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Blog posts tagged as 'weeknotes'

Week 399

It’s week 399 and there are 14 people around the table discussing what we’re all up to.

There’s a substantial chunk of Little Printer and BERG Cloud work ongoing: tweaking, forecasting, serving, responding, reviewing, developing, testing, planning, prepping-for-Chinese-New-Year-ing, fixing, repairing, updating, deploying, designing-for-installing, and sprinting (which is resulting in some exciting things).

Shiprock, the name for another Chaco project, is progressing well. Kachina is moving too and there are workshops for new clients in the offing and the calendar.

There’s a lovely internal project which it has been deemed appropriate to name ‘Kemp’ and that’s going to be making good use of Joe, Nick, Neil and my time prototyping.

The search for a new studio space continues, one in which it’ll be possible to continue running the Little Printer after school club.


(NB. that’s tomorrow!)

In other news, Joe’s taken temporary custody of 2 hamsters, which Helen said appeared to her in canine form in a dream.


Enough! Back to it.

Week 398

I took comprehensive notes at All Hands on Tuesday, in order to write this.

But my laptop had a catastrophic failure mid-week, and I had to blow away the drive and reinstall everything. I’m pretty good with back-ups, and I keep pretty much everything in Dropbox or in some cloud or another. But I had about two and a half un-filed documents that I lost. So, yeah.

It seems quieter than we’re used to in the studio. December ended with a flurry, and a trillion brilliant contractors. It was crowded. 2013 has begun with a more intense focus on Little Printer and the BERG Cloud operating system, and that means it’s mainly just the core group in the room.

I’m loving it, though it took a week or two for me to get used to the tempo change. Less like a sprint, and more like a hike. I tell you what’s wonderful, and that’s the feeling that everything we do is building on this platform for Web-powered things that we’ve created, and it slowly but surely gets better and better.

So I’ve spent most of 2013 putting together our new business plan. There’s a lot to do! Like: Where are we going to be in 10 years? So how are we going to get there? What’s a realistic product roadmap? Given all of this, what do we need to do… well, *tomorrow?*

Almost there. Still a spreadsheet or two to do.

One of the consequences is that we have new criteria to choose our client collaborations. We’re prioritising looking for and taking work that helps build BERG Cloud, either directly, or by helping us build expertise in particular tech or areas of UX.

That’s not to say we’re *only* working with clients on platform projects. Last week, three of us were out workshopping on a hardware accessory. This week, it’s product invention for mobile, and some hardware prototyping (both slightly longer projects).

And I guess it’s the workshops at client offices, and the crazy number of meetings that have contributed to the mellow vibe.

Um, what else happened?

I had some lunches.

I spent about 90% of my time either talking face to face, or on my own thinking things out with whiteboards and post-its. A lot of it is that business plan I mentioned. Such an incredible week to be able to spend most of it letting ideas about the future turn over in my head. So helpful.

I am STUPID behind on email. (Kari has been off sick, and without her help my inbox is a disaster zone.)

Is that it? I think so, and besides we’re heading to the pub now to see some friends. Sorry it hasn’t been very specific. Honestly, had you seen my notes, you would have been *amazed.*

(Belated) Week 397

I forgot to write my weeknotes last week, so a whole day before week 398 is due I’m going to attempt to redeem myself. Just imagine that today is in fact last week, and we’ll be fine.

Last Wednesday the BERG Cloud / Little Printer team gathered at an undisclosed London location for a day of planning and roadmapping, to figure out what it is we’ll be doing this year. It was all very exciting and productive, but unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about it, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the BERG Cloud Blog and the BERG Cloud Twitter account to see what we have planned. Afterwards, as a mini celebration for shipping the first batch of Little Printers in December, we made some cocktails with Felix of the Manhattans Project, which was very very very good.

Aside from planning meetings, Little Printer related work continues – Andy’s newly crowned ‘Little Printer Hospital’ kicked into action, Nick kept a keen eye on some ‘flat green lines on a graph’ as well as continuing to brief Adam on all things LP. Denise worked on some odds and ends, while Helen, Kari, Fraser & Simon continued to man customer services.

There’s a lot going on aside from LP though, however I’m losing track of project codenames. Matt W, Mark and Joe were at a workshop for Logan for a couple of days. Neil, Andy and Joe worked on Kochina.

We’re just about to jump into our first bi-weekly BERG Cloud planning meeting, so I must dash.

Week 396

Happy New Year!

So here we are: the first blog post of 2013. This is my first time with the keys to the blog since coming back from maternity leave, which is a bit exciting and a bit daunting.

It has been interesting coming back after being away for nine months. A lot changed in the time that I was away. I arrived back to a studio with about twice as many people in it as when I went away. Two of those additions were regular staff (Neil and Mark), the rest were contractors working on various projects that had been taken on while I was away. So not only were there a bunch of people around that I didn’t know, they were working on a lot of projects that I had no clue about. It was rather disorienting. This is BERG we’re talking about, though, so of course they were a bunch of really lovely people working on some amazingly interesting projects and doing a genius job of it. That’s pretty much the way things go around here.

A lot of those projects wrapped up before Christmas so now we find ourselves in a bit of a lull period. Helen, Fraser and I are spending a lot of time on customer service for Little Printer including trying to track down Little Printers that never made it to their intended homes. We shipped 1,000 of them and the vast majority were delivered with no problem, but when you are relying on human beings to do the actual sorting and delivery of anything, it’s inevitable that there will be a few that will go AWOL. Thankfully most people have been remarkably understanding and patient about that fact, and we are doing our best to get replacement Little Printers out as quickly as possible.

(By the way, even if you aren’t a Little Printer owner or particularly interested in becoming one, may I suggest that you have a look at the BERG Cloud blog, especially this entry in which Fraser posted some lovely photos of Little Printers in their homes. Thanks again to the folks who have been sharing those with us!)

Just before the holidays we said goodbye to James Darling, and last week we said hello to Adam Johnson who has joined BERG as a software engineer. Nick put him right to work on a BERG Cloud bug which Adam had sorted in very short order.

As for the rest of us… Alice is doing a fab job supporting Little Printer publication developers and also has her hands in Kachina, a new internet connected product that we’re working on with a client. Andy is trying to get to the bottom of some issues with Little Printer paper jams. Alex is working on various aspects of BERG Cloud as well. Denise is having a go at creating a Little Printer publication. Joe and Jack and doing classified new product development. Neil is recovering from what is either food poisoning or a really nasty stomach bug. Simon is trying to schedule a cocktail mixing workshop. (Seriously. He’s also doing his usual fab job of keeping projects running!) Mark is doing what he says on the tin and developing new consulting opportunities as well as keeping current consulting projects moving along. Matt Jones is doing a bit of sales and a bit of studio shepherding.


Seven years ago, Matt Webb wrote a business plan for Schulze & Webb, the company that became BERG. (You can see that actual business plan right here.) In it, the long term plan included making and selling our own products. With the shipping of Little Printer last month, we have now fallen off the edge of that business plan.

So Matt has been doing a lot of thinking about the future of BERG and when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. He shared his mullings with us today, and his brain dump filled up three very large whiteboards. It’s a great story, but you’ll just have to stay tuned to see how that all turns out, I’m afraid.

We hope you have a great 2013!

Weeks 392 and 393

Another double header of Week Notes that recognises what a frantically busy period we have just been through. A time of lots of projects wrapping up and finishing on what’s been a pivotal BERG year.

Lamotte came to happy Swindon based conclusion after an unexpected and rather tedious three hour much delayed train journey for Eddie, Olly and Simon. Fortunately work was accepted warmly and we’re into the last stages of voiceover recordings and finishing touches.

Paiute was also wrapped up this week by Jack, Denise and Simon (with lots of previous help from Pawel) and we’ll see where that leaves us for more great work in the next stages on that project in 2013.

Our first work on Oso was done, dusted and delivered in double quick time over the past three weeks – with Matt, Matt Ward and Joe’s Sao Paolo suntans fading from that workshop we hope for more collaborations with what we hope will be a great client in 2013 as well.

We’ve reached a pivotal point on Sinawava with two major phases of work recently complete, including a little collaboration with LSU led by Mark and Joe. We await a decision on if this very smart device will see the light of day, will find out where we stand early in the New Year.

And of course on Little Printer we’re tying up the last loose ends on the first batches of deliveries which are now ensconced in homes around the world. Our diagnostics are showing around half of the first batch online during the day at anyone time and we expect that to increase further when Santa delivers the last lot to their final homes on Christmas day. If you haven’t already noticed there should be a special Christmas themed messaging treat available for each printer.

Over a year after completing the project Matt returned from paternity leave to deliver an awesome and well worth a read post which goes into an amazing amount of detail on the wonderful lamps project we conducted with Google Creative Lab last year. He was very chuffed about getting that out as was a good cross-section of twitter.

Two new projects have begun already this week, including a new project for a new client, Kachina. More on that in the Spring when things are further along.

Our Christmas bash at the Eagle was a great success, hat tip to Kari for making that happen last Wednesday. Heads were sufficiently sore the next morning but not overly so.

Oh, and of course Matt Webb got married on Saturday to the lovely Angela! Many BERGers were in attendance and lots of poor quality dancing was enjoyed by all, helped along by a huge Battenburg cake and wedding disc jockey action from Alex (who managed to trigger the noise alarms in the Barbican twice).

So that’s it for 2012. The world did not end today. Loose ends have been tied up. Unused holiday is being taken and we’ll see you for a fresh start in early 2013.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Week 389

It’s the three hundred and eighty ninth week since BERG began. Simon Pearson is down to do weeknotes but he is away with Matt Webb at Future London demoing Little Printer so I have swapped with him. Matt Jones is still away on paternity leave looking after two tiny humans. Andy is back after his stint of paternity leave and the studio also welcomes Kari who is back after what seems like a very long time away after her case of The Babies.

By project, this week is as follows:

Paiute work continues. Pawel has done some very slick looking graphics for it, Denise even did a weird squeal when she saw them (a pretty good sign). Jack continues to shepherd this project to it’s conclusion which I hope won’t be too soon because that possibly means Pav will have to go on to another contract in another place. And if Pav goes then who is going to get the pardy started?

BERG Cloud and Little Printer are very close to shipping indeed. I am putting the final flourishes to the front-end, James is getting his head into logging for the many bridges that will soon be connecting, Simon is coordinating factories and shipping containers, Helen and Kari are preparing themselves to give the best damned customer service this side of Newspaper Club, Alex is sending me the kind of ‘could this be two pixels lower, please, sorry, thanks’ emails that I know mean our remote site is going to look really good.
Nick is lining up interviewees for the position of The Next James Darling. If you think you fill this spot, head over here for more information.

Neil (now ships with custom BERG shop coat) is working on Auryn with studio friend Greg Borenstein in New York. This involves a lot of waving things at screens, much to my entertainment.

Director of Consulting, Mark Cridge, is taking care of business. He continues to show the office how the big boys do it in an array of shirt jumper combos and the occasional blazer. I keep trying to call his bluff and see if he is wearing a shumper, but as yet his shirts remain gloriously unstitched to his jumpers. What a pro.

Saguaro is beginning to look like a real thing which is lovely to see. Phil is implementing Alex’s design, the writing continues apace, all presided over by Matt Walton.

Sinawava is in the final push. Joe is doing a lot of gleeful dancing which I keep trying to capture a GIF of, but he’s too damn fast. Leo and Nick are finishing off the software, and Paul South continues to astonish with the things he pulls out of the bag.

Matt Thomas, Ollie Wright and Eddie Shannon are still grafting on Lamotte. There is a lot of very charming character design happening at that end of the room, which I enjoy watching evolve.

As always then, a busy studio.

Week 387

There are four major projects in the studio at the moment.
There are twenty three people working hard to create beautiful and inventive products.
There has been a studio reshuffle so everyone has new neighbours.
We’ve seen exciting drawing sessions, electronic prototyping, cardboard models, coding, meetings, group lunches, wooly hats, graphics, new shoes, 3D prints, business strategies, pints, project planning, engineering, Frazzles crisps, CAD models, Lemsip, PCBs, presentations, GUIs, video games, characters illustration, information design and more.
All to a milling-machine soundtrack.
Oh, and we’ve just found out that we’ve been drinking double-strength tea.
Probably a major reason the studio such a busy and exciting place to be.

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.

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.

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


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.

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