Nashville Work: Week 1

Monday

So, in a whirlwind of events unfolding in such an infuriatingly last-second way, we somehow made it to the house and are moved in.

House? Nay. Mansion. This place is amazing, and clearly not meant for college students. The guy who owns it is renting it out after his kids moved out, and it’s more than enough space for five college kids. Hell, they could really drive the price way down if they put a wall up downstairs and made an additional room.

The house is the first in the subdivision. Right now, our neighbors include a welcome sign and a deaf man. We’re testing the limits of just how deaf the man is- the sign appears to hear absolutely nothing.

At the time that this is being written, we’re also without wi-fi. Cue Herbert Morrison’s “Oh the humanity!” So this will be published after-the-fact. [Editor’s note: I guess I’m making this a weekly thing, and not daily (for now)]

“No wi-fi? Oh the humanity!”

 

But as beautiful as this house is, the big story of Monday is Apple Maps being far more inferior to Google Maps. Case in point:

Bobby, the friend I’m here with (check him out on LinkedIn), was kind enough to give me a ride to the house from my uncle’s in Lebanon. I gave him the address the evening before, specifically noting that it’s in Lebanon, Tennessee. It brought him to an area in Knoxville.

Let’s take a peek at the map showing the distance between those two, per the far-superior Google Maps:

A cool 150 miles. How nice. It brought poor Bobby through the tip of Ohio, up mountains in Kentucky, and straight into the wrong city, after I gave him the right address.

Apple Maps, you’re on notice (and a great reason as to why I like my Galaxy presetting to Google Maps).

 

Tuesday

Work began this day! Clark, our coordinator, was super welcoming and had Bobby and I come in for a soft introductory week. Basically, that’s translated to mixers at night and mingling over coffee on mornings. We got in at 9:00, talked through some objectives for the summer, and got to tour the Entrepreneur Center. I took a 360 picture of the area:

It is an absolutely awesome area. Rolling Mill Hill has a few historical buildings. In fact, the Entrepreneur Center operates in one of them. When Nashville used to operate streetcars, the buildings in Rolling Mill Hill housed trolleys and served as garages. The six narrow red-brick buildings can be traced back to the Works Progress Administration, and some architectural points were kept: benches made of railroad ties and rails and massive rolling doors that could close off the garage from the outside were two that were pointed out to me.

We did some work there the rest of the day, ran across the street to Crema for coffee (do not recommend) and explored a few parts of downtown.

We also learned that a shirt and tie in Nashville in the summer is a recipe for disaster in the form of sweat everywhere. We also learned that Nashville is incredibly hilly, which only catalyzed the sweat.

Bobby and I retreated to the E.C. for a few hours because we love air conditioning, and had a mixer afterward at a bar with a “farm-to-table” spin on bar grub. Best thing we had was probably bourbon soaked dates stuffed with feta cheese and wrapped on Cherrywood smoked bacon.
Super good, but the whole place had a “trying too hard” vibe to it. I mean, how else do you describe “farm-to-table” bar fare. Cartoonishly gentrified?

 

Wednesday

We volunteered at MusicBiz 2017 on Wednesday. The Entrepreneur Center was sponsoring a program called Project Music: a competition where four music/audio tech startups pitched to a ballroom full of people. It was awesome being able to be in that sort of environment (basically all I did was order Panera and stand around for six hours).

EyeBuy and Hi, Karl were the two that stuck out to me, because they were equal parts interesting and utterly amazing and useful.

EyeBuy, not to be confused with the glasses company with a similar name, plans on monetizing items on TV/streaming services. It picks up audiovisual cues ranging from blatant product placement to metadata that could be attached to each episode and would prompt viewers with updates on how to buy those products and products related to it. They even highlighted how they could use it to market to businesses.

Hi, Karl is an event-finding application focused on day-of planning. Like EyeBuy, it uses machine learning, and interfaces with Facebook and Spotify to curate better resulted for individual users. It’s at the point now where it can exist through Facebook Messenger, which is super cool. The bot existing both within Facebook and without it reminds me of the Google AMP pages being the new ideal on the Facebook app when users navigate to external articles.

We had Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint for dinner. There were bells and whistles on the menu for the “Redneck Taco” (pulled pork over a cornbread flapjack topped with cole slaw and sauce) so I knew I had to try that. I was unimpressed. I’m spoiled from some of the places I’ve had up in the Region, which is something I never thought I’d say in regards to barbecue, especially being in the South. But the hunt continues!

Meh. Not good. Overpriced for dry, tasteless pork.

 

Thursday

We got to sleep in a bit Thursday, which was good because we were absolutely drained from MusicBiz. Book club starts at 11 each morning for work. We’re reading Content, Inc., which is every ounce as compelling as you’re imagining. But once we finished, we had our eyes set on taking another trek through the city, to Deaderick St. and 4th Ave. for Street Food Thursday.

Holy guacamole there were so many amazing options! There’s a video I put on Snapchat showing the shut-down street filled with people and food trucks, but I can’t export it from my Memories into my Camera Roll. Damn Snapchat.

But I went up the street, and the very last food truck was exactly what I wanted. Fly Boy’s Nashville operates out of a retro air stream trailer, painted to look like a WWII fighter jet. The woman who was taking orders described it as “classically hip, with a South Pacific flair,” which came through in Philippine cole slaw sprinkled throughout the menu and Spam on their Cuban-esque sandwich.

If they’re serving the Mad Dog Mattis, and you happen to like a bit of heat, do yourself a favor and get it. It is still the best thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been here, beating out even the most perfect midnight grilled peanut butter and jelly.

Mad Dog Mattis, in all of its glory. Not pictured: Hawaiian Punch and the sucker-punch of nostalgia that came with it.

Bobby and I went to the Nashville Public Library to knock out some work. It was a gorgeous building with a perfect interior courtyard that is my new go-to spot to get things done while I’m in the city.

Seriously, look at how beautiful this is.

I could drone on, but it was all Canal Society of Indiana work I was doing, so no one wants to hear about that.

I had a diversity and inclusion event back at the EC, and Bobby had something just a block or so away from the library, so I went off and explored a bit on my own before returning to the EC. Once I was back, I mingled and was introduced to a few entrepreneurs associated with the podcast. It was just a simple, low-key event that kept me a bit more grounded in the EC.

 

Friday

I worked on canal stuff, so I won’t bore anyone who’s made it this far.

 

Though the first week was all over the place and not very audio production-y, I loved it! The city is amazing, the EC is such a cool space, and I love the work and experiences I’ve had so far. I can’t wait to have more, but I have a lot of downtime from work, so if you’re familiar with Nashville and know anything fun I can do, let me know! I’m always looking for museums, comedy, concerts… really just the pathetically touristy things that we all love deep down. Let me know!

Digital Habits, or, “I get it, I’ll put down my phone”

For starters, a lot of these numbers will probably come off as skewed. I got a new phone around Spring Break, and I still haven’t set the screen to close after two minutes of inactivity. So some of these times might be a few moments longer than my actual usage.

But, excuses out of the way, I used QualityTime to track my phone habits. It monitors the time spent on each application, the frequency with which apps are open for the day, and the total number of screen unlocks. For ease of reading, I only lifted the daily usage screens from the app, showing the total time my phone was “in use.” My main qualm with the app is that it doesn’t allow the user to export the data in an .xlsx or .xml, because I would have enjoyed making the charts in Excel and sizing them how I wanted.

That being said, I’ll break each day down with what happened that day to push some applications ahead of others.

Monday- Livestreaming WCRD Live at Five off of my phone, which means using the Facebook app. Usually I use Chrome to access the mobile Facebook page, but I need the app to use Facebook Live. As for Plague Inc, I like having a few games every now and then. It’s cathartic.
Tuesday looks a bit more normal. Chrome is used for Facebook, as well as voice commands. Snapchat is pathetically addicting, and that’s probably a mainstay of a lot of people my age.
Wednesdays are notoriously stressful to me. I use my voice assistant to schedule appointments on the fly, and even though I build up so much stress about TCOM 324, I end up on Twitter and my message app.
Thursday seems like the quintessential day in terms of time. Snapchat sticks out to me- I feel like, though I open it often, I read/respond so quickly that barely a minute goes by. Instagram, however, seems a little off. I tend to use Chrome to check Instagram, because the native app doesn’t work on the Ball State wi-fi. Although, I believe I may have published a picture that day, so I would’ve needed to use data and spend time on the app.
Instagram coming in before Twitter? I’m not so sure about that. looking at all of these days, I feel like I’m on Twitter more than at least Message+ and Instagram. Maybe Snapchat beats it out, if I get bored enough to actually look at stories.
Got bored, needed to infect the world again with Plague Inc. I was also on a shoot this day, only for my subjects to leave me in a basement for about an hour without them. My phone came in handy to kill boredom, as well as to check the MITS schedule to make sure I wouldn’t have to Uber back home.

I get it. I’ll try to get off my phone. But, in my defense, I have so much on my phone that keeps my day going- from my Google Calendar to spreadsheets to photosphere apps.

I’d also go to note that Qualitytime measures time of whatever app is on top. I love listening to podcasts, so I always have Podcast Addict running in the background, but rarely open it each day. I must’ve listened to nearly eight hours of podcasts that week. I’m really getting into Crimetown from Gimlet, and probably went through five episodes of that, on top of my usual weekly listens to Spontaneanation, Hard Nation and Planet Money.

I’ll work on it. but i’d say it’s on-par with everyone my age, judging by how often I see other people on their phones.

via GIPHY

News Curation

reddit

My most-visited website recently rolled out an official app, though I kept BaconReader installed on my phone upon downloading it, just in case it was terrible.

It took a while to work through some kinks, but the first few thousand downloads received reddit gold.

Most of the subreddits I follow are news- or technology-related, and since they refine so many websites and organize them into a pretty easy-to-read list, I get a lot of information at once.

NPR One

What I enjoy about NPR One is how important the user in in the curation process. I’ve had it for a while, but committed more time to it now for this post. The more thumbs up I give, the better the content (at least, to me) that I get. It’s not my go-to podcast player, but there are a few NPR-based podcasts that I get updates on through NPR One.

My biggest qualm is the web player- it’s buggy and doesn’t always load.

r/dataisbeautiful

A subset in the overall “reddit” category, but I felt that r/dataisbeautiful deserved a space of its own. I’ve been watching r/dataisbeautiful ever since reading Andy Kirk’s Data Visualization. I think it’s a meaningful and important tool in storytelling, and a huge selling point that would leave a very important spot on one’s résumé.

They have a lot of cool user-generated content, and plenty of professional stuff that gets put up to learn from. My favorite was a Sankey Diagram showing proposed shifts in voters who backed the losers of the first round in the French Election may vote come the second.

There are plenty of just fun things that get posted, like “Searches for Lil’ Wayne lyrics increase by annual rainfall in each US state.”

And sometimes, I get to learn a bit about unicorns.

For reference, a unicorn here refers to a private business worth over $1 billion.

One of the more recent ones I’ve seen is a great way of organizing a list with an additional dimension, and shows the most popular websites in the United States.

Briefing

Briefing just feels like bloatware on my phone. It’s an extension of Flipboard, the first thing I remove whenever I upgrade my phone. It feels regurgitated and is never on time. The notifications (as, at least on my phone, it exists solely as notifications) are dull and sporadic.

 

Google Street View and Panorama 360

I’m still kind of freaked out at 360 videos- like, an excited sort of freak out, though. I think they’re so cool for storytelling and open up a lot of opportunities. That being said, I just can’t justify buying a 360 camera, though I definitely want one.

So finding apps that can capture a spherical image and give users the ability to swipe around it or use their phone to “look around” is a pretty neat step that anyone with a smartphone can take.

I originally started with Google’s Cardboard Camera app. It was cool for about one picture- since it was just a panorama camera app. You know, that thing that most default, pre-loaded camera apps can do.

I still have it, because it might make for a cool banner picture or something to break up a bunch of text. But it’s got the ugly warping to it and I’m just not looking for that.

So we moved on to other apps. For one class, we even just got kicked out to play around with 360 apps- but we really emphasized the necessity for photo spheres (capturing like 30 images from a stationary point in all directions). I made the one below on Google Street View (starting to see a trend?). It’s not pretty, and there’s a dog walking without her owner in there, but it serves a great purpose. Definitely better to frame up early in the morning by the bell tower.

As hinted at with the dog walking with a nonexistent owner, there are clear cons to taking 360 images with just a phone. Since you have to capture so many images, there’s probably some movement you’re missing out on. It just goes to show that movement in a photosphere isn’t too great to try capturing with just one camera.

I went back and did it again on a grey Sunday morning. There was no action to be distorted, which helped. I took a step at some point, so there are some discrepancies.

I tried using Panorama 360 as well, and while I believe it made sharing the photospheres to social channels, but there are few too many ads to make the experience enjoyable. 4/10 do not recommend.