Week #501

Friday, September 18th, 02020 at 14:41 UTC

This week share’s its name with Levi Strauss & Co’s iconic 501 jeans. First created in the 01890s, it is still being made ~130 years later.

Another fun fact about 501 is that it is the sum of the first eighteen primes.

This week was a week of events: A virtual Techcrunch Disrupt, Sony Playstation PS5 announcement, an Apple Fall event, Facebook Connect/Oculus VR event and probably something more! Many of these events directly affect some of the projects we’ve been working on. It was a busy week and we’re still playing catch-up and scheduling some follow-up meetings.

This week we pushed out updates to two of our iOS apps, Dashbones and Text Stats. We are shifting focus a bit and these where minor updates. It is also generally a good idea to open and update your Xcode projects to the newest programming language syntaxes and check for deprecated functions. If you do a bit of periodic ‘gardening’ it saves you big in the future!

We’ve also been working on a small prototype project for a plumbing company in Australia. It revolves mostly around better time entry into their account system xero and a weekly email report to check-in on their costs versus job quotes.

The school surveys are well underway now and given the pandemic situation, schools are starting a bit slower than usual, but still everyone’s been mostly organised and doing well in our more self-services online tool. Over the summer, we focused on two common problems customers have at the start of each survey. Importing their universe of people to be surveyed and creating individual survey tickets for the people they forgot or recently joined the organization. We’ve always had online tool for us to handle these tasks, but now we have exposed them to our customers so they can do more themselves and it seems to be going well. Just a few minor changes based on their feedback.

With all this week’s events, we’re now regrouping on our top secrete project. It is certainly not on hold, but we are going to reevaluate and reprioritise the task list.

We also spent a lot of time onsite this week with one of our customers. They keep all their data in Google BigQuery and we’ve been optimising a lot of their SQL table queries. Time is money and so is data, so anything we can do to optimise the storage and retrieval of information is a cost savings. This includes making database updates incremental by day, but also creating new tables with derived data that is easier and lighter to query and join to other tables. These smaller tables are also useful for their 3rd party tools. Getting them into a different format (column versus rows, one row per customer, etc.) can make it easier to query and find the information. This will certainly continue over the next few weeks.

It is also time to visit the accountant and turn in our bi-monthly receipts for the tax man. Getting all our invoices and purchases together for the last 60 days isn’t too bad, it is just overhead work no one talks about when being a small company or freelancer.

On Wednesday, we had a virtual meeting with Matt Webb. Every Wednesday he has a few half-hour blocks, which anyone can book into for a chat. So we did. We had a list of questions we wanted to pick his brain about and in the 30 minutes went off-course several times. We only covered half of what we wanted, but we still learnt and validated everything we did manage to squeeze in. One of the big take-aways was our throw-away comments about one side-project we haven’t managed to get off the ground yet, project Castlemilk. He loved the idea and gave us a bit of a renewed enthusiasm to get back on it.


This is a great example of non-verbal queues. Simple gestures can be exaggerated into something more visual, in this case, comic book speech bubbles! This was done with the snapchat, snap camera. This is a virtual camera that sits between the app and your webcam. There should be more of these experiments happening!


Finding these old photos reminds us that our past selves weren’t always that different or less eccentric that we might see ourselves today, or in the future.

Stay safe, stay weird. ⛑👽