertainment site that drives students into a seemingly unending procrastination train. Plastered all over our Facebook newsfeeds, Buzzfeed produces over 700 pieces of content every day with an average of 7 billion views a month. With the impressive amount of traffic it’s quite crucial for Buzzfeed to maintain a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing online presence.
Upon first glance, the home page (shown above) is crammed with bright, colourful photographs. It screams “Read me!!!!”: from the small carousel under the navigation menu to larger images in the main feed section to the blocks of images in the right side bar, Buzzfeed clearly wants the reader to indulge themselves into their endless collection of articles. Where do I start first?

Are those buttons? Are they just decorations? What is “LOL”? “WTF”??
If you’re not a millennial, or someone who is up with the lingo these days, how is one supposed to know what these acronyms stand for? Are they clickable buttons or just static icons? What does the red one with the arrow pointing up mean? These aspects of the site doesn’t seem to speak the user’s language, but luckily the feedback of them (when I hover over them, they have a ‘bounce’ effect) tells me that it is in fact clickable, taking you into a different feed. Out of curiosity, I wondered how this effect would translate into the mobile version when a user can’t have the same hover interaction. To my surprise, they aren’t even present in the mobile site. Completely gone. Vanished.

An aspect that I see is done quite well is the navigation/menu bar. With a good amount of contrasting colours on a white slate, the bold and bright colours of the type is representative of Buzzfeed’s branding that is fun and exciting. Clean, legible type and a concise system of labelling gives the user at least some hopes of navigating through heaps of content and images.


 

This week, I dove into the CSS of the WordPress theme I am using to start to personalize my aesthetics into the theme. I am aiming to incorporate some of the natural & earthy tones as light accents and tinker around with the letter-spacing and padding of the elements. I’ve come up with a list of topics to write about so I am hoping to set a schedule to be more consistent with the frequency of posts.

The Accountants

The Accountants are unavoidable, yet ignorable enough that I continue my life without taking one of theirs every time I see them heading to ‘work.’ Toothless sneers, unseeing eyes and snide remarks belong to an extinct social standing; they were important before the apocalypse, while the rest of us accepted oblivion’s new, tax bracketless structure, they salvaged their importance, and nothing else.

The shreds of nylon clinging to Brenda’s leg have nearly fused to her skin. A bobby pin or two holds her blood matted hair in a bun like shape. Phil, with his tattered tie still choking his neck, shoes long rotted away. Craig’s hand has lost three fingers to the mutant rats he doesn’t bother fighting off, infection will claim the entire arm in three weeks or less. (At least it better- I’ve bet two cans of squirrel meat on the outcome) 

But none of this concerns them.
Their brains stopped the day the apocalypse started.
They reside on slabs of concrete that once held skyscrapers I would’ve been denied entrance too, providing conceded commentary on the state of our city now that it’s run by goons and no-good punks.
Sometimes I watch them, waiting for a synapse to snap and their heads to clear and how they’d look up in astonishment, free from the confines of a life that no longer exists.
The Accountants never do.
Brenda shows Phil a radioactive pebble and Phil mutters about the inflation of synergistic platforms; Craig mentions the harnessing of distributed functionalities; Brenda declares the monetizability of added-value markets is a priority.
She puts the radioactive pebble down and picks up the one in the pile, restarting the cycle.

 

Furry Friend Baking: Tuna Catnip Treats

Baking is one of my favourite hobbies, but I only really bake when I know I have someone to give my baked goods too. I have a friend named Serena and she is a huge fan of my brownies, so I find myself always baking them when I visit her house.

Today, I’ll be taking about baking for your furry companions rather than your human ones, but don’t worry, there will be plenty of recipes upcoming for yourself and your human friends.

This summer, Serena and I decided to do something different. Serena is the proud owner of two beautiful cats, and she is generous enough to share them with me since I am not fortunate enough to be a pet owner (yet). We decided to bake some homemade treats for her cats, Ollie & Ro.

Here are her two beautiful babies.

 

This was my first experience doing something like this. However, after researching some recipes, homemade cat treats can be super easy to make and also super inexpensive compared to buying them in pet stores, it is definitely something worth trying.

Ollie (top) is a super picky eater – apparently so far we are aware he likes Tuna and catnip, so that is what I based my recipe search on. In the end I ended up trying this one.

What I found out from this recipe is that:

  • I rolled the balls seemingly small to me (probably about the size of a nickel), but they were still pretty huge for the cat. I ended ripping them up into 4 pieces – next time I will make them microscopic…
  • I think my dough was a little too sticky which made it harder to handle (hence, the larger size) so I would probably add a bit of extra flour that time
  • I also should have made them thinner, as I ended up having to bake them for longer because the treats were more chewier than I was going for.

Ro, unlike Ollie, basically eats anything, so it was a part success. Ollie didn’t seem interested, even though I tailored these recipes for him (so rude).

I told Serena that if her cats did not eat them, I’d just sadly eat them myself (then she reminded to to google is catnip is safe for consumption – which I still haven’t done, but luckily I didn’t end up eating them -lol).

—insert pictures of the treats I made here which I currently don’t have rip

I also hope to end up trying this recipe, this one, and this one in the future, and intend to apply the things I learned from my first experience into my next experience. I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

Peer Review

Peer Review of Vincent Yang’s website

Vincent’s website focuses on fashion. On the excel sheet he described his website to be about fashion news and personal shares.

The sneak peak of the blogpost dated September 18, 2017 did not capture my attention to read it. However, once I clicked on the post, it is a very interesting post that goes into details about colours, matching, and texture in regards to fashion.

I liked how with each heading that Vincent used displayed the font colour despite the name of the colour. For example, “Grenadine” was the name of the colour but the font colour used was red. This is a great visual cue to help remind readers what the focus of the colour is that is being discussed. The way Vincent organized the photos and text is great too. There’s a lot of visual things to look at and not too much text to read which is great considering the website is about fashion.

Things Vincent can work on includes keeping up with the blog posts. It will be interesting to read more about new fashion such as the Paris Fashion Week that is currently taking place. A suggestion may be to align the images “centered” as there can be some extra white spaces to the right of the images which makes it feel off balanced. The “about” page is empty and having that filled out will give the audience a better idea of what the site will be about, especially when there isn’t a lot of content on the website right now.

Another suggestion is writing a little blurb about himself to give the reader an idea of who he is or at least a persona he wish to present himself as through the online platform.

Text font seems a little less “fashion” so it may be ideal to explore different font type to be more compatible with his website.

Overall, I look forward to reading more posts from Vincent and to see how he changes in the design of his website.

Vincent Yang
FASHION CATALOG
WEBSITE: http://facatalog.com/

Process Post 1

I forgot my password. I can’t be the only one who constantly does this. Apparently I already had a WordPress account, so both my emails come up for username. When I changed the old password for the old account, I tried to use it for the new account. 3 tries later and I’m locked out. I wish I wasn’t so forgetful, but there’s so many passwords to so many accounts nowadays.

Once I can get back into my account, I’ve spent quite some time trying to make it look the way I want. I get a little frustrated changing certain aspects of the theme just because I’ve never dealt with html code before. The CSS program is pretty easy to use, but I’ve never used anything like this before. Let’s just say it’s been an adventure. One in which involves many how-to youtube videos and google searches.

Ideally, it’d be nice to have the background something a little more to do with health and fitness. Something not too cliche, yet represents the website a little more. The current ram skull background is light and simple, as I can’t seem to figure out how to change the text colour yet, but over the next couple days it would be nice to play with different backgrounds a bit more.

For every post, I’d like to use my own photos. I’ve started an Instagram account to help me do this. My goals for both the Instagram and the blog are to get out and take my own photos and edit them — the blog would support the story and purpose for each picture, and Instagram will aid with me taking and editing the pictures more often.

I would like my widgets/menus to be more on the right side of the page, but I’m still learning how to do that. I would also like to maybe change the “Finding Balance” title and the hooker underneath either with different colours and/or fonts.

I have a couple friends who do blogs as well, so I was trying to get a little inspiration from their websites. There’s Ashley’s, (https://ashleyogilvie.com/2017/07/18/my-mom-calls-it-eden/), and Noelle’s, (http://noellekathleenjones.com/dig/under-the-guise-of-the-chill-girl/), both of whom have created an amazing voice with their writings and it is such an inspiration for me to do the same with mine.

With my blog, I would like to capture and enhance my own online presence and voice. I would like to hail students of any kind, and really anyone interested in health. Just to start a discussion on what works for people and what doesn’t really entices me and I think having that conversation and space for people is really important. As my voice and posts develop, I hope it’ll reflect these things!

Peer review assignment

I have been graced with the opportunity to witness En-Yu(Grace) Chang’s website. Grace is running a blog about her travels and life experiences . This is a very exciting topic and I’ll definitely take a look into her website throughout the semester. The layout of her blog is very simple and well laid out. She desires to explore what life has to offer , the beautiful outdoors and all people. She seems to be someone that delights in how life is truly an adventure and that we can all have our own personal beautiful sunshine. Viewing the first site of her website brings and reveals beautiful peace especially with the centred image that truly opens ones’ mind to exploring through traveling. Her main cover photo truly links with her vision board. She truly brought out her online self quite well. Try a very creative way of creating her vision board through grouping together items that show her passions and what inspires her. Her website contains her vision board and her conversation with a stranger. Her post about her conversation with a stranger is v very fascinating and really caught the attention of my mind. The way she started off with describing what is a stranger and deepening the conversation with how it is truly different the way we interact online and in reality with strangers is truly deep and leaves a lot of time to reflect and ponder. Her way of ending it out on how we can never know that there maybe a stranger who may give us strong inspiring words was so deep and so true. This post has left me on the edge of my seat to wait patiently to read more and possibly find out  Grace’s true self from her website and that may it reflect who she is at the end of the semester. All I can say is I’m hoping to see more posts and reflections of her blog and that possibly that may shows us more of Grace and her personality. This is the link to her website: http://sentimentsandthelike.com/

who is Simbarashe?!

 

The things that we love tell us what we are.
–Saint Thomas Aquinas

 

who am I?! Hmmmmm I’m still figuring that out haha kidding, wait I actually am. So I’m Simbarashe , but people call me Simba. I’m from Zimbabwe from southern Africa. I’m in my second year in doing a double minor of publishing and communications ho[ing to become a graphic  and motion designer . I’m an athlete with a soft sport in the beautiful sport of tennis. I’m artist , sadly not a musician. However, I’m as good as Beyonce when I’m doing karaoke . I’m a Catholic that has been graced with experiencing the beautiful perfect love that God has to offer for everyone. I go and take time in different missionary work locally and across the globe when I have time.  I truly love witnessing people encounter perfect true love and see their hearts at peace and in continuous joy both in times of great delight and in times of overwhelming challenges.  I desire to continue to grow a profound and compassionate heart for all people that are on the edges of society.  Enjoy yourself with exploring my blog,

God Bless,

#Simbarashe