Saturday, 21 March 2009

What is/was the weatherbot, part deux- the other demos

So, off we go and order all the component parts for our master plan, and we hit the first snag. You see, we're none us of paid a vast fortune in this job- it's a great job, and we're paid a living wage, but we don't have the personal cash reserves to order all these bits ourselves and claim back on expenses. And I'm not going to ask volunteers to cover credit card interest either. So we tried to use the BBC's procurement process.

If you've ever been a BBC supplier, you have my sympathies- the process is long winded and deeply bureaucratic. Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the accounting system, there is a perfect logical justification for the baroque complexities of the system, but for us, trying to buy unusual, one off purchases from components suppliers scattered across the globe, it was very much an encumberance rather than an enabler. In spite of our colleagues best efforts, Maker Faire minus five days rolled around before we had all components in the lab and ready to go. And then we discovered the somewhat rudimentary state of some of the kits.

Mid week team members were furiously surface mounting LED controller ships onto generic breadboards- a somewhat testing job at the best of times, and these were not the best of times, plus all we had to go on were a couple of data sheets- yup, kits with no instructions. At the same time, the coding elements of the team were champing at the bit to get to work, but had no hardware on which to test their code- bit of a log jam all around.

So this is where we broke into the 'emergency demo goodies' cupboard. Which is a fictional cupboard in @alteralias's head. Which is why, if you came to Maker Faire, you saw not just the BBCWeatherbot, but also the Virtual Steady Cam, Audio Visualisation, and Mini Multitouch demos!

No comments:

Post a Comment