09 January 2017
I was out for all of Week 210, because it was Christmas and New Year, and downing tools is very important (and necessary). Turned out to be an excellent break.
Then, in week 211, I spent much of the time ramping back up for 2017 – thinking a bit about what’s to come in the year, working on some small projects and continuing my own product development work. To that end:
I spent some time really pushing Longcrag on. I built up a new prototype on a breadboard, and it proved markedly superior to an existing one, so I’m probably scrapping one of the five products under the Longcrag umbrella and replacing it with this one.
I also spent some time continuing to plan out packaging approaches. This was helped by inheriting a surprisingly good USB thermal printer from Tim at Sensible Object (who are upstairs from me), and using this to prototype labels. That’s going to work well, I think.
The final 10% of Longcrag is taking frustratingly long – it’s lots of small bits that need pushing forward – but it’s going to be good, I think, and right now, I’m trying to emulate the best producers I’ve worked with in terms of thinking how to get stuff into the world.
I also spent some time in the ramp-up to 2017 working on Blackdown, the follow-up product to Longcrag. I spent an afternoon really prodding the firmware for Blackdown, and made a lot of progress – both in that it functions correctly, and in that it functions interestingly. My investment in the oscilloscope last year once again paid off – the usability and clarity of good tools is always a reward, and in this case, it made possible observing critical timing in the order of milliseconds (and quantifying the drop in latency as I optimised code). I’m really excited with where this object could go.
Finally, I continued my work on tooling for Good Night Lamp. That meant getting the tools live into a production environment, adding some more features, fettling bugs, and talking to the team about their needs and then doing the best to integrate a minimal version of their current process into the tool. It’s coming to life nicely.
Over the weekend, as is often the case, I sat down and thought about goals (rather than resolutions) for 2017. Some of those are work-related, and I feel like I’m going to be reviewing them roughly quarterly to see what I’ve done, what’s likely to prove impossible, and what needs to be added.
For now, though: onwards!
23 December 2016
And that’s 2016. Final set of notes for the year, then:
Selworthy is in a really good place. Spent some time co-ordinating moving some DNS around and setting up a new splash-site that other people can maintain, which meant wrestling with the state of WordPress development in 2016, and also thanking my many lucky stars for all the work we did moving our operations to Ansible. There was various fettling of existing installations, and also some rough edges on prototype functionality smoothed out.
I spent an afternoon with George at Good, Form and Spectacle wrapping up some work we’d be doing together.
I also spent a few days working with Alex on building out some simple but vital tooling for Good Night Lamp – hoping to wrap that up in the new year.
Lots of movement on Longcrag. Over December, all the prototype boards and panels arrived. The boards are definitely a success: they all function well, with no minor functionality bugs; they also all have clearly labelled silkscreens and will definitely be buildable which is important for DIY components. The frontpanels – my first iteration – will probably need a second pass; some tolerance need easing up, some silkscreening needs adjusting, but they’re very, very close. I’ve also started writing build documentation for them, which is going well but going to take another pass or two – and that’s all helped confirm the BOMs are correct. Not spent much time thinking about packaging; that’s for next year. But I’m excited where this project currently is – we’re into that “final 10%” which is going to be a bit of a hump. But: exciting!
And of course, a few conversations about next year. I’m hoping to step back from Selworthy next year, and whilst I have a few collaborations in the calendar, and possibly some work early in the year, if you’re interested in the space I tend to operate – between software and interaction, thinking through making, making culture – you should get in touch.
All the best for 2017.
30 November 2016
A good few weeks.
Week 202-203 saw me in Berlin for Loop – Ableton’s gathering of music-makers. I include it here as it was, for me, somewhat work-related: my practice has been orbiting around audio and music for a while, and I wanted to spend some time devoting brainspace to that – and meeting other musicians and creators. It was both a rest and a kick up the rear for my head, and that was ideal.
Whilst I was in Berlin, Richard was playing Twinklr on Radio 3’s Open Ear. Great validation to have an instrument we’d built played in live performance.
Work over this period of time had a few main focuses:
- Moving some prototype features of Selworthy into beta, and fettling some existing functionality
- Working on some project documentation for Good, Form & Spectacle
- Making a concerted push on Longcrag – a hardware development project of my own. The final output of Longcrag will, I hope, be some DIY kits for amateur musicians; in the meantime, I’ve sent the latest – hopefully final, but we always say that – revisions of the PCBs and Panels to OSHpark for manufacture. I’ve also spent some time on Octopart hammering out BOMs to help with costings and estimates; Octopart has proven to be a lifesaver. I’ve also begun thinking about documentation and packaging, though that still feels very hypothetical. Still, worth pushing end-to-end on something, so on the days I can spare for it, that’s where my head is.
It feels like a struggle sometimes, juggling all these different things, but when I write it down, it feels good: some product development, some client work, and pushing all these things forward. That’s a useful value of weeknotes, however late they are: being able to somewhat objectively quantify what I’ve been up to, and realise that the balance – whilst still fragile – isn’t as far from where I’d hope as I might think. Onwards!
02 November 2016
I’m going to be in Berlin between the 3rd and 8th November. I’m attending Ableton’s Loop – purely as an attendee, to put my brain in a new context. I’d been wanting to go for a few years but circumstances conspired against me, and it felt especially relevant given this year’s work on instrument-building. I’m mainly at the conference, but I’ve also got some time for both sightseeing and saying hello.
So if you’re at Loop, or interested in saying hello regardless, drop me a line, there might be something to do; I’ve a bit of time on Thursday, Monday and Tuesday.
02 November 2016
When I’m busy, there are loads of reasons that there’s not a lot to write: sometimes, I’m mid-flow, and there’s not much to say or show until I understand the problem better; sometimes, because I’m so busy my capacity for writing is spent before I get a chance to write weeknotes; and sometimes, for simple reasons of client confidentiality.
So there haven’t been many worknotes recently. I even missed week 200! I think I’m going to have to find a way to build weeknotes back into the schedule as well as the practice.
In the meantime, some notes on the past few weeks:
- I’ve been head down on an intense project with Good Form & Spectacle – lots of prodding both data wrangling, D3, and the intricacies of SVG arc syntax.
- I’ve been continuing to work on prototyping a new feature for Selworthy – lots of wrangling of ffmpeg and image generation to surprising results.
- and I’ve been beginning to think about some personal product development work in the run up to Christmas – getting ready to stare at EAGLE and C programming again.
I’m going to be in Berlin briefly this week, between the 3rd and 8th of November, if you’d like to say hello – more in an upcoming post.