12 June 2017
Only two projects worked on this week.
Selworthy continues at a steady cruise. I worked up getting FFMpeg to send progress reports to the browser, fettled some new video encoding routines, and fixed some bugs with one of our formatters that were having knock-on effects in surprising places. I also continued research into a major refactoring and overhaul of a key system.
The big news this week was on Longcrag, which is pretty much ready for launch. Lots of little bits on it this week: shooting product photographs; prepping marketing materials; double-checking guides and documentation; finishing a website; filming a demonstration – and then all the edit work on that film. On Thursday, I shipped a box of products to a retailer, so I guess I’ve well and truly pulled the cork out of that bottle. It’s likely the first round of products will go on sale next week. More news then. Gulp!
05 June 2017
Gosh. Fell off the weeknotes wagon again, eh?
It’s been a very busy month, and yet most of its focus has been fairly linear: pushing forward on a variety of projects.
Selworthy is in a moderate motoring phase. We’ve got a new tech lead that I’m slowly handing over to, and he’s taking on a lot of the day-to-day responsibliities. I’m focusing a bit on some R&D and that means I’m up to my neck in browser and encoders and the horrors of discovering what turn out to be bugs in infrastructure.
Gisborough wrapped up in week 232: we had a final few weeks of writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more – and then fettling all our content architecture before deciding to add more writing in the final week. But we shipped on time, and it was a great team – and hopefully I’ll be able to link to more about it in due course.
Longcrag has taken longer than planned, owing to the fullness of my calendar. Lots of sticking tiny components in bags, repeatedly; writing and rewriting copy; slowly getting on top of build documents; making films and editing said films whilst video software crashes all around you; the final 10% taking way too longer. Nearly there: nearly there with product in the world. Terrifying/exciting all at once.
Along the way, I’ve done some minor Wapley fettling with Richard, getting it into a testable state and battling the limitations of mobile browsers.
And I’ve done a bit more invention on the next phase of Longcrag – breadboarding up one new product and sketching up another, and leaving them to percolate whilst I work out if they’re any good or not.
When I’m deep in client work, weeknotes can be a bit fractal: a month can look the same as a week, from far enough away. In some ways, that’s a good sign – it means the work has scaled a bit – but it also means that some of the blow-by-blow is more challenging to write about. It also often means that I tend to leave admin to the weekends, and that means it tends to get forgotten. I think I should be aiming to do the admin, but make it simpler. Perhaps, for this shape of work, weeknotes aren’t super effective. I think we’ll try to stick with them for a bit.
And hopefully I’m about to hit cruise control for a little: some projects are winding up and I’m going to leave a bit of slack in the schedule for serendipity, prototyping, and so forth. (I’m also in New York for a week from the 19th – get in touch if you’d like to sya hello). But for now: a couple more weeks of getting Longcrag out and wrapping up Wapley.
08 May 2017
Quick notes, but notes nontheless:
- On Selworthy, I wrapped up work on our latest export format and got that deployed to production. I also did battle with handling video with non-square pixels correctly. That was an adventure – and a pile of learning to do – but we got somewhere good in the end.
- On Gisborough, we committed our final content changes before a second round of testing. I also spent some time porting the application from “a directory full of PHP files” to a self-hosting Sinatra application, mainly to make it easier to host on PAASes like Heroku. This didn’t take very long, but gosh, Apache and
mod_phpis a pretty handy prototyping environment and some days I miss its easy availability.
- On Longcrag, my correct set of front panels arrived from Eurocircuits, and I built up the remaining test boards. So far, so good: I identified two mistakes on the boards (simple component values) that can be solved through corrections in the build document. I ordered the replacement parts, and next week, kitting up begins in earnest.
03 May 2017
The notes continue to be brief in proportion to the busyness of the week!
- I spent most of my time on Selworthy writing export tools for another broadcast subtitle format; challenging, but making lots of headway and understanding the format better the longer I spend with it.
- On Gisborough, we wrapped up a second pass of the content, started to brief an animator, and planned the final push on the project.
- Longcrag is paused whilst I wait for the replacement panels to arrive from Eurocircuits.
However, two prototypes for future Longcrag projects arrived, so I built them up. One was an entirely new board – albeit based on two other existing products – and it worked first time, and also confirmed that the idea for the product was a good one. So that’s something that might move up the production schedule depending on how the first batch of products go.
The other was a second iteration of something I’d made earlier – now ported entirely to surface-mount technology, and fixing a bug in the layout that meant the output voltages weren’t high enough. It works entirely correctly, and is quite exciting – unlike the other Longcrag products, which are my own take on existing ideas or concepts, this one is an invention, and it seems to work well. I built up two of them, and have sent one to a pianist for beta-testing, and to see how another musician responds to it.
Fair motoring, and rolling reasonable well through all the inevitable context-switching.
04 April 2017
- Gisborough marched on: we finished up a set of revisions to the previous week’s work, and started thinking about how best to illustrate it all.
- I spent some time on Selworthy cranking on a finishing up a particularly challenging file exporter. Despite an initial working prototype, I spent some time tidying up the code and making it much more compartmentalised: easier to test, and also easier to extend in future. I also spent some time trying to fix some strange import errors from other tools, when we tried to load these files into them. I compared ‘golden’ output from another tool with our own, and comparing notes as to what might lead to the issues we’re seeing. By the end of the week, I’d tidied up a lot of my own output and had improved our export files no end – but the inexplicable import errors were still to be dealt with
- With all the components for the first of the Longcrag products here, I fixed them up in their production packaging. The good news is the packaging works well and looks good. With the first 20 products packaged, I spent some time starting work on building a website about the products, and ordering various pieces of merchandise and collateral. The final few components arrived from various distributors, so once the final PCBs arrive, we’re into packaging up some kits – the products are self-assembly – and making sure our documentation is good to go. Exciting, and a little nerve-wracking, to see it all coming to life!