Week #555

Friday, October 1st, 02021 at 12:21 UTC

What a palindrome! It was 111 weeks ago this happened and it won’t be for another 111 weeks it happens again.

555-XXXX is a common fake phone number. The 555 prefix is central office code of the North American Number Plan. Only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use.

This week also share’s its name with 555 Norma. This is an outer-belt astroid which orbits the Sun every 2,078 days. To put that in context, this is week #555 multiply that by 7 days and it is roughly day #3885. 555 Norma has 271 days until it makes its second trip around the Sun. If we were incorporated on 555 Norma we’d be 1.87 years old this week.


It was the end of the month and end of Q3, so this week we did a lot of internal tasks. Paid bills, sent invoices, but also started planning a bunch of seeds. We reached out to a few people for meetings on upcoming projects. We need a bit more local knowledge. We’re comfortable conducting business in Icelandic or English, but that doesn’t mean everyone we need (or want) to work with is also comfortable. So we’re enlisting some native speaker friends to potentially break the ice and give a bit more cultural feedback.

This week we finally got an electrician friend over to fix the ethernet cabling. 6+ years ago when it was installed they ran the ethernet cable, but wired it up for a phone. Ever since, we’ve just extended our wireless network, but it was time to improve the stability and fix the plug and socket. This is something you can learn todo yourself on Youtube i in 5 minutes. The catch is you need a special crimping tool, which costs as much as an hour of a proper electrician’s time.

We have a small screen printing project, so we spent some time at the printer this week. It is a small company here in Iceland. We should have some results to show-off next week. They are great people and hopefully we can work on more projects with them. You can really tell that COVID is getting to people. They are a husband and wife team and not a lot of people come to their shop. Everyone is extra chatty these days and want some other human contact outside of their direct bubble.


With MailChimp’s acquisition by Intuit, it was time we migrated away. We’ve had a back-burner project for a long time to make our own email sending tool. This week, we made a good start on it. Mailchimp (and others) are becoming full CRM tools, integrated with eCommerce, and lots of metrics, conversions and questionable tracking. For our Quarterly Newsletter, we don’t need any of that. We need a way to collect/delete emails from a list and send a message to everyone on that list.

We put together a few PHP scripts for subscribing and unsubscribing. That collects emails and connects them to mailing lists. We have a database to hold our working newsletter content. We have a second script which converts that database content into lots of flat files. These include a web-friendly HTML file for the archive, a text and html version of the newsletter with custom unsubscribe links, an RSS snippet and more. It is coming a long nicely! The best part is, when we forego tracking, we can do interesting stuff with images that you couldn’t before. More on that later.

We’re almost to the point where we’ll be ‘dog fooding’ the product. There certainly will be some hiccups in edge-case email clients, but with each mistake, the system will improve.


At the start of September, we started the new data collection for Icelandic students. This is a nine month long survey, were a random sample of students is selected each month. The city of Reykjavik asked us to add a few additional question just for their schools. Now we are in October, we are starting to analyse the data to make sure things are working as expected. Since there is no history with these questions, we wanted to make sure the distributions were ok before proceeding for the next 8 months and finding out it is garbage data.

Two of the questions are around sleep. When do 6th-10th grade students go to be and when do they wake-up. From that, we’ll report three things. An average/standard distribution of bed-times and wake-up times, broken down by age and sex. But we can also subtract those two values for each participant and get a third data point and breakdown on the amount of sleep students are getting.

There has only been a single month’s worth of data, but it is promising, no question changes are needed and our workflow to convert hourly times into charts is being prepared.


It is week 39 in 02021. 8 years ago in 02013W39 was weeknotes #136-137. We wrote more about our recent trip to CERN and a few mapping projects (both of which are probably no longer online).

7 years ago in 02014W39, we published our idea about an availability forecast. We really like this idea of having a weather style forecast for freelancers, independent contractors and small businesses. It was away to both visually, but systematically, your availability for new projects. We’ve used this and tweaked it over the years, but in the end, our workload was pretty stable at anywhere from 90-110% booked. The idea didn’t get the attention it deserved, but maybe one day it will make a comeback.