Weekly Journal

Weekly Journal: Week 11, 2019

Well hello there… just checking in on last week? It started with continuing the team performance reviews. This quarter I am using Enable HR and it’s actually really great for undertaking reviews. I have generally used the review process prescribed by Andy Grove in his classic book High Output Management – this approach is closely matched by the Enable HR software. I also use the One Page Strategic Plan from Verne Harnish to help define the objectives and performance indicators that are then used in the OKR’s in the review process. So far, so good…

This week I stumbled across this great video from the Game Developers Conference on Procedural Design – this is a concept I have long been aware of from the PC demoscene – with the likes of mind-blowing 64K demonstrations like The Timeless. What was interesting about this talk was the transition to ‘offline proceduralism’ – that is, transitioning the offline workflow to be made of a pipeline of operations rather than ‘designing assets’. This is very similar to the work we are doing at the moment with the data science pipeline – however, when you think about this with creative I kind of see the future of advertising. Pretty much everything that goes on in design studios today could be pipelined procedurally and companies could save hundreds of millions in global production costs.


Tonight I am giving a guest lecture for a postgrad computer science class at UOW. I spent some time working on a class that would be as relevent as possible for a bunch of graduates in Research Project and professional Practice. I came up with: “The Skills to pay the Bills.” which is a few key concepts to keep in mind when entering the workforce. I will share next week.

Other activities this week – working with clients and the team on getting latest projects live, updates to marketing and working with the sales team and also spent a day working on solution design for a new project.

Ongoing work on the Data Science modular pipeline – defined a JSON scripting language and refactoring all the modules to support the new approach.

Heavy Karate focus on the evenings at the start of the week – training for at least an hour every night, I felt fantastic by the time Thursday came around…

Friday night was spent with the DEFAME crew, hanging out, watching demos and working on my new little AI project – I also had the pleasure of meeting a musical legend Jeroen Tel. Spent quite some time talking and listening to his unreleased tunes. Gosh, I remember listening to his music back in the 1980’s.

Have a great week!

Weekly Journal: Week 10, 2019

Last week felt like I got nothing done, however in retrospect, a lot got done.

I have been bringing on a new business development team, and working through the process of training has forced me to focus on and refine a lot of the positioning I have worked on for Thinking.Studio up to this point. Taking the time to reflect and sharpen brand messaging is obvious, but oft-overlooked. In this business, I have always struggled with our multidisciplinary nature and how to communicate that distinct advantage to someone in the elevator.

Tuesday I was in Melbourne for the day – it was excellent to meet up with some great people and get inspired. It was a very long day, that turned even longer when a passenger decided to leave the plane after it had been completely boarded. The poor flight attendants were panicking trying to make sure the passenger that ran off had not left a little ‘gift’ behind – which of course was done while trying to remain as calm as possible to ensure all the passengers didn’t freak out. Eventually, they had to get everyone off – sweep the plane and then get everyone back on. Thankfully we didn’t need to stay the night… by the time I got home, let’s say I was ready for bed.

Most of the week ended up being me catching up with people and getting inspired – which is why I love doing what I do.

I have had fondness for the University of Wollongong my whole life as I basically grew up there – my Father started teaching there back in 1976, my Mother did her PhD there, I roamed the campus for many a school-vacation, and when it was my time, I did both of my degrees there too – so now I am really pleased to continue to participate in the life of UOW as part of the Advisory Committee for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, and also for the School of Computer Science and Information Technology. Now that school is back, I am planning to do some guest lectures based on some of the material I had developed for Thinking.School – so I should be down there next week doing something a little different! Really looking forward to giving this lecture – will share notes.

Data Science project had progressed somewhat slowly last week – I just felt something of a fog on my ability to really make progress. This happens sometimes when I am really focused on other things like I was this week… However it came good on Saturday and Sunday when I was able to crack a big chunk of issues that were annoying me and make some real progress. I also was scoping out some new ideas with a client last week that will be a lot of fun to implement on the new platform, adding training set creation and forward and back propagation for training neural networks into the pipeline Green put together will be super-cool.

My Karate training suffered a little last week – I was so exhausted after Tuesday, it took me a day of no training and then, between kids activities, I had to improvise and squeeze in training wherever I could for the rest of the week. Thankfully, I did get out for a lovely surf on Sunday with Iwan. Nothing like discussing hacking while surfing…

Finally, here are a couple of security videos that I really liked from last week:

This is one of the best security videos I have seen lately.

Weekly Journal: Week 9, 2019

Last week was reasonably intense. I started it by reading “The Critical Chain” by Eliyahu Goldratt – which was a fantastic read – over the weekend. Monday, I started investigating how we might implement this in our project management tools and processes to see if it has an impact. Given the pressure the project team have on them right now with a product launch imminent (today) I didn’t push this very hard – but I will come back to it this week.

Intercom

Configured Intercom for a client and integrated it in with a software platform we have been working on for them. I started seeing the potential of building support workflows and routing. It’s a polished product – you can tell they spent a heck of a lot of time working on the user experience.

Writing

I was hit with inspiration multiple times over the course of last week with writing ideas. I’m not quite sure which ones should happen first, but the basic overviews are:

  1. Expanding on the original Old – New whitepaper with a trilogy: one distilled and refined to focus on mapping legacy technology to UX, one on finding, mapping and managing legacy data and the final one on strategies for bridging the code and security models. The original Old vs New whitepaper was trying to achieve too much in a single narrative – you can see why.
  2. User Experience archaeology. Looking at old software on old computers to understand where user experience concepts come from and where they might be going. I find it interesting that through technology we have developed universal languages of design that transcends spoken or written languages yet they are able to convey complex ideas effectively. It seems the codified rules for user interface design are intrinsic in the language of design itself – and as technology and human behaviours adapt – so does the language.
  3. The final one is more of a personal piece which may not ever make it – but I have been considering this for a long long time – and reading Maps of Meaning around the same time as reading What We Cannot Know helped to clarify my thinking about the relationship of God, spirituality, culture and social structures. I have committed to working through reading the Summa Theologica over the next month or so – which will probably adjust my thinking even more.

Code

Continued working on the Python modular data science platform. Finally released the data to client from the V1 branch, so migration to the V2 code branch is happening in earnest. The only really interesting changes last week were getting a little more fancy with the code – (but I’m still elbow deep in debugging right now, so not too exciting.) and moving off WSL.

I have loved my time using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) as I much feel more at home using BASH than DOS – and Java and Python are really at home on a BSD or Linux based machine. The fundamental problem though is that I am constantly trying to straddle two operating systems – in every way – I need two installations of Anaconda, two copies of every library – so I can debug in my IDE and run from the command line. It just defeated the convenience – so I finally bit the bullet and purchased VMWare Player. It’s better (in my opinion) than VirtualBox, but still – it is nowhere near as convenient as WSL.

Oh, and this was a fun video…

This video took me back! I remember using one of these Quantel babies after-hours when I did work-experience in my last year of high school. It was an amazing bit of kit even in 1992!

Weekly Journal: Week 2, 2019

Last week was interesting – I had a bunch of things going on at once and all of them were kind of interesting. In fact, it would not be hard to write a full essay on each of these.

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