Week #213-214

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

Week #213

We spent this week onsite working mostly around tracking and analytics. Everyone dealing with “big data” or “data mining” knows that they need to collect information about actions and behaviours, but how much is too much? Adding tracking EVERYWHERE is certainly possible, but it becomes more and more costly. These costs appear as storage and network requests. The more data being transferred means network chatter, which takes several hundred milliseconds. This is by far the slow of any application’s job, from rendering to data access to animation, network requests are where your users wait the most.

What we’ve done is to break the project down into smaller functional pieces. Then start to ask high-level questions such as “Before a user buys a token, what were they doing right before that”. Then we can start to only add tracking to actions that will answer that question. We created actionable and hypothesises based on the data we could receive. Having this structure allows us to focus on the question we want answered rather than having an answer in mind and back-fitting it to a question. So far we’ve been marching through the tasks and the tracking being added to the application. We’re still a ways away from launching the changes, but when we do we already have a good set of questions, a method to get the data and a hypothesis to confirm. Or, if it doesn’t work an idea of how we can change it or bring in some qualitative methods to see where we went wrong.

This was Design March here in Iceland. Lots of designers were on show around town.

We meet up with several friends during the week and brainstormed a bit about one of our new prototype projects revolving around concrete. It was a great chat because we discussed a few techniques that we hadn’t considered which might make the whole process much, much easier and more replicatable. We also got the contact details of some great folks working and pushing the limits on concrete when it comes to non-functional and functional design.

Week #214

We started the week off with some on-site training in London. All the flights in-and-out of Iceland were canceled on Saturday creating a massive backlog on Sunday. The airlines did a HORRIBLE job communicating the changes to people. As we sat in the airport for an extra 9h, we watched people explode, security and police be called and lots of angry words exchanged. It was a master-class in how to NOT handle customer relations.

Once we arrived in London, it was a pretty smooth trip all around. From landing in Gatwick to getting through a completely empty passport control, to jumping right onto a train into London to catching the Tube, everything went smoother than expected! In London we did a day of Data Viz training, then a day of meetings and brainstorming. Off the back of that, we have one small project already with plenty of room to grow.

Along the way we managed to find several interesting landmarks, from Samuel Pepys’ house to Dr. Johnson’s. There was also a ship which looked strikingly painted-up in what seemed to be dazzle camouflage. Even on the trip home, the airport check-in desks had a nice little feature. A large sticker on the floor giving an affordance of where to stand and which way to face. I’m sure the original idea was to be able to cram more people into a tighter space and avoiding confusion of who was to serve whom.

The return trip was just as smooth. Leaving from Heathrow Terminal 1, which is slated for destruction this summer, meant it was a complete ghost town. The most relaxed, quiet wait for a flight ever. There were only 5 flights departing from that terminal all evening. Landing back in Iceland, we blitzed through passport control and right onto the bus into town. From touch-down to our front-door wasn’t longer than 70 minutes.

This week we also did a lot of work on our school survey projects, cleaning-up data and making it more presentable.

We also had a meeting with the local chapter of the Red Cross about some projects. That meeting went very well and we’ve gotten some examples of things they want streamlined, so we’ll see what we can do.

Friday was our bi-monthly meeting with various folks to chat and brainstorm. This week over coffee and hot chocolate we discussed procurement, the shipping industry and various grow-big versus small-mom-n-pop shops and how investment changes all your plans.

Before the meeting started, Iceland played host to a near full solar eclipse. It was around 97.5% occluded and it certainly got dark out, but not so “other-worldly”. There were lots of people out and about in town with glasses and other tools to see the eclipse. From our office we simply held-up a make-shift pinhole camera and could see the eclipse in the shadows.

Finally, we end the week with a very late-night phone call with the west-coast of the USA to chat about another project. It has been a slow start, but everyone has been very busy and we’re all not exactly sure who the customer will be or who will pay or how much or little should we bite-off. Hopefully this meeting will clear-up some of these questions.


As it stands, we still have three outstanding invoices. Of the three from last weeknote, one was paid, two outstanding. Then we sent a third one off in week #214, so that is too early to chase-up. The other two we’ll continue to send emails about.


As an interesting generative artwork, this is interesting. A very flexible metal plate which is bent and crumpled during its transit to you. No two will be identical since each of the circumstances in the delivery are different.

Recently we have been brainstorming with a few organizations here in Iceland about some more interactive and automated installations. In week #214, this passed by our screens. It is a video arcade at the airport asking you to donate your left-over foreign currency. Rather than just putting it into a box, you can use the coins to play a few old-skool arcade games. Well played Sweden, well played.