Week 4

09 November 2012

Monday and Tuesday were spent with Storythings, and a lovely gang of developers (and friends) working on an internal hack day for a charity: building prototype products to show them what’s possible with a centralised content API. There are two more days next week on this. I’d wrapped up a small prototype by the end of the second day, and have got an interesting, more data-oriented one to work up next week, which should be good. Lovely people to work with all around, though, and some excellent lunches over on Hanbury St.

Wednesday was mainly spent working on a pitch with Rachel from Caper. This was following up some work we’d done the week before – turning our ideas and sketches into writing that met the requirements of an application form. And making a video; that led to me breaking out Premiere and my voice recorder for the second time in two weeks.

The rest of the week turned into business development and working for myself. A few meetings on Thursday and Friday, which might turn into nice leads in future. And, on Thursday, some time hacking up a small prototype piece of software – partly to refamiliarise myself with a few auth techniques, and partly to scratch an itch for some friends. A few hours saw auth with Flickr and caching lists of photos up and running; hopefully I’ll get some time in the near future to wrap that project up, although as ever, finessing the interactions and UI is already growing as I think about it.

Other good news on Friday was the effective completion of the RSC project: the work is complete, and we’ve got a launch date for it. That’ll be when press releases go out, and when I can take the wraps off it, and finally show you all. That’s in a little under two weeks time. Exciting!

And that was Week 4.

  • "A day of support at Mutable Instruments’ is more commonly populated with “If you see a 100kHz square wave at this node, it means the integrator charges itself very fast, probably through the op-amp compensation cap only, not the external cap – check for a bad solder joint on C9” rather than “Have you checked that the power cord is plugged?” (though it happens). Furthermore, once kits get built, ideas of mods and firmware hacks crop up – all requiring expert guidance. All in all, the “support” role at Mutable Instruments is more like “product engineering – the lost levels” – and that’s why, following the introduction of a product – support can be done by no other than the designer of the instruments themselves…" Still, MI's products are getting increasingly lovely. I've always been tempted by a Shruthi, and the Anushri looks lovely.
  • "Prototype iPhone apps with simple HTML, CSS and JS components." Looks nice; also, lovely splash site.
  • "Popularity rules, and fitness for purpose is secondary. We even make up a little rationalization about this: “Our code must be easy to read for the next programmer, so we pick idioms that will be familiar.” That would make stellar sense if idioms are forever, but they aren’t. They come and go like trends in pop music, and Ruby Archeologists can accurately date a business application by examining its gemspec file." I liked this line of thought.

Week 3

02 November 2012

Week 3, and time to slowly reveal my codename system.

Codenames, then. They were a thing we used at Berg, and lots of my colleagues and peers use them for referring to projects. They might sound a bit macho and secretive, but they do fulfil a useful purpose: it’s nice to give things a name before you’re in a place to reveal them. It makes writing about upcoming work much easier, too: things now have a single name, rather than a vague description. It took me a while to find a theme – I didn’t want anything too SF or militaristic, which is hard when you’re trying to find good codenames – but in the end I found a big enough list of names within a theme, that also had the requisite poetry to it; it makes me smile every time I pick one. +5 points if you’ve work out what they’re named for.

A few interesting meetings this week – talking to my friends at PAN Studio about potential collaboration, and working on a pitch (which my pipeline document tells me is codenamed Detling) with Rachel Coldicutt at Caper.

I also spent a day doing some work for Makielab – an exploration of a small problem space, to help with some decision making. It turned into a battle between me and geometry, but it moved a few things on, so I hope it proved useful.

And finally, I pushed the RSC project through to what, I hope, is its conclusion. That meant: picking up a second batch of laser-cutting, printing some posters, and finishing up the promotional materials.

The promotional website has not been too complex – a single-page site covering off the main elements of the project – but I’ve also put a chunk of time into a short explanatory video. Video always takes longer than you realise, but I’m pleased with the results; I hit “export” on Friday afternoon on the final thing. As well as learning quite a lot about Adobe Premiere, I’ve been reminded of how much better a film looks when it’s got good audio. The 69p clapperboard app I bought for my phone was worth every penny. Filming, still photography, and editing, took up most of the rest of the week.

And, I hope, we’ll launch the thing formally in a few weeks. I’m really excited to show you what I’ve been up to; I’m very proud of it.

November is looking quite healthy; next week sees the first two days of four total through Storythings (“Cheriton” in my pipeline spreadsheet). I’m still trying to pin down December’s work – get in touch if you’re looking for the sort of stuff I do (or: ask me if you don’t know what it is I do).