Week #477-478-479-480

Friday, April 24th, 02020 at 11:11 UTC

This is a quadruple weeknote. Week #477 we were both too busy to write something, but at the same time, didn’t seem to have anything to write about. Week #478 was Easter week, so not much was happening and the office was shut. #479 got a little out of control, so here we are at week #480!

Since everything is a bit of a blur, we’re just going to list out some achievements these last four weeks.

O’Reilly as a client is certainly gone. They shutdown their conference business. It seems in their current form, there is no need for our survey analysis skills. That’s not to say there might not be something in the future, but for now, we need to put that to rest.

A second client probably won’t last the year either. That’s start-up life for sure and in this down-turn, investors will be much more picky in where they spend their money. We obviously hope for the best, but need to prepare for the worst. Our core survey business probably won’t hit too many bumps over the next 6-18 months, but you never know. Schools and business are still running and our surveys are done via the web and can easily be done remotely. It might be a little harder to pester someone to start a survey via tele-presence, but not impossible.

We always come back to that silly business management book that sits on our shelf, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty”. We aren’t in need of work now, but in 6-12 months, if we do, that’s already too late. That means, we’re always sniffing around and making a Plan B incase some things don’t go as planned!

For one of our experimental, secret projects we are using AWS Lambda to listen to changes in an S3 bucket, pick apart the file get some metadata and report it back to our Web API. After a bunch of source-code spelunking to get everything into a single python script, rather than upload some custom libraries, we managed to get it working. Only to realise that AWS Lambda maxes our at 512MB of memory and we’re most likely dealing with much larger files. It just means graduating to some EC2 instances, but that’s another task for the todo list now. Luckily, after even more research, it turns out the /tmp/ directory is only 512MB, but the memory can go up to 3GB. Rather than fetch a file and unzip it to /tmp/ we can now stream it in memory!

We did some more digging online to find the source of Apple’s Monochrome Emoji font. This is their new symbol font that can be used for device engravings. We’re not sure why, but we’re just enamoured by these emojis. You rarely see them in monochrome so their edges are so sharp and crisp!

This is a copyrighted font and Apple don’t exactly make it easy to find or download. After some inspector magic and cURL voodoo with sessions, we downloaded a local copy. We can’t really do anything with it, but it is a v3, so if a v4 appears we can repeat the process and see what might be new.

On a side note, if you look at the available emojis you might wonder why they choose some of those they did but a certain set of 12 match perfectly to the Animal Zodiac. That’s probably no accident!

In week #478, right before the Easter break, we made a few minor tweaks our Newsletter iOS app and set it free. This is really an artisanal email client designed to work well with newsletters. It is setup to work like an RSS reader, but via IMAP over your newsletters. The app is beyond BETA, but still needs some polish and we’re sure there are some bugs here and there. For the time being, it is a free download, so grab it while you can.

One of the comedians that gets mentioned in the office quite a bit is Richard Herring. We volunteered to help make a really simple iOS app for them in the past to help promote his Emergency Questions. It has a few in app purchases, which, thanks to his fans, did not make an insubstantial amount of money! With the UK Lockdown, he has taken his normal RHLSTP podcast from a live audience in the Lester Square theatre, to twitch streaming.

Using the Apple TV, we downloaded the twitch app and loaded it up. We like to think we have a pretty good handle on the pulse of technology, but twitch is something we haven’t really explored. From its humble origins in Justin.tv, to evolution to Twitch game streaming, to Amazon’s near-billion dollar purchase.

Week #479 we were slightly more productive. While in the iOS app development mindset, we went back and took a pass at Triagemail and Text Stats. No new functionality, but we added some keyboard shortcuts and new iPadOS pointer recognition. If you have one of those new, fancy iPads with a keyboard and trackpad, you’ll benefit a bit from these updates.

A few more bug fixes and style updates on the top secret project. The previous week it was AWS code, now it is back to the design patterns. As we know more about what it is we’re building, we can go back over a lot of the earlier decisions and update as needed.

John Conway passed away from COVID-19 this week. He is famous for Conway’s Game of Life, but more broadly for recreational mathematics. We have taken a lot of inspiration from Cellular Automata and many of his other projects.

In Week #480, we are starting again to get back into a “normal” routine. We are catching-up on a massive backlog of unsent emails. We can keep on top of incoming emails, but we’re trying to also be proactive and keep connections with others going. The occasional checking-in email to see if there is anything we can do to help, or a few interesting links/images or a heads-up that might help their business. We tend to collect things over the course of days and weeks, then take a chunk of time to disseminate the information we’ve found. Finding time todo this isn’t always easy and might not seem valuable, but we’re playing the long game and hope it pays off sometime in the future.

On Thursday it was the First Day of Summer ☀️🏝 (sumardagurinn fyrsti) in Iceland. It is a public holiday, which is always on a Thursday. It is connected with the Old Icelandic Calendar, which has the unique property of every month always starting on the same weekday. The Old Icelandic month of Harpa is the first of the six months of summer, but more importantly, the end of the six months of winter!

Which then only leaves poor Friday. Which is today. Stay safe 😷 and stay weird 👽.