Week #541-542

Friday, July 2nd, 02021 at 12:21 UTC

A double weeknote as we head into the summer schedule. Things will begin to slow-down, ironically, the Australian Concreter’s project looks like it is getting bigger than originally thought. It is also their winter-time. Maybe that’s a good way to arbitrage vacations and slow summer-time communications – work with a team in the southern hemisphere.

Week #541

This week was a ‘get organized’ week. A few things with the tax office, dealing with DHL for a delivery, ordering another external hard drive for backups and a few other bits of hardware, minor tweaks to the BBC/NESTA/Human Values site’s CSS, planning meeting about the new Australian Plumbers’ web app, an eye test, credit invoice to the liquidator so we can get our VAT back, fulfilled an Analog.is order and more.

We’ve been taking the approach to redesigning this site as something done in tiny bites. We will never have the energy or time to go through all the pages and make a new version. Instead, we tend to work page-by-page or level by level and start to bring things more and more inline. From the homepage, to a few marketing pages, to wordpress lists of tags, categories and articles, to the article pages themselves. Even a site as small as this is held together with spaghetti code and quick-fixes. Maybe one-day, we’ll clean everything-up, but we also can’t wait for that day to come to implement some of the things we want. On we march, updating the design, functionality and features little by little. Enjoy the changes, you’ll probably not even notice.

As part of the process, we ran a Lighthouse Report for optional.is and fixed a bunch of little, easy things to increase our scores. Our weak point right now is our accessibility score. We have a few headings out of place in the footer (which is on the redesign list) and some weak color contrasts. Both are easily fixable and will help our score.

Another top secret project we got pull into was sent off for review this week. This is a 4 way collaboration and we got the general green light from everyone. Now, the organization who will be putting the money forward wanted a few more assets for a presentation internally. We made a few screen recordings which were mixed down with audio for their presentation. Hopefully, soon we’ll have a signed contract and we can start work more deeply and talk about the LK project.

Week 542

On Monday some of the team got their second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Then on Tuesday the rest of the team topped-up with their second dose of Pfizer. That pretty much put the office out of commission for several days! (In the long run, that’s a good thing.)

This week we branched one of our repos to rework how we generate PDFs. Originally, we would create a PDF in real-time. This used to only take a few seconds. As the HTML reports grew in complexity, the time it was taking to generate a PDF was also increasing. Therefore, we made it a background process and would send an email when it was completed. The system was originally architected to have a 1:1 mapping between a report and that reports PDF cache. Since it was converted to a background task, we have run into ‘race conditions’ where a second PDF is requested before the first is processed, leading to unexpected results. Now, we’re untangling all this.

It was also the end of the month, so we collected all our receipts for the account, sent out invoices, paid the bills and planned some meetings for next few weeks.


This Week 26 of the year, 11 years ago in 02009 we wrote about our Polyphasic Sleep experiment.

In 02010 Geonames Maps was a visualization experiment using the geo dataset from geonames to produce map from lat/lon coordinates in a csv.

02012 was when iOS6’s new UI was unveiled. Shine-on you crazy ones! is a look into using hardware like accelerometers to adjust the UI accordingly.

This Week in 02014 was a quadruple weeknote: Weeknotes 172-176 we were in Lisbon for the UXLX conference and completing our Analog.is kickstarter fulfillment.

Yesterday in 02014 we wrote about our recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal complete with touristy photos of food and the sights.

Publishing Schedule

To help us stay on track, we created a publishing schedule. Originally, we did this in a text file, but that didn’t seem right, so we moved it into the calendar app to better put a deadline on things. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “We love deadlines, especially the sound they make swooshing past”.

Each week, we planned something and as the week came to a close, we dragged that deadline out another week. There are two, intertwined reasons why we keep failing at our publishing schedule. We aren’t putting aside enough time to get the writing done because more important, paid projects or deadlines get in the way. Connected to that, we aren’t actively looking for (large) projects either (but are always tempted if you have something interesting to share with us). Therefore, any writing meant to market our expertise isn’t put as a high priority. That comes back to the title of a book we always recommend (not so much the book, the title tells you everything you need to know): Dig your well before you’re thirsty.

We continue to update the publishing schedule, not because we need to today, but because we need to for the future. All our articles titles have been moved out of the Calendar back to our text file, hopefully with some better headings and room for notes. Realistically, summer is approaching, vacations are coming, but that text file won’t forget. The list will continue to grow until we carve out the time to make it shorter again.


The National Museum of Scotland has several artifacts in 3D on sketchfab. It is great to see many of these up close and from other angles not available in a museum case.

This week we also started to listen to a BBC Radio 5 podcast called “Sport’s Strangest Crimes, The Real Story of Shergar“. We’re not sure if it is a one-off or a series of different crimes. Either way, the Shergar series is hosted by non-other than Vanilla Ice! It is an interesting look back at this Irish cultural icon and we learned a thing or two about stud farming and the Aga Khan.