Week #211-212

Friday, March 6th, 02015 at 20:02 UTC


Week #211 was onsite. We were continuing to dig into data sets and event tracking. We also started prototyping an online dashboard solution for some of the data they are currently sending to customers and partners via PDF. Moving things online has several benefits. The data will be updated more frequently. When people login, they will always see the most current info, rather than finding the PDF and trying to figure out if it is the most recent or is there another one in an email somewhere.

From our side of things, we get the benefit of tracking. We can remind people about the online dashboard, infer what value they are getting from different parts of it and better build new metrics in the future. We’ve also been looking to make the whole thing responsive so it is something to easily show others in the hall-way and at events. So far we’ve made an HTML prototype to match the parity of the PDF and there is too much information. This was a good first iteration to demonstrate the business case for spending more time and effort to develop something entirely new.

This week the BBC R&D division published a few videos about the Ethics of Data. One of the four mini-documentaries is discussing the Internet of Things and the need for a kill switch. We briefly weigh-in with some of our thoughts.


Week #212 was more of a mixed week. We spent the time in lots of meetings. Our virkisfell project is slowly moving forward. Now that we know more about the real customer needs, the original code was scrapped and we’ve restarted the models in a different way. We had a meeting with the Icelandic Red Cross to see what their needs would be in our system and the outcome was very positive. We’ll have a follow-up with them in a few weeks and show them our progress. We’ve been slowly collecting people and development partners for our fall push.

It has also been a busy week with Vísar rolling out new surveys and finishing-up others. Each time we conduct a survey it is getting smoother and smoother.

Another on-and-off project we’ve been developing from the US West Coast had a good meeting this week. Lot of sticking points have been ironed out and we’ve been moving forward with the code prototype. The goal is for us to start using it and see of our end customers will accept the output. If it works, then we can refine and consider rolling this service out to more beta testers. Like the virkisfell project, this is pretty industry and vertical specific. We’ll be able to discuss more once we’re sure it will go forward.

If we’ve learnt anything, it is the realisation that a lot of time and effort goes into an idea before you know if you want to continue with it. Back of the envelop calculations say it is around 90h we’ve spent. That’s 2+ full weeks of unpaid work to learn if this is a good idea. For any project for another company we’d expect to get paid for this work. This isn’t Speculative Work to get a job. This is ground-work to see if this is worthwhile to start a new company or product which we would be an owner of. Everyone need to balance-up the risks (of not ever making money on these lost hours) with the rewards and opportunities (ownership and shares in a much larger company or product).

This week we also had a late-night meeting with Australia for a potential project. This meeting was to go over a bit of a scary Request For Proposals (RFP). Any time someone says we want a system and here’s a screenshot of how it should look, be careful. Either they’ve already made their mind-up with who they are working with, they already know exactly what they want and your feedback is irrelevant (even if it is better) or they are novices and could be difficult to work with since you’ll have to break it all down and start from scratch. There is nothing wrong with spending the time to teach your customers better ways to ask questions, it just takes time and money which people tend not to part with easily.

We also went into another local company here in Iceland and pitched them a few ideas. The reception was good and now we need to get back to them with some time and price estimates on a few of these ideas. We’re hoping they will get picked-up but there are so many bureaucratic things that still stand in the way.

On the prototype front, we had been crafting some ideas for new ceramic wall tiles. The sorts of tiles you see behind a kitchen sink or in the shower. We have a few design ideas and wanted to get them printed onto these tiles. This turns out to be a harder thing than you think to find a company in Iceland who is willing todo it, then if they are, they’re not sure they can. We did find some willing to try so we’re going to make some colourful mock-ups and see about getting some test prints of ceramic tiles created when they have some free space in the kiln.


One other thing worth mentioning on these weekly updates is invoices. Lots of freelancers and small companies live and die between invoices. We’re no different. When it takes a while to get paid, it hurts our bottom line and means we need to compensate with a higher hourly rate. For reference, at the moment we have 3 outstanding invoices. One we just sent off, so that takes time. Another seems to have gotten “lost”, but they’re on top of getting it sorted out. The question is how long is the appropriate amount of time to ask them to look into it without seeming like you’re too needy. After an unpaid invoice lapses for around 30 days, we check-in. The the third we’ve emailed about an no one has replied, so we’ll just keep trying. We don’t have any silver bullet to getting paid on time, we’re just lucky we’ve manage to get paid every time, even if it does take awhile.


This is a beautifully simply table extension. It works sort of like a wrist-watch band, a flexible connection of links. In this case triangles that can wrap around themselves. They are loose until you pull the stiff wooden extensions out to support the band. Nathalie Dackelid, a Swedish furniture design student came up with the idea.

In Week #211 we went out to the Stockfish film festival here in Reykjavik, Iceland. We saw the film Goodbye to Language 3D. It was a 3D film, but it was a french surrealist 3D film. The most interesting part was at several points in the film, each one of the cameras used to create the 3D affect followed a different character around the room. This totally broke the 3D experience if you had both eyes open, but closing one eye or the other allowed you to see two different perspectives on the same situation.