31 March 2014
Most of the week was spent working on the talk for FutureEverything: writing, a bit of research, a bit of continuing to tinker with electronics (a project called Hutton). The electronics are part of a prototype that’s important to the talk – a demonstration of a conceit. It’s not going to be complete before the conference, but worth continuing to push on with: having at least some work to talk about in a space feels important, so I continue to hack on things. And perhaps I can hint at some work in progress.
And, on Tuesday night, PAN, Gyorgyi and I all descended on the Design Museum for the Designs of the Year nominees’ party. As previously mentioned, it’s a great honour for Hello Lamp Post to be nominated. It’s on display there for the next few months, along with the rest of the nominees, so do check it out!
24 March 2014
In one sense, a straightforward week: entirely spent on Contributoria.
In other senses, more complex: I’m wrapping up my time on Contributoria, and thinking about what’s coming next. That’s increasingly looking like working on a few personal projects – various things have fallen over, thanks to changes in the Foursquare API; various things need pushing forward to the next phase, and dedicated time would be good.
Adding to the complexity is dealing with clients, which is always – for good or ill – the complicated part of business. In this case, the thing I’m finding hard is working out how to say ‘yes’ and how to say ‘no’ – especially to good projects I’m interested in but can’t, currently, see a way to take on.
This is all much harder than sitting down and writing code or sketching or building circuits, and it takes its toll from time to time. This is why downtime – be it for projects, or for rest – is important, especially if the business is to be successful and sustainable. Monday, then, was spent wrapping up a long weekend away, looking at the sea and striding over hills. A space to empty my head, consider what might be coming, work out how to do some things, and how to say others.
And if that all sounds a bit honest: well, weeknotes tend to go better when (within reason) I say what’s in my head.
I also spent some time on Friday on the phone to Kars. We occasionally have catch-up calls with one another. Nothing formal; just some time spent talking to one another about our practice, how work is, seeing what small business in Europe looks like from different angles. It’s always interesting to hear what Hubbub is up to, and it’s a useful perspective on my own work – and much appreciated!
Next week: wrapping up a few things, and preparing for FutureEverything.
17 March 2014
A fairly focused week. First, two days of workshopping and sketching on Botley, the goal of which was to narrow down which of a variety of prototypes the team would be taking forward. Intensive, and the kind of days fuelled by coffee and marker pens that leave you reeling a little by the time they’re done. But: good work done, good decisions made.
Then, the rest of the week on Haddington/Contributoria: primarily setting up some loose project management, and writing a lot of documentation. This is my last month on Contributoria, and I want to get a lot of things in place so that it’s easy for other developers to dive into the project.
Not much more to report, really: a lot of running around and typing. Next week is a bit more settled – at least, on the running around front; the typing is a bit of a constant.
10 March 2014
A busy week – not in the sense of absolute volume, but certainly in terms of the number of different things I was working on.
On Friday I was in Coventry for the Random String symposium. I think the talk went down alright, and I had a lot of interesting conversations with artists and practitioners. I’ll try to get it online soon: it’s a talk called Technology as an Artist’s Material, and it takes a slightly different slant on some of the ‘materials’ based talks I’ve done in a while.
Quite a bit of the week was spent working on that. However, I also fitted in a day of meetings for Haddington/Contributoria, about how we were going to get to 1.0, planning the next few months work, and seeing what else was on the horizon. Good to have the whole team in the same place, it always leads to strong conversations.
I also spent a day on Seager, making the website for the connected-object degrade gracefully from Websockets to AJAX-based long polling when Websockets weren’t available. It’s easy to do this when you’re testing if the browser supports Websockets. The more important use case, though, is when a browser supports websockets but (for whatever reason) they’re not being transmitted correctly – for instance, if an HTTP proxy is blocking them. It was a reasonably day of fine-grained code and testing, but the end result was not just the correct, seamless functionality; it was also better-abstracted code that more clearly expressed all of the site’s functionality. Very worthwhile.
A busy week. Week 74 is more focused, and less dependent on the muse sticking around long enough to write 30 minutes of flowing lecture. Onwards!
01 March 2014
Four focuses this week:
- continued work on Contributoria, in advance of the March issue going live on Saturday the first. Mainly tidying up loose ends, adding a few useful features, getting things shipshape.
- a day fettling the Hello Lamppost code, in advance of two installations of it.
- working on my talk for Random String, which was coming together after a day, but will still need some time in the week before the event to really haul its disparate influences together.
- continuing to prod some hardware/software integration tests for Hutton. As part of that, I shared my somewhat-documented demonstration code on Github. It’s a very straightforward demo – retrieving a random number from a web server via an Electric Imp, and then pushing that number over a simple serial protocol to an Arduino. It doesn’t do much, other than illustrate how the components fit together.
Except: it’s an end-to-end demo. It covers each part of the service – Arduino code to handle serial data; Squirrel code for the Imp to request data and process it – and more Squirrel for the agent to make the HTTP request and return it to the device. Now all that remains is to swap out the server being used, the data being sent, and the representation of that data on the Arduino. By understanding the end-to-end process, I’m now in a better place to focus on the unique aspects of my implementation. It felt worth sharing, as it’s a little conceptual hump to get over.
And the usual comms management: handling inquiries about my availability, meeting people to talk about future projects. My March is wall-to-wall busy, with two talks to write and deliver, more work on Contributoria, some IOT work, a workshop for BBC R&D, and, if there’s time, a bit more work on Hutton. Blimey. For now: onwards.