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Blog posts from October 2012

Week 386

Hello people of the Internet. I’m the newest member of BERG and this is my very first blog post. It’s a very short list of stuff that’s going on during week number 386. Enjoy…

Lamotte is kicking off again and we have Eddie Shannon in the studio, he has worked with BERG before and seems to be a much loved – I don’t really know him yet, all I have discovered about him so far is he takes three teabags in his tea.

Sinawava continues and Joe seems to be doing actual work this week as opposed to his usual endless schedule of meetings. The project is getting very exciting with high fidelity models and technical prototypes emerging by the day.

Paiute is getting a lot of attention from Jack, Denise and Alex not forgetting Pawel who continues to be fixated with look and feel.

Little Printer is edging ever closer to landing on peoples door mats. Andy, Nick, Alice and James have all got their sleeves rolled up and are tinkering with publications, BERG Cloud and Box build.

Matt Webb is getting involved with a new project called Oso as well as putting in time on Auryn and Lamot. He’s also looking into finding us a new home because by all accounts our lovely studio is getting knocked down in May.

Helen seems to be doing lots of different reports peppered with some accounting.

Simon appears to be doing almost everything.

I’m supposed to be working with Greg Borenstein on Auryn this week but due to a spot of rain in NYC  he couldn’t make it over to the UK. Seriously, good luck to Greg and everybody across the pond having to deal with the damage and chaos of Sandy.

That’s it, a short and sweet first foray on the BERG blog from me i’m afraid  – its a busy week…

Friday links

It’s Friday, and therefore time for a look at what’s been flying around the studio mailing list!

Timo sent in a link to a Bat for Lashes cover story on Pitchfork which features some well paced parallax and animation effects.

Staying in the same vein, Saar posted a link to a BBC News article cum infographic entitled James Bond: Cars, catchphrases and kisses.

Joe shared the latest Boston Dynamic / DARPA robot video that was allowed to become public. Just think what they must have left on the cutting room floor.

Alex posted a video of an odd looking experimental car from Nissan called the Deltawing.

In commemoration of CEEFAX closing down this week, I posted a link to a lovely, nostalgic Twitter client called Twefax.

Lastly, I’m sneaking this in as a bonus, since it didn’t get posted to our internal mailing list, but it’s an interesting peek into the hidden infrastructure that is needed to run very large scale web services.

That’s a wrap. Have a good weekend folks!

Week 385

So, it’s week 385 and here’s what’s happening in the studio.

Simon, Helen and I are drawing together the last stages of the Little Printer production following a cracking bit of field work done by Nick and Phil W. last week. Neil’s building up a sample of devices, two of which will be being taken to the Wired Test Lab event on Thursday evening (if you’re there, do say hello). Neil’s also unpacking some hardware we’re researching for the ongoing Auryn work with Greg.

Saguaro is moving on with Phil G. typing quickly, even by his own standards; Alex reviewing graphics with Denise – all of which is feeding into Matt Walton’s planning. Matt Webb will also be joining them, when he’s not ensconced in spreadsheets.

Alice continues to update BERG Cloud and the developer tools. James is battling nature to deploy fixes to server software and entirely new implementations. Every few days they post an itemisation of what’s changed to the studio mailing list, it makes for a lengthy but comforting read, ‘though we’re all doing our bit to ensure the list is never empty. Fraser is particularly good at this it seems as he continues to work with publishers and deals with incoming queries from the wider LP community.

The many streams of the Sinawava project: software, electronics, legal and model making are starting to be drawn together in more detail by Joe this week. I haven’t been around for Friday demos (the hour or so on a Friday afternoon when people can give a short update on any of the work they’ve been doing, particularly useful for those not involved directly with a project) for the last couple of weeks so I’m excited to see how things have been going. Also providing good demo material is the work that Pawel, Denise and Jack are doing on Piaute. Mark is talking to new and potential clients, making sure that the table of codenames grows. I think between us all and dropbox, we can just about remember them.

Roll on Friday demos, and Nick Ludlam’s Friday Links.

BERG is looking for a game artist!

We don’t often post on our blog when we’re looking for folks to help out on projects – we’re blessed with a great network of collaborators, some frequent, some less regular. But sometimes acts of God happen, and a Game Artist we had lined up for some brilliant work with us has just been offered a year-long project of a lifetime! Which is super news for him! But it means we’re looking for someone to help us on a project which is slightly more humble but which still promises to be excellent fun.

We’re looking for someone to pick up a super, slightly unusual Android smartphone game which we’ve made an early prototype of, and to run with it to develop the visual design / graphics further for a new version of the game. It’ll be an 8-week contract gig ideally working here in our studio near Old Street, working to create simple, playful and characterful graphics with some animations, working with another game / UX designer here, plus sound designers. The game will be built by a development team based elsewhere who will be heavily consulted throughout.

If this sounds up your street (or up the street of someone you know), please get in touch with me at sp@berglondon.com. We’re looking for someone to start immediately!

Update on Friday 26 October: We have now filled this position. Thanks very much to everyone who helped spread the word and to those who got in touch  - I’ll be in touch individually with everybody over the next couple of days.

Friday Links

Sunday is the new Friday, and at the end of a busy week, it’s always nice look to back and realise what a fab bunch you’ve spent it with. Of late, we’ve had lots of freelancers in the studio and these links are a celebration of a few of them.

Greg Borenstein, straight from the U.S. of A., who very kindly sent some last minute links to the group and reminded me that I should be doing this. Greg is being superman this week. Evidence below.

Ever been to an airport? Greg has. Ever seen carpet? Greg has.

Carpets for airports

Know species of bees that make plastic? Greg does. Nuff said.

From pollen to polyester

Saar Drimer has been making magical hardware things that I’ve pretended to understand for weeks now. He likes hot sauce and went to Lennie’s when no one else would. This week, Saar and Alex sent round links for designing circuit boards online.

 http://www.circuits.io/       http://upverter.com/

Fraser Lewry, besides being master baker and all-round music aficionado, has been helping out with all things copy. He’s been writing our Little Printer blog for weeks and it’s worth Sunday afternoon read if you haven’t been keeping up.

Pawel Pietryka is nuts. He’s a bit German, bit Polish, and likes to make ze pardy. Aside from telling us to “Shhhhhtop it”, he’s in charge of making things look beautiful (and make them look beautiful he does). What’s funny about our relationship with Pawel is that he thinks we’re odd. This became apparent when he sent us all an email entitled ‘Explains some of your behaviours BERGlers

Week 384

I’m pretty sure when I started here my weeknote-notes took up half a page in a small notebook. I’ve got a bigger notebook now, and I wrote two whole pages of notes on what everyone’s up to.

So what’s going on this week? The studio’s been pretty busy of late and today it’s pretty quiet – Nick and Andy are in Cambridge today for super important Little Printer EMC testing, Nick and Phil W were away earlier in the week streamlining our production lines and finessing the PCB flashing process for the LP Bridge, Joe and Simon are in Paris meeting developers, Matt Webb is sick (feel better!), and various other people are out for various reasons.

What are we all working on? Little Printer continues to be at the forefront of a lot of our minds as we press towards shipping. Late last week we rolled up our sleeves, loaded a van up and sent the packaging and a few other components off to our box builders. Siniwava continues and develops, and is looking really really nice. Phil G’s been doing some sterling work on Saguaro as we move into the build phase. There’s various other projects ticking along which I can’t wait to hear a bit more about.

James Darling has bought himself a new pair of trousers which were the talk of the studio this morning, and our studio soundtrack for the early part of the week was Fabric 66 mixed by Ben Klock, which seemed to go down very well.

Friday links (nearly)

A roundup of links from the last week or so, with no particular theme:

Mash Hits is a series of music tracks made from every UK number 1 single, and I wouldn’t recommend listening to them late at night alone in a dark alleyway.

The October 5 edition of Entertainment Weekly had a smartphone inside it.

Animal ears you can control with your mind.

Houseplants that can control, well, whatever you like, through capacitive touch.

A nice idea for halloween if you’re handy with a peeler and knife: DJ Pumpkin.

Throwback to school days: history of earth in a 24-hour clock. Always a bit humbling.

Digits: a wrist-worn gloveless sensor for hand gesture tracking.

Finally – Felix’s giant leap.

Week 383

It’s the end of the week and I’m late with weeknotes, which I was supposed to write on Tuesday.

Right now it’s Friday Demos and Andy has just phoned-in his demo in from a van on the motorway, where he and Simon are driving back from delivering all kinds of packaging and components to the Little Printer assembly team some hours north.

Honestly I couldn’t understand very much of what he said. Motorways and speakerphone don’t mix terribly well!

So, quickly:

I’ve spent this week in lots of meeting people, and dipping my feet back in a couple of projects I’m picking up from Matt Jones now he’s away for a couple months. Some cracking stuff. One mobile project, in which Alex is getting tarty with his design and Phil G is getting all motion graphics with his HTML5. The combo is powerful, that to-and-fro… When we were doing Mag+, the actual app development, it was conspicuous that the process of going from animations in After Effects to iOS code on the iPad was a real one-way street. Not so good, because the design of motion under your fingers is so dependent on the micro-experience of the moment, and you want that iteration. It’s lovely to see that iteration present in the animations and interactions in Alex and Phil’s work. They’re able to back-and-forth, design and build and experiment between them, make and try and iterate. Good. It makes for good work, that practice. A second project involves smartphone peripherals and a connection between the real world and the screen. And gosh – it’s been on whiteboard and then in diagrams and then on circuit boards and bench tests and now… seeing it all come together in demos, our first end-to-end, today was a treat.

I have to be cryptic until 2013, sorry!

Plus! Alice and I went to the Birmingham NEC yesterday to set up Little Printer at Grand Designs Live. Lots of fun! I like to show Little Printer to people, I like to see Little Printer in the world, and I like people in the studio – like Alice – to see Little Printer in the world too, especially seeing how people respond to it. It builds empathic connection with our customers.

Other big news this week is that we now have one of those spring door closers on the studio door, so the door closes automatically. OH HAPPY DAYS!

But mainly I’ve been enjoying Mark Cridge, our brand new Director of Consulting, properly getting his feet under the table and beginning to make some noise. It’s brilliant, provoking all kinds of thoughts and discussions about the next and upcoming unfolding of BERG.

Which means we’ve been having lots of strategy chats, and we’re all writing presentations and plans to have more discussion around, and the results of that are

[redacted]

or at least, currently. More on that soon! We’re doing our first annual reviews at the moment; once we wrap those we’ll give ourselves a couple of weeks to digest, then launch our latest plans. Internally anyway, externally the proof is in the pudding.

Plans are good.

The way you have to think about things is very different between, well, five people and fifteen going on twenty.

Hey, I was going through an old notebook the other day to find this, and I thought you might get a kick out of it too. It’s from back when BERG was Schulze & Webb and it was just two of us – Jack Schulze and me – and, if I remember correctly, we’d just decided to turn down any work we were offered that only used one of us. So we’d only work together and together we would change the world, yeah! And we imagined that the world would leap at us, you know, that we’d be drowning in work. And of course we weren’t, because nobody knew we were alive, and those who did didn’t know what we were about.

So I wrote a business plan, my first business plan, over six years ago now back in September 2006!

I don’t know whether the business plan helped us get work right there at the beginning. We got some great advice about marketing ourselves too, in a low-fi and very human but effective way, and yes things eventually worked out, and now here we are.

Some perspective: the iPhone was announced January 2007. A business plan from before the iPhone! Ancient history.

Disclaimer. I feel like an idiot sharing this.

And was it useful? Kinda. It made me feel like there was a plan.

Did we follow it? Kinda. I like to think it kept us on the same page. We’ve fallen off the end of it now. We are longer than the long term. Deep space.

Here it is.

Drivetime

Jack was on the rota to blog Friday Links this week, but he’s had a crazy day and now he’s gone home to feed his kids. Maybe he’ll do some later.

So instead you get me.

Friday evenings, after demos – a 4.30pm ritual where people show the studio what they’ve been making this week and everyone claps – we have drivetime.

They made the mistake of giving me the speakers this week, so here’s my drivetime playlist.

Ocean Drive, Lighthouse Family

The Road to Hell, Chris Rea

Don’t Get Me Wrong, The Pretenders

Wired for Sound, Cliff Richard

Jesus He Knows Me, Genesis

Regulate, Warren G

So.

Yeah!

Mark Cridge joins BERG as Director Of Consulting

I’m delighted to say that Mark’s joined BERG as our new Director of Consulting this week.

The Cridge

Mark’s a friend that Jack, Matt and myself have known for some years now. While he was piloting the giant digital media and communications spaceship called GlueIsobar, we’d get together for a pint or three and ask him for advice. He founded Glue and built it into not only a mighty commercial force, but a culture that prized invention and creativity.

So, it was natural for us when we found out he was looking for a new challenge (over a pint or three) that we suggest BERG was just that.

We’ve built BERG over the last 6 years into a busy studio that creates not only what we think are pretty inventive connected products for ourselves to take to market (like Little Printer), but consults on connected products, services (and the strategy behind them) for some of the biggest technology, media and consumer brands in the world.

But we want to do more of that work – inventing the near-future and getting it into the world – with more clients, and get more fantastic inventive people in the studio to do it.

Mark is just the right person to help us grow our consultancy and he’s written a little bit about joining the studio from his perspective on his blog. I’m really happy he’s decided to come on board for the next phase of BERG as a colleague and a friend.

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