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Spotify continues to be one of my favorite products. After taking my advice on one of their last product releases, I have built up the confidence to make yet another request for Spotify’s platform. (Forgive the sarcasm 😄)

The Problem

If you are like most of us, you have probably been put in an algorithmic silo. These can lead to serious implications when it comes to what news you consume and what posts appear in your feeds, but my guess is that you have also been siloed into your music tastes. While I imagine listening to the same music has no adverse effects on the world’s stage, it can grow a little stale (at least for me). Even if you find a new artist to jam to, it’s hard to break these algorithmically induced habits beyond 1–2 songs. Spotify knows what you’ve liked, so it’s able to decide what you’ll like. They’re great at this, by the way. There is a reason Discover Weekly passed over 2 billion hours listened this past June. …


Why Silicon Valley has Failed the Mattress Industry

In a few months, I will be moving to Palo Alto, California to start a new job. Moving across the country is exciting, and per William & Mary student standards, I have spent an unreasonable amount of time planning how and what I will bring over. While I look forward to all of the adventures that await me, one of the most exciting aspects of the move is that I get to upgrade a small part of my living situation.

No, this does not mean I am buying a Tesla. While I would love to own a car, buying one is wholly unattractive. What I am referring to is that I get to upgrade my mattress, the place that I ideally spend 33% of my week. Given that large time commitment, making a smart purchase decision is important to me. Further, Silicon Valley, with its “promise” to build better products, has invested in sleep over the past decade. I am ready to reap those rewards. With brands like Casper, Purple, Tuft and Needle, and countless others, I figured this decision would be easy enough — these companies pride themselves on sleep. Instead, I have found myself lost in a forest of colorful brands and slogans that mean absolutely nothing to me. Should I buy from the company that produces “The Best Bed for Better Sleep”? If so, which bed is the best bed for better sleep? …


We wish you were here!

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Featuring a set of white cotton sheets and somehow five throw pillows (three above the recommended limit for someone my age), my bed has been my resting spot, dining room table, desk, and glorified couch for the last seven days. It is adaptable, and given the current state of…everything…its ability to deal with change has been needed more than ever before.

For the past week, I have been living in a bedroom quarantine. Though the adventurous vacation that caused it was incredible, the immediate shift from exploring the glaciers of Iceland to being frozen in place was jarring. I have found myself in a variety of moods, ranging from apathetic to euphoric, but often find myself closer to the former. Like life before COVID-19 took over, some days are great, some days are bad, and some are okay. Like life before COVID-19 took over, I do not like rollercoasters, emotional, or otherwise. I have found that while striving to fill a day with activities certainly passes the time, it does not satisfy or stabilize my moods. The endless activity lists provided by our favorite news publications were undoubtedly well-intended, but much like my bed, I have needed to adapt them. Instead of checking off ten activities every day, I have found that seeking out three moods provides the best opportunity for me to mark my day as complete. …


A new(ish) driver’s thoughts on the world’s most popular ride-sharing platforms

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Over the past two months, I’ve been a driver on the Lyft and Uber platforms. Totaling 66 rides and, somehow, 5 “clean car” Lyft compliments, I am still a rookie by almost all driver standards. As my senior year approaches and my time as a driver draws to a close, I feel as though now is as good a time to share as any.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Getting to know a city can be hard to do efficiently. When I moved to Raleigh for the summer, I knew nothing about the area. So when I started as a driver this summer, I was eager to poll my riders for their thoughts. Though I received a few great recommendations, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I would learn more about my passengers than anything else. Relationships that have an estimated time of departure often make for mundane conversations, but occasionally they allow people to open up. …


Taking Maps in a New Direction

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I consider myself to be a Google Maps power user. To some, that means I do not know how to find my neighborhood food lion without using my phone. Unfortunately, I also define it that way, but we don’t have to harp on that point. Most of the time, Google Maps and I get along. The design is sleek, it gets me where I need to go, and it has that little speed limit sign in the bottom left corner. …


An attempt to make the web a little saner

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I love my ad blocker. I apologize, I know that I am robbing publishers of their hard earned ad revenue, but the web without ads is a more pleasant place. On a scale of things that bother me about the web, however, ads are at the low end of the list. Compared with ads, anti-vaxxers, harmful conspiracy theorists, and sites that fill the news cycles with lies are a much bigger problem. Though there are certainly parts of the web that are worse than Infowars.com, I felt like I could do something about Infowars.com. So I did.

A Brief History

In spite of all the privacy controversies, data leaks, and general inability to stay out of public light, Facebook is doing something good. Earlier this month, Facebook announced that they’d stop recommending anti-vax groups, block ads related to the anti-vax movement, and would generally stop these groups from growing in the traditional way groups on Facebook grow. Thank goodness. …


A Fix for the Waiting for the Check Process

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The Problem

A few weeks ago, a group of friends and I ate out at one of our favorite local restaurants. We were welcomed when we came in and were given meals that were far better than what I would have cooked at home. It was a great experience.

When it came time to leave, however, I was disappointed with how long it took to get my bill. I wanted to leave right after finishing my food, but I was held hostage until my waiter came back. …


Please Fix This

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The Problem

Earlier last week, Spotify bought Gimlet Media, one of my favorite podcasting companies. (To those of you reading this before the year 2012, that sentence will make no sense. I apologize.) Gimlet makes Reply All, Without Fail, and Heavyweight — all incredible shows that I am sure will thrive under Spotify’s guidance. I am not thrilled that I may have to use Spotify’s app to listen to them, though. Their current design leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to podcasts. It’s not helpless, though. Here’s a brief todo list.

An Inbox

Spotify needs a dedicated podcast tab on its menu bar. It can be optional if it helps, but getting to my episodes shouldn’t take 4 taps and 3 Hail Marys. A simple envelope icon on its menu that directs you to an “Our Picks + Your Subscriptions” page is a great place to start. …


Apple is known for their attention to detail. Their ability to design intelligent & clever products is consistently impressive. Though their most recent iOS update addresses a lot of inconveniences, they missed one.

The Problem

iOS needs a new screenshot dialog. Since owning my new iPhone Xs, I find that I accidentally trigger a screenshot 3–7 times a week. With the new button combination, I find I often do it on accident. Life is hard.

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The Current Solution

When that happens, some version of the image on the left appears. A screenshot of your current screen goes to the bottom left corner & you are able to interact with it in three ways: Swipe it to the left to save it, tap it to open markup tools & more options, or wait for it to disappear. Though these options are fine and are arguably an improvement over the old default, Apple still assumes I want to save a majority of my screenshots. …


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A Brief Problem

On my way home from an Ultimate tournament, a group of teammates and I were in our third hour on the road. As our ability to come up with good conversation topics waned, we reverted to my favorite social crutch: music. I queued up a few songs (about 40, actually) and let them play through. While listening, I’d frequently get requests for certain songs, questions as to what as playing, and when my list ran out, a welcomed request to change DJs (I guess I am not that good at it).

A few weeks later, my roommate was going out for a run with a friend jokingly suggested, “if we hit play at the same time we can be listening to the same songs while we run.” Though tedious, this is a way to share in the music experience when speakers are not available. …

About

Greg Garnhart

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