Week 48 at work

A four day week due to a bank holiday made coming back to work easier:

  • This week the new proposed service structure was released
  • Produced and released our first ebook internally for use by our visitor assistants. The ebook covers all procedures for our current exhibition English Magic, background information on the artist and an introduction to ‘what is contemporary art?’
  • Worked out all the old website traffic redirects that we’ll start to place in place throughout June
  • Took hold of some ibeacons for a citywide app that we agreed to be part of
  • Met with Isla from the collections team to look at how we can start to use 3D printing
  • Reviewed our exhibition evaluation plan with the programming team
  • Agreed what stuff I needed to get ready for the Arts Council end of year report
  • Reviewed and tweaked the Bristol Record Office web pages

A few thoughts on in-car technology

View of the cockpit from the drivers seat

This is a post about how in-car technology has clearly moved on since our 2001 car was built.

Last week I rented a Nissan Note for our week in the South of France. I grabbed the keys and found my silver car in a long line of shiny new cars. I pressed the unlock button on the key fob and jumped into the driver seat. Everything lit up like a runway and my immediate thought was what the heck do I do now AND don’t touch anything. I moved to put the key into the ignition and realised it didn’t have a keyhole but those ‘push to start’ buttons. The car knows i’m the driver as it senses the key fob close enough. The last time I saw this feature was on Top Gear with a Ferrari. At this point I think must people will try and press the button to start the car but they’d be wrong. You need to press the clutch at the same time or the car won’t start – i found this out a few years back when I wasted 15 minutes failing to work it out on a previous rental. Once the engine started I decided to check my surroundings properly. My dashboard displayed a range of completely comprehensible details, which I later learned stood for ‘range of fuel left’, how green I was currently driving, current fuel level, gear etc. My steering wheel also had a number of buttons which I steered clear of initially. These controls allowed me to change the radio settings, activate cruise control (which I played with at 130kph to learn…!) and mess around with bluetooth devices.

In short, things have moved on in 10-15 years but not massively and I was a little bit disappointed. In addition to the above, I had a front and rear camera to assist parking (a bumper is a much simpler feature ha PLUS I built a parking sensor in college in 2000 for under a fiver), LCD display control unit with GPS and some odd flashing lights for whenever I was very close to a car or wall when driving – something that is required to drive those amazingly twisty narrow roads like the D44 between Plan De La Tour and Le Muy.

We are looking at buying a larger car yet I can’t help wonder who would pay for all these ‘features’ which basically poorly replace good road craft. Also I can’t imagine the LCD screen or many of these features still working perfectly in 10-15 years.

The best features? a cup holder next to the driver seat and a cubby hole under the boot, which probably is possible with a small spare instead of a full blown wheel I lug around.

At least now I can rest easy just looking for a second hand car with a decent cup holder and the will to carry me around.

A few details:

  • Approx £190 for seven days rental from the airport
  • We covered 650KM for £40 fuel




Week 46 at work

This was a mighty week of grinding that probably saw me tipping towards the most i’ve had to work in a single week thus far in this role.

  • On Monday I headed to London with my two Nesta partners from University of Bristol and aardman respectively. We had a one hour interview to explain our proposal for the £125,000 Nesta R + D Fund for the Arts. We find out on the 1st July. Everything crossed.
  • Much of the mid week was spent writing for the website, reacting to bugs and comments from all angles.
  • Tuesday afternoon was a great break to pop along to the University of Bristol student project showcase. We had three groups making us digital projects so it was not only good to show our support but to be amazed by the other projects.
  • Met with a Watershed sandbox project to hear how they might use RFID for a test in our “stuffed animals” gallery. It was a shame we couldn’t be involved in the planning and design of the project…
  • At 2pm on Thursday 15th May we quietly slipped our new service website onto the web http://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/ an achievement I will write about soon but it marks a major milestone for my team and the service.
  • On Friday we played host for the Museums Computer Group Museums Get Mobile Conference. We had around 70-80 people from all across the UK meet to hear about everybody’s challenges, big wins and frank honesty about how hard working with mobile can be. We had a few week earned beers that evening!

Week 45 at work

This week was nicknamed the calm before the storm, due to the hardcore schedule that will be week 47. There may only be a few bullets listed below but this was a long work and a critical point on the website delivery plan. Anyway this week:

After the bank holiday, Tuesday onwards was dedicated to making sense of our content audit and then mapping what pieces of content were required for our 70 or so key new website pages. I met hourly with various people required to contribute to writing for the web. We used a content table to plan each piece of content. We nervously laughed, we nearly cried, we wrote and rewrote. We signed off content and moved on!


Week 44 at work

This week I got up to the following:

  • Coordinating the content for the 8th May soft launch of our website which is still in beta and can be seen at dev.bristolmuseums.org.uk
  • Reviewing the digital outputs for Moved by Conflict post live prototyping with the public. Our vision and budget need to have a chat!
  • Outlined our interview approach with Ian from aardman  for next weeks NESTA funding interview
  • Great discussion with Patricia S and Professor John Cook from UWE about working together
  • Waved farewell to my boss, Trevor Gough, who took voluntary severance.
  • Agreed our internal deadline to move the M Shed kiosks to our primary collections system
  • Met with UWE staff and students from the Information management course to see how they can ensure they are employable for folks like me
  • Showed our director our website progress and l=outlined our next one week sprint
  • Attended the launch of our Turner Watercolours from the West private view
  • Took a tour with Jenny Gaschke, our Fine Art curator, of our public collection. I was BLOWN away by Jenny’s way of describing the collection, the links and themes and also what digital might have to assist!