Spring 2022 Worknotes20 April 2022
What happened was: I meant to write about the end of 2021 before a big project in 2022 kicked off. And instead, 2022 came around, the project kicked off hard and whoosh it’s now the Spring.
I have been quiet here, but busy at work. And so, here we are.
What’s been going on?
Wrekin wrapped up in the autumn, as expected. I completed my final pieces of documentation, and handed them over. Recently, I’ve been doing a small amount of handover and advisory work with their new lead developer as they push through the next phase of the project. I’m excited to see where they’ll take it.
The small media project I mentioned last time came to fruition. Codenamed Hergest, it was a proof-of-concept to explore if a product idea was achievable - and feasible - within a web browser. Rather than prototype the whole product, I focused on the single most important part of the experience - which was also the single most complex part of the product, and the make-or-break for if the product was feasible. We got to a point where it looked like it would be possible, and I could frame what it’d need to take forward - to “paint the rest of the owl“, as I described it to the client.
Hergest covered a fun technology stack: an app-like UI in the browser, using a reactive web framework; on-demand audio rendering using Google Cloud Run; loading media from disk without sending it across the network thanks to the File API; and working with Tone.js for audio functionality in the browser. It’s remarkable what you can do in the browser these days, especially in contexts where such rich behaviour is appropriate. In a few weeks of prototyping we got to an end-to-end test that could be evaluated with users, to understand demand and needs without spending any more than necessary.
Lowfell has slipped a little, which is on me: there was some issues with UPS shipping, and then pre-existing commitments managed to steal a lot of my energy. I’m hoping to resolve this in the coming weeks, but I did at least get a second prototype shipped and a 1.0 firmware built and signed off.
There was more teaching. I returned to be industry lead for the Hyper Island part-time MA, and spent some good days with an international crew delivering some lectures and coaching them on their briefs - this time, a particularly interesting brief delivered by Springer Nature. The students really got stuck in to the world of scientific publishing; a shame we were still delivering remotely, but not much else could be done there. I also am teaching at CCI again, delivering Sound and Image Processing for first year Creative Computing undergrads for one morning a week, through to the summer.
Finally, in Q1 I kicked off a three month project working with Normally. A team of three of us worked on a challenging and intense public sector brief. Gathering data, performing interviews, sketching, and prototyping; we spent 12 busy weeks exploring and thinking, and I was personally really pleased where the final end-to-end prototype we shipped - as well as the accompanying thought and strategy - ended up. It was great working with Ivo and Sara, as well as spending time in the wider Normally studio, and perhaps our paths will cross again. It was a great start to the year, but pretty intense, and so I didn’t have much time outside it for reflection.
What’s up next?
Two existing projects need wrapping: firstly, finishing up term at CCI and marking some student portfolios, and also wrapping up Lowfell.
Secondly, I’m going to spend the summer working with the same crew inside Google Research that I worked on Easington with, on a interesting internal web project. Not a lot to be said there, but it’ll keep me busy until the autumn, and I’m looking forward to working with that gang again.
And so, as ever: onwards.