Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

On making a clock

In general on October 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Early this year, a clock in the window at Heals furniture store caught my daughter’s eye. In the moment, I committed to making the clock – a promise that has resulted in a voyage of discovery. My initial focus was on a physical implementation, but in designing a fascia for laser cutting, the use of proportional font caused me to consider writing the clock in software. No server side code was written in the making of this clock – something which has caused me to consider more carefully the client-side capabilities that exist in modern web browsers. [after writing the web implementation I found that there is already instructions on instructables on how to make this clock]

In the Summer, at Over the Air, I knocked out a location-based encryption tool during the judging of the hack competitions. Whether this is a good idea is debatable (the idea was to get kids to understand the importance of a shared secret in understanding ciphers which could be expressed as a treasure hunt around the grounds of Bletchley Park), but again the solution was a self contained webpage (handling both encryption and decryption as a symmetric operation). So with modern web clients being both powerful and capable, is the traditional focus on server-side capabilities misplaced?

Back in the physical-object space, the clock’s electronics proved trivial (well with an arduino the programming task was simple), but the real problem became power consumption and reproducibility (since it became obvious that I might want to make more than one clock). From being a craft problem it has become one of manufacturing and finding the right tools and materials to approach the, as yet unclear, demand for possibly many copies of the clock.

So the virtual and real design spaces both pose questions about how best to approach the selection of appropriate tools at a time when costs and capabilities are shifting rapidly …