Week #155

Friday, January 31st, 02014 at 13:31 UTC

Week #155. Post code 155 in Iceland isn’t a real post code geographically – you won’t find it on a map, but instead a reference code for private institutions like banks. 155 is also shared by another Main Belt asteroid named 155 Scylla. It was discovered in 1875 then subsequently lost of 95 years. It’s a smaller astroid than some of the others we’ve mentioned, which might account for it getting lost.

We are making progress on the Virkisfell project. The general framework is up and running with some styling updates. Now we just need to meet more regularly with the client to work on implementation details. As part of the agreement with the client, we’re looking to Open Source the whole project. We’d like to do so, but we’re currently looking at all of our options, both for revenue streams after it is free for anyone to download, but also conflicts of interest once anyone can use it. At the moment it’s not near ready to be released to the world, but some day it might make an appearance.

Next friday, we’ll be talking about the Internet of Things at a local event here in Reykjavik, Iceland called UTMessan. We’ve been brainstorming and working on some slides which we’ll publish after the event. It has been great to get into the semantics of what it means to be an Internet of Things device… is is “smarts” or “connectivity” or something else completely? We don’t have any answers, but it’s great to dig through animal metaphors and look at existing interactions.

Along those lines, we started another project with the internal name of hindber. Which, if things go well, will be our contribution to the Internet of Things. It is still very early stages and the team is trying to determine exactly what is in and what is out of scope for this project. We’ll next take the tools we have and see if a crude, working prototype can be built. If so, then it comes the hard decision to see where this project will lead, if it is financially viable and if there is a market fit. But before all that, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what it means to be part of the Internet of Things.

We also had a lovely lunch with another local printing company. We are working in collaboration with Borgarmynd on a few new mapping projects and we wanted to discuss volume, pricing, availability and some new printing materials. The printing company does all the disposable plastic luggage tags for airlines and if the price is right it might scale-up nicely to water resistant maps for the more rugged traveller. We also discussed UV Printing and showed-off the SVK comic book from BERG.

A few of our other collaborators and extended team members were passing through Iceland this week, back for a short time from Berlin. We managed to spend an afternoon catching-up, showing off interesting top-secret projects and planning a few new projects for this summer.

Finally, this week has also seen lots of small tweaks to the Vísar survey code-base. We are planning our largest survey starting next week. This means we’ve been ironing out small issues, getting additional translations into the system as well as planning a staggered email and SMS notification system. We want to avoid sending out 10,000 SMSes at the same time and having even a small percentage hitting the server at once. This will consume most of our February, managing this survey and planning for another two, each roughly the same size for March. The joys of using Heroku means that the cost for each of these servers, including databases and bulk email sendings should cost in the range of $15-50 USD. Not bad when you are surveying around ~5% of a nation! Our biggest cost will be the SMS sending. We pay around 4 cents per SMS which adds-up quickly. Depending on how many non-email respondents we get, the second way reminders are SMSes. Which means this could cost upwards of $400 USD – 8x our server costs.


LX Type – The official font of Lisbon

A wonderful typeface made from the iconic tram lines you see all over Lisbon. Each letter is from a real world location and configuration of the overhead lines. You can download the font and try it on the official website: http://en.lxtype.pt

Pixar’s Zoetrope

After seeing Jim Le Fevre’s Zoetrope demo at Insteresting08 conference using some cardboard, paper and a record player, zoetropes have been a simple example of animation. Studio Ghibli created a 3D zoetrope, which Pixar used as inspiration for their version.

Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan

Watching how the automated system works and where your bike goes is a fascinating look into the space-saving technology using in Japan.