Photo of cookout

Photo by Vincent Keiman on Unsplash

Many of us in the United States have a long Labor Day weekend coming up, which, contrary to its name, we usually celebrate by not doing labor. That fact leaves us facing a conundrum on the Friday before the weekend: we don’t want to start a new project that might require a lot of research or thinking, yet we really feel like we should do something before we knock off for the week.

In this spirit, I’ve selected three submissions from the recent Second Annual Shiny Contest whose content is NOT directly related to data science or work. I feature them only to illustrate their creativity and possibly, to suggest light-hearted ways to enjoy your time off. If you’d like to make your own choices, please check out all the entries in the full listing of the 2nd Annual RStudio Shiny contest submissions.

So without further ado, here are our three recommendations for ways to relax with Shiny on your labor-day weekend. If you want to try out the apps for yourself, just click on the images and a live version of the app will open in a new window.

Learn To Paint With Bob Ross

Bob Ross App

With all the ennui of our current business and political worlds, perhaps you need a soothing and calm voice to help you learn to paint. I’m referring, of course, to Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting videos that appeared on the Public Broadcasting System from 1983 to 1994 and are now available on YouTube.

The Shiny app submitted by Georgios Karamanis is minimalist in appearance, but that’s part of its charm. It reads in a database of the Bob Ross episodes created by Walt Hickey of FiveThirtyEight.com and combines the painting elements being taught into a simple, hand-drawn painting. This visual synthesis allows the user to visually browse through the paintings created in each episode and decide which painting techniques they wish to learn. You then take the season and episode number from the app and it’s off to YouTube you go to be soothed, reassured, and taught that all you really need to start painting is a nice wet wash of platinum white.

You can read more about this app on its submission page at community.rstudio.com, and you can learn about Bob Ross from his web site and wikipedia page.

Play Some Hangman

Hangman App

I think pretty much everyone has played Hangman at one time or another. The goal is pretty simple: guess the letters that make up the target word in as few guesses as possible. Each wrong guess adds another element to the hangman figure. If you guess wrong 10 times, you’re hanged.

Ten tries is quite a few, so I’m sure most readers of this blog will find themselves winning most games. Should you find yourself bored with so much winning in English, try the unadvertised Russian version.

You can learn more about the author and the app in its submission description.

Adopt a Cat

Adopt Don't Shop App

You know that the internet is made of cats, right? Maybe it’s time to put away your computer and adopt one. If you live in the Los Angeles, California area, Nyssa Silbiger and Margaret Siple have you covered: you can browse the collection of the Los Angeles Kitten Rescue cats available for adoption with the Adopt Don’t Shop app.

If you’re in a data sciency mood, you can examine the distribution of species and names in their appropriate tabs, but most people will want to go straight to the Kitten Tinder page and browse the kitties. Best of all, should you fall in love with one (and you probably will), hitting the “I want to adopt!” button will take you straight to that cat’s adoption page.

Check out the submission entry for details on the app and its code but don’t feel you have to. Browsing adoptable cats is a perfectly acceptable Labor Day activity.

Can’t Decide? Practice Making Decisions

Shiny Decisions App

I know I said I’d only highlight 3 apps, but I’m adding a 4th because it’s one of those apps that captivates users. I’m speaking of one of the winners of the Shiny Contest, Shiny Decisions. This app is about making the best decisions in bad situations while you try to save the world. And while I’m sure everyone remembers War Games computer Joshua claiming “The only winning move is not to play,” you’ll want to play this one anyway. Read the submission entry for more details or just click through on the image above to play the game immediately.

For More Information

We thank all of the 183 developers who submitted the 220 apps in the 2nd Annual Shiny Contest for their hard work. We’ll be highlighting more topical selections from the Second Annual Shiny Contest applications during September 2020. In the meantime, you can read about the featured winners of that contest in our July blog post.