D&D: Artbreeder.com - AI Generated profiles for D&D and other cool art

I came across what has to be one of the coolest website I have seen in a long time. It is called Artbreeder.com and it utilizes AI to morph and merge images together. You essentially input two parent images and it will create an offspring. There are several categories on the site that you and select from, so I presume the the AI system has been tweaked for each one to get the best results. As you can see from the image above, where I have the portrait system selected, there are some sliders for various features you can select. 

The results are algorithmic, so you don't have any control over the creation. This isn't drawing, but it is an easy way to get an endless amount of good imagery. I have found the portrait mode to be very useful and something you can easily kill a few hours just going down the rabbit hole on. 

The only quirk I have found with the portraits at least, is that they tend to favor very "soft" female features. You also have to pay a fee to upload your own images, which is understandable, if unfortunate. 

I Finally Decided To Pay For A Music Streaming Service

So I finally did it. I have been resisting for years to get into the reoccurring music payment services that are out there like Spotify and Apple Music. I just don't really want to get int oa $10 a month for eternity system that means I would lose all of my music if I decided to stop paying. For the $10 a month, I would much rather just purchase something to add to my music collection. 

I do pay for iTunes Match, which is $24 a year and absolutely fine for the price to add my existing music library to the cloud for streaming. I am actually surprised there aren't more services that do this. All that being said, I didn't actually pay for the service that everyone may have thought I would. So instead of purchasing Spotify or Apple Music, I instead went with a subscription to DI.FM. What the heck is that you might ask? 

DI.FM is an electronic music streaming radio network. It is a radio network, so there is no music that you download. It is a combination of live radio shows and programed radio shows/playlists with a huge variety of electronic music genres, I think there is something like 50 sub-genre stations to choose form. 

Why would I have done this you ask? Well, it really boils down to the way that I like to listen to my music, The vast majority of my time I am listening to music as a background ritual, either while I am working or doing other hobbies. Of that time while listening, I more often than not want to listen to music that doesn't have any lyrics to it or isn't intrusive. I listen to quite a bit of classical and jazz music in addition to electronic because of that. The thing is, is I don't really need to keep that on my person in almost any scenario, except one, which I will get to in a bit. 

My actual music library is mostly a collection of a few selected albums with lyrics that I really like, with the rest being a goto selection of albums and tracks that fit my original "background playing" intent. The Skyrim soundtrack is always on my playlist by the way. 

The one scenario where I may want to listen to something more comes into play with my motorcycle. Those who know me know that I wasn't a huge fan of having a radio on my motorcycle and up until last year I didn't have one. I didn't even have a bluetooth headset to listen to music to while I rode. That changed a bit when I got my new bike past year and it came with one year of SiriusXM on it. Now, I actually liked SiriusXM quite a bit. Having commercial free radio accessible anywhere in the country was really nice and I was very close  to paying for SiriusXM up until a few months ago, after my subscription expired. The thing is that SiriusXM is kinda expensive. It costs $17 a month, and sure you can find some deals online that take it down to $60 for the year, but that involved haggling and in some cases playing the phone game with them much like you would with Comcast for your cable subscription price. I just have zero interest in doing that. I really only listen to 4-5 stations on SirusXM in any real way, so I couldn't justify that price and hassle. 

Now if I could get it in both my car, my motorcycle and online streaming for $15 a month, I might consider that, but the pricing just doesn't compete against even Spotfy or Apple Music. What SiriusXM did though was solidify how I like to listen to music and that is when I began the rabbit whole of looking for some online streaming services. TuneIn, Pandora, etc. all had a good look. I kept coming back to DI.FM though and what is nice about them is I could stream the entire service for free with commercials. I finally gave in here this past week and decided to go ahead and get a subscription, which only cost me $4 a month, which is more than reasonable for the what they offer. They even offer integration to other services and hardware like Sonos or receivers that have vTuners in them, so that may be worth exploring a bit more. 


Finding Some Positivity in Your Online Communities (Critical Role and Peloton)


This is a quick post, but something that popped into my mind this past Thursday when one of my favorite shows came back onto the air after being on hiatus from the COVID-19 situation. Critical Role, finally came back to its regular Thursday night schedule and I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to seeing it come back.

I have always been impressed with the Critical Role cast and team on how much positivity they put out in everything they do. They just show a tremendous love for their online community and to all of their fans and it suddenly struck me as to how important that is right now. Not just in finding your friends and family and all of that, but finding positivity in your online media. 

It just feels good to be a part of that world and share it in some small fashion. 

While I am at it, I want to give a shoutout to the Peloton brand and that community as well. Another entity that has developed a super positive and uplifting message for its entire and team. Of course exercise always makes you feel better when you are stressed, but I have found that Peloton has really made it a part of their core identity to incorporate all of its users as part of a family that is sharing a journey together. Their entire staff have an extremely positive and almost therapeutic attitude in what they talk about during their classes. 

It is only just now that I am realizing how much those things probably have really helped over the past four months. 

OurHome App: What a cool way to track house chores

Megan and I recently came across a cool app that we are using to keep track and manage our chores and other tasks around the house. I have been struggling for a while now on divvying up household tasks. I have admiringly been frustrated as I feel like I am spending my days off doing more house chores than Megan. 

I have always used Omnifocus for my own task planning and project management. While I have used it for my own chores and errands as well, it seems to be a bit overkill for just managing chores around the house. It also unfortunately does not have a  good way to share tasks with other people in a shared in environment, and it is pretty expensive for an iOS app. 

After some searching online a few days ago I came upon the OurHome app, which seems like it perfectly fits the bill. It is originally designed for families to assign chores to kids, but if you read the reviews online it appears that there are a lot of couples using it to just manage their household. They even have a special FAQ section for that. 

OurHome  has the basic "to do" list and tasks list for chores, which is what we are using it for right now, but also has some really cool features that expand upon that that make it perfect for chores and house tasks. 

The app features a really nice "autofill" feature that will suggest different types of chores. You can also peruse their "suggestions list" for various household tasks that you need to get done. You can also assign tasks, setup reoccurring schedules and more. One really great feature is that you can have tasks that are setup to "always be available" everyday. Something simple, like making the bed is available once and can be done by whomever gets to it first. It is very quick to make a task, assign it to yourself, spouse of leave it open for anyone to do and then just move on. 

It follows the GTD metholdogy that i like to use whereas you need to get something out of your head as soon as you think of it, otherwise it'll be forgotten or take up previous headspace. 

One other thing that I like about the app is you can assign reward points for tasks as they are done. It defaults to a number of points associated with how long it takes to complete a tasks. 15 minutes = 15 points. This is a feature primarily aimed for kids, as they complete their chores, they accuse points which they can then cash back in to mom and dad for rewards, like a allowance, a trip to the movies or something. 

I don't quite know what we are going to do with this yet, but Megan and I both think it will be fun to setup some sort of rewards for each other that we can cash in. 

There is also a calendar feature for shared events, a grocery list and a message center for group chats. All, very cool features, but I'm not quite sure if we will end up using those. Time will tell I suppose. 




Skateboarding

Yesterday Megan and I went out to the mall to just get out of the house and walk around. It was a really nice night outside (finally summer) and we just wanted to be out and about. While at the mall we decided to pop out heads into the Vans store. I'm not sure if the Vans store is new at the mall or if I just had not been into it, but we probably spent a good 15 minutes walking around, touching all of the shoes. 

Up through high schoolI used to wear Vans all the time. To be honest I am not quite sure why I stopped wearing them. I have wide feet and it has always been difficult for me to find a good pair of shoes and Vans always had sizes for me. 

Anyways, I think the nostalgia train immediately kicked in. I'm surprised I didn't go and buy a pair of vans right there, but the conversation immediately went to skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of those sports I have always wanted to get into, but I never did. I am not quite sure if it is because I was so invested in other sports growing up, but my mind immediately went to "why don't I learn how to skateboard?"

Ok, let's back up a little bit here. Why am I even thinking about skateboarding at all? Well, as I noted above I think I have a bit of a nostalgia trying going, even though I have never been a skater. It's summer, skateboarding is very much a summer sport and I have been listening to some mall punk almost non-stop as of late. Sum 41 has a new album coming out and Blink 182 put their new album out a couple of years ago. It's like the 90's pop punk thing is back. I just need to wait for ska it make is resurgence. 

I have also been thinking a lot about LA for some reason. A co-worker of mine went to LA last summer and it always has seemed like a cool city to me. It also has a reputation for skateboarding. 

So, here I am now, thinking about "why shouldn't I try skateboarding?" It isn't that expensive, $100 or so for a board and another $40 for a helmet maybe. There are skate parks at almost all of the park districts around me, and hell, it is summer. I really want to learn something new. 

So, I think in the next couple of weeks here I am going to try and hit up a local skate shop and talk to them to try and get into skateboarding. Goal is to be able to successfully do an ollie by the end of the summer.