Week #684-686

Friday, April 5th, 02024 at 13:31 UTC

Week #684

This week was spent in San Francisco. It is the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) and we went to have some meetings. It was pretty productive. The team was all in one place, we met with folks, discussed about past projects (what went well and not so well) and did some planning and prepping for future projects.

Overall, we’re getting aligned and heading in the right direction.

In San Francisco, we got to play with the new Apple Vision Pro. It is a very interesting object. For all its faults, spatial computing is a very interesting topic and for the first time in 50+ years it feels like we’ve properly broken away from the flat screen.

In SF, we also spotted some Waymo self-driving cars. We stopped to watch as it double-parked, turned on a small spotlight and waited for its passengers. It was an interesting UX experience. Later, we saw another car roll through the intersection and stop to pick someone up. An old lady crossing the street did a double-take when she realized no one was in the car!

We also made it to the Lamy Flagship Store. We picked-up a Lamy Joy calligraphy pen. We don’t get to ‘doodle’ on paper enough and hopefully this will help-us break into the habit again!

Week #685

This week is Easter week. In Iceland, there are a lot of public holidays, schools are closed and shops change their hours. We already know it won’t be a very productive week, but that’s good since we have a massive backlog from being away the week before.

In week #686, we will start two more surveys. We’ve been doing some prep work so that is as smooth as possible, but our contact is out this week, so we need to wait until atleast Tuesday to get the green-light to start.

We also had a potential project meeting this week. The plan was to gather hourly estimates, workload and status to put together a grant proposal around adaptive podcasting. There is a June deadline, so we’re in a good place to figure everything out and draft something. This is a project that is completely out of our hands, we’re supporting, not leading. It will probably late June/July before we know if this has funding.

Week #686

Monday was a public holiday in Iceland, Easter Monday. We still need to get five days worth of work done, now in just four days.

On Tuesday, we started two more big surveys. It is always stressful because there are endless last-minute, last changes. Like: Did you remember todo that thing I never told you about until just now? Which means shuffling things around to accommodate for changes.

None are impossible, just unexpected, untimely and under-appreciated. The surveys went out and results are slowly rolling in. We have our reminders schedule in place and over the next few weeks we’ll be emailing, SMSing, robocalling and more to get the response ratio to an acceptable level for statistically reliable results.

We continue to explore the ᯅ Vision Pro for few potential projects. We ported over two of our apps: Red Days and Emoji Calendar to go through the steps. This way we work out all the issues and kinks before any deadlines.

For another analytics project, we collecting event data. Every day as a scheduled job, we convert the data into intermediate tables. Then we can query those tables directly, or make further derived tables. We finally hit a wall and needed to optimize things a bit more. One table has grown to around 7M rows and the joins are taking way too long. We spent a few days this week making some intermediate tables and back filling them with all the derived data. Then updating queries to use these tables instead. It’s not perfect, but it will speed things up and for a tiny bit of potentially incorrect data, it will be OK. Previously, we could get COUNT(distinct id) but since we’ll split this up into months, we will get COUNT(distinct id) per month and summing the 12 months together means we could be counting distinct ids multiple times. It is a small trade-off for increased speed.

On Friday, we had our fortnightly PETALS sync. We didn’t get that much done, but atleast we got a big jump on some better CSS layouts for desktop browsers. I think we’re now ready to get more people onboard testing.

👻👻 Two ghosts came back to haunt us this week!

One project we build, finished and they signed-off on months and month ago has thrown-up a bug. We fixed it since it was something tiny, but we’re sub-contractors for someone else and we’ve asked them awhile back to check and test with the customer and at the time we got the A-OK. But we’re pretty sure they never touched it until now. 🤦🏻‍♂️

The other project (first deployed in 02016 and the last commit was from 02021-07) uses Iceland’s single sign-on service, island.is which is being deprecated to the general public this September. We drafted an email a while ago about how we should backup and shut this project down since they haven’t done anything with it since COVID and the alternative to island.is doesn’t quite fulfill their contractual obligations. Before we had the free time and mental space to send it off and field the discussion, we got an email from them saying they are restarting the service. 🤦🏻‍♂️

This week was five days of firefighting.🔥🔥🔥🔥 No matter where we looked, we always got pulled into some issue(s) that needed fixing. Hopefully, most of that is behind us and the next two weeks we can move forward again.


April 1st, 02009, we wrote the first article Phase Transition. This is the point at which something changes from one form to another. From steam to water or water to ice. This is the boundary of change and it was fitting that it was our first post.

In 02011, we were ask our tech predictions by B!T Magazine in Portugal. It is interesting to see what and how we explain our thoughts on what’s coming. It was a safe bet about existing technologies filtering more into daily life.


Amazon Fresh “Just Walk Out”

A Gizmodo article about how Amazon tricked lied about their AI system to identify the items you put into your cart in their checkout-less store. The first Amazon Go store was started in December 02016 as a beta for employees and was rolled out to everyone a few months later.

August 27th 02020, Amazon announced the opening of their first “Amazon Fresh” store.

Customers simply place their bags in the cart, sign in using their Fresh QR code in the Amazon app, shop, and exit through the Dash Cart lane to automatically complete their payment. The cart uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items put in the cart.

It turns out that their “Computer vision algorithms” were 1,000 workers in India watching you shop. Artificial-Artificial Intelligence. It was all snake oil and they’re shutting it down because it didn’t work or wasn’t cost effective. Instead of bringing human cashiers back into the mix, you’ll do all the work yourself. They first shifted the work to India, now they outsource it to you.

Dark Star

The BBC had an article about how the 01970s SciFi thriller, Dark Star, impacted future movies. As a student film with a budget of only $60,000 it is still going strong 50 years later!

Back in 02011, we went to someone’s random apartment and sat in their living room and watched a puppet show recreation of Dark Star. If it wasn’t recorded, no one would believe it happened!

Dark Star Sweded on Adactio’s Flickr Album.