• Weeks 167-169

    18 March 2016

    And, just like that, I fell off the Weeknotes horse.

    I think 166 weeks on the go, though, is pretty good going. I imagine the slippage began when we moved onto what were, effectively, fortnightnotes: the routine was beginning to disappear.

    And as I get worse at something, I tend to try to push it under the rug. It’s often easier to try ignoring it and hope the problem will just go away, isn’t it?

    It’s also a way of not drawing attention to other things: the fact that Selworthy has stalled a little, pending delivery; the fact that Twinklr has been occasionally neglected, or occasionally more problematic than I’d like.

    But those things are all, really, part of the process. They’re part of the work. Weeknotes are about work, not success.

    So let’s get back on the horse. Since early Feburary, what’s happened?

    Selworthy has had a fair amount of wrapping up, as I bring it into land and hopefully, handing it on to a larger team. That’s involved fettling Ansible scripts and server deployments, solving minor bugs, adding a few tiny features that make all the difference to end-users. So that’s been good.

    Twinklr has been lots of two-steps-forward and one-step-back. I should write more on the notebook about it – another place that’s not seen the updates it should. But suffice to say: the shape of the project has surprised me at times, and I’ve not always been good at handling that surprise.

    The CAD work and hardware has largely gone very well – except some simple oversight and confusion on my part mean that the object doesn’t quite, at the moment, fit together properly.

    The software was all great, but it turns out the target platform really isn’t happy running that much stuff in a browser, and if we’re making a musical instrument, it should probably be snappy and responsive. So I’m rewriting it – in Processing, rather than Javascript. That feels drastic – a total rewrite – but so many of the hard problems have been solved already, and I’m now just re-implementing in a slightly different platform. It turns out it is going to have its own ‘exciting’ issues, but if they can be surmounted, then it was definitely the correct choice.

    I’ll write a little more over the weekend on the Twinklr notebook.

    And then, what else other than the two major projects?

    I spent three days in Newcastle running a workshop for Northern Film with David Varela. Over the workshop, we took four teams of feature film-makers – each with a film in the can – and looked at how they could use the internet to promote, distribute, or do anything interesting with and around their film. Four great teams meant that the workshop went to lots of interesting places, and was really involved from all directions – everybody brought interesting, unique experiences to the table. It was a good reminder of how much I can enjoy that environment, too – it’s a while since I’ve done any teaching – and it’s started some thinking around a potential workshop I might run in the late spring. Thanks in particular should go to Roxy at Northern Film, and to David, for (as ever) being a wonderful workshop partner.

    The electronics front has mainly seen tinkering – I think I’ve got a revision of Walton that solves some mechanical issues ready to send off – but there’s a potential project for later in the year budding, and occasionally being scrawled into notebooks.

    And I think that’s it, for now: mainly, it’s been head down, working, or teaching, or thinking, and remembering that lack of forward velocity now doesn’t imply that that isn’t the trend in the longer term.

    Last week put a lot of things in perspective, for me. We had a crit for Twinklr on the Friday, and I was nervous: here I was with nothing to show, hardware and software in pieces, and nearly halfway through. So I showed the decision-making instead. And it all turned out to be fine: several of us were despairing that the stage of the work we’d got to seemed to be further back than when we begun.

    As we each said this, the others in the same place seemed to relax. Or, at least, realise it wasn’t just them.

    This wasn’t failure: this was doing the work. We were in the middle of the project, which is when you are surrounded on all sides, and you just have to push through, and do the work. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like this, down here – but when it does, it doesn’t mean everything is terrible.

    And that meant that it didn’t matter that weeknotes had stalled a little. What was important is that I just carried on.

    Next week is week 170.