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Lesson Learned for Voice Design

Having worked on a few multimodal apps (able to use speech, touch, and other modalities of input), I’ve learned a thing or two and want to speak on one idea that’s popped up.

Try modular design for voice behaviors
This one is tough, but I just started thinking maybe I can take a play from Brad Frost’s Atomic Design playbook – modularity. The most recent app I’ve worked on is relatively simple. Yet and still, we found problems we weren’t expecting and clear communication was one of them. In our case, we had a few recurring themes pop up about "How will voice handle this?" and "How will voice handle that?". Sometimes they were valuable points, sometimes they were redundant questions. But the problem I noticed wasn’t in the people asking, but in the definition of the system and the lacking documentation.

There was documentation available for case-by-case basis of "How does voice react on this screen?", but it could create instances of inconsistency that may not be found until it’s too late. So, my next project, I’m going to see if the principles of Atomic Design can be transposed on to voice/speech design and track lessons learned on that. I recognize voice should operate as Random Access Navigation, so this will definitely add to the complexity. But hey, this is why I love what I do!

Another example of drugs to “free your mind”

The other day, I shared my feelings on Drugs and Inhibitions. Now, FastCo released a piece on "successful" entrepreneurs using drugs to elevate to the next level.

There’s so many different ways to read into this:

  • What are the long term effects of this?
  • Do these people still feel able and connected with other aspects of life (family, hobbies, etc)?
  • How addictive is ayahuasca?
  • Nothing is perfect, so what are the downsides or compromises you have to make with this?

I’m neither for nor against it, just observing habits in my true nerd form.

One of my new favorite apps

2017 has been a challenging, but great year thus far. And it’s been challenging in positive ways – places of growth. I’m working out daily, more mindful and kind to myself, plus doing my best to "stay in the now" as Eckhart Tolle advises.

One thing that has become a huge benefit is the ThinkUp app for affirmations. To anyone who doubts the power of affirmations, I argue that corporations spend billions to plant ideas into our minds subconsciously. So, why not take 5 minutes out of your day to reinforce your positive views and goals.

But, I’m not here to convince you on using affirmations. If it sounds like mumbo jumbo, this app is not for you. But, if you want to add positivity to your life, ThinkUp is a great tool to keep in your arsenal.

We all (I assume) battle the gremlins and voices in our heads that we’re not good enough and other negative self-talk. Even worse, advertising pushes that same agenda (you’re not rich/strong/sexy enough to be happy) and these messages sink in. ThinkUp is a great counter to the barrage of negativity. It’s not the perfect fix for everything, but it’s a great app to have.

Note, I’m not a doctor nor suggesting medical advice. Please see a doctor or seek a hotline if you need mental health help.

ThinkUp makes you select a list of inspiring messages you want to hear – either suggested or using your words. The genius in the app is that you record the messages and at least once daily for a few, you hear your affirmations played back over soft music. Because it’s your voice saying the affirmations, it’s easier to believe. Rather than hearing someone random or a computer TTS system rattling them off.

Lastly, the interface is sleek, pleasing to the eyes and simple to navigate.

I highly suggest checking this app out. I’ve bought the lifetime membership version and glad I did.

Hope it benefits you as well! Drop your thoughts in the comments if you’ve used this app or anything similar. Would love to hear what a year plus of affirmations would do for you.

Darebee 30 Days of HIIT review

So, dedicated the last month or so to "30 days of HIIT" from my love, Darebee.

Was very cardio, but I prefer weightlifting. So I’m switching to Ironborn ( mixed with some calisthenics – resistance and cardio.

HIIT is good for cardio, but doesn’t do much for strength. You also have to be disciplined enough to push yourself. Some days, I was great; some days, I’d have to remind myself halfway through that I need to push and do the exercises like it was only 15 seconds. It would also be good to know which days are intended as recovery days vs "Go HAM!" days. Sometimes, I found myself confused if I was doing workouts incorrectly or if it was a chill day. Not meant to be a knock against the program, but an area of improvement I noticed.

The results for me are not reliable because I ate bullshit way too often through the month. But, March is here and I’ll switch it up for some wiser choices.

A good, not-so-good day

Last night, found out that instead of getting a tax refund, we owe the Govt a good chunk a change. "Yay!" said no one in my house. Panic set in at first and I was temporarily paralyzed in thought. But, fuck it. Make a plan, figure out what went wrong and keep it moving.

So, now, going to find a tax advisor, find ways to bring things down and set up a repayment plan.

But, the good, we were approved for a home we’ve been hoping to rent. This means we’ll get our dog back and have space at home for a yard and basic wants.

Probably the funniest feelings I had in a while. Typically days are good, bad, or meh. I can’t even recall a day that yo-yo’d between good and bad.

Guess that’s adulting.

Drugs and Inhibitions

All my life, I’ve heard "Drugs are bad, mmm’kay?". Maybe the South Park geniuses wrote that satirical line to stick and for the next generation to question what’s so bad about them.

First, I’ve used marijuana recreationally three times and alcohol pretty often. Considering caffeine (tea and coffee), that’s almost everyday now. But, from my experience with marijuana, I have not enjoyed that euphoria others get lol. Sad to say, but I don’t think drugs are for me since I identify as a Control Freak. Regardless, I do question their abilities and the social constructs we’ve created around them.

Some of my drinking experiences allowed me to tap into thoughts I don’t know if I ever would’ve mustered the courage to even think of – like rapping some lyrics or cracking a joke. Having those experiences and hearing the experiences of others, there’s obviously some value there for creative thinking. You get to quiet that loud, ignorant, and unbearable inner critic.

But on the downside, drugs make us lose other inhibitions like manners. I remember in college waking up from a drunken stupor and my friend telling me he saved my dumbass from getting into a fight with the boyfriend of the girl who’s ass I slapped smh. Regrettable times.

So the question I’ve been pondering, can we decrease these inhibitions and still keep a mind of respect and manners? But sometimes respect and manners are the inhibitors to our creativity.

I posed the question to my therapist and he mentioned microdosing ( In no way was he suggesting I try it, he just mentioned it as "tempting to live without following ‘the rules’ we define for ourselves." I’m interested in lighter, natural, I recreational drugs (Shrooms), but also not because I don’t like drugs lol.

It’s a funny and confusing twist. Would love to hear what others do and think to battle inhibitions, especially without the use of substances. Oh, also if you’re battling perfectionism particularly.

That’s all for now! Peace, love and pookie dooks(line for my fellow Moana fans lol)!

The toughest critic

Haters, haters, haters, haters.I don’t even have em, that’s what’s crazy.
Yet and still, home is where the hate is.

Ready to share my thoughts and ideas
Then I hear the critic asking
"Who you think you is?"

Can’t even form a freaking sentence
Without him applying the negative pressure.
Praying and meditating for ways out this prison.

Clawing out little by little like Shawshank
I see the warden every time I pass the mirror.
My time in this hell, my toughest critic is the one to thank.

Review of February

February was OK. Been doing better overall with exercising daily (I semi skipped one day by doing yoga instead of my daily workout), better eating habits, plus a few other areas of personal and professional growth.

I fell victim to some pitfalls – candy and cupcakes made me slip on diet and days of feeling worn out, I took the lazy road instead of pushing it. Sometimes, I struggled to identify the difference between healthy striving and obsessive attitude, but I know a few occasions where I could’ve gone further and still been healthy.

All in all, good month, but I know where I need to improve.

Darebee 30 Days of HIIT

Day 25 ( in the books!

So, the HIIT program, for lack of a better description has been hit or miss with me. The issue stems from not recognizing which days are slow, chill days versus the ones where you really need to push yourself. Yes, it’s a deeper issue of how I challenge myself, but it would be helpful to see what intensity I should be expecting for the day.

For my next workout, I’m debating between redoing 30 Days of HIIT since I know better. Maybe at the next level up too. Or switch to an entirely new program and find what works.

Only time will tell!

What I’ve Learned…

Wow… Who would’ve thought copying someone would have some positive things to learn? Seriously!

Today, I took up a challenge to copy a designer’s portfolio that I liked just for practice. By examining their code and mimicking their best practices, I learned a few things:

  • Use SVG! I heard this before, but rarely seen it when looking at HTML code.
  • White space is your friend
  • Basic CSS psuedo selectors FTW!
  • Bootstrap’s .container class is "required". Been using Bootstrap for 3-4 years nows and never knew about that class *facepalm*

Most of the lessons learned were simply reminders from the past. But, if repeat lessons were pointless, people would stop going to church! 😛