Friday Links

Last week’s redux of Friday links ended with a tube map, so I’ll start this week’s with one…

A map of London cafes near tube stations.

A somehow not rapidly cooling cup of coffee

…followed by a slightly less useful but ever-so-pretty video. Here is an in-depth explanation and wonderful render of the pale blue dot we live on, accompanied by the music of Zoë Keating.

If you’re looking to extract some data from places on the web you frequent and are lamenting the demise of RSS, Kimono might be able to help.

Given Bieber’s infamy this week you may have already seen this, but if you have a webcam (and who doesn’t nowadays?) you can stick Justin’s or the Queen’s face on your own with this Face substitution demo.

The Jade Rabbit on the lunar surface

Ending on an incredibly sad note, the Chinese lunar rover Yutu suffered a rather crippling problem and can’t enter sleep mode to survive the freezing -40° night on the dark side of the moon. It live blogged it’s final moments.

—Adam

Friday Links are Back!

We’re kicking Friday links off again! (I know, it’s Monday… I have no excuse). So, as an introduction, here are some interesting links that were floating around the office mailing list this last week.

Illusion songs — A collection of auditory illusions found in indigenous folk practices, popular music, and scientific research.

3D Printable kids’ book — Leo the Maker Prince is a twee tale about a Brooklyn-based engineer-in-training named Diana, and Leo, a 3-D printer robot that transforms her drawings into functional objects.

Japanese Bike Storage

Incredible paper sculptures

Little Printer in Selfridges

Clearleft’s Chune

And, as I like to do at the end of Friday links, this week (well, today) I’ve mostly been listening to ‘An auditory tribute to Harry Beck’s Underground map, the skeleton which has long lent shape to the city in the minds of Londoners. Here, sounds were collected from along London’s canals and lesser rivers. Completed in March 2012.’

Until next time…

—Alex

Week 450

The BERG Weeknotes are back and in full effect.

A quick recap: four hundred and fifty weeks ago Jack and Matt affixed their surnames to the door of a new design consultancy in North London. It quickly grew from two to some, and bigger digs were needed.

Two hundred and thirty weeks ago it was redubbed BERG and quartered a bunch of smart people in East London, inventing and making stuff with computer networks and physical things. In parallel, work began on the company’s first product, Little Printer, and the technology that would make it possible for this diminutive device to connect to the web: BERG Cloud.

Little Printer was launched in 2012. Tiny paper faces were snapped on Instagram across the world and, all the while, BERG Cloud quietly hummed along, automatically pulling the levers and managing the switchboards in the background.

Thirteen weeks ago it was announced that BERG was taking funding to relaunch as a tech company, making BERG Cloud available for anyone to build, launch and manage their own web-connected products. And now, for the first time, everyone in the company is focused on one single thing!

As is the way with weeknotes, here’s a few highlights of what’s been happening this week.

The company is divided into three groups overseen by Jack — BERG Cloud, Little Printer and New Product Development (NPD). In the past few weeks, roadmaps have been drawn up to provide each operation with clear direction and goals.

The BERG Cloud group breaks down into two main areas, design and tech, interweaving rapidly over time. On the tech side, Nick, Adam and ‘Low Level Phil’, are working on ways to improve the speed and reliability of the platform going forward. They could be heard this week discussing wifi integration and socket connections. I heard a cheer on Friday. Must investigate further.

On the design side of BERG Cloud, we are looking to create a new set of communications about the platform. This will end up as a new website for anyone interested in learning more and a new home for people actively making things on BERG Cloud. In line with this we’ve had Tom Stuart working with us all week to document the platform and its APIs so that people can get started super easily with the system.

As I alluded to earlier, BERG Cloud and Little Printer were developed in synchrony, and our website reflects that. So up next, Denise has been working on a new site especially for Little Printer. I’ve seen it. It’s a treat. ‘Website Phil’ is implementing all of its ‘responsive’ glory as I write.

Little Printer will continue to grow and change over the coming months as Denise focuses in on what’s in store for it. That’s the beauty of a product powered by web connected software: it can transform at any time!

NPD create connected devices that people want to use. They build using BERG Cloud and push the platform group to make new features possible. This month, Jack, Durrell, Tom, Neil, Andy and Alex they are prototyping like the wind. And Timo has flown in from Norway to document the latest work. It is such an exciting spectacle! More soon.

In other activity we’ve been approached by a company with a brilliant app that’s in need of some hardware to close the service loop. Andy’s been joining the dots in County Durham, speaking to manufacturers about making it all happen.

On the business side, Helen is making the numbers work, Kari is making the studio tick along. The whole thing is watched over by Matt, who is also out there, giving talks, meeting people and making connections. And Cridge is making it all happen faster.

We’re using a new project management systems that requires lots of standing up, but is giving everyone a broader perspective on where their immediate tasks fit into the bigger picture. Also, what’s up next and what has been achieved. Simple and effective. Run brilliantly by ‘Project Manager Phil’ (also ‘Website Phil).

That’s about it for this week. Looking back, BERG Cloud was six years in development. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here…

—Joe

An Illustrated Guide to Illustrated Little Printer Publications

Keen-eyed Little Printer owners will have noticed a pair of new additions to our Publications Directory just before Christmas. The two in question, Bird Bath Birds and Chloe Noonan, were put together by Matthew Sheret.

They’re both lovely.

chloe_bird

If you’ve ever wondered about making a Little Printer publication but didn’t know where to start, here’s the thing: Matthew didn’t know either. And that wasn’t all. He writes:

“…by far the bigger blocker was anxiety. I can have a fair reckon at copy for pretty much anything, but I worry about who to register a domain with, how hosting works, what code should look like and where to turn for help. So I found excuses not to start.

In the last seven days I brute-forced through that and basically sat with Russell to set up hosting and nagged Phil over email to get the code running. I made basic, embarrassing mistakes doing both. But it was all okay, and it works.”

You can read more about Matthew’s experience on his blog — and take heart from his courage. You might be feeling nervous too, but there’s plenty of support and help available. So come on in — the water’s fine!

While Matthew built the publications using our easy-to-use php-mini-series files, the content itself came from elsewhere. Chloe Noonan, familiar to many as the world’s leading flame-haired monster hunter, is by Marc Ellerby, who’s contributed to (amongst many others) The Beano! And Bird Bath Birds is the work of Holly Swain, who’s illustrated a number of children’s books.

“The Bird Bath drawings were made specially to work on Little Printer”, says Holly. “We did a few tests to see how they came out, for example my usual dip pen line disappeared at times on the print out, so they were redrawn specially with a thicker line. From seeing other print-outs, I knew it would be better to keep it simple. It was surprising though, because the ones I thought didn’t work so well came out great!”

Holly and Marc’s work joins a growing list of illustrated offerings for Little Printer. Here’s a few more examples.

illustrationsinthenation

It’s quite a collection, from household names like Mr Men & Little Miss to the ever-popular Monster of the Week, from Flanimals illustrator Rob Steen. There’s 17th Century woodcuts and 19th Century nonsense and pictures of 21st Century rap stars to colour in. We have Dutch cartoons, American presidents and birds from New Zealand.

And we think they look amazing!

New Little Printer Publication Roundup — Includes Mr Men & Little Miss!

Several months ago we received an e-mail from someone who’d been given a Little Printer. They weren’t expecting it, were having a little trouble getting things set up, and wondered if we could help out. It turned out they were only down the road, so we popped round and got everything up and running. It was one of the best things we ever did.

Why? Because it turned out to be the offices of the people who look after Mr Men & Little Miss. And so we told them how brilliant it would be if there could be a Little Printer publication for Little Miss Sunshine, Mr Happy, and all their friends from Nonsenseland. Because if you grew up in the 1970s, or 1980s, or 1990s, or 2000s, it’s a big deal, right? Plus, everyone loves them. Plus, they’d work really well as a Little Printer publication. And they agreed! They even said some nice things about us.

“It seemed like a natural step for us to see the Mr Men and Little Misses on Little Printer, it’s such a smart device! We hope that having Mr Tickle and friends available at the press of a button will excite and please Little Printer users as much as it does us.”

So a huge thanks to the Mr Men & Little Miss people. We’re similarly excited, and are delighted that Little Printer owners can now subscribe to the finished publication.

tickle
It’s not the only new publication. Less than two weeks ago we were talking about the the new Penguin Classics publication, and we’ve sent another ten live since then. Apart from from Mr Men & Little Miss (did we mention them yet?!?), we’ve also added these:

* Little Advent Calendar — seasonal good will via the medium of festive fun facts, brought to you by the clever folk at exciting.io.
* Simple Sudoku — a fifth contribution from John Alexander, who’s rapidly becoming the King of Little Printer puzzle publications.
* No Context — a daily dose of “hilarity and obscenity from /r/nocontext“. Put together by Alex Forey, another regular member of the community of Little Printer Publication Developers.
* Shakespeare’s Tempest — back in 1893, artist Walter Crane produced a series of illustrations to accompany Shakespeare’s Tempest. 120 years later, those very drawings are available as a Little Printer publication. We think the Bard himself would be delighted.
* Crimer Show — experience the amazing badly-spelt detective series from the beginning, every weekday via your Little Printer. All content from @CrimerShow; lovingly assembled by exciting_io.
* Little Commits — more good work from Alex Forey, who’s used our Push API to make a publication that prints out a notification every time someone pushes to your GitHub repositories. It’s a great use of the API, which allows content to be delivered to Little Printer immediately, rather than to a schedule set by the owner.
* Henry Bursill’s Hand Shadows — fire up your child’s imagination by introducing them to the magical world of shadow puppetry. Images taken from the 1859 book Hand Shadows To Be Thrown Upon The Wall by Henry Bursill. Bonus fact: Bursill was also responsible for several of the stone statues that adorn Holborn Viaduct in London.
* Asana Tasks — companies like Dropbox and Pinterest use Asana to manage teams and tasks, and Chris Aves has made a publication that prints all Due and Overdue Asana tasks, looking 10 days ahead. Very useful.
* The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents — is this the oldest material to appear on Little Printer? We think so, as it comes from a 1658 book compiled by English clergyman Edward Topsell. Rather interestingly, Topsell believed that weasels give birth through their ears.

Thanks very much to everyone who contributed these. We really appreciate your hard work!

Inspired to make a Publication of your own? Try out the developer instructions and tools, or download our easy-to-configure mini-series files from GitHub (note: requires no knowledge of GitHub whatsoever!)

Penguin Classics Quotes for Little Printer

penguin_670

A few weeks ago, amidst much great excitement at BERG HQ, we launched a new publication for Little Printer. We do this all the time, of course, but this one was a little bit special. Not only did it come from one of the most recognisable names in book publishing, Penguin Classics, but it featured 365 daily quotes from a quite extraordinary array of authors. As lists go, it takes some beating.

William Shakespeare? Check. James Joyce? Check. Kafka? Keats? Kerouac? Kipling? All check. Charlotte Brontë? Yes, she’s here, and so’s Emily. The list goes on and on and on. Anne Frank. John Updike. F. Scott Fitzgerald. H.G. Wells. Mary Shelley. George Bernard Shaw. Winston Churchill. Lots of people so renowned that a surname is enough: Marx. Dickens. Darwin. Nietzsche. Woolf. Sontag. Wordsworth. Pepys. Twain. It’s really something.

And it’s brilliant that someone like Penguin should be attracted to Little Printer as a way of reaching new readers — each edition of the publication features a unique QR Code, so that subscribers can quickly find out more about the books in question… and buy them!

So we asked the nice people at Penguin for their thoughts. They said:

We’re thrilled to see classic literary quotes going out on a daily basis to Little Printer owners. It’s lovely to see so many Penguin Classics reaching a new audience, and it’s a great way for people to enjoy quotes from their favourite reads. So, in the immortal words of Jane Austen (sort of), “It is a truth universally acknowledged that every [reader] in possession of a [Little Printer] must be in want of a [daily Penguin quote].”

So there you go. A perfect reason to subscribe: because Jane Austen says so.

Sort of.

BERG Cloud, Now Available For Everyone

Jack and I started our company because we had fun hanging out; because design and technology working hand-in-glove create magical things; to invent culture.

Over time that company became BERG, and it wasn’t just ours anymore — it became a studio of many people, and it’s produced awesome work there’s no way in a million years I could have even imagined.

Right from the beginning we’ve been into connected devices. Products feel different when they come to life. And we made our own product, Little Printer – an incredible team effort – and it’s a particular joy to me to see how people invite Little Printer into their homes and how they use it. We’ve learnt so much, and been continuously iterating the product since it launched.

I like to say that we don’t have customers, we have an audience.

Connected devices are so different.

So all our design thinking and learnings are baked into the technology underpinning Little Printer, and we call that technology BERG Cloud. BERG Cloud is our platform for connected devices — it gives devices an identity on the internet, web APIs, and adds developer tools and a great user experience. Using custom-designed hardware, we’ve also made our own prototyping stack. This allows us to prototype on Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and ARM mbed, but quickly switch to developing websites rather than embedded software so we can iterate quicker.

The way I think of BERG Cloud is that it’s best of our design thinking, baked into a platform created by our engineers so that our designers can be as expressive and inventive as possible.

Recently we had a realisation: If BERG Cloud and the prototyping hardware was good for us – this neat collaboration platform for our engineers and designers – maybe other people would like it too. And maybe they would like to take their products to market on our platform, using the same tested tools as we created and use for Little Printer.

Maybe we could make developing hardware as easy as developing for the web — and as fluid and creative.

But that would take focus.

It’s going to be hard reigning back our consultancy business to focus on building BERG Cloud and getting it into as many hands as possible. I’ve loved our work with Bonnier and the BBC, with Google and Intel and Samsung and so many others, and we hope we can carry some of these relationships forward on our journey into connected products.

Then I look again at where BERG began, why Jack and I started this thing rolling. We’ve not changed so much.

There’s an incredible team. I love being in the room with these guys.

We’ve created a platform that allows design and technology to work together, to be as creative as possible.

And rather than work solely with clients, we get to work with customers, to help others invent culture. So we’re looking to advance this exciting space as a Community, and in partnership with manufacturers.

To help along our focusing, we’ve made some business changes. We’re moving our home on the web — our old consultancy-focused website has been archived, and you’ll now find BERG at our new permanent home at the website of its platform, right here at bergcloud.com.

And we’ve brought more folks into the mix, people who can help us scale BERG Cloud and take it to its full potential. I’m proud that we’re today announcing investment from Connect Ventures, Initial Capital, and Index Ventures. It’s funny the convention is to write company names like that… Actually these are personal relationships, and Bill, Sami, and Saul are part of the team.

So that’s today’s news! Design consultancy turns tech startup, takes funding. And BERG Cloud – which we’ve incubated ourselves and have been beta testing over the summer – is now on general release. Kits for prototyping will land in our shop on Thursday 31st October, available for everyone.

I can’t wait to see what happens.

—MW

BERG Raises $1.3m Round and Announces Public Launch of BERG Cloud

We’re taking funding to make the technology, services and design thinking behind Little Printer available to everyone.

London, UK – 28th October 2013

BERG Cloud is the world’s friendliest and most complete platform for connected devices; secure, stable and extendable – and now available to everyone. BERG’s London-based team has scaled the proven platform and technology behind Little Printer to offer a complete suite of integrated hardware and services for the development of web-connected products.

According to the recent Cisco ‘Internet of Everything’ report, total corporate profits from connected devices globally will be in excess of $613 Billion in calendar year 2013. Our research shows that of the design and technology Kickstarter projects successfully funded for over $0.5m, 30% were for connected devices.

Whether you’re an individual maker, a college or campus, or an established product company, BERG Cloud is perfect for easy experimentation and product development, and for outsourced infrastructure when in production.

BERG Cloud will help you reduce the cost of invention and increase speed to market, making it simpler and cheaper to prototype and develop your own web-connected products.

Matt Webb, CEO of BERG said,

“Our mission with BERG Cloud is to make it as easy to develop hardware as it is to develop for the web. BERG Cloud provides solutions to the common problems of connected devices, allowing you to focus on what matters: product innovation and delightful user experience. We built this platform to make it easier for our own designers to invent and operate connected products themselves. Now we are making it available to everyone.”

In launching BERG Cloud, the company is transitioning from globally renowned design consultancy to fully-fledged technology company. In doing so BERG is proud to announce it has received investment from Connect Ventures, Initial Capital and Index Ventures.

BERG Cloud is the cloud-based ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) behind Little Printer. Integrate it into your product using BERG Cloud Devshields, our custom-designed prototyping hardware that completed beta testing over the summer.

BERG Cloud Devshields require a BERG Cloud Bridge for connectivity and are compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and ARM mbed. Each Devshield costs £20 / $32 ex tax and P&P.

The BERG Cloud Devkit comprises two Devshields and one BERG Cloud Bridge, and is available for just £80 / $129 ex tax and P&P.

Both are available October 31st from http://www.bergcloud.com

Images of the BERG Cloud Devshields and Devkit contents are available from http://cl.ly/3F06072U3W1a

For more info: http://www.bergcloud.com/media/

— ENDS —

About BERG

BERG has been developing products and inventing the future since 2005. Their base near Old St in London is at the heart of the cluster of tech and product companies known as Tech City, or more affectionately Silicon Roundabout.

BERG began life as a design consultancy working with clients including Google, Intel, Bonnier and Dentsu, and in 2012 was named by Fast Company as one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.

BERG later self-funded and launched its own connected consumer product, Little Printer. Launched to great acclaim in December 2012, Little Printer has charmed and delighted families and social media addicts with its cute demeanour and handy functionality.

Little Printer was shortlisted for the Designs of the Year award by the London Design Museum in 2013.

BERG Cloud is the world’s friendliest and most complete platform for connected devices; a secure, stable and extendable operating system, developer tools and hardware for rapid prototyping, making it as easy and cost-effective to develop connected products as it currently is to develop for the web.

http://www.bergcloud.com

For further information:
Mark Cridge mark@bergcloud.com

Sending Messages to Little Printer

People often stop us in the street and ask if they can send e-mails to Little Printer for immediate printing. “Hey, BERG Cloud!”, they’ll say. “Can I send e-mails to Little Printer for immediate printing?”.

The answer, of course, is yes.

Here’s an example of how you might use e-mail with your Little Printer. Throughout the week, you build a shopping list for the weekend’s trip to the supermarket. Instead of scribbling things down on that bit of paper on the kitchen table (difficult when you’re at work), you write your list in an e-mail. Save it to drafts, and it’s there on all your devices, waiting to be added to. Then, when you’re ready to head to the shops, you send it to your Little Printer’s e-mail address, and it’s printed. Tear it off, and you’ll have the coolest, most thermally-printed shopping list in the entire mall.

So how does this work? Well, this feature isn’t built into Remote. And it’s not as straightforward as we’ve just made it sound. You’ll need to set up an e-mail address for your Little Printer, and you’ll need to create an app and figure out some variables and do some configuration. But if you know how to do this kind of thing, you’ll only need about 20 minutes. Because, thankfully, Basil Safwat has written all the code you need. Thanks, Basil!

Here’s one of Basil’s e-mails.

tea

This isn’t the only option. We’ve talked about Dan Catt’s very nice Little Printer E-mail Bridge before, which uses some of the same processes but throws in some clever IFTTT integration.

But wait! Doesn’t Little Printer already have a built-in messaging service?

Well, yes. It’s built into Remote, and there’s no coding or variables or configuration to think about. Like someone else once said, it just works.

teabrown

You can send bespoke messages to Little Printer for immediate printing using a number of different styles. We really like the one above because it’s visible from across the room, but the others are pretty neat, too.

4squares

And, of course, you can send pictures.

teabad

Messages sent to Little Printer aren’t just for other people to read. We find that many Little Printer owners are sending messages to themselves — from shopping lists to reminders and todos — as the physical, disruptive nature of the prints means they don’t get lost in the digital fog of e-mail and social media.

And just in case you’re wondering, that tea really was awful.

Amazing Little Printer Prints From Paris

We don’t have a favourite Little Printer owner. As far as we’re concerned, they’re all universally lovely folk with incredibly good taste in web-connected devices.

If we did have a favourite Little Printer owner, however, it might well be Vincent Bidaux.

Vincent is an application and web system designer who works at Pôle Nord Studio in Paris. He also takes photos and makes films, and in his spare time he does magical things with Little Printer. Like this:

steam

And this:

bardot
But it’s not just art that Vincent produces. What about an iPhone case display you can change every day? (It turns out that Little Printer prints are exactly the right width to do this with an iPhone 5 and a transparent case).

case

Ever thought of using the prints for office work-tray labelling?

trays

This is one we didn’t see coming: maps for mopeds. It probably isn’t the ideal solution for long, complicated journeys, but it’s certainly cheaper and prettier than sat-nav.

moped

When he’s not coming up with new uses for Little Printer prints, Vincent is testing what Little Printer is capable of. Like these prints, which use the Manga Camera app for iOS.

manga

Vincent’s sister writes a comic called 130 Cartons. Which, of course, he’s tested with Little Printer.

130

It looks like Vincent’s office is being taken over!

pole

So what’s next? Well, Vincent is currently working on an Android app. After designing the various pages using Sketch, he prints them out using Little Printer. Now, when he has meetings, attendees can play with the prints to simulate and define workflows for the app. Amazing.

apps

We’re aware that ‘awesome’ is a much over-used word, but this really is awesome. And Vincent is doing all of this just using Photoshop, Little Printer’s regular messaging service, and David Wilkinson’s Little Image Printer app!

You can see more photos of Vincent’s work on his Google+ page.