Week #181-182

Sunday, August 10th, 02014 at 10:01 UTC

Week 181 shares its name with a large, main belt asteroid called 181 Eucharis. It is an S-type asteroid, which means it is stony and accounts for about 17% of all known asteroids. This is the second largest group of known asteroids. Sticking with rocks, in the year 181, a volcano associated with Lake Taupo in New Zealand erupted. It is recorded as one of the worst eruptions in the last 5000 years and could be seen from half-way around the globe in Rome.

182 is also a very popular name. 182 Elsa is another s-type, main belt asteroid estimated to be around 44km in size. 182 is also the number of carats in the famous Star of Bombay. It is a violet-blue sapphire originating from Sri Lanka now part of the Smithsonian Institution. We all also carry a bit of 182 around with us in the shape of the human gene GPR182. It is a G protein-coupled receptor which is the focus of about 40% of all current medial drug research.

In week 181 we finally saw the fruits of many previous weeks of labour. We sent off our designs to a local company to get some various plastics, woods and metals all laser cut with different Scandinavian cross-stitch patterns. This is early pixel art at its finest. We learnt plenty about the process, what materials work, which don’t, how big or small you can cut without losing detail. We are excited by the results.

After showing several people and getting feedback about what materials they prefer and why, we have a much better sense of what to use for the next phase of the project.

We also got back from the letterpress printer our first batch of Analog.is notebook covers. We started our kickstarter project back in March 02014, and after months of funding, designing and now printing, the results are mesmerizing. The impression of the islands on the soft paper is amazing. The first 6 island notebook designs are printed and being assembled with pages, staples then cut down to size.

In week 182, we finally finished and sent off the final stretch goal design, a Martian Island. This took an incredible amount of work. You can read all the background and issues with the satellite photos on our kickstarter blog. In week 183, we should expect to see the plates being made and the letter pressing to being. When it does, we’ll have some photos.

On the non-prototype/product front, we’ve been in several meetings these weeks. We continue our work on a centralized calendaring system. This is replacing a replacement system for an even older system which has been “End-of-lifed”. Given the opportunity to work from the ground-up with the years of mistakes and missteps is a great opportunity. We’re not doing any of the coding, but instead we’re advising since we’ve had a lot of experience with calendaring from Microformats, UEFA and past projects which used this older calendaring database.

Other meetings include more and more map work. People asking for help or advice with their mapping solutions. Usually these are smart people who have the data and been talking with the right folks. It isn’t a case of someone seeing something pretty and wanting to replicate it, but rather they have a goal and are using maps, but they are far from optimized. Rasterized maps, with various zoom layers, are not small files! There are sneaky ways to dynamically load data, but over 3G or out in the high-lands of Iceland without a connection, these maps need to be cached locally. So we’re seeing what is possible and giving out our advice.

We also took a few afternoons to plan-out a new beta product for the folks in Australia. We took the opportunity to outline two potentially new products and look at the workflow, what was viable to build on a tiny budget and how the system will generate revenue. After all that, we’re putting some focus onto just one new idea and building-up a simple example to see if our potential customers would be willing to “pre-order” to help off-set some of the next development costs. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about the Oberon project in the next few weeknotes.

Finally, on the leads front, we’ve been chatting again with some previous project managers and they have a few new ideas. They are very interesting and exciting, and we’re chomping at the bit to work on them, but need the green light from the customer. Hopefully, these will turn-up as regular projects in future weeknotes.

Some of the team have been asked back to teach at two of the local universities this fall. Schedule permitting, we’ll be back in the classrooms again. That should be fun and exciting. Academia is very different than the world of freelancing and small businesses. It is good to keep a foot in both and be able to bridge the gap and help people make the transition from one to the other.


Using some pencils, glue and a lathe, Studio Markunpoika creates beautiful wooden lamps and vases.

Since we’ve been focused so much on the Mars notebooks, we do have an affinity for space and science. In week 182, the European Space Agency’s satellite, Rosetta, caught-up and is now orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In the upcoming weeks, it’s orbit will get closer and closer where it will deploy a lander onto the comet to get further information.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 3 August from a distance of 285 km. The image resolution is 5.3 metres/pixel.