Week #488-489-490-491

Friday, July 10th, 02020 at 13:31 UTC

Even with our best of intentions, our weeknotes became forthrightly, then monthly! Next week, Week #492 is the last before a month-long summer holiday. So this is probably the last weeknote for many, many weeks.

So let’s review what’s been happening the last four weeks.

Week #488

This week we made a bunch of updates to our top secrete project. The one that is going to launch any week now! We also sent off a bunch of poster designs to the printer. We tend to make year calendars and other designs and print them on A1 or A0 paper. The local printer has a giant architectural printer and you can print for less than $5 a sheet. In Iceland a similar poster in the shops would be 10x the amount.

We’ve also been updating our survey tool to be more self-sufficient. Our customers start our their survey by sending us lists of names to be imported. Post-GDPR it is becoming more and more problematic since we don’t want to handle personal data. We get password protected zip files and then a password sent via SMS or a different email. Co√∂rdinating all of this has been a headache, so we decided to fix it. Now, customers are more self-service and can upload their own list of names.

We took some time to build a much better preview and validator for any uploaded lists. We’ll roll all this out in August, get feedback and iterate.

Week #489

With WWDC happening, we started to review some of our iOS utility apps. Our goal is to always use the web when it makes sense. But there are a lot of technologies where the web is not (yet) a first class citizen and voice is one such place. We spent some time this week trying to get a test app working with Siri Voice. After a lot of trial-and-error, we manage to get it working. In the process we learnt that what we wanted todo wasn’t directly possible. So we feel much more confident around the ecosystem and what’s possible.

We also took some time this week to sync with friends stranded abroad. Many were going to be passing through Iceland sometime in 02020, but now it’s not looking possible. Having a few video chats isn’t as nice as in-person, but at least we all wanted to be there for each other and as the situations improve, we (hopefully) have a jump start on some new ideas and collaborations.

Week #490

This week was sort of a grab-bag of tasks. We spent some time cleaning-up our survey tool in preparation for an August start. There has been a lot of cruft that’s built-up and it is good every once and a while to clean out the cobwebs.

We also took the opportunity to meet-up with our weekly pair programming client. They are now at an inflection point. We wrapped-up a few thing with them to help get them over the next hurdle. If that happens or not will depend on how much we’ll help them in the future! We wish them the best of luck and we’ve learnt more about our strengths and weaknesses. On of our goals as a company is to better define “what we do”. We have a few ideas of how to explain it, but we’re definitely not there yet.

Finally, lots of little changes to our top secrete project. It was around this time we got some big news from our competitor/supplier that they have something similar planned. That has spurred us on to get more things done and launch it in some sort of private beta soon!

Week #491

Since summer is upon us now, there are a lot of little admin things that needed to be done. Paying bills, but also getting all our taxes to the accountant before they go on holidays. Some of our time this week was spent on finding recipes and printing invoices.

We had one call about a potential new project down in Australia. We’ll first build a small prototype to see if things are possible and to better estimate the overall costs. Hopefully, this will grow into a much larger project.

More tweaks to survey list importing. Checking that some import columns can be optional and upgrading the list of acceptable file formats from CSV to Excel. Along with some translations, we’re getting in good shape.

After WWDC, we started to explore SwiftUI rather than UIKit for iOS. It certainly seems this will be the future for mac Development, so we did some tests to re-work one of our simpler iOS utility apps which exist on Watch, iPhone, iPad and have Today Widgets. So far it has been a smooth transition, but SwiftUI isn’t 100% there yet. While we’ve been in the code, we also are migrating to the recommended CloudKit to store data and preferences. In the olden-days, an Apple Watch and iPhone app shared a lot of the same data, then they migrated to sending the data between the two. Finally, watch apps can be independent of the iPhone (see where this is going?) which means there needs to be another place to store data and preferences that isn’t the watch or phone (or some future unannounced device). There are lots of services that do this, DynamoDB is just one. Another is a simple website with a database. CloudKit is free and handles all the authentication for you, but is limited to iOS and Web all via an iCloud account. (Sorry Android users).

Finally, this week we’ve also been busy getting the changes to our top secrete project finished. Now that we are approaching some sort of beta, lots of little bugs need to be cleaned-up, UIs updated or changed, and new onboarding steps created.

Bric-à-brac

This made the rounds on the Internet recently. It shows the relative rotation periods of the planets in the solar system. You can see how much faster some of the gas giants rotate compared to Earth. The opposite is true for Venus. It is great because it starts to get you asking more questions, like WHY and HOW?