It’s not as nice as the best Ferrari ever made though, which was the F40. F40 will never come up in weeknotes so here’s a crudely wedged in picture of what I consider to be automotive perfection.
But I digress. What are we up to this week?
Little Printer is consuming a lot of the office’s time at the moment. We’re just about to press the button on packaging manufacturing. Andy is working on Bridge boards and a million other things. Alice is working with Denise on API documentation and font testing, and meeting people to talk about publications. Nick and James are working on the claiming process, with lots of diagramming and whiteboarding and speaking. Matt Webb is meeting a lot of people and introducing Little Printer. It’s brilliant to see it all coming together.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on as well. Myself, Alice, James, Matt Jones and Jack are all working on wrapping up Chuska. Joe is back from his holiday and working on Sinawava – a few workshops, a bit of UI, and a bit of everything else. Helen and Simon are working their usual magic and making sure everything project and office related is running smoothly. Matt Jones is currently in the US and making me jealous with his pictures of nice looking beer. Jack is back in the office and flitting to and fro getting up to date with what’s been going on. Vanessa isn’t in today but is working a bit with Jack on sales stuff. Timo’s still away. I think we’re all looking forward to him coming back.
I think that’s it. It’s been fairly quiet today so far after a slightly radgy week last week (thank you Matt Webb for introducing me to that word, by the way). I like to end weeknotes on a musical edge though, and James did a sterling job yesterday of easing us into Monday with a nice bit of vintage Trojan Records amongst other things. See you on Friday for some Friday links.
MW - visits from the taiwanese and swedish. sales meetings. dealing with studio stuff
SP - sales and new project set-ups, capacity planning. LP publications.
VOC - working up proposals, case-studies, target list of consumer products companies, proposition development
NL - bridge code to get claiming working under the new crypto scheme with james, documentation of apis. more cleverness under the hood
AH - going to slovenia, LP production ready boards, bridge production
AB - chuska wrap-up, working on LP
JD - working on realising the service design of LP with denise and nick, a lot of whiteboarding
DW - publications stuff for LP, packaging with alex, sales and proposals
HR - a mountain of scanning, making sure everyone gets paid, helping simon with his studio dashboard spreadsheets
AJ - LP packaging - deadline this week... wrapping up chuska...
MJ - working on sales, helping alex with wrapping up chuska and doing some work on sinawava
JS - ???
So here’s what’s occupying my head this week…
1. I’ve been to a bunch of brilliantly exciting client meetings this week. One of the things that seems to have changed in how we approach projects, in 2012, is that there’s more collaboration with clients earlier in their initial process of developing the brief. We get to poke at much more why the project is happening, and what it’s meant to achieve, and we get to feed in what we find super interesting right now, and our intuitions. So I’ve spent a good amount of time every day this week very enthusiastic about this, setting up brilliant briefs, feeling expansive with ideas and possibilities.
Then for some reason there have been lots of meetings with interesting people this week: a trade delegation from Taiwan, organised by UKTI and hosted by ustwo; a group of executives from the Bonnier Group on a training day; more with individuals. These are good opportunities to speak out loud about projects and about BERG, and I find that talking is an act of recall, improvisation, and renewing of mental tracks during which valuable thinking happens.
Alongside that, to be honest, I’m having a pretty heavy week, dealing with some of that kind of stuff where (a) the best person in the company to deal with it is me, and (b) it’s tiring to think about.
Switching rapidly between conversations that delight me and mental work that grinds me down has its own particular effect: to be fully involved in each activity, the feelings appropriate to the other activity have to be contained or suspended for the moment, and it’s that continual packing/unpacking/repacking that creates a novel kind of tiredness, a kind that I can only describe as – I don’t know whether this word exists outside the UK – radgy.
Which means I’m having to watch myself. If I look at something and I don’t like it, is that a real opinion or am I just a bit annoyed at everything? If I think somebody is agitated about something, are they actually or is it my own agitation I’m seeing?
It’s good to be aware of this I suppose, but phew, turbulence is tiring.
2. Here’s the thing. If you asked me to sum up the mood of the studio this week, I’d say frazzled and radgy. Is that because it’s me that’s frazzled and radgy and so I’m seeing it where it doesn’t exist and focusing on it where it does? Or is it because everyone’s tired at once, certain streams of Little Printer are coming to a head and that’s pressured, a couple of recent projects might have been recently or might be currently in the middle of their “lost in the fog” phase (which often happens but you need to find your way out of it by knack or luck), we’ve had a crunchy couple of weeks of multiple projects at crunchy points anyway, and I’ve not been paying the Room enough attention?
Some combination of the two I suppose. These things happen.
And I guess this says a bunch about my temperament but I’m reminded of running and those real grinds of hills you sometimes encounter that make your muscles burn and your lungs feel like hot raisins. I love that feeling.
Mainly what I’ve been saying this week (about my own week) is “it’s all a lot of fun.” It’s not the kind of fun that I go to the pub for, sure, but it’s the kind of fun where you listen closely to your muscles and you cuddle up to the sting and you feel the push to keeping running up the hill as a resolved exuberance. And boy it stings, you can’t think of anything else.
As fun as it is, you make sure to do your stretches afterwards so that it doesn’t sting next time.
3. I haven’t done weeknotes for a while, and it’s a shame my turn on the rota has fallen on a week I’m feeling particularly introspective!
So let me also say that this week my general (and hidden from the studio) obsession with David Bowie’s 1972 single Starman continues.
Here it is on YouTube:
As you listen, listen out for (from this description by Thomas Jones) the build-up of tension as the song opens, and the sense of as he says “release and climax” when the chorus kicks in. Here’s what’s happening:
What happens is that for the first time, the melody hits the tonic; Bowie gets through 15 bars in F major without singing an F, and then on the word ‘starman’ he hits two of them, an octave apart.
It’s astounding to hear once you know what’s going on, grab your headphones and listen to it now. That first staaaar-maan gives me shivers.
I believe that the reason I can’t stop listening to the song is that here, in week 359, our own chorus hasn’t yet kicked in, and I’m impatient, I can’t wait.
It is, just about, week 358. Last night we were dancing for Matt Jones’ birthday. Simon has just brought in bacon sandwiches for everyone.
The week has been, like the weather, changeable. Right now it is sunny, so I am writing the week notes now. On Tuesday, when we have our all-hands catch up, it was not sunny, and there were only 7 of us in the studio, so this week’s list is not comprehensive.
Alex, among lots of other things, is wrapping up (geddit?) the packaging work for Little Printer. Simon and Andy went to Leatherhead for some reason. Denise has been doing all sorts of Little Printer stuff, bar a short break to do some D&AD judging. Matt W is working on Sinawava (as is Joe), a workshop and sales. He’s also went to Milan design fair to show off Little Printer. Alice and I are working on Berg Cloud internals. Andy is doing circuit designs. And…
Jack is back! He’s working in the afternoons, currently mainly with Joe on Sinawava. It’s good to have him back.
This is the sort of week you look back on fondly. It was a hard week, but worth it. And the dancing helped.
Checking back in the archives, my last weeknotes were for week 345, back in January. Just like 345, 357 is also a sphenic number; a positive integer which is the product of three distinct prime numbers. And just like week 345, this week also sees Matthew in the USA. Coincidence? Undoubtedly – I’ve seen his calendar and I don’t think he’s got time to plan around the sphenics, but if you’re curious, I’ll double check on his return.
We had a bank holiday in the UK yesterday, and so this is a short week. Here’s what everyone is planning for the next 4 days…
MJ and Joe are working on Sinawava this week – perhaps with a bit of input from me. There’s much to get done before a review on Friday and a ‘what next?’ decision next monday.
Alex, Alice and James are working together on Chuska, getting things ready for review on Thursday. There’s been a lot of conceptual work so far, this week sees rapid prototypes and things to play with, which is always good.
Nick and Phil will be working on Little Printer – and I’ll be ‘helping’ by presenting them with the mother of all flowcharts for things too long-winded to explain here. I hope it makes sense to them though, because I’m really excited to see what happens next.
Timo has run away to Norway for a while, which leaves the studio a little sad. I’m keeping his memory alive by stealing his mug which happens to be the biggest in the studio. He’ll be working on Silverton – again with a bit of input from me too.
Andy is out of the studio today but in for the rest of the week, and working on Little Printer. Everything he’s doing involves abbreviations, things written in initials and companies with the word Tech or Tek in their name.
Simon is working across all the projects we have on the go at the moment, from Little Printer through to every client project. He’s busy either planning or wrapping up work, and sorting out invoices with Helen.
And I think that’s everyone – time to get started.
IT’S NEARLY EASTER which means chocolate (and beers) for all. So, in preparation of the short week (and beers), everyone at BERG is suitably busy and the studio is buzzing.
This week, Silverton continues with a bit of filmmaking from Timo and Joe alongside other bits with Denise and Matt Jones. Timo is also putting together some words for Chuska whilst mentally preparing for some exciting weeks ahead.
Alex, Alice and James are working their socks off juggling being creatively brilliant for Chuska, whilst each having their own BERG Cloud bits to do to ensure it’s coming along nicely. Denise is also working with Alex on Little Printer to get the packaging looking beautiful.
Nick is stitching together his crytographic layers (I’m not even sure what that means but I think it involves coding ’til his fingers drop off), and getting down to some problem solving.
Andy a.k.a. Busy BERG Barringer Bee is living up to his name and, in true Andy style, is pulling together lots of bits of everything Little Printer related.
Matt Jones and Matt Webb are off to a surprise workshop and engaging with future work proposals before Wednesday, when Jones is booked in for a talk, and Thursday when Webb is off to Vegas to win some money… I mean, attend an awards ceremony.
Vanessa is settling in nicely and, alongside helping Andy speak Irish, is putting together some case studies for us whilst helping Webb, Jones and Simon with proposals. Simon is also spending some time this week cracking on with an exciting Little Printer mini-project.
This is an exciting week for myself as it’s first time on the blog and thus into the world of BERG online. I’m also only in 2 days this week, so have lots to do in little time. Adieu.
It’s a relatively quiet week, with a number of people out of the studio either engaged on client work, or simply working remotely. Those of us here have continued to bask in the sunshine streaming though our gigantic roof windows.
Andy has been chasing suppliers, partners and manufacturers, as well as working with me on joining up computer code with actual electrons in wires. I’ve cryptically written the phrase “COCO POPS” next to his name in my notebook, but what that means is anyone’s guess. Tuesday feels like such a long time ago.
Alex, James and Alice have all been splitting their efforts between Chuska and Little Printer. Within LP, Alex is working on website and packaging designs, James is bringing the website designs to life, and Alice is implementing interfaces that will enable us to maintain all the aspects of BERG Cloud in good order.
Helen is balancing the straight-forward world of tax payments with the exciting, nondeterministic world of predicting when invoices get paid, allowing us to avert problems before they’ve even happened.
Denise is also working on LP packaging, as well as some super secret design work which she’ll reveal at a later point in time.
Timo is working on project Silverton from an undisclosed location deep in the Italian countryside, and his occasional instagrams are making us all very jealous.
Matt Jones, Matt Webb and Joe are out of the studio, working on the newly initiated project Sinawava, and Simon and Vanessa have been writing proposals for future studio work. Good future grist for our studio mill.
Lastly, I’ve been writing cryptographic hashing functions, and enjoying a tiny lemon meringue pie sold by our favorite purveyor of caffeinated beverages, Giddy Up Coffee. If you find yourself in the Old Street area of London, I highly recommend them!
Happy equinox! As the summer approaches and the sun appears more each day, patches of light are cast down through the skylights into the studio. Currently the light illuminates just the north wall and the table, meaning I was able to bask in it during our weekly meeting.
Following the requisite discussion of what the number 354 means, including some eye-rolling from me about how much time Mathematicians seem to spend finding and naming patterns in numbers that are seemingly of zero consequence, we proceed with what everyone is up to this week.
James, Alex and I are working on Chuska, a four week run at a short brief with sketches in code, and a lab notes style approach to working. We are also continuing work on Little Printer and BERG Cloud.
Matthew is focussing on business development.
Nick is writing software for Little Printer. I’m not sure I can be any more informative than that or the Infosec police will come for me in the night.
Andy is doing an awful lot, all Little Printer related. Chasing colour sheets to send to China, technical files for certification (Little Printer has some exams to sit), paper testing, spending time looking at Gantt charts with Simon, quotes, bombs, stepper motors.
Timo is rezzing concepts with Joe for Silverton. They are sat on the sofa right now chuckling and looking at gadgets that might be real things or might be models, I can’t tell from here. Timo is also completing some video sketches, and continuing his quest for the sales Steak Knife set.
Simon is massaging the starts of some projects and then ends of others. He is also managing Little Printer and our time around that.
Helen has finished a record stint of cake buying. There have been four birthdays in four weeks, each requiring a cake. This week she is helping Simon with POs and NDAs and setting up various profiles and passwords for our new team member.
Denise is doing a little project with Matt Jones, working with Tim on some Uinta stuff and managing all of the enquiries and comments we get from the many people whose attention Little Printer has grabbed.
Matt Jones is overseeing Chuska, working with Denise, doing some bits and pieces on Silverton and some preparation for Sinawava.
It’s 4:55pm on Wednesday, and this is my most frequent type of view on Week 353 – the week calendar. Most of what we’re up to is here. With all the minutiae removed, I wonder if it’s possible to guess who is who?
It just so happens that a number of client projects have recently finished or are wrapping up at the moment, at much the same time, and several new ones are kicking off. The processes around getting everything in place to start & finish are numerous and I’m running through my checklists to make sure everything is set up correctly. Helen’s been doing similar, arranging travel and keeping the finances in check.
Matt Jones, Timo and Joe are all involved in a kick-off workshop for Silverton this week and our clients are here with us. Today we can just about hear animated conversation coming from our meeting room. It’s the first time we’ve run a workshop in our new studio space, which we’ve well and truly settled into now. Matt Webb has been involved in this a bit too, alongside writing proposals for upcoming projects, making decisions about Little Printer and bringing delicious curry to the studio for lunch.
Alex has been furthering the packaging design for Little Printer, as well as producing assets for the next iteration of the remote site ready to be built. He’s also going to be leading a new project, Chuska, in the coming weeks with Alice and James, who are also working on publications and infrastructure for Little Printer and BERG Cloud. They’ve also been out and about filming with Timo for Lamotte, and making toast at 5pm, which makes the whole studio a bit peckish.
Denise has been drawing owls and foxes for Lamotte (for Timo, who will be making them fly) and generally steering the design and content of Little Printer.
When Andy isn’t strong-arming the studio into drinking coffee or eating doughnuts, he’s overseeing the tooling and production of the various parts that go into the physical Little Printer, tweaking electronics, ordering parts and lining up all the hoops we’ll be jumping through en-route to announcing pre-orders. He’s also been shouting numbers and letters that I don’t fully understand across the studio to Nick who’s been working fervently on immediate tweaks to the lower-level software on Little Printer, and working with Phil on the remaining functionality we want to implement.
Jack and Kari are both missed, although occasionally pictures of tiny humans who look a little like them are sent around the studio.
Last but not least, please let it be known that the number 353 is a double sexy prime – that is, the numbers which are six away on either side (347 and 359) are also primes. Ooh-err.
Here’s what’s revving at BERG this week, as recounted around our big red table on Tuesday morning…
Simon as per usual is running all our projects in the studio and also making sure Little Printer and BERG Cloud gets delivered on time. This week we’re finishing up a few client projects, so he’s helping wrap them up and deliver them to their respective homes. He’s also working on documentation for Little Printer, and helping with our ongoing sales process.
Timo’s working with Oran O’Reilly on editing some films for Chaco, and planning some Uinta filming with me. He’s also been doing some design research with Nick that hopefully we can show very soon. He’s the lead on one of the new client projects coming into the studio, codenamed ‘Silverton’, so he’s starting some research on that.
Andy’s working hard on Little Printer – paying particularly attention to assembly, diagnostics, testing samples, and certification. He’s also been investigating manufacturing options for Ojito – an invention of ours that we may revisit shortly.
Alice’s week is full of Little Printer dev work and Guardian Cryptic Crossword wrangling at lunchtime around our big red table, with our visiting cryptic expert, Phil Wright.
Nick’s working on Little Printer hardware and software with Phil and James Darling – and as I mentioned doing a spot of design research and filming with Timo.
James is helping NL with all of the LP work to get us to the next milestone, which is a list on a whiteboard with words on it I am not clever enough to understand. Luckily for me, James, Nick, Phil and Alice are more than clever enough.
Joe’s working pretty much full-time on the final presentation for Uinta’s Kletting project, making storyboards and images with Alex to communicate new service concepts.
The graphic style of the deliverable that they’ve come up with is lovely – halfway between storyboards, comic books, system diagrams and arresting montages of images that communicate some quite complex things really clearly.
Alex has been heads down on Kletting final deliverable work with Joe, teaching at the LCC for a day today, finalising our online shop designs for BERG Cloud, packaging design for Little Printer and starting to do some really brilliant product graphic experiments for the BERG Cloud ‘Bridge’ unit.
Denise has been supporting Joe and Alex as the creative director on the Kletting work, applying her service-design expertise to Little Printer stuff. In her non-copious spare time thinking about some iPad experiments with typography and doing a little bit of character design for an animated sequence Timo and myself are planning for a Uinta film.
MW’s been really pushing on our sales process to make sure it’s bringing in the right sort of work for the studio and in tandem with that thinking about project planning for the different shapes of new projects that are coming in, which will stretch us in new and interesting ways we hope. He’s also dealing with our finances along with Helen, and getting used to using a Windows Mobile phone after years of iOS…
Helen’s deep into spreadsheets, running the studio, replying to people getting in touch with us with various requests and helping MW with the finances.
I’ve been helping with the finishing stages of our current projects for Uinta, all of which I’m pleased as punch with – and concentrating on sales with MW to line up what we’re doing for clients through the spring and into summer.
AOB: I’m pleased to report the lights in the loo work, there’s a good deal on Innocent veg pots at the local supermarket which have pretty much dominated lunch for 50% of the studio, and we had a cracking return for BERG Drinks last night at The Reliance, where much amber fluid was drunk and Yahtzee was played by our friends from MakieLab.
We had a visit from our friend Einar of Voy, and we’re expecting some students from his university AHO in Oslo later this afternoon.
This week saw us filming the prototypes for one of our clients, Chaco, that meant two days with a studio full of people, cameras, lights, product models and as it turns out, a huge amount of extra radio waves.
(click for larger image)
This is a visualisation by Phil Wright who is working with us. It shows the usual BERG wifi network versus the monstrous chunk of the spectrum taken up by the ‘CHACONET’. That’s what happens when you have experience prototypes that use four wifi phones, two wireless baby monitors and eight bluetooth connections.