Archives for September 2018

Alexa Tells Me What To Wear

I call myself a fashion and lifestyle blogger but sometimes it feels like that’s just out of habit. I’m terrible at posting outfit photos and I don’t really do the roundups like I used to. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what I wear, but I don’t feel confident enough to post it online to ask for guidance (rather I will only post if I have over thought the outfit or if it’s my Stitch Fix box reviews)

Alex bought me the Amazon Echo Look a while ago but I have only just gotten round to setting it up. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a little device which has a camera and Alexa built into it. On its own, it’s nothing special, but combined with the special app, it’s a surprisingly interesting item to have.

I have it set up in a spare room (the idea of having a networked camera in the bedroom creeped us out a little!) so I just walk in and say “Alexa, take my picture”. The device bleeps 3 times and turns the four lights surrounding the camera on, then takes my picture. You can also record little videos to show how an outfit moves, but I haven’t done that yet.

The app pretty much instantly tells me my daily look is available, and from there, I can ask the system to compare two different outfits. I’m not actually sure whether this is computer generated or whether there’s just a team of people deciding which outfit looks best, but the response is quick, and you get some feedback as to why that outfit was chosen to be the better option.

Here I put a jumper on over a dress because it was a bit cold, but the Echo Look prefered the look of just the plain black dress. It told me the colours worked better so maybe my little Echo Look is a secret goth?

Later on in the day (once it has time to analyse the outfit items I guess?), the app gives another notification and this time shows you other items you could buy to go with the jumper or skirt or whatever you’re wearing.

The Echo Look still has all the same abilities as your normal Alexa devices, so I can use it to turn on the lights in the den, or turn on the heating. The sound quality isn’t amazing, so I probably wouldn’t use it to play music, but I am an Apple Music person so I would just use my phone for that.

Another feature in the app that I like is that I can use the camera on my mobile phone to take a daily look picture. This is really useful when you’re trying on clothes but want a second opinion on which item looks better. I can also make notes on each photo (whether I own the items or not) to describe the brands, so this could be really useful if I wanted to look back at things I’ve tried on in the past to buy them.

There are a few things that I would like to see from future versions of the app though…

The Clueless Wardrobe

Remember that scene in Clueless where Cher goes to her computer and gets it to generate the perfect outfit for her? I want that in this app. I know it has the ability to pick out the specific items that I’m wearing, so I’d like it to be able to make suggestions from my own wardrobe. It could be really interesting to find new combinations to wear!

Sizing

Something that I’m actually surprised isn’t built in to this app is the ability to tell it how tall you are and how much you weigh. The style comparison function does tell you whether something flatters your shape better, so it obviously can understand that side of things, but it would be useful to be able to tell the app my measurements (perhaps even things like waist size in inches and bra size) so the recommendations would be more useful. I haven’t really looked at the items that the app has been suggesting for me, but it would be so frustrating if the items don’t come in my size.

Accessorising

At the moment, the app only seems to pay attention to the clothing items I wear (although sometimes does say “this shoe choice does work better”) but it would be useful if it could suggest whether an outfit would work well with a scarf or a certain colour bag or maybe even jewellery suggestions. (And hey, it’s more things that Amazon could sell you!)

Overall, I really like the idea of the Echo Look, and will keep using it, but it feels like just the beginning of what it really could be doing.

No, Blogging Isn’t Dead

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a blog post or a tweet or whatever proclaiming that blogging is dead (or asking it), then I’d be rolling around in a huge pile of cash, à la Scrooge McDuck (side note, I have been watching the new Ducktales series and it is actually the best thing on TV. You’re already singing the theme tune to yourself, aren’t you? Ooh ooh!)

So, is blogging dead?

No, of course it isn’t. I mean, you’re reading a blog right now. I know it’s easy to assume that blogging is over, but there are a lot of factors that make you think that but they’re not true!

  • My favourite bloggers haven’t posted in months
    That damn thing, real life, gets in the way for most of us, and if you’ve been following a blog for 10 years, then you’ll know yourself that you change as you get older and your priorities and time available adjust. People get married, have babies, move house, change careers. It just seems that they all seem to stop blogging at the same time and your Bloglovin page looks a bit dead.
  • Everyone just posts on Instagram instead
    True! People do tend to write a longer caption on Instagram these days instead of writing a blog post, because that’s where their audience is. Consider how much easier it is to scroll through your IG home page and reading captions than it is to read a proper post in whatever app you use (especially the Bloglovin app on iOS…it is so terrible at loading sometimes…help)
  • There are too many platforms and we’re spreading ourselves thin
    Yup. Not disagreeing there. The problem with this point (and if you take nothing else away from this post, just remember this) is that you don’t own any of those platforms.
    If Instagram disappeared tomorrow, what would happen to your audience that you’ve spent so long building up? Would they know where else they could follow you, where they could find you? This is why it’s so important to keep your blog around as your central hub and to keep directing people to your blog. You may sound like a broken record (as I probably do on this point tbh) but keep reminding people that you can always be found at your domain.
    A domain name is the most important investment every blogger and influencer should be making – I rarely say that a blogger should do something, but this is the only thing I think you have to buy. I’ve owned the domain ceriselle.org since March 2007, and in that time, I’ve been with three different hosting providers. But you probably don’t know that because the domain is the only thing you need to know how to find me. I could point this old domain anywhere I wanted including my Instagram profile, and 

I have seen people say that unless you blog x times a day/week/month/whatever, then you’re not a blogger but I disagree – as long as you have a blog and feel comfortable calling yourself a blogger, then you’re a blogger.

I feel like one of the biggest problems in blogging at the moment (and I’m very guilty of this!) is that the more blogs and social media from others in the same niche that we consume, the more that we build it up into this huge thing. Remember when outfit photos were just a quick snap in a mirror? Then we moved on to outfit photos needing a tripod. Then we moved on to getting other people to take those photos. Now it seems like unless you go to a fabulous location and have a photo shoot worthy of Glamour magazine, then it’s just not enough. 

But it is! It is enough! You are enough! It’s fine for other bloggers to do the big magazine style photoshoot, but if you feel awkward doing that, then you don’t have to do it. Find what works for you, and what gets you to keep your blog up and hopefully we’ll never have to hear “blogging is so overrrrrr” for a long time.

(I feel like I’m writing this to myself to be honest, so I’ll finish here but if you agree with any of this, let me know)

The Spheres

I’m always a bit unsure about sharing things we’ve done in Seattle because I know the majority of my long term audience is UK based. But I’ve asked this question before on Instagram and Twitter and most of you want to know what we get up to – and maybe it persuades you to come over here and visit! (If you do come from the UK, could you bring me some cheese and onion crisps and the Cadbury bar with the jelly beans in? Ta)

Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle

It’s difficult to talk about downtown Seattle without mentioning Amazon in some way. In terms of office space, they occupy at least 10 million square foot (according to this Seattle Times article, which has an interesting map showing where they are located) The most obvious of these properties are the Seattle Spheres, which are located on Lenora Street, between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue 

The Spheres are part of the main Amazon campus, and for 13 days of a fortnight, they are a workspace. Every first and third Saturday of the month though, they open up to the public to come and look around, but spots are very limited. I was idly looking at the website one evening and was lucky enough to find some timeslots open so I booked in for me and Alex to head over there.

This is the main wall, which is covered in plants from the first floor to the ceiling of the dome. The smoke you can see are mist sprays used to water the plants!

I was surprised that the tours are self guided – because you book for certain times, I was expecting some sort of tour guide. There are some small signs around the plants to let you know what they are, but nothing that really explains why the plants are special, or why they were chosen.

It’s easy to forget the Spheres are still an actual office. Not pictured – the walls of the lifts are giant whiteboards with pens etc all around. I think Alex was jealous!

I booked in for the first available time slot which was 2.45pm – we spent about an hour or so wandering around and checking out both the plants and the building. It was really interesting to look around, and was a good way to spend an afternoon downtown. 

Something that might be important if you’re visiting is that there isn’t much in the way of food and drink inside – there’s one place on the first floor which was totally closed (judging from the Spheres website, it’s not usually open at the weekends), and a small General Porpoise donut shop on the second floor, but that closed at 3pm so there were no donuts left by the time we went (sad face, I still haven’t tried their donuts yet!)

Reservations are available 30 days in advance, so if there’s a date you’re thinking of, make sure you keep an eye on the website! It’s free to visit, and there are lots of other things to check out in the area (lots of people were playing on the lawn outside by the pupper park and we also visited Amazon Go as Alex hadn’t been there yet)

The Spheres can be found at 2101 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98119 and you can find more information about visiting them at seattlespheres.com

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